Regular readers will know that perinatal mental health features regularly in this blog, following my own experience of PND and anxiety in 2013 (and brief anxiety relapse last year). You have also probably heard me speak about #pndhour and the wonderful Rosey from PND and Me. This Saturday I was fortunate enough to meet with around 30 of the brightest minds in perinatal mental health advocacy to celebrate two years of #pndhour and share ideas on how to help parents who are suffering.
It was a truly incredible day. Seeing all those people gathered together in one room with one common goal – better help, treatment and support for men and women suffering after having a baby or during pregnancy – was so powerful and I’m really grateful to have been a part of it. I wanted to share my personal highlights with you.
Meeting Sarah from Lotus Petal PND
I’ve known Sarah online for a while and have followed her awesome work. She has set up her own support group in Canvey Island, Essex and it was great to chat about her group in more detail and her ideas for the future (among chatting about everything else!). If you want to know more please visit Sarah’s Facebook page.
Hearing more about Mags Deakin’s wonderful work as a specialist midwife
Mags works as a Specialist Midwife for Vulnerable Families with a special interest in perinatal mental health. She’s so passionate about her work, and a huge inspiration to other midwives and healthcare providers. I would love to see more initiatives like hers across the country.
Mindfulness Workshop with Pauline McPartland
It was a very emotional day, as you can imagine, so slowing down for a wonderful mindful meditation was exactly what was needed. Pauline is the co-founder of The Wellbeing Hub and you can find out more about her work here.
Perinatal Mental Illness in Film with Kathryn Grant
This was truly fascinating. Kathryn had pulled together clips including both factual and fictional depictions of perinatal mental illness and there were plenty I’d never seen before. We then spoke a little about the recent Eastenders storyline that Kathryn and Eve Canavan have been working on and also had a great, open discussion about what we’d like to see in the media surrounding these illnesses.
I knew Kathryn was an amazing lady but until now I hadn’t realised just how much work she is doing and how many projects she is currently involved in. Follow her blog here for more info.
Art Therapy with Cocoon
Cocoon Family Support is a London-based charity who support women who have struggled with PND and other perinatal mental illnesses. Towards the end of the day we all got to try our hand at different art therapies which was a lot of fun and also demonstrated how vital creative outlets like this are for mental wellbeing.
Perhaps the most emotionally-charged part of the day was hearing all the talks given by mums who have personally battled PND and other illnesses. Everyone spoke so honestly and bravely, and I was truly blown away. When it came to my turn I’m afraid I was a little overcome with emotion and there were more than a few tears while I told my story of anxiety, derealisation and intrusive thoughts. I surprised myself here as I talk about my experience all the time and rarely get overwhelmed but I think just talking about it in a room full of people who truly understand was too much for my usually stiff upper lip! Thankfully everyone was very lovely afterwards, and a special thank you to Pop Tart Mum for dashing on stage to give me a hug!
A special note to Rosey of course, without whom this wonderful day wouldn’t have happened. She truly is an inspiration. May #pndhour have many more birthdays to come!
By way of emotional decompression we rounded off the day with a karaoke after party which was so much fun!
By far and away though the best part of the day was simply meeting so many people in the flesh that I’d previously only known online. The power of the internet astounds me sometimes, without it we would never have connected. I felt truly awed to be among such strong, determined and passionate people. I feel truly inspired to do more.