So, it’s Thursday again, and I just wanted to start this post by saying that this week’s poem for #Prose4T could be interpreted in a number of different ways. It was not necessarily written from my perspective (although throughout different parts of my life it very easily could’ve been) but it could also have been written about me, when I was ill with PND, or by someone else completely. Thank you, as always, for reading x (Oh and next week I promise to write something more uplifting 😉 !!)
Count to 10, and Walk Away
Your words go deeper than you know,
Hurt inside deep down,
Childish words said out of anger,
Pure nastiness behind the frown.
Said to cause me so much pain,
To cut me when I’m weak,
Uncontrolled outpouring of hate,
Whenever to me you speak.
Is it because you feel so guilty,
Because you don’t know what to do,
Is it because you hate me,
Because I really feel that you do.
You never offer comfort,
Your words are never soft,
They are nasty, mean and horrible,
From across the room they waft.
Make me feel it’s my fault,
That I’m not worthy of your love,
Make me feel so horrible,
They envelop me like a glove.
You know just what to say,
Just what will hurt the most,
And you make me a shadow of my former self,
A tiny, insignificant ghost.
You don’t know when to stop,
You can’t control your voice,
It’s as if you are possessed by evil,
As if you don’t have a choice.
But it’s when the children hear you,
When they see you be so cruel,
That I feel I’ve let them down the most,
That I feel like a total fool.
They shouldn’t be around it,
Shouldn’t hear those words be said,
They should only hear words of kindness,
Only have nice things in their heads.
So please next time you hate me,
Or don’t know what to say,
Bite your tongue, keep it closed,
Count to 10, and walk away.
Sunshine is sunlight, the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the Sun, especially in the visible wavelengths. (Wikipedia)
So today is Monday, and this week’s #magicmoment is brought to you by sunshine. (Sunshine, what’s that? I hear you cry!) Well, it’s a lovely thing that comes from the sky, and brings with it light and warmth. It makes everything look more beautiful to me. And it gives me hope.
Yesterday was my middle child’s 4th birthday. He’d already had his party (Bleurch, read previous post lol!) so the day was going to be a simple family day. Just the five of us, plus my Mum up from Cornwall. The birthday boy wanted a Wagamamas for lunch, and a robot cake. Simple. As the clocks had gone forward that night, getting up at half past seven hadn’t seemed so bad. (I tried not to think about what time it really was as I am NOT a morning person at all) We came downstairs, he opened presents and had a lovely breakfast together. Simple. We played with the toys he’d been given and then my mum arrived. Still simple, still so very lovely. We all went off to Wagamamas. Lunch was eaten and then we returned home. Simple. And it was after we returned home that for me, the magic happened.
For those of you who have read my blog you will know that I have recently been quite poorly with post-natal depression, and thankfully am starting to come out of the other side. In just over a week’s time I should be completely antidepressant free. It’s been a tough few weeks reducing my medication, but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be, and for me, yesterday was another giant step forward. Another moment when I realised, and believed, that I really am getting better. And it was all because the sun came out. Tentatively at first, peeping out behind a few stray clouds. And then slowly it became stronger, and warmer, and out for longer stretches of time. There is always a temptation when the sun is out to quickly rush out of the house, to go somewhere, to enjoy every second of it and make the most of it whilst it’s here. Get our bikes, pack a picnic, hike up a hill. All wonderful things to do, but I forget that I actually have a perfectly lovely place to enjoy the sunshine not more than two metres away from me most of the time. A place that doesn’t require hours of planning, endless packing and organisation and more often than not a lengthy car drive. My garden!
So into the garden we went, and as we sat there, in the sunshine and for the first time in what feels like such a long time feeling warm, I felt a huge sense of optimism and hope. I watched my children laughing and running around and I felt hope for the future, for a summer full of sunny days (We are ALL most definitely due one!) For a summer where I can spend time with my amazing family in my garden, and in the sunshine, and actually enjoy it! Last summer was swallowed up by a giant black cloud for me, both literally and metaphorically, and I was unable to really enjoy any of it. I mostly spent it crying, panicking or trying not to run away and never come back. But this summer, when my youngest will turn one year old, I know that I will truly be back. The magic of the sunshine yesterday made me know that I will be the person I used to be, before the b**** that is PND took me away.
Have not had many feelings,
For so long they disappeared,
And if I felt a feeling,
It was strange, bizarre, so weird.
The tablets took it all away,
Made me feel quite blank,
But they meant that I could function,
And not feel quite so rank.
Made those dark days disappear,
Trudging through treacle no more,
Made me want to live again,
Not run screaming through my front door.
Am now I’m learning to feel again,
Happiness, sadness, each one,
And learning how to live a life,
I thought forever gone.
Those tablets saved me once before,
Got me back on track,
For now they’re gone, out of my life,
But I know they might be back.
