anxiety, autism, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, parenting, post natal depression, special needs, wellbeing

My postnatal depression story

I’m no longer ashamed to admit that I have trouble remembering the first two years of my sons life. I can not tell you at what age he got his first tooth, his favourite food as a baby, his first word or when he began to sleep through the night.  I’m not even sure of what age he took his first steps.

My second child, I can tell you all her milestones. I think that’s mainly due to the amount of times I’ve had to go over them with paediatricians, therapists, doctors. She has autism, and was finally diagnosed at age six just last year.

My youngest,  Emily. I know all her firsts. Mainly because I was extra vigilant looking out for any red flags we had with my eldest daughter.

Each pregnancy was different. All had the usual sickness and discomfort.  But my third pregnancy, I just wasn’t feeling those feelings you associate with pregnancy. The excitement,  the happiness, the eagerness. I didn’t really feel anything.

I brought my feelings (or lack of) up with my midwife whilst getting my bloods done. I was assured it was perfectly normal , due to hormones and it would all settle down probably by my next appointment.

Only it didn’t.  I didn’t take joy in shopping for baby clothes, I was in no rush to pack my hospital bag, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was emotionless.

I booked a 3D scan around the 32 week mark, hoping that would make everything feel more real, I don’t think it did. It was a wonderful experience, of course it was, but the sadness continued.

The years which followed my daughters birth in September 2011 were dark, very dark. I was dealing with the likelihood of my oldest daughter having autism, which was causing stress along with that lingering feeling of worthlessness. But before even falling pregnant with my daughter, I was dealing with body image issues. I hated my appearance to the point it was affecting my everyday life. These feelings got worse. I’d stay home all day unable to face the world, or I’d only leave the house when it was dark. I’d avoid mirrors and my reflection in windows. I’d panic if we had a party or wedding to go to. I hide away in the toilets to avoid any social interaction.  And my heart would pound and my  head spin if I saw anyone with a camera.

I’d apologise to my children, as small as they were and unable to understand, for being a useless mother. I’d tell them I loved them as the tears rolled down my face, and that I was doing my best. I’d ask my husband why he was with me and give him the option to leave, which always left him gobsmacked and confused.

I’d go to bed each night and secretly wish I wouldn’t wake up. I’d have dreams of living a life where I am happy and have friends around me, and wake up devastated when I realised they were just that. A dream

My husband found me a video on Youtube about the ‘Black dog’, and asked me to watch it. I did. I broke down and he told me to get help.

I went to my GP, told her my feelings and filled in a questionnaire. From that she gathered I had depression and extreme anxiety. I was referred to the Mental Health Team. Again. I was already in therapy before falling pregnant with Emily dealing with body image issues. Hence my panic when faced with the prospect of having my photo taken. I was a mess. An absolute broken mess

That was September 2013. From then on I had fortnightly visits from my Health Visitor. She didn’t come to pry or check up on me. She came to lend and ear aswell as advice and support, and I thanked her for that.

October 2013 I began attending well-being courses. I picked up techniques to deal with stress, become assertive and gain confidence.

Summer 2014 I had my first appointment with I think it was a life coach. She pretty much assessed me to see if she could help. She couldn’t. My condition was too extreme.  I was then referred to a clinical psychologist. Again

I met with my therapist every two weeks and I think I had around 10 sessions before I decided I felt ready to face the world alone once again.

I learned through these sessions I was suffering with post-natal depression, and that the depression had even grown DURING pregnancy. I found out through a quick glance at my notes at the doctors surgery as they came up on the computer screen during an appointment, that  I had been suffering with PND after the birth of my second child. I found out through a letter sent to my doctors and a copy to sent to me, that I’d even been suffering with PND after the birth of my first child way back in 1999. I had my son at 21 so I’d spent most of my adult life with depression. I genuinely thought I was just useless, unlikable, disgusting. I was non of those. I was depressed.

