Archive of ‘PND’ category
Tonight I am sitting on a panel for an event hosted by the Female Empowerment Network. We will be discussing whether women can have it all and stay sane, a hot topic for Mental Health Awareness Week. It seemed the perfect excuse to re-publish this letter, which originally appeared in Bristol Woman magazine…
Thank you for not judging me. But for listening, and nodding without telling me I was being silly. You never tried to fix me. You never tried to change me. You knew I was ill and you knew I’d get better. Even when I doubted I even wanted to.
Thank you for not abandoning me. For sticking by me even though I wasn’t very nice to be around, or easy to communicate with. For spending time with me when I couldn’t be alone. And for leaving me in peace when I needed the isolation.
Thank you for accommodating my paranoia without making me feel paranoid. You made the impossible seem possible and made me feel safe. You allowed me time to process decisions and events and protected me when I was unable to think clearly enough to do even the simplest of things.
Thank you for feeding me. And for making sure my children were fed when I was trapped on the sofa unable to move for fear of waking the baby. For the take away meals and cups of tea. For the juice and the dark chocolate.
Thank you for understanding why you couldn’t hold the baby. Or that you had to hold the baby when I couldn’t anymore. For getting why I cancelled plans and hid away. For still phoning even when I wouldn’t answer the phone or return your texts.
Thank you for calming me down when I couldn’t breathe. For never telling me I needed to pull myself together or that I was crazy. For staying strong when I was weak. For being patient.
Thank you for coming with me to the doctors and talking to them honestly about how I was behaving. For not showing your fear. For looking after me. For loving me.
Thank you for still being my friend, my mum, my husband, my family.
Thank you for giving me hope.
Love, me x
Running Shoes: slang, related term: give someone his walking papers.
Depression has been in the news a lot over this last weekend and, sadly, for all of the wrong reasons.
It is as though there are two clear camps on either side of the debate; those who have had depression and ‘get it’, and those who have not, and believe it is simply a state of mind and not an illness. Something that going for a quick run can nip in the bud before it gets a little too self-absorbing.
There are many forms of depression, each one individual to the person suffering. Some may recover with counselling, some may also need antidepressants, and others will need a combination of the two. And yes, some may even find that putting on their running shoes and exercising will help them as well.
Depression can occur on its own or with a multitude of other issues. It may last for days, weeks, or years, coming and going out of your life like that unwanted friend you’ve tried to cut from your life several times in the past. It is not the same experience for anyone and each individual will need their own treatment plan.
Before I had depression, I admit (rather ashamedly so) that I thought some people who claimed they were depressed could do with pulling themselves together. I wondered if they liked wallowing in self-pity and playing the victim. However, since suffering from it three times, I know that those beliefs are an utter load of rubbish and I’m horrified that they were ever something I thought were true. It is a very real illness and incapacitates people every day, but it doesn’t mean that when successfully treated they can’t do their jobs, or raise their children,and I don’t for one single minute think it means they may want to harm hundreds of innocent people.
But I don’t know.
What I do know is that whatever is going on in the poorly brain of someone suffering from depression more often than not makes perfect sense to them. Suicide isn’t cowardly. It isn’t selfish. It is a rational decision to the suicidal person. They think it is the best for everyone andseems like the most sensible thing they may ever done in their life. They don’t feel they have a choice.
It is shocking that there is such a lack of understanding surrounding depression nowadays and it is causing so much damage.
I’ve never had a miscarriage, yet am able to support others through it. I have never had to deal with being terminally ill, and yet I have watched both my father and a close friend die and have helped others going through the same thing. Compassion and empathy aren’t difficult concepts and yet when it comes to mental health people seem unable to find it within themselves to imagine, for just one second, what it is like to suffer from depression unless they have experienced it for themselves. They judge. They reduce themselves to petty updates on Facebook and Twitter. They spout dangerous opinions,which harm others. They compound stigma and make people afraid to speak out.
I am not afraid.
I have depression.
I am taking anti-depressants.
I am having counselling.
I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend and an aunt, and having depression does not make me any less of those things.
I am fighting and working every day to beat this illness and I will not let anyone make me feel worthless or pathetic for having it.
