Interview 11

Age at interview: 39
Age at diagnosis: 33
Brief Outline: Hospitalised, but experienced poor service in the NHS. Helpful approaches included the contraceptive pill (acts as a mood stabiliser for her), good GP support, private hospitalisation, and HomeStart help in the home.
Background: A married woman who was a customer manager until the birth of her son in 1998 and the death of her mother, at which time she had a severe post-natal depression.

More about me...


She thought negatively when depressed, and her mind jumped to negative conclusions, and she felt...

And.... your brain sort of leaps to conclusions about things and you think, well all my friends haven't phoned me, it's because they don't like me anymore. Rather than my friends haven't phoned me because they're busy, or because their baby's sick. or they're busy at work or what have you.  

You just think, you... you leap to the wrong conclusion almost every time. And I think that just sort of makes you become even.... a little bit paranoid, certainly I was. I'd think, oh why aren't they ringing me? Why are people looking at me like that? I'd take my baby to be weighed at the doctors and I'd think, everyone's talking about me, that's not ...That's very.... sort of a strange feeling. 

And on the one hand, it's like your mind's racing because I had so much to think of, you know.... I've got to this or that for, for the baby or I've got to get to see my Mum in the hospital, or I've got to do this or I've got to do that. But on the other hand, it's almost as if you're going in slow motion. If you've seen these films where you're standing still and everyone's going around you, it was almost like that.


Did not like talking about feelings that were hard to pin down, and found her mental health team...

I felt my psychiatrist was a very.... oh... wet individual. Again, I think because I'd been quite a numerate, factual, organised person, to have someone to talking about feelings and what about this and what about that? And it was... nothing could ever be pin-pointed or.... I just found it annoying. And I found that they didn't deliver on things that they'd promised.

Did not like ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy), felt frightened and confused, and when she tried to...

I also had ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy) while I was in hospital.

What was that like?

Horrid. I just remember being so frightened going into a room with a bed laid out  and they'd get you to lie down on the bed, and give you an anaesthetic in your hand, which would basically make you go unconscious. But just that 2 minutes when you might have gone into the room and been waiting, I was just so frightened. And then they give you ECT and you wake up after a while and, again, that is quite a confusing experience. I did find that it affected my memory a fair bit.

What do you mean by that?

I remember talking to one of the women in hospital, bearing in mind I was in a mother and baby unit, and we discovered we lived quite close. And  we agreed, she was leaving, so we agreed we'd swap telephone numbers, and I couldn't remember my telephone number... so to not be able to recognise my own telephone number' And she couldn't remember her address. And you think, well....

Had she had an ECT as well?

She'd had ECT as well, it's laughable because you can't remember some of the most basic things about yourself. You know, "How old am I? When, what's my birthday?" And that's... that's frightening when you actually feel as though, you know, you're completely losing your mind because you can't remember anything. I mean you can remember things, you can remember where the kitchen is to go and make a cup of tea, it's, it's odd things that you can't remember. And they come back but'.


Did not like the NHS hospital she went into when she could not get into a private hospital.

And why did you have to go into a NHS hospital?

Because my insurance [pause] cover hadn't run out but because I was seeing a NHS psychiatrist and he was concerned about me and, ultimately, he sectioned me, they refused to transfer me to a private hospital because I was specifically under a NHS consultant, and they felt it was inappropriate to change that.

Who's they, the insurance?

I think the combination of the insurance and the doctors. And I was furious [laughing], absolutely furious about that because it was a horrible place. I can't remember the exact event that precipitated me going into hospital, I think it basically...it had got to the point where my husband felt he couldn't cope with me. So I... I did go into hospital and I remember putting a plastic bag over my head in there, and I remember that the nurse just took it off my head, didn't say a word to me and walked away. And it just really, sort of enforced the feelings that they just didn't care at all.

It really symbolises what you're saying about that system.

So, and then I didn't eat for 3 weeks while I was in there, and they didn't seem to notice.


Depression made her question her priorities. She was glad she left her work in her 30s rather...

I think it's (depression) sort of made me question what I thought was good about my life because I was in a very busy and hard-working career, and whilst the depression wasn't the main, or the only reason, that I left, there was a re-organisation at my work, I do think, oh, thank God I left there when I was 36 rather than 56. You know, I understand that I need sort of time for me now, and that I'm a person in my own right, and I'm important and I have, you know, the right to have some quality time for me.  Whereas perhaps before I didn't...I might have thought it but I never actually did it. I think it puts things.... sort of life into perspective and you.... some of the sort of silly inconveniences of life you think, whereas before you might have got het up about them, now you just think, well, so? Or, so what? [Laughing]

Her supportive friends could deal with her changing needs, as well as give practical help such as...

I think they had to be quite switched on, and to know how to deal with me, because sometimes I would want to sit and talk about how bad I was feeling and, you know, how dreadful life was and all those things. But then sometimes I'd just think, I don't want to do that... I just want to act normal and sit and have a cup of tea and have a chat about the weather and just not go down that route because I'm just too tired of it all. So, I mean some of them offered to.... to look after my son for me, to baby-sit because we had no one to baby-sit so we... we hadn't been out for about 6 months because we had no one to look after the baby. So a couple of friends looked after him one night so my husband and I could go out.

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