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This year #ShoutieSelfie is for everyone struggling with the isolation Covid-19 has resulted in.

To join me, and the many charities and organisations getting involved with #ShoutieSelfie please:

  1. Take a selfie of you shouting
  2. Post it from Wednesday 15th April with the official message – see below

Official Wording

Instagram, Facebook & Linkedin

REMEMBER – copy the entire message below down to the hashtags so instructions are sent on

This is my #ShoutieSelfie! I’m shouting about mental health because I love someone who has / is struggling with depression, anxiety or another mental health issues. This is so important during this time of isolation as loneliness can increase the risk of mental health struggles.

[Insert why you are supporting if you’d like to.]

If you need support, please head to happity.co.uk/pnd-support.

Please show your support by:

  1. Taking a selfie of you shouting
  2. Posting it with this entire message incl. hashtags (updated to include your personal story/reasons for supporting if you fancy!), and tagging 5 friends to show you are here to chat if they need to. Tag @HappityApp for shares and to join the 2020 Hall of Fame.
  3. It would be great if you could pop the link (bit.ly/ShoutieSelfie) in your bio on IG so that those who see your post can get help there if they need to.

For more info on #ShoutieSelfie head to bit.ly/ShoutieSelfie

Let’s do something great!

#humanssupportinghumans #isolation #hiddenhalf #depression #anxiety #mentalhealth #findyourhappity #maternalMHmatters #happityathome @HappityApp #pnd #postnataldepression #suicide #stigma #ocd #oktosay #headstogether


Twitter:

This is my #ShoutieSelfie because I love someone who has / is struggling with their #mentalhealth. This is so important during isolation. Please join @HappityApp in supporting those struggling by copying this post with selfie, tagging 5 friends. Info: bit.ly/ShoutieSelfie.


Thanks!

Emily x

As you know, Happity is all about helping parents to beat loneliness, in a way that supports mental health. Our resident Clinical Psychologist, Dr Zara Rahemtulla, has some advice on how to keep mentally well during Covid-19.

Hello everyone,

As we move into the weekend, I wanted to try and offer some thoughts on how to keep calm and carry on, despite the fact that we are faced with the restrictions and worries of Covid-19. 

This will be our first weekend in official lock down and we can’t deny that it’s going to feel difficult, frustrating and even painful at times, as we won’t be able to see some of our loved ones, have a coffee and catch up with friends or just take the kids out to a soft play or playground so we can get some respite from our four walls.

It goes without saying that these are strange times and as parents, we are going to be faced with so much uncertainty. Uncertainty breeds worry, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. And feeling overwhelmed triggers us to sometimes get short tempered, agitated and/or angry and in this case, probably with those around us (i.e. our kids, our partners). 

Brene Brown

So we need to keep two things in mind. We need to make sure we look after ourselves as parents, and then of course, our children. In that order. It’s the same as being on an airplane – we are told to first put on our own oxygen mask and help ourselves before we help others. It sounds cliched, but if we think about it, we are no use to anyone if we cannot first breathe ourselves.

So find a way to keep breathing and schedule it into your day. Whether it’s having a bath once they’ve gone to bed, catching up with a friend on the phone, putting your feet up with a glass of something, exercising, reading a chapter of your book. I speak from experience when I say I know how hard it is to make time for oneself! But that pile of washing really can wait while you give yourself some time to recharge.

The next step is to remember that caring for our children is not about creating amazing, super duper, Instagram-worthy activities. Nor is it about entertaining them every second of the day. Neither of these are possible and if you set yourself up to think they are, then this will just feed into feeling overwhelmed. Caring for our children is connecting with our children. It’s laughing with them when something is funny in a book or on TV, it’s watching them as they delight in smearing yogurt all over their face (and then running quickly to clean it up!), it’s holding them when they feel sad and it’s letting them throw themselves on the floor and be angry because they don’t know what else to do. It’s being with rather than doing with that shows care and creates connection.

Caring for our children is also about how we reconnect with our children. When you feel overwhelmed, angry, tired or fed up over the coming weeks and you accidentally lose your temper, remember to repair things after. This means going back to your child (or even your partner) once you’ve calmed down and saying something like, “I’m sorry I shouted at you earlier, I shouldn’t have. Mummy/I was feeling angry. I am feeling better now, and I love you”. 

