The unlikely benefits of depression

The unlikely benefits of depression

I love to look for the silver lining and I have come up with the unlikely benefits of depression that I have found to be true for me. This does not take away from the fact that it is horrendous, but now I am for the most part out the other side, I like to look at some small positives I have found through my depression journey.

  • I now have a new kind of appreciation for the good days, I never know when it could all be sucked away again, so I do appreciate when things are going well and I am feeling mentally strong.
  • I am much more in touch with my emotions than I ever was before. I now know all emotions are needed and valid and that I should never be ashamed or try to hide them.
  • I’ve talked about this before and I think it is one of the most important things I have learnt, which is empathy. Depression has changed my outlook in life and taught me not to judge as we never know someone’s personal battle. I have great empathy and now regard it as one of my best attributes.
  • I have taken time to find what gives me joy in life. I have had to work out what makes me happy in life and have found some hidden talents that I might not have ever discovered otherwise.
  • I have bonded with friends and made new friends on a different level. To talk about depression is something very personal and by talking about it I have found some amazing people.
  • I have learnt not to hide emotions anymore. I was very good at hiding who I was out of fear of making someone else uncomfortable. I have found new ways to express my emotions in a healthy way which has made me better at communicating.
  • I am always looking at new ways to make myself happy. I know how easy it is to get sucked back into depression so I am always aware of trying to keep myself busy and happy.
  • If and when depression creeps back into my life, I now know I have survived depression which inspires me to fight it again.
  • I can help someone else by showing them that they are not alone in this battle and that you can survive it and also flourish.
  • I have now proven to myself that I am a fighter and that I am incredibly strong. To fight a battle with your own mind is one the toughest and I am pretty proud of what I have achieved.
  • I no longer take sleep, health, exercise and diet for granted. I now know that  it is important to focus on these and that they make a huge difference in your mental wellbeing.

What has depression taught you?

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Be fearless in the pursuit of happiness

Being fearless in the pursuit of happiness should be something we all should be able to do, but like with many things saying it is much easier than doing it. For so long I have worried about other people’s opinions, have tried to live up to other people’s standards and punished myself if I haven’t lived up to these. This has done nothing for my happiness and has forever held me back in finding happiness.

As a child I was brought up as a Christian and honestly believed I needed to punish myself every time I made a mistake or I would go to hell. I now have learnt to respect all religions, whilst being able to formulate my own ideas about them and not take it all too literally. I do believe in something, but to be honest I really don’t know what exactly. I don’t know why we feel that we should punish ourselves for not living up to standards which are often unattainable, we are only human after all and why should be always be fearful. The perception of the world around you is left up to your own interpretation.

As I have got older I noticed happy people don’t seem to put as much focus on what others think, they tend to do just ‘do’. Life isn’t about material possessions to make you happy and won’t lead happiness and I’m a great believer it’s about the experiences of life instead. I’m always trying now to just enjoy the moment and not try to worry about pointless material goods which actually don’t feel any gaps in your life long-term. I won’t look back in ten years and have fond memories of a silly priced handbag I bought, but instead will think back to a holiday with my children or a trip away with friends.

Everything is the world is temporary, the good and the bad and to find happiness we need to take the good with the bad and remember we can’t fully appreciate happiness unless we have also felt sadness. It’s fine to go through a  tough time, it teaches you important life lessons we need to learn, from every difficult time we have gone through in our lives it has shaped, moulded us and taught us something new.

To find happiness you need to do what you love, and if you don’t I think it’s important to make small changes where you can. We need to invest in ourselves and make sure we are doing something for our souls that we gain something from. If you hate your job then please find something else to do, but if that isn’t a possibility make sure you have time to still do stuff you love. Find a creative outlet, study something you love or go places that will make you smile. Everyone can be creative with something, it’s not just about making or creating, but about writing, building, dancing, music, photography, baking, colouring etc. Everyone can find a creative outlet.

To be truly happy I believe you need to be present and it’s something I have written about many times before and it’s something I am forever trying to remind myself. To be depressed you are living in the past and not letting your life flourish and grow. The little moments of happiness in life are the memories that you want to look back on, nothing else. It’s not easy to find a good balance of how to reflect on your past and look to your future, but I think it’s valuable and productive.

