anxiety, blog, depression, mental health, motherhood, parenting, post natal depression, Recovery, writing

Motherhood and mental health: a volatile mix 

During my first few weeks of motherhood I clearly remember sitting there on the edge of my bed crying. Crying because I felt my daughter deserved someone better, someone who would love and care for her better than I could. Crying because I felt like a monster for not wanting her around me and knowing that was wrong. I honestly felt as close to evil as Rose West or Myrah Tinsley. It’s funny to think that now as I know I am in now way similar to those women, nor will I be. Yet I felt like I was severely letting my daughter down and I could not for the life of me bring myself to love her.

I am now far away from feeling like this now,  a year down the line. And I know I have a long way yet to go in order to fully recover but I’ve got through it so far. I still get bad days, but the good days outweigh these now.

On my bad days I feel overwhelmed. My brain can’t seem to think straight and I feel like I can’t control anything which makes me anxious. I find myself racing around the house trying to get stuff organised for the day but ending up achieving next to nothing. It is the most infuriating feeling to me as I thrive on being organised but on these days the motivation goes out the window. I am still trying to accept that I may need to be kinder to myself on days like these and remind myself that in the wider context the hoovering not getting done really isn’t the end of the world! 

Sometimes the bad days land on a day where I need to go to work. And the guilt that I am leaving my daughter in someone else’s care creeps back in. Again, I try to rationalise this feeling and remind myself why I am going to work. I’m going in order to pay my bills so my daughter has all she needs, food in her belly and a roof over her head. 

Of course my medication helps to a certain degree, but I feel that by taking a step back and trying to look at the bigger picture and breaking it down into smaller chunks seems to help me personally. Perhaps it’s just how my mind works, and this wouldn’t work for everyone. 

Being a parent with a mental health issue is tough. But the help is out there if you need it. I can’t praise my GP enough for all she has done for me and the staff at outpatient psychiatry for helping me as much as they have to make me realise I’m not a bad mother, I’m just a mother who has post natal depression and asked for help. 

anxiety, blog, depression, mental health, motherhood, parenting, post natal depression, Recovery, writing


To be honest a lot of things set me off on one. Noisy eaters, people who crack their knuckles and people who don’t use their car indicators!

Then we get to the big stuff. The things that make my heart race and my brain turn fuzzy. Firstly, supermarkets. About 90% of my panic attacks have taken place in a supermarket. I think it’s a mixture of things, it’s the huge space, the sheer amount of people and the noise. Oh my god the noise, it just all collects together like white noise and it’s just too overwhelming. I remember once in Aldi I feel an attack coming on and all I could do was stare at the spring onions in front of me and do my deep breathing to calm myself down. But now I have my daughter I feel somewhat calmer in a supermarket. In a sense I know I need to have myself pulled together so that I don’t have an attack or get anxious. I always go armed with a list and I get the items as I head up the centre aisle. Flitting from one end to the other would just prolong the agony quite frankly. My husband has been great and often does the food shop, or we do it as a family. So now I tolerate them a lot better than I did before. In fact, having a child has given me no choice but to tolerate them. So in a way I should be thanking her.

I also tend to avoid concerts or nightclubs, guaranteed to be be full of people, drunk people. Bumping into me, getting too close to me, the music is too loud, the chatter is too loud…to be honest there isn’t much I enjoy about these situations. So I tend to avoid them. If I do go out (for a friend’s birthday for example) I like to be out with people that I trust. People that know how I feel about these situations and understand how I might start to act strangely and suddenly glaze over. Then I feel safe, safe to be me and know I can remove myself from the situation and go home without being judged.

Mess. I’ve been known to look off into space mid conversation because I’m just so focused on a squint picture hanging on a wall or the carpet is clearly needing hoovered. I feel compelled to keep my house spotless, great fun with a baby right??? But I also feel cleaning is therapeutic for me, once I’ve scrubbed the bathroom I feel instantly better. Having my daughter now means my cleaning has had to take a back seat and I like to think I’m a lot less obsessive about it than I am now. My psychiatrist agreed that this is not necessarily a bad thing, but I still have a limit as to how much mess I am willing to stand before I need to sort it! But I definitely do notice my mood slips when the house hasn’t been cleaned in a few days. I’m lucky that my husband is also tidy so he’s a great help with keeping on top of it.

So in all, yes I have things in my life that will trigger my anxiety levels but I’m happy that I’ve got a reasonable hold on them all. I doubt these triggers will ever change, lessen maybe but not disappear completely. But all I can do is glory on and take each day as it comes.

