Sydney mother to swim the English Channel to raise support for families struggling with perinatal anxiety

July 26, 2017 by J-Wire News Service
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A Sydney doctor is preparing to swim the English Channel next month to raise funds for  PANDA – Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia.

Rachelle Silver works as a GP in Sydney. In her work she regularly diagnoses and treats perinatal anxiety and depression in expecting and new parents, so she is fully aware of the signs and symptoms of the illness, as well as how it can impact on families.

Rachelle Silver

But having an understanding of a particular illness isn’t enough to stop you developing it, as Rachelle found after the birth of her third child, Samara. Several weeks after Samara’s birth Rachelle was hauling herself out of bed after long sleepless nights and dreading the day ahead. It was very different from how she’d felt with her first two children.

“No more warm fuzzy feelings,” she says. “Even the most menial and basic tasks seemed too much effort. And I cried while feeding and settling Samara during the night.”

Six weeks after Samara’s birth Rachelle took her to her GP for her immunisation. They were about to leave when the GP asked Rachelle how she was doing.

“I was taken aback – and burst into tears,” says Rachelle. After sitting her back down and discussing her situation, her GP quickly diagnosed her with postnatal depression.  She prescribed medication, which after a few week started to help Rachelle feel better able to tackle each day and enjoy her family.

Next month, former Moriah College student Rachelle Silver is aiming to raise funds by swimming the English Channel and has launched a campaign to use the swim to raise funds for PANDA – Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia, which supports expecting and new parents struggling with perinatal anxiety and depression.

Rachelle’s mum invited her to Byron Bay, where she took her first steps on what would be a remarkable journey. Rachelle’s mum insisted that she complete the 1.5 km ocean swim in the Byron Bay Triathlon as part of their family team.

“I was a strong swimmer at school and had participated in a couple of ocean swims many years before but since having three kids I’d hardly touched the water,” she says. “That swim was gruelling but it was the catalyst for me to start something for myself.”

Rachelle joined a lunchtime swim squad near her home in Rose Bay and started chatting to some of the members who specialised in ocean swims and ultra-marathon swims.

“A couple of months into my lunchtime squad sessions I was still trailing at the back of the slow lane but I realised I loved swimming again and I needed a challenge, a new identity apart from wife, mother and doctor. Something I could work towards, push myself, learn new limits (or not), something that was my own.”

Rachelle set her sights on the English Channel. Now, three years later, she’s nearly there, aiming to do the swim in August. And she has launched a campaign to use the swim to raise funds for PANDA – Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia, which supports expecting and new parents struggling with perinatal anxiety and depression.

Rachelle originally set herself a target of $10,000, which she has already reached. As a GP working on the frontline of recognising and treating patients with perinatal anxiety and depression, she knows what a common and serious illness it is. She is also someone who has lived with the illness, and experienced firsthand how it can have a devastating impact on families. So Rachelle has doubled her fundraising target, and is encouraging the community to dig deep and help get her over the line to $20,000.

“I’m so grateful to all those who have been amazingly generous in donating so far,” she says. “I am completely overwhelmed by the response and so excited about what this could mean for PANDA in achieving their goal of helping and educating families who are going through such challenging times. I’m sure we can get to $20,000!”

Up to now Rachelle’s longest swim has been 24km and she has completed the 20km Rottnest swim near Perth twice.. She told J-Wire: “The English Channel distance is 34km long in very cold water but due to tides we swim 40-50km.”

Rachelle will familiar company along the swim. Husband Dan and mother Suzie will be on board the accompanying boat.

The link to Rachelle’s fundraising page can be found here:

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