The Sun Newspaper,An Open Letter

Dear -Fill in the blank,

One of your journalists approached me a few months back when I was on a 2 day break with my kids and cousins,via email with the subject of “Will you talk to me”. Now, I’m sure I can be forgiven for thinking that this was junk mail and to be honest, I should have deleted it and sent it to the trash where it quite rightly belonged but I didn’t. Instead, I engaged in a lengthly conversation about my experience with Post natal depression – and against my better judgement (as I had a feeling and a “niggle”) telling me not continue or share ,but oh boy, I sure did. See,that’s what some journalists feed on .. a person’s vulnerability and/or the need to want to help people and break down stigma , that they are willing to let you in to their thoughts and feelings, to tell the story of how they nearly god damn died because of what was going on.

I have been blogging and talking about my journey for many years and until recently, I didn’t have it in me for fear of judgement, to talk about and admit to the termination that I had. Due to shame and regret? Possibly and most probably but I was told that it would help other women. You got me hook,line and sinker. Silly ,me I guess.  Now, it is true that I had told this story to an amazing woman in a previous publication(so as your title suggested, it wasn’t an exclusive) a few weeks prior to but the Sun is much closer to home and I know that the chance of people I know reading it was more likely than the other.

When I received an email to tell me that it had been published, I was away at a residential bootcamp and had no coverage apart from wifi at certain times of the day.  Imagine my shock when I opened this.


My stomach sank and I was nearly sick. I have never ever been made to feel the way I felt on day of publication.  I couldn’t read the whole thing due to tears streaming down my face and the bile rising in my throat from my stomach. Over dramatic enough for you? Well unfortunately its all true which is more than I can say for your headline which I was told wasn’t written by the journalist who spoke to me- despite only her name being on the article.

I want to ask one thing… The headline talks about how I “aborted my healthy baby”. How do you know that this baby was healthy or not? How do you think that impacts a mother on the brink of suicide, making such a difficult decision , who thinks that she’s murdering her baby? Because i’ll tell you this, I was at that stage in my life and I fought so fucking hard to get through it all and I did. It was my husband, my daughter, my cousin,uncle and close friends who helped. Your paper hides behind the guise of wanting to help and share these stories but it is YOUR paper that adds to the stigma when you print headlines like that and take advantage of people like me.  You did real good though.. I like to think that I’m intelligent,worldly and educated pretty well….Maybe not.

When I tried contacting the journalist, she wasn’t in the office but her boss was. he didn’t reply until I sent two other emails and her dismissive attitude was a  further kick in the stomach.  I responded to her mail but I haven’t had a reply back so I am reponding to a few points via this open letter  Number 1. Apparently, “Sometimes seeing your story in print can be painful”- ahh , yes especially when it’s sensationalised. which leaves me to point 2.  questioning ethics…”Headlines are meant to grab attention” at the risk of someones mental health? Really, you want to go there? 3.The Scottish Sun has tackled many sensitive subjects without complaint – lies. Ask blogger @TheRealSupermum and the doozy which was done on her.

I vowed after this “story” was published( which some of it appears to have been taken from a certain other publication, tut tut)that I would never share anything again but I looked back at some of the old emails,texts and comments on my blog of support, and thought about why I started writing and share my story in the first palce. The conclusion that I came to was my need to let women (and men) who make difficult decisions every day or go through PND,Prenatal depression or depression as a whole, that they aren’t alone,there is support and no one needs to feel shame. You won’t destroy that because I won’t let you.  Your “rag” of a newspaper is thought less of than I am. The only one who should feel shame, is you.

Regards

Angeline Brunel Dickson

Abortion and PND

I’ve always been open and honest on this blog and been true to my readers about my experiences with Pre and Post Natal Depression but there was always a part of my story that I kept hidden until now. I think it has been hidden due to fear of judgement and backlash from those who don’t agree or approve but thanks to a chance email from a magazine and also support (once again) , from those lovely folk on twitter.. I have decided to speak out and to try to help other women who have had similar situations.
 
As most people know, I had really bad PND with my  daughter and not so bad pre and post natal depression, with my son. not long after my daughter was born – approx 12 months although can’t be 100% clear as that time for me and my husband , was quite hazy.. despite using contraception , I became pregnant. It was the most devistating news that I could ever receive at that point and I felt as though life was going to take a step back and I was never going to escape the hell that I was still currenlt in. With much talking with my husband and a GP, it was decided that we would have a termination of the pregnancy.
 
I have always had a open view on the subject of abortion and felt that it was the decision of those involved and that it is no ones right or role to judge. My only strong opinion was that no one should EVER use it as a form of contraception. EVER.
 
