When new mum Leanne looked for support, she found the thought of texting to be an easier first step when other methods of communication felt impossible. Here, Leanne shares her story in her own words:
I first texted Shout when I was experiencing intrusive suicidal thoughts following the birth of my daughter. I found the idea of speaking out about how I was feeling impossible at the time - I felt terrified that once I said it out loud, I would never be able to take it back and I worried about the consequences of telling people how I felt. Would they think I was a bad mum? Reaching out to Shout anonymously felt like a much easier first step to take.
For me, Shout was helpful because it allowed me to take that first step in a way which felt safe for me.
Just having to type the word ‘Shout’ to start a conversation made a huge difference as well. When I thought about telling people how I felt, I didn’t know what to say. How do you even begin to describe how you are feeling?
I remember talking to my mental health nurse about how I couldn’t call the crisis team when I was struggling out of hours because I didn’t know what to say when they picked up the phone. I became really hung up on not knowing what to say, and being scared of those first words. The idea of texting a standard phrase and having a volunteer taking the conversation from there made it possible for me to reach out. Without this, fear would have stopped me.
Speaking to a Shout Volunteer definitely helped reduce the power in my dark thoughts and the hold they had over me.
I had the techniques I needed to stop myself acting on my suicidal thoughts but at the time I couldn’t bring them to mind and use them because the thoughts were so intense. With encouragement from the volunteer, I was able to use my techniques to override those thoughts.
I used the Shout service on more than one occasion, and sometimes just writing the thoughts I was having reduced the power and intrusiveness of them, which helped me carry on for another day or got me through a dark night until things would feel more bearable or I would be able to reach out for help from my mental health team.
After having a conversation with a Shout Volunteer, I would often look at the resources they had recommended so I could distract myself from my thoughts. They often helped to get me through the night or until my next appointment, and allowed me to start using the skills I had been taught better.
To any mums who are struggling at the moment, I would definitely say reach out to Shout as a first step. It’s a safe way to speak to someone about how you are feeling and they can help you put a plan in place to seek further support.
You won’t have to try and find the words, which I know can feel impossible, as they will lead the conversation for you. All you have to do is message one word and you have taken that first step to seeking help.
Leanne is now recovered from postnatal depression, and wants to share her story to let other parents know recovery is possible. Following her experience, Leanne went back to university to study mental health nursing and was recently shortlisted for student nurse of the year.
Leanne also joined Mental Health Innovations’ Perinatal Mental Health roundtable as a patient representative. Find out more about how 24/7 support is helping those in crisis alongside traditional pathways to perinatal mental health care here.