This past week I set up a local online support group for my area. ‘Lotus Petal PND’ An online Facebook page and Twitter account to offer peer support, it was something I was searching for when I was first diagnosed. I longed to talk to other parents near me who ‘got it’ but I couldn’t find anything local. So after three years of hoping something would come up, and now feeling I’m recovering I decided to set it up myself. I’m not offering medical advice, just peer support and friendship locally. Hopefully it will guide people to reach out for the professional advice they deserve, but mostly just help people feel less alone in what can be an isolating illness.
To get the word out locally, I took the step to ‘admit’ my postnatal depression and anxiety to everyone I know. Even though I am comfortable talking about it, I was still slightly nervous, wondering what reaction I would get. I was overwhelmed with the amazing response I had.
It’s a shame that I felt I was confessing something to everyone, but I am so glad I did now. Not only has everyone been supportive, but I don’t feel I need to hide anything anymore. And the best part of all is that people who have been privately suffering have also been messaging me, surprised I was suffering and relieved to know they aren’t alone.
This is exactly why I took these steps, reaching out to people so they can feel less alone. Letting them know that you can get better and offering that hope. I’m hoping in the future I can set up a physical group for people in my local area to meet up and gain friendship. I hope I can raise awareness for perinatal mental illnesses and lessen the incorrect stigma connected to it.
One of the main things people said to me was ‘I had no idea you were suffering’ – so how many other people might be suffering and we have no idea? Those parents out there who are putting a front on to the world but struggling behind it? Most people had no idea because I didn’t want them too. My point is – just because someone seems to be coping, they may not be. There’s a quote I really feel is appropriate for this –
‘Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always’
No one knew what I was going through, but the times people checked in on me or did something kind, it really made a difference. The more perinatal mental illness is talked about the less of a stigma will be attached to it, then hopefully more parents who are struggling will feel comfortable coming forward and getting the help they need. That’s what I hope my group can do.
Sarah 🙂 @lotusPetalPND #LotusPetalPND