“I didn't suffer postnatal depression with Zakk, my eldest. I had Odin two and half years later. I was in pain from my fibromyalgia, I was recovering from a C-section and I had a new-born and a toddler – so I thought it was normal that I was struggling.
My partner Dan helped as much as he could – he was brilliant. But everything seemed to pile on top of me. I felt I wasn’t doing as much as I should be doing. We have expectations of ourselves as Mums and when we don’t meet those expectations, it wears you down. Being in a lot of pain is mentally draining too.
By the time Odin was three months old, I was in a black hole. I was breastfeeding Odin because I knew it was good for him, but it made me feel horrible. I was constantly attached to him. I didn’t have the emotional bond with Odin that I’d had with Zakk – I loved him, but I felt numb.
Dan saw my slow decline over those three months and said, ‘You’re unwell – you need to speak to someone.’ My GP was brilliant. We talked through everything and I decided to start taking medication. I also decided to stop breastfeeding. I told myself, ‘It doesn’t make you a bad Mum – there’s no shame in it.’ It was my lovely healthy visitor Jen who told me about Bluebell.
The Comfort Zone was exactly what I needed to make me feel a little more like myself. Rachel and Hannah from Bluebell were so warm and welcoming, and it was such a relief to talk to other mums going through the same thing as me. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone. You could say, ‘I feel like crap today’ and it was ok to feel that way. It was so nice to get that reassurance.
Each week we did something different. One day we made smoothies, finding out which foods can boost your immune system. At another session we shared songs that make us feel happy or emotional. Music is such a brilliant way of expressing yourself - it pulls you away from the norm. My go-to uplifting song is Walk by The Foo Fighters.
We talked about writing down the positives and negatives of the day. You get your thoughts down on paper so that they don’t keep you up at night. I found that writing things down about my day really helped my sleeping. I also tried to enjoy the little things more and focus on the positives. So instead of ‘I haven’t done this, and I haven’t done that’, I’d think, ‘I did the washing up today!’
We did crafty stuff too, which helped take my mind away from my worries. I made a positivity poster with messages on it like ‘Your best is good enough’. I had the poster on my fridge and I’d look at it whenever I needed a boost. Those messages are still important to me, especially if I’m having a bad day with my fibromyalgia.
The Comfort Zone was the start of my journey of getting better. It was the kickstart I needed – it gave me the motivation to actively try and do a little bit more to help myself and take control of my mental health. It also gave me more confidence in myself. When things go wrong, it’s ok – it happens.
I honestly don’t know how long it would have taken me to get to where I am today if I hadn't had support from Bluebell. And I’ll happily share my story so that people know that things do get better. It doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time. I still have bad days but I bounce back from them, whereas before Bluebell, I wasn’t bouncing back. I’m in a really good place now.”