Beating Post Natal Depression With A Great Big Pole

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Beating Post Natal Depression With A Great Big Pole

I started pole originally in May 2010 when my daughter was coming up for 9 months old; I was suffering horribly with Post Natal Depression and had been signed off work for some time. It is impossible to explain the horrid, dark vacuum of depression so I am not going to attempt it; if you have been there then no explanation is needed, if you haven’t then none will suffice. After repeated trips to the doctor and a course of counselling the only option left open to me was medication, which I refused point blank. Now, I have no objections to anti-depressants in general and I have seen them do wonderful things for people but I felt very strongly they would be a mistake for me. My reasons were firstly, I had epilepsy as a teenager and anti-depressants carry a small seizure risk with them, secondly I really felt that my problems were not due to a chemical imbalance in my brain but because of unease with my life. So I made a decision, I would radically change my diet and start to exercise, I would beat this thing to death with a healthy lifestyle and see how it liked it.

I chose pole dance for no other reason than I thought it would be fun – I dislike the dullness of gyms and fear the lycra-clad tan bunnies that often frequent them – and a friend mentioned pole dance classes so I thought why not? You get to wear heels, dance round and have a laugh… easy exercise!

Wrong! I was not prepared for the intense physical nature of my first lesson, the instructor, Cheryl, kicked my flabby, unfit butt from here to Venus. I could not drive for two days afterwards and needed assistance dressing. I hurt lots. I was bruised. I was hooked.

I started going fortnightly for private lessons with two friends and then quickly moved to weekly lessons and bought my own home pole by May. The qualities that make pole spectacularly addictive are hard to quantify but put most simply it is incredibly empowering. Yes it has its roots in the strip clubs and yes it raises eyebrows when you mention you pole dance but this is some of the attraction for me. The dancing side of it makes you feel strong, sexy, powerful and graceful, the fitness and trick aspect tones your body and builds strength like no gym workout you will ever do. It is truly marvellous.

Pole gave me back something I lost when I had my second child: myself. After having Charlotte, I had no idea who I was any more. Pre-pregnancy I had been defined by my career; post-maternity leave I had stepped down from my management role and gone part time. Was I a mother or a career woman? Could I have both? What did I want? The renewed confidence I felt in myself as a result of pole gave me the strength to see that after seven years it was time to move on from the company that I worked in and do something I really loved; I decided to go back to study. I knew my own mind again.

Another effect, unsurprisingly, of swinging round a pole like a chimp every evening combined with a healthy diet was I had dropped three dress sizes. I actually felt like a woman again, I mean, how can you not in six-inch platform stilettos and hot-pants? I also met some wonderful women, many of whom had come to pole for similar reasons to me. I was getting out, having a life, and enjoying myself. P.N.D.’s arse was well and truly kicked.

Unfortunately, after the birth of my third child in April 2012 I began to suffer with Post Natal Depression again. My life had undergone some drastic changes during the pregnancy (which hadn’t been an easy one) and I was now separated from my husband and faced raising three children alone. Things were bleak and these were some of the darkest days of my life to be honest. I was eager to get back on my pole and regain some of the ‘me’ that I felt was missing again so as soon as I had the okay from the doctor at six weeks post-partum I jumped back on. Well, I say jumped… it was more of a sad little flop! Obviously all my upper body strength had disappeared after eight months of no poling (I wasn’t allowed to carry on during the pregnancy for medical reasons) and I knew I had a hard but massively rewarding time ahead learning everything again.

I suppose I must have still had some muscle memory as my strength returned far quicker than it had arrived the first time I had learnt pole and after about three months I was approaching the level I was before. The satisfaction of seeing my body gain in strength again was wonderful and I had also lost nearly all of my baby weight. The ability to lose myself in pole and not be a Mummy for a short time and just be a woman was just such a release. Before I knew it my mood was lifting, little by little, week by week until finally in January 2013 I was discharged from the Community Psychiatric Nurse who was caring for me. Pole had worked its magic again. I am not saying pole is a cure for depression on its own of course, I had medical support and this time also took a low dose of medication. I truly believe though that the combination of exercise and empowerment it offers is a panacea like no other.

I do get some grief (from both men and women) about pole, my university lecturer said “call yourself a feminist?” and I told him to watch the video of my pole journey on YouTube and tell me that it isn’t empowering. I once also watched some Dads at an adventure playground try and fail to climb some high poles and when I did it with ease they laughed and said “We know what you do at night!” It makes me laugh, really; I drive round with a ‘Pole Dancer on Board” sign in my car next to the sign “3 Children on Board” and don’t give a monkeys. Why should I? I am proud of pole and what it has done for me and many other women I know. It helped turn me from someone who hated themselves to someone who posed nude in a photo studio, performed pole dance in public, set up their own business and finished their first year at university one percent short of a First.

What a difference a pole makes.

– Pole dancing mother of three and survivor of depression, Carly xx

Category: Discussion

About Carly-Emma White

Mummy of 3 & Passionate Pole Dancer of 3 years (with a pregnancy in the middle!)... Post Natal Depression x2 survivor, geeky hippy, & lover of life, pole, people & cake (pole fuel)

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6 Comments to “Beating Post Natal Depression With A Great Big Pole”

  1. Kelly says:

    I have had postnatal depression and have also had depression. The most recent one also had me signed off work so I to turned to pole as a form of exercise to help me. The best thing I ever did I love pole and don’t care what anyone thinks about it. I am proud to be a pole dancer I also do Arial hoop to help strengthen my arms. I do not know what I would do with out my pole and hoop family. The support is awesome if I am having a bad day they listen to me and then encourage me to vent on the pole and god do I feel better. Carly I understand how you have felt and what you have been through and am so happy for you that you have succeeded dispite all you have had to deal with congratulations. Here’s to your success with your business and many more happy hours off pole. 😉

    • Carly-Emma says:

      Aw thanks Kelly, I am really glad you enjoyed the blog. I totally agree with what you say about the poling community and venting on the pole as well. I find a good pole session can totally change my mood sometimes! Well done for fighting depression and winning and good luck with hoop, I really want to try it 🙂

  2. Willow says:

    Thank you for sharing Carly-Emma. You are inspiring. While no-one can understand fully what you have been through, your story rings true with me. I too have battled severe depression, and last year after a suicide attempt pole dancing (as well as unconditional love from my family and close friends) saved my life. Keep dancing gorgeous! <3

  3. Loubelle says:

    I wish someone had told me about the power of exercise when I began my battle with pnd. I just did what the physiatrist said and took the pills. I’m now having huge seizures due to the anti-ds and am slowly being weaned off them. They may as well of got me addicted to crack. It is such a battle. I am glad you found something to get you through it and shall follow your story for inspiration x

  4. fanny says:

    Hello, i’m a mother of 5 children. I started pole after my last pregnancy ( twins!) and pole dance save me…Can I make a translation in french of your testimony with a backline on your website?
    Thanks so much you’re telling what i feel with pole dance after child

  5. […] un article que j’ai lu sur Pole freak community et que j’ai traduit parce qu’il me parle. Je n’ai pas souffert de dépression […]

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