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.


12 thoughts on “Foothold”

  1. Honey, I suffered really badly with depression too. It very nearly killed me and left me with a broken back and two smashed up, useless legs.
    I know how you feel.

    The anger that you can’t make it stop and your friend is right – you are allowed to be pissed and you are allowed to be disappointed and hey, whoever said there was anything wrong with being a freak?

    I know you are concerned about next Saturday, I felt it on Twitter but I for one am going to do my very best to ensure that you have a fabulous day – and that’s a promise. xx

  2. Oh my poor friend I too know how hard it is to have a newborn and not be able to do all the so called normal things new mothers do. I had to let my second son go to my mother in laws for 2 weeks when he was barely 3 weeks old due to heavy bleeding and it was very hard since I was nursing as well. That stopped the nursing but he did fine on a bottle. Yes be pissed and let it out holding it in will only hurt you more. Go out be proud of who you are and your baby not what you look like if people stare stare right back. For the pills making your stomach upset if they are hard pills crush them up and mix them with something like yogurt or cottage cheese or applesauce then they wont sit in your stomach and it will help them be absorbed easier and not cause stomach acid. Emma loves you no matter what and some day you will tell her about this and both of you will laugh at the pictures of her mom and she will love you more for all you have gone through to bring her into the world and how much you love her. Hoping you the best and a speedy recovery all will be well. Blessed be my sweet friend.

  3. I can’t think of paragraphs of helpful and reassuring advice like your friends above have, but I didn’t want to just read this and then sod off. Everyone’s feelings deserve acknowledgement and this is mine of yours.

    I do want to tell you I have been through depressive episodes and can go some way towards understanding how you feel at the moment. The way you describe it, as a blackness, is very accurate. I think you know yourself that if it does get you, there will be a light at the other side. Hold on to that thought.

    I’ve never met you (yet) but you have added a little extra brightness to my life. I hope I and the other mums can add some to yours.

    x x

  4. I’m so very sorry to hear that you have Bells.
    My dad was sick with Bells last year.
    It was heartbreaking to listen to him try to speak, and to see half a frozen face on someone who loves to laugh and smile.
    He was “lucky” in that, while it took a few months to come good, at least after a few weeks, he could talk normally and his smile was almost back to normal. He only seemed to have trouble when he was tired. He was still unwell for a couple of months, but it wasn’t so noticeable to people.
    I hoping that you have the same kind of experience. My heart is breaking for you right now, I know how hard it is to fight depression even without such a major physical illness weighing you down.
    Thinking of you. You’re strong πŸ™‚ You can kick arse πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you.
      It’s very difficult. The antivirals they’ve given me have left me very unwell. My worst ever thing that I absolutely hate is vomiting. I hate it even more now. Vomiting with only half a face is hard and super-yukky!
      Hopefully the next 10 day will fly by!

  5. One of my favorite sayings is “feel your feelings.” I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety and I find that the more I try to put on a happy face, find the bright side and ignore my feelings, the worse everything gets.

    You have Bells F-ing Palsy. You are on medication that is making you vomit. You have to pump and dump breast milk. I it would truly be insane to not feel overwhelmed and depressed right now. Which, I’m not trying to dig you into a deeper hole, I’m just trying to say it’s maybe okay to feel crappy right now because things are kind of crappy.

    You sound like you are really doing wonderfully in spite of a giant plate of crap and you should be proud of that. But allow yourself to feel your feelings a little too. Have a small pity party. Drink delicious milk shakes (or spoon them in?), munch on french fries, whatever you need right now. Let yourself grieve this a little, be pissed and then you can find the bright side again. It will get better, but in my unprofessional opinion, it’s okay to not be happy right now.

    1. You’re right.
      However the idea of fries is a little nauseating right now! LOL

      Milkshake sounds good though.
      Milkshake is good for settling the stomach right?

  6. Aww Becs I’m so sorry you have to go through this! Having a new baby is a struggle all in itself without having to face so many other trials. Just letting you know my thoughts are with you! I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to pump and dump for such a long period  What a strong person you are for even attempting to continue to BF! Big hugs and healing thoughts!

    1. Well you know me! Stubborn as hell and I am determined to do it.
      I hand express twice a day, every morning and evening so I’m keeping up some sort of supply.
      Seeing the GP next Wednesday and will ask for something to put my prolactin producing thingamajiggy into overdrive.

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