I went along to the hospital, had the first tablet given to me and wsa to return the next day for the second tablet. It ws at this point that things started going wrong adn I was in immense pain, bleeding more heavily than expected and I had to be given very strong painkillers, and kept in later in the evening. I also had a lot of time to think and to listen to the thoughts in my head, blaming myself and beating myself up for ending a life. I felt immense guilt but it was too late.
 
I think I went through a lot of different emotions because once everything was over, I won’t lie to you but I felt relief. I’m sorry for saying that. To all of you who have lost babies, to me, to anyone that wants children but can’t. I’m sorry but it wasn’t right for us, for me, for my daughter who was already resented at that time. It wasn’t fair for anyone- especially the child that I had growing inside of me but at that point I just wanted rid. It all sounds so harsh but I want to express my feelings and let it all out.
 
Life went on for us and I got better, and we decided to have another child. It wasn’t to be the first , second or third time as all resulted in early miscarriages and I thought that this was my punnishment for having had an abortion and that I missed my chance at having another baby. I then got pregnant with my son and early on I was referred (after tests to see why we were having difficulties conceiving), to the early pregnancy unit due to yet another   suspected miscarriage as I was passing blood. Thankfully though, there was a heart beat and he is a beautiful 2 year old . I did have major bleeding on one ocassion and had to be hospitalised but apart from that and hyperemesis, it went fine with a very quick delivery.
 
I guess by sharing this post, my whole story is out. I want people to know just how devestating and debilitating post and prenatal depression can be. It robs us of emotion, rational thinking, feelings, and lives. I hope that this post will help someone and if anyone has any questions, please feel free to email me or leave a comment.

 

Student Days Are Here Again!

At the ripe old age of 37, I will become a student again! I interviewed earlier this week despite having the flu and I must have done something right because they have given me an unconditional offer! 

The course is a diploma – level 3 in Complimentary Therapies.  I was accepted onto this course 2 yrs ago but I had to withdraw as I became pregnant and had hyperemesis and I wasn’t able to leave the house apart for midwife appointments and the odd school run.

I am very excited to be learning again, I think it will go hand in hand with my counselling qualification and my future study of mental health nursing. My plan is also to hopefully work with women who are experiencing prenatal depression, post natal depression and to see if I can return to the rape crisis centre where I’ve volunteered , to work with women who have experienced rape / sexual assault.

It looks like it’s going to be a pretty busy year come this August but it’s worth it to do something that can help people in so many ways. There’s also scope to go on to different courses thereafter such as stress management, baby massage etc.

The other really great things about this course will be the positive impact it will have on us in relation to healthy eating and relaxation! We could all do with a bit of that!

I look forward to writing about my experiences of beoming a student again!

My Highs and Lows of 2012:Meme from Kate on Thin Ice

I was asked a long with a few others, to participate in a meme by the lovely Kate on Thin Ice to discuss as the title says, our highs and lows. I think its important to discuss both the positives and negative aspects in our lives in order to appreciate the goodness that often goes unnoticed when we have times when things are difficult as it reminds us that not all is doom and gloom and that there is a balance. So here goes. Please check out Kate’s site and her own answers.

1.What was your happiest event: There have been a few this year.. one was seeing my daughter start school and the other was finding out that we were expecting a new baby after experiencing a few miscarriages.

2. What was the saddest thing to happen: Probably experiencing pre natal depression for a short while after getting hyperemesis again for the second time and my daughter having to witness it but not understanding what was happening.

3.What was the most unlikely thing to happen that actually went ahead and did: I got up in front of 200 or more people, health professionals, midwives,psychiatrists,psychologists,social workers etc and I presented a film based on my experience and other women’s experiences with Post Natal Depression.

4. Who let you down: Two friends who tried to convince me of something that I was already fully aware of and  not trusting in my own ability to know my own self. I identified my prenatal depression, approached my doc when I started feeling unwell and put the wheels in motion. Its disappointing when someone else puts their own personal gain ahead of friendship.

5. Who supported you: My real friends, my husband and someone who could see the situation clearly for what it was. Who recognized my own strengths and ability to be  proactive and self aware

6. Tell us one thing you learned: Good friends don’t judge, they listen and they support. That I am stronger than i thought, I am a good person, and things can change if you want them to 🙂

7. Tell us one thing that made you laugh:When my daughter asked me if I was taking part in Movember… as i had neglected my upper lip erm… tash due to hyperemesis..

