real life

"I was so absorbed in myself that I let her and my daughter down."

It’s not an unfamiliar story.

New South Wales Premier Mike Baird didn’t notice the signs of postnatal depression because he was too busy working.

Now he wants other new parents to look out for their partners and pay attention to the warning signs.

“My priorities were wrong. I was caught in my career and I think that’s one of the challenges we have: What’s really important in life?” Baird told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mike and Kerryn Baird on their wedding day.

“At that stage I was invested in my career. I wanted to progress and everything I was doing was the most important… I missed the signs. I didn’t take the time to try and understand what was wrong with the love of my life, being my wife.”

He said he didn’t ask questions, and he should have.

“I didn’t sort of think anything beyond ‘why on earth is Kerryn calling during the day just sort of crying her eyes out? Why, when I come home at night, it looks like nothing has happened in the house all day?’,” he said.

“I should have started asking questions and I think because I was so absorbed in myself that I let her and I let my daughter down.”

The Bairds, who have three children, Laura, Cate and Luke, spoke candidly about their experience at a Gidget Foundation lunch to raise awareness about perinatal​ anxiety and depression.

Cate, Mike, Kerryn and Luke Baird ahead of the 2015 NSW election.

Kerryn Baird said she struggled with the condition mentally and physically after the birth of their first child.

“It’s very heavy. Everything you do and everything you see just almost has a grey heavy tinge to it so physically it’s difficult to do things, it’s difficult to get up,” Mrs Baird said.

“Just even in decision making processes, you’ve got to work that much harder.”

She described it as a “black heavy cloud” and said the first step towards regaining control was to seek support.

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“There was this sense of on one hand a terrible day, but on the other hand a euphoric day and I can remember this almost feeling of euphoria coming over me and I walked out of there a lot lighter realising that it had a name,” Mrs Baird said.

“It was something that was happening to me. It wasn’t who I had become and it wasn’t motherhood. This wasn’t what I needed to expect for the next 10 years.”

“It wasn’t who I had become and it wasn’t motherhood.”

More than one in seven new mothers and up to one in 10 new fathers experience postnatal depression.

Terri Smith, the CEO of Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia said the condition can affect anyone, in a number of ways.

“There are many shades of grey experienced during this volatile period as there are as many different presentations as there are people, with symptoms of anxiety being just one of them.”

It’s perinatal depression and anxiety awareness week this week.

If you need help or support contact the Perinatal Anxiety and Depression (PANDA) national helpline on 1300 726 306.

Watch for more on Premier Mike Baird’s background and family here:

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