By Chelsea Pottenger

Before I had my daughter, I was in the world of medical sales. For 12 years I worked long hours, I travelled for work regularly and I had demanding quotas to meet.

My husband Jay was also busy so there was always the juggle of trying to fit in family despite our demanding workloads.

Finally the time came that we decided to have children. I was already burnt out when I fell pregnant and I worked through most of my pregnancy so by the time our beautiful daughter Clara arrived, I was exhausted and slowly started sinking into the darkest period of my life.

It all started with breastfeeding. It was very difficult to get Clara to breastfeed from day one. While I am an optimist and I figured we would get there eventually, by Day 3, I started experiencing anxiety induced insomnia.

Breastfeeding continued to be a struggle at home and I started to see my perfect little girl, with her blonde curls and cute button nose as a source of my pain.

I was in a constant battle as to whether I should stop breastfeeding. On week 3 we decided I would stop but within a day I became hyper-sensitive about it. I started asking my husband to take her away from me after feeds. I even suggested we move her down to the kitchen so I couldn’t hear her fussing anymore.

To the outside world I was well put together and appeared to be taking it all in my stride. I went back to work quickly, I had my hair done, I was dressed well. To everyone else, it looked like I was thriving, but inside I was crumbling like I never had before.

After the birth of her daughter, Chelsea Pottenger says it appeared like she was thriving but inside she was ‘crumbling’.

My mum came to help for six weeks which took the pressure off. When she had to go my desperation and anxiety kicked up to an all-time high.

By week nine, I was on the way to the airport to catch a flight to Scotland for one of my best friends weddings and I had a severe panic attack on the way in the car. I was experiencing anxiety, sadness, episodes of crying. I finally spoke up to my husband about how I was feeling and with his support I ended up at a clinic who helped me overcome my severe case of PND.

Being around other women who were going through a similar situation to me was a game changer in terms of my recovery, and being taken out of my daily life, with my social media accounts turned off really gave me a chance to look inwards and just “be” for a while.

Chelsea’s daughter, Clara is now seven.

There is so much pressure on mums and social media really can set someone off in a spiral. From receiving unsolicited advice from anyone and everyone, to observing the perfectly curated lives of mums on social media, it can be a lot of pressure for someone, especially if they are not coping.

During my time in the ward, I really re-evaluated and looked at my life. That’s when I decided to look into the scientific side of mental health, meditation and performance. From this experience, I started studying and I decided to get into the mindfulness space, focusing on high performance and corporates specifically.

The adversity that I faced ended up changing my life for the better, giving me a chance to change focus and fall into an area that I really believe in. I use my story to try to help others to apply mental health strategies, performance techniques and realistic skills to allow them to perform at their best but without the burn out.

Chelsea Pottenger will be releasing her first book, the Mindful High Performer on May 31. She is also the founder of EQ Minds.