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Triggers.

There nothing worse than having a bad day or knowing one is coming. I have many triggers like others. 

No sleep will trigger a relapse which is quite often as I suffer with insomnia or someone having a go at me, even if it’s nothing serious I take it to heart and it makes me feel so worthless I could cry. 
My friends and family know my triggers but seem to forget often, I often tell everyone I don’t need them no more but in fact there support is vital in my recovery. 

  

I fear that when I do relapse it’ll be bad enough for me to blank out (which has happened)

I forget what I’ve done no matter how extreme or serious something is that I’ve done, it’s just a total black out. It scares me because I know I’m capable of hurting my self quite easily and once I start I do find it hard to stop. 
I think society, especially family and friends say ‘they understand’ but no one actually does, I don’t understand someone else’s mental health because we’re all different. 

Mental health is very much like child birth I believe, it’s so hard to explain it, no matter how hard you try you can’t get it across to anyone. 
Chelsee 

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Triggers 

​I have so many triggers it’s hard to be able to control them! 
Arguments!! We all have them and me and my husband are no exception! In fact we had one this morning … after the argument my first thought was self harm … I could feel it all rumbling deep down inside .. that pressure that needed releasing … I knew I had to suppress the thought and release the pressure another way… so I screamed at him!! Not a little shout I screamed!! Then i calmly sat down and started to fold the washing, then focused my mind on to cleaning. Eventually that thought passes and I’m back in that calm frame of mind. 
Stress!!!! 
I honestly don’t think that there is any possible way of avoiding it … it’s even harder for me, with two young children (2 and a half and almost 1) and a house to run, bills to pay, finances to keep on top of, bipolar to try and control … there is always something for me to stress about! My husband works hard to give me and the kids a better life and I stay at home and work my bum off to keep this house in order and the kids happy … but the stress and pressure adds up till I have a mini break down and spend the night sobbing … unfortunately there is no way for me to avoid it!! It’s hard for other woman I know but everything in my mind seems so overwhelming and like nothing will ever get better! In my bipolar mind if I’m in a manic state I handle everything like a bloody super hero and in my depression it’s feels almost impossible for me to keep onto of everything, I feel totally unable to be a mum to my girls and a wife to my husband … in that moment all I want to do Is pack my bags and leave!! 

But…. and it’s a massive but …. I AM their mum, I AM his wife and even if I left that wouldn’t change … I need to look after my babies and my husband and even if I’m not doing the greatest job I can only try my hardest! I lost my mum when I was just 5! I grew up in agony with a dark empty heart .. blaming the world .. blaming myself. My biological father was neglectful and emotionally numb … I had to bring myself up. At the age of 13 I promised my mum i would make her proud.. I would do my best to be a good mum if and when I got the chance… and it’s in those dark hopeless moments I remember that promise and get up and get on with it! Don’t get me wrong it’s hard and sometimes feels utterly hopeless but I can never give up! And I never will. 
My Anxity is triggered by everything! Is the house not clean enough.. are the kids in danger.. is that too dirty… are the kids gonna stop breathing… will they get run over .. will someone kid nap them … is my oldest safe at nursery.. the possibilitys are endless. I don’t honestly think there is anyway to stop them thoughts … I have always has them .. to be honest i have just learnt to live with them. Iv tried CBT, councilling, therapy and nothing has changed so Iv just learn to live with it. I let my husband know what thoughts are getting too out of control and he tries his hardest to calm me down and tries to reason with me that I am being completely unreasonable. It doesn’t work mind you but it’s always worth a try. For example leading to my eldest going to nursery to days a week, I had around 2 months of worrying and thinking the worst.. the one I couldn’t let go of was ‘they are all paedophiles in there and they are gonna hurt her and she’s not gonna be able to tell you and it will all be your fault’. The amount of sleepless nights i had, the Times I was sick from worrying … in the end I had to force myself to take her to nursery and let her go … my husband kept telling me it was totally irrational and it made no sense but my mind was ready with a reply to ever rassional thing he said … ‘they do checks they have to be cleared’ well my response was ‘just because they haven’t

been caught yet doesn’t mean they arnt bad people’ … this went for weeks… and I had to way of stopping them thoughts… so honestly I just went along with them … I kept feeling sick, worrying, not sleeping, until the day came and I dropped her off… I then spent the day worrying till I picked her up and she was so happy to of spent the day there. It’s not as bad now but it still creeps in at times … so how do I control my anxity??? The simple answer Is I don’t! I go with the flow and do my best to keep it under control. 

Some of the releases I use is

Cleaning 

Colouring 

A nice hot bath with plenty of bubbles and bath bomb 

A truck loads of chocolate!!
I try my best to avoid triggers … but some times I need them to release the pressure .. we all need something to release the steam x 

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Recovery, is it for me?

Don’t get me wrong, I am much better than I was, say, this time last year. But there is a part of me that wonders if I’ll ever be myself again.

