Overdue

I haven’t posted properly in a long time. For once I can’t blame motherhood or having to work or have a social life (ha!). The truth is, I’ve had nothing but time on my hands of late. My only commitments have been the various doctor appointments.
I’m still in a fog of new drugs, getting used to them, I want to ensure they stabilise before I attempt going back to work because I don’t want a relapse.
I’m starting to have more days that are OK and relatively good as opposed to days that are bleak and numb.

I didn’t want to start 2014, or even end 2013 by having a mental breakdown. But I did and now I need to concentrate on getting better and managing my illnesses.

When I was pregnant and I had Emma, I was very closely monitored, having a history of depression meant that I was likely to get postnatal depression. So my doctors, obstetrician and the Community Mental Health team were very proactive in looking after me. I felt great, that after 6 months or so that I was doing great, no signs of my illness. I was managing.
I went back to work, so the strain of working and being a new mother was difficult, but I managed.

My job isn’t hard (mostly) but sometimes it brings unique challenges in the form of confrontation. After a very unpleasant incident a few years ago, I do try to avoid aggressive conflict where possible. Until I had an experience which triggered memories of the incident a few years back. PTSD my doctor said, PTSD my psychotherapist said, and referred me for CBT.

Eventually, no matter how hard you try to survive, the way that others treat you, impacts greatly, and eventually you crack. It takes a lot of glue to try and hold the cracks together, and just one misplaced thought, action, situation can send things shattering.

Recently I have had some of my darkest days, days where I sobbed endlessly, days where I could hardly breathe, days where I contemplated whether or not I’d be better as a psychiatric inpatient. I reached out for support and some people I expected to give it, did not. Some 5 weeks later, I am still waiting for some my “friends and family” to ask me how I am.

I get that when someone has a breakdown, or a bereavement, that it can be difficult to reach out to those people. But in reality, all that person wants to know is that you are there and have time for them. That you text/call to say “I’m here if you need anything” or “how are you doing today?”

To the people who got me through my dark days, thank you.

I’m still finding the pieces that I lost when I shattered. They’re around here somewhere.

I found a glue that works, in the form of a select few people and some pharmaceutical assistance.

Four wonderful amazing women, a fantastic husband, my father in law and his partner, my mum and aunt and my grandmother and of course, Emma, who is my reason for living.

I’m slowly piecing my mind and psyche back together.

I have postnatal depression, anxiety and PTSD, but they’re not who I am, and I won’t let them control my life.

2014, you may have been a crappy start, but I’ll be damned if I finish up 2014 like I did 2013.

End of Year

I’m aware I’ve not been around much.
Suffering from a mental illness means that sometimes I’m not myself and the blog suffers, but I see it as a small price to pay whilst I concentrate on getting better.

I’m getting there, with the support of a few key people. I was surprised and disappointed by the lack of support or even acknowledgement from some people, but I won’t forget that, and the saying “what goes around, comes around” pops into mind.

2013 has been a big year for me. The biggest event being the birth of my daughter, which has changed me in many ways, and seemingly changed others too. I’ve discovered who my real friends are, and made some great new ones in the process.

As 2013 comes to an end, 2014 brings with it the promise of new things to come.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and New Year, from my family to yours.

A Monster Ate My Mum

A few weeks ago, someone RTd a tweet. It was an author looking for bloggers to review her new children’s book.
My brain went “ooooh book!”

You see one of my hopes for Emma is that she has the same fondness and love for books as I do.

I want her to be able to delve into the world of imagination and lose herself amongst stories of fairies, and princesses, and girls who live in mountains, and find secret gardens and boys who solve mysteries and whatever wonderful stories that come from the muses.

I want her to be excited to get books for birthdays and Christmases. I want her to ask to visit the library and book stores.

So I contacted the author, Jen Faulkner aka Instinctive Mum, aka @MonsterAteMyMum and a few days ago it landed in my postbox.

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Although the book is aimed for children between the ages of 2 and 12, I still wanted to do the review. You see Emma is only 7 months old. But to me that didn’t matter because you’re never too old or young for books.

A Monster Ate My Mum is a book about Post Natal Depression through a child’s eyes. A little boy wanders from Monster to Monster looking for his mothers laugh, her smile and her spark. It’s aim is to help children understand that sometimes their mum is sad or tearful, that she is snappy and that most of all it’s not forever and it’s not their fault.

I’ll admit, it’s the first product I’ve had for review which has reduced me to tears.

You see, although I am not one of the 10 – 15% of new mothers who has been diagnosed with Post Natal Depression, but I do have a history of depression as well as anxiety and PTSD. It’s something that I manage on a daily basis and some days I do better than others and on other days I really struggle.

