Loving myself and happiness that I deserve

Something that I’ve really struggled with all my teenage and adult life is loving myself. I have always had a low opinion of my self and lacked confidence, but with postnatal-depression my self-esteem really took a bash. Not only did I not like the person I was, I was also doubting myself as a mother and how good of a parent I actually was. I am currently trying to build my self-esteem and confidence to become the person I want to be. It’s all about believing and knowing what you deserve and I know I deserve happiness. I know some days will be hard and some days I will struggle to believe in myself, but it’s all about picking yourself back up and not letting those feelings linger and not letting them work their way in so you believe them.

I’m finally feeling well enough to enjoy parenting again and am able to appreciate my children. I can now feel emotions of love and happiness and not just pain and sadness. My children are my main focus through this and I need to get better for them not just myself. I need to love myself so they can grow up knowing how to love themselves. I need to be the role model my children deserve and the support for them when they need encouragement.

I am taking this time to focus on myself and putting my needs first. I am no longer doing things just to make others happy. I am looking after myself, I am taking the time for long baths in peace so I can unwind and relax after a day, going to the gym so I can feel healthier and doing something for myself, writing my blog as its therapeutic and puts things in perspective, taking time to do my make up and hair so I can feel more like me and occasionally treating myself to something I want and not just need. I have dedicated 18 months of the last five years growing humans and 2 1/2 years breastfeeding them and it’s my turn to be a little selfish and start focusing on myself. I have given everything I have to my children and can no longer give as much, unless I start looking after myself. I am Michelle and not just mum and need to focus on what makes me happy from time to time.

These last 18 months have been extremely hard on myself, but they have also been enlightening. I have learnt so much about myself and why I am, the way I am and what makes me act in certain ways. I know I will never been perfect and I am letting go unrealistic expectations and starting my life as a new blank page. I am fortunate that I feel love everyday from the family that I have helped create and I am rich in so many ways besides wealth. Life is good and my happiness is reachable.

 

 

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Lonely parenting and finding the support you need

Taking Miss J home from hospital for the first time was nothing short of magical. She was beautiful, happy, content and feeding well. My husband was lucky enough to be able to take two weeks off and we spent those couple of weeks visiting friends and family and going out for lunches. When my husband went back to work working 12 hour shifts and the visitors died down I started to realise the reality of being a mum with a husband who worked. I started to get lonely and realised that being at home with a baby all day long, with no one else to speak to was lonely and isolating. At first when Miss J came along we had so many visitors, but as she got older they dwindled, not for any fault of their own it was because life moves on and people have their own lives to live.

I didn’t have postnatal-depression with Miss J but I did struggle with anxiety so for me to go to baby grows was pretty scary experience and something I would get myself really worked up over. I forced myself into these groups but in the village where I lived at 24 I was one of the younger mum’s who went and felt a little bit unsure of myself. I continued to go and did make some lovely friends through these groups and me and Miss J loved doing the baby massage class together. My year at home with Miss J was pretty jammed packed full of different groups sometimes even two in one day and it honestly was the best year of my life. The baby stage is very short, even if at times it feels never-ending probably because you haven’t had eight hours sleep over three nights let alone one night. I felt it was important and helpful to me to find some friends who were going through the same stage as me so baby groups and also Facebook groups were so invaluable to me. When I did have to return to work when Miss J turned one I was honestly gutted that I wouldn’t have that time with her again. I went back to work three days a week and I cherished my days off in the week with her.

When Mr T came along I was naive to think it would be the same. I thought having Miss J at home would be helpful and would be nice as I could now have a proper conversation with her. Miss J wasn’t particularly impressed with this screaming and pooing thing that I spent most of my time feeding. She because quiet jealous and wouldn’t acknowledged his existence. As a mum you immediately feel guilty and that you have betrayed your first born child and with my husband going back to work I had never felt more alone and isolated. I tried desperately to get out the house but I found toddler groups just exhausting, as I had to keep an eye on Miss J whilst carrying Mr T with me. I wasn’t actually able to talk with anyone and found the whole experience stressful. Miss J decided to perfectly time stopping napping when her brother was a week old which made me I feel I was unable to have anytime to actually bond with my new baby or time to be able to appreciate my daughter and I desperately lonely in my house all day long. We tried getting out with walks to the park but Miss J would refuse to walk and want picking up whilst I tried to push the pushchair. I found that I wasn’t seeing or speaking to people for days and I would just sit at home crying and feeling like I was letting both of my children down.

