3 Years On

3 Years On

I have just had a message from Word Press to tell me my blog is 3 years old! Doesn’t time fly! Unfortunately even though I have had some highs along the way at the moment I don’t feel like I have moved on at all since I started my blog.

I know in reality I have moved on, the issues that I struggled with back then are not all the same as they are now.

This is all my first post said

“I have decided to write a blog to put down what has happened and what is happening to me with regards to my mental health.

Over time I intend to write about the birth that tipped me over the edge and the events that happened before all of that which I believe contributed to my mental health problems that I am now experiencing.”

When I first started writing it did seem to help, I began to become a small part of the blogging community, unfortunately as I was very intermittent in my blogging I never really became really involved and blogs that I enjoyed reading soon slipped by and I’m not sure how much my blog was or is read.

I’m not about to make any grand resolution to write once a week, or everyday, but I think I do need to blog more often. I enjoy blogging and writing, it helps to sometimes get things out that are in my head, and I hope that maybe someone who reads it may feel like they are not alone.

When I started this blog I don’t think I would have ever dreamed that in 3 years time I would still be feeling the same and still be struggling with depression and anxiety. Maybe I can try and make the next 3 years different? Maybe I can finally get a grip on this illness and find the right medication and support to get me to a much better place and then maybe I can be of some help to others that are just starting on that horrible journey of depression, anxiety and any other mental illness.

3 Years On

3 Years On

Next week TJ turns 3, and 3 years ago I was still innocent to the effects of  mental health and names of different antidepressants, even though I’d had a brush with depression at university I had never discussed it with anyone and so it was still just inside my head.

My pregnancy was not as straight forward as the previous 2, and the birth was definitely not, you can read about it here, but briefly I had always dreaded having a c-section, and not only did I end up with a section I was knocked out with a general aesthetic, and spent the next 24hrs feeling quite out of it. I struggled to bond with TJ and I seemed to spend most of my time crying but I was given help after a very sympathetic midwife at the hospital (I had to have a blood test due to gestational diabetes) listened to how I felt and she relayed her concerns (with my consent) to my health visitor.

I denied that I could have depression, I was adamant that I was just struggling to come to terms with TJ’s birth (who for the first few months I kept calling ‘the baby’), I was given extra support from the health visiting team and I was also referred to a counsellor, but by the time our family holiday came round I realised that I was suffering from PND, it took NJ mentioning it, for me to actually vocalise it.

At the beginning of September 2010 I started taking antidepressants (fluoxetine) within a couple of weeks it was clear things were not good and suddenly I had been referred to the  crisis team, a change of meds and things began to settle down. Over the next 2.5 years although my mood and ability has gone up and down, and I’ve had meds changed up and down, I have felt (looking back) that life was bobbing along okay.

Then came March / April 2013 and I find myself in the familiar hands of the crisis team (now called the intensive home based treatment team), they are trying to sort out my medication, which I am not entirely convinced about at the moment, but NJ has convinced me that I have to try what the professionals are suggesting.

I go from feeling calm and happy at times to racked with guilt for being ‘ill’, to full of anxiety and then thoughts of wanting to self harm. I have so far managed 3 or 4 weeks without cutting, but tonight the urges have been incredibly strong, I’m not too sure how I’ve managed to stay safe.

From my point of view I have nothing tangible to be unhappy about, from the outside everything must seem great, big house, nice family, 2 cars, I’m a SAHM, but inside I’m not right and I no longer know why. When I was first ill I could identify with the difficult birth and pregnancy, now there is nothing to identify with. I have spoken to so many people over the last 3 years that all the reasons I thought were why I was / am the way I am, that I have realised none of these are real anymore. I am me, and somehow I have to learn how to live with being me, I have to learn to like me, and possibly love me (although that may be stretching it a bit far!).

I am worried that my current medication is sedating me too much to feel anything, I have been given a lifeline from my daughters preschool and she is going there nearly full time, which gives me the space I need, but more importantly the attention she needs and she is loving it there. I just no longer know how to live properly and I no longer know what it is that I want.

