Triggers and Questions

Triggers and Questions

I have stupidly watched the 3 Bedlam episodes and an episode of 999 What’s your Emergency, which was about MH, yesterday and today. It really wasn’t a good idea as it seems to have triggered some anxiety and mild thoughts of sh. Its the first time that I’ve really noticed something making me feel bad, but what is worse is I realised this morning what it was doing, yet I felt compelled to carry on watching it!

I am also triggered by any stressful situations, my kids shouting and not listening to me, my husband getting cross with the kids, my husband being disappointed with me, there are probably more, but mostly it’s triggered by my inability to parent the children and it makes me feel so useless.

After watching the programmes I found myself needing to talk, but who to and what I about I had / have no idea. So I’m hoping that blogging my bring some comfort to my brain!

I seem to have so many questions and thoughts running through my head, that I don’t know what is relevant, what does anyone want to read, why would anyone be interested in me, what will help me, why doing I keep thinking about me all the time?

The last time I saw my psychologist and we came to the conclusion that maybe even after 3 years I have still not totally accepted that I am ill. I am happy to accept that depression happens and other  mh illnesses, and it is no ones fault, no one brought it on themselves, but I can’t accept that for me. I feel that I am to blame, that I just need to pull myself together, get over myself and then everything will be ok. He said that in order to get better I need to be able to accept that I am ill, through no fault of my own, but that is where I struggle, I feel it is my fault I am where I am.

The trigger for my mh demise was having a 3rd child, I struggled through the pregnancy, and then had a traumatic birth – this triggered the depression and over 3 years later I am still struggling. I didn’t have to have a 3rd child, we had 2 healthy children, but it was my desire and NJ was happy to go along with it. I wouldn’t be without TJ now, but what would life have been like if I hadn’t got pregnant? Would I still have sometime through my life ended up in a crisis situation?

I don’t believe that my anti depressants are really helping me anymore and I want to come off them, I need to see what I am like without them – will life go back to ‘normal’ then? My GP, CPN and NJ all know that I want to stop, I’ve just got to convinced the psychiatrist tomorrow that it is a good idea. I know that the antidepressant I’m on (Venlavaxine) is terrible to come off, but that shouldn’t be a reason to stay on it. I know that I may struggle, but hopefully I will have the support network to help should that happen. I also know that I could be fine, and life will start to seem better again. I need to know what is me and what is the medication.

I also need to know why I think like I do, I get paranoid if a friend doesn’t want to meet up, I get paranoid if NJ seems cross, it must be my fault, I’m not a nice person, they are fed up with me etc etc.

I’ve had a bit of an emotional run in with my family over Christmas, it is kind of sorted, but no one has actually acknowledged that I have been upset over it all – no one has said sorry that I was upset. Which makes me think that I’ve always had my emotions and feelings pushed aside by my mum and sisters. When I think about it, I still get upset by the whole thing.

I am trying really hard with the kids to make sure they never feel like they are not listened to when they are upset, that they know their feelings are justified, and to talk to us so we can help. I am also always telling them that I love them. I don’t think my mum or dad has ever said they love me.

So now I have thoughts of not being good enough, I’ve always been the average kid, nothing interesting or spectacular, I’m never missed if I’m not around and contact from people is few and far between. I know there is nothing wrong with being average, but I guess I have always wanted to be outstanding in something, which means I have generally failed at everything I’ve done. I am not got the right personality or mentality to be outstanding at anything. Maybe this is why I always feel I am failing at being a parent and a wife? I will probably never be as good as I want to be, but I don’t know what that person is either.

Anyway, I’ve still got questions and thoughts floating round my head, but maybe they can wait for another day to be outed?

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.

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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Guilt

Guilt

On Monday I listened to Chris Bingley talk about his wife’s untimely death on Radio Humberside only 10 weeks after having a baby following a severe case of PND, she felt she could no longer be here or have to deal with what was happening in her head and walked out in front of a moving train. I also read an excellent article in The Yorkshire Post  about Chris and his wife Joanne’s illness and how he is dealing with the lasting effect of it all.

Chris has set up The Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation to try to get better understanding of the illness to those that need it and ensure that anyone who does suffer has the right support. Chris felt that his wife Joanne did not get the medical support that she should have done and feels that had she been given that support and taken to hospital then she would still be with us today.

