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Mental Health Awareness Day 2022 - My Experience with Post Natal Depression

As a wellness coach my attention does not stop at fitness and nutrition. Mental health is just as important and it is the benefits to my mental state that is the main reason I decided to set up my business Gemma Kelly Fitness. It was a way to spread this message and make fitness and exercise achievable for anyone to join in and reap those benefits.

Awareness around mental is particularly key for new mums, when I say new, I mean that first year period of time after birth (yep...a whole year!). During this time there are huge surges and fluctuations in hormones and so we are much more susceptible to these peaks and troughs, high and low moods, not to mention what sleep deprivation can do to a person. Sleep deprivation, it is widely known, has been used a for centuries as a method of integration and torture and there is good reason for this, without sleep our bodies cannot function effectively, let alone our brains!

It was after my second daughter was born (and 9 months of reflux struggles) I suffered with Postnatal Depression and I'm just glad I got the help when I did. I shrugged my low mood off for as long as I could. Being an IVF mum, to not feel gratitude for every ounce of motherhood felt like some sort of sacrilege. I'd prayed for this moment for so long, I wasn't going to allow myself to feel ungrateful. However when I started thinking thoughts of 'ways out' and I mean visualising my car smashing into a tree as my only means of making it all just STOP and getting some sleep... I knew I needed help. I was terrified of my thoughts, ugly, selfish awful thoughts...of a very tired and unwell mind.

My first step was to call my best friend Emma, she was utterly incredible, a busy mum of two herself she has felt similar feelings and supported me so generously with her time, I owe her so much. Secondly, I called my GP and made a phone appointment, a step I found so excruciating I think I had to have an outer-body experience to say the words 'I think I need to speak to someone because I feel sad all the time'. I'm struggling to even remember the words I used, because I just felt shame and awkward, I was convinced that they would tell me I wasn't 'bad enough' to need to see a GP. But, the receptionist didn't say that, in fact she was just lovely, she was patient and kind and reassuring. She made me a phone appointment for later that day and from there I went on to get a few sessions of therapy, I joined some heavenly local evening yoga practices, I started exercising again and slowly, day by day, things got better.

Exercise was a powerful tool in helping me feel better. Something I tell a lot of my busy Mum clients, is that when you're feeling tired, getting active may seem like the last thing you want to do, but regular activity actually boosts your energy levels as well as helping to relax you and keeping you fit and strong.

A year on, I still feel pangs of sadness for my post natal experience with Izzy and the guilt about those horrific dark thoughts still drips in from tip to time, but the difference now, is I know that we don't have to believe ALL the thoughts our minds generate. So when I feel regret for not being the fun loving, super mum in those first few months of my daughters life, I remind myself, I did the best with what I had at the time, I was brave enough to reach for help and I am now a stronger more resilient mother because of it, I did not let my family down. In life (just as it is with muscles) meaningful growth requires challenge and stress, but that doesn't mean we don't all need a bit of help from time to time.

If you or someone you know might be suffering from Post-Natal Depression, Trauma or Anxiety. Please download and share the PDF below which contains some useful information and resources. G x

Gemma Kelly Fitness - Post Natal Depression Resources
Download PDF • 427KB


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