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My story: Hormones and mental health – ‘I felt like I couldn’t go on’
This anonymous, first-person account lays bare the real impact of hormones can have on mental health, and the importance of getting individualised support.
Advisory: this account contains themes of suicide and mental health.
‘I clearly experienced post-natal depression following the birth of my fourth child.
‘I eventually plucked up the courage to visit my GP but was made to feel I was wasting her time. She just told me to pull myself together. However, I do completely understand that it must be difficult for a doctor to identify who is depressed in comparison to someone who is just having a bad day. I possibly thought she was right but remained feeling desperate.
‘I then went on to carry out my first suicide attempt. I walked out of the house and made my way to the train station. I didn’t think about my family, my mind was blank, I just wanted to die.
‘Luckily, my husband realised something was wrong and came to find me.
‘The next day he took me back to the GP and I was referred to a psychiatrist.
‘Looking back, I was extremely fortunate that by going privately I could get an appointment to see a psychiatrist quickly. If I hadn’t been able to, I’m not sure what would have happened.
My psychiatrist has been incredible: he has the most amazing ability to understand what it is like to feel like that. He’s also given up a lot of time to talk to my husband which has been incredibly useful and something I do feel is vital.
‘That was 16 years ago, and over the years since I have struggled with medication and treatments with terrible debilitating side effects.
‘After a long time trying different medications, my psychiatrist felt I was suffering with medication resistant depression. He also arranged for me to see several other psychiatrists who he had talked about me: the most unhelpful one told me that I was more likely to die from alcohol than depression.
‘I remember asking if there was any possible link with hormones and depression. It was very obvious during a month I was having two good weeks and then two bad when I just couldn’t function.
‘I’ve been extraordinarily lucky to have a very caring husband who has looked after me for many years through the ups and downs.
‘I remember waking in the night a few years ago pleading him to take me to Dignitas to save my children the distress of suicide. I truly didn’t want them to see me like that and really felt that they would be better off without me. For many years I just wanted to die. I loved my children and cared for them day and night but inside I was numb. I had given up.
‘As I approached my late forties I deteriorated further, and a friend urged me to contact Dr Newson’s clinic.
‘Soon after taking HRT I began to slowly feel better and notice the benefits.
‘I have now have more energy to do things compared to my life before when I felt like I was walking through treacle. I’m joining in more activities with friends, I’m feeling more confident, my head feels clearer and most of all I can really enjoy life. The list goes on. HRT has literally been life-changing.
‘I can now enjoy a normal life with my wonderful husband and my gorgeous children.
‘Seeing a health professional privately isn’t an option for many, many women: Women who can’t afford to, the women who are sadly too sick to ask for help and many more for different reasons and different circumstances. I feel terribly guilty that I’ve had the opportunity to do so when others may not.
‘I believe there would be many benefits to psychiatrists and healthcare professionals, with knowledge of the menopause, working together to share their knowledge and experience.
‘I can obviously only speak for myself, but I’m sure my life may have been very different if there had been communication and more services available where the two are combined. From my own experience it does seem to me that they work in silos and working together may prevent a lot of suffering for women and their families.’