My name is Lucien, 32 from France. I have been living in the UK with my wife Alix for almost 10 years and consider myself more English than French! Our son Oscar is 2.5 years old. I work in sports marketing, and apart from running, I enjoy sports in general, music and film.
2) Please tell us about your marathon?
My marathon was Sunday (9th April) in Paris. I’ve been training hard for the last 6 months, gradually building my training regime. I only started running 1 year ago, after 31 years of hating it!
3) Please tell us about your experiences of perinatal mental health and why you are supporting PANDAS?
It wasn’t something my wife and I were ready for. I don’t think anyone can be. But in my case, I had a misconception of what it meant. My wife was ,and still is- one of the strongest persons I know, and when it started few weeks after our lovely boy Oscar was born, I think both of us actually fooled ourselves into thinking it wasn’t that. It couldn’t be. She was just tired and it would pass. But it didn’t. Things worsened, to a point where I was fearing for her safety. Never our child’s. Remarkably and bravely Alix decided to get help and it was the best decision she could take.
I remember feeling this complete sense of being useless. I am used to making her feel better after 14 years together and I know what to say when she’s down. But this wasn’t “like before.” And we now know this isn’t something you can get out of without the help of professionals. This doesn’t make Alix, or anyone seeking help weak or weaker. Actually for me realising this is beyond your control and requiring professional help is a sign of strength. Alix received the help she needed from NHS professionals, who were absolutely amazing. But we wish at the time we’d known about PANDAS.
4) How can supporters follow your marathon and sponsor you?
I’m starting on Sunday around 08.55 UK time, and you can track me (my race number is 71199) here: https://track.rtrt.me/e/ASO-PARISMARATHON-2018#/tracker You can support me (and PANDAS of course) by donating on my page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LucienBigois
5) Finally is there anything else you would like to add?
To people reading this at that crucial point when you do not know if you, or a loved -ones is suffering from perinatal mental illness, and think it will go by itself, please do seek help. If nothing else ,you will get the chance to have a chat than can be more powerful than you think.
Thank you for reading and I hope to make PANDAS proud. I won’t set the timer on fire – but I’ll do my best.
Lucien is running a marathon in Paris on Sunday to raise funds for people suffering with perinatal mental health. We would like to say a huge thank you to Lucien for sharing his family’s story and for having the strength to train for a marathon.
Meet our fundraiser, Will from East Sussex. Following the birth of his first child, Will’s wife Shauna suffered with post traumatic stress and post natal depression. Will has been training non-stop for an almighty marathon in Hastings in tough weather, all in aid of PANDAS. Please read Will’s amazing journey and how to sponsor him below!
Please tell us about yourself?
I’m Will. I’m 33, and live in Worthing on the Sussex coast with my wife Shauna and two kids, Nova and Nate. Shauna and I have been married for almost 5 years now and Nova is 2 ½ and Nate is almost 5 months. I love nothing more than hanging out with my family and taking them out to places that excite them. Each weekend we enjoy swimming at our local gym and we also like walks in the South Downs and visiting local farm attractions.
As I’m originally from Devon I have a love for the sea and enjoy sailing, fishing and running.
Please tell us about your marathon?
I’m running the “Hastings Half Marathon” East Sussex coast this Sunday, the 18th March 2018. Weather forecast has predicted that it’s not going to be warm! Reported that it could feel like -7° with a 30mph north easterly wind gusting up to 50mph with a slight chance of snow!
At the time I decided to do the marathon it didn’t seem that daunting, but as my training has progressed it has become clear that it is actually a big undertaking for someone who had not done a huge amount of running.
My training has gone well but not as well as I had hoped. Trying to fit in the shear amount of training around work, family and a 4 month old baby has been a challenge but I’m feeling positive about the race.
Please tell us about your experiences of perinatal mental health and why you are supporting PANDAS with your fundraising?
Following the birth of Nova, my wife suffered birth trauma, post natal post traumatic stress and depression. It was a very difficult time for us as a new family and it isn’t something that you expect to happen because you very rarely hear anything about it, until you’re in it.
