Mental Health Awareness Week Blog

Coronavirus: Depression during Lockdown feels like you’re just stuck

Having suffered with depression with self harming since I started teacher training in 2002, it escalated into a momentous breakdown in a classroom of year 8s in 2005. I was clinically unable to teach for 7 months and spent much of that time in bed, until I was able to do some fruit picking for a local farmer, which aided in my slow recovery.

Since then I’ve rebuilt my life after travelling in 2007 and trying all sorts of jobs in the search for ‘happiness’’, then I met my husband in 2009, married in 2011 and we immediately started a family.

Suffering from depression during this pandemic has shown me some major ups and quite a lot of serious lows.

Our marriage broke down last year after recovering from severe PND with my youngest and, going through a challenging divorce whilst living together, keeping our two wonderful, loving children happy, healthy and calm, had been to the detriment of my own mental health. That, and being flabbergasted by how so called close friends have reacted!

Then came lockdown…and a fever meant that my ex and I had to spend so much time together in the same house.

With so much anger already in the house, I have tried to keep my little child carrying business going amongst the chaos, but it’s been a struggle!

Having moved temporarily into a beach bungalow, that I luckily found and which also helped my landlady out as her business had to otherwise close, really helped to give some perspective and respite as well as amazing walks, to try and regain my strength.

I so much want to continue helping families to carry their babies, as I continue to be messaged by pregnant mums, and mums with toddlers, desperate to be able to give their babies the gift of carrying them.

Struggling daily with just getting out of bed, a friend kindly but naively told me to pull my finger out, yet as any of you who also suffer will know, this doesn’t really help the depression.

If I can do one thing to help myself each day, then this is enough. I know I shouldn’t but I still beat myself up about not achieving the online empire I so dreamed of right now, but it will come. Gentleness towards myself is really important right now, and then I can start to be there for others once more.

All the online baby shows can carry on and I just have to accept that at the moment, I can only do so much. We have to be really kind to ourselves in these unnormal circumstances.

My priority is to find a home for the next three to six months and to make it as homely (if not perfect) as I possibly can as my two children’s health and happiness remain my priority. Furthermore, being very young, they are understandably emotionally struggling with all the changes.

Maybe, I’ll even find a little motivation to paint once more or play piano. Who knows, what the next day holds, let alone the next week or six. We just have to try and be kind to ourselves and others at this challenging time and hope and help small businesses and people the best we can and thank anyone who’s kind enough to listen and offer support.

I am super grateful to have some gorgeous friends, supportive family, superb business confidants around me who offer so much support at this time, along with Trauma/PTSD counselling 💜 to help get my head and arse in gear.

Don’t be frightened to ask for help from others as you may be surprised by the amount of support you have around you. Get outside each day if possible to walk in our stunning countryside that I, personally, am so very grateful to have.

I’m also finding now that journalling is helping to explore feelings and challenging unhelpful thoughts each day. I’ve also signed up to an eight week Mindfulness course with the brilliant Gemma to help find my flow.

And always, always try to be gentle towards not just others, but yourself and heal from the inside. We have amazing support networks to help, if we just reach out every once in a while.

We used to be a village, so reach out and find yours as we can support each other so much better than being on our own 🧡 .

Guest Blog – How the Sling has helped our Little Family

I started using my fabric sling a few weeks after Baby Jasper was born as a means of getting things done in the day whilst still being able to comfort him when he was tired or upset. Fourteen weeks in and surrounded by all the paraphernalia that accompanies the arrival of a new baby, the sling is one of the few items that I could genuinely not be without.

After a bit of practice tying the sling and wearing Jasper in it a few times I soon realised that this was where he was happiest and would take long contented naps on my chest. I wear Jasper in the sling every day, around the home as I do the laundry, wash the dishes, brush my teeth, send emails, enjoy a peaceful cup of tea, steal a few moments to read a book, and prepare and most crucially of all, eat my dinner with two free hands. I also take him in the sling when I go to the supermarket, wander around museums, meet up with friends and visit relatives. Strangers will often come up to us and remark on how peaceful and snug he looks, the kindest of all being a lady who approached me in the supermarket car park and reassuringly said, “that’s exactly where a baby should be – well done, you’re doing a great job”. Words like these and research stating that baby-wearing promotes mother-infant attachment, encourages wellbeing and reduces fussing and crying, along with the sight of Jasper’s tranquil face confirm for me that this is indeed where my baby is best off.

