Thursday, 9 October 2008

Making a Difference for Mums

I have been building my speaking career around postnatal illness for 3 years now but I have to say that today was one of the most rewarding events I have done.

Earlier this year a lady called Merna Carruthers, a Community Engagement Co-ordinator based at the impressive Kirkby Community Primary Care Centre near Mansfield, contacted me after she had received an email about the work I do.

We decided to put on a whole day for both mothers who are currently suffering and interested health professionals. She secured funding for a creche and a lovely buffet too.

The day began with a number of very quiet and 'down' ladies who just by being there had made a step in the right direction of recovery. I shared my story and in doing so little by little I could see the current sufferers having 'me too' moments. Seeing the reality strike home that 'you are not alone' is brilliant! After a break we then looked at the signs and symptoms and the ladies began to open up more and we added to the list!

By lunchtime barriers had begun to come down and the ladies happily chatted to each other. They had not met prior to the day and I know that merely by facilitating time to meet others who were feeling the same was a powerful recovery tool.

Back in the workshop room we then talked about the things which were the worst about suffering from postnatal depression. Key areas that were discussed included other people's comments; loneliness; guilt and having no energy. We debating how to overcome these. We then moved onto the things which made them feel better, such as simple acts of kindness; being with people who made them laugh; collecting their baby after they have been apart.

With the positive scene set we then went on to consider a variety of ways to help with recovery - come on one of my workshops to find out what!!!

The day ended with each lady being given a hand massage by a therapist who had donated her time freely and they all left with a bag of pampering goodies donated by Boots - thanks to both.

But for me the buzz in the room at the end of the afternoon brought a lump to my throat. All the ladies exchanged their details with one another and the room was filled with fun and laughter.

However, the feeling of 'what next' emerged and they decided they wanted a reunion in a few months time to see how much progress has been made - their words, not mine. A couple want to bring along their husbands too. So in mid December we are getting together again - they even debated what food we were to have!

One of the health professionals from Sure Start also said that the day had helped her both personally and professionally.

Thank you Merna for being so supportive in setting up and arranging funding for the day.

With her permission, this is the feedback I received from one of the group

Hi Elaine
Just thought I'd drop you a line just to say thank you for what you did yesterday at the health centre . . . you're an inspiration to people who have got postnatal depression. You are living proof that no matter how bad it gets, with the right support and people around you you will come out the other side. . .last night was the first good night sleep I have had in a long time thanks to all that you said and did for us yesterday. . I'm looking forward to our follow up in December. . take care speak soon, love .... x

I felt today was a true honour and privilege to be enabled to impact upon ladies like that. I had a very happy and fulfilled drive to my next venue!

Thank you ladies for being so honest with me and sharing at whatever level you were comfortable. I know that the theme of the day 'You are not Alone' was definitely achieved!

It is messages like that which motivate me so powerfully! Give me more Mums to talk to please!!!

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