PND took away my memories of my first child growing from baby to toddler, it kept me indoors, it filled me with fear, took away my self-esteem and stripped me of my confidence

When the therapy ended, I took up blogging. I decided to chase my dreams and enrolled on a distance learning course. This both occupied my mind and my confidence began to grow. I‘ve taken up exercise, and spend most days either in a gym or an exercise class. I’ve made new friends. I even spend two hours on a Sunday night as part of a team for a local radio station. I’m still building up my confidence to become more involved, but I know I will. I know I can do it. I can do anything if I continue to believe in myself.

Over the months I’ve thrown myself into situations I would usually avoid. I’ve done things I could never imagine doing and I am in a place now where I have never been in before. A very good place and although I am an anxious person by nature, I have my anxiety under control and I will never let depression take over my life or steal my memories again.

birth, general, health, humour, lifestyle, parenting, post natal depression, pregnancy

The truth about pregnancy

We’ve all read stories and watched documentaries where mums-to-be talk about feeling so maternal and womanly and fulfilled now that their body is doing all the things it’s made to do, and how they are fully embracing their expanding bodies.

But maybe we should talk more honestly and openly about pregnany and realise it’s perfectly ok to admit you’re finding it tough and wishing the 9 months over without feeling inadequate or ungreatful.

So I thought I’d share an insight into what to really expect during pregnancy, based on my own experiences

‘Morning’ sickness

How naive was I when I thought it would just automatically stop at I around 12 weeks, like it’s on a timer. It lasted all day, every day, with all three babies. I’m not talking just little bouts of nausea as you go about your day. But a full on hangover. I spent the majority of 9 months with my head in the toilet. Any toilet.

Baby brain

The pregnancy-induced fog which many women experience and scientist ‘claim’ may exist. It does exist and we don’t need a dude in a white coat in a lab to confirm it.

You’ll forget everything where the ability to remember even your own name becomes difficult. I was asked the DOBs of my two children whilst pregnant with my third, along with my due date at a doctors appointment. All I could offer was a blank stare which just screamed ‘are you freaking serious’?

I ended up skint for four days when I incorrectly entered my pin number in the cash point three times and said goodbye to my card.

It’s not just a pregnancy thing either. You’ll still be going to Boots for nappies but leaving with toothpaste and finding your keys in the fridge well after the birth

The sonographer isn’t always correct

From my 20 week scan with my first, we eagerly awaited the birth of ‘Chloe’  and I built up a collection of pretty little frilly dresses and dinky pink shoes.

Some went back to the shop once Callum arrived into the world at 42 weeks, and some my sister dressed him in anyway for a giggle and photos which we will get blown up for his 18th

Obviously technology has progressed over the last 18 years, and they were bang on the money with my other two. But I’d hold out on decorating the nursery pink or blue until little one arrives, and have a back up name of the opposite gender.

Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t just leave the sex as a surprise, but there is no bigger surprise than expecting a girl but giving birth to a beautiful baby boy.

It’s not just 9 months,

The first 20 weeks are the longest, although probably not as long as the last two weeks, or the two weeks after your due date

And if you have pregnant friends or know anyone who is due round the same times as you, they’ll give birth before you. Guaranteed

My hubby made the mistake of telling me one of his work mates had just gone on paternity leave as he walked through the door one night. My eyes widened as he realised he shouldn’t his error. I was due before his wife. I was due before pretty much anyone I knew who dropped before me

Everything makes you cry

News articles, songs, films, pregnancy books, adverts, Call the Midwife, the price of prams, everything. Especially the price of prams

Then there’s the other end of the spectrum when you get ‘the rage’. I’m not a jealous partner. And that’s not because I’m all confident in myself, I’m not. I just don’t seem to feel jealousy as an emotion.

Except whilst with child.

