About Me

Kent, United Kingdom
I have the perfect family but still struggle to find the light in the darkness of post-natal depression.

Thursday, 28 August 2008


So I'm still working on planning that night out - nothing definite so far but it's definitely coming along!
And Mark and I are also planning a night out together soon (shock horror), particularly as we won cinema tickets in a raffle.
But I've noticed something that may be PND related or just parenting related. I used to watch all manner of films and enjoyed horror with the best of them - Mark and I had a memorable Halloween watching a midnight showing of the Exorcist.
But now I just don't want to watch anything that isn't pink and fluffy. Maybe it's cos I've had enough horror in real life and I want a bit of escapism when I go out.
Maybe I'm just getting old! Any thoughts welcome - polite ones though!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Time for plan b?

So I tried a relaxing dog walk yesterday, as I promised.
But it didn't quite go to plan. It all started well - Mark was home with Tasha and I escaped into the fresh air with just two hairy hounds for company. Well, actually there were three as we had a visiting dog too.
And for the first 10 minutes all was good - until my most challenging canine decided to have a senior (or senile!) moment. About half way along our regular walk I turned to check on him as he was trailing behind as usual and instead of seeing him sniffing a fence as he had been just two minutes earlier, I saw him racing into the distance in the direction we had just come from.
For whatever reason (and I think he became disorientated with all his sniffing, forgot which way we were going, looked up and panicked because I wasn't in front of him - not bothering to check whether I was behind!) he had decided his walk was over and he was on his way home.
So that was the end of the relaxing time and the start of a mad sprint after him, being tripped up by two other rather confused dogs who wanted to point out that we were nowhere near our usual turning point, and besides, couldn't I just throw their balls?!
Luckily I caught up with him just after he had reached the car and, realising I wasn't there, decided to head for home along the road instead. Bless...
So it's on to plan B - I'm trying to arrange a night out for Friday and I have several options to consider so one of them is sure to work out. And there will be no clueless canines in sight!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Return of the wobbles!

Quick update - tearful moments 2, friends squeezed in - 3

It all started so well on Friday! But it didn't take long to go wrong....
There were too many niggling little moments to list - you'd all be reaching for the happy pills before I got half way through!
The important thing is that I managed to survive them and actually I've realised something important as well.
It's easy to get annoyed with Tasha when she's moaning and whining about something - but it's more effective to distract her with something fun to do.
It's easy to feel sorry for myself when I am stuck at home with a slightly off-colour toddler - but it's better to devise a treat for me for when it's over (preferably one that doesn't involve chocolate biscuits!).
I love seeing my friends with Tasha and watching her enjoy playing with their children, but I also need some time away from her. And that doesn't mean when she's in bed, like now, and I've spent an hour frantically clearing up and cleaning and doing mountains more washing as well as preparing lunch.
It means time away from the house. Pre-Tash I didn't exactly live in a social whirl but I did go for drinks after work sometimes, or drop in to see friends, or go out for a meal with Mark.
And I also had time to go for leisurely walks with the dogs without trying to keep an eye on a lively toddler who refuses to stay in her pushchair, and to go to pilates/swimming/the gym (rarely, I admit, but that's not the point!).
Now those things are practically non-existent. And actually, that's mostly my fault. I've been so obsessed with being a perfect parent that I've felt it would be wrong to go out and have fun without Tash.
I do love having fun with her, and I genuinely would not want to leave her for a whole weekend or anything like that, but I would like an afternoon to myself. Or a morning - I'm not fussy! I don't even have to go out, if she does - there are loads of things I would like to do at home that I can't when she's here, even if she's asleep - like sorting out the photos and hanging them upstairs.
So rather than spending this time reliving the problems of the last few days I'm spending it making a promise to myself - and you can all be witnesses - that I will do something just for me in the next week. It will be a challenge as Mark's on lates, but surely that's what grandparents are for?!
I'll let you know how I get on. And thanks for all the comments - it's lovely to know someone is actually reading this and taking the time to get in touch.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Good morning!

Now if we all started life in a good mood like this, wouldn't life be better? All you need is a big bowl of porridge, two spoons, and some birds in the garden for entertainment. We're off to a fun day thing later so let's hope that friday feeling persists!

And now I'm sad.

