10 things I know about going public with a personal story

Dawn Rieniets BUPA post-natal depression story

I’ve been writing about my struggle with post natal depression for the last couple of years. There was something about advocating for PND from behind my computer screen, with my own circle, that made me feel secure (enough).

Realistically though, how many people would I actually touch? What could I, one person, do to change the stigma surrounding such a common and closeted phenomenon?

Enter Bupa Blue Room.

Dawn Rieniets BUPA post-natal depression story

They offered me the opportunity to slap my face on a National campaign about post natal depression and we would promote a program I completed, The Parent and Baby Wellbeing Program.

My head thought, ‘Shit yeah!’ and my heart thought, ‘Oh shit.’

These are ten things I learned about going public with my story.

1. Do it for the right reasons

My gut told me to share my story but I had to stop and think seriously about my motivation.

It was important to me that my reasons aligned with my core values. I wanted to be genuine, authentic, and honest. To share with the hope of connecting with others, not for attention.

2. Believe in the brand involved

In my case, I have been a happy Bupa customer since becoming a permanent resident of Australia in 2011. Genuine: tick.

The service I would be promoting was one that I helped me achieve highly desirable results (to put it mildly). Honest: tick.

3. Be at peace with your story

You know how, when you are sure of something, criticism rolls right off your back? The problem is, if you are not at peace with something you share, judgement is really going to hurt. When I first started writing about PND on my blog, I was still a bundle of raw nerves. When a family member asked me why didn’t I just write in a journal, implying shame, it stung. Big time. Today I am confident about my experience, where I’ve been, and where I am now.

4. Make sure the family is on board

Dawn Rieniets BUPA post-natal depression story

Being flush with points 1-3 was great but I needed to make sure that anyone else who might be involved was fully supportive. I wanted to say yes to Bupa immediately but I knew I needed to discuss it with my husband to see if a) he was willing to participate, and b) that we were both cool with involving our young daughter.

5. You can give others a voice

By sharing my story about PND I wanted to represent the women who didn’t feel comfortable speaking up. There are a lot of us out there. The first time I wrote about PND I got a stream of messages from friends saying, “Me too!” Women who I never imagined were struggling – and they thought the same of me.

6. Be brave

Without fear, you cannot be brave. People have often told me I was brave for relocating my life from America to Australia. Technically they were correct – I was brave as hell but also shitting my pants the entire time. I’ve never gotten used to being brave.

Doing this ad forced me to step outside my comfort-zone, to be vulnerable, which in my experience, leads to deeper connections and richer relationships.

7. Have zero expectations

I would be a liar if I said I had no expectations about what this campaign would bring. I wanted to help mothers, to de-stigmatise post natal depression, to bring more people into my community, to change the world! It’s good to be hopeful but important to remain realistic. Things won’t change overnight but I have to say, I am thrilled about the opportunities coming my way. I’m able to continue sharing my story.

8. Be proud of yourself

Is this difficult for anyone else? I’m kind of loud and outspoken therefore you might not realise I am also a humble person. But you know what, dang it?!?! I am proud. Proud as punch. This ad took a lot of planning, a lot of hours, a lot of professional teams. Absolutely everyone, including me, have been rapt with the results.

9. Get ready for people to reach out

I didn’t tell too many people details about the ad. So far I have been receiving lovely, supportive, beautiful messages and continue to do so. I can’t put into words how amazing that feels and how grateful I am.

10. Life goes on

That first night the ad went live, my husband and I scoured the channels – watching and waiting. I was a nervous wreck even though I had seen the ad a dozen times already. There was something so final about it going live to air, nationally. Nationally! Cue sweaty palms. We caught it once and a sense of relief came over me. I haven’t bothered to look for it since.

I am so glad I shared my story. Would you?

* This article is not sponsored by Bupa. It was commissioned by Champagne Cartel to focus on Dawn’s story of sharing her life as part of the Bupa campaign, but it was produced independently of Bupa and Bupa Blue Room.

 

 

Written By

Dawn is an American wanderer at home in Australia. Constantly on the look out for bliss and kangaroos.

7 Comments

  • Thanks Annette! I think it’s wonderful that once you’ve ‘owned’ your story that you are in a place where you can share it. Not only are you helping and connecting other adoptees but also allowing those outside your experience understand you better. I know you love words…and being in the word-trade business is where it’s at! #ilovestories

  • Dawn, you rock! I think normalising the feelings around PND has to be a good thing. Motherhood is bloody hard work when you are at your healthiest so it must be brutal when you are struggling through PND. I am like a crazy fan girl each time I see your ad. Well done. xo

    • Bronwyn no YOU! Thanks so much for the virtual high five- it’s so wonderful to be cheered-on by bloggers I admire. I’m definitely not breaking new ground but my biggest hope is that we can continue having this conversation about PND. It’s not the end of the world but I don’t think it necessarily goes away on it’s own. Big Love. xoxo

  • I had a little meltdown the other day Dawn. We’ve had a bit of sickness here, not much sleep and my little bubba wouldn’t settle for a sleep. When my husband called to see how the day went I flipped out about because I opened up so much about my depression and was now better I now felt like it was harder for me to share with him or my mum or a friend that I was having a rough day because I was concerned they might think I was about to have another breakdown. Does this make sense to you and have you felt it. It’s that silly situation where I am trying to make sure my feelings aren’t making other people uncomfortable. I agree that sharing stories is how we need to normalise and remove stigmas around issues such as mental health. I love how you have shared your journey and hope you can feel my support for you through the world wide web! S xx

  • Sarah- I can relate completely! The stresses of motherhood can trigger ‘normal’ meltdowns or freak outs. It does not mean we are going to fall back into a deep depression and it does not mean we are going to break into a million pieces.

    When I stated telling people about my PND I think lots of well meaning friends and family treated me a little like a china doll.

    One of the reasons I want so badly for people to talk about these issues is so everyone can better understand. And also so we can be more comfortable saying we are having a bad day, or week, without everyone panicking. Does that make sense? I hope I don’t seem ungrateful that I have people in my life who care.

    I hear you. Xoxo

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