This week we have a positive and inspiring story of one woman's fight against postnatal depression and how she went on to help other women who were suffering with this debilitating condition. Over to Victoria at Bloom Baby Classes:
"This is going to sound quite bold, but I’m just going to say it. I’m glad I had postnatal depression. In fact, I’m actually grateful for it. Though at the time it was horrific, I believe that it actually led to me making the best possible changes in my life. In turn, I believe it’s helped me to help others change their lives for the better, too.
Let me tell you my story.
I gave birth to Ana in 2008. It was a traumatic birth - for both of us. Physically, I was not in a good place, and it would turn out that I wasn’t in a great place mentally, either.
Almost from the minute we got her home, Ana cried all day every day due to reflux, and this made an already hard job so much harder. With this, and the issues from the birth, plus god knows what else, I struggled to cope. For almost 18 months I felt this constant feeling of impending doom, exhaustion, and not being able to find the joy in anything. 18 months of PND, and I felt every day of it.
I was awful to be around, and at one point my husband started looking for somewhere else to live. None of it was my fault – PND isn’t a blame game – but I knew that it was my responsibility to try and make things better - for all of us. I was in a cycle of making and breaking doctors appointments, so my first point of action was to start keeping them. I needed to do it for Ana, if not for me.
And so I talked, I exercised, and I began to eat more healthily. I returned to work and I blogged about everything I was doing on my journey as I attempted to pull myself out of the toughest thing I’d ever experienced. Somehow, I built a following. People were interested in what I had to say and what I could offer to help them battle their own PND. I went on to retrain as a childminder – all the while still suffering – and in combining everything I was doing and learning, together with some not-so-great experiences at parent and baby classes, Bloom began to take shape.
In order to get through early parenthood, whether you have PND or not, it’s so important to get yourself out to classes and social events designed to help you as well as your baby, and it’s so important to find the right class for you so that you can feel truly supported and comfortable. I hope anyone who reads this will take that advice – from someone who’s been there.
With Bloom, I wanted parents to be able to leave the house with their baby and know that they were entering a safe, positive and non-judgmental space. With Bloom, I wanted parents to be given genuine opportunities to help bond with their little ones. With Bloom, I needed those parents to know that if they wanted to start working on a project that could help them get back their identity and give them a great purpose in life, the opportunity was right here waiting for them.
So I guess in summary, I’m so thankful that my postnatal depression affected me the way it did back then, because without it, I may not be where I am today. Watching Bloom grow from strength to strength has given me so much more confidence in myself as a person, and this grows every single time I see and hear feedback about how Bloom is changing – and even saving – lives."
Victoria's top self-care tips for coping with postnatal depression
Remember it really is OK to not be OK – small steps can make a difference:
Whether it be to your partner, your mum or even your neighbour or the nice mum at playgroup. Share how you feel, explain that you don’t feel yourself. They wont judge in fact they have probably felt the same and might just be able to help you.
2. Daily fresh air
Self-care is so important and just doing small things each day FOR YOU can make you feel like you have achieved so much and really help benefit your wellbeing. Take a walk in the fresh air with the pushchair or pram. Clear your mind, focus on the trees and think how lucky you are to be where you are.
3. Five minutes each day for YOU
This might sound completely unachievable when you have young children but you can really take 5 minutes out of your day to relax and do something for you. Whether its concentrating on your breathing, mindfulness or reading a book. Make sure there is time in your day to unwind.
4. Pick up the phone and ring someone
Communicate communicate communicate!! Not heard from that friend for a while? Maybe she is going through a bad time too. Reach out to her …
If you would like to find out more about Victoria's fantastic baby and parent classes, you can take a look here.
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