“Talk to others and don’t be ashamed of how you feel,” shared the TV presenter.
Stacey Solomon is every bit as famous for her sunny outlook on life as she is her music and television career. And so, when she took to Instagram to share a powerfully candid post about her struggles with postnatal depression, many of her fans were left surprised.
Sharing a photograph of herself and her youngest child, Rex, in a field of sunflowers, Solomon explained: “Yesterday we went for a walk in the sunflower fields – Rex was asleep most of the time – because I wasn’t feeling myself.”
Explaining that this is something which “happens now and again”, Solomon went on to say: “When I had [my eldest son] Zachary 11 years ago, I really struggled with the way that I felt. I only realised years later when I was pregnant with Leighton and crying to my midwife because I was so anxious about giving birth and not loving him straight away (among lots of other things), that I had postnatal depression.
“I honestly believe that, if the perinatal mental health services and mental health helplines and charities weren’t available [this time around with Rex], I would be struggling to deal with my feelings.”
Solomon continued: “Depression and anxiety don’t discriminate, [so] look after yourself. Talk to others and don’t be ashamed of how you feel.
“I’ve had so much support on here and it’s really meant the world and helped me realise that so many people go through similar things and it doesn’t make you any less of a person!”
The Loose Women presenter added that she has partnered with Scamp & Dude to design one of their “Swag Bags with purpose” – an initiative which has seen a number of high-profile women (all of whom have been hand-picked for their huge hearts and willingness to give back) take the brand’s iconic leopard-print-and-lightning-bolt zip bag design and make it their own in a rainbow of different color-ways
The profits for Solomon’s bag, which features a feel-good sunflower motif, will be going to Mind UK in their entirety.
“I feel so passionate about raising awareness and trying to get more funds to much needed mental health services,” she said, “so this is something that really means a lot to me.”
Solomon hopes that her personal struggles will encourage others to seek help for their own mental health issues – and other big names have been similarly open of late.
“I remember being so exhausted but happy to know that we could finally get on the path of getting better,” she wrote. “I started taking an antidepressant, which helped. And I started sharing the news with friends and family—I felt like everyone deserved an explanation, and I didn’t know how else to say it other than the only way I know: just saying it.
“It got easier and easier to say it aloud every time.”
Hayden Panettiere has been similarly candid about her own battle with postnatal depression, and has even revealed that she feels she can take some positives from her experiences.
“It takes you a while, and you feel off,” she said. “You don’t feel like yourself, [but] women are so resilient, and that’s the incredible thing about them.
“I think I’m all the stronger for it. I think I’m a better mum because of it, because you never take that connection for granted.”
Speaking about the feeling she experienced after the birth of her daughter, Kaya, in 2014, Panettiere added: “I think it helped me identify what was going on and to let women know that it’s OK to have a moment of weakness,” she said. “It doesn’t make you a bad person, doesn’t make you a bad mother. It makes you a very strong, resilient woman.
“You’ve just got to let it make you stronger.”
The symptoms of postnatal depression
Mental health is an issue that affects many of us, but women in particular can be vulnerable to issues: the most recent figures from the NHS show that one in five women in the UK have reported a mental illness in recent years, compared to one in eight men.
While the symptoms of postnatal depression can be complex and vary widely between different people, doctors have said that the most common is that “you feel increasingly depressed and despondent. Looking after yourself or your baby may become too much.”.
Other symptoms include:
- Loss of interest in the baby
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Not being able to stop crying
- Feelings of not being able to cope
- Feelings of guilt and self-blame
- Not being able to enjoy anything
- Memory loss
- Feeling unable to concentrate
- Low self-esteem
- Excessive anxiety about the baby
- Panic attacks
- Extreme tiredness
- Aches and pains
- Feeling generally unwell
- Loss of appetite
There are many other symptoms of postnatal depression and you’re unlikely to experience all of them at once.