Life

Tyrone sisters 2gether raise awareness of antenatal and postnatal depression

Sisters Brenda and Una Leonard from Support 2gether shine light on to the horror that is postnatal depression

FOLLOWING the recent article on this page about Lindsay Robinson and her struggle with antenatal and postnatal depression, I’ve had a very interesting letter from Una Leonard in Co Tyrone. Intriguing opening line:

Two sisters and One Illness. It went on:

"My name is Una Leonard. I am a co founder of a charity called Support 2gether. We support families who live with antenatal and postnatal illness..."

The charity began over four years ago when Una was living with ‘the monster’ that is PND and as her sister Brenda supported her through this, the idea of Support 2gether gained momentum and the two began researching. As she told me, what they found was chilling.

“This illness affects one in 10 new mothers and it’s not been given the stage due to health visitors feeling unequipped to discuss this topic. Ninety per cent of mothers say they don't reach out to anyone because they think their baby is going to be taken away from them!" she wrote.

"I shared this information with 40 health visitors, the gasp in the room was so noticeable, they could not believe in this day and age that mothers thought this. I put it to them – what are you doing as a professional body to ensure this information is being received? They admitted that the topic is not being discussed in the manner it should be.”

Una feels strongly that antenatal classes are the obvious place to talk to parents about these conditions, so the sisters came up with the idea of an attractive fairytale booklet and they called it 'The Tale of PND' featuring an evil witch called 'IT' and how IT threatens and how the darkness descends.

In the story, as in life, IT takes the new mother’s spirit, her laughter and her fun, makes her paranoid and scared of everyone. Her nerves become unsettled, she just can’t sit still. She’s suffering from postnatal depression. And as the beautifully illustrated and written book points out, one in 25 fathers are also affected.

“We have received phone calls from fathers asking for advice on how to bring hope and life back into their family,” Una said.

The little book gives practical advice thanks to Una’s experience and research; signs and symptoms, words of wisdom and some of the truths behind the illness.

“We’ve been contacted by people asking us do we have mums who suffered, like Stacey in the EastEnders story line, mums who try to kill themselves or their babies. This is indeed true to life and does sadly happen but it is not postnatal depression, it is puerperal psychosis which affects one in 1,000 women.

"No, we don't have mums experiencing puerperal psychosis; we have mums who want to share their story of the despair that ante and postnatal depression creates. This topic has to be spoken about and no longer be the illness behind the door. If we had more funding we would ensure that every doctors surgery, SureStart, hospital, midwife and health visitor would have a supply. This is not just a leaflet, it’s a tool, a way to open up communication and a way to stand up to the Bully that is PND.”

22,000 copies of this unique little publication will be distributed throughout Northern Ireland in New Born Bounty Packs throughout Northern Ireland via the Bounty Pregnancy and Parenthood Advice company.

More from www.support2gether.co.uk web page which is coming soon. Facebook support2gether or Telephone 07835 040086

Thanks for the memory

I CAN’T let this day pass without looking back 57 years to the opening day of Ulster Television on Halloween night 1959. It was a Saturday and the most exciting day of my life. I had joined the youngest station on the ITV network and I was earning £250 a year – I was rich in ever way.

Today ITV has taken back our local studio into its fold and although it now looks streamlined and slick, we’ve lost our local identity. Seems to be par for the course these days in so many ways.

A big loss over the last couple of weeks was the make-up department and I was reminiscing with Shelia Dundee who was so well known to guests for many years. Now well into her 80s, Sheila is still a character – still, as Eamonn Holmes called her, the Golden Girl of of the Powder Puff.

“My favourite was George Best, still a teenager, so handsome and happy. I remember laughing with Candy Devine as we tried to get the right shade of Toasted Beige for her skin tones, one minute she was like a ghost and the next like Louis Armstrong. I’d only made up white faces before.”

When she was home recently from Australia Candy also talked about that day and how Sheila worked until she got it right and the giggles of the pair of them. That was the beauty of the make-up artists; they relaxed their clients and gave them confidence before facing the camera which is very daunting no matter how seasoned you are.

“Then there was the day 'the reverend' came in and we’d been celebrating something at lunch times. I sat him down, put the gown on and approached with the Creme Puff. He sat up straight and bellowed, ‘Is that the devil’s brew I smell upon your breath Mrs Dundee?’ It was hard to charm my way out of that one!”

All good things come to an end, ever onward and good luck to those talented people, in front and behind the cameras, who are left in what was once the magical, groundbreaking Havelock House, Ormeau Road, Belfast.

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