When she was suffering from postnatal depression, Bridgend’s Marianne McClelland felt she couldn’t go on...until she went to Pole Infinity
For many women, the birth of their first child is a time of joy and happiness. But, for Derry mother Marianne McClelland, it was the beginning of an extremely challenging chapter that saw her spiral into crushing postnatal depression, attempt to take her own life and then find her way back to health through pole dancing.
Twenty-two-year-old Marianne’s journey is not your run-of-the-mill one. The Bridgend woman says that pole dancing essentially saved her life. Through the work she has done at the Pole Infinity Studio on Derry’s Buncrana Road she has found herself back to contentment, enjoying life with her partner and her baby daughter, Sarah, now a year old.
For Marianne, a traumatic birth which left her teetering on the brink of life, propelled her into a deep post-natal depression that she says almost consumed her.
“I had the worst pregnancy ever,” she says. “Everything kept going wrong. I had bleeds. The labour lasted 24-hours. I was induced and it didn’t work well. My baby girl was turned the wrong way. I had to be taken into theatre They tried forceps twice and it didn’t work then I had to have a Caesarean. Sarah was born and she wasn’t well and then I haemorrhaged, lost a lot of blood and almost died. I had to have an emergency blood transfusion. Sarah was in Neo-Natal Intensive Care for a week and because I was so sick I didn’t really get to see her. It was a very, very traumatic experience.”
But for Marianne, the worst was yet to come. Still recovering from the physical and mental impact a traumatic birth had on her, she struggled to cope.
“I was traumatised,” she says. “I don’t remember all of it. I would get flashbacks in the weeks following the birth of what happened and I think that is what started scaring me. I had got an infection on the Caesarean wound and I couldn’t move, I couldn’t lift my baby daughter because I was in so much pain. My partner had to do everything. I started to feel like a failure. As a woman you are supposed to be able to give birth yourself but I couldn’t physically do that. I started to ask myself why I couldn’t do it. It snowballed over on me.”
The negative feelings kept washing over the new mother until they intensified in a terrifying way.
“For three moths I felt like this,” she says. “Then it started intensifying. I told my Mum that I thought that there was something wrong with me, because I was getting these thoughts that I didn’t want. Thoughts about suicide. I felt like these thoughts were controlling me, almost. But because I was always happy and I never had depression, she thought it might be me just having a bad day that I’d be alright. I suppose she didn’t really want to believe it.
“It wasn’t until there was one night where I freaked out completely and scared my partner. I was screaming and begging for God to take me. It was scary. You are getting these thoughts about suicide and you can’t control them. It’s like you are this small percentage but that these thoughts are more powerful than you. But at the back of my mind I knew that I didn’t want to die, but this was so controlling, it was making me do things that I didn’t want to do. I tried to overdose, I tried self harm and I tried numerous times to go to the bridge. I almost made it there one night but my partner always got me, always got to me on time.”
Marianne’s Mum, desperate to help her daughter, contacted Karen Baldwin, a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist from Derry. She knew Karen ran a ‘recovery programme’ which incorporated CBT as well as pole dancing and it had phenomenal results in the past
“My Mum asked Karen to speak to me,” she says. “She talked to me about what was going on. She realised that I needed a lot of help. She got it all organised. I went to the CBT sessions for three weeks before she introduced me to the pole studio at Pole Infinity. I remember going to a class for the first time. I was still feeling really bad, I didn’t really want to go. My Mum, who thought it would be good for me, came with me for support and she did it too. But I was so shy, and I was still very sick. I stood there for a while with my arms folded, not wanting to do anything and I didn’t talk to anyone or even look anyone in the eye.
“Karen showed me how to do a spin on the pole and I did it. It was like fireworks went off in my head. I thought that this is good. It went from there, I absolutely loved it and have been going now for a year.”
Marianne says that pole dancing, and her hero Karen Baldwin, saved her.
“There is no doubt about it, pole dancing saved my life. It kept me busy and stopped me focusing on the negative thoughts. I bought a pole for my house My partner built it up for me. When I got negative thoughts I would change the whole focus, start doing moves, distract myself on the pole.
“I have gone from being suicidal to really enjoying pole. I am proud of myself about how far I’ve come. I have noticed myself being more content with my life. I actually feel happy, within myself, for the first time in a long time. I actually love who I’ve become because I’m more confident. Even before the depression, I would have been quite shy and kept myself to myself. But now I feel like I have blossomed into another person and I just love it.”
Marianne now helps Karen and the other girls who come to the pole studio for the recovery programme to put the pieces of their lives back together.
“I would recommend any lady who is struggling to come and try pole,” she says. “The girls I know who have done it say that as soon as they walk into that studio all their worries disappear. You focus on what you have to do. It is a brilliant release.”
Marianne says she scares herself thinking of where she might be if she hadn’t found her ‘guardian angel’ Karen and her passion for pole.
“From time to time I sit and think, I freak myself out thinking of where I might be if I hadn’t met Karen and found pole,” she says. “I know that I wouldn’t be here. It does scare me, especially when I look at my little girl and think that I could have missed out on so much in her life. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
“I just love Karen. She is my guardian angel, she is my hero. I look up to her so much. It’s so hard to put into words what she means to me. She is an angel on earth and she saved my life.”
A year on in her journey with pole, Marianne says she is more contented and settled in life and is enjoying watching her baby daughter Sarah grow up.
For more information on the recovery programme log on to Pole Infinity Facebook page @PoleInfinityDerry
City of Derry rugby player Carla Hamilton has run 100 miles in 30 days to raise money for the Cancer Fund for Children
Hair & Beauty
Stunning summertime hair styles from Laura McGinley Hairdressing