Jade Tolhurst has always been "an anxious kind of a person", but nothing could have prepared her for how she felt following the birth of her first child.
"It was never a big issue until having a child," the 31-year-old tells 9Honey.
Tolhurst was living in South Australia when she began dating Jordan, 31, who lived in Victoria. The pair had been introduced by friends and, due to the expense of travelling back and forth to see each other, they decided "pretty quickly" to be together.
By 2017 they were married and began trying for a baby.? It would take some time to fall pregnant with their son Oscar.
But when they did, Tolhurst "got really bad hormonal acne".
"You imagine having this beautiful bump and feeling really good... it was all over my face."
She would later discover the acne was due to an undiagnosed hormonal disorder ?called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS.) It would last throughout her pregnancy and until she stopped breastfeeding.
"I knew something was up with my hormones, but they kind of just brush you off," she says. "They're like, 'You just had a baby."
The acne has come back now she is 20-weeks pregnant with her second child.
It was about six months after the birth? of Oscar that she began feeling unwell.
"At first I felt like I was in the newborn bubble, I was sort of running on adrenaline," she says. "Then about six months into it, that's when things really dipped.
"We went into lockdown and I was really struggling. Oscar was a really, really bad sleeper," Tolhurst explains. "It was a combination of sleep deprivation and lockdown. It was just not a nice time."
Tolhurst's anxiety would begin to build as the sun set, knowing she faced yet another night of trying to settle Oscar, who would sometimes wake every hour?.
"I'd get this drop in my stomach like, 'Oh here we go again.' And then I feel like that just sort of built up into a depression where I just struggled every single day, and it's not nice."
Despite mental illness being in her family, the new mum didn't think to keep tabs on her own mental health until a friend reached out to ask if she was doing okay, and suggested that she wasn't.
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"That's when I like went on to the PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) website and looked at that checklist they had I was like ticking every single box," she says.
Tolhurst "clicked the callback option" and spoke about her struggles.
?"She just made it all feel like normal," she says. "It is a common thing to go through. I just pretty much cried the whole time. I needed that validation and it was just so comforting."
She was told to book an appointment with her GP for a Mental Health Care Plan and began looking for ongoing support.? It took time and a couple of fails for her to find a psychiatrist and psychologist she clicked with.
"You hear from a lot of people who try one person and they think, 'Oh, it's not for me. I've tried lots of different people since then. And I finally found a really good one that I'm still seeing now."
Tolhurst still struggles with mental health and has learned to notice any signs she is declining.
?"Just the typical, like getting enough sleep and eating properly and moving my body and, you know, just doing things for yourself," she shares.
"It was a combination of sleep deprivation and lockdown. It was just not a nice time."
"I feel like things get really bad when I just neglect my own needs and just make it all about taking care of your child and cleaning the house and like everybody needs something for them."
Oscar, who is now almost four, started sleeping through the night by the time he was two.
"He's still not great sleeper, but it was much more manageable when he turned two," she says.
But Tolhurst worries she will face similar struggles following the birth of her second child.?
"I really struggled with infertility after having him and, like I said, I had PCOS so it took three years to get pregnant after him," she says. "But I've been worried the whole time, like is it going to be the same as with Oscar?
"If this baby can't sleep, I know I'm going to struggle again."
If she does begin to struggle Tolhurst knows to reach out to her psychiatrist and psychologist, and she and her husband speak more openly about mental health following her struggles.
?"It's definitely something that you can't avoid talking about now. It's such an important thing for me to be taking care of my mental health," she shares.
"Yeah, definitely we talk about it a lot.?"
Dr Nicole Highet, founder of COPE: Centre of Perinatal Excellence, says pre-natal and post-natal depression are equally concerning. She told 9Honey many women don't realise it's abnormal to feel depressed during pregnancy or following childbirth.
"There's such high expectations that having a baby is supposed to be such a wonderful, beautiful time," she explains.
"You're trying to go into this new role, create a new identity and when things aren't meeting your expectations... people are feeling like they're failing and that's compounding on their confidence as a person and as a mother."
COPE has launched the 2023 Australian Clinical Practice Guideline: Mental Health Care in the Perinatal Period.?
"One of the things that the guidelines recommend is the essential importance of what we call psychoeducation, so education for expectant and new parents about mental health and also preventative factors, what they can do to prevent mental health conditions occurring," Dr. Highet explains.
"And that is why, so previously we used to give women booklets or pamphlets with information about postnatal depression. Women would have a look at that and go, well that's not going to happen to me, that's not going to be relevant."
Instead, they can now download the Ready to Cope app which will give women and their partners information every week to help them monitor their mental wellness.
Perinatal Mental Health Awareness Week runs from November 12 - 18. If you or someone you know is in need of support contact PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) on 1300 726 306 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.?