I think I just beat depression

Every day I have woken up, depression has been there, hiding in the background, like a dementor draining all happy thoughts away. The other day I woke up, just like any other and got out the bed, had a shower, which was interrupted by a half asleep Miss J needing a wee. I dried off and settled down to do my make up with my children sat in my bed, cuddling and the TV on with cartoons. I stared at myself in the mirror and something had changed, had shifted and I didn’t recognise my own reflection. We pass through life often not noticing the small changes until it adds up and becomes a big change. As I stared at my reflection I realised the woman staring back at me was happy, I was happy, I had changed and depression had left me.

I had been so busy with life and our routines that I hadn’t even noticed that my depression had finally gone. I wasn’t just having the few odd good days anymore I was having most days which were good. I was able to wake up in the morning, deal with everyday stresses without crumbling under pressure. I am taking care of my children, going out with them, enjoying them and enjoying life. Life is no longer this foggy, dark, monotonous and painful existence, but actually a fun, happy and worthwhile existence.

My hard work had finally paid off and I had ridden the storm out. The positive thinking, mindfulness, reading and therapy had finally given me that light bulb moment. I was in charge of my own life and own happiness and I needed to make the changes to let happiness in. I had accepted myself and my flaws, let go of guilt and finally got my life back and it feels amazing.

I know that I will still have challenging days and that my depression could even come back, but I now have proof in my own life that things can change and turn around. You can reach rock bottom and climb back up to the top. You can make plans again, you can smile, you can still be you again. I had become me again, but better, I was more aware, kind, understanding and appreciative. I can see things from both sides and have great empathy for everyone going through their own personal battles.

What has depression taught me in these last two years? It has shown me that I am far stronger than I ever realised and deep down I am a kind person with a big heart. It has shown me that I am a fantastic mother, because even when I was at my worse I felt immense guilt about my children. Even in midst of it all I still fed, washed and cuddled my children even when I couldn’t take care of myself. I still protected them and shielded them the best I could. When I was struggling most I was still trying to be selfless to protect them.

This is just my battle and you shouldn’t draw comparisons if you are going through something similar. Everyone’s battle with mental illness is unique and has many variables. I was lucky as I always had a supportive husband next to me, I was able to pay to go privately to get the therapy I needed and I finally found an antidepressant that works for me. I am forever grateful to my husband who has stood by me, supported and loved me when I couldn’t love myself. His patience is admirable and his heart is pure and without him I couldn’t be the woman and mother I am today. I still have problems just like anyone else but I am in a place where I can work on them and become better, but for now depression can fuck right off.

 

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Accepting the past and moving forward

Like many people do I do struggle with accepting the past, my mistakes and the whole what I could have done differently struggle in my head. It’s human nature for us to over analyse and wish that we could change things. I for one have a few things from my past I wish I could change, mistakes I wish I hadn’t made and people I wish I hadn’t hurt through my actions. I am very aware that I am not perfect, will never be perfect and will probably still make mistakes in my future. I am trying to learn to let go of anger and sadness that my past has caused me and move on with my life in a positive and happier way. I have a tendency to beat myself up and be very hard on myself, especially when it comes down to my parenting, but for me to be a better parent I need to learn to let go of these feelings.

Postnatal depression was a real kick in the teeth for me after years of working to be the best parent I could possibly be to my first born. I took the diagnoses as a criticism of my parenting and was incredibly hard on myself. The guilt manifested and made the problem much worse, but at the time I couldn’t see that. I know I haven’t been the best parent at times, but then I also know that I loved them dearly and did the best I could in the situation I was in at the time. We are our own worst enemies at times and often our worst critics. Anyone looking through my Facebook or Instagram at the time of my diagnosis would never have guessed anything was wrong and would have been led to believe I had a happy, perfect little family. Social media and our outside face is not a true depiction of reality and we need to remember that we are not alone in our struggles. Everyone I know closely in life has their own struggles, battles and issues daily, as does everyone in the world. We need to be more conscious and forgiving of this. Someone’s actions one day don’t always depict a true reflection on an individual. Usually when we feel attacked in any way we become defensive and push that onto someone else, we criticise others, compare ourselves to others and even try to out do each other.

I am gradually learning to let go of my past. I am no longer blaming myself for things I can no longer change. I am giving myself a blank slate and starting fresh in a happier, more stable and positive mind-set.  I am a great parent, a loving wife, a loyal sister and a wonderful friend. The people I surround myself with are people I love, they understand me and they do not judge me. I have learnt to let go of friendships that are one-sided and others that are toxic. I accept others for their flaws and work my best at understanding their flaws as I hope they do with me.

