Hi Shannon. Nice to meet you. What's your story?
Well... I’m a 31 year old mother of three boys; Hamish - 4, Liam - 2 and Nate - 11 months. I’m also an Early Childhood Teacher and emerging Author. I’m a self-confessed perfectionist and worry wart. I live in Brisbane, Queensland with my husband, Sean. I am currently a stay at home mother. I plan to return to work teaching part-time next year.
What is Mamma Has A Black Dog and how did this come about?
Mamma Has A Black Dog is a young children’s fiction book I wrote to help explain mental health disorders like PND or anxiety - especially if a mother or caregiver is struggling. I was inspired to write it after my own experience with postnatal anxiety which came about after the birth of my third son, Nate, late 2015. Up until that point in my role of mother, I felt like I was doing it well and was managing to keep all my balls up in the air.
When a third child came along, the routines and structure I clung to didn’t work and I was constantly feeling overwhelmed and worrying so much what people were thinking of me as a mother. I got to a point where I needed to go away with my sister for a few days to mentally recharge before I had a breakdown. It was the best thing I ever did. It was then that I decided to write a story relating to mental health.
I wanted to explain to my two older boys, Hamish and Liam, that they hadn't done anything wrong and it was something that I couldn't control either. I remember seeing the concept of the 'Black Dog' used in cartoon format to depict depression in adults and from there I thought it would be a really tangible way to explain the feelings that constantly follow you everywhere you go when you're suffering with a mental illness.
If only we would all just peel back our masks just a tiny bit sometimes...
What is your mission and how do you aim to achieve this?
I hope my book can promote more open discussions about mental health to come about in society. There is still a lot of shame and stigma attached to admitting you have a mental illness to people; people are afraid to show some vulnerability. I would love to promote the idea that it’s actually only the brave who speak up and it’s much more common within society than people think. If only we would all just peel back our masks just a tiny bit sometimes... After discovering my story and my battle, the circles of mothers who I mix with frequently are opening up to me because I have shown a little bit of vulnerability.
You actually take some of the power and fear away from mental illness when you open up about it.
What would be your advice to parents struggling emotionally during the Perinatal period?
You don’t have to suffer in silence. You actually take some of the power and fear away from mental illness when you open up about it.
Don’t forget to look after your own needs. As parents, we are always putting ourselves last in every way for the sake of our kids' happiness but this isn't sustainable - as I have discovered. Trying to maintain a high standard of perfection is just a recipe for disaster.
Where can our lovely Postnatal Project parents find out more?
I have a website and a Facebook page.
Soft cover & Ebooks are available for purchase off the website. $1 from every copy sold will be donated to Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness. This organisation provides peer led support groups for mothers suffering from postnatal depression and anxiety.
Big thanks to Shannon of www.mammahasablackdog.com for opening up about her personal experience of perinatal mental health.