Now, I am not an expert in PND but I have helped many cleints who have experienced it. Luckily, a combination of my knowing enough about the signs and having an amazing support network of incredible women in my life, these mums were able to get the help and treatment they needed. Many mothers out there have not, and they have struggled or are indeed still struggling with postnatal depression in some form; some of these are new mums, some will have been wading through treacle for many months, unaware that they are ill, feeling too ashamed to admit that they are drowning in misery, that they don’t feel over the moon at being a mother, that they cannot bond or feel any love towards their new baby.
Having a baby is a tremendous change, followed by months/years filled with challenges, testing times and huge responsibilities. In my role as a postnatal coach, I offer all new mothers a service which offers mothers and their partners the time and space to adapt to those changes by offering as much guidance, encouragement and help at home as their budget allows.
Over the past few years, I have been gently gathering a lovely network of ladies around a lunch table every few weeks. We are all self-employed, we are all passionate about what we do and we are all connected in one way or another to the world of babies.
This Babble is to introduce you to Elaine Hanzak, one of my Ladies Wot Lunch gang.
On 26th November 2013, I arranged to meet up with Elaine on one of her many visits to London where she was due to meet with the Royal College of Midwives about pushing for better support for those suffering with Perinatal Illness.
With the same punchy sparkle that is sprinkled upon pocket rockets such as Kylie Minogue, Elaine arrived at a little cafe north of Oxford Street to have lunch with me. Petite, pretty and beaming from ear to ear she bounded over and gave me a welcoming hug. We sat down and chatted for well over an hour about her life, her challenges and her humbling experience of recoveries from both puerperal psychosis (Postnatal depression at its most terrifying) and the sudden death of her partner not long before. Sadly, her appointment came around all too quickly and she was gone before I had had time to draw breath. Like all good speakers, she left me wanting more, so I quickly got in touch again and invited her to join my burgeoning little lunch group. I am honoured and delighted that she now puts in a regular appearance when she is in London at one of her many demanding events, getting to know the rest of the group and bewitching us with her stories.
Elaine is now an inspirational speaker on overcoming loss and it has been wonderful getting to know her, hearing her tales which swing me from tears to side splitting laughter in the course of one lunch time. She still leave me wanting more, more, more!
Elaine advises and speaks to audiences who are looking for ways to improve their lives; to health professionals, mothers and family support groups plus at corporate events. Elaine delivers keynote presentations on overcoming loss, postnatal illness and mental health issues drawing from a raft of informative case studies, personal experiences and anecdotal information passed on to her via this website and her public speaking engagements.
She is the author of two books.
Eyes without Sparkle – a journey through postnatal illness’ (Radcliffe 2005) describes the authors development of and recovery from puerperal psychosis, the most severe form of postnatal depression. In theory she ‘had it all’ – strong marriage, lovely home, supportive family, good teaching career – so why did pregnancy result in her becoming a self-harming psychiatric patient?
The story takes us through her formative years to show how her character and expectations developed. A difficult pregnancy, traumatic birth and several extremely stressful events culminated with Elaine’s breakdown. In a very honest and moving account we can see how she looses her grasp on reality and daily living as the psychosis sets in and the affect it has on those around her.
We are given an insight into life in a psychiatric ward and the treatments used. We experience the effects of good and undesirable actions of staff which have considerable impact upon her. We are supporting her all the way back to her slow but ultimate recovery.
General comments about the book are that it is not just about postnatal depression but anyone who is a mother, a carer, a health professional or anyone who has been at the end of their tether, male or female. The underlying aim of the book is one of hope and the belief that it is possible to suffer from a mental health problem but make a full recovery.
The second book, which she has just seen launched in September:
Another Twinkle in the Eye: Contemplating Another Pregnancy After Perinatal Mental Illness (CRC Press, September 2015)
Every year 35,000 women in the UK suffer from postnatal depression. It follows that at some point further on they are likely to ask the question ‘Do I/ we want another baby?’. This guide will support parents and professionals in that decision making process, and in planning for another pregnancy and the postnatal period if the decision is yes. It will also consider the implications of deciding not to have another child.
This supportive guide for parents and professionals considering a further pregnancy following perinatal mental illness includes ‘real stories’ from people who have made these decisions, with practical advice and examples of good practice from experienced healthcare professionals
Both books are available to order on line and you can find out more about Elaine and the amazing trail she is blazing for mums at her website: