I was referred to a place called the Gidget Foundation in North Sydney in October 2015. The Gidget Foundation provides a free professional psychological support service for pregnant women and new parents suffering anxiety and depression.
I was scheduled in for an appointment with a psychologist but had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know what a psychologist really was and how they were different from a psychiatrist. I was pretty confused. I now know that Psychologists help people with emotional and psychological difficulties. They have specialist training in non-medical interventions and work closely with GPs or psychiatrists if required. Psychiatrists have completed a medical degree and can prescribe medication; a psychologist cannot.
My anxiety was at an all time high and I felt pretty petrified of the whole situation. What made it worse was that Gidget House was on the road parallel to my old workplace – I was paranoid I’d bump into someone I knew and have no excuse why I was in the area. Luckily this never happened but it didn’t stop my heart from racing before every appointment, as I acted like an undercover spy trying to get there without being seen!
The first appointment consisted of being asked lots of questions about me, my childhood, family, career, living situation, my pregnancy and how I dealt with things. I tried to answer as best I could but I felt pretty stuck for words.
I’ll be honest, I came out of that session thinking that I really didn’t get on with the psychologist and maybe it would be better to try someone else. I’m not sure why – I felt she didn’t get much out of me and my instinct was to blame her. I spoke to my husband that evening and he said maybe she gained more than I thought and I should keep it up. In hindsight, I can see it was a difficult start but totally understandable considering what I was going through at the time. I needed time to warm up and feel safe in the situation before I could really open up.
I’m really glad that I stuck with it. I’ve now reaped so many benefits and couldn’t imagine my life without the lessons I’ve learnt with my psychologist. I know I’m still very much in the midst of my recovery but I can see the light at the end of this and I’m striding towards it.
If you’re on a journey with PND and about to meet a psychologist then I’d say – try to relax and feel as comfortable as you can. Be prepared to be asked lots of questions but try not to feel you’re being judged. They are there to help and they need to understand what’s happening for you. It’s not always easy to open up to a stranger. Take your time and make sure that the psychologist is happy to take things at a pace that you’re comfortable with. If things don’t feel right after a few sessions then don’t be afraid to talk to your GP and maybe try a different tact. It’s important for you to feel safe in the relationship with your therapist to ensure you get the most out of it.