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Zoe Mawkes: A Marathon of Mind and Spirit for Perinatal Mental Health

In the diverse and beautiful tapestry that is our Gidget community, every person carries a unique story of struggle and triumph. Today, we spotlight Zoe Mawkes, our Community Fundraiser and an inspiring mother, whose journey with perinatal depression and anxiety (PNDA) has become a beacon of hope, a rallying call and now a fundraiser to raise essential funds to support the vital work of Gidget Foundation Australia in caring for countless new parents affected by PNDA. 

Like many others, Zoe's journey into motherhood was a plunge into the unknown. The birth of her son, Saxon, on April 17, 2023, marked the start of what should have been a joy-filled new chapter. From the surreal moment in the operating theatre to the tearful first bond with her son, Zoe’s experiences reflected the complex emotions many new parents face. But after the initial excitement, a shadow lurked — one that despite her robust physical health and vibrant spirit, caught her unprepared: postnatal depression and anxiety (PNDA).

The statistics are stark but still so often unnoticed: about 1 in 5 new mothers and 1 in 10 new fathers experience PNDA, that’s almost 100,000 Australians affected each year.

For Zoe, the devastating impact of PNDA surfaced three months postpartum: unexplained tears and a sense of detachment from previously enjoyable activities, such as being around friends and training at the gym. A visit to her doctor led to a diagnosis of PNDA and uncovered the real reason for her struggle — a hormonal imbalance from pregnancy that could have been dismissed as post-birth moodiness.

The turning point for Zoe was recognising that "it's okay not to be okay." Though the realisation didn’t come overnight but gradually, nurtured through multiple sessions with a Postpartum Psychologist. It was also during one of these sessions that Zoe set herself the goal to run a marathon. For Zoe, the marathon is more than a physical or mental challenge, it’s also an opportunity to lift the curtain around PNDA and inspire other parents to openly share about their struggles.

As she prepares to run the Gold Coast Marathon in July, Zoe runs not just for herself, but every other parent who has struggled in silence. Through her candid sharing on social media and her marathon journey, she invites others to seek help, to talk, and realise they do not need to face parenthood alone.

Join us in following Zoe’s inspiring journey on her Instagram @marathonmummazo/, open the dialogue on perinatal mental health and support her fundraiser: https://fundraise.gidgetfoundation.org.au/fundraisers/zoemawkes

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Media Contact

Media professionals should contact Gidget Foundation media@gidgetfoundation.org.au