Letting our guard down and showing our vulnerability to ourselves and our children is the key way to keeping calm during covid-19 (and through life in general!) It allows us to process our feelings so we are likely to feel less overwhelmed, and it teaches our children how to share and understand their feelings, which means they are less likely to become upset really quickly and have tantrums (this can only be a good thing!)

Psychological research shows us that 1/3 of parent-child interactions will “go wrong” and that’s okay. The important part is how we repair them. Remind yourself of this fact every day as you make time in your day to adjust your oxygen mask in this turbulent and uncertain time.

Dr Zara Rahemtulla Clinical Psychologist – Specialist in parent-child mental health

28/04/2019 by Emily

Maternal Mental Health week kicks off on 29th April this year and it’s a week I am passionate about supporting. I am a great believer in sharing my experience to help parents currently struggling, or those looking to support them, understand a bit more. So here is my experience…

When I had my son 4 years ago I struggled with terrible post-natal depression and anxiety.

But I hid away. I went from being a confidence and ambitious woman, to a nervous new mum who tried her best not to be left alone with her baby, and got panicky about the thought of her best friend popping round for a coffee.

Luckily it didn’t take me long to realise what was going on. The difference was so pronounced that it was hard to miss. But this isn’t the case for everyone.

But even though I knew what was going on, I still felt ashamed. I felt like a failure. That I’d let me son down, my husband down, my family and friends down. Most of them were supportive, but let’s be honest a number of them weren’t. And that made it ten times harder. Comments to “pull yourself together”, “everyone is tired”, or “you just can’t be bothered” shattered me. I’d been trying my hardest every waking moment to “pull myself together”. That’s what in hindsight actually made it worse – if I had just known how normal this feeling was and that I could get help I might have stopped beating myself up about it and recovered sooner.

But instead I battled on for a good (or bad!) two years. Pretending to be fine to many. And hiding away in my house when I just couldn’t face the world. Most of the friends and family don’t know the half of it. Because they only saw me when I was ok.

Most of them didn’t know that hardly a day, let alone a week, could pass without me wanting to run away. I truly believe that my baby and my husband would be better off without me. One less person to look after and worry about.

But I’m glad that I didn’t run away – or worse – but there were times when it was close. Luckily that isn’t the end of my story. I started to get better, and started to talk to mum friends about my experience. And unsurprisingly, given the stats of 1 in 4 mums struggling, I found that so many of my friends had experienced similar struggles themselves. Most thankfully not as bad, but a few even worse.

And that in itself made me feel a bit better. Not because they suffered too – I wouldn’t wish a mental health issue on anyone – but because it showed that they understood. They didn’t judge me. And it helped me understand that it wasn’t “just” that I was an awful mother and person.

So since then I have been creating my own silver lining.

I am now on a mission to ensure that no other mum should have to feel like I do.

This started by speaking out about my experience on Channel 4 in 2017, and since then it has grown and grown. I’ve even shared some blogs with the Huffington Post! Each time sharing my story to help mums currently struggling to know that they are not alone. And also, fundamentally, to help those around them who may be giving them a hard time, to know that it is normal – it’s awful and hard work for those supporting them yes – but it’s not their fault.

Launching #ShoutieSelfie to kick off Maternal Mental Health Week in 2017 was a steep learning curve but a great way to get people across the UK (and beyond!) to show their support for mums (and dads!) struggling. You can find out more about this year’s campaign here.

I also found that loneliness can be a cause of PND and other mental health issues, so I started a facebook group to help mums support each other, and finally launched a free app in June 2018 called MummyLinks!

MummyLinks was the safe place to meet mums for local playdate (now it’s incorporated under the Happity brand with our new app!).

If you want to see more updates about #ShoutieSelfie and Happity please follow us on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or you can sign up for updates here.

If you’ve too struggled why not share your story to help others? Or if you are currently struggling please know that you are not alone. There are parents out here who understand you.

Chat to your GP and get help.

Emilyx

05/09/2018 by Emily Tredget

My hope – to live in a world where maternal mental health issues (and all mental health issues for that matter) are understood and not stigmatised. Where all mums and dads are valued for the work they do looking after their kids. And where parenting isn’t judged. We are all just muddling through, doing the best we can, and some days that means a TV day and fishfingers for tea.

When I became a mum three and a half years ago my world changed. But to start with, not for the better. I was thrown into a world of sleep deprivation, crying and survival. Not my son’s lack of sleep, crying, or survival – but mine.

