‘I was drowning and it was the scariest time of my life’

It’s four years ago this month since my mental health took a bad jump off the diving board and belly-flopped into my life.

January is Health Month in The Irish Times. Throughout the month, in print and online, we will be offering encouragement and inspiration to help us all improve our physical and mental health in 2021. See

Stinging, it stayed, splashing about, making waves that almost drowned me for a good two years. Give or take a day or two.

I had a three year old. A long commute to work. And I was pregnant. The pregnancy was complicated and as those waves slowly started to wash over my head, I could feel myself sinking. An armband or two, aka a counsellor, my husband, our daughters and family kept me afloat but there was only so much they could do. I had to learn to swim again but first I had to face my fear of drowning.

I needed to be rescued on occasion but that’s okay

Postnatal depression, anxiety and everything that comes along with a troubling depiction of yourself, is crippling. Much of my problem was down to the fact that, in the initial stages, I believed I was a great swimmer and nothing could knock my confidence. But some waters are riskier than others and even the best swimmers can get into difficulty.

I had barely given my mental health a second thought.

I was who I was and why would that change?

But life throws a few storms and I was never a sea swimmer. Slowly, I began to not recognise myself. Everything simple became extraordinary and I couldn’t keep up. I became frustrated, overwhelmed, irritable, angry and exhausted beyond belief as the waves became bigger and my small arms couldn’t keep me afloat. I was drowning and it was the scariest time of my life.