There are two main reasons I wanted to try to raise some money for PANDAS. One is that there seems to be a lot of misconceptions surrounding perinatal mental illnesses and not many people, such as family and friends really know how to help. The second is that in a way we were in a lucky situation because Shauna is a qualified psychotherapist so she already had knowledge about this area. I can only imagine how scary it must be to not have any clue as to what is happening during a time that is socially regarded as being one of the happiest moments in your life.
Based on this I think the work PANDAS does is so important to such a large number of families and it needs to be more widely acknowledged. Hopefully my contribution may help in some small way.
How can supporters follow your marathon and sponsor you?
You can follow my journey on my Instagram account @willbeare and I also post on Twitter @Echo_Will and Facebook. So far I have managed raise over £600, which is incredible and the support all my family and friends have shown is overwhelming. If you would like to donate, no matter how big or small, I have a fundraising page on Virgin Money Giving – https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/WillBeare.
Will has also for the last 10 years been building his video production company, “Echo Video” which is based in Brighton, East Sussex. Producing corporate and promotional videos for a wide range of businesses, from local artisans to multi-national organisations, we offer a full in-house service so we can take a video from conception right through to final delivery even if that involves time-lapse photography and aerial filming from helicopters and drones. Our website is www.echovideo.co.uk if you would like to find out more about us.
If you would like to fundraise for PANDAS please do not hesitate to get in touch with our fundraising team! www.pandasfoundation.org.uk
Mother’s Day, historically, is a day for children to appreciate their mothers and all that they do for them. Slowly, like many of these seasonal events over the years, this has become commercialised and now for many the pressure of ‘fulfilling’ the glossy-magazine, smiley, happy, room dressed in walls of flowers – just never quite happens.
Many mothers have children who don’t even know the meaning of Mother’s Day. And there are also children who do not have mothers. Many mothers are single and don’t have that one person who can rush out to Clintons and bring back a ‘I LOVE YOU’ teddy bear. And many Mums, like the mums that are supported through PANDAS, are mums with perinatal mental health illness. Depression, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, to name a few. The energy consumed with this means that we are tired. Exhausted and drained by our thoughts, let alone once the day starts (if we haven’t been up all night already!) So, Mother’s Day for some can just be another huge burden that we can’t perform to on that day.
“JUST ONE PICTURE for Instagram!” I screamed at my equally exhausted husband, 3-year-old and wailing 6-month-old baby. With a full stream row over the top of the babies crying I sat in a heap on the floor and wept. I didn’t know why I was crying? Was it because we wouldn’t make it to our harvester Mother’s Day lunch, was it that my kids weren’t hanging off my ankles telling me how much they appreciate my efforts. Or was it that I couldn’t put a selfie on Instagram displaying my proud mother hen moment in my nest? On that day I hated Mother’s Day. And then, my 3-year-old wiped my cheeks and said, ‘Love you mummy’ and that was my moment to feel proud, it made my day. – Sarah
Social media and commercialisation are two of the biggest contributors to mental health in parents when considering things such as Mothers or Father’s Day. Constant marketing and promotion of what we ‘should’ be doing in an idealised world cannot be helpful to the many parents out there suffering with PND. One women kindly spoke to us about her traumatic experience over Mother’s Day two years ago.
Clair and her husband were visiting family with their newborn baby. Whilst the family cooed over the baby, Clair felt disconnected and isolated from her baby. On top of her stress she started to feel physically unwell and assumed a cold was on its way. Clair started to deteriorate and soon went downhill. Being rushed to hospital by her husband, it was confirmed that Clair had an acute case of Mastitis (Swelling of the breasts). Sore and in pain, Clair felt relieved to be away from everyone for the night whilst hooked up to a drip. She felt safe and looked after. She didn’t have to join in with happy families and she didn’t have to smile.
The next day was the morning of Mothers Day. Clair was discharged and went home into the arms of her husband. There he gave her her baby, and a small gift. And inside two little foot prints of her baby boy. Whilst she wanted to feel tears of joy, she felt nothing. Cold and numb. Clair bravely smiled at her husband and baby and got through Mother’s Day wishing it was over. All she wanted was her baby to display something. To give his mummy some real visual live feedback, but it wouldn’t happen.
Since then, Clair’s experience of Mother’s Day has improved year by year. Now approaching her third Mother’s Day Clair wants to have a day of no expectations, and just embrace the day.