I do fear relapse. I know it can happen at any time. Now I’m back at work and feeling overwhelmed I’m definitely cautious about tasks I take on and I’ve been doing more self care activities. Like going out for a meal or bingo with my best friend (she’s a mum too so she knows the need to feel “normal”) getting my hair cut, cleaning my house or maybe even just watching tv with my husband. But fearing relapse it itself makes me anxious, so it just becomes a vicious circle really. I just keep an eye on my mood and take it day by day. Fearing the future only brings misery and is rather stay happy while the going is good!

anxiety, blog, depression, mental health, motherhood, parenting, post natal depression, Recovery, Uncategorized, writing

Never ending road…



Recovery, what is this?

When we think about recovery we think of things we can recover from, like a hangover? flu? a broken ankle? But do we really think about recovery when it comes to any long term illness.

Because that is what mental health is, a long term illness. I am sure we have all met people that have felt as though they have over come depression, anxiety, and may have been stable for a while. However, it is likely that they are then more susceptible to experience this again.

Therefore are we ever truly recovered from mental illness?

The fact is life is hard, it can be really hard. If you are already struggling with your own mind then everything else just seems 100 times more difficult to manage.

My personal journey as noted in my intro, discusses my anxiety and depression. I honestly do not believe I will ever recover. Currently I would say I am on my way to remission, I may stay there for a while (hopefully) but I have no doubt that my depression and anxiety may try to sneak its way back in.

I feel that once your mind has experienced that dark world there is no permanent return from this. If I were to compare this to anything people can relate to who cannot empathise, I would suggest reading Stephen King’s IT. Within the book one of the boys lock minds with the clown, he is then exposed to a whole new universe, a dark, depressing place where he does not wish to stay, and fights back to be released from the hold keeping him there. He moves away and loses memory of what happened, but things never felt right in his life, he moved on but not truly as deep down he had been scarred by this episode of which he later had to face.

ANYWAY… That is my interpretation of my mental health. This is not an IT adaptation, but I feel to have a reference to offer another person assists others to learn and empathise.

As a mental health nurse, I believe you should always try to help yourself, surround yourself in positivity, exercise, do things you enjoy, and most of all talk to others.

I believe this, but I do not do this. Motivation, unfortunately is often my enemy.

My trigger is stress mainly, stress, overwhelming situations, feelings of not being in control, and fear of danger will trigger my anxiety and depression.

I have not always known these triggers, and lets be honest most peoples triggers are simply out of their control. I cannot help it if work demand more of me, I cannot help that there are two weddings and a birthday party in one week and I am feeling overwhelmed by this. I certainly cannot help that there was another terrorist attack and it is making my anxiety sky high.

What I have learnt by this is that it is ok to say NO.

I say no, I used to experience overwhelming guilt by this, and would agree to anything anyone asked me to do either work or socially so I didn’t let people down. But this is what would start the rapid cycle again, exhaustion and anxiety caused by the pressure of being expected to fulfil other peoples wants and needs would trigger a guilt of not wanting to let them down by saying no, despite the mum guilt and anxiety this would cause. I gave myself no way out.

I have learnt you have to give yourself an escape route.

Mine is to say no, no to nights out, no to coffees, no to extra work, and say yes when I really feel able to. When I feel I can mentally manage this, as then I can enjoy it.

I am by no means well, wellness to me means no physical pain caused by my anxiety, no intrusive thoughts, being able to say yes to social situations again.

I work, I manage small social gatherings in moderation but I am taking it easy.

The key in my own remission within mental illness is about understanding you. Identify those triggers, what makes you feel well? I know I love yoga, I am quite good at it, but currently I lack motivation due to my fluctuating moods and anxiety. I am now planning on attempting it at home at least once a week to enable me to feel more motivated and release endorphins (they make you happy – I actually learnt this from legally blonde and not my nurse training lol!). It is not always easy to gain motivation, but I find planning little things give you focus.

On a very bad day I will write a list of things to do. Nothing ridiculous, I shall give you an idea:


  1. Shower
  2. Do 2 loads of washing
  3. Empty the rubbish from my car

That to the old me isn’t even worth writing a list for, however, me on a bad day would struggle to motivate to do this list. So I force myself to do these things over the course of the day, once I have done each I put a little tick next to each one and feel accomplished. I accomplished my aims for that day, and tomorrow is another day.

