At the start of the summer holidays I was lucky enough to find the time to read ‘Eyes without Sparkle’ by Elaine Hanzak. I had been recommended the book by my GP, but only managed to get round to reading it when a friend said she had it. I was told it was a good read so was looking forward to what I might find out.
The book is Elaine’s story of her time being pregnant and how she suffered the worse kind of PND puerperal psychosis. The book recounts how she tried to deal with everything herself, as a mother and a women, that’s what you do, you don’t need other’s help, because you should be able to cope. Unfortunately her desire to cope meant she became seriously ill with PND, she had to spend time in a psychiatric hospital, without her new-born baby, as there were no places at a mother & baby unit. She describes sometimes in detail how she felt and what she wanted to do to both herself and her son.
If you have never suffered PND or Depression you get a real insight into what it can do to you, it really is a debilitating illness. For those that have suffered you realise that many of the things you felt were ‘normal’ where PND is concerned.
What is so great about the book is that it shows there is light at the end of the tunnel. After everything Elaine went through she came out the other side stronger and also determined to ensure that health professionals are better informed about PND and the care patients receive. She happened to be in the right place at the right time and simply by telling her story in Church she now talks to hundreds of health professionals and the general public about PND and about how to be positive in the face of adversity.
So from reading Elaine’s book I was also lucky enough to have an event held locally where she was speaking. The event was being held to raise funds for The Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation and Alzheimer’s. I was so glad that I went, she firstly told her story of her journey through PND, then about the families struggle when Grandma got Alzheimers, and lastly she spoke very bravely about losing her partner to a heart attack only 7-months ago.
With all the above you would be quite right to assume that she is not happy with life, that she feels sorry for herself and she should wonder what is the point. However this could not be further from the truth, she is very upbeat, very positive and wants others to feel the same. When she speaks she is not dismissing depression, or death. For me she spoke about embracing what is happening in your life, accepting the help of others to enable you to move forward and have a better quality of life. Elaine does have dark moments, and anyone reading her blog will know that it hasn’t all been plain sailing, but it is about the decisions she makes and who she asks for help when she needs a shoulder to cry on.
I would urge anyone who is given a chance to hear her speak to take up the offer, she is such a natural speaker, speaking from the heart and engaging the whole audience. The great thing I found about the evening was realising that it is okay to ask for help, it is ok to not be coping, but what isn’t okay is to keep it to yourself. None of us our supermum or superdad, or even supergran. We need to ask for help to ensure that we are able to help others around us when they are struggling.
I also managed to talk to someone from the Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation, which I am hoping to get involved with. I feel very passionate about the cause, which was set up by a father who lost his wife 10 weeks after their baby was born – she committed suicide due to PND. It’s not a nice story, but its one that happens all too often and the Joanne Bingely Foundation hope to help all families know more about PND so the signs can be seen and help can be sought before it gets too late.
So if you are struggling please ask for help, if you know someone who is struggling, please don’t wait for them to ask for help, (sometimes its just too hard to ask), help them and start to share the load.