About me

Card Therapy was born during a period of mental illness when crafting became a positive distraction from negative thoughts. The therapy for me is within the creative process, learning new skills, the quiet time at my desk, the satisfaction with the end-product, and the response from the recipient. 

Postnatal depression (PND) is such a wicked illness with devastating effects on the whole family unit. At the very heart of PND there is a desperate mother, a stressed partner (if there is one), and a child/children at risk emotionally. The world outside expects the arrival of a new baby to be the happiest time of your life, whilst the reality of becoming a mother whether for the first time or fifth can be a shock physically, psychologically and practically.  There is no single cause of PND, it is multifaceted and can affect anyone.

My personal experience of PND following the birth of my second child in April 2011 was nothing short of terrifying. It had begun antenatally at the beginning of my pregnancy with continued sleep deprivation from our then 9 month old, a back injury requiring hospitalisation, and some very difficult social circumstances, which were then further compounded postnatally with physical complications from the birth,  a house move to a new county, a decision to end my much loved career to become a SAHM, an eighteen month old that understandably didn’t appreciate not being his mother’s top priority all day, every day, and even more sleep deprivation. Looking at it like that, it seems obvious: surely no-one could cope with that much on their plate without cracking? In the midst of it all however, it isn’t so clear. It’s very foggy in fact. It was five months before I could even acknowledge that perhaps something wasn’t quite right – struggling to get up, crying all the time, not sleeping even when everyone else was, not leaving the house, and repeatedly phoning my husband at work saying I couldn’t cope. But all the signs weren’t enough, even as a former midwife, to realise that it was illness and not just ‘this is how my life is now’. Things continued to deteriorate until eventually I could not care for our children or be left alone, never mind construct a sentence or complete a task; whilst self-harming and suicidal fantasies became my maladaptive coping mechanisms. Seven months after my son’s birth (November) I was lucky enough to be thrown a lifeline and admitted to a Mother and Baby Mental Health Unit. The early days were almost impossible to bear with the overwhelming feelings of worthlessness every waking moment and every single task (right down to getting milk to put on cereal) feeling insurmountable. Two weeks later, surrounded by the comfort blanket of being an inpatient alongside being commenced on the right antidepressant for me, and the fog began to lift. I came home in the New Year and just a few weeks after that slowly but surely I was able to care for both my children on my own again. The process of recovery took much longer than I thought it would, a good year of slowly rebuilding self-confidence and adjusting my own expectations of myself. I have purposely omitted the situation as it was for my husband and children, it is not my place to talk for them. But this does not detract from the fact that their experience was very difficult and painful too. The sadness I feel about this will never leave me. As a family unit though, we have emerged on the other side and I am very glad to see that my sons are happy, confident little boys, and my husband and I are closer than ever. 

IMG_2492 Copy

This was my beautiful boy and my public face at a wedding in the midst of my postnatal depression. I was still determined at this point that if I could just get myself into gear, I could get on top of things. I had a major meltdown the morning after this was taken!

Despite the dreadfulness of living through PND, there are many positives I have taken from it. Firstly the experience itself which has increased my knowledge and understanding of mental illness, and with that, comes greater compassion for others. It will always be a significant episode in my life and I do believe ‘That which does not kill us makes us stronger’ (Friedrich Nietzsche). I already previously felt I was a strong person, but have come through this period of my life with a greater respect for my own strength of character. I am very grateful for the psychological therapy I was able to access as a result of my illness, because exploring issues arising from childhood has been immensely helpful in enabling me to understand myself and challenge who I am and why I feel the way I do sometimes. It has also further cemented my love for my husband as he fully supported me throughout and never once blamed me for how things were. I know not everyone has the capacity to support someone through a mental health crisis and that’s okay. Lastly, it has led me down a new path, the one which I am travelling along now and which I am enjoying very much.

I have always loved crafting, having previously enjoyed drawing, embroidery, pottery and scrapbooking. Now papercrafting is my new love and specifically card-making. It has reignited my love of creating handmade items and feeling the sense of accomplishment it provides. My boys are very enthusiastic reviewers of my creations, and love nothing more than having a go themselves – they are both pretty good at paper punching and my eldest is better at stamping than me! Now I can add blogging to my new ventures, yet another therapeutic outlet as I love writing. The purpose of my blog is to share my continued experiences and thoughts about mental health issues, and combine this with sharing my crafty pursuits. Naturally my parenting experiences, current diet challenge, midwifery passions and day-to-day life also feature. My hope would be that readers can get something from my website, whether that is to identify with something mentioned, a laugh, learn something or just to enjoy reading it, and hopefully in the future perhaps even purchase a card!

Thank you for reading, and don’t be shy please leave a comment if you stop by!

Emma x

See also: http://cardtherapy.co.uk/the-summer-id-like-to-forget/

17 thoughts on “About me

  1. Well done you to get through this. After all this time depression and mental health are still not given the attention they deserve. My son suffers with OCD and part of his response was to do a mental health first aid course and become qualified in recognising the signs in others. He still has problems but he works through them. I know your husband professionally, and yes it does deeply affect family members. Keep up the good work.

    • Thank you for your comments and support. Yes still heavily stigmatised unfortunately. The more people that talk about it, the less ignorance and fear there will be I hope. Good for your son, hope he keeps well x

  2. Wow Emma I never knew this had happend and I am so glad that you are well again, proves that you are a strong woman and can get through anything. I hope your story helps others to become aware of how PND can effect your life as well as others around you. xxx

  3. Pingback: Letter of complaint to Asda & Tesco - 'mental patient' costume

  4. Pingback: A card a day for a week - Friday - Little Farmer - boy on tractor card

  5. Hi Em –
    Just read your story, and, although I knew about the onset of your PND, I wasn’t aware how long it had gone on. But I know that you will get through and come out stronger the other side. You’re very tough and definitely one of life’s survivors. I’m really proud of what you’re doing and how you have managed to create so much good from what must have been a truly devastting experience. With your lovely family at your side and your own strength you can move mountains. Well done for bringing it to the attention of others. I hope that many more people get to read your account – have you thought of writing an article for a mag – or a book? You can do it!!!
    Much love
    Pam

    • Pam, you know you inspired me long ago to be the best I could be, in all I do, especially writing. I will always be very grateful for all your support and encouragement xxx
      Book? Maybe when I’ve got through the teenage years with my two monkeys!!!

  6. Hi Emma, Thank you for the lovely comment you have left on my blog. I have been exploring yours and reading about your time with PND. I can identify all too well with what you went through as I experienced it after my 2nd son, back in 1982 onwards.( yes he is now 31 and married last year). I am so glad you had support from hubby, my PND destroyed my marriage, but I am now very happily married again and a stronger person for all of my experiences. It is good that people are more aware about PND these days. Will perhaps bump in to you one day at LOTV or Sam Taylors ! I shop there too being Yorkshire born and bred! Your cards are lovely. Good luck in the challenges. Take care.

  7. Amazing read….. I know one too many who have suffered also. Thank you for sharing Emma.

    Keep smiling and stay strong xxx

  8. Thanks for sharing your story! There is so much negativity surrounding mental health and it is really inspiring to read such a positive message. Crafting has been really therapeutic for me too (I have bipolar) and I love hearing about how other people find it so helpful.
    Rebecca.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, I am so glad it is read as a positive message, that’s lovely to hear. Crafting is so completely absorbing, it is fantastic for training the mind away from negativity and that’s what I love. Look forward to having a read of your blog! xxx

  9. Very well written and inspiring message to all mums. Very important message with tons of encouragement. You are a special woman Emma. Xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *