Foothold

I’ve the last year I have really struggled with my mental health. Having a mental health illness like depression is hard work. It’s a silent illness and only those who have had it can really and truly understand how difficult it is.

When I became pregnant with Emma, I was on a high. I’d been telling The Husband that I wanted to have a baby for about 2 years. Eventually he agreed and well, 4 months later the blue lines appeared, well it was a digital “pregnant” that appeared, but you get the picture. A positive pregnancy test!

We made a doctors appointment, got a referral to the community midwives and away we went on our new adventure.
I remember the exact day I stopped taking my antidepressants. It was July 18th 2012. Having a baby on the way made me fiercely determined to beat my depression in submission and lock it away. (Note : depression never really goes away, it’s always creeping around trying to get a foothold back into your mind)

There were days that I struggled and days that I didn’t. I think my protectiveness over my unborn baby helped that.

Because of my medical history I had to be reviewed and my pregnancy managed by a team of consultant obstetricians AND the community mental health team. Having a history of depression means that I am more likely to relapse into a depressive episode during or after the pregnancy. This pushed me to fight even harder. I did not want to rely on tablets and monthly doctor visits when I had a baby to look after.

I don’t want my child to grow up with a mother that was constantly pill-popping or spending days in bed.

Emma is my world, my antidepressant. She is one of my sole reasons for waving the flaming torches at the blackness of depression, warning it away. The Husband is the other. The two most important people in my life.

I am struggling today. I struggled yesterday. I have Bells Palsy. The right side of my face is paralysed. I feel awful and I look awful, then I feel depression gleefully clapping its hands and looking for a way in.

It’s becoming harder.

This morning one of my twitter friends said to me “you’re allowed to be pissed”

She is right. I am allowed to be pissed.

Since Emma’s birth it has been hard. Even just before it. I caught a virus and my sciatica was so bad that I had to start my maternity leave 4 weeks earlier than I wanted. We were hospitalised, we had breastfeeding issues, I had suspected appendicitis and now this.

However I am not pissed. I am upset and disappointed.

Bells Palsy is temporary. Looking at myself in the mirror is fine if I have straight face, it’s barely noticeable. However the moment I make any facial movement only the left side reacts and I look freakish.

I can’t smile.
When I talk for a short period of time I begin to sound slurred. I can’t pronounce certain words. I sound like a drunk.
It’s very hard to eat and drink.
I have to express my breast milk and throw it away. The person who coined the phrase “there’s no point crying over spilt milk” has clearly beer had to throw away their own breast milk!

The actual palsy isn’t an issue. I know it will resolve over the next few months. I’m hoping it will resolve without any complications.

The psychological factor IS an issue.

I cry because I cannot smile at Emma. She however finds my lopsided smiles funny and when I try to smile at her she responds with gummy grins. They make my day but they also make me sad. It is a horrible feeling not being able to fully smile at your new baby.

I cry because I’m disappointed in myself. I feel like a freak and I look like one. The lady with the freakish face. I cannot bear to leave the house because I am worried that people will stare at me. Having been someone who is never bothered by what a person looks like and has never bothered about how I look (within reason of course) I am now painfully aware of my hypocrisy. How noticeable my shallowness is, that I am more concerned about how I look to others when really I shouldn’t be. I am now questioning myself.

I cry because the medication I have to take for the next 10 days means I have to express my breast milk and throw it away. This is the 4th time I’ve had issues with breastfeeding. I am determined to do it, but at what cost? Where do I draw the line?

I am afraid that depression is sat at my feet trying to claw it’s way up my legs.

Thankfully The Husband, being one on my beacons helps me stave off depression.

I am ever thankful for him and my daughter.

20130525-144841.jpg

Mental Health & Pregnancy

Tomorrow morning, I get to talk to a psychiatrist. I’ve known about this appointment for about a month now, and for the last month I’ve tried very hard to keep the appointment at the back of my mind.
Until today, because after today is tomorrow and well, tomorrow I get to talk to a psychiatrist.
As you can probably tell, I’m absolutely thrilled by this.

