Breaking the Silence: Sarah Vickers

By Charmayne Allison

AS PART of Mental Health Week, nine locals from Echuca-Moama and surrounds will share their stories.

After the birth of her daughter Jazmyn, Echuca’s Sarah Vickers was plagued by post-natal depression, battling feelings of shame and inadequacy as she struggled to connect with her baby.

It’s a story shared by so many women thrust into motherhood, and for Sarah it was one which ultimately ended with hope and healing.

This is her story.

Produced by Cath Grey and Charmayne Allison

ECHUCA’S Sarah Vickers was sitting in her hospital room, holding her newborn baby – and crying.

She’d been crying for days.

Days which were supposed to be the most joyful of any new mother’s life but which were, for her, a living nightmare.

“I didn’t want Jazmyn in my room, I didn’t want her near me, I just could not cope,” she said.

“Emotionally I’d look at her and feel detached. I didn’t feel that she was my child, nor did I think she felt anything for me.

“I’d go near her and she’d cry and I’d be like ‘well, what am I doing wrong’.”

Things only deteriorated when they went home, the subsequent six months torture for Sarah.

“I’d sleep through the night and not hear her crying, I’d be super emotional, I’d be standing over her cot screaming for no reason,” she said.

“There were signs there but I wasn’t willing to accept something was wrong.”

Sarah felt deep shame and inadequacy as she struggled with new motherhood.

Made worse by the pressures she felt from others around her.

“You never know if you’re doing the right thing. And I was scared, I was constantly scared that I was going to hurt her, that I couldn’t look after her,” she said.

“Unfortunately there’s still a stigma that you need to be perfect.

“I had all these people tell me ‘you’re not doing it right’, they’d shove her in one side then shove her another way and I’d have four different people telling me how to put her to sleep.”

She and Jazmyn were at her cousin’s son’s christening in Warrnambool when Sarah reached breaking point.

And did something she’ll never forget – but wishes she could.

“I’d had a really bad morning and afternoon with Jaz,” she recalled.

“I was sitting on the couch and my dad said something to me and I literally picked Jazmyn up, threw her at him and stormed out of the house.”

Thankfully her father caught Jazmyn.

But Sarah’s aunt, a nurse who had seen the entire tragic scene unfold, ran after her.

“She sat with me and said I think it’s time we do something. So when we came home from Warrnambool mum and dad got me straight onto the doctors,” she said.

Sarah was put on medication and began attending a post-natal depression group at Echuca Regional Health.

It was a slow progression, but through talking to other struggling mums Sarah began to heal.

“I started to realise I could do this, I am a good mum, I just need that little bit of help to get me through,” she said.

Years down the track, Sarah says being a mum to Jazmyn has been the best thing in her life.

“There have been times where I’ve wanted to walk away,” she admitted, tears in her eyes.

“But then I’d just look at her and she just makes everything better.

“If you feel something’s not right, just ask for help. Don’t be ashamed, don’t be afraid, you’re not the only one going through this, there is help and it will get better.”

If you or someone you know needs help now, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. If it becomes a crisis go immediately to the nearest hospital or phone 000.