It was October 2012 when I discovered Postpartum Progress – I’d been out of hospital for a year and although in recovery I felt very alone.
Alone, in what had happened to me, that no one really understood the depths of the despair and the very real heart ache that having been so unwell had left me with. It was like my constant companion along with the grief and guilt…
Then I found the wonderful site created by Katherine Stone – this was different to any other site I’d seen. For starters there was a photo of Katherine – she was real, her warm smile was so welcoming. It was regularly updated with relevant information and new posts all of which seemed to have points where I was nodding along… It gave me hope, particularly The 6 Stages.
I emailed Katherine to ask if she would take a photo of a UK survivor for the Warrior Moms Photo Album.
Her response was almost instant – “Are you kidding?! Of course I’ll take a photo from a UK survivor! We want to support women all over the world! I’ll be sure to add you. Thanks for reaching out to me!”
She thanked me for reaching out to her!
She thanked me…
I was so genuinely moved – I couldn’t believe it… We’ve kept in touch ever since.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my experience but I was/am so inspired by her that it helped me to realise that I had to do something. So I’m an advocate and often I ask for her guidance.
Some would say that empathy and compassion cost nothing, but they do and to give yourself to all mothers every time… and for 10 years – WOW!
I’m in awe of how she does it and she does it with such beauty, grace and strength.
I cannot wait to meet her one day x
I know I’m not the only one in the UK to benefit from Postpartum Progress – we love you Warrior Mum-In-Chief x
HOPE is our four letter word x
On Sunday 22 June 2014 I’m joining with three amazing women that I am so lucky to call friends.
We each had severe post natal illness after the birth of our children but what really brought us together was our passion to get the message out that recovery is possible!
We want to increase people’s understanding of these illnesses.
We can’t change what happened to us and perhaps some would say it would be easier to forget – we disagree! The anguish and pain that we suffered drives us to find purpose in our experiences. It’s also abundantly clear that there isn’t sufficient help out there and this needs to change.
It is estimated that 1 mother a week in the UK loses her battle with post natal illness!
For each of us, losing the battle was a real possibility.
This is personal for us but it’s personal for you too, if you have a sister, daughter or friend who may give birth or become a new parent…
Post natal illness does not discriminate – it can happen to anyone!
We are passionate about challenging the stigma which creates fear of disclosure for many new parents.
Each of our stories is here:
So why Climb Out for Postpartum Progress.
There are numerous reasons but here are a few…
Katherine Stone is FIERCE – she is the Warrior-Mom-In-Chief and started the blog in 2004 – some of us found her blog in the US before we found support closer to home. I became the first UK Mum in the Warrior Moms Photo Album and receiving a personal response from Katherine during my recovery has always stayed with me.
Also half a million women annually are accessing up-to-date information in plain language about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders on the Postpartum Progress blog and, more importantly, are able to hear from other moms who have recovered.
In 2011 Postpartum Progress Inc followed it is a non-profit organization and online community of support resources for women experiencing postpartum depression and all other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth. The funds raised from this event will allow Postpartum Progress to create new educational materials to be used by obstetricians, paediatricians and others, as well as new materials to help educate the media on the public health impact of postpartum depression and related illnesses on mothers and children.
Climb Out of the Darkness is now the world’s largest event raising awareness of maternal mental illness. As of today, there are more than 120 different Climbs that will take place throughout the US, Canada, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand.
On or around the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, survivors all over the world are organizing to climb or hike to symbolize their collective rise out of the darkness and stigma of maternal mental illness as well as to raise funds to support Postpartum Progress founded to help support moms around the world.
This is a global issue and we thought it important that the UK showed their support.
So our Climb is on Sunday 22 June at 10:30 and is very “London”!
We’re climbing up the 320 steps at Hampstead Tube Station (the lowest station on London Underground)
Then we’re walking to Wembley Park Tube Station (2 hours+)
And then we travel to Amersham Tube Station (the highest station on London Underground)
If you would like to sponsor us you can do so here.
I am beyond excited to be going to BritMums Live!