People on the outside will say that I am doing okay as I am functioning, I get dressed everyday and get the kids to school, they are always fed, clean and dressed (okay not so clean at the end of the day, but that’s good right?) and 9 times out of 10 are where they need to be on time. Unfortunately no one can see inside my head, they don’t see the constant thoughts of self harm, the constant thoughts of being unworthy of what I have, the constant thoughts of being an inadequate mother, and I could go on but I think you will probably get the idea.

So that is me, 3 years on, I am now an old hand at reading and hearing about mental health, a conversation that contains talk of suicide and or self harm is often the norm, and I currently seem to be living in a slightly different world to the one I was in 3 years ago.

Parenting?

Parenting?

I have concluded that I am not actually ill, I am just a rubbish parent! If I was ill, the medication I am taking (and that  has been increased on a few occasions) would be working and keeping me level constantly. However, what I now find is that during term time I can cope and manage and life ticks over okay, then come the holidays, when I am alone with all 3 children I can not cope, I have no control over the children and they have no respect for me. This is not an illness, this is someone who can not parent, someone who should not have become a parent. I feel guilty that I am not giving my children the up bringing that they deserve, I am not giving them guidance and the only time I seem to interact with them I am being negative.

I struggle to accept that feeling down, no energy, lacking emotions etc can be categorised as an illness, I accept more that it is in my nature, I was born like this and I am just lazy and can not cope with children or anyone who does not do as I ask. I had a normal upbringing, lived in a middle class town, had friends, went to university, got a job, got married had kids, nothing special, nothing out of the ordinary so no reason to feel down and out.

But I do feel down, I am struggling, struggling with my thoughts and how I am interacting with my children. If I was ill, after almost 2 years surely I would feel better more positive, not crumble at every harsh hurdle, not struggle with my 3 children that I chose to have. I have no one to blame but myself for the way I feel right now, I have created my children, I have molded how they behave, as people always say ‘children learn by example’ and as I am often shouting at my children and not interacting with them it is no surprise that I often find myself on the other side with the child shouting at me and refusing to do anything I ask them to do.

If right now I could make a choice about how to spend the next few days, without any consequences financially of emotionally, I would take myself off somewhere to sleep, read and just be alone, just me, no interaction with anyone, no children and no housework.  Unfortunately I live in this real world, it is the school holidays and we have no extra money for niceties, so today I will get on as normal, we will have breakfast, we will meet up with friends and I will smile and chat and be full of life. I will get through the day, as I always do, and think that there are only 4 more weeks of the holiday’s left and I then things will get back to normal.

Then I feel unhappy that I feel this way, I wanted children, I wanted to be a stay at home mum, but I seem unable to enjoy it, I seem unable to parent and give my children what they need and deserve.

All I can hope is that one day I will learn to enjoy what I have been given and except life as it is.

2 Years On

2 Years On

2 years ago our school holidays started on a Wednesday, I remember this as it was the day I realised things with me were not right. I didn’t say anything then, but carried on as normal as I could, it took NJ suggesting that I may have PND for me to finally take the step and talk to someone about it and start to get the help that I needed.

Now 2 years on, and although I am in a much better place than I was, I am still not fully recovered, I wrote this 1 Year Ago Today and this When it All Came Crashing Down about how bad things were. I can deal with most of the day-to-day stresses, the squabbles and the fall outs, and I have nearly got to the end of the 2nd day of the school holidays and my temper is still intact!

The thing that makes me sad and gives me a heavy heart is that I am not recovered, and even though I have been told over and over again that there is no magic time line to mental illness, I still want someone to wave that wand and take all the negatives away. I want my body and mind to be ‘mine’ again, without the medication, without the thoughts that pop up whenever they feel like it.

I am very aware that my life has changed forever and there is no way of going back to the old me, or my old life, it no longer exists. Maybe this is one of things I have to learn to accept that I am now going to see life differently, I will always be acutely aware of my emotions, especially any negative emotions I might be feeling and I will question if this is leading to something more sinister as it has in the past.

Whilst I continue to move forward through my journey at a very sedate pace, I am hoping that seeing someone from psychological services will help with the return to a more ‘normal’ me and help me learn how to deal with my confused and unhelpful thoughts. I am still on a waiting list, and as with all things to do with mental health there appears to be a long wait till I can be seen, I am just grateful that I am not in crisis anymore.

