” ‘I just put my foot down. I was beyond caring and I was only upset it didn’t work’.”
Paragraph five reads: “She hopes to raise awareness of postnatal depression – a subject she says is still “quite taboo” – and bipolar disorder, which doctors said was triggered by the birth of her second child.”
Six months ago, Christchurch mother Robyn Twemlow woke after another suicide attempt and decided to turn her life around.
Twemlow, 39, made the attempt as part of her battle with severe postnatal depression. She had made several previous attempts on her life, including accelerating through a red light with her baby in the back seat of the car.
Twemlow said of the attempt last August: “When I was conscious again, it hit home that I couldn’t do this any more. I couldn’t blame my mental health on my bad eating and lack of exercise. The only one responsible for my life was me.”
She is almost halfway to her goal of losing 40 kilograms by the time she turns 40 in December and is well into her preparation for two long-distance bike races.
She hopes to raise awareness of postnatal depression – a subject she says is still “quite taboo” – and bipolar disorder, which doctors said was triggered by the birth of her second child.
She is also promoting a support network, Mothers Matter, which helps women with postnatal depression.
From her September weight of 127kg she has lost 19kg.
Her first event is the 76-kilometre Girls on Bikes race in Methven on February 20, followed by the 130km Around Brunner race in April.
Before suffering postnatal depression, Twemlow said, she scoffed when she heard stories like her own.
Before having her first daughter in 2003 she had been even-tempered and, although carrying a few extra kilograms, had never been classed as obese.
After giving birth, her mental and physical health went into decline. She felt unable to be responsible for her daughter’s life.
“I felt claustrophobic, but I couldn’t leave the house,” she said. “I was ringing my husband all the time. I felt all right when I was with someone, but I couldn’t be on my own.
“I was imagining drowning her, smothering her. It wasn’t her fault. I just did not feel up to the task of being a mother.”
She was diagnosed with postnatal depression and given anti-depressants.
Before the medication took effect, Twemlow tried to kill herself and her child by accelerating through a red light at a busy Christchurch intersection.
“I just put my foot down. I was beyond caring and I was only upset it didn’t work.”
She was hospitalised in the mothers and babies unit at Princess Margaret Hospital for four weeks and remained an outpatient for several months.
Twemlow and husband Aaron decided not to have any more children, but she fell pregnant with her second daughter three years ago, triggering a rarer mental illness.
Doctors told her that the birth of her second child had led to a bipolar mental disorder characterised by periods of mania followed by depression. Despite medication, she made more attempts on her life before she decided to take control.
When she first started cycling she struggled to reach 20km. Now she is training four times a week and can ride 70km.
“It helps the whole family, being well,” she said.