As part of my effort to support Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Awareness Week, all of this week I will be posting free excerpts of my book The Wilted Rose.
Part Two of The Wilted Rose tells the story of a young mother struggling to cope with Postnatal Depression in the late 1950s/early 1960s, when public understanding of mental health issues was poor. The excerpt below takes place in 1957, and explores a young couple’s challenges in the wake of the birth of their first baby.
After he finished work each day Jack travelled to the hospital to see Sarah and Paul. Shortly after his arrival one evening, a doctor paid the young family a visit.
“Jack, this is Doctor Norman,” Sarah introduced. “He’s a psychiatrist.”
Jack stood and shook the man’s hand.
“Mr. Brooker,” Doctor Norman nodded. “I was wondering if I could speak with you for a few minutes in my office?”
Jack looked to Sarah, who gazed tenderly into the face of their baby.
“Alright,” he agreed, and followed Dr. Norman out of the room.
Dr. Norman reclined behind his desk, inviting Jack to take a seat also.
“Mr. Brooker, Sarah’s regular doctor has consulted with me about some concerns he has regarding Sarah’s health,” Dr. Norman began. “She has not been sleeping well and is suffering from exhaustion. As a result, she is struggling to breastfeed.”
He paused, interlocking his fingers.
“I am very worried about her, Mr. Brooker. I’ve spoken with her privately, and she has shared with me that she is experiencing feelings of anxiety. She feels hesitant about having Paul at home with her.”
“Anxiety?” Jack queried. “She’s a nurse. She handled babies all the time when she was at work. Why would she feel nervous?”
“It is a symptom of the illness,” Dr Norman explained. “For Sarah to experience this following childbirth is a concern to me. If we let it get out of hand, it will only worsen and start affecting other parts of her life. I fear that if we don’t treat her condition immediately, the child’s wellbeing will be in danger.”
Dr. Norman nodded.
“I think it would be best if I extended her stay in hospital. I’ve prescribed her with a lower-strength anti-depressant whilst she’s breastfeeding, which she may have to keep taking for some time.”
“How long do you think it will be until she is able to come home?”
“I suspect only a week or two. I want to make sure she is well adjusted before she is released from our care. Is there someone who can check on her at home throughout the day?”
“I guess her mother could. She lives on the other side of town, though.” Jack paused, looking curiously at Dr Norman.
“What would make her feel that way about Paul?”
“She is just exhausted, Mr. Brooker. It has been a very overwhelming time for her. The medication along with plenty of rest is very important for her right now. I will continue to work with both of you, and we’ll talk again in a few days.”
Jack had been looking forward to bringing Sarah and Paul home. He still felt he didn’t quite understand her condition. His wife was sad, but was there nothing even he could do to cheer her up?
For more information about Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Awareness Week, visit www.panda.org.au
The Wilted Rose is available in paperback and Kindle ebook on Amazon HERE