All through pregnancy, your body changes, your hormone levels fluctuate and on some days you quite simply become a raging bitch, on others you become a pity party for one at Snotfest, which is often headlined by Personal Demons and Professor Sadness.

I’ve posted previously about my depressive episodes and even recently about trying to understand what are pregnancy hormones and what are brain chemical imbalances, because they seem to blend so seamlessly and I can’t be sure which is which.

So tomorrow I get to see a shrink, to talk about past episodes of depression and current worries, anxieties and the fact that I’m more likely to get prenatal depression AND postnatal depression.

The fact that I still can’t talk about the incident that triggered my last depressive episode without some sort of emotional freak out, means that I’m not looking forward to my hour long session tomorrow morning.

Lucky me, Lucky Psychiatrist.

Sometimes it’s just hard.

Being pregnant is hard.

You’re full of hormones, all of your emotions are multiplied, you’re more sensitive than normal (which is a nightmare if you’re already a sensitive person), you cry at pretty much anything and not just a trickle of tears but a full blown snot fest of sobbing.

Every single pregnancy is different, so I’ve been told, by my Doctor, my Midwife, my Consultant, and various pregnancy books. Every woman is different, every baby is different. Every labour and delivery is different. Everyone has different opinions.

Being pregnant and predisposed to depression is even harder. What’s brain chemistry imbalance and what’s pregnancy hormones?

Being a first time expectant mum is hard. You’ve never experienced pregnancy or its baggage. It’s new, it’s confusing.

How do you explain something you don’t understand?

How do you try to begin to understand the complex emotions you’re experiencing?

How do you try to convey these emotions and feelings to someone else?

How do you manage all of this, on top of every day life and everyday worries?

Being pregnant is hard.

off

Over the last month or so I’ve slowly been coming off of my anti-depressants with the help of my doctor. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I have moments of panic that I’ve made the wrong decision, and moments of proudness that I’m managing OK without medicinal help.

You see, my anti-depressants were never meant to be long term.  I’ve had a long history with depression, and it flares up and down, and rears it’s ugly head when I least expect it.

The last time was an unfortunate incident in my old job, which I won’t go into on here. The incident left me scared to return to my job and as such I moved departments. It left me on medication to cope with working. Medicine that after 8 or 9 months became ineffective.  I started on new medicine, which worked a dream, and now I’m off it. After 15 months.

I have days where I’m wondering if I made the right decision, worrying that I’ve stopped too soon, worrying that I’ve made a mistake.  Depression never goes away, it’s always there, waiting, all that changes is our ability to handle situations and our emotions.

I’m proud that I’ve managed to come off the meds, anyone who suffers from depression will tell you that weaning off your meds is hard.  I did it, and I’m proud of myself.

I’m slowly winning my battle.

Bazinga!

You know that moment when you’ve been having a great time, you’ve been happy and it seems as though you’ve got a handle on your depression, so much that you say to your husband “next time I see the doctor for my meds review I’m going to ask to reduce my dosage” and then the next day your depression comes back and Sheldon Coopers you by saying “bazinga!” and does that funny little laugh?

Yeah. That.

Numbers

Depression isn’t rational.
My emotions and feelings during my depressive episodes aren’t rational.

There are times when I want to talk, when I want to share my irrational emotions but I can’t. I physically cannot find the words or my voice. It just disappears.

I have a number. Or rather, I HAD a number. It was given to me, to call. A referral as such. I held on to it, not quite comfortable to use it.

After a long and honest conversation with my sister-in-law, I got home and decided that I did, in fact, have the words. They may not have made complete sense, but they were there. I’d found my voice, my strength.

I went to get the number and I couldn’t find it. I looked every where. It was gone.

I was panicky and devastated. And no I’m not exaggerating. I fought back the urge to cry whilst I frantically searched for this number before my courage and strength deserted me.