But it's nothing to do with Tash or PND or my life.
Yesterday, the legend that is Adrian Sudbury, of Baldy's Blog (see the link to the right of this page) died. I never met him and only knew him through his blog but from that it was easy to see what an inspirational and truly great person he was.
So I'll confess to a tearful moment about that.
He had a lot of important things to say and continued saying them even though he knew he had only weeks left to live.
And his legacy will live on in his campaign to educate more people about joining the bone marrow register, even though his own transplant was unsuccessful. So please, think about signing up to save a life. And if you are in any doubt about why it matters a quick click through to his blog should be enough to convince you.
My other tearful moment was at that picture of the chimp and her dead baby. Horrible stuff.
But I suppose on the plus side I've coped with my own mini crises and traumas for the last few days with no wobbles about them.
And I've aquired a reader from New Zealand, according to my statistics thingy - so welcome!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Now I'm cross!

But fret not - you're not in for another whinge about people daring to get on with their lives!
I received today courtesy of my doctor sister an interesting review from the British Medical Journal about the treatment of PND.
And it was interesting - there was a bit about a study which stimulated the hormonal changes of pregnancy and birth in women with and without a history of depression and which resulted in depressive symptoms only in women with a history of PND, suggesting perhaps an abnormal sensitivity to "the normal physiological changes of childbirth".
It talked about ways to prevent it, particularly in future pregnancies, which was of course of great interest to me.
But when I got to guidance about how to treat PND I started to get cross.
Apparently, NICE guidelines recommend a stepped care approach, starting with self-help strategies and non-directive counselling. Which would be where the "listening visits" from the health visitor came in.
Then the next step is CBT - cognitive behavioural therapy. That comes BEFORE any form of medication.
Which was totally not my experience. After the listening visits and self-help strategies ("Why don't you meet up with a friend for coffee? Or have a nice bath?" - that sort of thing) didn't work I was immediately sent away with a prescription from my GP - on my first visit to him!
And when I returned to report I wasn't feeling better, still therapy wasn't mentioned and instead I was given a higher dose of happy pills.
It was only after returning again with no improvement despite the higher dose that I was referred to the mental health team and then finally things started moving.
The review could not be any clearer - it says: "Antidepressants are recommended only if the patient declines psychological therapy, if it does not work or if the woman has a history of severe depression." So why did it not happen in my case? Half my degree is in psychology, and I was totally aware that CBT or something similar was what I needed yet it was only months down the line that I was offered any kind of psychological treatment, and even further that I actually managed to access anything remotely helpful.
I know I sound cross, and that's because I am. Not just for me, because bizarrely the act of having to battle with the medical profession to access the help I needed - and deserved - actually helped me focus on getting through everything, but for the legions of women out there who may not have the strength to fight.
I've said it before, I'm sure, but pretty much everything I read about PND rammed home the message that it was treatable and all you had to do was to ask for help and you would get better.
Yet what happens when you ask and the help is not forthcoming? If you're me, you start fighting (this may sound familiar to some of my colleagues...), but if just the physical act of getting out of bed, getting dressed and making it down to the surgery is almost too much to bear then there may not be any energy left to fight.
And when it can take all the courage you have to make the appointment and confess to "failing" as a mother you may not be in a frame of mind to start arguing.
And then there is a very real risk of serious harm to either the mother or her child. The report itself says: "PND needs to be identified and treated promptly and adequately because it can result in a range of lasting adverse outcomes for mother and child."
Unfortunately that was not my experience. I now have to rely on my Wise Mind - identified from the therapy I PAID to access after almost a year of battling - to convince myself that Tasha is not at risk of "lasting adverse affects". But that's another post.
Rant over, btw...

Monday, 18 August 2008

A new day, a new challenge.