Personally within my experience of my personal mental health difficulties, I feel initially I do not notice my decline, I am so used to being the “positive person” or my fake façade (as I like to refer to that side of me), that my show can deter others and even myself. Most recently I feel my mind has instinctively taken over, last week I knew the stress was building due to issues with work but thought I was managing this, out of know where I had a panic attack at home and my mood plummeted for 2 days, 2 days of tears and panic. I feel this was my body alerting me to my decline. I do not really feel better for knowing this, but I am taking preventative steps to avoid a decline, I have informed my husband I feel low, I plan to go out tomorrow to the shops and put all my make up on which normally helps motivate me to complete the day.

Mental health is so unique to each individual, we all may experience similar symptoms, but the effects may influence us in our own ways.

The points I would like ot offer from anyone that made it this far into my ramblings are:

  • Take time out, have you time, have family time, do not pressure yourself
  • Say no when you need to
  • Plan, plan to do little things on bad days, on better days plan a trip to the shop
  • Talk to others, my  biggest mistake was not sharing
  • Approach your GP

For now I continue on my journey, and I wish everyone all the positivity for theirs.

Casey xx


anxiety, blog, depression, mental health, motherhood, parenting, post natal depression, Recovery, Uncategorized, writing

Don’t be ashamed of your story it will inspire others! 

It’s not where you’ve come from it’s where your going that matters. So cliché I know but please know that you can overcome anything after what you’ve been through! I might not know you but I know Mental Illness, I know life – I know isolation and fear of fighting this diesease that makes you uncertain about whether you still want to exist. It may seem hard and it may seem like you can’t catch a break but when you keep your head up focused on what you’re doing it will become your momentum and without realising you’ll be encouraging others to be strong and focused just like you are. 

anxiety, blog, depression, mental health, motherhood, parenting, post natal depression, Recovery, Uncategorized, writing


Prior to being diagnosed with postnatal depression and anxiety, I was fairly naïve to all things mental health. So when the doctor diagnosed me with postnatal depression and anxiety, and prescribed me anti-depressants, it was fair to say it was a little bit of a shock. Despite the shock, I was fairly open to taking medication if it was going to help me feel better. I did not want to continue the way I was feeling anymore and I wanted to do all I could to help myself.


The thing I was worried about, apart from telling my husband about my diagnosis, was that he would not support me in taken medication and would suggest that I was able to get through it without medication. This definitely says more about my state of mind at the time than my husband as he couldn’t have been more supportive about getting me better. I remember him saying ‘you wouldn’t think twice about taking medication prescribed by the doctor for a physical illness, so why is this any different?’ And he was right. It isn’t and it shouldn’t be. So with my husband’s support, I started taking 20mg of Fluoxetine every morning.


I had obviously spoken to the doctor about any possible side effects and had also done a little bit of research myself, as I wanted to be aware of what to expect. Of course, as usual on any medication, there was a whole long list of possible side effects. I guess the pharmaceutical companies have to do this to cover their backs. The main side effects I noticed in the first few days of tasking my medication were an increased appetite (mainly for unhealthy food), what seemed like an unquenchable thirst, tiredness and headaches. The strangest side effect I noticed was that I felt like I was floating around in a bubble and that I was moving much slower than the world around me.


The doctor said the medication could take up to 3 weeks to have any real effect. At this point I was having 2 weekly reviews with the doctor, so we were discussing my progress regularly. After a couple of weeks, the doctor was not happy with my improvement on 20mg Fluoxetine, so they upped my dosage to 40mg a day. On this dosage, I saw a definite improvement in my depression and anxiety, however after a few weeks it seemed to plateau and again through my reviews my doctor advised me to up my dosage to 60mg a day (which I understand is the highest does you can take of Fluoxetine).


This was a real turning point for me. A few weeks after taking 60mg a day, I felt like I turned a corner. The only way I can really describe it is that everything felt lighter and easier all of a sudden and there was a definite shift to more ‘good’ days than ‘bad’ days. This was probably a good 12 weeks (3 months) after my diagnosis. In this time, I had been fortunate enough to have paid sick leave from work, which definitely contributed to the speed of my ongoing recovery. It meant I had time to really focus on myself and as our son was still going to nursery on the days when I should have been at work, I had 3 days a weeks all to myself.


Longer term side effects were trouble sleeping at night and extreme tiredness during the day, along with weight gain from my increased appetite. I dealt with the tiredness by switching around the time of day I took medication. Instead of taking it in the morning, I decided to trial taking it at night, with the hope that it would help me sleep better at night and be more awake during the day. This has worked for me. I now sleep much better at night and also am less tired during the day.