Today I’m feeling happy,
And positive at last,
I’ll hide those dark dark feelings,
And consign them to my past.
I know I am recovering,
It’s refreshing how clearly I see things,
And I know I am so lucky,
To be enjoying these positive feelings.
I have now turned this poem into a storybook. You can read it here. And now, you can also buy the finished book on Lulu.com.
Mummy used to laugh,
Mummy used to smile,
But I haven’t heard her giggle,
Or seen her happy for a while.
She sleeps when it’s daytime,
And is awake all through the night,
I don’t know why, I don’t know how,
But something isn’t right.
She doesn’t shower ever,
She doesn’t even get dressed,
Her hair looks like it needs a brush,
It’s an awful, dreadful mess.
Her eyes are full of sadness,
When she speaks she sounds so flat,
I heard her saying she’s ugly,
And stupid, and useless, and fat.
I want to make her better,
To put a smile back on her face,
I want for her to be happy again,
And for our home to be a wonderful place.
But for now I’ll give her cuddles,
And rest my head upon her tum,
And if ever meet the beast,
I’ll whack the monster that ate my mum.
Expectations: Part 2 (The very honest part)
So after my ranty post last week, it’s time for some honesty.
As I have previously said, I have high expectations. Very high expectations. Maybe too high expectations. I believe that if a job is worth doing it’s worth doing well. And in stark contrast to when I was growing up, when people would always comment, ‘Ah, she gets there in the end!’ things for me now need to be very immediate. I expect results, quickly. (That’s why I hate trying to lose weight, it never bloody comes off as quickly as I’d expect, or would like!)
So when I first got pregnant I naturally had expectations. Of the pregnancy, of the birth, of what being a parent would be like. And with my first, and every baby after, those expectations changed, and were either challenged, or exceeded.
To begin with, when I was 24 years old, I didn’t expect to fall pregnant. Nor did I (Unsurprisingly!) expect the father of the child to say that I was a ‘slapper’ (I wasn’t) and that the baby couldn’t possibly be his. Several long and lonely months and one rather expensive paternity test later (funded by the father, not by Jeremy Kyle) I was proved right. Then, I expected things to change. I thought the hard work was over and that I wouldn’t be alone in this anymore. That he’d be around. But I shouldn’t have expected anything like that. After a pregnancy where he saw me only twice and wasn’t present at the birth, I was silly to expect him to want to get involved. He didn’t. At all. He went to Crete for a holiday when our daughter was three weeks old, saying he was stressed about being a father and needed time out. *Insert own swear word here* So…he was in Crete, sunning it up, and I was awake 24 hours a day feeding a dependent little baby. I was exhausted. And felt isolated. I remember one particularly difficult day, when my Aunt came round to meet my daughter. She held her and said, ’She’s gorgeous, I bet you can’t stop looking at her.’ And I smiled, an empty smile, and said, ‘Of course.’ But inside, all I was thinking was, ‘Actually, I could quite easily stop looking at her.’
Don’t get me wrong, I loved her, very much, but as many new mums are I was exhausted, and completely and utterly overwhelmed. I would think, ‘What have I done, why can’t I settle my own child, what am I doing wrong?’ The health visitor wouldn’t even let me fill in the mental health questionnaire at my six-week check. She said I was obviously depressed. (No s*** Sherlock) But no support was offered. No anti-depressants, no counseling, no nothing…oh, except a half an hour visit to teach me the basics of ‘crying it out.’ My baby girl was just six weeks old. And I was told that crying it out was the only option, my only option, and the only solution to my problems. No recognition of the fact that I was doing it all completely on my own. That I was exhausted and doubting myself. That most of all I needed support, and encouragement, not some hideously awful method that leaves both you and your baby in even more tears and a worse state afterwards than you were before. But I was desperate, and against all of my instincts I followed the health visitor’s advice. One night my daughter cried on and off (with me going in regularly as instructed of course) from midnight until five o’clock in the morning. And so did I. But agree with it or not, eventually it worked, and she slept. And I began to feel better.
I met a lovely group of mums who met regularly. We each took in turns to cry when we were together, (Thankfully our meltdowns all seemed to happen at different times!) and we were all so fantastically supportive of each other. I never expected to make such wonderful friends through having a baby. And good friends we were, for several fun-filled years. But as our lives changed, so did our needs, and our friendships sadly fizzled out. I’d never expected that to happen either.
So…I put my post-natal depression down to the fact that I was a single parent, sleep deprived and struggling alone. And it was never mentioned or talked about again. Until I got pregnant with my second baby. (This time planned!)
