As part of our series on Maternal Mental Health Awareness, we’re sharing five incredible stories from Mums in our community, who have battled with perinatal mental health issues. Each of these amazing ladies has bravely agreed to make their story known, in the hope that it might encourage someone suffering the same symptoms to speak up, seek help, or even just get the headspace that they need to process how they feel and what’s going on.
Sara Knowles is one our Cardiff Run Angels, with an incredible story. Here’s how she tells it.
I gave birth to my son 15 yrs ago this May.
The birth was long and traumatic, with a shoulder distention and all contractions stopping amongst other issues. In spite of the complications, our son, Jack Elan, was absolutely perfect, and after a difficult fourth stage and stitches, we were left in peace to rest and enjoy him.
Sadly in spite of every effort on my part alone at home, three days later he developed starvation jaundice and we were both admitted into the paediatric ward of our local hospital.
Jack was given a dextrose drip and placed in an incubator. Again, left alone I struggled to breastfeed him and the next day we discovered that the dextrose had been pumping into his skin rather than his vein, so we had a third degree burn to deal with as well. It was hell.
After seven long days and nights of mental, physical and emotional trauma, I collapsed with a severe panic attack, the first of a series of problems with my mental health that I have been dealing with ever since.
After 22 months of severe depression, anxiety and manic episodes, I conceded that I wasn’t going to get better without medical intervention, and was prescribed antidepressants. Four years later, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which is a big label to bear. This February, I suffered the worse relapse of panic attacks and mental crisis I have experienced since Jack’s birth.
When TMR launched in Cardiff some weeks later, I was there, alone and afraid I would look obviously out of place in amongst sporty running women. Instead I found a really warm welcome, encouragement, support and brilliant friendship.
I am now a Run Angel and, at the age of 51, in a body that is not one to behold, I don my runners every Sunday and Wednesday to join encourage and support other Mums of all ages, shapes and sizes, to show them they can do it too.