This Wednesday, December 16 2015 at 8pm marks a very special occasion: 100 hours of #PNDChat – will you be celebrating with us?
#PNDChat is the brainchild of wonderful blogger Rosey to bring together those affected by perinatal mental health, and the people (family, friends, and professionals who support them) – known as the #PNDFamily.
And it really is a family – we each have different backgrounds, live in different areas of the country, have different occupations, numbers of children, and we have all had different experiences of perinatal mental ill health.
For all our differences, what we share in common is a passion to break the stigma of mental ill health, to provide mutual support without judgement, and to provide a glimmer of hope in the darkness. I for one owe them so much.
I first became aware of the #PNDFamily a couple of months after Hugo died. Awful, dark times they were. I went to a blogging conference, not knowing a soul. It was difficult to make friends, with one fellow blogger even telling me the topic of my blog is a ‘conversation stopper’.
The wonderful Beth happened to see my comment on Twitter and arranged to meet up with me – we have been firm friends ever since. In between tweeting Beth and meeting her, I bumped in to Kathryn. She was wearing a purple Action on Postpartum Psychosis t shirt and I stopped her to ask more. Kathryn was very open about her experience and said it is possible to get through it – the first glimmer of hope I had received.
When Hugo was born and during his life I experienced utterly terrifying intrusive thoughts. They make me shake to think about, even now. As terrifying as those thoughts were, I was too scared to tell anyone because I was worried I would be labelled a dangerous nutcase and be stopped from seeing Hugo. Not being able to see my very sick son was just unthinkable, so I kept them to myself while torturing myself with the thought I was going mad.
The fear of being labelled a ‘dangerous nutcase’ is horrendous. Rationally, you would think that with everything I had been through (HELLP syndrome at 24 weeks, being in intensive care, my son in the NICU) some kind of emotional or psychological disturbance was to be expected. The trouble was, at that time my knowledge of postnatal mental health was based on the very unreliable source of sensationalist media coverage of tragic stories where the very worst had happened.
Chatting to the #PNDFamily helped me realise that the intrusive thoughts – the ones I had during Hugo’s life and have continued to experience since his death – are nothing to be ashamed of. Living with the intrusive thoughts was stressful enough, so being relieved of the shame was one less issue to have to deal with.
Sourcing appropriate support for the PTSD I have been diagnosed with has been very challenging indeed, meaning I am so grateful for all the kindness, support, empathy, and compassion shown to me. Chatting with women who ‘get it’ really has helped keep me going.
A key part of the chat is #PNDHour, which takes place on Twitter every Wednesday evening between 8pm and 9pm (this is the anniversary we are celebrating). The purpose of it is to:
- Provide a safe space to discuss topics surrounding pre and postnatal illness.
- Help connect those affected by the illness, and provide support for each other.
- Increase awareness and encourage open conversations about the illness.
- Discuss where improvements could be made in all areas of the support provided for those affected.
If you would like to help us make an even louder noise on social media on Wednesday, please join the Thunderclap.
Anyone who has been affected by any kind of antenatal, perinatal or postnatal mental health is welcome to join. If you would rather not join in the discussion (which is understandable, Twitter can be a very public place to talk about very personal things) so you’re welcome to observe. You can also read our blogs – there is a handy list of them.
There are so many wonderful people in the #PNDFamily – I would love to list you all but won’t because I’m bound to omit someone – but you know who you are! You can see 100 of us in this fabulous video.
The #PNDFamily is entirely voluntary, and seeks to help make sure other women do not suffer in the way that they have.
We connect, we support, we empower because together we are stronger.