Some people are able to talk openly about their mental health issues. I’m not one of those people. For me it’s hard. Really hard. Whilst I know that my doctor, my husband, my family and friends would never judge me, that irrational worry, that irrational fear is there. It whispers in its ugly deformed voice into my head. My strength and courage desert me. I’m left alone with my thoughts and doubts and fears and worries.

I couldn’t find the number. The tears won. I put on my pyjamas and took myself to bed and cried. Defeated again.

Oh Depression how I hate you with such a passion!!!

Then my husband called. He gave me a verbal shake. I needed it.

He forced me out of bed. He forced me to make sure I ate dinner (even if it was pizza) and he forced me to watch some tv. He made me promise to go back to my referral tomorrow and get the number again.

He pushed me to stand and fight against my depression. He pushed me to win.

I won’t lose.

I can’t lose.

I refuse to lose.

For me, getting that number is a big step. I’m not sure whether I will be able to run once I get it, but I’m going to try.

I won’t lose.

I want to win.

Strong

Sometimes you experience moments that bring out a range of emotions. Anger, sadness, disbelief, rage, pity, upset, etc.
Something happens that makes you so angry that you cry in frustration. Or that you cry because it’s hurtful. Or you just cry because you’ve no other emotion left to feel.

There have been many of these moments in my life. Moments where I despaired, cried, raged, ranted in anger, expressed disbelief, or shook my head in pity, and even all done each one within a 15 minute timeframe!

Life is hard sometimes, but I’ve learnt that I am stronger than I think I am and indeed stronger than other people think I am.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

This is one of my favourite quotes and to be honest it’s easier said than done. I’ve come across it so many times, but most memorable is from Joe in The Princess Diaries movie. Joe is a wise man, that said, so is Eleanor Roosevelt (a wise woman that is!).

Whilst searching for that quote, I came across this one. Another quote by Eleanor Roosevelt.

“A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”

My point is that I’m not going to let these emotions rule me. I refuse to let people create these types of emotions in me. I am strong. I will be strong.

My kettle has boiled and I’m pouring the tea. I refuse to be weak. I refuse to be an inferior.

I am strong. I am successful.

I am me.

Refusing to Drown

For the last few weeks my depression has been up and down. Yeah, I said it, depression. I have it and it truly sucks.

For the last month my doctor has increased my meds, in fact it’s coming up to 6 weeks now and I feel no difference.

The last week or so I’ve been a bundle of emotions, and the stress hasn’t helped either. Stress from all angles.

I feel like I’m trying to hold on to about 12 wriggling kittens. I have to keep picking them up and bringing them back. No sooner have I retrieved one, another as escaped. 12 different events, emotions, feelings.

Everything is bubbling to the surface and I’m trying to keep it from flowing over, clawing back, trying to hold it all in a container that just isn’t big enough.

There are days where I want to scream. There are days when I want to lash out and really have a good punching session with a heavy bag.
There are days where everything is funny and amusing.
There are days where I feel constantly sad and emotional and everything makes me want to cry.
There are days where I feel numb.
Days. And days. And days.

Some people have the luxury of having regular therapy sessions. I don’t have that luxury, and to be fair there are very few people that I feel comfortable enough to talk to about my emotions and issues.

In fact only recently have I really opened up to my Doctor. Hence the med changes.

I need to pull it together. I need to stop being sad. I want to stop being sad. I have to stop being sad.

The sadness is drowning me. I don’t want to drown.

Depression isn’t going to win. I refuse to let it.

hundreds of paperclips

It’s been a pretty uneventful week. I’m starting to feel really run down again, which is rubbish seeing as I hadn’t been for a while. It was such a struggle to get up this morning. 🙁
I think I might need some breakfast.

I went to see Dylan last night. He is so gorgey. Really filling out, although the little newborn outfit that Daniel and I bought him is still too big. He was wearing it yesterday and it really dwarfed him. he looked adorable (there are new pictures on facebook.)

I’ve got an ICV visiting tomorrow, and then Friday it’s over to Daniels and to spend the weekend relaxing and doing stuff etc.