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.

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

What happened since my last blog..

So my last blog was an update of how my life has changed in a year since deciding to make a bit of a lifestyle change. I always planned to write it, but I didn’t actually sit down and plan what to write. I just knocked it up in about half an hour off the top of my head. I wrote a quick update and didn’t really think much of it. I actually thought ‘who even cares’?

But after I wrote it, and noticed people were actually reading, and sharing it, I felt kind of weird. I think it then sunk in that I’ve talked openly about my difficult times for a while now and I’ve done it not only for me, but for other people too. Right now, as I write this I’m still feeling like I’ve been given this thing called life and I’m still getting used to it. It’s like I’m adapting to freedom.

So, I feel I’m at the point now where I want to do a little bit more than just blog (although I’m know I’m not very consistent with that). Now I want to actually be there to help anyone who can relate to the feelings I talk about.

I want to offer hope, and encouragement and if I could help change someone, even just one person – to pull them out of that black hole I spent way too long in, that would be freaking amazing.

So, I want to reach out to as many people as possible living with mental illness and tell them YOU CAN BEAT IT. I know you can. Everyone can. I’m proof you can.

There are so many women who look in the mirror like I did and hate every single bit of what they see. Who believe they aren’t attractive because they have a tummy, or they have ‘cellulite’. I want to make them change their thoughts and understand that you ARE beautiful.

There are full-time mums sat at home with children all day who feel they’ve lost their sense of identity. Who feel they’re ‘just a wife and mum’. You aren’t. You’re more than that. You just need reminding

I want to find the women who struggle with anxiety. The ones who really want to go along to something new, but don’t yet have the courage to go it alone. And tell them to just bloody well go for it

I want to find the women who are experiencing loneliness, and bring them together. It is to me, the worst feeling in the world. Loneliness IS a soul destroyer.

I want to find the women who feel they want to improve their health and join a class or gym, but are hesitant that they ‘won’t fit in’, or worry they will ‘feel silly’, or even just don’t have anyone to go with. I want to tell them to forget all that and again, just GO FOR IT. Do it. Do it today (or tomorrow depending on what time I press the ‘publish’ button on this)

If I can reach out to anyone who lives near me, I’d happily accompany someone who wants to give the gym a go but has no one to go with. Or even bring them along to a class with me one night. I’d even pay for them because I personally believe that exercise is the answer to fighting anxiety and depression. I feel like exercise is what’s ‘found’ me. It’s the music, the dancing, the other girls, that feeling of just letting go for a while. It has given me a total mindset makeover.

I’ve actually found it better to go along to classess on my own. That way over time you find yourself chatting to the other girls rather than whoever you’ve gone along with and there is so much potential to make some amazing friends. I know this

And how do I plan to do this? Over the next few days I’m aiming to set myself the task of setting up a Facebook page aimed at women who can relate to any of the above together and we can all kick depression/anxiety/insecurities/lonliness  in the ass.

I want to do it because I mentioned the idea to my hubby and he keeps telling me to go for it and asking what’s holding me back (that would be the tiny bit of anxiety I do still have). Friends I’ve spoke to it about have been encouraging, and I’m experiencing that thing where everything around you seems to remind you of that something which you keep thinking about.

Every single person on this earth has so much potential, and so many reason to be happy. We just lose our vision sometimes and need a little help, encouragement and guidance to find that key which will unlock it. And when you do, life becomes just truely awesome.