Now to 2012

Now to 2012

Why not write a blog post about what you are going to proactively change in 2012 and link up below?  Or just tell us all about you and why you want to join #groovingmums or already have done so.

Having looked back at 2011, I think it is only right to look forward to 2012 and to what I hope to achieve or happen.

The main thing I want to achieve is to carry on getting better and getting stronger in an emotional sense. Things over the last few weeks have been good, but as the children go back to school and NJ goes off to work life will become structured which means there is more stress on daily life. Which in turn could mean I find things difficult again, however I will look to 2012 to be positive about life and see things as a cup half full, rather than a cup half empty.

The second place I want to improve is my house, I want to finish de-cluttering, so that we have storage space for things we actually want to keep, rather than keeping things that have been in the same boxes for 5 years since we move into the house! I also want to try my best to keep my house tidy, I am much calmer when the house is tidy and in turn it appears that the children are calmer too.

Finally I want to carry on trying to find my groove with Grooving Mums, Kate on Thin Ice is the driving force behind this all-inclusive club and if you want to know more take a look here.

I will be continuing with my Skills course for the next 6 weeks, which I think has actually really helped me. Unfortunately I’m not sure what will happen at the end, and how I will feel, but its a good start in the right direction.

I have started thinking about what I want to do career wise once TJ starts school (not for another 2.5 years, but if I want to re-train I need to start thinking about it now), I’m not completely sure yet, so I’m not going to write about it, but it is part of getting my groove back to do something for me.

Writing my blog is one thing that is truly just for me, I have always enjoyed writing and I am going to make a real effort to blog more often and make the time to read other blogs too. I am learning not to feel guilty for having ‘me’ time and that it is actually good for all concerned if I do have proper ‘me’ time. I hope this year with my blog I can write about different topics, but also promote PND (not sure promote is the right word there!!) and help reduce the stigma that many women attach to it and others attach to depression as a whole.

I hope to get more involved with The Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation, I talked with one of the trustees in November / December about being part of the fundraising team, I hope that is still possible. I also want to help in other ways if that is possible with spreading the word and doing anything that would help the cause.

Finally I want to enjoy this year, I want to make time to have fun with the children and NJ, I want to remember to make time for NJ, and to also  make time for friends. Without my friends and many of my family I don’t think I would have made it through the last 12 months, but it is only now that I can appreciate what a help and support everyone has been to me.

I think there are many ways there that are working towards getting my groove back, it is however very easy to write these things down, it’s not always as easy to carry these things out. So over the weeks and months I hope that being a part of Grooving Mums will help me keep focused.

The Year – 2011

The Year – 2011

As the year is coming to an end I thought it would be good to take a look at the highs and lows of the year, hoping to see more highs than lows!

It is actually quite difficult to remember back to this time last year, even though I was gradually getting better, life from then is still a bit of a haze. I think things were going ok, I was seeing my CPN weekly, and my medication was settling down. I was however off the alcohol, something that has definitely changed now, as I allow myself a glass of two of an evening.

Closure of my Business 

My First big event of the year was the closure of my on-line toy and gift shop, I had hoped that once I was a SAHM then I would be able to make a go of the business and see money coming in to help with the income of money. Unfortunately I was not well enough to pursue this, and myself and NJ agreed that we had to close the site down as we were spending more than we were making, I think it was also adding to my anxiety, stress and depression. I was upset and very down at this point, I felt a failure, a waste of space and angry that I was unable to do something, that from the outside seemed simple. I think though at the same time I felt some relief, I no longer had to try to make sales, I didn’t have to converse with sales people on the phone about the company, I could simply tell them that the store was now closed, I actually think that this was when I started to answer the phone, and not leave it to ring.

Becoming Unemployed 

The middle of February I became officially unemployed, my maternity leave had come to an end, which meant that I would no longer be receiving an income. I felt deflated and useless, which considering I had wanted to be a SAHM, was a strange reaction. I hit breaking point again, I felt broken. The business had closed and then I was unemployed.

