Where did the name The Butterfly Mother come from?
Experiencing a perinatal mental illness following my son’s birth meant that I changed and grew a lot during the years that followed. I love the symbolism of the butterfly going through an extraordinary transformation but emerging stronger and more beautiful on the other side. It seemed very apt for what the blog is about.
What is your experience of perinatal mental illness?
I suffered from moderate Postnatal Depression and severe Postnatal Anxiety / OCD when my son was born in 2013. I also had a small amount of birth trauma / PTSD following my emergency c-section. My symptoms included insomnia, lack of appetite, breathlessness, diarrhea, intrusive thoughts, frequent anxiety / panic attacks, derealisation / feeling disconnected and suicidal feelings.
How did you recover?
I first reached out to my Health Visitor, via my local children’s centre, who referred me to the specialist perinatal mental health team in my area. I was eventually referred to NHS therapy sessions. I credit my recovery to a combination of medication, extensive therapy (mainly CBT), professional and family support and self-help techniques such as, what I call, the ‘let it in’ method! And lots of time & patience.
Should I take medication?
Please seek all medication advice and information from your GP or psychiatrist. I’m not a medical professional so cannot offer specific advice about medication however I’ve shared my own experiences of antidepressants here. During my recovery I took diazapam and zopiclone (very short term) and one of either fluoxetine and citalopram (long term).
I keep having really scary thoughts that wont go away – what is this and how can I make it stop?
Intrusive thoughts are a very common symptom of Anxiety & OCD, in particular when experiencing these illnesses during the perinatal period. I’ve written lots about intrusive thoughts here and how to overcome them.
I feel unreal and disconnected – what’s going on?
Derealisation – frightening feelings of disconnection from yourself, others and the world around you – is also a symptom of Anxiety and completely treatable. Learn more here.
How can I feel more connected to my baby?
PND and other perinatal mental illnesses can have an impact on how you feel about your baby but try not to panic. Once you treat the illness, the bond will definitely come. I’ve written & spoken about this a few times:
- Do I Love My Baby?
- Does PND Affect Your Bond With Your Baby?
- Five Tips For Bonding With Your Baby During Recovery
- Bonding Problems When Struggling With PND (video)
Who is Lotus Petal Family Support and how are you connected?
Lotus Petal Family Support is a peer support group, running both online and face to face on Canvey Island, Essex. It’s run by my friend and fellow advocate – Sarah Wood – who I met during my recovery. Sarah asked me to join forces with her in 2016 and I now help her with some of Lotus Petal’s projects. This year I plan to open my own branch of Lotus Petal in the Southend area so I’ll keep you posted on that. You’ll often find Sarah and I sharing each other’s stuff on social media but we are two separate people! (Although we do now share a You Tube channel).
How can I find a local peer support group?
I’m currently working on a full list of peer support groups from around the UK. Meanwhile, please check out this great resource page from another friend and advocate – Eve Canavan (scroll towards the bottom for peer support specifically).
Have you made any videos about your experience?
When you’re really unwell it can be very difficult to concentrate so last year I faced my fears about looking at myself on video and branched out. You can now find out about my Anxiety Toolkit Live videos, and watch replays, here. And you can find me here on You Tube.
I fear I’m never going to get better, what can I do?
This was my number one biggest fear when I was at my worst. I was convinced I was the exception to the rule and that I would be the one who didn’t recover. But I did. The fact is that perinatal mental illness is highly treatable and, with medical treatment and support, recovery is absolutely possible. I’m living proof. Read my recovery story here.
Is this blog only about mental health?
Nope! It began life very much as a way of me journaling my recovery, and offering tips and hope to people, but it then expanded to include lots of other areas of parenting too. You can read more general parenting & lifestyle content here.
Where else can I find you online?
Click the links for my socials!
How can I contact you?
On any of the above platforms or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where can I go for help?
I have a resources page here. It’s in need of some updating though so should be expanded soon.
Want to read my mental health content? Start here.