When Mr T was 5 months old something had to give and I excepted that I needed to get help for postnatal-depression and anxiety. Luckily Miss J had started pre-school at this point and I was able to get a little bit of a break from her and she could get a break from me and her brother. I started taking antidepressants and started CBT which did help my anxiety. It has been a constant battle and something I am still battling. I’m enjoying my time more with the children and I am able to appreciate them more, but I do still have times where I feel isolated and lonely. Miss J now loves her little brother and also loves to go to school whilst Mr T has got a little easier and is happy to entertain himself for short periods of time so I can just about keep on top of the house.

The point to this post is that it does get easier and it is all momentary and will not last forever. They will soon grow, need you less and became their own little people. It’s important to involve yourself in local groups, even if it means trying out a few until you find one you really like. Connect on Facebook with local groups and also baby groups and you will soon realise you are not alone and that your feelings are quiet normal to feel lonely. I have made some lovely friends through Facebook, some who I have met a few times and some who only live in my phone, but these people are real people who care for me and support me as I do for them. Do what you need to do to get through the day and don’t feel guilty as you are doing a lot better job than you think you are. If someone offers to babysit, take them up on it, if no one asks, then ask them, if you can put you child in a crèche whilst going to the gym, then do it and if you can put an older child in preschool or nursery then do it. A happy mummy equals happy children so make sure you are looking after yourself so you can look after your children properly.

 

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dementor

My dementors back and he’s an a**hole.

My dementors back and he’s an a**hole, his ugly, negative presence has done everything he can to suck any life which I have inside me and to leave me in fear as a shell of myself. This blog post is difficult to write, I am not writing this for pity or attention, I am writing this to be honest, stop stigma and raise awareness. This is me in my most vulnerable state and if you don’t want to read it, then don’t as your negative opinions mean nothing to me and will never be as strong as the negative opinions I’ve had of myself.

I’m usually pretty organised with my prescriptions, but on the Friday I had realised I didn’t have any box’s left of my antidepressants and I was completely out. I always take them in the evenings so I was unable to call the Dr’s by the time I  realised. I went online and went to order a repeat prescription, but was unable to as I was due a prescription review. I waited until Monday when the Dr’s reopened and called as early as I could and after a long time on hold I booked a call back from the Dr. I didn’t get a call so phoned again Tuesday morning and got a call back a couple of hours, but didn’t get to my phone in time. I phoned straight back, but again didn’t get a call until Wednesday after spending an hour on hold. this had meant that I had gone over five days without a prescription and was feeling completely on edge. I had, had an awful cold and cough for over a week and hadn’t slept for a week by this point. I was going through withdrawal from a high dose of antidepressants and was ignored when I begged for help. I have since found out I could have gone to a pharmacy with my box and got a five-day emergency prescription (if only I had known).

I had already been struggling a fair bit over the last few weeks as the counselling I had been having had bought up some stuff I had suppressed a few years previous and not dealt with at the time. I should have worked through these feelings, but I felt too scared to carry on and stopped my counselling straight away. This has then lead to major anxiety and night terrors, so any quality of sleep I was getting was poor.

Four weeks ago I went back to the IAPT service and referred myself back to counselling so I could start to work through these problems, as I had realised I had to face them head on otherwise my sleep and wellbeing would continue to suffer and these feelings of anxiety and depression would just keep manifesting in every aspect of my life. what I though would happen, happen and I  am unfortunately still waiting for my phone call for my initial appointment.

Between me going through withdraw and unable to get my medication and the long wait with no mental support, I had hit a crisis. I went back to my Dr’s and was referred to the CRISIS team at hospital and have been having daily visits from a dr. my first visit where I was an emotional and exhausted wreck was within 3 hours of that call. I’m not sure how I would have survived without there support.

I won’t go into details as I’m still very much in the middle of it all but I am now back on my medication, plus three others to keep me calm and to help me sleep, but I am getting the support I need and these Dr’s have done everything to keep me at home with my family, whilst I keep battling.