I felt that the opportunity to be surrounded by lifestyle bloggers and social influencers was not to be missed i.e. I want to be surrounded by the positivity and love I see daily in the blogosphere and twitterland!
Twitter ID: @BB576
Height: Tall – 5ft 10ish
Hair: Brown bob
Eyes: Dark Brown but will be wearing glasses
Is this your first blogging conference? No, it’s my 2nd
Are you attending both days? Yes
What are you most looking forward to at BritMums Live 2014?
Meeting up with amazing people, whose writing I love!
In particular though I simply can’t wait to hug Jen – we managed to miss each other at mumsnet!
What are you wearing?
I sorted this on the 1 June (don’t ask…)
Joe Browns from Simply Be on both days!
(Fri: Atlantic Ocean Tunic with jeans/Sat: Marvellous Floral Maxi Dress)
What do you hope to gain from BritMums Live 2014?
I just want to learn more about blogging (my blog looks beautiful due to the wonderfully talented Helen but it needs content and regular updates).
The agenda is packed with great sessions!
I’ve picked in advance so that I don’t lose track on the day i.e. talk too much in the breaks!
How I Did It: Success stories from high-profile bloggers
The power blogging can bring to your life
How To Be an Agent of Change; Advocacy and charity campaigns
Social media for advanced people
Collaboration: Working together for bigger traffic and larger impact
New ways to Monetise
Looking forward to meeting new people and learning lots xxx
I’m so excited to have been tagged for this Desert Island meme by Mummy Tries. I really enjoy music and having to pick just a few songs has been challenging but a lot of fun! It also gave me a great reason to rediscover my iPod.
I picked 6!
That’s What Friends Are For
Written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager in 1982, it’s the cover version by Dionne Warwick and Friends. A one-off collaboration featuring Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder – I mean seriously – wow!
This was the last song played at our wedding reception – everyone was in a large circle hand in hand – despite it being over 7 years ago I can still remember it so well. It was just a perfect ending to the best day.
You’ve Got a Friend
I grew up listening to Carole King’s Tapestry album – it was definitely one of my Mum’s favourites. Watching her and James Taylor perform this together in 2010 during their Troubadour Reunion Tour has really stuck with me.
Make you feel my love
This is a song written by Bob Dylan a fact I didn’t know before compiling the list! The version I’ve chosen is by Adele it was on her amazing album 19 but her performance of it at the Royal Albert Hall ensured it was on my list. She’s such an honest performer and the whole concert is well worth a look.
Just a happy bit of boy band pop – I was/am a massive Take That fan but Westlife/Boyzone/JLS you name it really…
The reason this particular song made the list is because it brings back a really happy memory. When I was unwell in 2011, I asked my Dad what he wanted for his 70th birthday that was at the start of the following year. His response was simple and honest “I just want you to be well”. At the time I thought that was totally bloody impossible but it wasn’t – we did lots to celebrate his 70th but the memory of dancing round in my brother’s kitchen all of us together with his grandchildren still gives me goose bumps.
(Something Inside) So Strong
Written and recorded by singer-songwriter Labi Siffre in 1987. The song was inspired by a TV documentary on Apartheid South Africa seen by Siffre in 1985 in which a white soldier was filmed shooting at black children.
So I nearly picked a track by The Stone Roses but every time I listen to this song I hear something new. The video was also directed by Ian Brown and it is in London (I Love London). The song incorporates a creative lyric scheme where each verse forms the acrostic “F.E.A.R.” (for example, “For each a road” and “Fallen empires are ruling”). I’m in awe of the hundreds of acronyms created from the word “fear”.
So that’s my 6!
Yesterday was Time To Talk Day, there were some fantastic honest and open conversations with the Time To Talk Mums (#TTTMum) so it seems the perfect time to write a post I’ve been thinking about for a while…
I’m not sure I can express in words what I want to get across, but I want to give it a try.
I am in recovery – I’ve lived with depression on and off since I was 13. It came at different times and the strength varied massively.
