Interview with Rhiannon Adams – author of “Been Doing My Therapy ‘Doggy Style'”

Hi Rhiannon!  Thank you SO much for letting us share your brilliant blog post with us.  I for one am ALL ABOUT alternative therapies and self-care (I’m a cross-stitcher) but to have a LIVING therapy, that must be amazing! Is there anything else you look back on and think, “Hey, that really helped?”

Yes my recovery definitely came about from a number of things. I find it hard to put my finger on one thing but it was a combination of a lot of things. When I realised I had PND it didn’t take me very long to go to the GP. I had previously had stress related depression and the PND symptoms were identical – insomnia, anxiety (especially at night), tearfulness, feeling overwhelmed and feeling frightened and resentful of my babies. The anti depressants I was prescribed kicked in after about a week and I started to feel a bit calmer. They helped me to sleep a bit. With sleep comes an ability to think straight and plan. I knew I needed some time for me and after I tried and failed to go back to work in a nursery, the manager convinced me that the twins were settled and would be fine if I kept them in for 3 afternoons a week. I felt awful for putting them in preschool but without any family nearby, I didn’t have anyone to call on. The 3 afternoons that they went to nursery, I would go home and sleep and sleep and then I would take the dog out and go to pick them up. I also registered with a charity called Homestart and they sent a volunteer to help me get to a local baby group. This was a great help as I was able to relax a bit more with another pair of hands and I got to know the local mums.

The other thing that really helped was starting to run a support group for other mums with PND. While it was hard supporting others while I was still poorly, I did find that the feeling of isolation and shame diminished as so many mums felt the same way. It also gave me a focus and something for me.

Reading through your beautiful blog post is almost like reading a movie script. How often do you look back and think, “Wow. Here I am.”?

I have started recently to think “wow here I am” because my children are at such a fantastic age now. They will be 4 in August and off to school in Sept and they are wonderful children. They are so kind and caring and I like to think that my willingness to help others throughout most of their lives has shown them to be kind and understanding.

We were thinking about getting a dog recently, but with three children and plans for another – yikes. Do you have any doggy advice for me?

Wow 3 kids and plans for another plus a dog!!! Advice would be to wait until life is a bit easier. Dogs and especially puppies are a full-time commitment and can be very hard work. They are the most amazing animals but it’s like having an extra child to look after!!

You’re a peer supporter for PANDAS, what does your role involve?

As Support Group Leader and Chair of Poynton PANDAS, my role is really varied. If you take this week as an example, I have run a drop in support group with my fantastic colleagues, kept our Facebook and Twitter accounts active, taken part in Twitter’s #PNDhour, kept all group members up-to-date with other local support groups and mindfulness sessions in the area, made links with Health Professionals, had a meeting with Health watch and promoted our group at a local baby & toddler group!

How did PANDAS help you?

I only found PANDAS when my kids were 3 and I was better but I really value being part of a big team of people all striving for the same outcome. It’s good to be supported and appreciated in what we do at Poynton PANDAS.

How did Paul cope with struggling to get pregnant and then PND?  Does he have any advice for anyone out there going through the same?

Paul’s advice for both infertility and PND is to try to take the pressure off yourselves to try to reduce the stress and to seek help. Finding someone who would listen to us in both situations was crucial. In both situations, it wasn’t the NHS that proved the most useful. After 3 years with the NHS and not getting anywhere with our infertility issues, we had to go private. The relief we both felt when someone actually listened to us and made an accurate and informed diagnosis was huge. He gave us a plan which involved both of us getting really healthy and me undergoing an operation. With the PND, again we felt lost and had nowhere to turn. Paul wanted practical solutions if how to help me and was relieved when I initially started to feel better with medication. He has been an incredibly hands on dad. To the point that we took the nights on as if we were shift workers with him doing the 8pm – 2am stint and me waking up to take over til the morning came.

Finally, how do you think your experience of pregnancy and PND has changed you?

My experience has changed me significantly and for the better. I don’t feel hard done by or bitter but rather I feel empowered to take control of my life and live well and be healthty. I do a lot of volunteering in the community and have recently also started working on a creative well-being project which bring art therapy to women in a local refuge. I plan to start working again when the twins go to school and I really hope it will be something in the world of art/art therapy and peer support.

Thanks again Rhiannon, we really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us and hope that your story helps somebody out there.

Again, if you would like to read more about the Poynton PANDAS Support Group, please visit their blog page, their facebook page and they are also on twitter @PontonPANDAS

#itsoknottobeok

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