Interview Archives - PANDAS Foundation UK

INTERVIEW WITH LOUISE BAKER – AUTHOR OF GOING THROUGH IT ALL OVER AGAIN: POSTNATAL DEPRESSION AND US

Thank you so much for writing such an honest and inspiring piece for us.

Looking back, do you think your husband may also have been suffering from postnatal depression?

While my husband undoubtedly had a hard time of my pregnancies, and the first few weeks of parenthood, I sometimes worry that most of his anxieties were caused by me. He remembers dreading coming home from work because he never knew how he’d find me, and I will always feel a sense of responsibility for those ‘ruined’ few weeks. Even now I think he gets a hard time of it, although we communicate so much more than I was able to in the beginning. That has certainly helped!

Did you ever speak to your midwife about your feelings of anxiety during pregnancy?

I remember having numerous conversations with our midwife during my first pregnancy, and it was her who referred me for help and introduced me to the counselling I went on to have. The second time around I saw two or three different midwives, and that dialogue became harder to open. I felt as though I was having to explain everything over and over again, even though I wasn’t really sure I could put my finger on what I wanted to say. I found the health visitor invaluable the second time round.

Do you feel that there should be more help and support for those suffering from antenatal depression and/or anxiety?

Certainly – even now postnatal anxiety and depression are seen as something of a taboo, and I know that I’ve certainly not been forthcoming in talking about it. You’re never quite sure how people will react. Until I suffered myself, I wasn’t even aware that antenatal depression and anxiety was possible. Surely pregnancy is a joyous time? That myth can lead to women feeling isolated, as they’re sure they’re not supposed to feel like that. Support at these points is absolutely vital to stop anxiety escalating.

I like that you’ve written “You are not postnatal depression”, but how did you learn to disassociate yourself from your illness?

It’s hard, because sometimes it becomes an excuse – I’ve had a bad day, but that’s okay because I have an illness. I think, for me, the most important thing was to not consider postnatal anxiety to be an illness, and also to focus on my children. I was determined that they shouldn’t suffer because I was having a bad day, and just thinking about how they might feel is a great way to pull myself back sometimes. ‘It’ just happens to be something hovering in the background, but it isn’t the heart and soul of who I am. Every day I wake up with a mantra – today will be a good day. Sometimes I’m confident enough to pull that off!

I too have struggled to come off medication, do you still have hope that one day it will be a possibility for you?

Oh yes. I was prescribed medication when my first son was still very small and decided early on that it wasn’t for me. I stopped taking it altogether and found I was able to control my anxieties on my own. The second time around has been harder – a little more of a roller coaster as I attempted to understand what would work for me. I didn’t want pills to control me, but I’ve learned to accept that they’re not altering who I am, merely how I cope under certain strains. I know that one day I’ll be able to control my own emotions, so I have no doubt that this is just a temporary solution.

What do you do during your dark days to try and lift yourself out of them?

I leave the house. I can usually tell quite quickly what sort of day I’ve woken up to, and so if I start to feel a little low we’ll head out to the park, or I’ll contact friends to try and arrange something. As long as the children are up and active, and enjoying their day, I think it’s okay if I’m having a bad day – their happiness is one of the best feelings in the world, and it’s infectious. Staying at home tends to be a trigger for anxiety, as I’ll feel guilty if I’m not up to doing much.

And finally, do you have a message for anyone who has not yet seen the light?

Just that it is there – honestly! Antenatal and postnatal anxiety and depression are so cruel, bringing you down when you should be on Cloud 9. The tiredness and range of new hormones and emotions never helps, but you need to understand that this isn’t going to be forever, and it’s okay to have dark days. They just make the good days seem all the more brighter. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help either – telling yourself that you’re suffering is one thing, but being able to admit that is a huge step forward.

QUESTIONS FOR RICHARD – BY DONNA SWIFT (PANDAS VOLUNTEER)

I recently read an excellent blog from one of our volunteers. I was inspired to write some questions for my husband about my postnatal depression and recovery. I asked my husband to answer as honestly as possible and I haven’t changed a single word he has typed.

Describe postnatal depression to me in just 5 words.

Frightening insight in mental awareness.

Did you notice a change in me before my diagnosis ? Was I different with Millie?

Yes, you were short tempered with both children and had what I’d say was an ignorance to your surroundings.

How did you feel when I was diagnosed?

Relieved Read More

INTERVIEW WITH SHWETA PANCHAL – AUTHOR OF ‘DITCH YOUR BIRTH PLAN AND HAVE THE BIRTH YOU NEED!’

Hi Shweta!  Thanks so much for sharing your blog post with us!  I feel the birth plan may have had its day by the sounds of it.  Did you write a birth plan? If yes, did anything positive come from it?

No I didn’t but I did have some very strong ideas about how and where I wanted to give birth. When I went into labour with my first son I was well underway to having the homebirth that my husband and I had ‘planned’.  I laboured at home (according to plan) for many hours. When the midwives arrived to assist with the birth they found that my temperature had risen beyond what was considered safe. There was a possibility of infection in my body and I was therefore, much to my dismay, rushed to hospital. When the ambulance arrived, I stood at the top of the stairs in the building of my two bedroom flat, defiant. I refused to be carried down the stairs in a stretcher. I was having a baby not a heart attack! All’s well that ends well and my son was born, in hospital (not my plan!) on my back (definitely not my plan!) healthy and well (definitely my plan). I too was happy. Happy, well and grateful.  Somewhere along the way amongst all the chaos and drama I surrendered. In those moments of labour and birth I believe I started to learn the power of surrender. Not giving up, but learning to let go. I learned the powerful distinction between preparation and planning which I now teach in my pregnancy classes. In planning an event like birth there is an attachment to the process. When one prepares for birth, the actions are aligned with a strong intention but there is no attachment to the process. Only potential and creativity.

Why do you think women feel so guilty when their birth doesn’t go ‘to plan’?

Women feel guilty because they view the failure of the plan as their fault. If the plan fails then they believe they have failed.  I find that the more fixated women are to the way in which they want the birth to be the more chances are that they will feel shame and guilt afterwards if it does not go according to plan.  Preparation is the way forward not planning. Planning can psychologically lock us to a process which may or may not happen.

Through your work as a yoga and meditation teacher, how do you help women prepare for birth?

In the Pregnancy Yoga classes that I teach, we use meditation, breathwork and postures to deepen womens understanding of their bodies, their mind, and their emotions.  Whilst birthing positions and breathing techniques are important parts of the class, women are guided to listen to their bodies and respond to the changing nature of their physical landscape. The classes also emphasize movements which encourage the sense  of opening , letting go and trust with the idea that when it comes to the time of birth women have their breath, mindfulness and use of their instincts to respond to a changing birth situation.  

Finally, is there a quote or saying you live your life by?

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanks again Shweta, and thanks also to the Rebelle Society for allowing us to reproduce Shweta’s post on the PANDAS Guest Blog.

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