Amanda Cole, Senior Trusts and Foundations Officer, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute
Introducing: Amanda Cole
20 May 2022
Please note: this blog discusses experiences of miscarriage and baby loss, which some people may find upsetting.
In order for meaningful human connection to happen, you have to allow yourself to be seen, I mean really seen. When you get clear on what matters to you, you make decisions that align with your identity and values. You build a life that brings meaning and joy and in doing so you inspire others in your orbit to do the same.
New role, new start
I’m writing this in my first week at Money and Mental Health and while the first few days were wild with newbie nerves, I quickly came to recognise that the team around me instinctively understood how I felt. They responded with sincere, warm and generous support.
I’ve worked in the charity sector for more than ten years and I have learnt so much. Over the years, I’ve met so many impressive people: neuroscientists working tirelessly to shed light on the genesis of brain diseases, captains of industry, politicians, professors and charity volunteers who always impressed me the most, dedicated people, giving their time and skills freely, week after week.
Given the significant proportion of our lives that we spend at work, knowing that the time I spend has and will continue to make a difference to others is both humbling and hugely rewarding. In my new role, I look forward to helping sustain the important and effective work of the team at Money and Mental Health.
Before my career in charities, I worked for many years in broadcast media, first as a runner, then promoted to researcher, up the ladder again to associate producer to finally achieving producer/director status. A position where you call all the shots and take all the responsibility.
Like politics, a career in broadcast media is not for the faint hearted. You are only as good as your last film or report. Competition is sky high and there is always someone keen to replace you. It’s a high octane world and I’m certain the stress and very long hours rendered me infertile for many years. I just couldn’t conceive and I became desperate to be a mum.
In 1996, I fell pregnant with a baby girl who I named Peony. Cruelly, I lost her in a traumatic late miscarriage at just 24 weeks. I nearly died from the haemorrhage and at the time, I wished I had. The hospital did what they could to keep my little girl alive, but it was not to be. I was utterly bereft and distraught.
With the support of my family and friends, great counselling – and a very understanding boss – I began to recover. I returned to work and was given an assignment to interview the good people of Oklahoma, two years after the shocking bombing that took place in April 1995.
The tales I heard about the bombing were so distressing, but I was well enough by then to be able to empathise deeply with their losses and the utter devastation it had brought to their lives. I will never forget the profound conversations I had with the families of victims of that bombing. It made for an illuminating study on loss and recovery.
It was on that same trip to Oklahoma that I met a woman who had just adopted a baby. She told me how the baby’s birth mother had chosen her. I was intrigued. When back in the UK, I began contacting adoption agencies in the US. Instinctively, I knew in my heart that this was now my only path to motherhood.
Two years later, I flew to Florida to be at the birth of my first daughter, my first little bundle. I was overjoyed. Three years later, I went through the same 18 month process and brought home my second tiny baby girl. I felt complete.
So why am I sharing all of this in my first few weeks of this exciting new job? Because it’s only through talking about our experiences, both good and traumatic, that we can help others going through the same thing.
At Money and Mental Health we ask people to share their experiences of mental health problems and money issues to inform our research, and help us improve life for those who might follow in a similar path. It seemed only fair that I start by sharing something of the challenges that I’ve faced, that have brought me here.
So here I am today, the excruciatingly proud mother of two gorgeous adult daughters. Both doing well and most importantly doing what makes them happy in life.
And I’ve got a new job, a new challenge. I’m determined to be effective. To help raise the funds needed to support the magnificent work of the Money and Mental Health team to make more effective and essential in-roads into severing the link between financial difficulty and mental health problems.