I had lost all hope. I was surviving on 1 hours sleep a night due to insomnia, either ate tons of rubbish or nothing at all, and never wanted to be left alone with my son, or to leave the house due to anxiety. And this made me depressed. Because I used to be able to do what I wanted, and now I couldn’t. Anxiety made even the most simple tasks impossible. I got to the point where I wanted to run away or end it all.

But with the right support – from family, friends and my local mental health service I started to see the hope again. I lost sight of the hope many times, but it would always come back, and stronger than before.

When I look back on those days now it makes me sad. Sad that I lost two years of my sons life to anxiety and depression. Some days or weeks my brain has completely forgotten. But it also makes me proud. Proud to see how far I have come. That those days don’t define me.

I now love my son to bits and we have a great bond. I took him to a local theme park a few months ago – something that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do as crowds, queues and motion had been too much for me for so many years. Not to mention crowds, queues and motions – on my own – with him.

I posted about that day on my social media, because it came a week or so after I launched a free app called MummyLinks (now Happity) to help mums (and now stay at home dads!) beat loneliness through safe and local playdates. But I wanted to tell the world how I was infinitely more proud of taking my son to that theme park, than I was of launching an app. On the outside, launching an app might seem more impressive – but that’s something I’ve been working on for many months and years in the comfort and security of my own home, and in my own time. Taking him out confronted all the fears I had one had.

So this Pandas Awareness Week I wanted to share my story to give hope to all those mums and dads struggling at the moment. Whether it’s physically, mentally or emotionally. You have got this. Yes it is tough. And yes you do need help (go get it if you haven’t already – we weren’t meant to do this life on our own like we so often believe nowadays). But yes you will come out the other side.

What really helped me – but you have to find your own thing as we are all different – was setting up that app. It gave me a focus outside myself. A focus helping other mums struggling. This gave me a sense of purpose that I had lost (and now have that purpose as well as purpose as a mum but that took me longer to find).

If I can go from wanting to check out – truly believing that my family would be better off if I wasn’t around – to helping thousands of parents to beat loneliness through technology and marketing (which I have no background in!), just think what you could do in the next few years.

But whilst you are struggling, don’t focus on what you aren’t doing. Truly accept who you are now, get the help you need, and take one day at a time. It wasn’t until I accepted that I wasn’t going to be the supermum I wanted to be, that my anxiety lifted, my depression reduced, and I finally started to recover.

I got my hope back piece by piece by working on MummyLinks to help others. And my hope today is that I can help give hope to the many mums and dads struggling out there right now by helping them create their local support community; to know that it will be ok, but that for now it is ok not to be ok.

09/03/2018 by Emily Tredget

The great African proverb that “it takes a village to raise a child” could sum up what MummyLinks (now Happity) is all about. I have definitely found that motherhood doesn’t work alone. You need mums both physically and emotionally around you for support. If you try to do it alone, sooner or later you find that you can’t. That’s why I set up MummyLinks, so when Danielle from It Takes A Village got in touch I was keen to chat!

It Takes A Village is based in Cambridgeshire and aims to share all things family friendly in Cambridgeshire whilst talking about mental health and loneliness. Just up my street! Dani and I got chatting and we soon found that we were very similar – in terms of our life before children, and how we struggled once we had them. So it wasn’t surprising that we are now both trying to achieve a similar thing, in different ways.

So we have decided to support each other. Because that’s what we are both all about. Mums supporting each other – and why shouldn’t that mean projects run by mums to help mums supporting each other too!

For the month of March, Dani is running a campaign called #MumsMarchTogether. She is hoping to encourage mums to reach out and make the first move when it comes to connecting with other mums (tick!). It might just be a smile at the new mum in playgroup, a kind comment in passing to a mum in the GP surgery with the poorly baby, an offer of a snack or offer to push the trolley to the mum dealing with a tantruming toddler. Or is could be something bigger like plucking up the courage to ask for another mums number, signing up to something like an app/FB group like MummyLinks or striking up conversation with another mum at a baby group or at the park. If any of these things result in a conversation or even a friendship blossoming, then all the better. But even if it just makes a small difference to another mums day then we’re all for it! She is encouraging mums to consider doing some of the aforementioned and then using the # to share their acts of kindness/stepping out of their comfort zone.