Today I learnt that another of my baby friends is leaving the single child life behind and will soon be a mother of two.
And while I'm pleased for her I'm sad for me.
I know what I said yesterday - hell, I only managed to post it about five minutes ago! - and that's all still true but it doesn't help the way I feel.
I feel left behind.
I feel like the great train of life is chugging along and I'm stuck on a platform somewhere.
I feel jealous that pretty much everyone else is managing to live their life the way they planned.
I feel guilty that Tash is missing out on a sibling when everyone else is getting one.
I feel bad for Mark who I know would have another baby tomorrow if I just gave the go ahead (and the biological stuff didn't take a little longer!)
But hey! I'm doing great. I'm off medication, out of therapy and surviving.
And even though Mark kindly pointed out to me that as of yesterday I'm closer to 30 than I am 29 we still have plenty of time for more children.
And maybe when we have our second everyone else will be on their third and we can still go through it all together.
And I managed to get through today with no tearful moments!

technological problems and traumas

Fear not, I have not disappeared into the ether. I tried to post over the weekend but the stupid computer was having none of it.
Luckily, after the second time I managed to save it and have reproduced it below.
And today's post will follow, with a bit of a change of tone. Such is the life of Liz at the moment...

Grrrr! I just typed out another fantastic insightful post and then my computer died and lost it all!
But first of all, I hope you are all impressed with my latest technological milestone - the post below is from my phone! How cool is that?! Probably not very to all you geeks out there but it is for me...
Anyway, as I was saying before the computer let me down...this weekend has been full of milestones - Miss Tash came with us to buy her first big girl duvet and pillow and picked out the pinkest bedding set she could find.
It's quite wierd to see her in her cot with them - she's no longer a baby and I'm no longer in those hellish early days, and can look forward to the challenges and fun that her childhood will bring.
I'm also now drug free and no longer in therapy, so I guess I'm as sane as I can hope to be at the moment.
We had a really good session yesterday, with talk of how far we'd come, as well as talk of the future.
The statistic that terrifies me at the moment is that after having PND once there's a 50 per cent chance of having it again. That's a big risk to take if we decide to expand our family (with two-legged children rather than four-legged furry ones!).
At the moment I just can't contemplate that, for all sorts of reasons. I'm so not ready, for one. And I'm not ready to put Tash through something that could jeopardise our fledgling relationship - having a sibling would be stressful enough for her, without risking losing mummy to a big black hole as well.
If I'm honest, I'm not prepared to risk losing myself to that hole either. I've worked so hard to climb out of it and I feel like I need to get further away from the abyss before starting any dangerous manoeuvres. That's a really confused metaphor but I hope you understand what I mean.
Of course, that's not to say that we'll never have another child. I sincerely hope that in another year or so, when Tash is old enough for us to discuss her frustrations and attempt an explanation of how I am feeling, we might be brave enough to try.
But for now, I plan to work on enjoying the child I have before she's all grown up and it's passed me by.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Sleeping beauty

Progress all round today as miss Tash sleeps with her big girl pillow and duvet we chose together. Naturally she picked the pinkest one!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

More parenting thoughts...

I came across this today and for half a second I almost signed up.
Then I realised Tash was far too young for us to need anything like it yet, plus I have better things to do with my time at the moment.
But it was quite reassuring to read a bit about the work they do and their general ehtos. Most of it seems to be about teenagers and trying to understand why they feel like they do and working out how to help them communicate.
A lot of what they recommend is the sort of thing I would hope to do when Tash is older. I've always thought it made me slightly too fluffy or loony lefty to remember how traumatic the teenage years can be and to think that should colour parenting (think more hugs and support and less pressure and shouting!) but here is a reasonably well-respected person saying the same thing.
So I can't be doing all that much wrong - not yet, anyway! Feel free to remind me of this post in 15 years time...

Monday, 11 August 2008

supermums and how to survive them...

