Views & Reviews Personal View

What could we have done for her now?

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 15 October 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2106
  1. Fiona Moir, senior tutor in mental health and communication skills, University of Auckland
  1. f.moir{at}

    In the 1960s my mother had three episodes of postnatal depression. I have always known this must have had a significant effect on herself and my father, but recently I have recognised that the depression undoubtedly also had an effect on my siblings and me, and perhaps it could also affect my children in the future. Maybe it all started with one of my grandparents a long time ago, but no one ever spoke about it. What previously I had considered a small family incident of mental illness I now see as something more significant, stretching over generations and passing on vulnerabilities. I wonder whether it made me the person and practitioner I am today?

    I have looked again at two photos of my mother and me, the first taken on the day I was born. There I am, a small bundle in an old fashioned blanket, and she is holding me as if I am the most precious thing and smiling sideways at the camera. In the second photo a few months later she looks …

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