PYB Health Hero Series: Overcoming Postnatal Depression Through Exercise

PYB Health Hero Series: Overcoming Postnatal Depression Through Exercise

Bridgend is a great community and we want to share local stories about our ‘PYB Health Heroes’. Those who have made great achievements when it comes to their own health and wellbeing. And those, who encourage others to join in and make a difference to their own lives too.

In this edition of our PYB Health Heros we hear from the amazing Rhiannon, a local lady who gained 4 stone during pregnancy and was then struck down with postnatal depression. Rhiannon’s inspirational story describes how she overcame this through sheer determination and exercise, with some big health challenges along the way. The end result is a happier and healthier Rhiannon, who has completed an Ironman and the 2019 London Marathon!

Here is Rhiannon’s story…

“In 2012 I had my son, during pregnancy I gained 4 stone. I was then diagnosed with postnatal depression around 18 months later. It was a tough time.

In 2015 I was at my heaviest and knew something had to change. Physically and mentally I was not in a good place. My brother ran the Cardiff Half marathon so I agreed to attend the zero to hero group of Cwm Ogwr now Ogmore Phoenix running club. I was determined to make the changes I needed to lead a happier and healthier life and it started here.

Just 4 short weeks later I did my first park run 5k at Porthcawl – I immediately loved it. Then, just 16 weeks later I did my first half marathon. That’s where it all began, in the next year I went on to my first marathon in Waterford Ireland. Then a few months later I dipped my toe into triathlon and loved it. It all happened so quickly. 

In 2017 I completed my first sprint triathlon. By 2018 I had lost 3 stone and was now smashing my personal best. Until April, when things changed.

Intensive Care

The warming signs were there but as runners do, I was in denial and continued to push until I found myself in Intensive Care with flu, pneumonia and sepsis. This was just 3 weeks before I was supposed to run the London marathon. I was totally devastated.

I had no choice but to defer London for a year. Once I came out of hospital it was a crazy few months trying to regain some sort of fitness. I got back into the pool which is my stress relief place as I really do feel free and calm in the water. It helped slowly build my fitness back up.

In September, just 6 months after coming out of hospital I took on a huge challenge in the form of the Weymouth Ironman 70.3. 

This is a huge physical challenge and I crossed the finish line, but my body wasn’t ready and I became ill for 3 weeks. After 5 weeks of resting I took on Snowdonia Marathon, finishing it over an hour faster than my first marathon in Ireland. Again, my body took a tumble and it took a long time for me to recover from the race.

London 2019 was the next target but trying to stay well whilst training and still recovering wasn’t easy. It really put the pressure on.

After a total rollercoaster 5 months of training I got to the start line and finally ran The London Marathon. I was so pleased that I did it! 

My Journey

My journey hasn’t been plain sailing but I’ve learnt so much about myself along the way. I’m now stronger and fitter than I have ever been in my life, and post-natal depression is a thing of the past. Those first days and months after I had my son were difficult and isolating, but for me exercise has given me the focus I needed to overcome PND. 

From a health perspective, my lungs are almost back to normal, the traits of post sepsis are still there every now and again but in just over a year of fighting for my life, I’m now back stronger than ever before.

If anyone is out there struggling with postnatal depression, I would urge you to talk to your GP and find a way to focus on your own health and wellbeing.”

Need help?

If you feel you may be suffering from postnatal depression, please book an appointment to see your GP who can help advise on the right course of action for you individually.