This evening, after doing battle with Squidge over him getting ready for bed I finally got a few minutes to myself. I was somewhat confused but completely thrilled to receive an email from Tommy’s charity congratulating me on being longlisted for their Mum’s Voice Award 2016! Tommy’s hold an annual awards ceremony which includes a large range of categories and although I knew that nominations were open I never expected to be included. I have no idea who nominated me but thank you so much to whoever it was as it has given me the lift that I’ve quite frankly been needing for weeks.
The events of the past month have made me question myself as a mother, wife, nurse and blogger and I am still uncertain as to the direction that my life is going to take. I’ve experienced a severe relapse into depression, I’ve been signed off sick from the job that I love and I’ve had to re-engage with social services after hoping that I would never need their support again. As a result I have been struggling to find the strength to continue fighting as I wonder whether I will ever find anything that will improve my mental health for more than a few months. Little reminders that my blog is important and that it does make a difference give me the boost I need to keep on keeping on.
I am proud to support Tommy’s charity through my blog and social media platforms from both a professional and a personal viewpoint. I first became aware of Tommy’s through my work as a neonatal nurse and over the years I have used a wide range of their resources available to support women to have a healthy pregnancy, learn the symptoms of pregnancy related conditions, cope with miscarriage and stillbirth, support parents who have a baby admitted to the neonatal unit and continue supporting them after they have been discharged home.
I was particularly vocal about Tommy’s #talktosomeone campaign when it launched during the Summer as it is a cause very close to my heart. The campaign aimed to encourage women to consider their mental health as well as their physical health during pregnancy and also provided a large number of resources that could be accessed by anyone. Throughout my pregnancy my physical health was given priority and my mental health, despite being more important to me was only a secondary consideration. I was very fortunate to find a midwife who understood and agreed with my priorities but it should not be about luck. As part of their #talktosomeone campaign Tommy’s launched a Wellbeing plan which has been endorsed by NICE and is designed to be used by healthcare professionals to provide compassionate and effective mental health support to pregnant women and new mothers.
Over the past year I have written about my metal health issues in great depth, exploring the effect they had on my pregnancy, becoming mum to Squidge and the mother that I am today. I’ve spoken openly and honestly about the difficulties that I’ve experienced, including medication, referrals to social services, self harm, bonding, sleep deprivation and the difficult consideration as to whether we should have another baby. I’ve also blogged extensively about my work as a neonatal nurse and how my mental health has affected my career.
It has not been easy to write about my mental health and in doing so I have exposed a part of myself that I’m still not sure if I’m comfortable for others to see. Depression during pregnancy or immediately after having a baby is still considered to be unsavoury and the assumption that these mothers are simply not trying hard enough is still widespread. I have met far too many women who have been told that they can’t be depressed during pregnancy because it’s such a happy time or that they’ll feel better if they have a long bath or go for a walk. Although antenatal and postnatal depression are gaining much needed recognition and support there is still a very long way to go before every woman is taken seriously and supported appropriately when she raises concerns about her mental health.
Talking about my own experiences has made me left vulnerable to online abuse which I have, on occasion, received. Particularly memorable was the person who told me that by offering support to mothers with mental health issues I was condoning child abuse as these women would think it was acceptable for them to have children instead of making the decision to never start a family. However, despite these reservations I have continued plodding onwards, continuing to try and offer hope and support to anyone battling with mental health issues by simply letting them know that they are not alone. No amount of blogging can change the fact that I will probably suffer with severe depression for the rest of my life but if sharing my experiences helps even one person to speak out about their mental health and access the support that they need then something positive will have happened as a result of my darkest times.
The Mum’s Voice Award celebrates those mothers who have spoken out about their own experiences and by doing so have given hope to others. I’ve been longlisted alongside some truly wonderful and inspirational women including Leigh from Headspace Perspective, Susanne from Ghostwriter Mummy and Jenny from Great North Mum and it is truly an honour to be considered for an award alongside these fabulous women. I would be thrilled if any one of them was the eventual winner and I will be wholeheartedly cheering them on, hopefully from a swanky London hotel armed with a lovely cocktail!
I would by lying if I said I wasn’t interested in winning the award; to do so would be a huge achievement but with so many other wonderful mothers and bloggers making the longlist I would honestly be happy if I just made the shortlist so that I can attend the awards ceremony in March.
If you would like to nominate me for the Mum’s Voice Award you need to send an email to email@example.com with the subject 23WeekSocks and a sentence or two detailing why you think I should win. The deadline for all nominations is the 23rd of December so you haven’t got long! To find out more about the awards you can visit the Tommy’s website at http://www.tommys.org/awards
So please, spare a minute to nominate me or any of the other wonderful bloggers who have the longlist and thank you for your support.
The Mum’s Voice award is being sponsored by Seraphine who make beautiful maternity clothes as worn by the Duchess of Cambridge and other famous faces. For a full range of items you can visit their website at www.seraphine.com