I have got to the point where, to the outside eye, I am a fully functioning adult. I’m back at work in my responsible career. I’m being a good mum again, and, I hope, a good wife. Deep down though, I still feel a failure.

Thats what my brain is telling me. But my brain isn’t working properly. Today, anyway.

So, if my pancreas wasn’t working properly, I would be treated with insulin. If my kidneys weren’t working properly, I’d be treated with dialysis.Therefore, as my head isn’t working properly, I’m treating it with medication and mindfulness. The medication helps both the depression and the anxiety, the mindfulness helps the anxiety. Its the anxiety that I find most crippling, so I have developed some skills to combat it, thanks to a six week course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This basically gave me an alternative way of reacting to anxieties. Changing my response rather than eliminating the source.

The exercise I have found most effective on most occasions is what I call “Sensing the senses” (I’m sure there is a correct name, but I don’t know it). Basically I spend a minute or two concentrating on each of the five senses, sight, taste, smell, touch, hearing.

For sight, I look around and focus on a particular colour – I find green the most soothing. Then I imagine I am eating a square of milk chocolate, holding it in my mouth, letting the flavour hit my tastebuds. I then think of the smell of freshly mown grass and wildflowers in a meadow. Touch involves stroking a piece of material, feeling its fibres and softness. Finally hearing involves me playing a favourite piece of relaxing music in my head.

At the end of these 6 or 7 minutes, generally my breathing rate has slowed and settled, and my overactive mind has calmed.

I also made a resolution at the beginning of my recovery that i would only allow myself to stress about things which I have the power to change. If I cannot change it, then there is very little point in wasting time and energy in worrying. As I’m sure you can imagine, this isn’t always successful, but there certainly have been occasions where I have been victorious. And it IS a victory, as is every single day that I go to bed without having shed a tear all day. I’m pleased to report that those victorious days are in greater number than the defeated days.

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

Recovery takes time

Once the doctor had diagnosed me with postnatal depression and anxiety, they signed me off work for two weeks with immediate effect, prescribed me anti-depressants and referred me to a local NHS counselling service.

I eventually ended up having five months off sick from work in order to fully aid my ongoing recovery. During this time, I was still taking our son to nursery on the three days I should have been at work. We wanted to keep him in his routine as much as possible during this time, plus he loves nursery. I usually have to chase him round the room at the end of the day to get his shoes and coat on and have to bribe him with all sorts of things in an attempt to get him to cooperate; which usually fails.

This meant I had three days a week to myself for five months. Bliss, I hear you say. Every parent will, I am sure, understand how precious child free time is, so I do fully appreciate that I have been very lucky to be able to have this time. I would love to say that I spent the time doing really exciting things but that would be a lie. The time was a complete mixture of ups and downs, good days and bad days, as you would probably expect. Some days I found it hard to do much more than to get out of bed, sit in front of the TV and sleep for most of the day. Other days I was able to get out and do things.

I feel I could probably write forever about my ongoing recovery as it is such a long process with lots of ups and downs. Plus I am not sure you ever really recover from postnatal depression, you just learn to cope and manage it better and you become a new version of you. So what I am going to focus on in this blog post is some of the things I have done for myself over the last year to remind myself that I am important too; spending time on ‘me’ is not selfish; and neglecting myself only serves to make myself worse.

One of the first things I did for myself was to book myself in to see an osteopath. Something which I had been meaning to do since our son was born. I suffered badly during pregnancy with back ache and pelvic girdle pain and it had not really righted itself since having him. But of course, I just thought that it was normal to feel like this after giving birth so did nothing about it for over a year. Little did I know, my pelvis had been stuck in the birthing position all year! Luckily, this was quite common (although most people get it sorted out sooner) and it only took five sessions with the osteopath until I felt like I had a new back.

Another thing I did was to book myself onto my best friend’s three week beginner’s yoga course. I knew that yoga practice is good for the mind as well as the body and I felt like both needed a treat. My osteopath had also been talking how important stretching is when sorting out back problems and recommended yoga. My low mood and anxiety was still very prevalent at this point, but knowing that it was my best friend teaching me put me more at ease. She is a truly awesome yoga teacher and if you are local to Sussex and are interested in yoga classes, check out her website and blog at www.laynayoga.co.uk. Unfortunately due to it being early days in my ongoing recovery, I had to miss the second week of the course, as the doctor had just upped my medication and I was feeling a little sick and spaced out that day. She understood.

I had not had my hair done since before going back to work after maternity leave six months prior, so it was definitely due some tlc. I decided I needed a new low maintenance cut and colour so that if I neglected myself again, my roots wouldn’t look so bad. My hairdresser suggested ombreé (the gradual blending of one colour hue to another, usually moving tints and shades from light to dark). So ombreé it was. Having my hair done was amazing therapy, but even better were the chats I had with my hairdresser about her postnatal depression, as once she had learnt about me, she opened up to me. This made me feel much less alone.

