Darkness of postnatal depression that nearly destroyed new Yorkshire mother

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Feeling a failure as a new mum, Lynsey Love had believed baby Willow would be better off without her.

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All the hope, the anticipation, had been crushed by the weight of deadly postnatal depression.

Lynsey Love, from Baildon, has opened up about her battle with postnatal depression. Picture: Gary Longbottom.

Lynsey Love, from Baildon, has opened up about her battle with postnatal depression. Picture: Gary Longbottom.

There were days, she says, when she couldn't open the curtains. When she would count down the hours until her husband came home.

There was something undone, she believed, between her and her beautiful newborn daughter.

"I was failing at every hurdle," says Mrs Love, 36. "I just felt so alone, so completely worthless. It came to the point that I felt she would be better off without me.

"She was just a perfectly normal baby. For some reason, I thought there was something wrong with me and her.

Lynsey Love pictured with baby Willow as a newborn. After a traumatic birth, says the Baildon mother, she fell into a deep depression. Image family's own.

Lynsey Love pictured with baby Willow as a newborn. After a traumatic birth, says the Baildon mother, she fell into a deep depression. Image family's own.

"It breaks my heart now, when I think of what could have happened."

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Isolation

Mrs Love, a fitness instructor from Baildon, is brutally honest about her battle with postnatal depression after the birth of Willow, now aged five.

It very nearly destroyed her, she says, close to tears as she shares her story.

Fitness instructor Lynsey Love, pictured with toddler Willow. Her postnatal depression didn't stem from a lack of love for her daughter, she says, but from an overwhelming feeling that she didn't deserve her. Image: Family own.

Fitness instructor Lynsey Love, pictured with toddler Willow. Her postnatal depression didn't stem from a lack of love for her daughter, she says, but from an overwhelming feeling that she didn't deserve her. Image: Family own.

When we meet, at the Red Lion in Burley-in-Wharfedale, Mrs Love is surrounded by Ilkley mothers after one her classes, all juggling their own tiny babies.

This is a new wave of wellness, she says, with the pub opening early to accommodate their weekly chats.

What happened has brought her a new direction, says Mrs Love. And she doesn't want any mother to feel as isolated as she did in those first few months.

The dark depression stemmed, she believes, from a weight of expectation. That motherhood, while tiring, would somehow be magical and fulfilling.

After feeling isolated and overwhelmed as a new mother, Lynsey Love said exercise was something that helped, as she could do it with daughter Willow, pictured, and toddler Jasper, now aged two. Image: Family own.

After feeling isolated and overwhelmed as a new mother, Lynsey Love said exercise was something that helped, as she could do it with daughter Willow, pictured, and toddler Jasper, now aged two. Image: Family own.

The reality, she adds, was rather different.

"It was like being in a car accident," she said. "When she was finally born, I just laid there screaming for help."

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Traumatic birth

Her labour had been traumatic, lasting 26 hours, before she suffered an extreme hemorrhage and lost consciousness.

She could barely move for 48 hours, and her husband Pete had been the one to care for both her and their newborn daughter.

"Nobody ever tells you the graphic details," she says. "I felt I'd lost my dignity, as a woman. I was just helpless."

Lynsey Love pictured with Willow as a toddler. It was only when her daughter was about 18 months that she started to feel herself again, she says. Image: Family's own.

Lynsey Love pictured with Willow as a toddler. It was only when her daughter was about 18 months that she started to feel herself again, she says. Image: Family's own.

But this was only to be the start of 18 months of personal torment. Unable to breastfeed, she blamed herself. Her baby didn't sleep, and she blamed herself.

At baby groups, all the other mums seemed to be coping. Why couldn't she?

"I felt as if everybody else knew what they were doing," says Mrs Love. "I didn't have anybody to talk to. I was really struggling."

New direction

Mrs Love, terrified that Willow would be taken away from her, had struggled to ask for help. Eventually she did turn to her GP, and was offered counselling and medication.

It would be another year and a half though, she says, before she started to feel herself again. It was exercise, and doing something for herself, that made the difference.

After the birth of her second baby Jasper, now aged two, Mrs Love switched careers, taking on the Sweaty Mama franchise for new mothers across North West Leeds and Bradford.

"There's a lot of misconceptions, when you have postnatal depression, that you don't love your baby," she says. "That couldn't be further from the truth. I loved my baby so much I was consumed with it, I felt I wasn't good enough for her.

"I want to share my story to help other mothers. And the more I've talked about it, the more I realised it isn't just me.

"You're only a new mum for a small part of your life," she adds. "It should be an enjoyable time. Nobody should have to feel like they're on their own, like I did."

After her own experience, Lynsey Love switched her career from marketing, taking on the Sweaty Mama franchise for North West Leeds and Bradford. Image: Gary Longbottom.

After her own experience, Lynsey Love switched her career from marketing, taking on the Sweaty Mama franchise for North West Leeds and Bradford. Image: Gary Longbottom.

No mother should feel as isolated as she did in the months after her daughter's birth, says fitness instructor Lynsey Love, who has taken on the Sweaty Mama franchise running classes across Leeds North West and Bradford. She is determined to help others facing challenges as new parents. Image: Gary Longbottom.

No mother should feel as isolated as she did in the months after her daughter's birth, says fitness instructor Lynsey Love, who has taken on the Sweaty Mama franchise running classes across Leeds North West and Bradford. She is determined to help others facing challenges as new parents. Image: Gary Longbottom.