My daughter was 6, and I was living with my now husband. I was excited about having a baby. About having a baby with a man who wanted to have a baby with me. I didn’t expect all of the unresolved problems and emotions from my first pregnancy to come back with a vengeance. I became irritable, panicky, suffering so many palpitations that I eventually needed an ECG, which thankfully was normal. I became a jealous woman, over obsessing about some woman my husband worked with. (Yes I even checked his phone and emails) I would cry, a lot. I couldn’t seem to get a grip. My poor husband could do nothing right (Don’t get me wrong, he’s not perfect by ANY stretch of the imagination, but he didn’t deserve the abuse he was getting) and my daughter didn’t understand where the mummy she knew had gone. So pre-natal depression was diagnosed. And this time I was offered counseling. There was a waiting list of course, but thankfully not too long. Counseling was hard. I regularly didn’t want to go. Didn’t want to talk about myself yet again. (Which is MOST unlike me!) I had light-bulb moment during session four, where I realized that I was subconsciously expecting my husband to be as big of an arse as my daughter’s father. That I was taking out all of my hurt and anger on him. And annoyingly now, even as I write this I’ve never been able to stand up to my daughter’s father, to tell him what I really think of him. He’s in her life now, every other weekend and I’ve left it up to her to make her own judgments about him. It’s not my place to tell her I think he’s an *insert own insult here* I should perhaps tell him one day though.
Anyway, my first son was born and it was wonderful. He slept better than my daughter had and I had a man there to help in the middle of the night. (Plus an iPod with games which I hadn’t had the first time!) I had however, expected to breastfeed. I tried. So hard. And he kept losing weight. So formula top ups were suggested. After only 3 days. My milk hadn’t even come in yet. But they worked and thankfully he gained weight. My milk came in and I stopped the top ups, expecting it to all be ok, like it had been with my daughter. (Well, until three months when some idiot on his mobile phone driving a massive lorry crashed into my car and the stress of the accident caused my milk to disappear overnight) But it wasn’t ok. My son lost weight again. My big hungry boy either wouldn’t latch on properly or my stupid boobs wouldn’t work properly, or the crash did untold damage. I had no choice but to continue the top ups and mixed feeding, and did this until he was twelve weeks old. I never expected to feel guilty about not fully breastfeeding, I was always and still very much am pro-choice, but I still do feel guilty. It’s not as easy as they say it is. It’s bloody hard work and it doesn’t always come naturally. No matter how hard you want it to work and no matter what you do, sometimes it just doesn’t. As always the media and social websites don’t help, often comparing formula feeding to smoking, but…I digress and once again that, is another blog post!!
So onto my third (and definitely last baby!) You’d think having done it twice before I’d be well prepared. That my expectations of parenthood and being a mum would be pretty much spot on. That nothing new could throw me because I’d been there, done it all and got the t-shirt! Oh how gloriously wrong I was. My third baby, my second son, would see all of my expectations get thrown out of the window. He would challenge them all. Every single bloody one of them. My first son had slept, and I’d coped, why on earth would I expect having this baby to be any different? But he didn’t sleep, at all. And I didn’t cope, at all. I couldn’t understand it at first, ‘But my babies sleep’ went round my head and out my mouth often. And yet he still didn’t. He didn’t do what I expected, and I wasn’t coping how I’d expected and it threw me. I spent my days unable to look at him as if I did I would have a huge panic attack. I firmly believed that I couldn’t look after him, I was scared I wouldn’t be able to stop the crying. I spent my nights desperately trying to get him to sleep, crying uncontrollably when five minutes after he’d settled he’d be crying for me again. I’d scream at my husband that I couldn’t do it, that he needed to take him away. I constantly planned how I would run away, where and when I’d go. (Middle of the night, to a friend up north) I mentally wrote the note I would write and leave to tell my husband that I couldn’t be a mum to this baby, that the family was better off without me because all I did was panic and cry and shout. I’d cling to my son during the day and not let anyone hold him because then he would wake up and the crying would start. People now say I looked trapped. I certainly felt trapped. Everyone knew something was wrong. Even me. But I just thought I was sleep deprived. That when I got more sleep I would feel better. Unsurprisingly I didn’t. Five weeks in and my son was only waking once in the night for a feed, yet I had developed insomnia, and would cry all night, unable to sleep a wink. Thankfully my health visitor recognised that I was ill. Very ill. And one day, when I was sat in my car outside the supermarket, thinking I’d rather go to sleep and never wake up again than live because life was just too damn hard, I recognized that I was ill too. And that I needed help. And lots of it.
I never expected to get post-natal depression. And when I did, so badly the third time around, I never expected to be able to get better. But I’m getting there. I’ve been very lucky that I’ve been referred for CBT and art therapy and see my wonderful doctor regularly. But I’m also lucky that I have those high expectations of myself, and that I will do anything I can to get better and be the best mum I can for all of my fantastic children. (Um and yes, a good wife to that husband of mine too!) And get there I most definitely will.
Thank you for reading x