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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Making Christmas special through postnatal depression

Something I can now find overwhelming, is when there is some big event coming up that I should be enjoying. I find there is so much pressure to enjoy Christmas day and after lasts year when I was deep in my postnatal depression I was a little worried how it would be. Last year Mr T was 7 months old and I had started antidepressants a couple of months earlier, I was extremely anxious and feeling pretty disconnected from the whole thing. I painted a smile on my face, some make-up and drank a fair amount of baileys in the hope it would improve my spirit. Looking back through pictures I just feel sadness that I wasn’t able to enjoy my baby sons first Christmas, so this year I felt I wanted to make up for it.

This year, even  though I was determined to make it a great Christmas, I wasn’t very organised and brought my last present on Christmas Eve. I would usually be frantically shopping around for Black Friday deals, but instead I was relaxing in the sun in Fuerteventura. I was kind to myself this Christmas, I wrapped a few presents each night, whilst watching Christmas films, didn’t spend a fortune on my children as I knew they would be spoilt by family, I made sure that I got a present I really wanted (Canon 1300D DSLR camera) and I made sure I took the time running up to Christmas enjoying my family and embrace Christmas. I even managed to get a night out with my girlfriends and have a great night in a new local prosecco bar. I think being back at work this year helped me get in the mood, as not only was it Christmas it was also a break away from work for just over a week. If I can I always try to be thoughtful of other, but after this last year I felt I had taken more from the world than given back so I decided to set myself a task of doing something thoughtful every for 11 days before Christmas, I am happy to say that I completed all these little tasks, which made me feel fulfilled before Christmas.

Christmas day this year really was lovely besides waking up to Mr T, covered in poo, half way up his back. The children woke at respectable 8am and Miss J patiently waited upstairs, whilst her brother was bathed. It really was magical watching the children open their presents and watch the excitement in their faces. After presents we went around to my parents house for the second round of presents with my sister and her husband. We had a lazy morning, opening and putting together multiple children’s toys and I even managed to have a play with my camera. My mum put on the most fantastic Christmas lunch and after collapsing into a meat coma for a couple of hours we headed to my mother in laws house for round three of presents.

My mother in law loves nothing more than Christmas and never fails to disappointment in making it a lovely day for the children. My two children got to spend the afternoon playing with their four other cousins, running around and playing games. My mother in law does a separate Christmas tree covered in prizes for the children, they pick a raffle ticket and get to find there present on the tree, which the children love.

All six cousins together

The whole day was beautiful, filled with laughter, love and far too much food. I’m so glad I was able to fully embrace Christmas day and appreciate the time spent with our family.

My parents cat really got into the Christmas spirit

 

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A letter to myself in the depths of depression

I know You really didn’t expect to feel like this and it’s caught you off guard, but please don’t be scared as I know how confusing this can be. Depression is hard, consuming, isolating, scary and painful, but you will get through it. I know you are struggling and you can’t see the light, but it is there. You will feel joy and happiness again and will be in charge of your mind once again.

You are blinded and consumed with fear and anxiety, but please listen to me when I say you are not alone. Please don’t hide, please don’t isolate yourself as there are people who want to help you. You might not see it yet but you do have a purpose and you’re loved so don’t think you are not. Don’t feel like your crazy and you’re losing your mind and that you’re slowly falling apart piece by piece as these horrible thoughts and feelings can only manifest if you give them power, which you no longer have to do.

You are stronger than you know, because to go through this battle you have to be. Sure, I know there is stigma and judgement around mental illness, but us survivors are doing all we can to get rid of it and we would love for you to come join us. Battling this disease is not something you need to do alone and I can assure you, that you’ll never be alone. We are here beside you, you can call us, visit us or find us online. We are here to help you and remind you that you have people around you who care and people who have beaten this. Let go of the worry about other people’s opinions as the only opinions that matter are your friends and you know that they care for you.