My hubby went to an open day at a gym with his friend. I was fine with it as first, why wouldn’t I be? Till I started to envisage hot girls in gym gear, with a tiny little waist whist mine was that of a baby hippo, and the texts went from ‘are you having a good day’?, to ‘SO ARE THERE ANY WOMEN THERE’. Yeah I felt a slight niggle of jealousy that day

The ‘glow’

Spots, dry skin, bloodshot eyes from sickness – absolute radiance

Food aversions

I remember smuggly discussing diet with my midwife right at the start of my last pregnancy. I had just lost around 50lbs so obviously wanted to gain as least weight as possible,  so sat and confidently told her how disciplined I now was and would 100% be sticking to a healthy nutritious diet of fruit and veg

I could literally only stomach bread, chicken and mash for around the first 5 months as I found myself unintentionally on some king of beige coloured food diet as anything with any colour made me want to barf.

I gained around 60lbs and only just under 9lb of that was baby, lets attribute about 20lbs to fluid, placenta, boobs and uterus, and you do the maths.

bump

Fail

Heightened sense of smell

We’re talking that of  a blood hound. It drives you crazy and it makes you nauseous.

I wasn’t living with my now hubby till about 7 months into the pregnancy, and he knew to remove all the plug-ins before going to his. My new sofa got doused in olbas oil (hubs idea) making the smell even more unbareable than that of leather which was knocking me sick in the first place, and all plastic bags went in the bin. Yes, plastic bags have a smell

I got the bus home from work during my first pregnancy and some fool got on with a pizza. I suffered for 30 minutes with the overpowering meat feasty smell wafting around in front of me.  Ran (or wobbled quickly) home down the never ending street (I lived at number 208), opened the front door and thank god there was a downstairs toilet as I just made it in time

Luckily, it doesn’t last the whole nine months, I’d say 8.

I’m gonna be a good blogger and make this more balanced. The best, most special things about pregnancy, which you think about for years and years after giving birth, probably forever, is the tiny little flutters you feel at around 16 weeks, which turn into little patters then tight squeezed wiggles and kicks which wake you up in the night and keep you awake for hours as you lie and watch growing bump knockout some rather impressive shapes.

It’s without a doubt, the best, most precious feeling in the world.

babycal

So maybe like almost everything else in your life, the best, most wonderful, most amazing things come from the hardest, darkest and most difficult of times.

 

anxiety, asd, autism, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, metnal health, post natal depression, special needs, wellbeing

Who am I and why do I want to volunteer with Tots & Tums?

I,m Louise, I’m 39, and I am a mum of three gorgeous children, and married to Andrew.

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Me and my youngest, Emily

When people ask me ‘what I do’ I’m never quite sure what to say. I mean it’s easy to tell someone you work in retail, or in education, or something along those lines, but I write, and I blog, and I probably use social media way more that society suggests I probably should.

But I do all of those with reason and my intentions are always to spread messages of positivity and hope for those who may need it.

I do this because I have suffered with mental health issues pretty much all my adult life. Once I hit 16, I went off the rails and spiralled into a life which I can see now, is not the kind of life any mother would ideally want their daughter to have.

I had my first child at 21, ended up a single parent at 22, got into relationships with the wrong kind of people, made bad choices, found myself in not exactly ideal situations, but luckily I decided to try and make something of my life by going back into education at 26 once my son started school.

I met my now husband just before I turned 30 and as I was about to graduate from uni, and from then I finally got my life back on track, or more or less. We had our first child together in November 2008, then our second child September 2011.

Our oldest daughter was diagnosed with autism in April 2015, and it was at that point I said I was going to change my life. I had answers now. I’d spent so many years anxious, worrying, stressing. We had answers, a diagnosis and I needed to move forward.

So I set about making changes to my life, little by little and I can say now that I am completely through my depression. I still have moments of anxiety, but I think we all do, and I am now aware of how to control them.

