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PANDAS Foundation 2011 - 2014  Designed by Webcolours.  We  are a Limited Company registered in England and Wales with company number 7740327 charity number 1149485 Registered office: 9 Grosvenor Green, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY1 3RF.

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Interview: Denise Welch

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Find out about depression

When did you realise that you might have postnatal depression?

I had a long labour, no pain relief; I was trying to breastfeed and wasn’t eating well. On the Wednesday I came home with Matthew and I thought I had Baby Blues. On the Thursday my parents came down and I didn’t feel right. I had a panic attack, my heart was racing like I was waiting to crash into an articulated lorry but it’s a near miss. I had around two hours sleep that night, and I woke up the next day and my lactation stopped overnight.

My midwife was not helpful at all and told me that “normally only happens when a bereavement has occurred”. I had to use bottles which the midwife disapproved of. I went for a walk with my mum and said ‘I feel all weird like I am in a dream’. I went into a shop and heard about the Hillsborough disaster but when my mum then mentioned it I said that I had dreamt it the night before.

Arriving back at my flat, I had two close friends there but I just wanted them gone. I couldn’t eat and lost 2 ½ stone in a week. My mum knew I had to keep physical contact with the baby, I remember looking at bottles thinking it was like asking me to climb Everest. There was never any doubt from family that this wasn’t an illness. My mum took me to the doctor, the doctor went on to tell me “I have had five children, I didn’t have time to get depressed”. My mum’s response was to say she was taking me back to the North.

How did you feel during your pregnancy?

I had no mental illness prior to postnatal depression, my friends all thought I would be on a night out on the same night I had the baby.

Has it helped talking about your experience so publically?

It has helped other people. I had no control over it. It wasn’t brought on by circumstances or triggered. I had very physical symptoms. I’d get a metallic taste in my mouth, tingling sensations in my hands. I’d project ‘what about in a year’s time?’

Have you ever regretted discussing postnatal depression publically because your children can read it?

I have never regretted speaking out and never suffered because of it. My family have always been supportive. Previously my management advised against it. If I had cancer, I’d talk about it. With postnatal depression I am just trying to educate. I am not a medic; I just talk about my experiences. I was too scared to have another, which is why there is a 12 year age gap between Matthew and Louis. Matthew was an 8lb bouncing healthy baby and Louis was very ill and had a lifesaving operation before he was two. I didn’t suffer postnatal depression with Louis; I had my normal small bouts of depression, but not postnatal depression like I had with Matthew.

I self-medicated for a long time. I have removed alcohol and I’m in a good place. I know the people in my audience don’t know where to turn.

What affect did it have on your relationship?

Tim and I were together 24 years, Tim and my family always saw it as an illness. We were together six months when I fell pregnant. I was a happy-go-lucky woman. Tim said he felt like he had lost his wife. I always had to paint on a smile for my work and because people know who I am. My mum and my family could always see it in my eyes. My anxiety kicked in my depression, so I can notice it.

Even now Lincoln can see the symptoms, so I am lucky I have someone to say “you’re not alright are you?”

How did you overcome the illness?

I have never been suicidal. I used to think about it but just because you want the pain to go away. My mum said every day that I will always get better. That is what you need someone to say you will get better, no matter how long it takes.

I did have sympathetic doctors bar the lady which said she didn’t have time for depression. I have had to educate some doctors too. Around five or six years ago I was losing the battle and met Professor Johnson in London and he started treating me with oestrogen gel so I had no physical symptoms of menopause.

I do get emotionally traumatised like my mum passing away earlier this year but I don’t get clinically depressed.

What advice would you give someone going through postnatal depression now?

Never ever doubt that you are not poorly or it is an indulgence. You must have someone to listen and help. Don’t be scared of anti-depressants, they replace the chemical in the brain that is missing. If you had bronchitis you’d take medication. Try to read books or information, speak to people so you can relate to them, join support groups. That’s why your organisation (Pandas Foundation) is needed.

During the telephone interview, Denise asked who our patrons are, and kindly offered to be a patron of the charity. We are thrilled to have her on board, recognising that more support is needed for families suffering pre and postnatal depression. We would like to thank Denise for her support, and look forward to working with her in the future.

Rachael Dobson, co-founder of PANDAS Foundation, said, “It’s wonderful to have her on board and her involvement will certainly help to raise the charity’s profile. It’s incredible, given the year she’s had, that she’s still so willing to help out others who are struggling.”

“Her involvement couldn’t come at a better time for us. We’re growing rapidly and our resources are stretched to breaking point. We’re in desperate need of funding to ensure we can continue to offer the highest quality support.”

“You’re generous donations make up 100% of our income. It costs just £20 to run our PANDAS Help Line for an hour. We simply can’t survive without your help. We are extremely grateful if you are able to help us.”

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Name: Denise Welch

Job Title: Actor, Loose Women Panellist and

    T.V. Personality

Interviewed by: Rachael Dobson Co-Founder