8. Tell us one thing that made you cry: being so physically and mentally exhausted by hyperemesis, the kindness of those women and men who supported me via twitter when I needed to rant and rave on the really tough days.

9. Tell us three things your child or children did to make you feel proud: Start school despite her fears, and tears but going in and really liking it ! Telling me that santa must have missed out boys and girls cause she had gotten so many presents which means she was being mindful of others, Just being a free spirit!

10. Tell us one thing that made you proud of yourself: Getting help as soon as I saw my moods decline with my pregnancy and not feeling ashamed.

11. Tell us one challenge you overcame:Learning ti like myself and see myself in a positive way. Its a work in progress but I’m getting there and so very proud. Not being so hard on yourself and seeing your strengths is really empowering as well as physically uplifting.

12. Tell us three things you would like to change about your life in 2013: possibly be more organised, do a course that I had to postpone and changing my look back to how I used to dress before my first pregnancy!

Anyone can join in this meme

Thank You Kate for hosting this, please do have a look on her site. She is one inspirational woman!

 

 

My experience with a Reporter

Yesterday after dropping thunderpants off at school and running a few errands, I decided to go into Morrisons and have a late breakfast.

I purchased an Evening Times and opened it to find an article talking with “baby blues” in the title(was more to the title as well). Even before reading it, I knew what the mistake was and my anger stated to rise.

Although the article was highlighting the new mother and baby unit which was being opened and quoted the wonderful consultant, Roch Cantwell which I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many times, the title was all wrong.

I know this because I was told after having my daughter that it was “Just the baby blues” when in fact I had started my journey through Post Natal Depression. Speaking about mothers who would need to be in the unit or to attend as an out patient, and the help that is provided there, instead of using words like Post Natal depression, psychosis,anxiety Prenatal Depression , they used “Baby Blues”. it is absolutely and utterly damaging not to mention offensive to many!

So I did what I normally do, and got angry. I wrote an email whilst eating my breakfast explaining that using those words to describe something far from the “baby blues”, is invalidating feelings and could delay a persons recovery. People have died due to not being taken seriously! How dare they assume or not carry out any research?!

I got a reply right away and it was explained to me that although the article was not about that as such, it was basically an identifiable word amongst the general public and one which would be understood…. Que the blood boiling and many swear words going round my head. It wasn’t that the content was offensive although they could have covered things more in depth etc, what got me angry was the unprofessionalism, adding to the on going stigmas relating to Perinatal Mental Health!!! Jeesh !!!! (By questioning the titles unprofessionalism and the response back was that reporters have no control over the headline)

I was asked by the reporter to meet this week, advising today or Friday and was told that Thursday would be better. I was quite pleased that the paper wanted to hear the bigger story and I started gathering info and started seeing my stance as an activist but one who was going to use fact over passion )well you know what I mean) I was going to be professional!

So after dropping off thunderpants, I headed straight in to town and arriving early, ordered myself a tea and a beverage for the journalist. As time ticks by, I start panicking …. Did I say the right coffee shop, time and day? I was also feeling a bit sick as nerves and a urine infection had me up during the night. Not to mention being inthe pregnant with hyperemesis..

By 10:15am, I had checked my details through the exchange if emails and right enough, date, time and location were correct. I emailed the journalist and response that she’d had it in her head that it was tomorrow and that she had a lot on her plate.

I responded with the exchange of emails that we had yesterday but wasn’t prepared for the snippy response of “I can see that, people make mistakes,could we meet tomorrow”. Now, that just made me even more angry and I have yet to respond. I wouldn’t have minded if she had been apologetic, these things happen (although I hope that she doesn’t do that a lot to people), but to be so rude in her response after I drove all the way into town, paid my parking, bought us both a beverage and sat there waiting, and then contacting her to see where she was!

As I have taken a break from writing about or doing much in terms of PND, due to the start of my pregnancy being pretty rubbish and because I am still having CBT, I feel quite annoyed! I realise that I am in control of how I feel and can react in a way that I choose but why be so rude in responding?

Like I said, I haven’t responded and probably won’t take the time to do so but at least if I change my mind and do, I will be far more polite and dignified!

Update: As I was editing this, I received an email 1.5hrs after the original meet time to ask if I still had time, would I like to meet now? In the name of the wee man!!! Did she think that I would still be waiting in beanscene still?????

Update:the reporter is perplexed that I would question her professionalism… Really? Don’t believe I said that in this article. Made it clear that the article was ok despite missing out on stigmas in it etc, my issue is with the article title as well as not looking at ones diary when arranging appointments. Think we can lay this one to rest.

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