After suffering twice with post-natal depression, Josie Smyth wanted to share her personal story of her struggles and recovery. She started Smiling after PND to share her experiences and to encourage other women to seek the help and support they need. She is passionate about women’s mental health and creates community connections through her workshops, to ensure women are supported through these difficult times.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
When I recovered from postnatal depression, I learnt that through sharing my story, I could help break down shame and stigma, encourage women to seek help and educate others that mental illness is treatable, and recovery is possible. I also found that in the midst of my illness, family and friends were always making me a cup of tea and I will never forget the helpful conversations we had over a cuppa.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
In the beginning, I wrote my story as part of my role as a Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) volunteer. I use my story as a community educator. Once I had crafted my story, I decided to create a blog and called it Smiling after PND so that I could share my experience of postnatal depression far and wide. More recently, I collaborated with Melbourne tea house Impala and Peacock to create a tea line to evoke conversations around postnatal depression.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
The biggest breakthrough for me was having my story featured in the media. Since having my story out there, it has been heartwarming when parents come up to me and say that my story encouraged them to seek help and that it made them feel less alone. More recently, it has been hearing that organisations that I have presented to have implemented strategies to assist new parents who may be struggling with their mental health. I am also delighted when I see people having conversations whilst drinking my tea. I feel that I am starting to make an impact on statistics.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
I don’t think balancing being a parent and work is ever easy. It is a juggling act. Particularly if you work from home. I have to stop myself from slipping into the study to answer an email when my children are home because one email can easily lead to two and three. However, I find that when my work and family life is balanced, I am a better parent and feel less burnt out. Planning has become my best friend.
On a Sunday night, I will reflect on the week that was and see if I can add more or do less in the following week, based on the week before. I also like to maximise the time I have available for work – as children get sick or life happens unexpectedly. I don’t add things in my diary at the last minute as it just creates panic about not being able to make it. If I start to feel like I am not putting 100% in – whether that is work or family – I will step back and re-focus my attention.