Blog Archives - Page 4 of 8 - PANDAS Foundation UK

Self-Help Tips for PND – by Vikky Leaney

The first thing to do if you are concerned about potentially having Post Natal Depression (PND) is talk to your partner first and then your GP and/or Health Visitor. Don’t feel like you are being silly. My mantra is always ‘It is better to be safe than sorry’. Your health care professional will discuss treatments with you, this may include medication and/or talking therapies. There are however some things that you can do to help yourself alongside any prescribed treatment, or even if you are just feeling a little frazzled by motherhood, see below for some ideas. I have also included a list of links to various organisations etc. at the bottom of the page that are mentioned throughout the blog.


Having a baby changes not just your body, but your life. You will feel different, your hormones are still settling down and your social life has completely changed. But this does not mean that you have to just sit at home being a mum, you are still a person in your own right. I know what it is like to not want get out of bed, to not even want to be awake and you may snort when I suggest that you do some exercise. I can however, promise you (from personal experience) that you will feel better after some of my below suggestions. I am not suggesting that you will be cured, but you will feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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My Story – by Sarah the Doula

I feel very privileged to be a doula. The things I have learnt and seen have helped me understand my postnatal depression. Emotionally I have grown, and slowly I have put puzzle pieces together to gain a bigger picture of what happened to me and why I haven’t bonded with my son.

When I gave birth I was induced because I was overdue. The labour was traumatic and very intense, I was left alone for hours and I remember thinking that if someone gave me a gun I would have shot myself. After guided pushing I birthed the 10lb 8oz baby and I was left incontinent. My husband at the time couldn’t find it in himself to support me and refused to take paternity leave and so I spiralled down, sinking deeply into a hole with a baby I couldn’t bear to look at or touch. I became reclusive, I lost the ability to speak properly and my confidence (of which there was a lot of) had disappeared. Thank god for my mother. She visited me daily for weeks and weeks which gave me less time to think about suicide. She helped me manage life with a young nursling, chaperoning me through Tescos, teaching me how to prepare dinner whilst entertaining a baby, and making me tea whilst I fed her grandson, often with tears streaming down my face. She was besotted with her first grandchild and luckily she had enough love for the both of us. Read More

Couch Potato to 10k – by Tillie Mabbutt

A Beginners Guide to Running

Unless I was being chased I didn’t run.  That is until I decided to give the NHS Couch to 5k running app a go.  It’s a programme that teaches complete beginners to run gradually, with the aim being  that in 9 short weeks you can run for 30 minutes (approximately 5k). Each week has different timings of runs and walks, you complete these every other day for 3 days before moving on to the next level.   I enjoyed it so much by week 7 I had signed up to a 10k race, here’s my diary on how it went.


Week 1

Brisk 5 minute warm up walk then run for 60 seconds and then walk for 90 seconds, for a total of 20 minutes

OK, so I’ve got my trainers, some stretchy ‘sports’ leggings (ones I use for painting!) and a loose t-shirt, my phone and I’ve downloaded the Couch to 5k app: I’m raring to go! I turn the app on and Jo Whiley tells me that I’m going to walk for 5 minutes; brilliant, I can definitely do this.  After that nice trundle she says that I have to run my first 60 seconds and its not too bad, I’m enjoying being outside and decide I definitely look like Paula Radcliffe.  I walk for the allotted 90 seconds before running again, this goes on a few times and each time it’s a mix slightly harder and wishing I was at home eating Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food.  By the end I feel really good and I love how gentle it is, I was really capable of doing it if I use the app and take it easy. Read More

Infant Loss Training with Chantal Lockey – by Nina Dawson

Infant loss. One of the great taboos in society. Most people know someone who has had a loss of some sort, but the overriding sense is that it’s not the “done thing” to talk about it. However, one team is working hard to change all that. Chantal Lockey and the team at the Foundation for Infant Loss Training offer infant loss training to all those who wish to learn more about how to support loved ones and families through a devastating time.