For more adventurous days we also have a carrier, this really came into its own on a recent walking holiday in the Lake District. Both my husband and I enjoy wearing the carrier and find it really comfortable, and when he is not napping in it, Jasper can experience new sights and sounds of the outdoors. Using the carrier we could go on walks that would not have been possible in the buggy. It felt as if we were reclaiming a slice of our pre-baby lifestyle back as we took Jasper for his first hikes on the fells and around the lakes.

The sling and the carrier feel like a natural and instinctive way to care for my baby throughout the day. I love being able to smell and kiss Jasper’s head, hear his little sounds, and rub his back as I wear him on my chest; he feels so close, and it is as reassuring for me as it is for him.


Samantha Ismail-Epps

Boobie Adventure

To mark the end of International Breastfeeding Week, here is the only picture I could find of my epic boobie journey with my two boobie junkies 😍😂🌺.

I breastfed Albert until he was nearly three and had to literally prise him away as it was getting too much for me, during the day,in the end!! I can honestly say it was the single hardest skill I’ve ever tried to master and therefore totally understand if you decided against it or found it just too heartbreakingly hard. Months and months of crying on both our parts with Albert especially and, with my eldest, who’s now 6, we started right from the word go by topping up with formula as I just couldn’t ever seem to make enough. I know this seems crazy now. And then she breastfed until nearly 2 when I fell pregnant again and it felt weird. I didn’t know then that you could just carry on breastfeeding or that the WHO advocates feeding until 2 and beyond…

I didn’t know then that there were such things as doulas or IBCLCs to help you but, I was able to occasionally get along to the Babycafe in Diss when it used to run.

I always remember Ruth showing me how to co-sleep and breastfeed but I just wasn’t able to do this at the time as my partner wasn’t in agreement on co-sleeping and the midwives told me it was an unsafe practice. I thought it all sounded so radical. So much has changed in the past four or five years 😂 for the better.

I remember thinking oh how easy it would be the second time around as I’d finally managed to crack it the first time after being introduced (albeit it cloak and dagger tactics) to nipple shields as my nipples were too flat for baby!

Nobody ever bloody well tells you how hard it’s going to be! My mum appeared to effortlessly do it with us three forty or so years ago so, you just assume that it’s all going to be the most natural thing in the world to be able to do! Honestly no one told me it would be so dammed hard.

Night after night, day after day, hour upon hour he would just cry!!! Only one boobie would he accept as well, meaning a rugby carry for the other one had to be mastered 😜. I only recalled this today after speaking to another mum at a sling workshop.

And then you wonder why so many of us have PND!

And then, when they finally got it, everyone told you it was time to give up! Yep, your baby was a year old so maybe it was time to stop? I felt pressured from all areas, family and loved ones. The ‘oh you’re still feeding are you?’ comments and the, ‘he doesn’t need it now he’s one,’ advice.

Anyway, the end of my boobing adventure but I will always have an ear if you or anybody else should need to vent about your journey! Through it all though, I loved that closeness 🥰🥰🥰

We have two breastfeeding peer supporters in our group if you need help 💜 #internationalbreastfeedingweek

Cup Filling Self Care

41BFCD60-1B21-4E29-83AA-6BBB62FD6F56So here I am, taking time away from my babies, to practice what I preached in my last guest blog post!

My real relaxation time is when I am in the spa, lying in the sauna, eyes closed in self hypnosis, dreaming of faraway places and forgotten past times spent on the beaches of Brazil, with wild and carefree travelling amigos!   Prior to children 👶and big mortgages…

I have come away for a couple of nights on the advice of my husband to have some ‘me’ time, my ‘holiday’ for the year if you like.  It’s really important to treat ourselves and to look after ourselves, when we’re working so dam hard to bring up children and also running businesses or whatever it is you do to retain a bit of the old ‘you’ and follow your dreams.