This is something I still struggle with, I have always worked, from age 13 I had a paper round, and then various other jobs, shop work, bar work and during the summer I worked in a factory, I have always made my own money, even though as a married couple our money has always been in a joint account. Things are tight now (like the rest of the country!) and I often feel guilty, although NJ tells me not to worry and we will cope. He is also of the opinion that at the moment I am really not in the right place to try to get a job, and unfortunately I have to agree. I just hope that in the not too distant future I will find myself in the right place and be able to think about what I want to do and start working towards that.

Starting a Blog

With the closure of the business and the departure from paid employment I felt I needed something else, I needed something to think about and do, and so my Mrs Shorties Mind was born, I put myself out there in the www and to begin with I was just me all alone, and then I began to link up via different places and then I got a few followers. My blog was and still is a place to speak openly about what has and is happening to me and hopefully help others that may be going through the same thing, I also now wish to raise awareness of PND, this was a high point for me.

Going to Toddlers

Having lived in my village for 5 years, it was only this year that I found the courage (and support of friends) to finally go to a toddler group. I wrote about it here, not only did I manage to go to the toddler group, but I am now a member of the committee and I feel very much part of the group. It is definitely one of my highs of this year.

Making Friends 

I made 2 very good friends this year, I was already friendly with HR, but it was more of a good natter to and from school, but with going to Toddlers my friendship with HR grew but I also made friends with ZC and since then the 3 of us have helped each other with our battle with depression and also been on nights out and had some fun.

Mental State

The first half of the year had many ups and downs, I wrote about my struggles on my blog, so won’t go into them again, but I think some of my struggles were regarding the looming anniversary of TJ’s birth, I didn’t know how I would be, how I would cope. I was also still feeling down a lot of the time, crying still and generally just not coping. My CPN had mad a referral to a psychiatrist, but it seemed to be taking a while for the appointment to come through.

The appointment came through for 3 days before TJ’s 1st birthday, so I was never sure if the anxiety about it was for the appointment or for the looming birth anniversary. The psychiatrist upped my medication, and informed me that I would be on the medication for at least another 18 months, I was upset as even though I knew I wasn’t better I suppose I had hopped deep down that he would say all was ok and I could reduce my medication. 7 months on from that appointment and I now realise it was the best thing to do, I am feeling a lot better and able to deal with life slightly better.

During this month I wrote about wishing I could go back in time, Time Machine Anyone?, I was also unsure whether I should be celebrating TJ’s birthday or not. TJ’s birthday came and went, and I recorded the event here.

That’s the first half of the year, which I think was possibly the most taxing emotionally, but I did manage to get through the year from May 2010 to 2011 which I now know I should be celebrating, but unfortunately I still feel a tinge of regret that I have put the family through everything that I have.

The second half of the year starts with my birthday, and to be honest, I can’t remember that much from it!

Take That

I did however go to see Take That shortly after, which was great, although not as good as when I saw them at the MEN back in 2007! The lead up to the even was awash with anxiety and thoughts of pulling out and making up some reason not to go, but  I did go, and although the anxiety got me before the doors opened, once we were in, it was great. I went with NJ, NL (my sister) and HB (best friend) and apart from some drunken ladies behind us we all enjoyed it.

Camping

This summer we went on our first family camping holiday, something I had been trying to persuade NJ to do for several years, and finally he had given in. It was a good holiday, everyone enjoyed themselves and we are looking forward to going again next summer. Unfortunately for me I just ‘enjoyed’ it, I know I had a good time, but I seemed to have lost the ability to be excited and super happy. I am glad though that everyone enjoyed the holiday, and hope that next year I can feel more of the excitement about it.

NJ’s 40th

NJ hit the big 40 this summer and we were fortunate enough to be able to have my family look after the 3 terrors whilst we went to a luxury hotel and enjoyed some ‘us’ time. We had a great 1st day, ending with a 5* meal (slightly scary to start with!) NJ really enjoyed himself and I look forward to being able to do the same in a few years time when we have saved enough funds!

Unfortunately I was stupid enough to forget to take my medication that morning and did not have any with me, I was tired during the day, but the following day I was very ill, I was having major withdrawal symptoms and felt awful all day, which kind of spoilt things, but it was a lesson learnt and now I have spare tablets in my handbag just in case.

