Following the birth of their children, friend Kerrie Hughes and Gemma Abbot (pictured) both suffered from postnatal depression and anxiety. As a result of their experiences, they are determined to raise awareness of maternal mental well-being and raise money for charities offering support in the Bath area.
The results has seen the friends so far raise close to £2,000 for Open Spaces, a 12-week art therapy group run by Domini Barry. Their next venture is The Mother of All Nights, a ladies night at Frampton’s, Bath, on 11 May, that will include a raffle supported by local businesses such as Thermae Bath Spa, Hudson’s, Newton St Loe Farm Shop, Bath Massage Company and Number Three hairdressing.
All proceeds from the event will be going to Bluebell, a maternal mental health support service that benefits women and families suffering the affects of postnatal anxiety and depression. While Bluebell have an established hub in Bristol and services in South Gloucestershire, Gemma and Kerrie would also like to see the service available in Bath, with this fundraising event designed to help them achieve this goal.
Tickets cost £15 (plus a small booking fee), which includes entry to the venue, access to a delicious buffet and one raffle entry.
You can buy tickets by clicking here.
Looking back on her early challenges as a mother, Gemma recall, “I was diagnosed with postnatal depression and anxiety when my daughter was four months old. Everyone told me I was a ‘natural mother’, I felt anything but. I knew something wasn’t right for a considerable time before my diagnosis. I was repeatedly asking my husband to take me to hospital as I felt so unsafe.
“My usual coping mechanisms of a healthy diet and exercise were failing me. I had this analogy of being a train engine pulling numerous carriages through life, my daughter, my husband, housework, cooking, shopping etc etc. I had to keep going at all costs as if I stopped the fear was the carriages would pile into me and I’d never get going again.
“I struggled to find other mothers to identify with, someone I could be open and honest with and disclose my worst thoughts to without fear my daughter would be taken away from me. I felt lonely and isolated as all the other mothers around me seemed to be thoroughly enjoying their role and I was convinced I would be judged as an awful person if I voiced my true feelings.
“Bluebell Care is a Bristol-based charity supporting mothers and families affected by postnatal depression and anxiety. They offer a safe and nurturing hub in the city centre for parents to access support for emotional wellbeing. There are daily groups such as antenatal yoga, Woolly Wednesdays and Feel Good Friday with a crèche, as well as a drop in service. The charity also provides Bluebell Buddies, women who have lived, breathed and survived PND, and can offer 1:1 support in the community or at the hub.
“Although I was eventually fortunate enough to be referred to Make a Move and Open Space, if Bluebell’s service was available in Bath, I would have accessed help far more quickly and I’m certain my situation wouldn’t have got to the point where I was contemplating taking my life and asking to be sectioned.
“I relied heavily on my husband and I know this was hard for him. He struggled with wanting to make me better but not knowing how to. Another of Bluebell’s services is Dads in Mind. I would’ve have loved to know my husband had someone to talk to and to support him, as a lot of the time I was downright horrible to live with.
“Surprisingly PND has a positive side and for me that was my ability to recognise another mother was struggling like I had and getting her into the Open Space group therapy sessions. That mother was Kerrie Hughes, aka blogger Mother Bluffer. Together we are now on a mission to raise awareness of postnatal mental wellbeing and funds for charities that support mothers and families suffering the affects of PND and anxiety. All the proceeds from the Mother of All Nights will go to Bluebell Care for the express purpose of establishing their presence in Bath. With Mind’s website citing that 10-15% of mothers will experience PND I truly believe there is a need for such a service in Bath.”