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

Motherhood is exhausting.

I’ve been feeling the strains of being a stay-at-home Mum lately. Any one else? I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been struggling and feeling alone in it all.

I’ve not been able to get out of bed, eat or even sleep properly – it all became a little too much for me!

What have I done to get myself out of this depressive hole you may ask?

  • Made myself comfortable. Whether it was laying in bed or going for a walk – I was following what my intuition was telling me to do for my mind. Riding the wave and literally waiting for it to pass.
  • Forced myself to challenge negative thoughts such as “I’m not a good Mum because I’m laying in bed doing nothing!”. How about turning that around to “I’m a good Mum because I’m putting myself first for my recovery!”.
  • Made sure I was safe. I let people know I was struggling, whether that was my mental health team/family. When I received their support I felt so much more supported and less alone.

So does self love and positive thinking really help in your darkest moments. Yes. Its tough though, really tough. As it’s like standing up to a bully and saying “get out of my head, I love myself and I’m strong”.

I’d love to hear how you manage your depressive episodes and what you think your triggers are?

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

Obsession

Even before having my daughter, I’d always enjoyed cleaning. I always felt better once everything was polished, hoovered, swept and washed. Like I was cleaning myself in a way. To me, a clean home meant a clean mind almost.

This need to keep a clean home seemed to magnify as soon as I had my daughter. In the hospital I would busy myself tidying up all my possessions around my bed and even making my bed. Utterly pointless but I felt I needed to do it in order to maintain some form of order in my new world of chaos and uncertainty.

Once home I continued to tidy up and clean. Well, on the days I wasn’t sat over thinking every possible situation in how my daughter would end up hurt or dying. These obsessive thoughts turned into intrusive ones quite rapidly. I would have images in my head of my daughter being injured due to some action that I caused and I would physically wince and get extremely upset by these. I would become fixated on everything that I did during the day and if any of my day to day activities could harm my daughter. Luckily I saught help quite quickly and these obsessive/intrusive thoughts soon lessened. But my need to clean never waned.

I get a bit upset and anxious if I see any dirt or dust, or if I know I haven’t cleaned in a few days. I must drive my husband nuts by asking him to do bits and pieces while I’m out at work in the evenings. Even then it doesn’t really stop me being anxious because I haven’t cleaned it. Not that I don’t trust my husband to clean properly, I think I actually like the process of cleaning and seeing the dust/dirt being swept away. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something and knowing my home is clean for my daughter is obviously a bonus.

To try and manage my cleaning habits, I try to rationalise to myself on a daily basis that my house, in the grand scheme of things, IS clean. I also pencil in one day a week when my daughter is at her child minders and im off work to have a good clean of the place. I also allocate time for myself too, I like getting my nails done or going out for a coffee and reading a book. Simple things really!

In short, I’m trying my best to realise that life is more about cleaning. My gravestone won’t read “she kept a really tidy home”, because what does that matter? All tgat matters is that I love my family and do my best for them every day. I don’t think I’ll ever get to grips with my inbuilt necessity to clean, but I’m happy I know I have it under control.

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

Mothers with illness.

 

 

Mummy, why are you sad?

The topic I would like to discuss today is around motherhood and mental health.

As a mum in today’s society we are very much expected to be superwoman, I mean all mums are! However, in the older days it was normal to have neighbours, friends, family help you. Now, if you ask for help there is something wrong, people wonder why you cannot manage alone.

Being a mum is tough, there are many positives (I won’t go into), but it is very hard work.

What makes this harder is poor mental health.

I do believe there is a “normal” level of mum guilt to be expected in any relationship with mother and child. The first time you leave them, when you return to work etc.

Having a mental health problem on top of that just escalates the guilt a million times.

As noted in my last post I have depression and anxiety. I am using medication currently which seems to be taking the edge off, but for a long time I was untreated. Being a mum with these problems does not mean what people think it means.

It’s not that I don’t love my child.

An example of a day with combined mum guilt, depression and anxiety would go like this:

7am Daughter wakes up, she is happy, springing to life. I try desperately to wake; I struggle profusely and want to cry due to the little sleep I obtained the night before due to racing thoughts.

I get up, Wednesday is our day off, and I have had this since she was born as it made me feel better about leaving her at nursery the other 4 days. So on a wed, I feel so guilty about sending her to nursery that I NEED to take her somewhere to have fun, spend money on her (guilt and anxiety).

I am extremely fatigued at this point already.

SO we may go to the cinema or soft play, these in themselves exhaust me as physically I feel constantly weak, and I am anxious in social places due to my anxiety about terrorism.

We get home following dinner out; we play with toys and games.

 

I really want to cry at this point, as I don’t want to play games, I want to lie down in bed in the dark and rest, I feel drained and exhausted from our day but I will keep trying to amuse her as I feel too guilty not to.

I spend my entire time amusing her, when really I should be also spending time cleaning or preparing dinner as we take turns cooking in our home. I know she does not need constant attention, but I get anxious from the feelings of being a bad mum that it is almost as if I have to prove myself to her.

By the time 5pm comes, the house is disgusting, there is no dinner ready for me and my husband, and I am tired, weak and tearful, and snap at my husband the second he walks in. I feel content in the fact that I now share the responsibility of my daughter and I can leave the room.

I will later then go to bed and not sleep due to hating myself for not cleaning the bathroom today, not hovering the landing and providing a good home for my daughter.

This is a viscous cycle that continues until I have the strength to break it again.

Being a mum with problems is difficult, I have good and bad days, above is a bad day.

On a good day I may go all day not noticing my thoughts, and we have a great day like I normal mummy. On a bad day I notice a change in her behaviour, it took my mum telling me for me to notice the pattern.

