Interview with My PANDAS Volunteer BFFF* Donna Swift

(*Brilliant Fabulous Funny Friend)

Hey you.  Thanks for joining us over here on the PANDAS Guest Blog today!  I know that #volunteersweek is sooo over, but I wanted to ask you a few questions, post-conference, about why you volunteer with PANDAS.  So…

What made you first want to get involved with the PANDAS Foundation?

I volunteer for PANDAS because I suffered acute pre and post natal anxiety and depression. I want to help ladies (and gents) through what was the most challenging and desperate time of my life. I want to tell them there isn’t a feeling they are having that I haven’t felt myself and try my very best to support them until they get the help they deserve and start to see that light at the end of the tunnel. (Blub) Also I want to make sure they know they are not alone and it’s ok not to be ok.

What do you do?  What is your official PANDAS Job Title?

Job title hahaha …. I have many but my official title is online coordinator….. Oh and stuarts PA !

You won an award on Saturday, the PANDAS Champion Online Community Winner, how did that feel?

My award ! I’m thrilled . It’s fantastic to be recognised for the work I do. I am just so so proud.

Can you tell us a little more about the PANDAS Online Community?

We have a new online community which is going to be launched very soon. Its going to be a place where our service users can support each other and chat, Ask questions and seek help. We have a number of volunteers monitoring the community and making sure we also offer help and support.  We will make sure everyone is aware of the launch date as its very exciting. I cant wait to get started.

At the Conference, we talked a bit about the stigma of PND, did/do you ever feel stigmatised for suffering from postnatal mental illness?

At first I was so ill I didn’t think about what people thought. I just needed to feel normal. Once I started to feel a little better I would say. Yes I felt stigmatised. By some of my own family. I was so frightened to speak out. I have since learnt that getting well is priority and speaking out is a massive step in recovery. Talk talk and talk some more!

Tell me one thing you learnt at the PANDAS Conference…

I thought the PANDAS conference was amazing. I learnt so much but I would say what stood out for me was a talk on self harm. I also learned that I volunteer for and with some AMAZING people who work together everyday to help PANDAS to be as amazing as it is and we all help any way we can.

Finally, are the rumours true?  Did you get a Yorkshire Tea tattoo after the Conference??

The Yorkshire Tea tattoo unfortunately just a rumour but never say never…

Thank you Donna!  Now, get back to work…..

Back to work. I’m on it. Two days away and I have so much to do. BUT….l love it and wouldn’t have it any other way

Donna ‘queen of the North’ xxxx

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