Samantha: “My story begins in 2004, when I was told that I was pregnant with my first child. After extensive consideration, my husband and I decided that we would use the public healthcare facility, a Maternity Hospital, closest to our home, as private users. This facility happened to be the site of the Perinatal Mental Health Project (PMHP). ”
Read her full story here.
Ntombomzi: “When I first became a mother, I didn’t know about depression. Now I would like to let everyone know about this problem so that people can stand up and do something about it.”
Read her full story here.
Pregnant and HIV positive
Bianca was not only dealing with a pregnancy that was not planned; she had also been diagnosed HIV positive at her first antenatal clinic visit. She was in shock and did not know what to think. The problems felt insurmountable. Her boyfriend had just lost his job and had started going out drinking with his friends. She was upset at being left alone, and this caused fights between them, which had become verbally and physically abusive. Having no income, they had to move in with her mother, but the situation was uncomfortable and made her mother very stressed.
At the antenatal clinic, she was offered a mental health screening and was referred to the PMHP counsellor. In the first session she poured out her problems, and the counsellor listened attentively. Together they agreed that Bianca, and her baby’s safety was a priority, together with getting information and helping her adjust to her HIV diagnosis. They also thought about ways to tackle the conflictual relationship with her boyfriend and avoid violent encounters.
Over the next few months, before Bianca’s baby was born, the help she received in the counselling relationship enabled her to approach her boyfriend differently, and their relationship became calmer. Bianca’s conflict avoidance skills were affirmed by the counsellor and this helped to build her confidence. Since her mother was also less stressed, Bianca was able to disclose her HIV status to her, talk to her about her treatment, her worry about infecting the baby and about feeding options, and her mother provided reassuring support.
Bianca’s baby was born healthy and HIV negative. Despite ongoing challenges in her life, she was able to bond with her baby as her relationships were more supportive, and she had healthy ways to approach her problems. She saw the counsellor a few times after her baby was born, until she felt confident in her adjustment to motherhood. She knew she could go back to the counsellor if she felt she was not managing.
You can find more client related stories on our website here
* The PMHP is committed to client confidentiality in keeping with the ethical requirements of professional mental health practice. The client stories reflect common scenarios or sets of circumstances faced by many of our clients. Pseudonyms are used and details are changed. The stories are not based on any one particular woman’s experience, unless an individual explicitly chooses to share her story with or without her name attached.