DJ Simone Riley, who has her own show on Legacy FM, Manchester’s African Caribbean community station, decided to share her story
When radio DJ Simone Riley discovered she was pregnant, she could not wait for her baby to arrive.
But for her, pregnancy was far from easy – she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, carpal tunnel, pre-eclampsia, and discovered she was a sickle cell carrier.
Almost everything that could have gone wrong went wrong, but the worst was yet to come.
After the birth of her daughter Baye, now five, Simone found herself so badly affected by post-natal depression that she could not even touch her own child.
Every time Simone went on Facebook, she was overwhelmed by photos of other women enjoying motherhood; she started to wonder if things would be better if she wasn’t around.
One in 10 mothers suffer from post-natal depression, yet it is an issue rarely spoken about.
Now Simone, who has her own show on Legacy FM, Manchester’s African Caribbean community station, decided to share her story.
To mark International Women’s Day last month, the mum-of-one – known as Miss Diva to her listeners – opened up about her experience in a hope of stamping out the stigma surrounding the topic.
Speaking to her listeners, Simone said: “I didn’t want to get out of bed, I didn’t want to touch my baby, I didn’t know how to cope. I was crying, I wasn’t eating.
“I had all these thoughts and feelings, it was like I wasn’t in control of my thoughts.
“I thought if I wasn’t here, would everything be better off?”
Overcome with emotion, she said it was an experience she had never discussed publicly before.
“People will think, you’ve got everything – you’ve got a child, a house over your head, food in the fridge – why are you upset? Why are you feeling down?
“I didn’t know why I was feeling the way I was.”
Simone hopes by telling her story it will encourage other women suffering from post-natal depression to seek help.
She told the M.E.N: “The way I coped was by going to speak to someone, that was the first big milestone and that person helped change my life because they got me back to me.
“It took three years to get me back to my normal self.
“Baye was born in 2012, at the time I had quite a lot of stuff going on with me, I was running a business, my radio show was making progress.
“I’m a very bubbly character, and well known in the community for the stuff that I do. At the time I was also working with children that had been kicked out of mainstream schools.
“But after I had Baye I noticed something wasn’t right. It wasn’t immediately, but after a few weeks I was really struggling.
“I couldn’t connect with her, I’d see friends on Facebook with their babies all lovey dovey and wonder why I didn’t have that.
“I didn’t know if it was because I was tired – babies don’t come with an instruction manual – but it came to the point where I couldn’t even get myself out of bed.
“I was having really dark thoughts, I thought about ending my life, thinking it would be easier if I wasn’t around.
“It was those thoughts that made me realise something wasn’t right, but I didn’t want to burden my family, I didn’t want them to worry or think I wasn’t coping.
“I went to the doctor and told them everything, they said to me they didn’t know how I’d coped for as long as I had alone.
“They wanted to put me on anti-depressants, but that’s another taboo in the black community, I didn’t want that so I had to think of another way to overcome the depression.
“I started having counselling and it was the best thing I ever could have done. My counsellor just listened to me, they didn’t judge, they were completely neutral and understanding.”
Simone, who presents the Miss Diva Breakfast Show on Legacy FM twice a week, said she used to put up a front to the outside world.
“I remember bottling everything up when I was doing my shows, and then as soon as I got home I’d get upset,” she added.
“My appetite changed as well, and that was a big thing as I love my food.
“I am quite a glam person, I like to dress well, but after Baye was born I just couldn’t be bothered and would stay in my dressing gown.”
Simone made the decision to come off social media, saying that seeing other mums with their children only made things harder.
“I was off it for three years. I’d sit there looking through Facebook at other people with their babies, and kept comparing myself to them, asking ‘why can’t I do that?’
“Sometimes social media can cause detriment to a mother and the way they bond with their child.
“Instead I started to focus on me and getting myself better, I realised that I couldn’t look after my daughter if I couldn’t look after myself.
“It took three years to get me to where I am now, and looking back I can’t believe I was in that place.
“I’m back to my bubbly self, which is largely down to the incredible support I had from my family once I opened up to them about my post-natal depression.
“My relationship with Baye, now five, now incredible. We are inseparable, always together, always having fun.
“I’m really happy in myself and that’s why I decided it was time for me to share my experience and talk about what I’ve been through.
“The main thing I want to do is to send a message to other mothers going through this that they are not alone. Help and support is out there and they should never be ashamed to ask for it.”
The Miss Diva Breakfast Show features a regular slot known as ‘The Health Hour’, which is co-hosted by Greater Manchester GP, Dr Aisha Malik.
It was during this that Simone chose to speak about post-natal depression.
Dr Malik explained that post-natal depression can affect as many as one in 10 women.
“The symptoms include feelings of guilt, not being good enough, low mood, lack of enjoyment, lack of interest in the baby, irritability, poor concentration and feeling unable to cope with anything”, she added.
“Thoughts of harming the baby can occur and in severe cases the mother may even feel like harming herself.
“Simone’s story shows that help is available and that you can recover.
“It’s important to get help and not worry about what people will think of you if you are feeling this way. Speaking to your health visitor or GP is the next step to getting help.
“Don’t bottle up your feelings, you do not have to suffer alone.”
The Miss Diva Breakfast Show is on Legacy 90.1FM every Monday and Tuesday from 7-10am, with The Health Hour on Tuesdays between 9-10am.