I believe it’s more work to be unhappy than to be happy. If you are sad, looking back on all that is wrong in your past you are just using lots of energy in a negative way. Being happy takes time and involves lots of dedication in yourself, but you can change your life if you are willing to. Don’t com-pare your lives against others and their progress, set small goals, look at the overall picture and be patient. Be fearless in the pursuit of happiness, you have nothing to lose.

photography credit to Ricky Lee Photography 

 

Be fearless in the pursuit of happiness

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The worry that my own mental health problems have damaged my daughter

The worry that my own mental health problems have damaged my daughter

I have struggled with mental health problems for years without even being aware of them. Well to be honest I did know something wasn’t right with me, but I just believed I was a bad person and my anger and depression was my own fault. Depression and anxiety have dominated me and effected me all of my adult life and after having my second child two years ago and my postnatal depression came to a head and I realised I needed to fix me. I was scared that in this process I could further hurt myself and I was right. To finally move on from my old life I needed to deal with my past to some extent and it was painful. I sunk lower than I ever went before and worried that by dealing with certain things that had happened that I would never feel happiness again.

Having to deal with my own mental health problems with a baby and small child at home was tough and not ideal and it was impossible for me to shield them completely with what I was going through. My daughter Jasmine saw me cry too much, not able to look after myself and many specialists coming into our house trying to help her broken mother. This is not what I wanted, but I either tried to heal at home or leave my family all together and go into hospital. Jasmine grew up quick and learnt what to say to help me, to encourage me and she was my strength when I had none left.

Things have been steadily improving over the last few months and I am in a much better place mentally. I am working on being the right role model to my daughter and I am a much better parent than I was six months ago. I am certain my mental health problems have affected my daughter and that’s something I do feel guilt over. I didn’t want my daughter to see me like the way she did, I tried to hide it as much as I could, but I know my child and she is bright and was picking up on the problems going on and it was affecting her too. Jasmine came home last February with her dad, for them to find that I had taken an overdose. Jasmine doesn’t remember what happened as she was sent upstairs and missed the police and crisis team taking me to hospital, but I’m certain she knew something was wrong

Children are more perceptive than we give them credit for and at times I feel like she is punishing me or that our bond has been damaged for what I had to put her through. Her concentration at school has suffered, her behaviour and even her sleep have been affected. My little girl gets frustrated and angry at times and I understand her frustration and it’s something we are always working on. I don’t want my girl to grow up angry with the world and I want her to continue to flourish and not become who I was as a teenager.

All I can do now is keep encouraging her, showing her my strength and dedicating my time on my own daughters mental health. We are working on yoga and mindfulness to help our bond and our mental wellbeing and I am seeing an improvement. I just hope she knows how hard I am trying for her and that everything I do is for her. I don’t want her to grow up with the same problems that I had and I hope she doesn’t grow up resenting me for what I put her through.

My bond with Jasmine was affected through my battle with mental health, but we now have a more intense kind of bond. My daughter has shown me such compassion through my struggles, I have seen so much of my self in her, that it has helped me understand myself and her better. She really was a blessing for me, my savour and my strength.

Jasmine I am sorry for expecting too much from you at such a young age, I am sorry for not being strong enough at times to be a mother to you and I am sorry for resenting you when I was struggling through my PND. I love you more than you will ever know and will spend the rest of my life making it up to you. I will always be there for you, no matter what. I love you.

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My daughter has confidence, but I am a hypocrite

My daughter has confidence, but I am a hypocrite

My daughter Jasmine is now five and has blossomed from a pre-schooler to a very confident, extremely sassy five year old and I’m a little jealous of how she carries herself, I want to be a bit more like her, but I feel like a hypocrite.

Jasmine as a baby and toddler was super clingy and would scream when I left her to go to work and would hate it if daddy had to put her to bed instead of mummy. She was my shadow and I got used to having my velcro child by my side. When her brother came along when she was three she took it hard and struggled to accept that I wasn’t just hers anymore and we worked hard to build her confidence around other people. When she started pre-school three months later she went off with very little trouble and she started to flourish.

Jasmine is now at the end of reception and is more than happy to run off every morning without a look back at me. She talks to her friends, is always first to say if she thinks some injustice is going on whilst playing and will go off to her teachers happily to show them what she has mastered that day. At a party she is the first on the dance flower, will happily hold someone else’s hand who needs encouragement and will stand up for her friend and herself. I have some how made a confident, self-assured and a strong little girl, whilst my confidence and self-esteem is still a constant fight. Why am I such a hypocrite.

My daughter doesn’t tell people things they want to hear, she is confident in her own skin and looks and everyday is a new fun day to explore, learn and be happy. I have decided it’s about time that I start to take a page out of my daughters book and start getting a little Jazzy with my life. I have put so much effort into my daughter, assuring her, telling her about her wonderful attributes and telling her to be happy with who she is, but I have been a hypocrite the whole time.