I like that there’s a book that we can sit down and read together so that Emma understands that when my bad days are bad, that a monster has been to visit.
Because let’s face it, that’s what depression is, a lying monster.

It’s a really clear and simple to understand book, which flows very easily thanks to the rhyming words Jen uses. The pictures are very imaginative too. Emma seems to like it, and apparently, just like her mama who dislikes the monsters (in real life), she decided this morning to rip a page out of the book! Don’t think she liked the monster who ate mums spark… I caught her trying to eat him!

I would really recommend this book, especially if you have or have had depression, whether it be Post Natal Depression or not. It’s an enjoying read, and also, Christmas is coming up soon, so perhaps a stocking filler idea?

You can buy it from Lulu.com and it retails at £7.49 for a paperback (although it is currently now on sale for £5.99) or 99p in ebook format for instant download.

If you think that you may have depression, or you’re not sure if you have post natal depression or a touch of the baby blues, please do see your GP. You can also, refer yourself to your local Mental Health Community Service. If you are a post natal mum then you’re referral will usually be pushed to the top of the waiting list too.

Remember, “depression lies”, and it is something you can overcome. Always ask for help, because it will always be there, sometimes you just need to find the light to chase away the dark.

I would like to thank Jen for sending me a copy of her book to review. I’ve never had a review product that has 1) made me cry and 2) been so completely in tune with me.

I love it, and I hope that my love for books rubs off on Emma, and that in future she doesn’t rip the pages out and try to eat them. That’s not the definition of book worm that I had in mind!

I now need to find my Sellotape to fix the page that Emma tried to eat.

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.

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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.

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.

Fatal Effects

This evening someone felt the need to end their life. Underneath the wheels of a train.
I don’t know what was happening in that persons life that made them feel like there was no other option but suicide, but whatever it was, it causes my heart to ache.
I understand depression all too well. Sometimes I feel like I’m losing the battle, sometimes I feel like I’ve conquered it, but mostly I feel like I’m doing ok. I’m very lucky to have a very supportive husband and doctor, unfortunately that’s not the case for some people.
But this post isn’t about that.

Tonight someone in my twitter feed asked this question.

 

 

 

Majority of people (myself included) responded. The common answer from everyone that responded was pretty much this – “No, it’s disrespectful

I REALLY do not understand WHY someone would do such a thing. Normally when an incident such as this occurs there are a lot of unhappy people because they have been delayed through no fault of their own. Some people are so unhappy that they tweet things like this;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have purposefully removed the user names from these tweets, although really I should have left them in and let you all descend on them like a pack of rabid wolves with a deer carcass, for obvious reasons.

Why? Are these people really that selfish and uncompassionate? Whatever happened to being empathetic?

I’m issuing you a challenge. The next time your train is delayed because of a fatality, before you complain about being delayed, or having to be squashed on to a train, or not having a seat, or being stuck on a train or for whatever reason, THINK.

Think about that person being your mother, father, sister, brother, child, best friend. Think about the people who were minding their own business and then witnessing something such as that. Think about the driver of that train, think about what he or she see’s when that person jumps or falls and is killed. Think about the fact that someone, somewhere will shortly be opening the door to two police officers asking if they can “come in” and then being told that their loved one has been killed.

Just for 1 minute THINK. Just for 1 minute of YOUR life have some COMPASSION for a fellow human being who has just DIED.

Suicide doesn’t just affect your journey home or your journey to meet friends for a night out. Look at the bigger picture. It affects the driver of that train. It affects the people who witnessed it. It affects the police officers and the emergency services workers who have to attend the scene. It affects that persons friends and family and co-workers.

I’m going to leave you with a story, told to me by a friend, who just so happens to be a train driver.

One day he was driving his train when all of a sudden there was a huge bang and a sudden splatter of blood on his windscreen. He hadn’t been driving trains on his own all that long and his heart hammered away in his throat for a millesecond before he realised he had hit a pigeon and that was what had exploded on the front of his train.

A pigeon weighs approximately 1lb. An adult human being weighs between 130lbs and 220 lbs (on average). Now image what would happen if you threw something of that weight in front of a moving train.

The next time you’re delayed because someone didn’t think they had any other option in life but to die under a train, think of that story.

 

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please do not think there isn’t another option. There is. It may not seem like there is help out there or that there are people willing to help, to listen or to lend a hand, but there is. Please get in touch with the Samaritans or with Mind. Please don’t end your life. There are people in this world who care.

 

 

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.