Open House was born out of my own lived experience of severe postnatal depression after my second son was born

I first met Mel over about three years ago when I attended an introduction to open water swimming with her (something I had wanted to try as I had heard of its benefits for those who experience mental health difficulties such as myself).

Being introduced to Her Spirit by Mel and Holly after that session has been such an immensely positive experience for me on lots of levels. I have found my happy place – which is swimming in open water, gained what I hope are lifelong friends, challenged myself and at the ripe old age of forty-six learnt how to swim face down front crawl in a lake (not bad considering I have always been a slow heads up breaststroke swimmer!) Above all its great fun being involved with Her Spirit.

I have always been open with Mel and Holly about my mental health journey and was humbled when they chose Open House as one of the beneficiary causes of the Fitter Together challenge.

Open House was born out of my own lived experience of severe postnatal depression after my second son was born. My condition was so acute that I was admitted for treatment at the Nottingham Mother and Baby Unit – a specialist psychiatric service where mums are treated with their child being able to stay with them.

Those two months whilst I was so unwell were by far the most difficult period of mine and my families lives.

That was ten years ago, and I am proud that my experience along with another former patient led to the creation of Open House which provides peer support to those experiencing maternal mental health difficulties. Open House has strong links with the Mother and Baby Unit in Nottingham, fundraising and supporting in any way we can and of course we welcome mums to our groups either online or face to face who have been supported by the Unit.

At a recent meeting about the Fitter Together Challenge Mel asked “If someone was to donate £15 what would you do with that money?” and I said the most important thing that money would buy is refreshments at our groups. Being able to make a new Mum a hot drink is priceless, and these quotes say why….

“Having someone make you a hot drink is like relaxing into a safe warm hug – knowing someone cares enough to make you a drink makes you feel taken care of at a time when you don’t have much opportunity to do it for yourself or maybe don’t feel you deserve the kindness/self-care. The groups and the online support meant a lot to me, especially in the earlier days” Sarah

“My journey with mental health services was inconsistent but Open House was always there. They were always there with a cup of tea and biscuit often the only food I would manage during the day and made me feel less alone and like a better parent, I’m here for my kids now because Open House was there for me at my worst” Kia

“When I attended OH it was so reassuring to talk openly & freely to other mothers who too had experienced poor mental health during pre-natal & post-natal period. My daughter was able to play whilst I could enjoy a peppermint tea and chat. I will be forever grateful of their compassion, at a very low point in my life” Christina

I can’t thank Mel and Holly and the Her Spirit community enough for supporting my physical and mental health and I’ll be forever grateful that the Mums who attend Open House will benefit too.