Being a Parent

Being a Parent

When I was younger I remember thinking when I have a child I will do ‘X, Y, Z’, I can’t remember what I thought I would do differently except to be more openly affectionate. I also remember that I wanted to be a parent so that I had something that was mine, that had never been anyone else’s and was a part of me.

I think like a lot of people I also expected when I was an adult and a parent then I would get respect from those younger than me, I would get respect from my children and they would do as I asked. This expectation has probably come from me respecting those around me and doing what I was told to do, and would never have answered my parents back.

Like a lot of parents, I chose to be one. I was married and had been for several years when we decided we wanted to try for a baby. Luckily it didn’t take us long to conceive AJ, although it was a slightly different story when it came to FJ and TJ, but all 3 were born healthily and to all concerned I had what I had always wanted, 3 children.

This journey started almost 11 years ago, and I guess over the years I have felt like I had a purpose, I was the one raising the children, I was the one carrying the child for 9 months. We both lived through the difficult months of trying to conceive, but I was the one ultimately responsible during the 9 months of ‘incubating’ the baby.

Now we are at the present day and 11 years on, I feel like that purpose has disappeared. We have finished having children, neither NJ or I want anymore, and the decision has been a mutual one. However I am now on unfamiliar ground, TJ is now 3 and when the other 2 were this age I was pregnant, thinking about the next child we were going to bring into the world, thinking about the things we needed and changing bedrooms round and generally preparing for the next chapter in our lives.

I do not have the respect from the children that I had expected, and I have no idea how to gain their respect. I struggle with all 3 children at different times, and all 3 are rebellious and do as they please much of the time. Apparently I have done well with bringing them up as they are very good when they are at school / playgroup and when they are with other people. Unfortunately that knowledge does not help when I am struggling to keep myself going, and deal with their constant demands and back chat.

I thought I wanted to be a parent, I thought I would enjoy being at home with them during the holidays, I thought seeing them grow up would be an enjoyment. Instead, none of this seems true, I struggle daily with their different moods, I struggle having them at home and having no ‘me’ time, I struggle as they grow, as their moods change, and so do their demands and I don’t ever seem to catch up with them.

It’s not that I dislike being a parent, it just isn’t what I thought it would be, I don’t get that warm glow thinking of the holidays, I don’t get that dread when they are going back to school (that’s when I get the warm glow!).  This is when I want a time machine, to go back and see how I was before TJ was born and see how I was then, did I enjoy parenting then? Is it just the depression that has caused me to have a lack of enthusiasm and passion for my children?

This is where everything becomes a blur, I can’t work out what I want or what I enjoy, and I have no idea if it’s me, the depression or the medication? I know the medication has helped in recent months with some very bad anxiety, but it seems to be slowly be destroying me, it feels like the real me is gradually disappearing under a mountain of tablets. I know I did used to have passion and drive and I am sure at some point I used to enjoy playing with the kids, it’s just now everything seems like a distant memory and too long a journey to try and get it all back.

What was your idea of being a parent? Is it everything you thought it would be?

 

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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.

How does Psychology Help?

How does Psychology Help?

I have finally been assigned a psychologist, and have now been for 3 appointments.

I was unsure what to expect, for starters it was a man, I had only ever spoken with female CPN’s and Psychologist and wasn’t sure how comfortable I would feel. Although as I write this I realise that the psychiatrist that I have seen were both male and so is my GP, but anyway I felt unsure about it all. I also did not know what the sessions would be like, what would we talk about, would it be like CBT, would I have homework to do?

The first session we talked about lots of things, why I was there, my family, children, husband, life in general and possibly lot of other things too. I felt fairly comfortable talking to this man, but it was hard to say what I wanted out of the sessions, I just want to feel ‘normal’ and find some peace in my head. See that is what I should have said to him, I will have to try to remember that and tell him next week.

The second session we talked about the difference between being nervous and being anxious, I have also said I was nervous when going to appointments or anything new, but now I am more likely to say that I am anxious and I was unsure what the difference was, I think after our discussion I am inclined to think that anxious is slightly or a lot worse than just being nervous. It would be good to know what others thought about it though. We also ended up talking about the birth of TJ and how it made me feel, unfortunately we didn’t have much time left, so we left the session almost mid flow with a view to continuing the discussion the following week.

