Today has been one of those days. I have struggled from the moment I got up this morning with my anxiety and depression. I have felt fragile, like I could break any second. I have been questioning myself as a mother, questioning how much I actually love my children. Do they deserve better? Am I just hopeless? Do I not deserve joy and happiness?
Postnatal depression has reared its ugly head and has tried to crumble any kind of confidence I had gained, self-esteem, self-worth and has tried to plague me full of self-doubt, negative thoughts and guilt. I let it come in gradually and started to believe again what a terrible mother I am and how my children deserve better. I hate feeling like this and always having to battle every single day for my happiness or lack of it. I don’t want to be this person and I don’t want it to consume me and have control over me.
I forced myself like I do every day to go through my blog posts comments and started to feel an ounce of happiness again. For someone to say my writing resonates with them or it has helped them feels amazing and is a huge boost to my confidence. I’ve got to keep going and keep on writing as it really does help me so much.
As I was finishing replying to my last comment Mr T awoke and started to cry, so I went straight into his room and picked him up out of his cot and settled into the nursing chair. I could smell the smell of his warm dribble and stroked his messy hair, whilst I let him have his milkies. As he lay in my arms, latched on to me, eyes rolling back, I felt at peace, I felt like I had a purpose, I knew this is where I should be and what I am worth.
The fact that I have two beautiful children that love me unconditionally is amazing and my biggest weapon in fighting this horrible thing. These two people hang on to my every word, they cry for me, they want my cuddles, my kisses and my bedtime stories. I am everything to them as well and they are everything to me. I have a family who loves together, plays together and cries together.
I love unconditionally. I am unconditionally loved.
Today it has rained none stop, Mr T is cuddled up to me, poorly and it’s just a bit depressing. I am stuck in, unable to move off the sofa, the washing is piling up, I have holiday clothes to wash and pack, but today it will have to wait. I hate the rain and how it makes everything seem so depressing. I have such a fear when one of the children or me is sick as I know how easy it is for me to slip back into depression. Being stuck in a house with a poorly child, isolated, alone and unable to do the jobs that I need to be doing can be such a difficult thing for me and my wellbeing can suffer quickly. If I get into a habit of staying in and being isolated I then struggle to get out again and things can easily spiral for me and negative thoughts can creep in, but the best thing that has come out of my recent mental breakdown is that I can recognise this and put things in place to stop it snowballing. It’s hard when you have a small child who is sick and is demanding your time and attention and when you add the lack of sleep into the mix, it can quickly become too much.
I won’t always have postnatal depression, the house won’t always be messy, my children won’t always be small and hopefully won’t always be ill. Everything is momentary and just a small piece of time, we will move on and carry on as that’s what we have to do as humans. Be kind to ourselves, be honest with ourselves and don’t worry about tomorrow as tomorrow will come in its own time.
Mr T has eventually fallen to sleep and been placed in his cot and I can see the gently rise and fall of his chest. He looks so at peace, content, warm and loved. He is happy and right now and i’m all he needs.
The nicest thing about the rain is that it always stops. Eventually – Eeyore
Yesterday I did something completely liberating and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I took a massive step and admitted on my Facebook that I am recovering from a mental breakdown. Some people may see that writing a status admitting this as attention seeking or even over sharing, but for me I think it’s so important to lift the stigma around mental illness. Anyone who reads my blog knows what I have been dealing with, but putting a status on Facebook is as subtle as standing in a crowded room and shouting it for everyone to hear.
The reasons why I have taken this bold move was because I can’t stand uncomfortable silences, they make me anxious and make me talk crap to fill them. I’m going to have to face going back to work on Friday after nearly a month off and would prefer knowing that everyone knows what has happened and they can either say nothing or if they want they can talk to me. By being honest and open I am telling people I am not scared of this and also this illness has not defined me. I am still Michelle, wife, mother of two sprogs, Technical Assistant and part-time blogger. Nothing has changed besides me going mental, recognising it and seeking help. Why should I hide that? Why should I be ashamed?
