I first contacted Kyra in May this year, as I had been having a hard time with postnatal depression following the birth of my first child. Having been treated I found myself isolated, lacking in confidence and unsure where to turn to or how to pick myself up again.

Having been pointed in their direction by a mental health worker I contacted Kyra by email looking for support, and received a reply from Yvonne. She invited me to the Tuesday drop in session, ‘Your Space’.

At first it took me a bit of time to build up the confidence to go as at times I was at such a low ebb I had difficulty leaving the house. Eventually I met Cath at the entrance of the museum gardens and she walked me to the workshop, which I found far less intimidating than if I had had to find my own way there. She introduced me to the women at the group and I relaxed pretty quickly because everyone present was so friendly. One thing that impressed me on that first visit was the way that Yvonne and Cath made an effort to speak to anyone who looked as though they were having trouble engaging with the group for any reason, so everyone there was make to feel part of the group.

At the session, I was introduced to Eimear who runs a singing club on Wednesday evenings at the Kyra centre. I agreed to go as I used to enjoy singing in school and had missed it, and I recognised that it would be an informal and pressure free setting. Eimear wasn’t wrong about the fun aspect and Wednesday evenings soon became a highlight of my week, and it game me time off from being ‘mum’ to do something I loved.

Soon after, I started Yvonne’s self-esteem course, ‘ESTA’. Unfortunately, the postnatal depression had robbed me off [sic] myself-esteem and had affected my personal relationships and the quality of life, as well as making me feel very isolated at times.

The course which Yvonne ran not only gave me a chance to engage with women who felt the same ways I did, but taught me invaluable life skills in communication, critical thinking and assertiveness which I had struggled with while ill. By the end of the course, I felt like a new person. My relationships with those around me improved and I stopped feeling as if I was living to please other people and no longer felt the world around me was passing me by.

A few weeks later, I was contacted by the BBC through another organisation I am a member of and was asked to speak on the national news about my experiences of post-natal health care. Up until this point, I had kept my post-natal depression a secret and could barely speak to a qualified counsellor, let alone a well known BBC presenter. But I felt a new sense of confidence and went ahead, and was able to retell my story to someone I have never previously met.

Now, with some gentle guidance from Yvonne, I am facilitating a group here at Kyra to offer pre and post-natal support to women who are struggling like I was. Kyra has played a pivotal part in my recovery and have enabled me to extend that support to mothers who were suffering like I was.

The support I got from Kyra has not only brought new and beneficial friendship into my life, but has brought me self-esteem, confidence, motivation and a sense of purpose, it was very helpful having a safe place where I could relate my experiences without fear of being judged.

I recently visited my physiotherapist, who I told my problems with back pain had drastically improved. He told me with a smile, “Of course they have. You now walk with your back straight and your head held high!” And I’ve Kyra to thank for that.

R.