This week, I was tired and not so full of conversation, as always he asked how my week had been, which hadn’t been too bad, although I was struggling with my gremlins most of yesterday and had no idea why. So we talked about that for half of the session, and he seemed almost lost as to what to say to me, he kept pondering on what I had said and then would try to say something to make sense of it, which didn’t always work. We then continued to talk about TJ’s birth, how it made me feel, and possibly the reasons behind it, once again he did a lot of pondering and trying to make sense of what I was saying. I left the apt feeling unmotivated, I didn’t feel I had got much out of the session, maybe in a few days time when I have digested it all I will feel differently?

As I am still unsure what I should be getting out of these sessions, and where I am likely to be taken, it would be really useful to know what other people’s experiences are of psychologists. Have they helped you, have you had bad experiences, do you understand what appointments should be about?

I have this bad habit of needing to know everything, why I am feeling the way I do, how these appointments are going to help me and how long will it take me to get back to ‘me’? Ok the last one is like asking how long is a piece of string, but that’s how my mind works!

 

Trying to find my Groove

Trying to find my Groove

Last week Kate from Kate on Thin Ice took a well deserved break from Groovy Mums, but this week she is back in full force ensuring that us mums are finding our groove. Unfortunately I am not sure if I still qualify to partake in this linky as I really have lost my groove at the moment. However I am going to try my best to see if I have done anything remotely ‘groovying’ these last couple of weeks and see how I manage with the challenges she has set.

These past couple of weeks have been really tough, my mood has been gradually slipping since the second week in January, but these last two weeks have been particularly difficult so trying to find something that has been about finding my ‘groove’ is  not easy. The one thing I can think of is that I went to Toddlers today, and was motivated to do so,  last week I really wasn’t sure if I was going to go or not and then FJ was ill so the decision was taken out of my hands (luckily for me!). I also helped with the tea’s and coffee’s as the person who should have been doing it wasn’t able to come. So a very small thing, but at the moment I am trying to remind myself that baby steps are better than no steps.

1. Body – how can you use your outside space to help your body?  Is it time to sort out the garden, jazz up your yard or look into an allotment?  Being out and about more will almost inevitably help your body.

I love the spring time when I can get out into the garden, and I know that I will be able to use my body this year to sort it out. Last year we did very little outside and we have some bigish plans for this coming year. We want to have a vegetable patch, we won’t grow much but we think the children will love to help out, unfortunately I have heard that the weather is not going to be so good this weekend, so I may have to wait a few more weeks before I get out there.

2. Mind – write a short story or poem and share it with us.  It does not have to be wonderful, it just has to be yours.

I am going to pass on this one, although I would love to write a poem or a story, even if I did manage it I would be too embarrassed to actually post it.

3. Spirit – It is Lent which is traditionally a time to make positive changes.  Can you use Lent to help you move forwards in some way?

I wish I could say yes I will use Lent to make positive changes, but the way my mood is at the moment I am not sure if that will happen. I have just had my medication increased so maybe I will see a positive change with my mood and in due course see a more positive me coming out.

4. Blogging – have you considered asking for nominations for the Britmums Brilliance in Blogging Awards?  Do awards for blogging interest you at all?  There is a badge on the top of my sidebar if you want to see my name in lights.  If you would like a nomination from me, please let me know.

Last year, when I had first started blogging I couldn’t get my head round all the awards and didn’t actually take much notice, my blog was pretty small and I didn’t know enough other bloggers to really think about nominating / voting for people.

This year, however, it is very different. I understand it all a bit more, I have also been reading other people’s blogs more and so I know who I would want to nominate. I am also being brave and putting myself forward (there’s a badge top left if you feel inclined to nominate me!) for the Britmums BIB’s, for which I have selected ‘Change’ but only as you have to select just one (I would be happy with any that people think is appropriate). I will now scurry away and hide for being so bold!

5. Special Days – It is Fairtrade Fortnight.  How much do you know about Fairtrade?  Do you support it?  Find out more http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/

I don’t know a huge amount about Fairtrade, but I do know that the people doing the actual work will get a fair payment for the work that they are doing. I think it helps communities be able to support themselves better and therefore feel better about themselves. I do support this idea and when I had my own business we did have some products that were Fairtrade. On some occasions I will not always buy Fairtrade as there are some times that British Farmers also need support.

6. The Big Question – What are you looking forward to?  Beware if the answer is nothing and then do something about it.

This is a very difficult one for me this week, as I have said I have been really struggling these past few weeks and I am pretty much taking each day as it comes and not looking very much further. However that said, Kate has said we need to so something about not having anything to look forward to so,  I will say that I am looking forward to better weather so that I can get out in my garden and start to make it look pretty with lots of colourful flowers and home-grown vegetables.

7. Daft Challenge of the Week – drop the word “dumplings” into your conversation as many times as you can this week.  Perhaps we can get “groovymumsdumplings” trending on Twitter lol?!

