Walk the walk

I’ve been a bit quiet recently and here’s why;

The reason I’m walking….

I’ve signed myself up to a 25km charity walk! In truth I signed up months ago. My day of reckoning is in 6days time. My training kicked in when I panicked at 22 days to go!!!!
So far I have clocked up 86km over the last 2 weeks. Pretty impressive considering I haven’t done any proper walking since the girls were babies in the push chair. Disneyland last October doesn’t count even though we were walking 15,000 steps a day and me and my youngest daughter wore actual holes in our trainers!

So who am I waking for?

Well 2 years ago along with another local mum, we set up a postnatal depression support group in our area. I had suffered with Pnd and Anxiety with both daughters, far worse with my second which I have touch on further on in my blog. There was very little support locally and I accessed support from across the county border which I found invaluable. Without that support I wouldn’t have got through my Pnd and be able now to share my story. Those mums and the support I received from Hertfordshire Postnatal Illness was amazing. And we’re quite literal at times, my life line. It still left no local support to me though and therefore for other mums experiencing these same feelings too.

Our support group is accessed by mums who have heard about us either online, through Facebook or from GP’s health visitors and other perinatal health care professionals. Our net is cast relatively small as we are limited in our time and resources to promote it further. However in saying that we have had over 25 mums come through our doors and receive the support they have so desperately needed. Many more we have supported online, via email or telephone.
We fundraised earlier on in our set up and now, since we have become an independent volunteer led support group we are changing our name and need promotional materials so more mums can know that we are here. They don’t have to go through their journey of motherhood and Pnd alone.

Why walk?
Well I don’t do running for a start! I’d have to buy a bike as I haven’t got one of those, a swimming pool is a drive away and to be honest I quite like walking. Lucky for me I live in a hilly town so the gradients of my walks can vary which add to the training.
Walking is also particularly significant to me and my postnatal illness. I often described the feeling I had when I was ill as “like walking through a muddy bog on the fog”. It really was. Everything happened in slow motion and walking or just getting from A to B was such an effort. If that meant I was meeting people too and being sociable then it’s was even more of an effort to put on that “happy mask” and try and be normal.
When inside I felt far from it.

So given that I’ve done a lot of thinking whilst I’ve been walking I can see that the actual physical act of walking as I feel now is that sense of feeling free. I feel free from my Pnd. And although I’m not quite as free from my anxiety it certainly feels like it’s more in control or should I say I’m more in control of it.

So as I rest my weary legs after my 7km walk today I’m looking forward to next week when I’m walking alongside others raising money for their charities and in the company of a good friend to chat with along the way. I’m also looking forward to the Sunday when I can feel very proud of myself and show my children my medal and know I walked it for them, my family and friends who have supported me through my ups and downs and my recent training. And above all for the mums who have yet to walk through our door and know that they are not alone.

Fast forward 6 days and I’ve done it!!
I. Walked.twenty-five.kilometres!!!!!!
I can’t really believe it. It certainly wasn’t a walk in the park but I can tell you it was easier than I had thought. My worries about my back going into spasm or my ankle, which I went over on only 5 days earlier were completely fine. My right knee, which I have always had trouble with since a teenager wasn’t and became very painful at about Wandsworth bridge about 9km into the trek challenge. And the blister crept in shortly afterwards but they were more manageable. The distance between the bridges was fairly short. What I hadn’t envisaged was that there were stairs up and down to get to the bridges and that bridges are always positioned on a slight incline!

The hardest part of the walk was that I had imagined myself at the finish under the towers of Tower Bridge with my medal but in truth the finishing line was another 1.6kms away! That was the longest and most painful part of the walk.

Those unexpected hurdles are pretty much like life and motherhood in general. Some things you can imagine and others creep up on you unexpectedly. Pretty much like postnatal depression does and did with me. The long ending of the walk was even more poignant as I didn’t know where or when it would finish I just knew we were almost there.
Other walkers passed us wearing their medals having completed it and gave us words of encouragement. “It’s just around the corner” or “you’re almost there”. But still we couldn’t see it. It was total relief and elation when we did see the finishing line.

That in essence describes how postnatal depression feels from the inside. You can have words of encouragement and support telling you that you are getting better or that there is hope around the corner. You have to trust people that it is and you will get to the finish and beat it.

And just like I finished the 25km walk a little bruised and battered and the blister plasters and muscle aches are still with me a few days later. I am still here. I am still me. And I have achieved something I thought I would never get through.