Local mum of two takes on overseas challenge to raise awareness and encourage conversations surrounding post-natal mental health.
Having a baby is an incredibly huge life event. One that evokes a range of powerful emotions including joy and anxiety. Although extremely difficult, experiencing depression after the birth of a baby (also known as post-natal depression) is a lot more common than you might think. Especially for women, with 15-20% being affected by depression and anxiety within their first year of childbirth (NICE Guidelines, 2020).
Nadia Smaidre from Omagh is taking part in AWARE Trek Cambodia to raise vital funds and awareness for mental health services across the country. Nadia’s inspiration for taking part draws from her personal experience of poor mental health following the birth of her first baby in 2009.
“I was 23 at that stage, newly married, life seemed good from the outside, but I was affected with post-natal depression. It took me 6 months to understand what was happening until friends and family noticed a change in me and I eventually reached out to Health Visitor and my GP. It was only the start of my journey - within a few months, I had developed anxiety, experienced panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. It was hard, there was really little help at that stage and not much was talked about it.
I felt ashamed like I was failing my baby and my family. It was like “how can I feel sad and unhappy when I have a healthy happy baby?!” There was a time when I felt like he would be better off without me…
The shame alongside the stigma associated with depression meant that I was very good at hiding how I was feeling. People thought I was okay because I appeared as though I was.”
After contacting her GP and attending counselling, Nadia has now found ways to help manage her mental health and encourages others to do the same:
“It took me a long time to understand that taking care of myself is not selfish! That I have to recharge in order to be there for my children. Being a single mom for two lively boys is challenging, but I have good friends who take them for a couple of hours so I can get to a spin class or go for a walk as physical activity helps me a lot.
If you’re finding things difficult, talk about it, find a person you feel safe to talk to and just open up, sometimes hearing yourself out loud is all you need to process and feel better. If you really can’t talk about it yet, write. I used to write letters, to no one, read them and then burn them. Whatever way you can do to relieve what’s in your mind, just do it.”
Nadia’s personal journey with mental health has fuelled her motivation to take part in AWARE’s Trek Cambodia:
“When I was going through this tough time I had to wait months for help. I had no idea that a charity like AWARE existed, so I want to bring awareness that there is help and at the same time show that there is hope, for people for are at the beginning of their journey. Then when I saw AWARE Trek Cambodia being advertised, I knew I had to sign up. I love to travel, I love pushing my own limits and I love helping people so this combines it all perfectly!
To anyone who is thinking of signing up to take part in AWARE Trek Cambodia 2022, I say JUST GO FOR IT! You have nothing to lose, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. You will get to help so many people with the funds you will raise, and the memories you create will last you a lifetime.”
If you are on a similar journey as to what Nadia has described and would like to attend one of our peer-led support groups to talk to people in the same place as yourself and to discuss ways forward, then please click here: www.aware-ni.org/lets-talk