This honestly has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to live through and even writing, which has been my main salvation has not helped. I’ve had countless offers of  support and kindness of which I am grateful for, but unless I find the strength in myself I am not going to get better. I’m hoping that after a good few nights sleep, without terrible nightmares, I will be back with some energy behind me to fight through this again.

This will not beat me permanently, it will not take away my family, my job, my friends. I know I am stronger than that I’m just too tired to fight it just yet. until that time comes I will rest, take care of myself, my wellbeing and mend my broken wings ready for the fight.

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

-Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I have postnatal depression and I’m not ashamed

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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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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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How PND damaged my relationship with my daughter

PND and how it damaged my relationship with my daughter and how we got it back.

My daughter Miss J has always been the sweetest little girl and when she was born eight days late, after a three day labour all was forgiven as soon as I held her. My bond with Miss J has always been so strong and she really has been my sidekick and when my anxiety has been bad just having her by my side gives me strength.

The first twenty weeks of pregnancy with Mr T were fairly easy besides a few hospital trips early on, but after twenty weeks things started to get very hard as I was diagnosed with SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) and later Polyhydramnios. Abruptly the walks to the park, chasing around and sitting on the floor playing stopped. I felt incredibly guilty that I was unable to play with my daughter or even push her in her pushchair, but the pain got too much.

I think this is where my depression started and then escalated. Towards the end of my pregnancy I was having to lean on my mum for help with my daughter as I just wasn’t able to give her the attention she craved. Miss J wasn’t wanting me anymore and was crying when I took her home from my mums house, which made me feel like a terrible mother. I kept telling myself that once the baby was here it would be so much better as I wouldn’t be in pain anymore but I was very much wrong.

When Mr T arrived 3 weeks early I felt a huge relief. I had been induced and been away from my daughter for two days so was extremely emotional and wanting to get out of hospital as soon as I could. I left hospital too early as I was still extremely anaemic after a iron transfusion and was having dizzy spells constantly, but I pushed to leave as soon as I could. With Mr T back home I was so excited to introduce him to his big sister, but the reality wasn’t as I had imagined. Miss J only being three wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about and kept asking me to put him back in my tummy. She didn’t bond with him and ignored his existence besides trying to cover his face with a muslin when he cried.

The rational side of me knew that this was normal behaviour but inside it was killing me. I was patient and didn’t force her to be with him but it was so frustrating and making me stressed. Miss J was getting jealous that I was breastfeeding him so I would encourage her to feed her doll but she was acting out trying to get my attention anyway possible.

Mr T was not a good sleeper and would be up most the night screaming. He had bad reflux so I was forever changing his clothes and feeding him. My husband was working 12 hour night shifts so I had no way of getting help. Miss J was fobbed off with TV as I was too exhausted to entertain her and between me breastfeeding and holding a reflux baby upright I was failing her and was feeling terrible mummy guilt. I was resenting her for not letting me bond with my newborn and I was resenting him for ruining our relationship. Something had to give before I broke which is when my mum stepped in.

My mum didn’t work Fridays so we would go out or I would go to hers and she would take care of Miss J, where I would leave her for the night and collect the next day. It meant that once a week I only had to put one child to bed and I could nap when Mr T napped. It worked so well that she still does it now. I felt at first I was letting her down and worried that she would love my mother more than me, but its been the best solution for us both.

Eventually once Mr T could interact with her at around four months she started to take an interest in him. It was extremely slow and frustrating, but she now adores her brother, will take care of him and is incredibly protective of him. Once she started to bond with him and I sought help for my PND our relationship slowly improved. She started preschool when Mr T was 4 months old, which meant she got a break from us both and I think that was the best thing possible at the time.

Sixteen months on from Mr T’s arrival and the mummy guilt seems to be lifting. Miss J and me are best buds and I focus on spending some time where it is just us two when I can. She’s an incredibly kind and happy child and even though she can be a madam she is mostly very well behaved.  I thought she would remember it all, resent me forever and that her and her brother would never be the best of friends. Its amazing how PND can make you think so irrational, but I can now see it from the other side and we are now one big loving family.

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