By being honest I have had so much from support and love from people who I really think has been key to my recovery. The more we talk about mental illness, the more people become comfortable and the more normalised it becomes. The more I’ve read into mental illnesses the more I’ve come to understand and appreciate it. The human mind is so much more complex than we know and they still don’t understand it completely.
1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem each year in the UK so for anyone to think now with the knowledge we have on this subject that it doesn’t exist or you can just get over it is just ignorant. I can’t just brush it under the carpet and pretend it is not there. It is part of my life and I am trying my best to overcome it and if I can help some people along the way, then that is even better.
Today I have been discharged from the CRISIS team at hospital and will be now having support through the community mental health team. I take medication every day and cannot see myself coming off these anytime soon and will be starting counselling in December. I have things in place to get better and I have support. I am confident that I can and will get better. Read steps to get help with postnatal depression
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.
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.”
I feel like in these short 8 weeks I have achieved more than I have since leaving school. Not only has this blog been my therapy it has been my salvation. I started this blog to purely write down how I felt about things and after some encouragement from friends I decided to make it public. Just two months ago my self-esteem was at its lowest it had ever been. I was still battling PND, anxiety and my confidence was rock bottom. I’ve not been magically cured over night, but I feel so much better in myself and can now see light at the end of the tunnel.
Since I can remember I’ve always had a habit of starting something, but when things get too hard I throw it all in, but for the first time in my adult life I have done something that I have loved and carried on past the first hurdle. I believe I still have so much more I can do with this blog and plan to keep going as long as I have an audience.
Two weeks ago I faced my biggest challenge and decided to go from my wordpress.com blogging platform and become self-hosted, I used https://www.tsohost.com/ who have been amazingly supportive and helpful. I was out of my depth completely and spent many an hour googling and reading eBooks on how to achieve what I had in mind. I have had to learn about widgets, plugins and SEO’s and if I’m honest I’m still not sure, but I am enjoying learning.
I have made something that is my own, my own little space in cyber space where I can write about anything I like. I love that I can do something for just me and have time out from just being mum, even if my biggest inspiration and topic is about being mum. When my head is filled with ideas on what to write and I am desperate to get them typed out, I feel like a child again writing a story where I am excited to find out how it will end. Having a creative outlet is so fulfilling and rewarding and something I recommend. I don’t know what’s next for me, but in this moment in time I’m enjoying the ride and plan to carry on. I want to thank my friends for their words of encouragement, new blogger friends for their advice, followers for comments and re-shares. I appreciate you all and giving me a massive confidence boost when I’ve needed it most. Thank you.
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.
I have had some lovely feedback from people since writing my blog, but one common reaction I get is that they never knew I had postnatal depression as I seemed fine? So many people said they could never have guessed as I was still up and dressed to take my daughter to preschool and I still smiled and said hello. That’s the thing with PND as it’s not something that necessarily shows on the outside, unless you take a closer look. My husband was even surprised when I told him that I needed to get help, but now looking back he says that he wishes he had known more and was able to pick up on it.
I know I am guilty of painting a picture that I am doing fine when inside I am completely consumed and at breaking point. I was even in denial with myself over my illness and refused to accept it until it was nearly too late. I think it is so important for partners, parents and friends to recognize the symptoms and step in when needed. I know my husband now feels guilty that he couldn’t have done something sooner to have helped me.
My Health visitor came to see me at around 6 weeks and did the Edinburgh Scale (EPDS) which is a great resource for getting an idea if you have PND, but for me I wasn’t truthful and lied as I didn’t want her to think badly of me. When I finally admitted I needed help it was EPDS that I found online that helped me realise how bad it was, this led me to finally calling the GP and seeing my Health visitor and asking for help. If I had only been honest at six weeks postpartum with myself my PND journey might not have been so difficult.