As an aspiring midwife, my emotions and my abilities to support women through these hard times is a massive worry of mine. So when the opportunity to take part in one of these sessions through PANDAs arose, naturally, I jumped at the chance. I booked my train tickets and headed off to Birmingham. Of course, the train pulled in late and the nerves hit me hard.

I walked into the room. Late. Not the first impression I had wanted. Chantal was already speaking and explaining what we were going to go through during the day. I sat down and she moved on to her reason for starting the training. Let me tell you, Chantal is a true inspiration. After suffering a loss that hit her so hard and made her feel so neglected by the professionals, she went on to ensure that hundreds of other women wouldn’t feel the same by providing some outstanding training to current and aspiring health professionals. Just hearing her story was enough to make me want to jump straight back on a train and hug my little boy incredibly tight. Read More

School’s Out – by Hannah Tubb

SCHOOL’S OUT!!! HOORAY!!! 6 weeks  of precious time for you and your kids to spend  together, no school runs, no stress, right?

Well, if I am being completely honest – last summer was the first time that I actually genuinely felt this way.  for the four previous years the idea of having both of my girls at home for six week actually made me feel incredibly anxious and then, of course incredibly guilty for not experiencing the apparent joy that every other mother around me seemed to be feeling!

The hangover or continuation from my PND was anxiety and that wasn’t conducive to doing anything with the girls by myself, I couldn’t travel on a bus with them, I couldn’t take them the ten minute train journey to the local soft play centre, most days the local park even seemed too overwhelming.  I pushed myself to do certain things but always with another mum friend if possible.  I hate thinking about how much they missed out on at that time.  A close group of friends would often get together and do a day trip to a farm or zoo.  I always found n excuse not to go and would feel relieved if it was on a day that I was working.  The thought of travelling even an hour away of home made me so anxious, it was far easier not to go, of course, I know now that by doing that I was sending messages to brain that there was actually something to be worried about which just meant that the next time something was planned I would be ready with my excuses!  Mostly if I did do something outside of my comfort zone I would spend the days before hand worrying about it and the time I was there clock watching until it was over.  Often, once I was home and the kids were in bed, I would realise that I actually really enjoyed the day, in hindsight!!! Read More

The Bonding Experience

I have been toying with the idea to write about my experience with postnatal depression and bonding problems. On writing this, I hope to highlight the importance of talking about a taboo such as this.

My earliest memory of knowing I didn’t want to be a mother was when I was eight years old. My mother was a child minder, as well as bringing up myself and my two brothers and family life was a struggle for her. She battled on a daily basis with breaking up arguments between my brothers and the children in her care, pushing a double push chair with two toddler’s sat inside enjoying the ride and cooking a hot meal every night that everyone agreed with and would enjoy. Being a mother appeared to be hard work and a life style choice that everyone seemed to adopt. Waiting with my mother, for my brothers to come out of school, I would look at the other mothers in the play ground and feel for them. Seeing them provoked a feeling of pity, sadness and loss. A loss of life. A life wasted on beckoning to every call and need from a child.

Seventeen years too young, is the age I fell pregnant with my first child. I felt on top of the world and special to be carrying a child within my womb.

My first scan fell on the seventh of January 2009, three days after my eighteenth birthday. My baby wriggled around on the screen and the midwife smiled sweetly and told me the baby is beautiful and healthy. Tears streamed down my face but not for the reasons the midwife was thinking. They were tears of sadness as I realised I didn’t want this baby. There were no feelings of love that rushed to me, no warming of the heart or thoughts such as ‘how lucky am I?.’ Inside I was numb and empty. My elated feelings of discovering my pregnancy were tainted as sadness contaminated me. I held a constant low feeling and I was unable to bond with my unborn baby.