I would see my mum and tell her I am having a bad day due to my daughter being naughty, well in fact as my mum noticed when I woke up stressed and was overly trying to keep busy and distracting myself and her due to my low moods and anxiety, she could pick up these negative feelings and I triggered this behaviour!

I find good days are easy to manage (hate to point out the obvious), of course they are not instagram perfect, but they are manageable. I feel that is key, I used to re think my day and think about what I could have improved on, (I still do on occasion) but I now try to see good days as achievements, if I only became irritable a few times but was able to be out most of the day, engage with people and actually embrace society and my family then I reflect on how well I have done that day. I now discuss these days with my husband on the way home, it sounds silly but he will congratulate me on having a good day and tells me he loves me.

On my bad days, he will take my daughter out and let me rest for an hour or so, which before when I was at my worst I would not allow him to do, as I would feel too guilty to waste my time resting and push myself despite the exhaustion and anxiety and I became very angry and suicidal. Now, I rest.

If your phone dies, you would re-charge it. Why do we not consider re-charging ourselves?

We are human, we have energy, and we waste and use energy. I had to think biologically what am I doing to myself, I am already exhausting my body by having anxious thoughts, stress levels are rising, blood pressure rises and I experience a wave of panic and release of hormones. Instead of resting (recharging) following this drain on my body, I push myself to carry on, to go to work, to play with my daughter, to be a good wife. I then know how tired I am and that I am only offering half of my intentions and feel guilty about this and the cycle continues.

I am learning to recharge myself! As mums we have to, we are first and foremost humans, and without charged batteries we are only surviving and not living.

Our children need us to live, not survive.

It is not easy to adopt this way of thinking, especially when depression and anxiety is involved as your thoughts will tell you that you are lazy, neglecting your duties etc. And I still experience this, but I try breathing heavily through these thoughts whilst resting.

My daughter once asked me why I was sad, this was following another day off where she had a fab day, but I was emotionally and physically exhausted and was near breaking down and cried in the car on the way home.

I do not want her to ask me why I am sad, she is 4. She will learn to accept mental health as I will educate her in this as she grows as I want her to be open to her feelings and expressing these, but never again do I want my daughter to be concerned about my well-being.

We all have good and bad days, mums with mental health difficulties especially.

Embrace family, friends, and breathing techniques and make time to re charge yourself to enable you to live.

 

Casey

xx

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

 

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

Who am I?

I am a mother to a sweet 2 year old called Eden.
My journey into motherhood hasn’t been easy. After two miscarriages I was determined that I would never cradle my baby in my stomach to my arms. After many months of sickness and being so frightened I would loose my baby I did not bond as well as I could have during pregnancy, I didn’t want to get attached to her in case ‘something bad happened’. After a ‘failed’ induction which led to an emergency C-section, I felt a failure as Mother that I couldn’t deliver ‘naturally’ and due to all of the drugs I had taken during labor, my baby girl found it impossible to latch onto my breast to feed.
I felt that I was failing her; I didn’t hold her first, I couldn’t breastfeed, I didn’t change her first nappy or give her that first bath at the hospital – because I was in so much pain from being sliced open – that would be a rational thought. My mind however deemed it as a failure before I had even started Motherhood.
Skip forward a couple of months, I was a single parent – doing it alone. A failed relationship, sleepless nights, nagging opinions from others that I should accept because they’ve ‘been there, done that’. I began to crumble. I couldn’t cope. I didn’t want to be alone with my baby girl because I felt inadequate, I kept comparing myself to other Mums and trying to feel more for my daughter than what I should but… I felt numb. It was routine and exhaustion. I was alone, with a new life that needed me, needed me to be on top of things, needed me to be happy. I was aching, I was isolated and lonely.
Eden was 7 months old when I decided that life wasn’t worth living anymore, the daily struggle was too much and I honestly felt that she deserved better than me. What kind of Mother was I? She deserved better – my thoughts kept haunting me.
It was at that point I sat in my GP’s office and spoke to one of the most amazing Practice Nurses out there that got me an appointment with the local Mental Health Team. Infront of the Mental Health team I expelled 7 months of tears, tears of failure, guilt and resentment towards my self. I couldn’t stop crying as I looked at Eden whilst she slept in her pram next to me. I was wondering what her life would be like without me, consumed by these thoughts I was honest with the Mental Health team and even though my condition was really bad, I practically had to beg for help. Awful.
I was put under a crisis team and psychiatric Nurses visited me every day for two weeks. I was placed on Venlafaxine and I am currently still on these meds at 225mg. I have also been put on a low dose of anti-psychotics; 5mg of Aripiprazole – which really helps my anxiety. I also went through CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) three times and have took some useful techniques from it regarding anxiety coping mechanisms but I am now on the waiting list for a more intense therapy with my Mental Health team in their psychology department- there are some deep trauma’s that need to be addressed but for now I am now in a position where the bond with my daughter is so strong and the love I have for her is undeniable. She is my universe.
I feel that I had to go through that hard point to get me where I am today and it has taught me a lot about how to manage my Mental Health. I am hoping that by setting up ‘MUMS 4 MUMS’ blog and Facebook group support page that we can share experiences of how resilient we are as Mothers and that we have faced our lowest points but still keep going. Awareness needs to be spread in this day and age about the complications of post-partum Mental health to try and save lives and families and support Mums’ who really just need someone to talk to or feel heard, which is why I am so passionate about everything I do for ‘MUMS 4 MUMS’.
I hope you have found support and comfort in reading blog posts from wonderful, amazing and inspiring women – keep posted as there is more to come! 🙂

 

MUMS4MUMS UK

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

Fluoxetine

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.