Apologies for those wanting one of my quick updates - I keep forgetting to do them!
So for the last entry, it was tearful moments 1; friends squeezed in 3.
And since then, tearful moments 1, friends squeezed in 1 - plus assorted relatives! Quite a lot of relatives, in fact...and I managed to avoid catering for them all again which makes it even more enjoyable!
Writing down the amount of tearful moments like that can look a bit bleak, which is how I felt a few days ago. But actually, it's still a huge improvement and that's what I want to focus on. Even a year ago they would have been in double figures...
So...those supermums! Well, over the weekend I decided there were two strategies to deal with them. One was to avoid all parents of children around Tasha's age for quite some time, and the other is just to learn from them and let Tash do the same.
Option one did look quite appealing for a while but is clearly unworkable - or would lead to more problems than the exposure to supermums would. So instead I've opted for option two.
Thanks to those readers who made helpful points about them after my last post - I've taken those on board. The next encounter is scheduled for Thursday so I'll let you know how it goes!
The other big date in the diary this week is my last therapy session on Saturday. That's quite a daunting thought, and there have been a few moments this week when I've thought I should scrap that plan and book in a few more appointments.
But when I think about that rationally I can see it's just the thought of being on my own that is worrying me. And actually, I'm not. Okay, so after Saturday I may not have a monthly unloading session with a trained expert, but I will still have some great friends who often make the same points as she does.
And I will be £70 a month better off, and I will be able to access her if I feel the need to.
This is of course not a sudden, out of the blue decision - we've been talking about it since Christmas and we've worked up to Saturday by looking at more coping mechanisms and plans for the future.
But it is still worrying because I do feel there will be extra pressure on me from people thinking, 'Oh dear, perhaps she is still a bit too nuts and should go back to therapy...'. However, as I have learnt in therapy, that pressure actually comes from me and I need to use Wise Mind (which I always think of like Wise Owl...) to find the truth in a situation.
Anyway - enough deep stuff! For today's other news, did anyone else catch that programme with Vanessa Mae? It was about her considerable musical talent and whether it was down to nature or nurture. There was a lot of interesting scientific stuff in there but for me the main point came in a revealing quote from the violinist. She said: "I was always aware my mother's love was conditional..." and went on to say that although her mother said she loved her because she was her daughter, she was special because she could play the violin well and if she couldn't then she wouldn't be special.
They are now estranged, somewhat unsurprisingly. At least that's one mistake I hope not to make...

Friday, 8 August 2008


They are a dangerous breed, and they are spreading!
Not just the mums who can have it all and make it look easy, but those who do all that and have lovely children who are well adjusted and confident.
For probably obvious reasons I try to keep those out of my "inner circle" and in an ideal world I would like to surround myself only with people who are as wonky as me.
But it doesn't always work like that, as I discovered yesterday when I met up with two friends and their children.
I thought we could bond over the general pants-ness of parenting at times, while our children could play happily together (or stop one step short of killing each other...).
I thought Tash would enjoy the company and we could enjoy a chat.
I ended up wrong on most counts!
Tash found it all a bit overwhelming (am trying to remind myself that this is why she has started at the childminder's) and in truth, so did I, as my glamerous and organised friends discussed everything from potty-training to education.
That sounds bitter, I know, and it's not meant to but I just felt completely inadequate as my daughter clung to my legs while their children played confidently.
Mine threw balls around - theirs understood the word gentle and complied immediately.
To be fair, some of them were older than Tash but even the younger one was displaying skills Tash has not yet mastered.
I did not see this as a reflection on her, but on me and my parenting skills, which must surely be lacking if she is uncomfortable in such a situation.
And the fact that they both had more children than me and more to deal with than me, PND aside, made me feel completely useless.
I did discuss it with one of them afterwards who pointed out that behind closed doors she too has meltdown moments and feels like the worst mother ever. But in public she can put on a brave face - even among friends.
That's something I still need to master - or do I? Maybe that would be another way of pretending mental illness doesn't exist and at least by carrying on as I am I'm being true to myself.
In other news, was anyone else as depressed as me by the Cambridge study that showed most people think working mums (albeit full timers) damage family life? No one bothers to ask what we think of working dads!
And my dates with my husband were lovely - hurrah!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

A return!

I'm back!
Apologies for lack of posting but I was in a foul mood on Monday and simply too busy on Tuesday.
Today, however, things are looking up.
And to save you all trawling through hundreds of words to try to find out how things are I have decided to introduce another simple update system.
Remember the old one? Happy pills taken and rows with top level people at work? Well that is no longer relevant as happy pills are a thing of the past and I have managed at least two weeks without arguments so instead I will be reporting on tearful moments and friends to cram in.
So for this week so far: Tearful moments 1, friends to cram in during two days off 5, plus assorted relatives.
I'd say the first result is an improvement, especially as it was only a brief one and partly triggered by a particularly good book (which is mostly funny but also very very honest about the pitfalls of motherhood), but the second relates back to my waffle about being overstretched from a few days ago.
However, I am not one to be beaten, as I'm sure you will all have realised by now. So I've decided on a new tactic of combining friends. I figure that if I can get everyone to get on with each other then all I have to do is get them in the same place at the same time and I can kill two birds with one stone - or five friends with a few pieces of cake, in this case!
Tomorrow is the first day of the new tactic and I'm hoping to combine at least two sets, leaving me with three sets to squeeze in over two days, plus relatives...at least it's more manageable than five!
And in other news - I have a date with my husband tonight! And another one tomorrow! And hopefully this will be a recurring feature from now on. Although not every night....and maybe not two nights in a row usually. But I absolutely will not mention it in the same breath as abandoning my child or palming her off or shirking my duties.....I'm thinking of adopting that familiar yummy mummy phrase "A happy mum is a good mum" as my new mantra...do I sound convincing yet?