FJ Starting School

September saw FJ starting school, I’m not sure who was more nervous, me or him! He settled in really well and is doing great at the moment, I guess that is something else to celebrate. Although his behaviour at school is pretty good (did have a small incident with hitting someone!) his behaviour at home is still quite difficult, I just need to learn how to rein him in.

FJ 5th Birthday Party

As we had allowed AJ to have a big party for her 5th birthday, it was only right that FJ had one too, I didn’t think it would be too difficult. We had a church hall and entertainer booked, we just needed to do the food and party bags. How wrong could I be, the party bags seemed to take over my life, we didn’t want to spend much, but also didn’t want the plastic rubbish that they usually ended up with. The theme of the party was a pyjama party, so in the end we came up with the idea of a book, flannel, soap and some chocolate. The book, soap and chocolate was easy to sort, but trying to find fun flannels seemed to keep me occupied for weeks! It was sorted in the end, and with help from some great friends (and NJ) the party went well and FJ seemed to enjoy himself.

Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation

I found out about the Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation through attending a talk by Elaine Hanzak-Gott, the foundation aims to raise awarness of PND and ensure that there is enough help and support for those suffering with it. I am hoping in the New Year to become more involved with the foundation to help others that are struggling with this horrible illness.

Skills Course

After being refered to psychological services it was suggested that I attend a 12 week course which helps you learn how to deal with various emotions connected with depression / anxiety. I agreed to go, but was very unsure after the first session, however I am pleased to say that I stuck with it and have finished the first 6 weeks. I have met new people all with their own problems and we are helping each other with our own ideas of how to deal with different situations. I am looking forward to going back to the course next week and seeing what new things we will talk about.

Center Parcs

At the end of November we went to Center Parcs with NJ’s parents, something we have done the past 2 years to enjoy the Winter Wonderland. The lead up to this had me stressed, trying to plan who was taking what food, thankfully NJ dealt with most of this and I just had to pack the clothes. We did actually have a really good time, the kids enjoyed the pool and me and NJ had some time to ourselves whilst his parents baby-sat. The Saturday afternoon was my favourite time, we had hired a beach hut, which was heated and had a TV, we actually didn’t spend much time there and spent most of it with the kids in the pool. I was with TJ most of the time and it was great to see her enjoying herself as she went down the little slide in as many different ways as she could.

Family Visit

I always try to visit my family just before Christmas to exchange birthday and Christmas gifts. I have 4 nephews, 3 with a birthday in December and 1 at the beginning of January so I like to get the birthday presents to them before Christmas happens. The lead up to this was stressful as I had to get all the presents bought and wrapped. We did manage it though, and everyone seems pleased with what they have got. I enjoyed seeing my mum, dad, sisters, niece & nephews even though it seems a tad loud at times (8 children from 1 – 8.5).

Christmas

So Christmas came, the presents were opened and the food was eaten, the day was not too stressful, but I would like to do things differently next year if its possible. NJ and I didn’t seem to stop all day sorting food, clearing up and then traveling to relatives. Next year I would like to be able to just stay at home all day and enjoy a slower pace of life for just one day.

Mental State

My mental state over the second half of the year I didn’t think had been too bad, but looking back over my blog I have realised that there have been a few hard points, and although I haven’t blogged much in the last couple of months I know that things have been fairly difficult for me. However they have not been as hard to come out of the bad times as in the past, so I will see that as a positive.

On a high note, I have been told by a couple of people now that I seem much better than I have in the past, and seem much happier. I really hope this is the case and that I can finally start to get my life back on track and look to the future.

So what has your 2011 been like?

I’m trying to be a Grooving Mum!

I’m trying to be a Grooving Mum!

So yet again its been a fortnight since I last posted, and yet again I have not managed to look at other posts and comment. Apologies to all, the house has been in chaos and I was slowly sinking in piles of paper, washing and dust!

For me though this is about reflecting on the positives of my life and not on the negatives, or the issues I seem to be living with at the moment! So here are the things that I’ve managed to do over the last 2 weeks.

