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, 30 October 2008

back to basics

Breathe a sigh of relief, dear readers - no job rants today!
Instead, I thought I would return to the point of this blog and share some more thoughts/experiences/waffle about PND, or my life in mad-world.
This was mostly prompted by an article in The Sun, of all places, yesterday - maybe some of you saw it? Lisa Tanner, who helps to run www.mothersvoice.org.uk, shared her experiences about PND in the wake of a welcome verdict that a woman who threw her baby from a hospital window should not stand trial for attempted murder.
I say welcome, because that's what I think - some of you may disagree.
But I would guess - and I'm willing to be corrected - that those of you who disagree and think she should be locked up for a long time (he survived and is now a healthy 18 month old, btw) have never experienced such severe post-natal illness.
Lisa bravely confessed she wanted to drive a car with her and her baby daughter into a brick wall. I have felt similar urges. I've wanted to drop Miss T from a great height, I've wanted to hurl her across the room. Not recently, thankfully, but back in the dark days when she was about the same age as the baby who was thrown out of the window - and older.
Does that make me an attempted murderer? Okay, I never acted on those urges, but that's because throughout it all I was able to recognise with some small part of my mind that this was all part of the illness and I did believe that I would soon get some help.
I don't know the woman in the court case. I can only remember vague details about it. But I do remember feeling so, so angry when I heard about it at the time. Not because of what she did, but because she was allowed to get to that point.
There are so many treatment options available, which I've ranted about before, that there really is no need for anyone to feel like that. She was in a hospital at the time so I would guess people were aware of her illness. But clearly no one was helping.
Things seem to have changed since then, according to anecdotal evidence I've been given. Friends of mine who have braved having a second child report that they are now given the Edinburgh test for PND twice, when their babies are tiny and at about five months.
And one who was given a PND diagnosis says she was "practically stalked" by her health visitor after that, and still is now even though she is off medication and doing great.
To her, that's a pain - she finds it intrusive to be asked how she is doing every time she visits the clinic with her baby, or to have phone calls from her health visitor just to check how she is.
But it's something I would have loved at the time I was going through it all.
Miss T is calling so here the rant must end (do I hear another sigh of relief?) but I couldn't go without just quickly mentioning the ever-so-helpful (aka patronising) 'fact box' that went with the feature. By The Sun's GP, Dr Carol Cooper, it is headlined "Lowdown on the blues" and proclaims that the cause is unknown and it is amazingly common. That's all fine.
But then she lists some of the factors known to increase the risks - none of which I had. I know I'm special, clearly, but I find that sort of stuff really unhelpful.
And her last comment really annoyed me - "The main hurdle is recognising the symptoms and seeking help...."
I'm sure we all know by now that wasn't my experience - my main hurdle was accessing appropriate help that actually made a different instead of being given a prescription and fobbed off.
I really hope she's right and things have changed though.
That's it, I promise!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Bad things about not working....

1) Days and days stretching in front of me with nothing to do except be a mum.
2) A lack of purpose to the days unless I try so hard it feels fake.
3) Maintaining a positive air in day to day life and in countless job applications despite a deafening silence from employers.
4) Losing contact, or potentially losing contact, with friends at work.
5) How do I answer the inevitable question: "So what do you do?"

Answers, hints or tips on a postcard please!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

five great things about not working!

It was going to be a list of 10, but I thought that was a bit ambitious for me!

1) feeding ducks

2) not setting the alarm (I'm ignoring the fact that it went off at 4.45am today because Mark was working!)

3) No morning rush

4) I have no idea what day it is!

5) more time for meeting up with friends.

See - I can look on the bright side!

Oh - and another one! On a good day, it feels like I'm back being 18 with my whole life ahead of me. I'm no longer stuck on one career path - I could do anything I like! Assuming, that is, I can convince someone to take me on. Or there's always the self-employment route....it's actually quite exciting!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

