The Glass Box

This was recently shared with me, by a fellow mama who had PND. She is remaining anonymous at her request. I’m sharing it with you. Not only is it a beautiful piece of writing, but it also is an insight as to how someone with PND feels.

PND to me was like being in a glass box. I could see people and people could see me. I could hear people and people could hear me. But ultimately I would walk around/sleep/live in a glass box all alone. I wanted to get out but couldn’t. I couldn’t understand why I was in the box and why literally no-one else I saw was in a box. In fact not only were they not in a box they were running around free as a bird, laughing, genuinely smiling in the breeze.

On a couple of occasions the lid would lift a little and I could stick half my head out. It would make me feel a little better, but then someone would push me back down in it and I’d be alone again.

Sometimes it would feel as if the box was getting smaller, closing in on me so I would want to take my own life to avoid my failure of being able to live in the box without getting squashed. My baby needed someone else other than me. Afterall how could a mother care adequately when she is always in a glass box. My husband didn’t like me. What husband would love a woman who could never leave her glass box and would moan about being in there all the time.

So I would cry alone in there. Not knowing why I was put there or when or if I was going to get out. Because to me the glass box was firmly nailed shut and had a padlock on it. There was no way I would ever ever get out, I would be stuck in it forever.

When I read articles about ‘PND’ or when a doctor showed me empathy, my glass box would move closer to another person who I could suddenly see was also in a glass box. That made me realise that in the world I wasn’t the only one. But ultimately I was still alone. I would walk the streets even surrounded by the glass box. I would drive inside it, go to baby groups inside it, even spend Christmas Day inside it! Whilst I watched my little girl who I adored more than the world in her pretty velvet dress unwrap presents. I wished I could get out just even for a day but I couldn’t.

Then one day someone came and unlocked the padlock. I felt a bit better. I was still trapped inside but the lid felt lifted somehow. It would lock again but bit by bit the unlocking incidents occurred more regularly. Eventually and over time, without even knowing it, the glass lid lifted and slowly I was climbing out. Then one day, I realised that not only had I got out but as I turned around to look at the box that was my prison I saw….that it had shattered into a thousand tiny pieces and I knew I would never ever go back in there again. I was free! Free to run in the breeze like other mums. As I turned, I noticed an egg timer next to the shattered glass. I had never noticed that before. And it was empty. I started to see other women in glass boxes and now I was the free one. I wanted to give them hope. Each of them had a different amount of sand in their egg timers, but I knew that they would run out eventually.

The only thing that helped me during my time in the box was to play music in there. Music that I used to love that made me feel happy. The odd glass of wine in there, reading loving letters from friends and texts of compassion.

New Ink

I’ve been MIA from MrsFlams for a while. We have had so much happening of late, and my poor blog has been neglected. The same can be said for Twitter. Infact the only social media platform I’ve really been using is Facebook, and then it’s only been to watch amusing/heart warming/cute animal/funny baby clips.

I’m slowly returning, slowly getting back into writing. Slowly immersing myself back into pinning things I want but can’t afford or haven’t got the creative or artist talent to recreate.

Slowly getting back into posting clips on my YouTube Channel.

I’m envious of all the bloggers who manage to not only raise a family, but hold down a job, a social life AND their blog and social media platforms. I’m in awe of them also, as I know it takes A LOT of work.

I’ve had a time over the last few weeks where I’ve really struggled with my mental health illness. Thankfully NOT as bad as the end of 2013, but still hard on occasion. I don’t think it’s something that is ever going to fully go away, it’s part of me, and something I have to live with, I have to work with and I have to accept.

It’s ok to have bad days. I have to remind myself of this. I have to push myself to know that I can overcome the bad days and that the light at the end is there, waiting to embrace me.

Mental Health has been in the media of late, following the death of Robin Williams. I read countless blogs, articles, news stories about it. It saddened me beyond words. I read so many well worded and thoughtful posts. But I had no words of my own to share.
I still don’t.

My heart is sad.

My mind is sad.

My soul is sad.

Depression (which is only 1 of my illnesses) is horrible. It’s dark, and desperate, and it clings to you like tar. It twists your mind, it lies, feeding you negativity and paranoia.
It corrupt and vile, and difficult to prise off of your soul.

It’s like a black hole, pulling you in, sucking away the light, the happiness and kindness and all the wonderful positive things in the world. JK Rowlings’ descriptive dementors sucking the goodness out of your soul. Cold and heartless, sucking the will to live right out of you.

It’s hard. So very hard.

We all need a little reminder every now and again. Something to remind us that the battle isn’t lost. Something to remind us that just behind that little black cloud is light, waiting to breakthrough and to chase away the darkness.

Tomorrow, I’m taking the step to give myself a permanent reminder. A new tattoo.

Well, not JUST yet. The design needs tweaking (that’s happening tomorrow) and then I’m booking the appointment.

Depression is a liar.

The truth shines through.
Eventually

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.

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.

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.

Mood Swings and Roundabouts

As a woman, I’m prone to mood swings. That’s a fact. There is nothing rational about these moods, well not all the time anyway, that’s just how it is.
It’s the same for ALL women, and if you’re a woman saying “Not Me” or a man saying “Not my Wife/Girlfriend/Daughter” then you are a damn liar.

There are days where I’m happy. So fiercely happy that I physically want to jump for joy and laugh out loud and exclaim to all who will listen that I am so happy.

There are days where I am miserable. I have no interest in what you say or do. I could give a royal toss.

There are days when I’m sad. For no reason at all. Days where the slightest thing brings me to sobbing tears. Feeling like my heart is broken beyond repair.

There are days where I’m numb. I feel nothing. I’m blank. You could tell me the most heartfelt story and my face wouldn’t change.

There are days when I feel so full of love that I want to tell the world about all the people I love and why I love them.

There are days where I’m angry. So angry that I leak tears and physically shake. I’ll be silent with a face that could stop thunder in it’s tracks. Sometimes I’ll rant, stand on my soapbox and rave about the injustice and unfairness of a situation. Or send tweets in CAPS with lots of EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!!

Then there’s days where I feel aggressive (which to be fair usually follows anger, but not always). White hot molten rage. Aggression, where I could quite easily become violent. Days where I’d like nothing more than to hold a club with spikes on the end and feel the weight of it as I smash it into someone, making them feel the pain I sometimes feel inside.

There are days when I feel annoyed. Absolutely everything annoys me. Even cute babies laughing annoy me.

There are times where one feeling quickly blends into another. Happiness into Anger. Sadness into Anger. Anger into Aggression. Aggression into Numbness. Sadness into Numbness. There are many variations.

These mood swings are felt by all women (and men too I suppose).

I keep telling myself they are normal feelings to experience, normal emotions to have in given situations. But sometimes I think I might just be a sociopath/bi-polar PMT mad woman who suffers from depression.

Either way, perhaps you just might want to stay on my good side from now on.

Oh! And Men, now the worst thing you can say to a woman with mood swings is “is it your time of the month?” or in fact make any suggestion that her mood swings are in any way, shape or form related to her “time of the month”. If you do happen to slip up then I can guarantee that you’ll be seeing her in the form of either “Anger” or “Aggression”, and you’ll be experiencing a rather sore and painful crotch.