I had been thinking about starting a blog on and off for a few years but never really thought I had much to write about or anything interesting to say, so always put it off. Once I had started counselling though, which I will write a separate blog post about one day, I realised that I had a huge amount to say and that talking was really helping me. So, I decided to give writing a try. At first, it started off as notes in a note book which helped to clear my mind of any thoughts I was having or anything that I wanted to talk to my counsellor about at our next session. I was so surprised at how much it almost instantly helped, that I decided to give blogging a go, as an additional therapy tool to aid me in my recovery.

So, I set up my blog ‘From Mind to World’, which was very easy to do (I have no prior experience) and I started writing. At first I had so much to write about that I was writing almost daily, sometimes all day. I had draft after draft sitting in folders on my computer, and idea after idea in my notebook. I have no prior writing experience except a B in GCSE English, so I just decided to write from the heart and to not try to be anything. I am pleased to say that my blog has been really well received and some of the comments I have received have been so overwhelming. I have had strangers contacting me to thank me for opening up about my experiences as it has helped them realise they are not alone or to have that conversation they have been meaning to have for a while but haven’t been strong enough. It was amazing to hear that my therapy tool of blogging was not only helping me, but it was also helping others. It has also led to me writing regular blog posts for Mums4MumsUK https://mums4mumsuk.wordpress.com Check it out!

One thing I realised from blogging is how important it is to surround yourself with positivity and things that make you feel good and to get rid of any negativity and things that make you feel bad. One thing so many of us are guilty of (including me) is filling our social media feeds with our ‘perfect’ lives for all to see. I had never really understood the effects of this until my recovery but it is so important to remember that this is not ‘real’ life. It is a snapshot in time of a moment that someone wants you to see. You have no idea what came before or after that photo or even how that person may really be feeling. I took the decision to ‘unfollow’ a lot of people on my social media pages for this exact reason. Not because I didn’t care about them and their lives, but because I needed to look after my mental health as a priority and this is what I needed to do.

I also joined a few different online support groups around postnatal depression and mental health so that I could receive support from others who understood what I was going through (as I think it is so hard to really understand unless you have been there yourself) but also so that I could give my support to others. It has made me feel much less alone, much more ‘normal’ (I know there is no normal) and has made me realise just how prevalent mental health issues are and that, although it is better than it was, we have a got a long way to go before care for mental health is equal with care for physical health.

Notwithstanding what I have just said above about understanding, I cannot finish this blog without mentioning the incredible support I have received from my husband, family and friends. A lot of them haven’t been through what I have been through, but some have. I have never expected anyone to fully understand what it is like living with a mental illness, but this does not mean they haven’t listened to me when I have needed it, tried to understand to the best of their ability or been there for me. Even if they haven’t been able to understand, they have always made it clear that they are there for me. That I am not alone. And that it is ok to need a bit of help from time to time. Life is hard! The support has been truly amazing. You know who you are, and I thank you!

So, these are just a few of the things that I have done to aid my ongoing recovery (I will write about more in other blog posts). The time I have had and the support I have received has been vital to my recovery. I truly believe that without it, I would not be where I am today and I would certainly not be writing this blog for the world to see. It has given me time to really focus on me and remind myself that I can’t look after my family and friends if I am not looking after myself first. I have learnt a lot to say the least!

The journey has been slow and is still ongoing but it’s all about taking small steps and eventually the good days will start to outweigh the bad days.

X

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

Never ending road…

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

 

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Medication 

Today has been a hopeful day for me and my family… 

After God know how many phone calls, screaming, pleaing and crying I have finally got a review for my medication … with no other than a pharmacist at my doctors … the doctors, mental health team, phyciatrist, crisis team failed me … each one passed the book.. they either did care/or take responsibility for my pleas for help, I was told to wait another 7 weeks!! After telling them I couldn’t cope… the medication needed reviewing… I’d self harmed … no one listened … again that feeling of hopelessness creeped in 

Then out of the blue today the pharmacist called me .. he told me he was reviewing my medication and has spoke to 4 different doctors .. after the doctor refered me to the crisis team … he was polite and so understanding .. he was also very apologetic that I wasn’t listen to, and that it had taken so long to get this sorted … he was shocked that they had me on such a low dose of my bipolar medication … he has increased it from 150mg at night to 200mg at night and 200mg in the morning!! I sat here and I cried down the phone thanking this man for helping me.. he in return he apologised again that I had been waiting for so long and that wires had been crossed on there end … it’s truly amazing isn’t it … sometimes it takes a stranger to bring back hope … 

Now with in increased dose I can hope that I might reach that stable stage … I mean wow … the possibility of being stable for the first time in my life is a really promising thought … 

Now to wait and see .. Let’s hope this helps 

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.