1. I managed to drag myself out of bed at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning to help run a carbootless stall in aid of The Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation. I had offered my help a few weeks earlier and thought nothing of it till nearer the date and the realisation of the early start dawned! However myself and DW (one of the Trustees) managed to get there at a suitable time and get set up. I have to admit to being rather nervous at first, I had never done something like this before, I had only sold new products for my business, a car boot sale is totally different. Once I got going though I really enjoyed it, me and DW had a good natter in-between sales and I think halfway through the morning I realised how good it felt to be away from the children and doing something for me. We were there for about 5 hours in total and we raised about £100, which was brilliant, and everything we sold had been donated. It felt so good to actually do something for the Foundation for the first time. It kept me on a high for a couple of days!

2. At my local Toddler Group I set up a stall with the last of my stock from my business (Children’s wooden and soft toys & gifts), I was very nervous about it, but I needed to try to shift some of the stock, so it seemed a good idea. TJ was very clingy, but a friend was very helpful and took over the care of her for the morning. This gave me the chance to sell some stock, and also to talk openly to some mums about my PND, I never went into much detail, but I felt quite liberated to admit that I had been ill and with what. Most were very supportive (I hope to build on it this week at toddlers) but a couple were a little unsure of what to say. I did well though, which helps towards Christmas, but also towards the end of my business which I really want to move on from.

3. On Saturday we went out with a couple for a meal and then back to theirs for a drink, we had a great time as usual, and it was great to be without the children. We also had the luxury of a lie in as the children were on a sleep over at Grandmas! I managed to sleep till after 10.00! So I think socialising is definitely helping me find my groove again.

4. On Monday I went to Meadowhall (shopping mall) and met up with a very good friend who I see very little of, it was lovely to see her, we had a good natter and also managed to get some Christmas shopping done. It does remind me when I see her though that we don’t keep in touch enough, I always promise myself that I will but it never happens. Luckily this time we will be seeing them at Christmas so it won’t be long before we meet up again. I think part of getting my groove is keeping in contact with friends old and new, as it really helps to keep you ‘you’ and not just being a mummy all the time.

So this week Kate has set us a few challenges, I’m not overly good at this part, but I will do my best!

1. My challenge to myself, I think that has to be to blog more than once a fortnight! I challenge myself to do at least 2 blogs in the coming week, I have lots to talk about I just need to make the time for ME.

2. Poetry, I always loved poems, but never seem to read or look at them anymore. When I read the challenge the first poem that came to mind is one that I used when I was doing my A-levels, I’m sure it was my Drama teacher that showed it to me. It’s not a lovey dovey poem, its harsh and to the point, but I think it’s a great poem. Its called

Back in the Playground Blues’ by Adrian Mitchell

I dreamed I was back in the playground, I was about four feet high
Yes dreamed I was back in the playground, standing about four feet high
Well the playground was three miles long and the playground was five miles wide

It was broken black tarmac with a high wire fence all around
Broken black dusty tarmac with a high wire fence running all around
And it had a special name to it, they called it The Killing Ground

Got a mother and a father, they’re one thousand years away
The rulers of The Killing Ground are coming out to play
Everybody thinking: ‘Who they going to play with today?’

Well you get it for being Jewish
And you get it for being black
Get it for being chicken
And you get it for fighting back
You get it for being big and fat
Get it for being small
Oh those who get it get it and get it
For any damn thing at all

Sometimes they take a beetle, tear off its six legs one by one
Beetle on its black back, rocking in the lunchtime sun
But a beetle can’t beg for more, a beetle’s not half the fun

I heard a deep voice talking, it had that iceberg sound
‘It prepares them for Life’ – but I have never found
Any place in my life worse than The Killing Ground.

It would be interesting to know what others think of that poem, I think its very powerful.

3. Dancing, I would love to say I go out dancing every weekend, but I think you would know I was not being truthful! So I will do some dancing with the children, most likely TJ as she is so cute when she starts dancing and giggling about it.

4. I’m not so good with these lists, so I will have a think and see whether I can manage to join in or not, but 3 out of is pretty good going me thinks!

So that is me, have you enjoyed the read? Has it inspired you to start trying to find your groove? Why not pop over to Kate on Thin Ice and see what it’s all about.

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