Category Archives: Conference

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


Eat The Caramels and Ditching the Coffee Creams – by Rachael Jones

For those who don’t know I’m Rachael, I’m 26 mum of two gorgeous children, Cofounder and CEO of PANDAS. I’m emotional, I cry a lot… so I will apologise in advance in case I cry… and for anyone who knows me, knows that I do not ever do things by halves.


Today, I want to make things simple and match life to chocolate… where you can choose to eat the good one, the caramels and ditch the rest, the coffee creams.
The greatest gift any one can ever give you, is to believe in you. Just believe you are here for a reason. Don’t give up on everything you dreamt you could be as a child because of who or what you have surrounded yourself with.
Your brain is circuit switch, once you believe you are something, you actually embody it, and you embrace that feeling. If God forbid you were in a coma, and you woke up and you didn’t really have a memory and you were told you used to be a marine and they want you back as soon as you are fit. Do you think you would act differently, hold yourself differently, conduct yourself differently and have a different self-concept of who you are than if you told you were a piano instructor? Would you stand taller, straighter and talk with more confidence?
Being successful in life is all about having the proper belief system in who you are, truly believing that you are something unique, that you are something special. If you truly believe that you are one of the best TV Presenters in the world, you will be entirely different than if you went around thinking I hope I am good. Your expressions will be totally different, your tone of voice, you’ll talk in a more convincing fashion, you’ll use your natural voice instead of a scripted one.
Our brains are like a circuit, if we program it with the correct wiring, we’re going to go straight to our target. Bring unsure about who you are, means your dreams, your goals, they will never become a reality.
Everyone has mental doubts in life, internal conflicts. Even the most successful people you look up too do, but they don’t live there, they don’t stay in that moment. Moving forward is about how you handle those negatives thoughts in that exact moment and overwhelm them with positive action and that comes from having the up most confidence in yourself that you can handle the situation and you need to trust in yourself that you can handle the moment because you can!
There will always be haters, there will always be people who want to break you and tear you down, and how do you stay strong? Someone’s opinion of you does not need to become your reality. Don’t allow anyone to steal your success.

I asked for people to comment on Facebook for the last negative thought that they have had about themselves, the response within one hour was over 50 comments and personal messages…50! Yet as individuals we do not go and speak so viciously towards others, yet we allow us to do it to ourselves on a daily basis. My destructive thought is ‘I AM USELESS AND WORTHLESS”. Whenever things get tough that’s the thought I have. This thought doesn’t help in any way, just tears at any self-confidence I have. I know that it is just destructive!
I have to admit it is only recently I have found inner strength, it took a lot of soul searching over this last year, a lot of change and a trek across the Sahara to realise the only person who can make life happen for me… is me. I made changes, I decided to take that control back which I had lost to live life how I want too.
Some people sit here, knowing full well how close they came to ending their life. I understand that, I’ve been there. To feel so low that everyone you have surrounded yourself with is better off without you and just wanting that constant deep suffocating pain to leave your body and mind. They hardest battle you have faced, you have succeeded, you are alive! You are here!
I am not saying any of this is easy, there will be days when you hate yourself and you look around and wonder how everyone else has life so easy. Just remember not to live in the moment, change you mind-set, the negativity, and start applying positive actions.
If you want to lose weight, buy trainers and run, if you want to trek the Sahara do it, if you want to change your career path, work towards it, if you want more education, then enrol to college of university.
Life is about eating the caramels and ditching the coffee creams. We are the masters of our own destiny.
To end let me remind you…There will always be haters, there will always be people who want to break you and tear you down, and how do you stay strong? Someone’s opinion of you does not need to become your reality. Don’t allow anyone to steal your success.
Remember yesterday is the past, we cannot change that. Tomorrow is a gift, but today is an opportunity.
If you want what you have never had before, if you want to do what you have never done before, if you want to be what you’ve never been before. Change your mentality. Be excited of the fact you have an opportunity of a life time.
The greatest gift any one can ever give you, is to believe in you. So here is my gift to you. I BELIEVE IN YOU