And may I kindly suggest, that if you don’t know what you are talking about when it comes to mental health, you keep your mouth closed.
Put your running shoes on and jog as far away from me as you can.
I wrote this post a couple of months ago, and today, on #timetotalk day where everybody is encouraged to take 5 minutes to talk about mental health, I thought I’d temporarily come out of blogging retirement and publish it.
Backwards: (of an object’s motion) back towards the starting point.
So where am I right now. Well, it’s safe to say I’m not somewhere good. It would seem life is handing me more shit and I’m firmly back at square one. Back where I never wanted to be. Except now it’s not post natal depression, it’s just plain old depression. And it fucking sucks.
It all started with a panic attack that came out of no-where and knocked me for six. A few weeks of trying to convince myself and everyone around me that I was fine only served to allow the depression to fully take hold until I couldn’t do anything anymore except take myself back to the doctors and admit it. And now, four days into a brand new batch of antidepressants, I am feeling worse than ever. It’s so cruel that the one medicine that helps cure this evil illness makes you feel a million times worse before you feel any better, and that it can take weeks and even months before you do feel better.
I forgot how much hard work goes in to simply surviving when you feel like this. A shower can feel like a huge achievement, actually managing to leave the house a fucking miracle. My anxiety is at a level I never knew existed and insomnia has taken hold once more. And we all know sleep deprivation is bloody cruel. My body feels like it is on fire and I am battling minute by minute not to let it overwhelm me.
Oh and the guilt. I feel like such a failure for being here again. I feel like I am letting everyone down. My husband, already not fully recovered from the last time I lost it, my children, all now that little bit older and that little bit more aware, and my friends, who have to deal with phone calls and texts at all hours when I can’t get my fears and emotions under control. I feel like a burden to everyone.
I am angry too. Angry that I’m here again. This year has been one of the most challenging in a long time and I thought I was coping well. Turns out that sitting at your desk on a daily basis crying because your job is so horrendously stressful, then leaving said evil job and embarking on a Masters with three demanding children possibly isn’t the best thing to do for good mental health. If only I spoke up more and asked for help and support instead of putting on the smile, being the joker and hiding behind my, often inappropriate, sense of humour. I knew a long time ago I wasn’t right, but refused to admit it or do anything about it. Powering on through really is a load of bollocks at times.
So what now. Well now I will wait for the side effects to go and the tablets to kick in. Thankfully this is the last week of university before we break up for the holidays so once my assignments are handed in on Thursday some of the pressure is temporarily relieved.
I will not let this beat me. I recovered once and I’ll be damned if I can’t recover again.
Happiness: Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.
I didn’t think it possible,
A dream I’d always chased.
Wishing, hoping, yearning.
Not wanting life to be a waste.
Courage came from deep within.
Forced myself to try.
Worked harder than I ever have before,
Not once questioning why.
Supported by so many people,
All believing I could succeed.
Encouraging, listening, inspiring.
Giving me everything I could need.
I chased my dream and caught it,
I’m so excited I could cry.
Like a dragonfly emerging from a pond,
I’m spreading my wings preparing to fly.
Life is for the taking,
Grab it with both hands.
Don’t stay in stagnant water,
Fly away to different lands.
Spread your wings and gather speed,
Do what you were born to do.
For the only person responsible for
Your happiness is you.
When it’s the middle of the night and I’m not allowed to sleep,
I panic and I feel wretched and I slowly start to weep.
The weeping turns to anger and I feel out of control,
Hate myself, hate no sleep, into darkness I begin to fall.
Evil words leave my mouth and cruelly abuse those who are near,
Words I don’t mean designed to sting all fuelled by anxiety and fear.
Not being rational I think the worse and always sink so low,
I want to run, I want to escape and get out of here just go.
There’s no air, I can’t focus, I need time out just to breathe.
But all I do is hear the noise, and scream and shout and seethe.
And when it stops or I’ve blocked it out the calmness soon comes back,
Rational again, able to cope, with everything colourful not black.
I say I’m sorry, guilt sets in and I feel I’ve let everyone down.
The day is hard I struggle through, wrinkles formed by a constant frown.
Will this always be a weakness, will no sleep a trigger be?
