CARING for a newborn is meant to be one of the happiest times in a mother’s life.
But for Lauren Knight it was one of the hardest, as she was diagnosed with postnatal depression just weeks after giving birth.
Surrounded in a world of “thick grey fog”, the 31-year-old thought it was a condition she would never overcome, and was worried she’d never piece her life back together.
But three years after her recovery, the plucky mum-of-two has now set up her own support group in Edinburgh in a bid to help other mums who are going through a similar experience.
She was inspired to speak out after the mental health watchdog exposed a string of missed opportunities that could have prevented city mum Erin Sutherland from smothering her baby daughter to death last year.
Chloe was just nine-months-old when she died at home in Sighthill last February, while her mother was under the grip of postnatal depression.
“I want mums who may be suffering from postnatal depression and other issues to know they are not alone, and that our help is here if they need it,” Lauren, from Longstone, said.
“I felt the same at one point but I made a full recovery. Don’t suffer in silence.”
Lauren – mum to Matthew, two, and four-year-old Freddie – set up JUNO Perinatal Mental Health in February 2015 after communicating with other mums via social media.
Perinatal mental health issues include anxiety, depression and psychotic disorders during or after pregnancy.
She wanted to make a difference to lives of other women as she believed not enough support was available.
The group, now also run by Tricia Murray, Tess Asknew and Rosie Mowat across the city, won the Community Champion accolade at the Evening News Local Hero Awards this year.
Lauren, who works full-time as a residential carer, said: “What we discovered about Erin Sutherland’s case two weeks ago is horrendous. It’s so sad it came to that. We just want other mums out there, who may be going through something similar to know that the care and support they need is here.”
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Lauren was diagnosed with postnatal depression in July 2013. At first she tried to convince herself there was nothing wrong, but as time past she couldn’t fight it any longer without help.
She said: “I felt like a failure. Before I was diagnosed with postnatal depression myself I always just thought it happened to mums that couldn’t cope, but that’s not the case at all.
“Before my mind looked like an organised cabinet, the kind you would see with all the boxes neatly put away, then I felt like someone had come along and emptied all the contents out onto the floor. It was all messed up and I couldn’t figure out how to put it back together again.”
Lauren added: “We offer weekly support groups and a subsided counselling service out with our groups with a trained professional.”
JUNO run groups in Sighthill, Craiglockhart and Gilmerton and can be contacted at Juno.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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