As my baby grew within me stretch marks etched their ugly reminder on my body that I was soon to be a mother. All control I once had on my life and body had been snatched from me and I was terrified what the future held. Every day I would try to spark my maternal feelings. I would watch a show about teen mums and mirror their mannerisms and things they said in the hope I would then be fixed. Joining a mother and baby group also failed my expectations of a quick fix. I was hopeful talking about my pregnancy to other young mums would make it better and my bond would soon appear.
Suicidal thoughts crept in and I felt awful that my sad feelings had taken a sinister turn and all hope of being okay had now faded. This illness I was experiencing was winning and I had no control of it.

I began to accept I wasn’t a real woman. When I was made, my maternal instincts hadn’t been built within my heart. Being honest with myself in this brutal way made me feel sick with fear and cry so hard. I kept telling myself, ‘you can’t hate your baby forever.’

Nine hours and forty six minutes after arriving at the hospital I pushed my son into the world. He didn’t cry and was taken away to be resuscitated.
My baby took his first breath and I let out a sigh of relief. The midwife swaddled him in a blanket and I was asked if I wanted to hold him. No I thought. Yes I said. Placing him onto me the midwife stood back to admire this picture perfect moment. I looked down at him, so perfect, so at peace and innocent. Instead of smiling because I felt happy, I smiled weakly because if I didn’t smile I would cry. The flicker of instincts vanished now I knew he was safe. Oh god there is no bond I thought.

My baby was named Dougie.

My first night in hospital was horrible. I was taken to a postnatal ward and placed on a bed situated by a window. The midwife told me to buzz if I need anything and at that she pulled the curtain around me. Dougie was sleeping soundly and balloons and cards from family surrounded me painting a happy scene. Sitting on the bed in front of Dougie I let go of my emotions that I had been trying so hard to keep in. Putting my head in my hands I silently cried so no one would hear me. Dougie was here and now there is no going back. Bleary eyed because I had so many tears, I looked up to the sky and for the first time in my life I mouthed please God help me.

A month after Dougie was born I spoke about my problems for the first time to my aunt online. She promised to allow my secret to also become hers.
Three days after our conversation the home phone rang and my mothers normal perky tone turned into a whisper. I knew it was my aunt on the phone. Some minutes later my mother entered the room and sat on the sofa opposite to me. Turning to me she asked if I was okay. I considered lying but the urge to give up over powered me and I broke down in tears and repeated the words ‘I just don’t want him’ over and over again. My mother told me I would be okay and her and my dad will support me.

My feelings about being a mother didn’t improve. My mother helped me by having a health visitor come to the house. She told me I had Postnatal depression that had developed from Prenatal depression and it was important to see a doctor straight away. This was some closure as I knew a illness was living in me and once it goes I will then be the best mother in the world.

Postnatal depression became worse as each day went by and I started to feel suicidal and often wanted to run away. Over the years since Dougie was born I have sought help from two counsellors, prescribed anti depressants, spoken to a number of health care professionals and friends and family. Nobody had been able to help me.

Postnatal depression left a path of destruction and left me with a condition called bonding problems with an older child. My symptoms were similar to Postnatal depression and included being unable to show and receive affection, feeling no joy from being a parent and feeling detached from Dougie. The symptoms were difficult to experience and it broke my heart as well as Dougie’s. People seek fame and money but all I wanted was to love being a parent.

I had missed six years of mothers days, birthdays, and Christmases. Most importantly it had taken away everyday of my sons life from me. There was no joy or happiness. People complimented myself as a mother, however they didn’t see what was inside. Everyday I carried out the jobs a mother should do but I didn’t experience the emotions. Dougie felt alien to me and every so often in a bid to bond I would look through the memory box to try and spark that warm fuzziness of happiness within me but was only greeted by a blank emotion.

My blog is about how I recovered through my own techniques from a  condition that isn’t spoken about. Limited information is available and I strongly believe there are many sufferers that are too afraid to speak out. I hope my blog empowers women.