Is this what it’s lasting legacy is, the bitch that’s PND.
Tears: Lacrimation, or lachrymation, (from Latin lacrima, meaning “tear”) is the secretion of tears. Tears formed through crying are associated with strong internal emotions.
Tears bubble under the surface,
I will not set them free.
They won’t escape, just bubble there;
Always a part of me.
Sadness washes over at times;
Overwhelming, sudden, shock.
Instead of listening, addressing, dealing,
It’s in a box, shut tight, no lock.
Not wanting to admit the pain,
Not seeing the honest truths.
Smile and say I am ok,
Believe it, as if smiling is proof.
Please don’t ask too many questions,
Please don’t delve too deep.
I will not cry, I won’t go there,
I cannot bear to weep.
Just know I take cover, hide away,
Say I’m ok, that I’m fine.
Tears will always bubble inside,
But that’s where they’ll stay for some time.
Hope: Hope is the state which promotes the desire of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or in the world at large.
Post natal depression – when you are living it, or watching someone live it – is hell on earth. It’s dark, isolating, terrifying. Intrusive thoughts are your daily companion and the world can pass by in a blur of tears and panic attacks. It is a part of my life I’ve worked damn hard to come out the other side of (three sodding times) and is something I’m terrified of returning. I didn’t realise, until this week, how good I have become at boxing up those hideous times in my mind, and moving those negative dark thoughts and feelings into a part of my brain that I never want to access. I’ve blocked it out, hidden it away and got on with life.
But ignoring something is never wise is it? Ignoring something never means it’s going to go away, and magically disappear. Generally I find that if I ignore something it can come back twice as hard to bite me firmly and painfully on the ass.
Life keeps me very busy and keeps my mind active and full of a multitude of different things…so it doesn’t have room for the past. It doesn’t like to share space with anything other than the present or the future. My mind likes thoughts about what I need to put in a packed lunch, or what I need to buy at the supermarket, or teach my year 5s that afternoon. I’ve become an expert at living in the moment and ignoring anything that stands in the way of that – even a panic attack. And I honestly didn’t realise how good at this I’d become, even almost convincing myself that I’d never really been that ill. That yes, I’d cried a bit and had been sleep deprived, but other than that I’d been ok. Just a bit down and desperate. A sleep deprived mum. It’s not like I was looking back through rose tinted spectacles…I just wasn’t looking back.
Today I met with some truly inspirational people. People who’ve suffered with pre and post natal depression, post traumatic stress disorder, post natal anxiety and puerperal psychosis, or who’ve supported a loved one through it. People affected by perinatal mental health problems and have lived to tell the tale an are now working hard to support others. And today we talked about the illness, discussed how we can raise awareness and start a national week or month dedicated to perinatal mental health awareness and support. Today I remembered what it was like, revisited a time in my life I’d give anything to be able to forget. It was exciting and draining all at the same time and tonight I am at a loss for words as to how best describe how I am feeling. The thought of others suffering what I did makes me want to cry, but it also puts a fire in my belly that is so strong and powerful it makes me determined to do everything I can to support them, and help them, and let them know that this isn’t the end, that they can get better – that there is hope.
Here is a link to the blog post I wrote in January that got the ball rolling 🙂
You know you’re not welcome here anymore,
Go away, get out, I’ve shown you the door.
Don’t you dare come back and ruin my world,
I won’t let you, I’ll stay strong for my boys and my girl.
Get lost, jog on, go away, just scram,
I’ve worked too hard to get well and to be where I am.
You were beaten, overcome, I was rid of your hold,
You can’t break me, can’t destroy me, I refuse to fold.
My ears are shut to your self loathing attacks,
I shan’t be irrational, I’ll hold on to the facts.
You will not absorb my energy and spirit,
You can say what you like for I’ll choose not to hear it.
I’m stronger than you and I win every time,
There’s no point in fighting, all choices are mine.
Try all you like you’ll never beat me,
So give up, f*** off and jog on PND.