For some, its our first ever Mother’s Day and we want to have our flowers and breakfast in bed moment. But for others, this can be a cruel reminder of not being a parent. wanting to be a parent or for some like Annie wanting to be a better parent and ticking the boxes.
We must remember that children don’t remember presents, they remember presence and even if you are having the worst day you could be, a child’s love is unconditional. It is ok to feel sad, it shows children how to accept emotions.
Every mother out there is doing their best. And that includes you, reading this.
Words – Annie Belasco
Contributor – Clair Priestley
PANDAS are here to support you. If you need a listening empathetic ear we are open 24-7 with our email services email@example.com
or you can call us between 9-8pm on 0843 2898 401 Calls cost 6p per minute plus phone company’s excess.
It’s 6.30pm. which means half an hour until baby Lyla’s bedtime. She is showing absolutely no signs of being tired, she hasn’t slept a wink all day. Not even a yawn. Sounds normal, so why is this an issue? Well, in the past twenty seconds I have conjured up the idea that she will not go down to sleep. In fact, she probably won’t go to bed at all. I will be awake all night. I’ve become irritable, irrational and upset. I feel sick, I’m sweating, and my heart is beating like a drum.
Though she could go down. And she did, half an hour later, at 7. No noise and slept all night.
One scenario of the many where my anxiety takes control over me. This is parenting with an anxiety disorder.
I didn’t know much about anxiety before I became a Mum; it was never something I had heard of. I didn’t even know someone that suffered with it, and if they did I didn’t know about it. When these scenarios became more frequent and aggressive, I decided to get myself clued up on what exactly was going on. I suffered with post-natal depression, but this was a totally different ball game. This was alien to me. I felt lost in my own body like a stranger. I didn’t know who I was or what was going on. After some research and speaking to someone at PANDAS (a fabulous pre and post-natal depression charity helping parents cope and understand) the word ‘anxiety’ kept cropping up. I spoke with my doctor and my health visitor and then it was confirmed. I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder.
What is anxiety you ask? Well there isn’t one fixed term. For me it’s the loss of control, the feeling of unease and nervousness with an uncertain outcome. There are many types of anxiety. mine was centered around my daughter, my parenting. One slip up in her routine and the negative thoughts and physical symptoms would speed through me like a freight train. If I took her out alone I feel like everyone’s eyes are fixed on me waiting for me to slip up. Or that my parenting ability was on trial and everyone who laid eyes on me felt like the judge and jury.
I become defensive about my daughter, like I had to justify any parenting choice I made, even to someone who doesn’t know me. That’s my anxiety. My thoughts don’t stop. The worry has attached itself to me and very rarely lets go.
It’s picking on the wrong person – I don’t back down and I don’t let it win. I pull my support through many different resources, my family, PANDAS, my friends and my writing. It takes it away. It allows me to accept that it’s just my thoughts and my lack of confidence.
I get my strength from my daughter. I mean I’ve parented her a whole year and she’s the happiest soul ever, so huge high five to me, right? I still have my bad days, my battles and my challenges, I’m coping more now than I have in the last 12 months and knowing my diagnosis makes it so much easier to function. I’m not the only one and I never will be. The fact I can write this and raise awareness makes it even more special as I can help someone sat there, perhaps in tears, assuming their baby won’t sleep. Well, they will.
And I’m sure you will have the best sleep you’ve had. Have faith in yourself and get stuck in!
Until next time..
Daisy , 24 from the outskirts Edinburgh in Scotland. lives with my partner Sean and their beautiful, sassy one year old Lyla. Daisy works in retail and loves writing. A year ago, Daisy was diagnosed with post natal depression and anxiety disorder after the birth of her daughter Lyla. Daisy says “I’m passionate about mental health and supporting others through their journey” Daisy has written a blog for PANDAS, demonstrating a snippet of one of the challenges of anxiety with parents: ‘Bedtime.’
Rachael Jennings, 31 from Doncaster is a proud mum to baby Nell. Rachael experienced pre and post natal depression and anxiety with her first child. Rachael is now on a mission to campaign for better and more perinatal support services.