With regards to my increased appetite and weight gain, since having my son nearly 2 years ago, I have gained about 1 and a half stone. Now to some that might not seem a lot but I was actually lucky enough to lose weight whilst I was pregnant due to ongoing ‘morning’ sickness, so to me this is quite a gain. The depression and medication have definitely played a big part in this over the last 2 years. Whilst ultimately I am not happy about this, I have to remember the tremendous journey my body has been through over the last 2 years including growing an actual human (this still completely amazes me!), postnatal depression and anxiety and ongoing recovery from this.


It is a constant battle in my head between wanting to do something about it and finding the time and motivation to do so; but at the end of the day, you have to be in the right frame of mind to achieve. Right now, I would much rather spend time and effort making sure my mind is healthy and then hopefully one day in the not too distant future (I have signed up to run a marathon in April 2018!!) the same time and efforts for my body will naturally follow.


I have now been taking my medication for 10 months (the doctor advised to take it for at least 9 months minimum) and I do not have any plans to come off it this year. I would like be off it by summer next year, so may start the weaning process in the spring when the weather is less dull and dreary. Of course any weaning from my medication will be done in consultation with my doctor.

I think, if I was only able to say 2 things about taking anti-depressants, I would stress the benefits of them in terms of clearing your mind to enable you to fully benefit from other therapies, whatever they may be – for me it was counselling; and that recovery takes time – there will be good days and there will be bad days, but with the right help and time the good days should start to outweigh the bad days.


Lastly, remember to be kind to yourself. Any illness is not your fault and you deserve the time and help to get better.


N.B. It is important to remember that all the side effects of taking medication I experienced are also symptoms of depression itself. Also that along with taking medication, I have also had a total of 5 months off work, regular reviews with the doctor regarding my medication and weekly counselling for 9 months.

anxiety, blog, depression, mental health, motherhood, parenting, post natal depression, Recovery, Uncategorized, writing

From Mind to World

Ok, so let’s start with a little bit about me. I am a 30 something first time mum. I live on the south coast of England with my husband and our son. They are my world. They both make my heart burst with love, laughter and pride every single day…even when they are doing my head in. I have lots of family and friends that live a short drive away in the town where I grew up. Some have spread their wings now though and are now slightly closer to me. I also have friends which live in other parts of the country. I make an effort to stay in contact with them and see them when life allows.
I work part time while my son goes to nursery. I do not have the most glamorous or exciting job, but it is one that I have stuck at and have managed to make a fairly successful career out of it. I constantly find myself questioning whether it is what I want to be doing with my life, but it has its perks – it’s local, the people are lovely, it’s flexible and it helps pay the bills.
About a year after the birth of our son (he is almost 2 now!), I was diagnosed with post-natal depression. During my ongoing recovery I have learnt, and am still learning, so much about myself as a person. One thing I have learnt is that I have suffered with depression and anxiety without realising, for as long as I can remember. My ongoing recovery, which has included antidepressants, time off work and counselling, has given me the time to reflect on my life so far, think about what direction I want my life to take and the person I want to be. I now have a much deeper understanding of who I am and what makes me, me. Life has certainly made a lot more sense to me since my diagnosis.
It is this period of reflection that inspired me to start writing. My first thought was “I could write a book about my experience!” Then I realised that as I struggle to read past chapter 3 of most books, I would probably struggle to write a book?! So this led me to the world of blogging. Why not combine my love for social media, the therapeutic need to get stuff out of my mind and my lack of any real hobby to date; and turn it into something productive, something creative, something I can get my teeth into and feel passionate about, and something I really feel will help me get a deeper understanding of who I am and enable me to become a healthier version of myself.
I also want to help reduce the stigma around mental health. Many see it as a weakness and as something that shouldn’t be talked about, so do not seek the help they need. I must admit that before I was diagnosed with post-natal depression and anxiety, I was fairly ignorant to mental illness. But I have learnt a lot. Two things I heave learnt is just how common it is – one in four adults and one in ten children experience mental illness during their lifetime; and that it can affect any of us – your friends, family, the man or woman you see on the platform every morning, or the young person you see walking to school every day. Everyone should have the confidence to be able to talk about it and seek the help they need.
anxiety, blog, depression, mental health, motherhood, parenting, post natal depression, Recovery, Uncategorized, writing

Opinions on medication- By Jasmine. 