This morning at breakfast I met a lovely mummy who was doing exactly the same, taking a couple of nights away from her three, one of which is home schooled, the youngest still being breastfed and ‘attached’ all night…

I felt for her in the same way that I feel for many parents I meet every day at our child carrying workshops.  We do everything we can just to survive in this world.  I asked her if she did anything nice for herself on a daily basis and she just laughed or, rather, crumbled…

Since getting proper self care from the Back Clinic In Diss, I have been able to return to my Yoga sessions, one of my loves, with the wonderful Maria and can actually get up from lying down, without help!  I know!  Amazing 😉.  Something that’s not happened in over six years!  Nic Aldous at The Back Care Clinic believes that by the time we are 14, our posture and other events have given rise to bad backs.    This may be as a result of low self esteem, height and stooping, flat chestedness as a teen etc etc.   When we find yoga or running later in life, the damage has already been done so it’s really important to look after your backs as early as possible to right those early wrongs in our spine.   Inspiring hey 👋

Maria posts about taking an hour a day for ourselves, whether it be spent taking a bath, having a stroll, going for a swim, reading, each day.  Yes, not every month or every six months when you’re at breaking point, but each day!

Now I know what you’re thinking, how do I have time for that?  But honestly, my old CBT counsellor told me to do this for my ongoing well being.  We are allowed to take time out each day for self care.  Give yourself that, allow yourself to have this time each day to let the body’s sympathetic nervous system recover fully, our fight or flight internal system to recover from overload of adrenaline, particularly if you suffer badly from anxiety or depression but all of us should be practising this to keep healthy and to top up our cups each day!

How can each of you take time each day for yourselves?  Start doing it today.

And find a comfortable well fitting baby carrier to help with your back pain and stress! 😍

Imposter Syndrome


People talk about having imposter syndrome in their businesses but sometimes, I feel I have this in my personal home life.

I adore being a mother of two healthy happy children, a wife to a kind man, living in a wonderful village and town in Norfolk with beautiful friends.  

However, I am not just a wife, mother, nurse maid, cleaner, cook, organiser of children’s activities, diplomat etc.  I used to be just me.  Not someone who has to justify everything I do.

I used to be an adventurous, thrill seeking, lone traveller, social butterfly who had a great job in Financial PR, who went on the most amazing holidays and world travels, volunteered with aids orphans in Africa and Elephants in Sri Lanka.  I went around Cuba on my own, at times wondering what the hell I had done!  I travelled through the Amazon, swimming with Pink Dolphins and Caiman, eating roasted Piranha for supper after catching them, whilst they tried to bite my shins in a boat.  I camped out in a cow shed in -2 degrees in the Pantanal, for fun!


Recently my partner asked me to text him to let him know I was ok.  I thought, well, you know, I’ve walked through the streets of Havana alone at 3am so I think I should be safe in Norfolk. 

We are expected to take on a role in life when children come along, but I find myself battling to be me, just once in a while.  Every now and again.  Don’t hold me down or try to control.  Let me out of here… 

International Babywearing Week 2018

October is when we wonder at leaves turning yellow and red,

Picking the rose hips for syrup and putting ladybirds to bed.


But it’s also a time for International Babywearing Week,

When Consultants and Educators come out to speak,

Of what Babywearing has done for them and their loved ones,

And so I shall add my thoughts without hopeful comeuppance!

Babywearing helped me to walk my daughter in the snow,


It got me out to the park to socialise, recover and grow,

Babywearing also helped our bonding after a difficult birth time,

Then was absolutely crucial when my son refused to be put down!


Babywearing helped with postpartum depression,

Helping my son to communicate with me when I didn’t necessarily want some.

It helped to settle and sooth him, to continue with 4th trimester ‘clinging’,

And also with reflux and colick when nothing else was working!

Babywearing helped my son’s head in fixing the flatness

From only lying on one side and one side breastfeeding madness.

It helped my husband Neil bond with our fractious new boy,


It has been great for visiting vast castles and walking through sand dunes,

For Halloween treks with other nosey babies and joining in with tunes.



Babywearing has brought me a business, a reason to help others,

Its helped bring gorgeous new friends and a wider community,

Full of love and of kindness and of wanting to raise awareness and unity.

Babywearing plays an important role in attachment in my family and in a society

Where we must try and turnaround the levels of depression, self harm and anxiety.

But hopefully it has introduced those who may be reading

To try for yourself the evolutionary normal behaviour that is babywearing.

Coming out the other side of PND

I’m writing from a plane on the way to our first child free short break in the sun since Genevieve came along six years ago.

We’re on our anniversary trip, a secret treat that I’ve managed to keep from my husband Neil.  

