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‘Therapy on the NHS fixed my postnatal depression’

Emma IannarilliEmma Iannarilli, 37, is a founder of and lives with her husband and three-year-old son, Joe. She had cognitive behavioural therapy for severe postnatal depression.

‘Joe was a premature and difficult birth. A month later my husband Peter’s mother died, so I focused on being the best wife and mum I could be. But, in private, I spent days crying. I panicked if Joe got a cold or lost weight and when I saw the doctor I burst into tears, telling him it was a struggle even to get out of bed.

‘He prescribed antidepressants, and I went back to work as a deputy head teacher. The school had given me reduced hours so I should have been happy, but I’d drive to work every day crying. When I talked to Peter, he’d just remind me we need two jobs to pay the mortgage. Finally, I went back to the doctor, who referred me for therapy on the NHS.

Baby 1

‘I’d seen people on TV sitting on sofas talking to smarmy men, but Diane was business-like and not overtly friendly – at first, I didn’t even like her. She said “[The school] has given you everything you asked for, what more do you need or want?” After that, I didn’t want to go back, but my mum urged me to. The next week, Diane pointed out I’d been beating myself up over anything I got wrong and ignoring all I’d been through – then I realised she was on my side. She set weekly tasks – going out for a “date” with Peter, meeting more mums – and asked hard questions too, including about my marriage. Finally being able to say out loud “All Peter’s bothered about is that I can pay the mortgage!” was liberating. Often, she’d point out his perspective and say, “But that might be because X.”

Baby 3

‘After 12 sessions, I told Peter I couldn’t go back to work. He agreed, and I handed in my notice. The following week Diane – without knowing – said “You look like something has lifted off your shoulders.” Our sessions became like chats after that and soon she said I didn’t need to come every week.

‘She urged me to take up a hobby and four weeks later I began blogging. I’d always loved fashion – a year on, I get 40,000 hits a month. Thanks to Diane’s help, my relationship, my job, and my outlook have gone through changes I never thought possible.’

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy? Practical mental tools to stop negative though patterns in weekly sessions. Good for depression, stress and phobias. Find a therapist by talking to your GP or visit Sessions are free on the NHS or about £40 privately.

Emma can be found blogging at

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