Young mum shares her postnatal depression story through art

RAISING AWARENESS: Tegan Neville at the launch of her art exhibition Out of Darkness at Ballarat Base Hospital on Monday. Picture: Kate Healy
RAISING AWARENESS: Tegan Neville at the launch of her art exhibition Out of Darkness at Ballarat Base Hospital on Monday. Picture: Kate Healy

A young mother is sharing her story of how she emerged from the shadows of postnatal depression through an art exhibition at Ballarat Base Hospital.

Tegan Neville said she took a “huge dive” after she fell pregnant with her second child in 2011.

While many memories are hazy, others stand out such as the time she was paralysed on the kitchen floor crying because her daughter had asked for a tin of spaghetti to be warmed up.

“When I was going through it, I found not many people really understood,” Ms Neville said.

“I spent a lot of time berating myself about not being able to do what other people were doing and it took me a long time to understand that something was wrong.”

The exhibition Out of Darkness is a way of sharing her experiences with severe postnatal depression with others to raise awareness.

Ms Neville said art had been a “huge” part of her healing journey, with each of the works on display an expression of the feelings and fog she experienced coming out of the depression.

“It is important for me not to just dwell on the bad part, but also to look at how it afforded me the opportunity to completely stop and change what I was doing,” she said.

Ms Neville said the five years since her son’s birth had been a long journey to recovery, but she had discovered how to reconnect with herself and find her inner strength.

She wanted to hold the exhibition at a hospital after receiving strong support from health services, especially Mother and Family Units including North Park Hospital Mother Baby Unit and Raphael House.

“Being able to collaborate with someone who offers the services was an important part for me to help raise awareness of the services that are out there,” Ms Neville said.

Twenty per cent of exhibition sales will go towards Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia, which provides a national helpline for expecting and new parents struggling with anxiety and depression.

PANDA Awareness Week runs from November 12 – 18 with the ‘it happened to me’ campaign encouraging people to start conversations about the illness. 

The week-long art exhibition is in the foyer of the new Ballarat Health Services’ Gardiner-Pittard Building at the Ballarat Base Hospital.

For more information visit artfromspirit.com. For Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia helpline call 1300 726 306.