Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week – 1 – 7 May 2017
Jennie who runs Snowdrops (formerly Stockport PND Support) shares her story & explains where you can get support.
In the past few weeks, you may well have heard a fair amount about mental health. The ‘mental health’ marathon, the royals talking about their own experiences of it and the heads together campaign has been prominently featured across the media. To be honest watching all the thousands of people involved in the London marathon, wearing the Heads Together bands brought me to tears. As someone who has lived with poor to average mental health since having my little ones, the fact that the nation was so publicly declaring that it was ok to speak about it made me so happy and also really emotional. This week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK which means that hopefully the conversation will continue.
I’m Jennie and this is why I run Snowdrops, a group in Stockport for mums who have faced struggles with their mental health during pregnancy or after having their babies. One day a while after I became ok with sharing my diagnosis of PND someone suggested I found a support group for mums in a similar position. WHAT?!? Essentially a small tots group but with a group of mums who are depressed “Woop woop that sounds like a hoot” I thought to myself. Anyone else share my feelings or am I the only one? However this idea stuck with me and eventually I did the sensible thing and googled it! PANDAS came up and I found a local group meeting in a cafe near me, a cup of tea and beautiful cake sounded like a bonus and after a little chat with the group leader of Facebook messenger I was lured in!
Well it turns out that this sort of group is not such a bad idea after all even for someone who is not a huge fan of tots groups! The first day I went it was a bit terrifying and I wasn’t sure how I would feel but actually the overwhelming feeling was relief. I knew that everyone in the room knew a little or a lot of what I was feeling. I wasn’t alone, a lie that depression loves to tell you. I’m not the only one who has had overwhelming anxiety about their babies, been unable to function because of the brain fog or felt like this will never go away. WOW. Also as I began to talk with others, my experience added to the conversation and I began to see that by being part of this group could actually now and again help or provide some insight to someone else. For me this was a big help as it gave some purpose to the pain. I continued to go to this group and found some wonderful mums who’d I’d now definitely call friends. Over time it became my favourite thing in the week. It became somewhere to offload a bit and somewhere I felt I could completely be myself and gave me more courage to share my story not just in the group but also elsewhere. It reduced the stigma for me as I realised this could happen to anyone and does happen to lots.
For me this has gone one step further too. I have now been running Snowdrops for around a year with Rachael. I love meeting the new mums and giving them a safe space too. I guess this is a post to encourage anyone who thinks a group like this isn’t for them to give it a try. You don’t need to have been officially diagnosed or even understand fully how you are feeling, for many mums who come it’s a nagging feeling that they are just not feeling like themselves, perhaps they are feeling low, overwhelmed or anxious. Don’t get me wrong, the first time can seem a bit scary but it could potentially become a really positive, safe space and an extra tool to help you towards recovery. If you think a group like this might help you, a good place to start might be a message to us on our Facebook page, we can introduce ourselves and if you’d like to come to group arrange to meet you when you arrive.
Stockport Mumbler has a great support section where you can find our details and also the details of other groups in the area which may provide the support you are looking for. Whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence. It’s okay to say, I’m not okay.
Next Snowdrops meet up – 3rd May 2017 10-11.30am, Romiley Life Centre, SK6 4BN
Snowdrops is a group is run by mums to provide support to mums experiencing pre or postnatal mental health issues. They meet on Wednesdays at Romiley Life Centre, 3 Stockport Road, Romiley, SK6 4BN. Please contact them or check their Facebook page for the next meeting dates and times.