Rachael started the calendar campaign after feedback from mothers that they were encouraged to “bounce back” after having a baby. Her aim? To support PANDAS by raising money and awareness, while celebrating the variations of “normal”; of the post baby body.
Rachael is also a baby massage and pregnancy yoga instructor, as well as PGCE and Early Years Professional.
She says “I am incredibly proud of the mums who have taken part in the calendar and the supporting team. I plan to continue to work hard in breaking the silence around PND and help others to find self-love.”
I wrote this article for PANDAS in the hope that one day there won’t be such a thing called stigma when it comes to mental health.
I suffered with depression prior to my pregnancy because we found out we couldn’t conceive naturally. I felt like the world had come crashing down around me. And I was very low. We planned our fertility treatment and ended up having IVF. I became very anxious; I basically lived in a bubble through my pregnancy. I would over analyse everything, I wouldn’t eat anything unless I prepared it or if I told someone what to prepare. I read the labels on everything. I wouldn’t over exercise. Because I was told it’s better for baby to lay on your left, I was so scared to lay on my right side during my sleep that I hardly slept. I prayed everyday that we would make it to the end and meet our little girl. But at the back of my mind I was worrying about what my life would now be like. Did losing my “Pap” mean that I got to have a baby. There is an old myth that when you lose a loved one a baby comes along. He was my closet relative and this played on my mind throughout.
I was anxious, irritable, agitated, tired from lack of sleep, nervous, low and spent a lot of time crying.
I had all different sorts of ideas running through my head. How can I care for a baby? What if this happened, what would I do? Is this it for the next 20 years. Then I’d think: I can’t wait, all those cute clothes and day trips out.
It was exhausting.
During my pregnancy I suffered with severe morning sickness and had to have medication. I was diagnosed with pelvic girdle pain and saw a physiotherapist. The IVF and pregnancy certainly took its toll on me both physically and mentally. I had a few scares through my pregnancy regarding my baby’s heart rate. This did not help my anxiety at all. I expressed to the medical professionals my levels of anxiety and that I was concerned about my delivery. I was exhausted from not sleeping with worry. I didn’t think they would get her out, due to previous Gynae problems. I was told it was just nerves and not to worry. “Every mum feels like it. Every mum gets nervous.”
I was not asked about my mental health during my pregnancy. I was always told it is first time mum nerves. My advice would be to other parents, don’t accept this if you feel low. Then please seek help.
After a rough pregnancy my baby decided to come a few weeks early.I had mixed emotions, I thought finally we would get to meet and this worry will be all over with.
That’s what I thought anyway.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Kerry Thomas, in her own honest
words, is married to an “amazing husband” and is a proud mother to a beautiful little girl. Kerry started writing mummy blogs regarding post traumatic stress, postnatal depression and birth trauma following the birth of her now two year old.
Kerry has a strong desire to write about her mental health experiences through blogging and on social media, and is also writing a book to help others who are struggling. Her aim is to give people with mental health illness a voice.
She has written a three part series of blogs for PANDAS -the first introducing herself and her pregnancy.
We are delighted that Talia has recently opened up and talked about her experiences of Perinatal Mental Health Illness. Talia is a true demonstration of a mother who can manage a difficult pregnancy, light up her own flourishing career and be the best Mother a child could wish for. Talia is working with PANDAS as an ambassador to encourage others to speak up, share their stories and end the stigma. PANDAS are here to help parents. And we want you to know that it’s OK not to be OK.
Approximately half of new mothers are concerned about their mental health and they are suffering in silence, according to research by the NCT. There are a range of symptoms and conditions that fall under perinatal mental illness, including antenatal or postnatal depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder – and dads can be affected too. If left untreated it can have a devastating effect on the whole family.
We’ve selected a few of the top tips we’ve come across from working with new parents every day, and also through our partnership with the NCT as sponsors for The Big Push.
