Blog Archives - PANDAS Foundation UK

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Volunteers’ Week Spotlight: ANNE MARIE

“That’s the thing about PANDAS, it not only supports women but then empowers them to help others going through the same”

Anne Marie is our fabulous email support and social media volunteer from Edinburgh. Anne Marie tells us about her background and what she brings to PANDAS.

1) Please tell us about yourself?

My name is Anne Marie and live in South Queensferry in Edinburgh, right next to the Forth bridges. I have three children, all girls and grown up with three beautiful grandchildren, who keep me busy. I am happily married to Kevin.

2) How did you hear about PANDAS and what made you want to join as a volunteer?

My daughter suffered with Postnatal Depression (PND ) and Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) last year after a traumatic birth. She took a long time to recover and then suffered with anxiety. She was diagnosed with PND. As her mum, I supported both her and her partner through this. Having suffered with PND with my second child, no support had been available then. After my daughter recovered, it was something I felt I could do, and had a lot to offer. I had followed PANDAS on Facebook and my daughter did the same.

3) What is your role and what do you do?

Currently I am an email volunteer on a Saturday and sometimes a Tuesday to support the group. As I work Monday to Friday it fits in easily with my work. I then took more volunteer work on as a social media agent, totally different to email, but I love engaging with our service users, and it’s so good for them to get an instant reply. I have also hosted the Twitter chat #PANDAShr on a Sunday evening. Although apprehensive about this, I really enjoy the engagement.

The balance with my job/family/career is great, its something I enjoy and I love being able to help people.

4) Please tell us how you have supported someone?

I have supported both my daughters through post natal depression, my eldest daughter suffered this 5 years ago, she didn’t realise she had it. She came up to visit me and I could see it. She went home and got support both through her GP and through PANDAS. Although she lives a long way away she knows I am always there for her, and when she had her second baby last year, I was mindful of this.

My youngest child suffered with this last year, it was hard being her mother and seeing her go through this. It was hard for me too, as my anxiety kicked in and to a point if I feel she is going through a difficult time it does now. It meant late night visits if she was anxious and her partner being young also didn’t understand what was going on.

I am so proud of her, she is thriving as a Mother and has started a new job.

5) Please tell us how donations, support and fundraising help the foundation?

We can’t help families if we didn’t have donations, they basically help us to help and reach more families.

Fundraising on a local level helps the groups to run and reach more people.

The generosity of wonderful people that help us to support families suffering with perinatal illness.

I would love to see PANDAS reach even more people and see more groups in more areas over the UK. I very often have service users on email say how when they are feeling better they would love to volunteer. That’s the thing about PANDAS, it not only supports women but then empowers them to help others going through the same.

 

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A Not-so Traditional Mother’s Day

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 info@pandasfoundation.org.uk

or you can call us between 9-8pm on 0843 2898 401 Calls cost 6p per minute plus phone company’s excess.

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My PND Experience – Part 1

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. 
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Talia Dean – X Factor Star, PND survivor & Inspirational Mother

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.

Click Here for Talia’s The Sun article!

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Invisible

Mental Illness is invisible.

When someone is ill, or hurting, or injured, they go to the doctor. They’re not too ill to get up, they don’t need the hospital or an ambulance. They can still carry on the basic daily functions – but they just don’t feel very well.

Maybe they have a temperature – a runny nose, a cough. Maybe they’re feverish. Or perhaps they were injured somehow – a cut, a graze, a sprain. At worst, broken bone. They might need a bandage, a cast. They might even just need a plaster.

Perhaps they need medication to fix it. It might be antibiotics, or pain relief while their body heals itself. They’re given a clear timeline – two weeks, a month, a couple of months, and you’ll be better. If you’re not, please come back.

So they come home from the doctor to their loved ones and they say “This is what happened, this is what’s the matter. I’ll be better soon.” They might have a day or more off work, or just need to sleep for a bit. Maybe (if they’re very lucky!) they get a card, or flowers, or chocolate. Read More

Relaxation – PANDAS Advent Blog

‘Relaxation’, by Charlotte Saker

 

For many people the Christmas season is a time of joy, family and celebration.  But for a lot of us it’s also a time of stress, anxiety, and disappointment.  There are high expectations over the festive season of happy families, cooking a big meal, buying and giving lots of presents and generally having that Christmas card perfect holiday.  But not all of us can live up to those ideals.

Read More

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