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Oct 11, 2018

Eighteen months ago Jamie Madge and his wife Sarah welcomed daughter Olivia into the world. Fun-loving, gregarious, kind: all agreed Jamie was made to be dad. But all was not rosy – despite the newborn cuddles, the Facebook likes from hundreds of friends, Jamie couldn’t shake sadness.

In the new episode Jamie discusses his struggles with depression after Olivia’s birth and how he found happiness in fatherhood thanks to supportive family and friends and by reaching out for clinical help.

An honest, heartfelt Facebook post at his lowest ebb reached far and wide, with support pouring in. This post led Jamie to discuss his experience on the podcast.

According to UK parental support group NCT, 38% of new fathers suffer mental health problems. One in ten suffer post-partum (post-natal) depression. So why don’t more people know this?

Jamie tells host Robin Leeburn how breaking down in tears during an episode of Catchphrase proved the motivation to reach out to a doctor for help. He hints at why men may shield their pain, describing how friends all called him ‘brave’ for sharing his story on social media posts which reached friends and peers across the globe. For Jamie, it wasn’t brave, he just knew he needed to talk about his problems.

Says Jamie: “I started feeling ‘off’ almost instantly. It wasn’t quite what I’d imagined and I felt guilty at all times. Guilty if I was looking after the baby and she was crying, guilty when I wasn’t looking after the baby because Sarah was incredibly tired. It was really hard to deal with especially since I’m quite an upbeat person in general.”

A year later, after cognitive behavioural therapy, Jamie - editor at a London film and ad archive - is now back on track. He describes how three months of shared parental leave, though daunting after his experiences, proved the happiest of his life, connecting with his new daughter.

“It’s nice to know even when you’re feeling the lowest there’s always a way out,” adds Jamie. “It really expressed to me that not only is it ok to feel bad or depressed, it’s quite natural that if you’ve got a child screaming their lungs off at home it’s ok to have that slight dread about coming back. It’s not the screaming I felt bad about, it was the guilt about feeling that dread. It’s ok not to always feel happy.”

Produced by Fairly Media (https://fairly.media/), music by DJ Mandray for balancetwo.