LETTER:When post-natal depression strikes

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The Independent Online
From Ms Jane Davies

Sir: It is obvious that Jim White ("Someone Must Take The Blame"; TV Review, 2 June) has little sympathy for sufferers from mental illness. Having watched Inside Story I feel he has also missed the point.

No one was trying to suggest that Caroline Beale did not, at least inadvertently, kill her baby. What the programme was exploring, however, was how it could have happened and also how differently she would have been treated had it happened in the UK.

Before suffering from post-natal depression, I would probably have found it difficult to understand how Ms Beale did what she did. However, when my illness was at its most severe, I can remember vividly the feelings I had about my daughter.

There was not one day when I did not think about killing her; not because I did not love her, but because I loved her so much, and could not bear the thought of her ever having to suffer. I felt that if I suffocated her I could be in control of how she would die and could make sure it did not hurt her. Sometimes I would look at her as she slept and think that she had stopped breathing. I would actually feel relieved until I realised that she was still alive.

I am not suggesting that our illnesses were the same, but I am trying to demonstrate the abnormality of thought of sufferers from mental illness. Fortunately for me, I received much support from my partner and a great deal of help from Professor Brockington and his team at the Queen Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital in Birmingham.

Attitudes like those expressed by Mr White do nothing to help sufferers from mental illness, and may discourage people from seeking help. Caroline Beale needs treatment and understanding, not punishment for something she had no control over.

Obviously it is tragic that a baby died who would have survived under different circumstances, but I do not believe that she should be punished any more than she already has, and certainly not as a murderer.

Yours faithfully,

JANE DAVIES

Edgbaston, Birmingham

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