Welcome to The Bonding Experience Blog

My Story – Tina Jones

I have always wanted to teach. For as long as I can remember. School and some really awesome teachers were, for me, my absolute saviours. Without them, I don’t think I’d be here now. When I secretly left my first year of a business economics degree to study History and Education, I knew I was doing the right thing.

So why now, ten years down the line, have I just handed in my resignation and decided to leave teaching?

It’s simple really. Postnatal depression made me realise what actually matters. Not marking books, holding revision sessions, entering endless amounts of data, going to meetings, planning lessons or constantly nagging GCSE students to work harder. What matters is ME. And my family.

I had a difficult pregnancy, plagued by Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) and chronic indigestion, and was signed off work from 24 weeks as I couldn’t walk properly. But after a speedy labour and a little hassle sorting out silent reflux, we settled in nicely to being a family of three. I LOVED being ‘mummy’. It was everything I hoped for and I finally had everything I had ever dreamt of.

But being a teacher comes with a lot of baggage. Namely ‘teacher guilt’. I am the only teacher in my department and the school had trouble with my replacement. So I found myself, baby in sling, holding revision sessions 3, 5 and 8 weeks after she was born. I was in constant email contact with my exam students, helping them revise and as September arrived, I was in for the INSET days, to make sure I didn’t miss anything vital.

I think this is when it started. Read More

Volunteering with PANDAS by Tam Mason

If you had asked me 7 years ago, before having my daughter, what I would be doing today, volunteering for a national charity supporting women and families affected by pre-and post natal illnesses, wouldn’t have been something on my list.

Before the life changing experience of having a baby, and then unfortunately developing PTSD after a traumatic birth, PND, and anxiety, I was pretty sure I had my life mapped out; I knew where I was heading, but how wrong could I have been.

I wasn’t well enough still to return to the job I loved after my maternity leave ended. I enjoyed being a stay at home mum but when my daughter started full time school, I suddenly felt lonely, lost and I began to feel like my purpose had gone. I looked for a job that would fit around school hours but this proved difficult and I was still struggling to manage my anxiety so actually the commitment of a job felt like an impossibility. Read More

Volunteering for PANDAS – Hannah Gerken

Hello PANDAS Guest Blog readers,

I’m Hannah and I manage the Helpline here at PANDAS Foundation. I have been a volunteer for coming up to a year now, starting off at email support, in the closed Facebook group and as a helpline volunteer, all very different but rewarding in their own ways. It has been incredible to have the opportunity to get involved in so many aspects of the charity. When I was asked if I would like to manage the helpline, I felt a huge sense of responsibility and fear of the unknown but was so excited to take on a new challenge, in order to improve the helpline for both our service users and volunteers.

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Han vs. Marathon

26.2 for PANDAS

I ran a marathon on Sunday. 26.2 miles. It has been such an overwhelming experience from start to finish that I just don’t know where to start!


September – Before the marathon.
I don’t always like myself very much, I rarely think I’m good enough – for my family, my husband, my girls, my friends, my job, my dreams and aspirations. I’ve been reading, studying and researching ways that I can find peace with myself, finally feel good about myself and then when I’d been volunteering for PANDAS for a year I saw that one of my fellow volunteers, Catherine, had got into the London marathon 2016 – I felt envious, I have always wanted to achieve something like that, I have often watched bits of the London Marathon and thought how amazing it would feel to achieve something so epic. Like somehow it would validate my existence, something I could be proud of (other than my beautiful girls of course), something purely for me. I decided to do something completely bonkers and apply for a charity place running for PANDAS. I didn’t tell anyone I had applied as I didn’t expect to get it. I got it. I was beyond excited and terrified! I had that niggling anxious voice in my head telling me I was kidding myself but I tried to drown it out, I knew I wouldn’t give up because if I did I felt there would be so many people telling me ‘I told you so, who did you think you were kidding?’ Read More

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