Thursday, 9 April 2015

What #pndhour and Rosey have done for me

Inspired by the Mirror article this week, I have a piece about how meeting Rosey has improved my life and the lives of others. For professional reasons, I wouldn't be happy being in the press, where potential work clients could see my photo and I couldn't risk any of my words being misquoted or misconstrued.

Rosey has created an online community. This is an amazingly innovative but incredibly simple feat because she used Twitter and two 'hashtags' to help to empower women (specifically mothers) to connect and seek empathy, support, praise, kindness and find like minded peers online.

Becoming a mother is possibly the most life changing part of a woman's life. If any part of the process is marred by mental illness related to pregnancy or parenthood, mothers become isolated and the illness can worsen. In January 2014 I had hit a real low, I was about to return to work after the birth of my second child and I truly felt alone and isolated. I had told a couple of family members about my post natal depression but it was still very much a secret and to all intents and purposes, I was alone in the world. In January 2014, I stumbled across #pndhour, a weekly discussion of set topics, where sufferers, professionals and survivors can join in and interact as much or as little as they feel able to. This was a fabulous discovery as Rose had set up the chat and time, which is so very simple but incredibly effective at helping mums to network. I have found so many other mums who have had similar experiences but, most importantly for me, I chatted to women who had recovered from post natal depression. These women were an inspiration and a light at the end of the tunnel.

However, the true master-stroke in Rose's twitter success was her creation of #PNDchat - it's a way of asking for help, for example,

'I'm not feeling great, nothing feels easy today #PNDchat'.

The true beauty of this is that it enables women to learn to ask for help, it connects mums with another person who searches the hashtag and happens-by the #PNDchat message. Having utilised this tool most weeks for the last year, I have recognised signs of my own illness and have changed who I am as a result of receiving the kindness of complete strangers.

#PNDchat is a 'place' where someone can tell you the kind words which you cannot tell yourself when you are depressed.

I have learned to relate to other women and I have become much more able to express my compassion and empathy both in written terms and in real life. This is genuinely due to #PNDchat and #PNDhour.

Rosey saw a need, in herself and in others and through pure ingenuity was able to make peer-support a reality with tangible life-improving results. This is in terms of my own mental health improving as well as me giving support back, as I have had a few mothers tell me that I have helped to save their life, and this type of feedback is seen fairly regularly within the online community.

Rose's Internet creation has lasted for over a year so far, and remains mostly on Twitter - the simplicity means that new followers can join in as soon as they want or need to and so the community continues to grow in this way. Rose continues to work tirelessly, despite being a single mum of three children and despite suffering the realities of post natal depression herself. She promotes herself to Twitter celebrities, to garner 'retweets' in order to spread the word about #PNDhour to those who need it. She is keen to improve herself in order to help more families, selflessly working.

At the first anniversary party in January 2015, strangers congregated in Edinburgh to celebrate the success and power of #PNDhour. Rosey was completely unassuming and was truly humbled when she realised how much of an impact she had had on so many lives. She is an inspiration and has helped me to connect with other mums and to fight my way out of the darkness of post natal depression.

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