Talk About Your Feelings
Whatever you’re going through, it’s important to talk. By vocalising your problems, you will see your way forward more clearly. What’s more, whoever you speak to may offer you important advice, or make you see everything in a different way. Who you talk to doesn’t really matter, all that matters is that you trust them and you can confide in them. Counselors and doctors are ideal if you need medical or psychological support. But if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, there are plenty of local support groups who specialise in helping women through postnatal depression. If you decide that support groups aren’t for you, opening up to a friend or family member can be just as helpful. If you know any other mums, they’ll be able to offer you sound advice, too. Whatever you’re going through, it’s likely that they’ve been through something similar, so don’t be afraid to open up. Most women who go through postnatal depression feel an overwhelming sense of isolation. This means that, unfortunately, many don’t speak out about their feelings and suffer in silence. It is important to override this feeling of loneliness as much as possible, and find people who are able to support you.
Make Time for You
When you become a parent, it can feel like your only purpose in the world is to look after your child, and that you have lost the life you had before you had your baby. But it’s important to remember that you’re an individual as well as a parent, and that you can still make time for yourself. You might feel rushed off your feet, but by making time for friends and family, you can enjoy the company of your loved ones, helping you to feel less isolated. Finding time to be by yourself can be helpful, too. If you can organise a sitter even for just an hour or two, this gives you the chance to relax and unwind with your favourite home comforts, whether that means watching a funny TV show or delving into a new book. Having time out will help you to feel rested. Taking up a hobby or setting yourself a manageable goal, like learning a new skill, anything from cross stitch to playing an instrument, will also help you to feel better. By achieving something like this that’s separate to your family life, you will feel more positive and empowered.
It’s no secret that, if you eat well, you will feel well. By consuming healthy, natural fats and protein based meals, you will start to see a difference in your mood. By eating dishes that contain high-energy protein, like oily fish and filling vegetables (for example avocado), you will feel more energised. Everyone should treat themselves, but there are certain things you should avoid where possible. Many new mums avoid alcohol if they breastfeed, but it’s advisable to avoid drinking if you’re feeling vulnerable after having a baby, anyway. Alcohol is essentially a depressant, so it is likely to make you feel much worse overall if you drink regularly.
It might sound simple, but if you exercise regularly, you will start to feel healthier, both mentally and physically. In their study, Be Active and Become Happy, researchers Kanning and Schlicht found that participants felt content, awake, and calm after periods of simple exercise. On the other hand, participants who did not exercise had a low mood. What’s more, by taking up regular exercise, you will be able to socialise more. Plenty of new mums take up new sports and exercise classes in their local areas, so you won’t be alone if you take up something new. A popular choice among new mums is to take their little ones to local swimming classes. Here, your baby will be able to flex their muscles, and you will also get a gentle work out. By supporting your baby in the water taking part in gentle, water-based exercises, your bond with your baby will grow and you’ll get to keep fit, too.
Get the Help You Need
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you talk to someone about what you’re going through and introduce approaches into your daily life that will make you to feel positive. From strengthening the bond between you and your baby, to offering you both some gentle exercise, there are so many benefits swimming lessons can offer you. More than anything, if you are going through postnatal depression, remember that you’re not alone. Many women experience postpartum mood disorders, so make sure you speak out and get the support you deserve.
About Puddle Ducks
Puddle Ducks teach independent swimming from birth, strengthening
bonds between parents and children across the UK.
This post contains references to infant loss and hyperemesis gravidarum, and may be upsetting for some.
Elation – that’s what you will feel when you give birth so you can forget about the nine months of HG sickness, depression and anxiety, the bleeds and fluid loss; not to mention my baby not moving regularly. This was just the start of my journey.
I had lost two babies previously, got pregnant by accident with the third and could never bring myself to acknowledge that I was pregnant – I was filled with anxiety and worry and a sense of loss that I would most definitely give birth to another dead baby. This was teamed with a sense of guilt and horror of my previous miscarriages. I didn’t get help to move past them, and with the awfulness of wanting to just be dead because I felt so ill during this pregnancy, it played with my mind body and soul and there were times when I just didn’t want to be, let alone have a baby.
And that is reality of PND – I would never think that it was real, so I tried to carry on with my normal life of working in the city of London; being sick on numerous platforms and on people on the tube, fainting and getting carted off to hospital at least every week so they could pump me full of vitamins and fluid just to get my arse out of bed of a morning. I looked pregnant but never felt the joy of it. To me it was just a horrific process that was going to end in tears and heart ache when I’m told again I won’t be taking a baby home.