Accepting the past and moving forward

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Returning back to being mum

Returning back to being mum

For the last few days I have been away with my mum and sister for a girls holiday, we’ve had no children and no men to deal with and this break has been just about us relaxing and enjoying each others company. A few weeks ago I was in a very dark place mentally and had hit rock bottom and me and my family have done everything possible to try to build me back up and also get the help I need so I don’t ever get to that place again. To say that it has been challenging is an understatement, it has taken lots of courage, strength and determination to get myself back and this holiday has been everything I have needed to help with this process.

I lost my identity with becoming a mum, I by no means didn’t enjoy becoming a mum, I actually loved it, but I found it challenging to be anything but mum. My life was whole heartily focused on my children and I felt tremendous guilt at the thought of putting my needs first. I found it so hard trying to identify being a mum and also a wife, also a worker and also the person I was before mum. I forgot that I had needs too and that I still deserved to fulfill my ambitions, dreams and goals as I had before my children. I know I am not the only one who feels this way after becoming a mum, but for some reason men don’t seem to feel this guilt and I wish I could switch it off too, but then I wouldn’t be the mother I am today.

Being a mother has defined my identity over the last five years and since my diagnosis of postpartum depression 18 months ago, again I have found that has defined me. With the recent diagnosis of borderline personality disorder I am very much aware that this could to define me again as a person. All these things are very much a part of me and something I am not ashamed of, but I need to learn to be me again whilst including these parts and letting them work for me by becoming a better person.

I have focused my attention on myself recently and have been making positive steps to heal, I am taking time for myself, putting my needs first and being mindful. Mindfulness is something I am still fairly new to, but I wish I had tried it years ago as it really is the answer to finding peace in a hectic world. I am setting goals for myself which are achievable to focus me and keep me motivated. I am being kind to myself and reminding myself every step of the way of the progress I have already achieved. I am learning to not let negative feelings linger, to question them and disprove them, I am working constantly to be a happier and better person and I know I am achieving that just by knowing I needed to change and putting the effort in to do so.

I am stronger than I ever thought I was and I know I’m a pretty good role model to my children. I am showing them to never be ashamed of who you are and that you can work to be the best possible version of you. I’m teaching them patience, kindness, love and imagination and I think that makes me a pretty good mum. I know I’m not perfect and I’m sure I never will be, but I have fought hard to get to where I am today and will continue to fight every step of the way to be my best possible self. I am ready to return back to being mum.

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I'm not the perfect mum and that's ok

I’m not a perfect mum and that’s ok

I used to always visualise myself as the perfect Stepford wife and mother. I would imagine my life to be filled with baking, perfectly behaved children, play dates and walks around the park. The reality has been a bit different and even though I wouldn’t change my children for the world I wish I could have changed my expectations earlier on to save myself from so much guilt.

Aww wasn't I cute
Aww wasn’t I cute

Since I was a child myself all I’ve ever wanted is to be married and a mummy, I used to play getting married to my cat (lol) and used to always be playing with my dolls. My baby doll was called Hannah and I took her everywhere with me, but sometimes my cat Dinkey would get dressed in one of my old baby grows and get pushed around the house. I remember actually counting down the years as a child until I would be able to have a child, which I always figured would be 29 like my mother. I fell in love at 20 and went on to be married at 23 and pregnant with my child a few weeks later, so I didn’t manage to stick to plan like my intentions.

Dinkey being spoon fed. Poor cat.
Dinkey being spoon fed. Poor cat.

My own mother has always made it look so effortless and I just assumed my expectations of life would be the same. My mum even told me her labour pains had been like period pains and being constipated, didn’t last long and she didn’t need the gas and air. My mum was either lying or has an amazing pain threshold, as my labour couldn’t have been more different.  We grew up in a big house down a private road in Biddenham,Bedfordshire, my dad worked from home and my mum worked for my dad, our house was like a showhome and we had every toy we could have imagined. My childhood at home with my mum and sister was perfect in my eyes, but I’m sure I don’t remember the struggles my mum had gone through to keep a house that size clean, the financial side of my parents having to sell the home which they had built together to downsize. My parents hid everything for us and we were blissfully unaware.