Please don’t be scared of the doctor or health visitor, they see this everyday and they know you’re not a rubbish mum, your mind is just a bit broken and needs help to heal. Don’t feel guilty for feeling exhausted as there is nothing harder than battling with your own mind on a day-to-day basis. I know you are struggling to bond with your baby and feel like you’ve let Miss J down, but you haven’t and they will never remember this, so please don’t beat yourself up. Please don’t let the guilt consume you any longer and learn to let go. It is doing you no favours and that guilt and self-doubt is keeping you prisoner and stopping you from getting better.

Tell your partner, friends and family so they can support you and if they don’t understand please turn to someone else for support. You’ll find the more you talk about it the more people you will find who have been through something similar. 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience some kind of mental health problem in their lives so please don’t feel like the odd one out. Things are going to get tough with prescription changes, doses increased and councillors, but you have got the power to conquer this. Some days you’ll feel like you’re back on track and then it will come out of nowhere again like a black cloud, but these days will get fewer and you will have more good days than bad and you’ll know that you have the ability to feel happiness again.

You’ve done nothing wrong and you didn’t deserve this. You will get better and you can battle this and in this progress you’ll see how strong you really are.

http://www.mind.org.uk

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I’ll get there, I’m just a bit broken.

I will get there eventually, it’s just my road isn’t as straight as others. I will try my hardest, but at times my hardest isn’t good enough. I will still smile and laugh, I’m just not the same as I once was inside. I can’t just get over it, suck it up and get on with it, but I wish I could.

I am a little broken, but I reconise that and I want to get better and work on myself as a person. I am not ashamed of who I am and the struggles I am going through, as they make me who I am. I do need more love and affection than most people need, but I’m lucky enough I have found a partner who is willing to be that person for me.

I am battling, but I’m prepared to fight and get through this.

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Trying to see clearly through the fog of depression and anxiety.

The exhaustion that postnatal depression and anxiety brings is deliberating and consuming. My days at times have merged into one where I get up and do the things I have to do, but I’m not present in the moment, I am detached, I am just running slowly on autopilot. This has made me feel like a terrible mother at times as all I’ve been able to do is focus on the children’s basics needs but nothing more. The antidepressants stop me from feeling any heightened emotions, sure I can feel happy and sad but not in the same way I used to.

Anxiety is such a struggle for me, the way it makes my heart race, sweaty hands and that need to leave the situation immediately. CBT has been so helpful to me but I constantly have to stop myself going back to my old coping mechanisms that hold me back from getting involved and living my life. One of the hardest things I find about anxiety is how exhausting it is, over thinking everything and not being able to sleep which then starts to really negatively effect my mental state.

Depression and anxiety really have controlled my life for so long and have put in so many limitations. I hate how depression has taken away my confidence and made me feel guilty over things I haven’t been able to control. I believe that I am always going to have to fight this battle and that scares the shit out of me. I feel so weak and overwhelmed at times but the rational side of me knows that I am not weak ad I have come so far, but at times that all feels pointless. When my head is ready to explode all I want to do is run away and escape, not permanently, I just want a break from my own mind.

I am still fighting and will continue to fight for my husband and kids as it’s all I know how to do. I mask the pain well to spare them the burden of my problems and even though I feel hopelessly alone at times I know I never will be. I take comfort in the fact i have more good days than bad days now and when I do have a blip it is usually short lived. Please get help if you need it as talking about it does help and if I hadn’t of got help when I did I really don’t know what would of happened to me.

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I have postnatal depression and I’m not ashamed.

Yes, I do have postnatal depression and no I’m not ashamed of it anymore. For over a year I have battled it every single day when at times it has made me close to the edge. It has consumed me and isolated me. Postnatal depression has been the dementor in my life for so long and at times it paralysed me and fed off my fear.

We need to get rid of the stigma around mental illness and educate people. I can’t just get over it, I can’t just suck it up. It has invaded every part of my life and damaged my closest relationships, but the day I admitted it and asked for help was the day a huge weight was lifted and the PND lost its control over me.

I’ve come along way in my battle and can see things from the other side now. The mummy guilt was horrible and the fear I would get my children taken away for admitting I had suicidal thoughts was frightening. Now I’ve got help even though some days are a struggle my life has got so much better. I now understand myself so much more and I appreciate that just like my body I also need to look after my mind. Isolating myself is a problem for me when I’m having a down few days, but now I recognise it I stop it from becoming habit so I don’t fall back into old traps.