Sunday, 3 August 2008

one step forwards, one step back....or going nowhere fast!

It's been a mixed couple of days here in mad-land...
And it's hard to tell what the overriding feeling is.
Yesterday I was proud and pleased after having a frank and open discussion with someone I had just met about my experiences of PND - and yet again finding that they didn't run screaming from the room.
But she is pregnant with her first baby and confided that she is worried about developing PND once it's born. She's not the first to have expressed such fears to me, which makes part of me wonder if actually my almost defiant honesty is proving to be more of a catalyst for panic than anything else.
After all, it's a bit like birth stories - most people gloss over any icky bits unless they are talking to someone who has already gone through it. I'm lucky there - Tash's actual birth was all I wanted and I am happy to be positive about it to anyone who cares to listen.
But it's what happened after that caused the problems, when the reality of becoming "mum of Tash" instead of me kicked in.
There's maybe another side to that - I can talk about it now because I've come through it. So hopefully I can be a positive sort of role model as well as inspiring panic.
But all of this deep thinking has been making me feel overwhelmingly sad that there has to be such horrible stuff in the world. Experiencing what I have - and coming out the other side, or at least being on my way towards the light at the end of the tunnel - means I have even more empathy than before for people who are suffering, in whatever way.
And I really hate it. I hate knowing what someone newly diagnosed with PND could face, and that the latest unfortunate recipient of my soapbox speech could see what should be one of the best times of her life turn into the worst.
I desperately want to scoop them all up, feed them cake and keep them safe until the darkness has passed but that's just not possible.
So in the spirit of my post-therapy self I'm trying instead to focus on keeping myself as sane as possible and allowing that to help others where possible.
But if anyone does want hugs and cake, you know where I am!

Friday, 1 August 2008


It's a word I read in a book I have just finished, and it describes my life perfectly at the moment.
It's the kind of word I would previously have used to describe my knee - as in, it hurts because I overextended it - but in this case it means overcommitted or spread too thin, to use another great phrase.
I think half the problem here is that I'm no good at doing things in a half-hearted way. So work gets 100 per cent dedication (except perhaps when it's 100 degrees in the office and too hot to think!), and on days off so does everything else.
But with two days, not including weekends which are generally 100 per cent family time, it's hard to fit everything in.
I want to do fun things with Tash, I want to see my friends and I want to be a good friend. And I really shouldn't complain, but I have quite a few great friends which makes it a bit more complicated - if I had just two it would be fine!
One solution would be a monthly rota but that would all fall apart if someone had a crisis outside of their alloted time.
So instead I'm opting for the text and forward option. It's a real 21st century one - if I'm thinking about a friend I'll send them a forwarded email joke, or if they are very lucky a text. Luckily most of my friends are 21st century friends so they know this is code for saying I'm thinking about you and I'm here if you need me.
I hope they do, anyway!
Of course, with my good old self sacrifice schema it's hard to restrain myself from swooping in at times of crisis with casseroles and cakes but I'm relying on people to tell me if that what's they would like.
Which is actually quite a big step forward for me - and another solution to being overextended. So maybe there is still hope!
In other news, I noticed today that I feel most at ease with Tash when she does something clever, eg today she sat on her potty and read a whole book. Nothing ended up in the potty, and of course when I say read I mean looked at pictures, but it earned her lots of praise and me a fuzzy warm feeling of contentment. But when she was putting her feet on the table during dinner that rapidly evaporates.
I'm hoping that doesn't mean I'm going to end up giving her conditional love based on her achievements instead of for who she is.
Another thing to worry about!