Early last year, I shared my story of postnatal depression and my two-year battle with illness on this website. I was just at the start of my journey of recovery and was writing a personal blog.
I was five months into treatment - antidepressants, mental health team support, talking therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). I found it hard, some days, to believe that I really could get better, but I was trying hard to hold onto hope.
One year on, things are very different. While my recovery is ongoing, I know that it is possible to get better. I am so thankful that life is now to be enjoyed rather than endured. I'm ready to thrive not just survive.
I designed and created a website - www.haveyouseenthatgirl.com - to offer support to other parents who are struggling; to continue to tell my story of postnatal depression (PND) recovery and life with the illness; to offer others the opportunity to tell theirs and to campaign for better Perinatal Mental Health services in Northern Ireland.
I’ve had lots of opportunities to share my story with healthcare professionals, medical students and support groups. I've also been closely involved with the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) Review of Perinatal Mental Health Services in Northern Ireland (January 2017).
The report is now available at http://bit.ly/2smwo5h and I am actively working to see that its recommendations are put in place.
In May, I hosted the Perinatal Mental Health & Wellbeing in Northern Ireland event in Belfast City Hall. The purpose of this was to highlight the RQIA report and the issue that 80% of parents in NI do not have access to the specialist Perinatal Mental Health services they need.
It was a fantastic morning, with 100 people from various organisations, groups and charities, all passionate to push for change. From that, we’ve now launched the #TimeForChangeNI campaign: https://www.facebook.com/timeforchangeni/
Last October, I had the opportunity to give a Ted Talk at Stormont about postnatal depression – ‘What if motherhood isn’t the time of your life?’ It’s on my website at www.haveyouseenthatgirl.com/?p=3064.
I'm very excited to have developed Bags of Hope, which were crowdfunded. I'm so thankful to everyone who helped and donated.
These are gift bags that I intend to give to parents struggling with perinatal mental health issues. They include a leaflet on PND (my story, signs and symptoms of the illness, where to find support) and a candle as a reminder of light and hope, even on the darkest of days.
There is also a colouring book and pencils, sweet treats and chocolate, herbal tea bags, a voucher for a Tribal Fitness session – a chance to get out and meet other mums and their little ones, and get some exercise/fresh air - and a special discount voucher for Bambino Massage NI.
Having got to this point in my own journey, to be well enough to reach out to others, I am determined to play my part to help and support other parents who are struggling. Feel free to get in touch. I'd love to hear from you!
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