If you you are going through this your self please do not be ashamed and talk about it. If you don’t have it and never have then be supportive and understanding as you never know the battles someone is going through in their head. They may look fine, but believe me they are not making it up and by being ignorant to it you are contributing to the problem. Everyone please open your minds and support each other. Please do not be ashamed over something you couldn’t help getting.

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The exhaustion of PND, anxiety and antidepressants.

The first steps of getting help

I feel exhausted and unmotivated every single day and have to force myself out of bed. Initially it was the PND and anxiety which were exhausting and not letting me sleep, now I think it’s the antidepressants and it really pisses me off. I hate waking every morning with a foggy, almost hungover state of mind and it doesn’t matter how much sleep I do get I still feel like this everyday. I’ve never been one of those types that springs out of bed at 6am and ready to go but I really wish I could wake up and at least get going in the morning without the battle. Most of my days off I struggle to get out my pj’s and out the house by 11am, but now with Miss J’s at school I’ll be forced to get up and I’m hoping this will change. I definitely one of these people (at least on the antidepressants) that need to be forced into doing things otherwise I’ll sit around all day doing nothing which does nothing for my low mood.

I’m hoping this blog will be a step in the right direction to give me confidence by being able to see that I can carry on with something I enjoy with out the self critical and negative thoughts keeping me locked away in my own form of hell.

This week so far has been more positive than negative which has really given my wellbeing a boost that it needed and it’s also taught me that I can actually do something for just me rather than just being a mummy, wife and housekeeper. I feel for the first time in a long time that I’ve got this!

 

 

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The first steps of getting help with postnatal depression and anxiety

The first steps of getting help with postnatal depression and anxiety (antidepressants)

After speaking with my Dr and getting a prescription of Sertraline things got much worse before they got better. I had been warned by the Dr that these antidepressants could make me feel suicidal which they did. I was feeling broken, hopeless and guilty, but I was still trying to keep up the impression to the people closest that I was fine.

Miss J had just started pre-school, which eased my guilt slightly knowing she could have fun at least two days a week away from me. The playground made me feel super anxious as everyone already seemed to know each other. I had Mr T strapped in the baby carrier against me almost like body armour, I would keep my eyes forward and march Miss J into her nursery room and get out as quickly as I could. I now know the other mums are actually nice ladies and some have even become friends, one in particular has become a very close friend and a huge help in my ongoing recovery, but at the time I was so scared to talk to them and so worried about what they thought of me. Any conversations I did have with Miss J’s teacher and other mums over the next few months I would replay in my head  constantly, so worried that I had said something stupid.

The days at home with Mr T were strained and not what I had planned in my maternity leave fairy tale. Washing was mounting with Mr T throwing up constantly from his reflux, the husband worked every hour he could so we could afford for me to be at home and I was alone and empty. Many a times I just wanted to run away and hide or even end it, but the fact this baby boy needed my milk to sustain him kept me going. I’m all for feeding your baby, which ever way suits you and your family, but for me breastfeeding made me feel like I had some use even in the dark days.

After being on the antidepressants for a couple of weeks I forced myself to go to my local children’s centre to get Mr T weighed and to speak with a health visitor. I told the health visitor everything and broke down in tears whilst she held me. It was such a relief to tell a stranger and not feel so alone and trapped. My HV was lovely and offered me lots of support and set me up by visiting me every week at my home whilst sorting out cognitive behaviour therapy. I was so thankful to have the HV for support, especially with the antidepressants still failing to kick in and a six week wait for CBT to start.

After this I started to feel ready to come clean about my mental illness and confided in my best friend who was also on maternity leave and able to offer me support and comfort without judgement. On a girls night out after a few too many glasses of wine I came clean to the rest of my group of girlfriends who were amazingly supportive and still make the time to check in on me from time to time to see how I’m doing. Realising that I had support and that I had amazing friends around me gave me a glimmer of hope that I could come out through the other side.

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