Listening to this and reading the paper I can’t help but feel some guilt that Joanne died and I didn’t, I feel that had this not happened then I may well not have got the excellent support that I did. If I hadn’t received the help and care that I did I am not sure what would have happened, I know looking back that I was in a very bad place and I was suddenly surrounded daily by CPN’s worried about what I might do, there was even talk of me going into hospital (something I really did not want to do). All this support was offered to me, but it wasn’t to Joanne which is so wrong, and I know that around the country the care given to women suffering PND varies greatly.

It is because of this guilt that I am so committed to getting involved with The Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation to help spread the word about the illness, help get all health professionals fully informed of what is needed by the sufferer and the immediate family to ensure that someone like Joanne, suffering so badly, does not do the worse thing possible.

Chris has set up an e-petition “Call to Action” for Improvement in Perinatal Mental Healthcare Services to get the government to sit up and take notice and realise that this is a serious illness that effects so many, and when the worse thing happens a child ends up with no mother, the father has no wife, siblings have no sister and parents have lost a child. Please take the time to sign the petition and read the article, the pass the information on, the more signatures we get the more chance we have of this issue being debated in parliament

Getting Your Groove Back Tuesday

Getting Your Groove Back Tuesday

So it’s that time again for Getting Your Groove Back Tuesday being run by Kate on Thin Ice, it’s a place for us all to remember who ‘we’ are. Yes we might all be a mum, wife, house keeper, taxi service, chef etc. But what about you and your ‘Groove’, this is a time to celebrate who you are, and what you have done to get a little bit of you and your groove back this week.

This week has been a big mixture of ups and downs for me, but as this is all about getting your groove back I will just post about the highs.

1. On Wednesday I went out to another mum’s house to join up with the local toddler group committee meeting. There were only 4 of us there, but a glass of wine, some chocolate cake and natter was great, interspersed with talk of what the plans for the next few months at toddlers were! Some of the conversations were quite strange in the sense of ‘how did we get to that?’ but it was good to get out and not have children round my legs. Being on the committee really doesn’t entail much, but it does give me a sense of doing something so I feel good about that.

2. On Saturday I met up with a couple of friends that I went to school with, we went for lunch at a lovely small bistro and sat out in the sunshine. The food was lovely and the lemonade I had was excellent. It was great to catch up with them, again with no children in tow. The only thing missing was a nice cold rose, but as I was driving it wasn’t to be. We also went round a couple of lovely shops selling gorgeous housey nik naks, the sort of shop you spend your time saying ‘don’t touch!’ or you just don’t bother going in, so it was great to have a little browse round. We hope to try to meet up more regularly, although it won’t happen now until after Christmas, too many things happening now.

3. The last thing this past week that I have done, was great. I met up with one of the trustee’s from The Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation to see how I could get involved, I don’t think either of us expected to be out quite so late! Dinah is so passionate about PND and ending the stigma and so am I that we just couldn’t stop talking! I am really pleased that I am going to be involved, I’ve got some research to do at the moment, which will hopefully keep me occupied for a while. I am also going to try to find out when Dinah can visit the health visiting teams in the area. The main thing that Dinah wants to set up is a support group within our town, which is something I really want to do too, so I hope that I can somehow get involved in that too. For me this is hopefully going to help me realise that I can still do things, that I am not useless and eventually it may help me back into work as I will be using my admin skills again (although I’m not sure I want to go back into admin!).

So onto the ‘challenges’ set by Kate this week:

1. Breakfast is always important to me, where possibly though I like to have it alone and watch a bit of the news, this is not always possible as children decide to get up and want feeding too (how dare they!!). I tend to go for cereal most mornings, corn flakes or shreddies is my choice at the moment, and I am trying to stop putting so much sugar on them! Not forgetting the cup of tea, which invariably goes cold before I get to drink it all. When it is a birthday or a special occasion we tend to go for Pain au Chocolate (unless NJ is choosing and then its bacon butties) and croissants. So this week I will get some for the weekend and indulge us a little. I mean it would be rude to not follow the challenge set!

2. The second part of the challenge is not so easy, I’m no good at selling myself and really not sure what to put here…

Thats me this week – not sure how the next week will pan out, but I’ve not managed to be kind to my body, still eating lots of chocolate and other foods I really should be cutting back on!

So what have you been doing this week to help get your ‘groove’ back, pop over and link up with Kate and share.

Reading and Listening

Reading and Listening

At the start of the summer holidays I was lucky enough to find the time to read ‘Eyes without Sparkle’ by Elaine Hanzak. I had been recommended the book by my GP, but only managed to get round to reading it when a friend said she had it. I was told it was a good read so was looking forward to what I might find out.