To be frank, we post so many lovely posts of sunshine and beach days, crabbing and den building with the children.  Water fights and holiday bliss but, we really need this break!  The past year has been completely and utterly rubbish for us as a couple.  And it’s so important that we spend some quality time together, although my hubby may disagree.

Life with children is so very hard.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids to the moon and back many times over.  But summer holidays after the year we’ve had, are absolutely shattering!  There is just no let up.  I do not know how single parents do it!  Work and childcare?  

Why is it hard?  Well, I came out of a pretty serious depressive stage in about April, sorry, was coming out.  Then we suddenly decided to have major building work, which has taken over four months of living out of our garden room. And this after a number of relatives were seriously ill too and the impact that had on my husband as well a looming redundancy. 

I am feeling like a totally different person to the one that blogged in October/November of 2017 and I have lots of people to thank for that.  Not least of all Neil, who put up with a lot.

Depression has lifted and we have got through an extremely difficult time, but we have to be honest with ourselves.  Be thankful for every moment we have with our loved ones, children and close friends.  

Life is really not all a bed of roses but with help and good support, it gets better.  Talk to people around you when you are suffering.  People do want to help.  Talk to doctors and community connectors.  Talk to anyone who will listen and be kind to yourself.  Give yourself a break every day.  Go out for a walk.  Treat yourself to a spa.  Write down your daily achievements, no matter how small.  Just getting out of bed some days may be hard.  You are doing a bloody great job!  5AE2F555-43BE-400C-AF7E-0E4E19EF37C9.jpeg

Help! My baby has Reflux and Colic!

Before Albert was born I kind of thought that second time around breastfeeding a baby would be easy, or at least easier than the first!  This time around there was no need for nipple shields to coax him on, no need for all day and all night pumping for topping up and I didn’t have to heat up bottles of formula last thing at night to get him to sleep

However, Albert just cried and cried, poor little mite.  He just seemed in pain all he time.  I couldn’t work out what was going on.  He fed continually night and day, hourly until about the age of 6 months.  He refused to feed from my right boob as well, meaning that it became so painful and I had to self pump the milk continually.   So, I managed to becoming a pro at the Rugby hold under my right armpit, just to tempt him.

I remember we went away on holiday and stayed in a lovely place near Cromer.  But Albert just cried and cried and cried and I carried on trying to feed and feed and feed, particularly in the evening. Evening after evening.  We got no rest that holiday, it was absolutely exhausting.  Everyone kept on saying that it was a phase, but this phase just never stopped.  I really really empathise with anyone going through this with their baby. It is the most difficult thing to cope with because whatever you do, your baby just cries and cries and is sick and cries and cries some more.   As a mother, you just want to make your baby happy and you just don’t seem able to. You feel completely useless and helpless.

We tried everything, Gaviscon, Colif, Infracol, Prune Juice, Gripe Water. Gaviscon in particular was useless and made him totally constipated, which in turn led to other problems and more crying.

We also were advised to raise the head end of his cot up by about 30 or 40 degrees and to hold him upright after feeds as much as possible.  Albert didn’t like lying down in a buggy or pram one little bit, bless him.  He just wanted to be on me and carried all the time.   This is when I started to use an old Kari-Me sling and really couldn’t do without it from a reflux point of view.  I had to learn how to use it just to keep my sanity.  It was a godsend.

Then someone I dance with told me that her sister’s child had really bad reflux and colic and she said that although it sounded a bit hippyish, I should try giving Slippery Elm Bark Powder a go.   It was to be made in a hot drink form with a little sugar, which apparently was used with infirm people or people who had very poorly tummies.   I believe that it was used centuries ago in America.  Anyway, after much laughter from friends and family, I tried it and suddenly, our house was calm again.  I drank a lot of it!  It was kind of like a thick Horlicks drink, which I really got a taste for!  I drank it night and day.  I don’t know if it was this or his age, but we never looked back!    It was supposed to chunk all your food together enabling it to pass through the gut more easily as well as a lining the tummy.

A doctor friend at the time told me to go to my doctor and to ask for Losec, which they didn’t really like giving out because of cost.  I was about to try this and then I found Slipper Elm Bark.

It is really so hard having a baby with reflux or colic but please do not give up.  It will get better but if you don’t want to try my remedy, then pester your doctor for the proper remedy to make your baby better and don’t give up.