This Christmas and New Year, I am fortunate enough to be well. I am lucky that I can see the joy in Christmas and celebrate it with gusto. But for many, I know this may not be the case at all; just like it wasn’t for me last year when I was recovering from post natal depression. Christmas and New Year can be extremely difficult for people suffering with depression. It is not always a merry and happy time of year. It is often a very lonely and difficult period for everyone who is affected by the illness, and supporting someone through it can be – in its own way – as challenging as it is being the person who is ill.
Today I have the pleasure of hosting a moving post about just this…supporting others with PND. And in particular supporting others when you are suffering or have suffered yourself – for many of us who are recovering or have recovered are determined that no one should suffer like we have, because that thought is simply unbearable; you wouldn’t wish post natal depression on your worst enemy.
The post is from the lovely Pumping Mama who blogs, amongst other things, about her experiences of PND with raw honesty at thepumpingmama.wordpress.com. She’s recently blogged about Christmas, and describes it as a ‘two sided coin,’ one side where you are able to enjoy it, and another where you are suffocated by other’s Christmas cheer and possibly feel at your lowest point ever. The Pumping Mama is passionate about mothers not feeling alone, about us all supporting each other through talking, texting, and tweeting, giving hope and encouragement to each other. This post has verbalised many thoughts I’ve had when talking to others suffering from PND, for even though I’ve suffered my experiences may be very different to those of others. For me in particular, the last line says it all.
Supporting Others With PND
Do I make my reality theirs? The feelings they have, the things they’re suffering, may not be anything like my personal experience.
Do I tell them the gritty truth? Do I tell them that I don’t remember a lot of the first year of Moos life? Do I divulge to them that I still have bad days, even now, more than two years on?
Do I just listen? This isn’t about me now. Do I tell them that I can empathise, that I’ve been there, that it gets better?
No one tells you how to support others in life. Is this why we live in such a fractured society, often lacking in compassion for mental health issues? How do we learn how to love other human beings, to hold each other up, to comfort and nurture one another?
I don’t know the answers. I just know my experience, my reality, my journey, and what works for me. All I can do is hold a hand, make a cup of tea, and listen. I’m no expert on mental health, no degree backs up my support. But in the midst of a vastly lonely head space, someone simply walking alongside you is enough.
You can follow The Pumping Mama on Twitter @ThePumpingMama, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ThePumpingMama and her blog is http://www.thepumpingmama.wordpress.com
A MONSTER ATE MY MUM
Written by Jen Faulkner
A children’s book, written in rhyme, looking at Post Natal Depression from a child’s perspective.
First Edition, published on 18th October 2013
Print version: £7.49
An important subject, and one that can be tricky to talk about, is Post Natal Depression, which affects between 10% and 15% of new mothers. To highlight this important issue and to facilitate its discussion comes the story ‘A Monster Ate my Mum’ by Jen Faulkner.
As a sufferer of Post-Natal depression herself, Jen knows how debilitating this illness can be and just how much it affects the whole family, especially siblings. Watching her older children see her suffer and finding it hard to find the right words to explain to them what was happening to their mum, Jen took to something she knows well, her love of writing.
She wrote a rhyming story talking about PND, as seen through the eyes of a child, to help her children understand what was happening to her. She hopes to help other families affected by the illness with the book. The central character, a young boy, goes on a hunt to look for the monsters that have taken different parts of his mum. He looks for her smile, her laugh, her spark.
“Excuse me but have you eaten my mum?
I want her back I want some fun.
I want to see her smile, my mum.
Is she in your big round tum?”
The boy learns that they didn’t mean to eat his mum and that in time, all of the things they have taken will be returned.
“No she’s not here I just ate her smile.
I’ll give it back after a while.
I’m sorry I was hungry you see.
I don’t know where your mum could be.”
Aimed at children across the age range from 2 right through to 12, the initial response from the first appearance of the story on her blog instinctivemum.com has been amazing, and included an invitation to read it aloud on BBC Radio Bristol during Dr Phil Hammond’s Saturday Surgery show. More information can be found on the blog: http://amonsteratemymum.wordpress.com
Currently available through this link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/jen-faulkner/a-monster-ate-my-mum/paperback/product-21257893.html
Jen Faulkner is available to discuss her PND journey and the story it helped to create.
For further information please contact Jen Faulkner: firstname.lastname@example.org or @MonsterAteMyMum