Journalist Jonny McCambridge, who is fully behind the campaign for specialist maternal mental health services, writes openly about his own struggles and the incredible joy of becoming a dad
Less than four months after my only son was born in 2013 I was committed as a patient into a psychiatric ward at Lagan Valley Hospital, deemed by doctors to be an immediate suicide risk. It was the most harrowing experience of my life.
At the time I held a senior position in a daily newspaper in Belfast and was certainly mindful of my professional reputation and the stigma of it being known publicly that I suffered from mental health difficulties. Through my job I had occasionally encountered stories of maternal postnatal depression, but I had never heard of a paternal case. Was it even a thing? If it was, it certainly wasn’t one that was spoken about. And so I didn’t speak about it, not to anyone, until it was almost too late.
To be clear, my own battles with mental health problems went back many years before I was a parent, that was a seed which had been planted long ago. But it was the birth of my son James, added to already formidable work pressures that contributed to a set of forces which brought me to my lowest point. A routine that I had established over years, and which probably protected me, was thrown into chaos when I became a father.
Already operating near the edge of my limits with interminable hours in the office and the relentless oppression of working in the news media, the added responsibility of parenting pushed me past it. Being a father was just one…
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