'It was like a dark cloud' - Mother of two opens up on postnatal depression

'People always say 'It takes a village' - there wasn't really a village for me'
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.41 18 Jan 2023

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'It was like a dark cloud' - M...

'It was like a dark cloud' - Mother of two opens up on postnatal depression

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.41 18 Jan 2023

Share this article

One mother has appealed to others to reach out and get help for postnatal depression.

Sue Murphy, who works as Commercial Project Manager with Off The Ball, described 'a dark cloud' over her - but not knowing why.

Sue gave birth to her first child during the pandemic, and had a second children almost two years later.


She told The Pat Kenny Show her first baby was easier to handle.

"We went into lockdown six weeks after she was born, and in some ways that was easy for me," she said.

"My husband was at home, I had help around the place and you had nowhere to go.

"So you could look after your child and everything was reasonably OK."

'Very tough delivery'

Sue said the actual birth was a struggle.

"I had a very tough delivery on my first child," she said.

"I ended up in counselling afterwards; I had a haemorrhage and ended up with two blood transfusions.

"I think it was scarier for the people around me - my husband was in the room and didn't know what was happening.

"My mother was actually in the ward when I passed out, so it was high drama and it wasn't expected".

'A baby who's not sleeping'

Sue said a C-section with her second child, almost two years later, took it toll.

"It's like your body's been through a car accident - it's quite tough on you," she said.

"Then outside of that you're looking after a newborn baby who's not sleeping.

"A two-year-old is going to be a two-year-old: she wants your attention, she wants to play with you.

"That's completely understandable; but I had a breastfeeding baby, who wanted to feed 11 and 12 hours a day.

"I wasn't actually breastfeeding him properly, but I didn't know that at the time and I didn't know what I was doing wrong.

"I wasn't sleeping, my husband unfortunately was back in the office at that stage."

'It takes a village'

Sue said she didn't have all the supports around her that some people would.

"People always talk about the village - 'It takes a village' - and there wasn't really a village for me," she said.

"I think a lot of people in Dublin will find that, because they've moved from the country [and] they're living in Dublin they don't have the mam that calls in.

"My parents live in Galway, it was a bit tougher for them to come up.

"My mother-in-law was exceptional; she basically stopped her life to look after me and was trying to call in as much as she could.

"I found myself for long periods in the house by myself, looking after two children, which I found difficult".

'I just couldn't cope'

She said if one thing went wrong in a day, everything else followed.

"You have the sleeping, the hormones, everything that's going on," she said.

"I found one thing went wrong in the day, and I just couldn't cope for the rest of the day.

"One thing went wrong and then everything went wrong.

"I couldn't understand why I was finding this so difficult - I've worked in commercial sponsorship for years, I've worked on big campaigns.

"I just couldn't understand why I couldn't keep on top; I was like 'This is obviously me, something wrong with me, I'm a bad mother'".

 'Like a dark cloud'

Sue said her feelings were never dismissed, but it wasn't clear what was happening.

"It wasn't dismissed as 'baby blues,' but I did hear that it was kind of in the first few weeks after you have the baby because your hormones crash," she said.

"I thought 'This is something wrong with me' - but actually between four and six months it's actually quite high, and I didn't know that until I went to my doctor.

"I did get on to a support service, and I was told that I needed a rest.

"It felt like you were carrying around this weight all the time, and it was like a dark cloud.

"I was terrified of being on my own with the children; my husband would leave and I'd be like 'Please don't leave me'.

"I did find that quite difficult," she said as her voice broke.

Getting help

Sue said she then sought help from her doctor.

"One night I was just sitting at home with the two kids playing around me, and it was like I couldn't engage, I couldn't interact," she said.

"So I went to the doctor... I remember sitting in the office crying for about 15 minutes.

"She was so helpful - she was a breastfeeding mother herself, she understood everything that was happening.

"She recommended anti-depressants and I went on them."

'I just wanted it to stop'

Sue said things changed after two weeks.

"I always described it to my husband as being like space in my brain," she said.

"It was suddenly like I could figure out what I need to do here, I can think about that - I know what's going on.

"My little boy was getting bigger, so he was kind of sleeping for longer periods and everything just started to get a little bit easier."

"I just couldn't see a way out, I was really like 'This is never going to end'".

She has this advice for anyone going through similar circumstances.

"Talk to somebody, because I think there is a shame around it.

"As mothers we're expected to be absolutely brilliant at everything: we can do the house, we can have a career, we can look after our kids - and it's hard.

"If you're feeling like you can't get out of the bed in the morning, like it's getting too hard to do little things that you would have done easily before... like you just don't want to be there.

"It wasn't like I was suicidal, I just wanted it to stop: I just wanted everything to just pause.

"If you're feeling like that, that's something else that's going on," she added.

Anyone affected by issues raised in this article can get more information here

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