Ok, so not actually tried this yet, but I will see if I can and then report back next week!

8. Your Own Challenge – What has life thrown at you?  How are you dealing with the issue?  What information, tips and contacts might help you?

Well life has definitely thrown a big storm at me, I was leading a fairly ok life, with normal ups and downs and then the pregnancy with TJ and the subsequent traumatic birth has seen me extremely low and even though I have had some ups, I am having a big down again. I am lucky though, in that I have a lot of support and am getting all the help I need. The only help I am not getting and am failing to find is a replacement brain, or a magic wand. I am not sure why these are not being sold, if anyone finds either item please let me know.

That is me this week, I am struggling generally with life, but when I think about spring and all the new flowers popping up and leaves sprouting on trees I feel a little bit happy and a little bit smiley, so maybe there is still hope for me yet.

If you are in that place where you are fed up of just being ‘mummy’ or ‘sister’ or ‘wife’ or just need a place to share your journey to a better place for ‘me’ then why not join in the Groovy Mums with Kate?

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Mental Health Carnival

Mental Health Carnival

2 years ago if you had said to me that you or someone you knew had a mental illness, depression, PND, bipolar etc I would have been sympathetic and asked if there was anything I could do to help. I wouldn’t, however, have actually understood exactly what that person was going through, I would not have known how dark some days would be for them or the feeling of no emotions and loneliness. I would also wonder how they could be going around looking quite ‘normal’ or even laughing when they were supposed to be ‘depressed’ and I definitely would not understand how they could not meet up with friends or work colleagues because of it. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I now know exactly what it is like to be depressed, for people to not actually realise and also not be able to see some people. I know all about the dark days, but I have also had a glimpse at the other side, when it starts to get better and you become stronger for it.

I asked to be a host for Carol from Dance Without Sleeping for the Mental Health Carnival as I want to be involved in helping anyone who is suffering realise they are not alone, but also help those that have been fortunate to not suffer depression and other mental health illnesses to know what it is actually like to experience.

I am really grateful for all the people who have agreed to take part this month, I’m not going to go on and on about each post, I think they all speak for them selves. I hope you find them all really good reading, please try to leave a comment for each person and maybe even pass the posts on to get the message out there about how mental illness really feels.

I have 2 posts here that are about withdrawal from antidepressants,  we are told that they are not addictive, I suppose that they are not in the sense that nicotine and other recreational drugs are, but our bodies are addicted to them,  Sheila  from Prozac Withdrawal and Natasha over at Thats the Baby Game have both given their accounts of what it has been like.

Self Harm is a dirty word, that no one wants to know about, I have been lucky enough to be sent 2 posts from different angles regarding self harm, firstly Aisha  from Expatalogue writes about what drove her to actually self harm and Inspector Micheal Brown writes about it from the other side, witnessing people self harming and how to try to deal with it in his blog MentalHealthCop

Postnatal depression (PND) is what brought me to have an understanding of mental illness and these two ladies talk about how it has effected them and how they are moving forward. Marianne from Highly Unlikely Housewife describes how she dealt with PND on her own for many years, but is finally starting to come out the other side. Karen from Discontended Mother explains that she took the brave step of going to her GP and asking for help.

Kate over on Kate on Thin Ice talks about ‘drifting’ through the day, I think many mums will understand how she feels.

Michelle from Mich’s Space writes how her anxiety has affected much of her life, but it seems to have been triggered by the birth of her first child

There is a lot of stigma both towards and by sufferers about mental health, but these three bloggers are trying to help us stop the stigma. Emma from LLM Calling talks about her illness and how she felt when people avoided her. Alica from The Camels Hump talks about how we need to try to cope with the stigma whilst also fighting the stigma. Carol from Dance Without Sleeping highlights one persons battle with trying to de-stigmatise mental health

Joseph Martin from Living Fit, Healthy and Happy writes about how mentally ill people can often struggle with other illnesses due to their low self-esteem, and the struggle to be motivated with life and how we can all play a part in helping those people.

Lisa from Mummy Whisperer Blog writes about her own fight with mental illness and how she has battled it by using alternative methods.

I hope you have enjoyed the varied posts, I am sure there is something here for everyone to relate to.

Carol from Dance without Sleeping is running the Mental Health Carnivals every month, if you would like to get involved or even host one, have a look and see who is hosting the next one.