Unfortunately, there is a huge stigma around the use of medication for mental health. According to some people, it suggests that you’re just ‘giving up’ and using the meds as a ‘crutch’. That’s like telling someone who decides to take blood pressure medication that they’ve given up on their blood pressure. If someone is diabetic, you wouldn’t question the need for their constant injections, would you? So why is it so different for people with mental health issues? Let that sink in for a minute…

A few years back, I had mixed views on the proposition of medication; the same as when I was first diagnosed with all of my conditions. I worried what people would think or say – ‘What if people think I’m crazy? What if they don’t understand?’ I was desperate to feel happy and normal, but I felt embarrassed and ashamed that I needed these meds at such a young age. My parents would always say ‘You don’t need medication, just be happy’. Oh my goodness, yeah, I didn’t think of that! Like it’s that simple?! Many people think it’s just stress or life events that cause depression. WRONG! It can also be caused by a chemical and/or hormonal imbalance in the brain, so you can’t just ‘smile’ or ‘snap out of it’; sometimes that ‘choice’ to be happy is taken away from you.

I knew I had reached a dangerously low point and needed help when I began to feel like I didn’t want to be here anymore. I was about 17/18 at the time, and I’d started to feel empty and numb. I was scared because I felt like I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was put on an antidepressant called Citalopram at the beginning of my battle, and at one point, I decided I ‘felt fine’ and stopped taking them. My depression became severe within a few days and I was self-harming by punching or head-butting walls. I decided to start taking them again and was going steady. When I found out I was pregnant in 2015, I stopped taking them as I didn’t want any risk of harming the baby. For a while I was on cloud nine! I was so happy and excited about becoming a Mummy, me and my fiancé had just moved into our first place, I couldn’t wait for our future together. But then my anxiety started to flare up; I was uncontrollably crying at the horrible intrusive thoughts I was having due to my OCD. At a check-up at the hospital, they became concerned when I told them I was struggling. I was kept in over-night and wasn’t even allowed out of the ward on my own, as I was seen as a risk to myself. I felt the lowest I’d ever been, a total failure to everyone around me. I was offered Sertraline as it’s perfectly safe to use during pregnancy, and most commonly used by pregnant women, but I refused. However, I had loving family and friends around me and, over the next few weeks, I really started to improve. I started to feel so happy that I thought I didn’t even need them!

Oh, how I was wrong! Within 3 days of giving birth to Alfie, my anxiety hit me like a tonne of bricks. I was having nightmares and racing thoughts, hot and cold flushes, nausea, difficulty sleeping and I hadn’t eaten in days. When Alfie was about a week old, I was taken to A&E, gasping for air and feeling like I wasn’t really here (depersonalisation). It transpires that I was having a panic attack, which had lasted 5 days! I was sent home having been told by the doctor ‘It’s just your anxiety.’ Just anxiety? I just wanted to die, to end the suffering. But then I felt guilty – ‘How could I leave my precious baby without a Mummy, and Ashlee without a fiancée? I’m the worst Mother in the world!’ I was so scared for my own life, I was so confused and sad and felt like no one understood or wanted to even try. The next day I went to the Crisis Team at my local hospital, where they assessed me and prescribed me Pregabalin for anxiety and Mirtazapine for depression. This type of antidepressant also helps with sleep and appetite. I took them that evening and got an early night. The next morning, after a solid sleep, I woke up feeling hungry for the first time that week! I never imagined they would be so helpful and I dread to think where I’d be now if I hadn’t taken them.

18 months on, I’m now on the highest dose of Mirtazapine as my depression has become quite severe again, but my psychiatrist has started the slow process of reducing my anxiety meds, as he feels that is improving. I feel proud that I may be able to live a more ‘normal’ lifestyle, not constantly thinking ‘Have I taken my tablets yet today?’ or making sure I’ve got them with me when I go out etc. Yet I’m apprehensive because I’m scared I won’t cope without them and might hit rock bottom again. But I’ve got people around me to help so I’m trying to stay positive and focused, for a healthier and happier future.

As with all medication, there are side effects that aren’t too pleasant. Obviously, my antidepressants are for sleeping, so within half an hour of taking them, I’m like a zombie! This is really frustrating because then I don’t get to spend quality time with Ash – instead I’m in bed by 10pm! Then comes the difficult decision: Do I take them later than usual but be super tired in the morning because they won’t have had long enough to wear off? Or do I just skip this dose altogether so I can a) relax with Ash and b) not feel as tired in the morning – even though I’ll feel slightly lower in mood and a bit more anxious? However, if I don’t take them, I get awful withdrawal symptoms: nightmares, shaking, nausea, night sweats but shivering with cold, upset tummy and very tearful. This


then causes me to feel more depressed in general because I’m angry at myself – ‘If you didn’t need all these tablets, this wouldn’t happen!’ This then sets me off on a downward spiral: anger, frustration, suicidal thoughts, sadness, guilt. It takes all the strength within me to try and pick myself up and have the courage to face the day ahead. It’s important to be kind to yourself and give yourself time and patience to heal properly.

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

Jasmine x