I have been such a hypocrite as I do not do the same to myself. I get undressed and pick apart everything that is wrong with my body, my hair, my face, my intelligence and my mind. I may be able to hide this from her when she’s young, but eventually she will see through it. She will notice the little comments about my weight, the little put me downs I say to myself and the negative comments. To be a role model I need to work on myself and stop putting myself down. I owe her this as much as I owe myself.

Why do we struggle so much to accept ourselves for who we are, but we can happily accept our partners flaws and all? I wouldn’t put my husband down for his looks or his intelligence or a friend, but yet I do it to myself constantly. I always see the best in people, but I struggle to see it in myself, so I am going to write down a list of what I love about myself.

What I love about me.

  • My quick wit. I am pretty funny and if you do get to know we you will realise I am also quick-witted and great for some banter.
  • My empathy. I have BPD so I am an emotional person and it has taught me how to have great empathy with others.
  • I have great lips. People pay for lip fillers, but I don’t need them as I’ve been blessed with beautiful lips.
  • I am tall. I’m 5ft 10″ and I love being tall, I can hide a multitude of signs having the extra height and love nothing more than wearing some heels on a night out and being one of the tallest.
  • I am caring. I care so much and sometimes too much about my children, friends, family, pets and mental health. If I care about something that I am incredibly passionate about it.
  • I found my talent in writing. I might not be perfect, but I love it and I feel good for finding something that brings me so much joy.
  • I’ve got good boobs. They’re not huge, they fit my frame, but they have done me proud and nursed two children for a total of three years.
  • I am healthy. I might not be fighting fit and I know there is much room for improvement, but my health is in good order and that is something that should never be taken for granted.
  • I am a good mum. I’m not perfect I have had to fight to still be here with my battle with PND, but I know now I am a good mum and I am proud of how far I’ve come.

My challenge is to start to love myself more, keep up with positive affirmations, working on myself and learning to love my body so I can say I am confident and I am not a hypocrite. #BeMoreJazzy

 

#BeMoreJazzy

 

 

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Postnatal depression after returning back to work

Postnatal depression after returning back to work

Returning back to work after maternity leave is often bittersweet and a hard pill to swallow, but if you are still suffering with postnatal depression it can fill you with complete dread. For me returning back to work, whilst I was still in the middle of a big battle was challenging and just added to my anxiety. How could I cope being a working mum when I struggled being a mum anyway?

  • I think one of the key things is to be honest with your employer. Speak with someone you trust and be honest of your fears of returning back to work. I was shocked at how supportive and understanding my work was especially my male boss. There is a good chance they have seen it first hand through a wife or sister .
  • Be realistic in your goals and don’t set yourself up to fail. If it’s an option look at doing a phased return or reduced hours. The best thing I could have done was to cut my hours. I now start work at 9:30am instead of 8am which means mornings are not so hectic.
  • Ask for extra help whilst you adapt to a new routine. Don’t be scared to ask for help and if you can get someone to help out with older children’s school runs, or a nursery pick up, then take it.
  • You will be late for work one day, forget to pack the children’s lunch box and be late to pick up from nursery. Don’t let little problems collect and seem bigger than they are. You are only human and you are only one person.
  • Usually the thought of returning back to work is far worse than actually going back to work. In my experience it was a little break, I got to drink hot tea and I was someone else besides mum. The first day is always the hardest.
  • If you really think you are not mentally well enough to go back to work then see your doctor and express your fears. There is nothing to be ashamed of and help is there.
  • Get organised. I am not naturally organised, but I find if I have everything ready the night before the whole start to the day is far less stressful. Have packed lunches made (including yours), clothes already laid out ready and bags packed. Starting the day in a good mindset is the way to go.
  • Have your therapy in place. Have either CBT, counselling etc in place for when you go back so you still have an outlet to talk through your fear and worries.
  • Make your sleep a priority. Make sure you switch off phones etc (blue light) an hour before bed and put things in place to relax you. I have reading relaxes me, a bath or otherwise using a mediation app like head space.
  • If you are on medication make sure you mindful of when you need to get a new prescription. Juggling work, a baby and needing to get to the doctors can be stressful last minuet. If you do run out, take your box to a pharmacy and they should be able to write you an emergency prescription for a week.

for the legal side of returning to work and taking additional sick leave it’s worth reading this. My personal experience through my own work has been fantastic, but unfortunately not employees are so progressive. Make sure to get legal advice if needed and make sure you are being treated fairly.

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