Sue Rogers was intent on ending her life in the summer of 2017, after hitting rock bottom in her battle with severe mental health problems which first developed after the birth of her daughter, Jessica, in March that year.
Consumed by feelings of hopelessness and a fear that she would never get better, the 37 year old had made her way to a bridge above the A55.
But her life was saved when off-duty mental health nurse Joe Lewis, who she had come to know from her time as a patient on Glan Clwyd Hospital’s Ablett Unit, made his way through the queuing traffic and a police cordon to talk to her.
Sue, from Henllan near Denbigh, is sharing her story on World Mental Health Day to give hope to other new Mums who may be struggling with their mental health.
“I didn’t feel I wanted to live anymore” recalls the Mum-of-one.
“At the time I just felt numb. I just wanted to shut my eyes and for it all to go away as I felt that nobody could help me.
“While I was on the Ablett Unit I was treated by Joe. He made me feel like a person, rather than just a number. I felt at ease with him and he’d always have time to sit down and be there if I needed him.
“When he approached me on the bridge he just gave me that vital little bit of hope that there was some treatment that we hadn’t tried, and that I could get better.
“My advice to anybody who is struggling is ‘never give up and keep trying everything’. It might take time, but you will get there in the end. There is hope.”
In common with up to 20% of new Mums, Sue developed mental health problems after giving birth to her daughter, Jessica, in March 2017.
She said: “It had taken me over ten years and three cycles of IVF to finally become pregnant and Jessica was such a wanted baby. It just shows that mental health problems really can affect anyone.
“I was the least suicidal person you could meet and I’d never had any problems with mental health before. But after Jessica was born I was crying a lot and deep down I knew there was something really wrong. It got to the point where I got so scared because I thought I was never going to get better.”
Sue spent three months on Glan Clwyd Hospital’s Ablett Psychiatric Unit, where Doctors believed she had developed Post-Partum Psychosis, a severe episode of mental illness which affects 1 in every 1,000 new Mums.
Since being discharged in the autumn of 2017 Sue has been supported by the Tîm Dyffryn Clwyd Community Mental Health Team, and she is relieved to report a dramatic improvement in her mental health.
She is now concentrating on making up for lost time with Jessica, now 18 months old.
“I’m well and I’m happy and just go glad that I’m still here,” she said.
“Sometimes I feel guilty that I missed out on so many months with her when she was little. But I’m trying to make up that time now.”
“My employer at the time – Gamlins Solicitors were so supportive and they kept my job open for me, which was one less thing to worry about. And I couldn’t have got through it all without my Mum, who was amazing with me and Jessica.”
Despite being shortlisted for a Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board Achievement Award for his life-saving intervention, the nurse who saved her, Joe Lewis, says Sue’s remarkable recovery is enough of a reward in itself.
“It’s so lovely to see that Sue is now living a normal life and coming out of the other side of being in a very bad place,” he explained.
“To see her thriving now is the most important thing to me and knowing that as nurses we can make such a difference to people’s lives.”
The free and confidential C.A.L.L Mental Health Helpline is available 24/7 to provide emotional support and signposting to local services. Call 0800 132 737, text ‘Help’ to 81066, or visit www.callhelpline.org.uk.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board recently established a dedicated Perinatal Mental Health Service in North Wales, with funding from the Welsh Government.
The service provides treatment for mental health problems affecting women in pregnancy and the postnatal period, as well as training for all NHS staff who come into contact with pregnant women.