And that stuck to me. I didn’t pack my bag until the last minute and took minimal items for the baby. I never actually considered names seriously, I took no part in putting the room together and placed only small baby clothes in the drawers, still in their packets as I just couldn’t see how this was ever going to happen.
I suffered with HG (hyperemesis Gravidarum). I have many stories about how this made me want to just curl up and die. Now, looking back, the thing was I had the nose of a trained police dog – I could smell what you had eaten or drank days before. On one occasion on the tube it all ended in carnage: Contestant number 1, who smelt like they had been drinking after work (very jealous). This made the bile enter my throat! Contestant number 2 who clearly worked in a Chinese restaurant made me want to smash down a chicken chow mein but that brought the bile and food up into my mouth. Contestant 3 who had their armpit in my face just smelt of complete and utter smelliness and the sick was there ready to go – then Contestant 4 got on the train and smelt like a smoking room. Now, I liked the smell of smoke during my pregnancy as I was an ex smoker but this was enough for me to projectile, exorcist style, over a whole carriage of people. Now don’t get me wrong, I would be angry, but the abuse I got meant I just had to get off the train. It started and didn’t stop and I wildly shouted back “I’m pregnant, you idiots!” as the train pulled off. I retreated to being sick at the end of the platform and was swiftly told to remove myself and asked how much I had been drinking! (I wish) “I’m pregnant,” I kept saying and was escorted to the police office were I proceeded too cry and tell them I need an ambulance not police to arrest me as was about to faint and could not stop being sick in the tube station bin!
These type of incidents happened often and got me down down down to the point I just didn’t want to be pregnant, but I got filled with guilt because of the losses I had suffered before.
I was told at 25 weeks there was a high chance I wouldn’t make it the whole way through and this thought just consumed me. It brought what I can only call the cloud of depression on me, and it stayed and rained on my parade 24 hours a day.
Laura was gone, she was a nothing; just an extremely sick mother-to-be who could not acknowledge the pregnancy let alone the birth. After two days of pain, drugs, crying, sickness, temperatures and pushing I finally gave birth to my baby girl but again coldly didn’t acknowledge her birth and started acting out of sorts afterwards – wanting to see my placenta, reverting to making jokes about the labor and telling them to stitch me up and do a good job.
PND had stolen my sense of identity. I didn’t know who I was and just could not acknowledge I was a mother. I could only see this robotic person who had to act happy through the dark cloud that had descended upon me. This was just the start of how PND took me into its arms and didn’t let go for two years, essentially taking me away from my Nellie and my family.
This is my journey, and my blog. Publishing this is to help in my recovery but also to educate and let everyone know out there the truth about Peri and Post natal depression and how real it is and just how that has taken over my life for the last few years.
I am a 34 year old normal working professional (well nearly back to work) who has been thrown head first into this unknown world of depression. Starting long ago when I lost 2 babies and building again when I was pregnant with Nellie and now I am ready to share my stories and journey in the hope that it will help others to seek help and reach out in their time of need.
Post and Peri Natal depression / PTSD and Anxiety is a dark dark place and is not always recognised as an illness but it is. It takes hard work, therapy, strength, highest highs and lowest lows to get to the point of recovery but it is achievable. Don’t feel alone – reach out and just say “I need help.” Easy for me to say now but I wish I did it sooner.
I want to ensure that you know this is a funny crazy and light hearted blog with some deep and dark emotions involved so please do not be offended or think bad of what’s written. It is the truth, it’s my story in my own words.
So to everyone who is going to follow me and my journey please read, cry and say goodbye to PND together with me!
As part of #PNDAW, Seven Seventeen are generously offering a three wick 500ml candle in their newest scent, Sea Kelp, as a fantastic prize.
Called ‘You Got This‘, their candles are hand poured to ensure even fragrance distribution and finished with cotton wicks to prevent ugly black smoke, presented in recycled glass pharmacy jars. £1 from every sale goes to PANDAS Foundation, to help us continue to support people through pre and postnatal mental illness.
As well as their fantastic candles in three sizes (perfect as gifts or treats), you can also subscribe to receive a monthly candle direct to your doorstep.
Click the Rafflecoptor giveaway below for a chance to win!
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