I was hospitalised in 2005 for 4 weeks, when I was 29. I’d been seeing a psychiatrist and he’d hoped, as did my family and I, that an inpatient stay would really help me. It was a wonderful place and did help a lot. It was at this point that I started to realise that actually it might be ok that I may need medication.
It had been 16 years and I’d managed to do a lot of damage to myself. I needed some help as my mind just wasn’t able to cope – my emotions/feelings left me floored on a regular basis and affected all aspects of my life. I made bad decisions, was so hard on myself and found living so difficult.
My life continued and was better than it had been before mainly because I was kinder to myself, I was medicated and had regular therapy. However looking back I still don’t think that I’d got to a point of understanding why my life had been the way it was – there was nothing overly significantly to explain it.
I then fell pregnant
My dear friends from school still remember me being one of the first to want a baby. I’d even seriously considered having a baby on my own before I met my husband.
My thinking was that it was the one thing in my life that I was going to be good at (no pressure then?!). Motherhood was going to be the making of me – well if that was the dream, the reality was a nightmare.
My pregnancy wasn’t the easiest but it was ok – I was ok. I got a bit scared when the therapist I’d been seeing went on maternity leave herself but my local hospital got me an appointment with a psychiatrist which helped.
Knowing I was having a boy also helped a lot – I couldn’t bear the thought of having a girl and her turning out like me.
I tapered off my medication, I wanted to give my son the best start and this seemed to be the accepted view of the best thing to do.
The birth was horrific and I think that was when it started – the stream of negative thinking…
“You couldn’t even have a straightforward birth”
“You can’t breastfeed – useless”
“You caused the placental abruption because you had a drink and a cigarette that night”
“You are asking too much from the midwives – that’s why they are being mean”
“He’s having problems feeding because you’ve failed him”
It went on and on and on…
When my husband was home for those first two weeks it was good and I coped well for a few weeks but then it changed.
I had a complete breakdown – I couldn’t function or do anything normal despite being asked to, often.
I felt like I had made the worse decision of my life and wasn’t sure how it was ever going to be ok.
I was scared, well actually terrified all the time, my anxiety spiralled out of control.
It broke my heart and my mind literally collapsed. I didn’t want to be responsible for my son for his wellbeing – I thought he would have a safer future without me.
I was hospitalised with my son in March – we stayed there for just over 5 months and if I didn’t think I could get any lower I was wrong. From day 1 I said it wasn’t the right place for me that the problem was about me not my son.
I walked along roads wondering if I could step out in front of lorries more than once, I researched ways to die on the internet. I took an overdose and was almost sectioned and yet it still felt like I was no closer to any kind of recovery.
Despite dreadful thoughts, I kept my son safe.
I knew that any hope I had was just getting less and less.
When in August the psychiatrist told me to stop being a silly girl and return home to my loving husband and beautiful son I knew something had to change – I had spent 5 months under her care and was no better.
I reached out to two amazing friends at work who helped me to navigate the private medical insurance I had.
I moved hospitals within days. My new psychiatrist was horrified by the treatment I’d received and will never let me return to the NHS, something I find amazing and sad at the same time.
So I had to be completely detoxed from the medication I had been prescribed and restart all over again.
The therapy was intense – full days taking everything I thought about myself and challenging it.
I was assigned a wonderful psychologist who helped me to start processing things. I still see him now.
I still take medication every day – it’s a mixture of types. My brain is an organ and it misfires and the years of damage I did with my thinking patterns have left a lasting imprint.
But I live better than I’ve ever lived before. There is still grief and anger about the time I missed with my son that I can never get back.
I can’t regret what happened – it was an illness and it finally made me see myself properly for the first time since I was 13. It’s meant I have connected with amazing people. That how I am and in fact how I was are all ok.
I live life with my whole heart and I tell people about what happened because there is nothing more important than making the unknown, known. I felt so alone for so many years, that I was odd, that my empathy for others and general sensitivity was something to change. I never learnt that all emotions and feelings are “allowed” – that if you sit, they pass like waves.
I love my son more than I ever knew was possible…
Love and light…