So straight away I got involved! I shared of a time recently when a nursery mum friend took my son to nursery as I had an awful virus. I have to admit I did think twice about asking her – I didn’t want to put her out, or have her feel I was taking liberties. But then I listened to myself and said to myself “don’t be silly. You would want her to ask the same of you, and you wouldn’t mind one jot – in fact you’d be proud to help a fellow mum in need”. So I asked her, and of course she was totally up for helping!

I would love to encourage you to get involved in this great campaign too. Just pop onto Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (see her details below) and post using #MumsMarchTogether. If you tag me (@MummyLinksApp) I’ll share too!

Dani is also asking people to post about the not so great bits of motherhood. Now this is something equally close to my heart! The #MeYouDontSee campaign that Lindsay from Have you seen that girl? and I started in January is along a similar vein – showing that photos in social media don’t always give the full pictures. We encourage people to post a picture of when they were struggling (in most cases with PND and other mental health issues as that’s what we struggled with, but we’ve also had others about motherhood!) and explain a little of what is going on behind the picture. So again, this campaign was something I was keen to get involved with! I don’t think mine has gone out yet, but look out for it!

It’s been great getting to know Dani and I look forward to working together! If you like the sound of what we are doing then do follow us (Dani is @Takesa_Village and I am @MummyLinksApp) and get involved in our #MumsMarchTogether#MeYouDontSee or #ShoutieSelfie (due to launch again soon – watch this space!) campaigns! So great to have so much going on and really making a difference in the social media world!

25/02/2018 by Emily Tredget
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to receive a call being asked to chat on the BBC Radio and News about a new report published by Dr Louise Howard of King’s College London. I instantly agreed. I am always keen to talk about maternal mental health issues in the media because when I was struggling, hearing that I wasn’t abnormal was a key step in my recovery.

When I had my son I felt fine for a few weeks, but then I suddenly really started to struggle. It started with chronic insomnia for me (which in hindsight I now think was due to PTSD), which quickly turned into anxiety, and then lead to depression as I beat myself up for not being able to cope, and not having the bond that everyone speaks of.

I asked for help quite quickly as the change was very marked, but it did take a long time to find the right therapy to help me. Not wanting to go on medication didn’t help me – I would encourage any mums reading this to try medication if they are struggling as it does seem to be the quickest fix! But obviously you have to (like me) do what is right for you.

But this report wasn’t about post-natal depression and other maternal mental health issues after baby was born. It was about pre-natal mental health issues. The study found that a shocking 1 in 4 women struggle pre-natally. This really surprised me.

In hindsight I did struggle pre-natally. I realised this a while ago. But I totally didn’t notice whilst I was pregnant as mental health wasn’t on my radar at all. And as I was pregnant, I was expecting to feel different anyway.

But it got me thinking. If I (or those around me) had realised how much I was struggling during pregnancy, perhaps my struggles after birth would have been less severe. Either because they might have been identified earlier, or perhaps even dealt with before they arose?

It’s hard enough getting mums to talk about their mental health after baby arrives (although thankfully it’s getting easier!). But to get them to talk whilst pregnant – when they are yet to really get onto the “motherhood” sphere be it with professionals or just social media – is a really big challenge.

Dr Louise Howard talked in the interview about how it’s important to look after a pregnancy woman’s physical and emotional wellbeing, and that there are two simple screening questions on low mood and lack of interested that health professionals can ask during a check up to help identify women struggling. Of course there is always a risk that a mum-to-be will not answer truthfully as they are scared of the repercussions, but it at least gives an opportunity, and as we work to reduce the misconception about repercussions, hopefully this will reduce.

She also mentioned that for some women, the mental health issues may be pre-existing, but that during pregnancy this may be the first opportunity for the mum-to-be to speak with a health professional and start to realise that what they’ve been experiencing isn’t normal. But for others, pregnancy can trigger for a variety of reasons. She mentioned unplanned pregnancy, abuse, or lack of social support. The latter she mentioned was particularly important during pregnancy and one of the reasons I am trying to get MummyLinks (now Happity) out to all mums-to-be! We used to bring up babies with great villages – of family and friends – around us, but now we can find ourselves alone.

Dr Howard mentioned that the implications if not picked up include the issue becoming chronic which can interfere with enjoyment and interaction when the baby arrives, so early identification and treatment is really important.

That’s what I’m so glad to be a part of IFWIP as a Board Advisor. We need to let mums-to-be and those around them know about maternal mental health issues, so they can identify it as early on as possible, and find the most relevant help.