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Survival Mode

Yesterday fJ was very poorly, he kept being sick and it was that horrible bile right from the stomach. I also had an unwell TJ, although illness unknown she clung to me till lunchtime only allowing me to put her down whilst I rinsed the sick bowl up. This was after a very disturbed night where TJ had been crying out almost hourly for no obvious reason & FJ waking up at 6, saying he thought he was going to be sick.

During this time I felt calm, unstressed and able to cope. I have decided that this must be my ‘survival mode’. My mind does not have time or space to think about me, about whether I may be tired, how worried I may be or even how fed up I might be. I was very much the same when NJ was in ICU several years ago I don’t think I ever realised or accepted how ill he actually was.

I wonder now if that is how I have lived most of my life, when anything unsettling happens I’ve gone into my ‘survival mode’ I’ve kept emotions to a minimum and just kept going, not allowing myself to show any major emotions. That worked for me until TJ’s birth when my ‘survival mode’ broke. It seems like it still works in short spurts such as yesterday, but today as FJ is much better (but still at home) I am back to normality for me at present, although I think tiredness is overriding most of my emotions.

Not Really Grooving!

Not Really Grooving!

Last week I didn’t manage to join up with Grooving Mums, I definitely didn’t feel Groovy at all, or in any way working towards being grooving! I also didn’t seem to find the time to even attempt to join in. However this week I am going to join in, I’m still not really grooving at all, but maybe joining in will help my mind start feeling groovy again.

If you are not sure what Grooving Mums is all about (where have you been?) the take a look here and see what Kate on Thin Ice is trying to help us mums do.

So here are these weeks challenges / questions (not compulsory)

1. Body – do you love or loathe your body?  Celebrate the fact you are a mum by posting here http://cafebebe.co.uk/2012/02/real-mummy-tummies/

I’m not a huge fan of my body, mostly the area I dislike is my stomach (like most mums!), I’ve never had a flat stomach, but have always desired one, even though I know it’s not something we can all have. I was lucky in my pregnancies that I never got stretch marks, but I do feel that after my 3rd pregnancy my stomach is more wobbly. I am unsure though if this is because I had a section and felt unable to do exercise for quite some time, and even now I am not getting going with the exercise lark.

2. Mind – who is setting the standard?  Is it too high or too low?

Not sure about this one and what Kate means by it, but I know that I am setting my own standards for myself too high, I expect myself to be perfect, to have the perfect house, be the perfect friend (that everyone wants to be friends with), the perfect wife, the perfect mummy, basically I want to be the best at everything and I don’t come anywhere near my own standards and this is something that I know I need to work on.

3. Spirit – take time out today to reflect on lost loved ones and to remember those for whom Valentine’s Day will be particularly sad this year.

I am very fortunate at the moment that I have not lost many relatives yet, and as yet I have not lost any friends. However I know as my parents and in-laws get older this is something that will come at some point and actually worry more how my children will cope with the loss more than my own loss. I know a few people who will have been alone this Valentines day, but not well enough to know if they are happy or not. I would like to hope that if it was going t be a difficult day for them that close friends would have rallied round and given support.

4. Blogging – write a love letter and post it.

This is a hard one, I will have a think and see if I can manage to write something.

5. Special Days – It is Valentine’s Day.  Show yourself some love this week.  Buy yourself some flowers or do for yourself what you can imagine the world’s best partner doing for you.  Why not?  Go on, do it and see how it feels.

How I would love to do something for myself, in fact I did have a day to myself yesterday (Tuesday) but I actually did not do what I had planned. My plan was to go to the local town, have a look round the nice little shops, check out the charity shops and even have a coffee whilst I was out. All I managed was a trip to the bank, a quick walk round and then straight back home. I felt unable to go into the shops, I didn’t want to have any interaction with anyone, or feel obliged to buy anything. I did manage to watch ‘Dirty Dancing’ though in the afternoon (whilst blogging!) and that was nice.

6. The Big Question – Do you love yourself?  If yes, tell us how and why.  If not, why not?

My mood is low so at the moment nothing would feel good and loving myself is not something I can do. I am hoping that once I have had a review of my medication I can begin the journey to learn how to love myself as it’s not something I have ever been able to do. I am not entirely sure why I have never loved myself, maybe I am just a negative person, or maybe I have never learnt how to be happy with myself. This is something that I hope my children will learn, that they are special and beautiful and no matter what they do they will always be loved and should always love themselves.

So that is me for this week, I have not done anything recently that is helping me move forward with my Groovyness, my CPN has also recommended that I don’t try to take anything on at the moment or agree to anything. Just because my mood is so low and I am struggling to carry out the basics at the moment and there is no point in making myself feel worse by failing to do something I had originally agreed to.

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