I started by working towards fulfilling my childhood ambition of becoming a journalist and signed up to a distance learning course. From this I pushed myself to travel down to London on my own to do workshops, then smashed another barrier by taking my first exam, and passing. I then made myself completely familiar with my surroundings and what is going on in the area, what’s topical? What do people want to read about?, and started writing feature articles for newspapers and magazines.

I then started blogging and sharing my personal experiences of being an autism mum and living with depression and anxiety. I then took up exercise and it’s through that which I’ve made so many friends. Which brings me where I am today…

Beating depression has made me want to help others beat it too. I want to find people who have lost their way in life, and help them find it again. But I don’t want to do it sat in an office, taking notes, or as an employee who’s able to listen, but not able to give advice.

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I want to do it as me. As the girl who woke up one day and decided to take her life back. I want to find men and women who have lost all belief in themself, lost their identity, lost their path in life. I want these people realise their self-worth, identify their dreams, break their comfort zones and achieve them.

I want to be someone who helps reduce the mental health stats which fill me with tears every single time I read them. I want to be someone who makes a difference to the world, I want to potentially save lives.

And I want to do it all by sharing my experiences of kicking mental health issues and give others the confidence and belief that they can do it too.

anxiety, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, post natal depression, wellbeing

A week of inspiration

At some point in your life, you will be lucky enough to meet someone who inspires you. Someone who in some way contributes to making you a better person. They will make you want to strive for things you always dreamed of and help you realise what really matters in life.

Not only will they be a role model, but they will also be one of the best and most genuine people you will ever have the pleasure and privilege of meeting.

I’m lucky. I have grown such a strong circle of friends over a very short period of time, and every single one of them fills my life with so much happiness and they are all helping me create memories.And I can’t possibly go a single day without talking to or seeing at least one of them.

But this week, I’ve been left feeling completely in awe and so inspired by three of them in particular, and this blog is for them.

Firstly, Debra. Debra very sadly lost her sister to a brain tumour in March 2015. I’m sure she won’t mind me sharing that. She has since dedicated all her time to fundraising for Marie Curie Care, the charitable organisation which supported not only Debras sister in her last days, but also her family. In the short space of time I have known Debra, I have only ever seen her smile. She has such a positive outlook on life which makes me question any bad days I have. As we get older I guess we’re all guilty of having a little moan as another birthday approaches. I did just last year, until Debra mentioned that she’s just grateful each year to be alive. Just to be around to celebrate another birthday. I’ll never complain at growing older again.

Then there’s Rachael. I’ve met Rachael only a handful of times, but this has been more than enough for her to leave a lasting impression. Rachael suffered firstly with anxiety, which then turned into depression, and the depression got deeper after the birth of her daughter Evie. She not only shares her experiences and talks about them openly on social media to raise awareness, but also runs a voluntary support group for other mums and dads feeling the same. Rachael does this all whilst still suffering bad days herself. She does it because she just wants to help others. To provide a support network for those suffering with post natal depression to let them know they are not alone. I strongly believe we need more advocates like this to talk about their experiences of living with mental health issues.

And Melanie. I’ve known Mel for almost 2 years now and she has had such a massive impact on my life. Overtime, I’ve realised she’s had a massive impact on quite a few lives. She’s our dance fitness instructor and she has brought so many women together, and she has literally transformed lives. It’s through going to Melanies classes I met both Rachael and Debra. I can’t talk for everyone else, but she’s give me back everything I ever lost, and everything I’ve never had.

But not only that. Melanie has also raised funds for a variety of charities. Her last one just last night hosting a family disco and raising £380 for Northumbria Bright. Melanie does all this whilst having a very busy life as a teacher, and mum of two gorgeous girls. She is truly awesome

These are just three women I know who selflessly spend so much of their time, making a difference to the lives of others, and they need to know just how amazing they are.

So next time you are touched by someone, what someone says, what someone does, tweet, blog, text, post, comment, and let them know how they or it made you feel. Tell people and tell them often just how much they matter. Not only to your life, but to the lives of others too.