A mother-of-two claims she has barely left the house in five years after developing crippling postnatal anxiety.
Jennie Oneill suffered a panic attack in 2014, nine months after giving birth to her second daughter Brooke in a ‘fantastic’ delivery.
Ms Oneill was dropping her eldest daughter Olivia, now ten, and stepson off at the school gate when her legs turned to ‘jelly’ and panic ‘ripped through her body’.
The 33-year-old, of Hull, has been unable to make it past her street since, as her palpitations and breathlessness force her to run back inside.
Ms Oneill claims she can see ‘no end’ to her ‘miserable existence’, which has caused her to lose ‘all her friends’ and miss out on Brooke’s first day at school.
Jennie Oneill claims she has barely left the house in five years due to postnatal anxiety. She is pictured left with her eldest daughter Olivia. Ms Oneill suffered a panic attack in 2014, nine months after giving birth to Brooke (pictured together recently right) in a ‘fantastic’ delivery.
Speaking of her anxiety, Ms Oneill said: ‘It’s absolutely ruined my life, it’s awful, I’ve been stuck in this house for nearly six years.
‘I’ve lost every friend I had, it’s a miserable existence, I feel like the c******** parent ever.
‘I used to be the most outgoing person you could ever meet but now I can’t get further than my street.
‘I can get just past the garden gate, then I freeze. When I’ve tried pushing myself I’ll get that bit further, but my whole body freezes and I either stand there looking an idiot, frozen, or I’ll run back in.’
WHAT IS POSTNATAL ANXIETY?
As many as 17 per cent of new mothers experience postnatal anxiety after giving birth, studies suggest.
It is thought to be caused by a combination of the shock of parenthood, hormonal fluctuations, and the impact family life has on sleep and stress levels.
Some women experience postnatal generalised anxiety disorder, which is defined as a constant state of anxiety.
This is where you worry about everything from your child’s feeding patterns to your ability as a parent.
Postnatal obsessive compulsive disorder occurs when a woman experiences distressing thoughts about harm coming to her baby.
And postnatal health anxiety is when the mind becomes preoccupied that there may be something wrong with the baby’s health.
Many anxiety sufferers feel tense and on edge, and battle a constant sense of dread.
They may also become paranoid that people can tell something is wrong.
And their mind is often busy with thoughts and continuously dwelling on negative situations.
Physical symptoms may include:
- Tense muscles and headaches
- Pins and needles
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- Sweating or hot flushes
- Needing the toilet more or less frequently
- Churning feeling in the stomach
- Panic attacks
Treatment is made up of talking therapies and anti-anxiety medication.
People can help themselves cope by shifting their focus onto something small, like the details on a picture or the fabric of their clothes.
Breathing exercises and staying active can also help.
Ms Oneill first developed severe anxiety after the birth of Olivia. Although this persisted for a year, she was able to push past it.
Years later, Ms Oneill and her partner Alex had Brooke .
‘Life was amazing at that point,’ she said.
‘I had a fantastic birth, it was quick, everything was amazing, I came out of hospital on my birthday, then it was Mother’s Day, it was magical, life was great.’
However, when Brooke was around six months old, Ms Oneill began to feel anxious, which she tried to ignore.
Three months later, she suffered the life-changing panic attack.
‘It’s a horrible feeling, it’s like you are just stood there and it feels like you can’t concentrate,’ Ms Oneill said.
‘Your legs go like jelly like you’re going to pass out, panic rips through your body, your brain, you are holding your breath, you go light headed.’
Ms Oneill’s most recent childbirth was not traumatic. She therefore puts her anxiety down to hormonal changes during labour.
‘I’m adamant it’s to do with pregnancy because it came back when I was pregnant the second time,’ she said
‘It’s something to do with hormones. I’m not depressed – I’m depressed at the situation.
‘If I could go out with my family I’d be the happiest person on this planet.
‘I don’t know what I’m panicking about, there’s no reason for it, it’s ridiculous. You don’t know why it happens.’
Ms Oneill claims her anxiety has left her unable to tidy her house, causing it to be a ‘mess’.
She even has to have smear tests and routine blood tests carried out at home.
Ms Oneill’s GP has prescribed anti-depressants and beta blockers in an attempt to help her overcome her symptoms, but to no avail.
She has also tried cognitive behavioural therapy and is not eligible for other forms of therapy due to it requiring her leaving the house.
‘I do want to get out of this, but I can’t see an end to it all,’ Ms Oneill said.
Through it all, she credits her partner for his unwavering support. ‘He’s amazing, he’s stood by me through it all,’ Ms Oneill said. ‘He had to give up work, we are living on brass buttons.
‘He does the school run, takes them to dentist and doctors, he goes to parents evening’.
Although Ms Oneill describes her life as ‘miserable’, she believes her children have grown accustomed to their family’s set-up.
‘I’m just mum at home, anything they want to do out the house it’s dad,’ she said. ‘We have no family days out, no holidays.’
Ms Oneill is speaking out to raise awareness of postnatal anxiety, which she believes is overlooked.
‘I feel angry sometimes there’s not more help, sometimes I think it’s my fault, sometimes I think there should be more help, it’s ruined my life,’ she said.
Ms Oneill (pictured with Brooke recently) claims she feel like the ‘c******** mother ever’ due to her anxiety causing her to ‘freeze’ every time she tries to venture beyond her front gate. She missed out on Brooke’s first day at school, with the family also being unable to enjoy days out