The book is Elaine’s story of her time being pregnant and how she suffered the worse kind of PND puerperal psychosis. The book recounts how she tried to deal with everything herself, as a mother and a women, that’s what you do, you don’t need other’s help, because you should be able to cope. Unfortunately her desire to cope meant she became seriously ill with PND, she had to spend time in a psychiatric hospital, without her new-born baby, as there were no places at a mother & baby unit. She describes sometimes in detail how she felt and what she wanted to do to both herself and her son.

If you have never suffered PND or Depression you get a real insight into what it can do to you, it really is a debilitating illness. For those that have suffered you realise that many of the things you felt were ‘normal’ where PND is concerned.

What is so great about the book is that it shows there is light at the end of the tunnel. After everything Elaine went through she came out the other side stronger and also determined to ensure that health professionals are better informed about PND and the care patients receive. She happened to be in the right place at the right time and simply by telling her story in Church she now talks to hundreds of health professionals and the general public about PND and about how to be positive in the face of adversity.

So from reading Elaine’s book I was also lucky enough to have an event held locally where she was speaking. The event was being held to raise funds for The Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation and Alzheimer’s. I was so glad that I went, she firstly told her story of her journey through PND, then about the families struggle when Grandma got Alzheimers, and lastly she spoke very bravely about losing her partner to a heart attack only 7-months ago.

With all the above you would be quite right to assume that she is not happy with life, that she feels sorry for herself and she should wonder what is the point. However this could not be further from the truth, she is very upbeat, very positive and wants others to feel the same. When she speaks she is not dismissing depression, or death. For me she spoke about embracing what is happening in your life, accepting the help of others to enable you to move forward and have a better quality of life. Elaine does have dark moments, and anyone reading her blog will know that it hasn’t all been plain sailing, but it is about the decisions she makes and who she asks for help when she needs a shoulder to cry on.

I would urge anyone who is given a chance to hear her speak to take up the offer, she is such a natural speaker, speaking from the heart and engaging the whole audience. The great thing I found about the evening was realising that it is okay to ask for help, it is ok to not be coping, but what isn’t okay is to keep it to yourself. None of us our supermum or superdad, or even supergran. We need to ask for help to ensure that we are able to help others around us when they are struggling.

I also managed to talk to someone from the Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation, which I am hoping to get involved with. I feel very passionate about the cause, which was set up by a father who lost his wife 10 weeks after their baby was born – she committed suicide due to PND. It’s not a nice story, but its one that happens all too often and the Joanne Bingely Foundation hope to help all families know more about PND so the signs can be seen and help can be sought before it gets too late.

So if you are struggling please ask for help, if you know someone who is struggling, please don’t wait for them to ask for help, (sometimes its just too hard to ask), help them and start to share the load.

Getting Your Groove Back Tuesday

Getting Your Groove Back Tuesday

So its into the second week of  Getting Your Groove Back Tuesday being run by Kate on Thin Ice, it’s a place for us all to remember who ‘we’ are. Yes we might all be a mum, wife, house keeper, taxi service, chef etc. But what about you and your ‘Groove’, this is a time to celebrate who you are, and what you have done to get a little bit of you and your groove back this week.

Kate has given us 2 challenges this week:

1. Which song would you play a lot whilst trying to get your groove back? For me this is a hard one, I like lots of different music, so it would just be a case of having some upbeat music on that I can sing to and feel confident. If I find a particular song that seems to do the trick best I will revisit the question!

2.  What can I do to make my body feel better this week? Well for a start I should stop eating chocolate and rubbish! Then I should start to eat healthily, I know that eating better makes me feel better and makes me look better. Unfortunately the knowing and the doing are two completely different things!! I will see how I go this week, and report back.

So to try to get my groove back this week I have:

Been to a brilliant event where Elaine Hanzak spoke, she is an inspirational speaker and speaks about PND and ways to help you deal with the negativity you hold. (Elaine suffered severe PND) she is also now a trustee for The Joanne Bingley memorial Foundation. I found the event very thought-provoking, but I have also decided that I want to get involved in the Foundation, it is something that is local, but also obviously very close to my heart. I really do think that more should be done to support parents with PND. I’ve been in contact with a couple of people, so just waiting to hear what I can do to help – at the moment I am tweeting and face-booking about them.

Unfortunately that is all I have done this week – although I have got something lined up for the weekend, but will blog that next Tuesday!

So go on, what have you done this week to get your groove back? Link up with Kate and share.