Someone I really admire came out about their PND on Facebook the other day and it really threw me. (And of course I have to mention the amazing Adele’s admission which has happened since writing this.)
Not because it’s still taboo (it is) or I think she should keep the darkness from the positive PR machine that is social media (I don’t) but because if you asked me who had it, she would be on the absolute bottom of my list. She is a great character and is super hot and happy and funny on social media even with a small baby in tow. It just surprised me.
I admire her even more now.
So it made me think if she, a seemingly ok type, has it there must be loads of other mums squirrelled away suffering with PND on their own, putting on a brave face or not knowing what to do about it. Or even knowing they have it.
It is hard to out yourself. It takes guts. Because you feel that people might think less of you, that you are a bad mum, that your kids will be taken away, that you are a failure, or even a cross-the-road-from-her-she’s-not-very-well type.
A friend of mine had it with her first child and said:
“I just felt SO ashamed.
Ashamed at how I felt towards my baby and how badly I was coping.
I put on a facade to friends and family but my Mum knew.
I think it’s taboo because it feels like everyone else is coping.
Everyone else can do it, why can’t I?”
The fact is that 1 in 7 mums will suffer from a bout of Post Natal Depression.
Dad’s can suffer form Post Natal Mental Health Illness too.
The biggest cause of death for women with children between 6 weeks and one year old is suicide.
Read that last one again.
There is such a strong Mama presence online at the moment that now, more than ever, talking about PND should be easy and un-judged.
We have moved on from a time when gin ruined mothers. It’s now being celebrated. Hurrah!
It’s encouraged to admit your #parentfails. The Tiger Mothers seem to have been put back into captivity and it’s not cool to be smug anymore. We’re slummy and scummy all the way, waiting for wine-o-clock and dissing ourselves before anyone else does. Been there, got the #GoodTee shirt.
Early motherhood chucked some PND at me too.
I never went to the doctor about it. I didn’t know that feeling that bad wasn’t how it should be.
Its only now when I look at the symptoms of PND do I realise I could have ticked off 90% of the list for the first 16 months of my daughter’s life. In fact that’s when I realised I’d had it, when it lifted.
I had nothing but love for my baby girl and tried SO hard to get everything right for her. I remember feeling almost paralysed by it. Hung up on the rules made by power crazy baby whisperers; I felt smaller somehow. I went from massively sociable to socially anxious. From fun-loving to not being able to see the joy. And I was wound so tight yet could unravel so easily.
I had always defined myself by my exciting jobs in the media. It had taken a while to get pregnant and I had fantasised about being a stay at home mum. Now that I was, I was lost at sea.
I took this new ‘motherhood job’ very seriously. I found it impossible to relinquish any control or accept help. If Dom ever tried to offer me any advice or suggest something different I would get so defensive and would often use the analogy “I wouldn’t come to your work and tell you how to do your job.”
My sense of self had well and truly left the building, it took my confidence with it and they didn’t leave a forwarding address.
I had *just* enough in me to give to her but little else left for anyone else, especially not myself. I thought this was just how Motherhood was.
Sharing my experience is not about pity, it’s about hope really. I have been through it and come out the other side in a way I would never have expected. I started a business off the back of it that has changed my path. From a dark, confidence-less place something managed to grow.
I have also felt totally different after baby number 2, hi-lighting the difference even more in some ways but also showing that you don’t automatically get it twice. Of course I have had my moments; like fantasising about having an accident (just a little leg break) so I could have a night in hospital and read magazines. But that was dog-tiredness talking not Black Dog.
If you recognise any of the symptoms in yourself or in someone you know then please do seek out some help.
I wish I had known about PANDAS Foundation who offer support nationally to mums and dads.
Claire Nethersole, the fundraising manager at PANDAS, explains more:
“PANDAS Foundation provides support for people affected by pre or post-natal mental illnesses and their families. We have a helpline, email support, support groups based in the community and also a closed Facebook group. All of our volunteers either have first-hand experience or have cared for someone who has. Last year we supported 11,000 people and demand for our services grows every day. We are funded by the kind generosity of people who donate and hold events for us and we are grateful for every penny we receive. ”
I started this blog to champion mums. I marvel how much people manage get done as well as raising small folk. One of the things I do on the blog is a brazenly nosey peek inside people’s #MumBags. I am fascinated about what we lug about to sustain and facilitate the small people.
I asked a pal if I could see inside hers the other day and she said “Oh OK, I’ll share the shame with you.”
That was my lightbulb moment.
I thought, there is no shame in that bag. That bag goes a long way to keep your babe alive. Fed, watered, entertained, clean, dry, in pennies for this and that, in Calpol and raisins. Raise up that bag for it is a life-giving source.
And there is no shame in PND either. It’s not baggage. The shame needs to be lifted and replaced with it’s OK not to be OK.
So here’s my plan … With your help I’d like to go some way in raising money and awareness for this small yet brilliant charity.
How? By sharing the contents of YOUR #MumBag on social media and by texting a donation.
Here’s what to do:
- Tip/ display the contents of your mumbag on the floor and take a pic from above
- Post it on Instagram and/or Facebook
- Make sure you include all of this blurb:
I’m sharing my #mumbag (or #dadbag) to help mums with Post Natal Depression
Text PANDAS £3 to 70660 to donate to Pandasfoundation.org.uk
INSERT MUMBAG PIC HERE
#showusyourmumbag too TAG MATES HERE
#PND #noshameinit #showusyourmumbag #showusyourdadbag
#PANDASfoundation #itsoknottobeok @pandas_uk @mrsyellowblog
Text costs £3 plus network charge. PANDAS Foundation receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payer’s permission. Customer care 01691 664275 Charity No 1149485.
- Remember to text a donation
- Encourage as many people as you can to do the same by tagging them in your post
Only by talking about this stuff can we normalise it, lift the shame and help people get the help they need. We will keep you updated on how we get on.
Follow @MrsYellowBlog on Instagram or find and follow her blog at http://www.mrsyellow.com