Over the last five days, Salford Now has been discovering the subject of mental health through various walks of life, through the series Is the World Going Mental?
Concluding the series, we take a look into the stresses of pregnancy over the last 10 years.
In 1998, teenage pregnancy in the UK was amongst the highest in western Europe. In recent years however, the Office for National statistics revealed data showing the fall of conception rates amongst females aged 15-19 had dramatically decreased.
Adding to that statistic is 40-year-old Emma Stocks, who conceived her first child aged just 15. Sitting in her living room surrounded by portraits of her four children, she begins to tell of how her life began to change so suddenly.
“As a teenager, I rebelled” she begins, “I was hanging around with the wrong crowds I then got into a relationship with a boy and then on new year’s eve 1994 I went to a party and six weeks later I found out I was pregnant, a week before my 16th birthday”.
Emma describes the time as “very confusing”. “Everyone told me I should get rid of it because I was too young”, she says “I wanted to prove to everyone that I could do it”.
Becoming a parent at any age can be a nervous and stressful time. The mother of four tells me her personal struggle, as her father didn’t speak for 6 months.
“I would make my Dad a cup of tea and he wouldn’t drink it. I’d make him a sandwich and he wouldn’t eat it, he’d go in the kitchen and make another one. That really hurt, it broke my heart.”
Emma later moved into a hostel for young mothers. After 6 months of no contact with her father, she tells of how he broke his silence, by feeling the baby kick. “A tear rolled down my face because it was the first time he’d spoke to me.”, She says “He asked to touch my belly and my baby kicked the hardest he’d ever kicked, and that broke the ice”.
As normality began to set in over the next couple of years, Emma describes her discovery of her second child as “even more of a shock”.
“My new partner took on my first born, but I found it hard coming to terms with being an adult and part of a family. One day I went to hospital to have an ingrowing toe nail removed, wanting to be put to sleep, they did a pregnancy test, and next thing I had five minutes to tell my partner he was going to be a Dad before I was taken to have the nail removed”.
Emma then continues to add she later married before falling pregnant with her third child. However, it soon became obvious things were different this time around “I had a horrible pregnancy, I was hormonal and depressed. I later found I had post-natal depression, I had a midwife tell me I had miscarried a twin. My marriage had begun to break down. Everything became a really horrible time. I was on anti-depressants at the time. I found it all overwhelming”.
Approximately 33% of mothers who experience depression symptoms during pregnancy go on to develop PND with around 25% of mothers still suffering PND up to a year after the child is born.
With a now saddened look on her face, it is clear to see this still effected the mother of four to this day.
Within three years, Emma had suffered with post-natal depression, as well as the loss of both parents in consecutive years. She says this is when things “broke down”.
“After losing my Dad, I found I kept lashing out all the time at anybody over any little thing. I feel I hit rock bottom, I found I was always shouting, always argumentative, and that lead to the end of my marriage”
One fateful night, Emma says she felt “the worst I’ve ever felt”. Sitting on the edge of her bed in tears, she saw her partners tool box from the wardrobe, and decided to take drastic measures.
“I saw this Stanley knife. So I just reached for it and began to slitt my wrists. My partner woke up half way through, we fought over this knife and it ended up cutting his groan.”
After the arguments alerted the neighbours, emergency services where called to the house. Through tears now rolling down her cheeks, Emma says “It ended with us both being taken to hospital and I ended up being charged with ABH. I now have to live with that for the rest of my life”.
In what Emma describes as a “very hectic year” after the incident, she divorced her husband, fell pregnant with a fourth child, and gave birth as a single parent.
“I felt like I was hitting rock bottom again, the PND had returned, the suicidal tendencies were coming back again. This time I went straight to the doctor, who got me seen with a counsellor, and started getting help straight away.”
Despite the tragedy that has unfolded in her life, Emma is taking strides to rebuild her confidence and her life. She is currently studying Counselling and Psychology at the University of Hull, as well as working part time in a care home.
“I feel like I was broken for a very long time. I had seen doctors about my depression but back then there wasn’t a lot they could do for me. There’s a lot more out there nowadays, especially on social media that would’ve helped me back then. Over the year’s mental health has raised in awareness, it is stronger, but I don’t think it’s strong enough. If anyone is going through a rough time, it’s not stupid, it’s not anything to be ashamed of, people need to ask for help and talk about things.”
If you have been affected by any of the issues above help is available.