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.
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 🙂
Insomnia: Insomnia, or sleeplessness, is a sleep disorder in which there is an inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep as long as desired.
Yet my brain screams noise.
Breathing becomes quicker,
Eyes wide open.
Thoughts whirl, never stopping.
Heart beats out of time.
Stare at the ceiling,
Stare at the walls,
Need an escape,
Need rest, peace.
Tears well in my eyes,
Inconsolable, wound up,
Give up, get up.
Alone in the dark.
Brain at war with body,
Eventually shuts down.
Trudge through the day,
Sleep will greet me,
like an old friend.
Control: Control (management), an element of management. Control freak, a person who attempts to dictate how everything around them is done
I have to start this post by once again apologising for it not being polished and perfect. It is simply an outpouring of some rubbish that’s in my head which is making me feel a bit crap, and blogging always seems to help! It’s nothing serious and no-one needs to panic that I’m spiralling back down into some nasty dark place, but equally I hope you don’t read this post and think I’m total a drama queen! I’m not. Things just get on top of me sometimes.
So…here I am, sat in bed, feeling somewhat out of sorts. I can’t quite put my finger on how I’m feeling, a bit like I’ve been dumped, have a hangover and am in the middle of a very weird dream all rolled into one. So many things in my life are happening and changing and are out of my control. I don’t do out of control. I make a messy drunk and swear I’d only be happy on a plane if I were the pilot.
Several things have conspired over the last few weeks and even months that have contributed to me feeling as such. Many of them I have been unable to control. A few years ago when anxiety had an evil grip on me I tried to practise the art of ‘if I can’t control it, then I’m not allowed to worry about it. But how do you not worry about your 4 year old who isn’t putting on weight and hacks up a horrific amount of thick yellow grunge on a daily basis? How do you not worry about your 12 year old daughter relishing what little freedom she has and beginning to make more and more decisions in life for herself? How do you not worry about family and friends who are going through a tough time and you can do nothing to support them or fix things and make it all better? How can you not be concerned about your son who starts school in September, and whose best friend has now moved to the other class so he hasn’t the support and friendly face he needed on that first day?
During my real job I am a primary school teacher and well known control freak. I’ve tried to job-share and it hasn’t worked, namely because I couldn’t control the people I worked with. That sounds harsh, I’m not a complete bitch and in fact am praised at work and respected for being supportive, empathetic and approachable. But at work I like order. I like things to be done to the best of everyone’s abilities, I know where I stand. I haven’t worked now for over a year and am not due back until January and sometimes worry if it’s this lack of routine, lack of feeling in control of things that adds to this weird way I am feeling at the moment.
And the reason I’ve not worked for so long…..the birth of my third (and final) child. The child who cannot be controlled in any way shape or form. We all know that becoming a parent means losing control of so many things. Your freedom. When you sleep, eat, shower. You even lose control of whether or not you can drink a cup of tea whilst it’s still warm. (and I wont mention the lack of control over certain bodily functions) This last year control has completely left me, run away and hidden in some far off land not returning anytime soon. Naively I thought that with my third I’d know what to do, get it all right, have it all sorted….but…no! Never have I had to trust my instincts more, listen to my baby more and lose what little control in my life I had left. And although most days this is ok, some days I find it frustrating. I want to be in control. I want to be on top of things. Drink a hot cup of sodding tea, go to sleep when I bloody well want to, be on top of the laundry and have a clean and tidy house. Ah the house!
Our house is a perfectly nice house. I’m not homeless and I live in a lovely area, yet in January after several long discussions with my husband about how he’d lived in this house since he was 6 and needed to move on and be the man of his own home, we decided to put our house on the market. I was also very keen to move as I’ve never really felt like this house is my home. Buying it off my in-laws seemed like a great idea at the time, but it still very much seems like their house. When my mother in law comes to stay, for example she will unconsciously put things back where she used to keep them, and our garage and loft are still full of their stuff. So, we were excited to move, to find our own forever home. However, I was soon to become frustrated at the lack of control over the sale of the house and I became more and more despondent as no viewings happened.
To cut a very long story short, a couple of weeks ago we found our forever home. The owners wanted to downsize and knocked on our door asking if we could do a house swap. Not quite believing it could happen my husband and I were cautious at first, but the other family were the driving force and were soon phoning or coming round daily asking how quickly we could move. Numbers were discussed and a deal was done. We were beside ourselves with excitement at the future this new house help for us and our family. It really was our dream house. Our forever home. One where I imagined grandchildren coming to visit us. And then on Sunday, returning from a weekend away we found a card through our letterbox saying the move was off, with no explanation. Now, I am VERY aware that I sound like a spoilt brat crying over spilt milk, but I was devastated. The life I had imagined for my family gone. My dream shattered. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve cried quite a lot over the last couple of days. So silly really, it was just a sodding house. A house I wanted but didn’t really need. Please don’t think I’m some ungrateful woman who doesn’t appreciate what she has got because I do, I really really do, but I think the loss of the house is just the catalyst for my current emotional state and has piled on top of the other crap I feel I can’t control and has been building up over a while. This year has been one of the toughest I’ve faced for a while and the new house represented a new start. A new beginning for us all where we could shake off all the crap that’s happened. But sadly it’s not going to happen, it simply wasn’t meant to be.
I know I need to learn to let go more, to analyse less and be more relaxed. I’m learning with my youngest that he isn’t a baby who does anything by the book and he is teaching me to lose control a little bit at a time….he’s very good for me! I’m also a firm believer in fate and that everything happens for a reason, even if we don’t ever know or understand that reason. Many of the things that I am feeling so out of control about can be resolved or won’t seem nearly as important in six months time, and I will learn to embrace those that can’t be resolved; for life is one big adventure and it would be dull if we were always in control of what was going to happen next…I guess…