Some days I would feel like I was getting a handle on things and stuff wouldn’t be as bad, which dragged me into a false sense of security that I didn’t have PND and I was in fact fine. PND hits 1 in 7 mothers and is far more common than I ever thought. I was also under the illusion as I hadn’t had it with my oldest then why should I get it this time around?
Some symptoms of PND are below, but you may not have them all:
Feeling sad or low mood.
Little interest of doing things you once enjoyed.
Lack of energy and feeling tired all the time.
Trouble switching off and sleeping at night.
Feeling overwhelmed and unable to look after your baby.
Problems concentrating and making decisions.
Loss of appetite or comfort eating.
Feeling agitated and irritable.
Feelings of guilt and blaming yourself.
Feeling unable to bond with your baby.
Thoughts of self-harm or hurting your baby.
The main signs you may notice in someone are:
Crying for no obvious reason.
Withdrawing contact from people.
Only taking care of my baby’s basic needs.
Loss of sense of humor.
Speaking very negatively about themselves.
Loss of confidence.
If you are or you know someone struggling please urge them to see the GP or Heath visitor.
Below is the link to the Edinburgh Scale Questionnaire:
Since having postnatal depression and thinking I was the worst mother in the world something amazing has happened. I’ve actually for the first time in my life stopped caring about what others think of me. I am so liberated that I am finally at a stage in my life where I am comfortable in my own decisions as a parent. I have stopped judging others by their parenting choices and am very much in the mind set that you do what ever you have to do to get through the day and be happy.
I felt so much pressure as a parent to be the perfect parent, but by trying that I was unhappy, alone and failing in every aspect. Having to revaluate my whole beliefs and ideas after making the change to be more consious of my mind, I know have this freedom that I once didn’t. When I go to the school playground I know some people will not like me and I honestly no longer care. I do not live in a big house and have a fancy car and I’m no longer ashamed of that. I have so much more of value than material things and every day I feel blessed to be married to my soul mate and have two beautiful children with him, but believe me when I say that he and the kids can be right idiots at times.
I love facebook and Instagram but now I’ve realised how I too crop a picture so it looks it’s most perfect. Who’s bribed an older child with sweets to take the perfect picture with their sibling? Who has chucked a dirty nappy in the corner so it doesn’t ruin a perfect photo opportunity? No one’s life is perfect as soon as we remember that we realise how much better ours really is.
A great example of a picture where sweet bribes have been exchanged.
Since I’ve finally had the courage to come out about my postnatal depression hell, I’ve had so many people either tell me they have had it themselves or that they had no idea I was struggling. Unless you are close by it is really hard to see how much someone is struggling. For me I buried and hid it well and even didn’t admit it myself for five months, but on the inside I was at breaking point.
I feel so overwhelmed with how many people who have contacted me telling me they have also been through this terrible illness and from people who have said they have found comfort in what I have written. This blog was very much about me writing for me, but it has turned into so much more. This blog is now about offering support and letting other mums know they are not alone in this struggle. I don’t have the cure and I am very much still fighting, but I am working through the highs and the lows, which I share with you all. I will do everything I can to try and lift the stigma associated with having postnatal depression and remind us all we are not alone and we should never feel ashamed of something we have no control over.
My biggest turning point was after reading into the chemical changes in our brains which can cause depression. For me to see it in black and white that it wasn’t my fault it was a relief. I had an a stressful pregnancy, low iron levels and a reflux baby, so for me to look back now I’m really not surprised I did struggle. It is tough to have a new baby and so easy to become isolated and I now look back and I accept that there was nothing I could have done differently.
Postnatal depression has put me in a consuming world of guilt and failure, but it has also taught me so much about myself. I am thankful that I’ve had to take the time to understand how I work and learnt how to be kinder on myself. Something else I’ve learnt is mindfulness which I do try and practise regularly and the improvements are amazing. It’s so important we look after ourselves within as we do on the outside.
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