I've missed the mum gene - that's what I spent the first two years, after giving birth, telling myself...
In September 2015, I was finally diagnosed with Postnatal Depression - two years after my little boy, Reuben, was born. I had experienced a long (undiagnosed) battle with the illness which made me severely ill - mentally, emotionally and physically. Having asked for help, twice, in the early months and not been treated, I then believed what was going on, inside me, was my fault. I could not understand why I was feeling the way I was, but knew it wasn't "normal"... so hence the "I've missed the mum gene". Things became so difficult that I wanted to give up on life altogether - I was utterly heartbroken and terrified and I could not see how the nightmare, that was my life, could ever get better. But it did, thankfully.
When the illness was finally diagnosed, I started treatment - antidepressants, mental health team support, talking therapy and CBT. I found it hard, some days, to believe that I really could get better but I tried hard to hold onto hope. In processing my experience I have learned that I suffered with antenatal depression, which untreated led to postnatal depression and anxiety.
As I began to recover, I decided to blog about my experience with the illness - I hoped to reach a few friends, on social media, who might be struggling too. Things took off - my personal blog was suddenly being shared constantly and read 1000's of time - almost 40,000 times in the first few months of writing! That helped me to realise that there were many others who also suffered but there was also a desire to understand more about the illness, from those who knew little of it, due to the silence that can surround it.
So, I decided to design and create a website www.haveyouseenthatgirl.com to offer support to other parents who are struggling; to continue to tell my story of PND recovery and life with the illness; to give others the opportunity to tell their stories of honest parenting; and to campaign for better Perinatal Mental Health services.
From this, I have been asked to share my story with Health Care Professionals, Medical Students, Support Groups, Women's Groups and Mums & Babies events. I'm delighted to have been campaigning, advocating and speaking at Stormont, the Northern Ireland Assembly and at Westminster Parliament, London.
Last October, I gave Ted Talk about Postnatal Depression - "What if motherhood isn't the time of your life?", which you can view here: http://www.haveyouseenthatgirl.com/?p=3064
What I think I'm most excited about is the "Bags of Hope", which are crowdfunded and have been supported by local businesses. At present I have enough to make over 1000 Bags. These are gifts which I intend to give to parents struggling with Perinatal Mental Health issues.
I don’t know, as you read this, if you can relate to anything I’ve shared, but I'm guessing you might. Because, let’s be honest, ALL parents struggle with something - even if it’s not a mental illness or mental health issue.
And if you are struggling, I want you to know that you are not alone and it’s okay to speak out and ask for help. Recovery is possible, I promise, even though the road might seem long. Please don’t give up - I’m thankful I didn’t - life is now to be enjoyed rather than endured, I'm ready to thrive not just survive.
Come join the Have you seen that girl? movement and 100’s of other parents, just like you and me, I’d love to welcome you!Tagged with: Perinatal Mental Health