Meet the Mums behind the Letters
In our “Meet the Mums Behind the Letters” series we introduce the incredible women who have put pen to paper to help support a fellow mum. We share their Maternal Mental Health story and what being involved in The Letters of Light Project has meant to them. In this article, we hear from Kate in her own words as she bravely shares her own story and personal reasons for joining the project.
I fell pregnant in April 2017 with a much wanted and planned baby. Very quickly my anxiety around the pregnancy and birth began to escalate to the point it impacted on my everyday life. I went from being happy, confident and enjoying life to being constantly terrified of the changes that were happening in my body and the upcoming birth. I was experiencing regular panic attacks and nightmares at this point. In the August of that year, at around 16 weeks pregnant I was diagnosed with primary tokophobia after being referred to the local perinatal mental health team who were incredibly supportive. Through them I was able to have CBT and graded exposure, both of which were helpful. However, I still felt a lot of shame. loneliness and guilt at how I was feeling. I didn’t feel that I could connect with any other mums to be and that my friends / family didn’t really understand what I was going through. There was a huge expectation for me to be happy which added to my fears / feelings of failure.
Why did you want to get involved in The Letters of Light Project?
I wanted to get involved with the project to reach out to other women who might be feeling how I felt during my pregnancy. I hoped to offer support that they are not alone in how they feel and some reassurance too. I also wanted to give women hope – I never believed I would have been able to give birth but I did and it was a wonderful experience.
How did you find writing your letter and how did it make you feel?
Writing the letters, I felt proud of how far I had come. I feel privileged to be in a position to (hopefully) offer support and reassurance to other women. Ultimately, I hope they feel less alone and that their journey is understood by someone.
Have you found writing your letter beneficial to your own mental health?
It made me reflect on how far I had come on my own journey which is a good thing! I achieved something I thought was impossible.
If there’s a mum reading this and contemplating registering to receive a letter what would you tell them?
Register! The biggest thing I struggled with was the loneliness and the letter are a great way to connect in your own time without any pressure to attend groups / face to face things (I personally would not have managed groups at that point in my illness but a letter would have made a big difference.
What is the one message you would like to tell other mums who are struggling through difficult times at the moment?
That you can do this! Please don’t feel ashamed or alone. You are going to be an incredible mama.