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, 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.

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

2/2

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