For the first two years of parenting I kept it all in check and lived out my dream as I had planned, we did long walks in the park, we baked, we did play dates and we even got out the bastard play doh. The thing is one child is a lot easier than two and is 100% twice the work and Miss J was an exceptional easier baby and toddler than her brother. Once I was pregnant I started to find it tough, I didn’t have the energy to keep up with my daughter as much especially with SPD, but I told myself once the baby was here it would be nice and lovely and easy again. I can’t believe how naive and stupid I was. Mr T had reflux, didn’t sleep and was generally a hard baby and I had a toddler who resented him for taking so much of her mummy’s time away.

My real life doll.
My real life doll.

It’s been a long 18 months, but eventually my daughter bonded with her baby brother and I’m learning to let go of the guilt. I know I’m far from perfect and I know I never will be, but at the end of my day my children our mostly happy, they are clean, they have full tummies, too many bloody toys and a rather messy house to live in. My expectations have had to be lowered so the mummy guilt doesn’t consume me and add to my postnatal depression. My house will not be tidy for years to come and no one gives a rats ass if my windows are covered in finger prints. I am doing my best even if we are just surviving from day-to-day at times. This stage will not last forever and these children won’t always be small, but the house can wait and I will appreciate them whilst they are still young enough to need me so much. Play doh may come out on the odd occasion, we will bake together if its someones birthday and we will go for walks in the park when we have the energy and patience. I won’t beat myself up if I don’t achieve everything I have had planned I will praise myself for what we did manage.

I am not the perfect mum and I never will be and I will not punish myself anymore for this.

Read embracing the rubbish parent

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I survived another week

I survived another week

I survived another week which was the hardest week of my life. Click here for last weeks blog post. Things have been tough to say the least, but after finally having things in place to get better and the support of my family and friends I finally can see a future again and make plans with my life. The biggest thing this week is that I’ve been able to get sleep and because of that I have been able to see things a lot clearer. I have forced myself out over the last few days to see some friends and do some stuff for myself and actually getting out, even though hard has made a huge difference. I’m still finding evenings hard especially with my husband at work, but I have now found ways to cope and keep busy.

The last couple of weeks I’ve felt extremely discounted from everything and unable to cope with daily life. I no longer cared about looking after myself and was only taking care of my children’s basic needs and leaving everything up to my husband as I was drowning in depression. I’ve felt like a complete failure as a mother and wife and been consumed with guilt which was eating away at me and making me more depressed. Mr T was refusing to feed from me which made me feel like an even bigger failure and that he no longer needed me in any way anymore. He was trying to latch on and coming off screaming like he couldn’t get anything and I was having to put him to bed crying, which really broke my heart. I think he was picking up on the stress as now I’m on new medication and getting sleep he’s back to feeding first thing in the morning and again at night. I’ve always cherished this time with him and its given me a purpose when I’ve been at my lowest. I know the day will come when he no longer needs this comfort from me and as long as it’s on his terms I will be happy for this journey to end.

Miss J has seen me cry over the last couple of weeks which I’ve hated her to see. She’s such a sweet and caring girl and has tried to make me feel better which has then again made me feel guilty as it’s not her job to make me feel happy. I have to remind myself that my daughter is a credit to me and her sweet caring side is from the way I have nurtured her and its something I should be incredibly proud of.  She has been more challenging than usual which I put down to her picking up on my depression and also her not being at school and being stuck in with me most days when I haven’t met her emotional needs. She’s back at school now and happy and I’ve made the most of story time and cuddles before bed with her. Miss J changed my life for the better when she was born in 2012 and made me something I had always wanted to be which was a mother. I really do love her with all my heart and thank my lucky stars everyday that she was given to me as she really has saved me.

My husband is not one with the words, but his actions always mean so much more to me. He has helped out so much with the children and showed me support and affection. He has built me back up and reminded me of how important I am to our family and has made me feel loved. I forget to give him the credit he is due and how important he is to me. My husband is my soul mate and for him to stick by me through all of this which has actually made us stronger is a massive two fingers up at postnatal depression.

I have had amazing support from the CRISIS team, my husband, friends, family, work and Facebook groups who have been there to listen to my fears, worries and have built me back up from rock bottom. without this amazing support system in place I can honestly say I’m not sure what would have happened to me. I was in a dark place and unable to see clearly or rationally and can honestly say I was scared for my own safety.

I am not cured and still have a long road, but I now know the support I need to get again if I ever to go back to that place. I will keep on fighting and will gain strength from this to become again the wife, mother and friend I was before, because I survived.

For support please have a look at Minds website

Taking a second to appreciate my children

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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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