Year of Wellbeing Blog: Leanne's story

Everyone has their own story to share about ways they have found to care for their own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of other people.

A team of bloggers have agreed to describe their personal journey. We hope their stories help and inspire others during our Year of Wellbeing.


Leanne's story

Year of wellbeing leanne's storyThe first year of my son’s life was the worst year of mine. I would see people in the street after he was born and they would gush about how amazing it was to have a baby - how could I possibly tell them I didn’t feel like that. What was wrong with me?

When my son was born I had severe postnatal depression. I loved every minute of being pregnant, feeling his little kicks and showing off my baby bump. However, when he was born almost overnight I went from a confident, happy career driven woman to being so low and depressed I actively sought to take my own life; something which terrifies me now. I thought I was a bad mum and that I ‘couldn’t do it’; whatever ‘it’ was! I would spend hours crying on the sofa and life brought me no joy. I went through the motions and we attended a multitude of baby groups whilst I tried to distract myself.

To anyone looking in we must have seemed like the perfect happy family. Smiling family photos cluttered my social media accounts and all of my friends were jealous that he slept through the night from such a young age but appearances can be deceptive. Inside I was unravelling and totally falling apart. No one asked me how I was feeling and how could I even begin to explain it when I didn’t really know myself.

The fact I had no previous experience of mental illness meant I was very naive to it and also to the support available. Services were offered to me and terms thrown at me such as ‘psychiatrist’, ‘psychiatric nurse’ and ‘anti-depressants’ but I was naive as to what they really meant which meant I refused to utilise them. It took me hitting rock bottom and crisis team involvement before I fully engaged with the services and accepted I needed their help.

As soon as I was well again I knew I wanted to do something to help other mums who might be feeling the same way as me. Mums not feeling comfortable about accessing support or not understanding the multitude of services and how they might help. No one talked to me in pregnancy about the risk of perinatal mental illness (one in five mums and one in ten dads).

You have so many warnings about the physical symptoms to look out for. In pregnancy I had pre-eclampsia and quite happily went in for regular blood pressure monitoring and blood tests and then took the blood pressure tablets when recommended without a second thought. Why did I see the postnatal depression so differently?!

I thought about how different my journey could have been if I had been armed with the knowledge and if a peer support network had been there to help me realise I wasn’t alone. This led to me starting By Your Side, a service user forum and peer support service for mums receiving help from the Perinatal Mental Health Team. I started with just me and a lot of ideas one year ago and we have gone from strength to strength in that time. We run a weekly stay and play for mums, provide a one to one peer support service, support mums individually with hampers to help them as a family m and regularly fundraise for the Perinatal Mental Health Team to fund enhancements to their service.

If I can stop just one person feeling as low as I did then it will make my whole experience worthwhile. I’m determined something positive will come out of such a truly awful experience.



Leanne also tells her story in one of a series of videos NHS England published during 2019, to help health professionals and women understand perinatal mental health conditions.



Click here to find out more about Coventry and Warwickshire's Year of Wellbeing 2019.

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