ups and downs

Today was my last day at work. When I say work, obviously I don't mean ever - I hope.
But it was my last day doing the job I've dreamed of since I was 15, and have loved doing ever since I left university.
I always used to feel smug when people moaned on Sundays that they had to go to work the next day - I never had that feeling. And after a week off I was always itching to get back into things.
There is part of me that wonders if this whole situation is somehow a lesson for that smugness, but I know it's actually just a reflection of the global economic situation. Really, I do.
And everyone else seems confident I will get another job quickly and I'm trying to share their optimism. But patience is not one of my strong points, and at the moment it's frustrating to send applications off into the ether and then hear nothing at all.
But each one I send off is better than the one before as I get more used to the whole process of selling yourself on paper - which after all is something I should be more able to do than most as words are my profession. Or were...
Sorry if this all sounds a bit negative - it's just a low moment which I think is understandable today.
And actually, picking up Tasha this evening was a wonderful tonic and I'm quite looking forward to spending some real time with her with no worries about work. Apart from the obvious one!
I do have plans - I am working on some volunteering opportunities, and have planned "job-hunting" time each day and I hope they will help me keep positive.
And all the lovely comments I get on here help as well - I can't tell you how lovely it is after a day of feeling worthless and useless and, well, redundant, to come on here and know people are reading and care.
So thank you all - and I hope to have some good news to share soon!

Thursday, 16 October 2008


What a lot happens in a week! Sorry for the delay in updating this but I've been a bit busy in the 'real world' after my redundancy was confirmed on Monday.
Obviously now I'm jobhunting with a passion (without my email signature pointing to this blog!) but I must also confess to some panicking.
I am genuinely really excited about the new opportunities that lie ahead but in the back of my mind is the knowledge that I'm not great at being a stay-at-home mum so I need to work for my sanity, as much as for my financial situation.
The weekend provided a bit of a reminder about that as I had one of the worst days I have had for a long time in terms of falling back down the black hole.
I found myself in bed mid-afternoon, listening to Mark and Tasha playing downstairs and just unable to motivate myself to get up and join in.
And that terrifies me - I've worked so hard to get back to the fluff and I fear this whole situation could blow it all away.
Of course, when I think about it all logically, I know things are different now. Tasha is that much older and I enjoy spending time with her. We've had several days with nothing planned where we've just enjoyed each other's company and hung out together so there's no reason to think that more days like that will end in disaster.
But it's been an emotionally difficult time which has also demonstrated how fragile things still are so I need to come up with strategies to help if things do deteriorate.
I only have two so far, so I need a bit of help!
I'm reminding myself to turn off my filters and read/hear what's actually being said. There was a perfect example of this in an email I had in response to a speculative CV I sent off. I read it as "you're rubbish and we don't want you here" but what it actually said was "Your skills and experience would be welcomed in our office but we have no vacancies at the moment".
And I'm planning time each day to focus on job application stuff, even if it's just checking emails or scouring the papers, because it helps me retain a bit of control.
But that's it so far, and if I face a prolonged period of unemployment I'm not sure that will be enough. So all contributions are welcome - as are job offers!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

honesty - or not...

I've been job hunting lately - more of that another time - and it's been another of those experiences that teaches me a lot.
Today I was at a job fair, which is something I had dreaded, but which actually turned out to be quite fun. And I learnt I am quite good at selling myself - and might actually have something that employers want to 'buy'.
Such positivity was unthinkable a year ago, when my self-confidence was low and I couldn't imagine why anyone would want such a useless person as me on their team.
So I also learnt, again, just how far I have come.
But I was faced with an interesting dilemma - I've had to email a few CVs out to people and the usual signature on the bottom of my email is this blog address.
It was a hard decision to make to put it on there in the first place - it's one thing getting all this sort of stuff out in the ether but it's another to actively point people towards it.
But as the title suggests, I am not ashamed, and I don't care who reads this - to a point.
I have to confess that I did delete the signature when I sent out my CVs. And it's hard to explain why.
It's not because I am ashamed - if anything related to PND or depression or mental health came up in an interview I would happily discuss my experiences because I am proud of being here and I think it makes me a more empathetic person.
But it's also not the first impression I want to give people. My CV is a very positive document, as you would expect, and the covering notes that accompany it are also enthusiastic and professional.
And as that electronic version of me is what will decide whether I get as far as an interview or not then I want it to be as appealing as it can be.
There's a part of me that thinks I should leave the link on there and stuff them all but the realistic part of me knows the sort of world we live in, and that I need a job to pay the mortgage.
And while of course if a prospective employer took the time to trawl through these missives they would be suitably impressed with my strength of character and personal achievements, not to mention my wit and intelligence, it is more likely they would just click on the first page.
And if that happened to be a report of a bad day then my CV would be going the way of the world's economy, ie down the pan.
So for now I'm a candidate without mental health issues.
I do feel like I'm letting everyone down by hiding it in this way but the economic reality must take precedence here.
And of course once I get my shiny new well-paid job I will be directing all my new colleagues in this direction.....

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Just a quick one!

Not much to say in the life of Liz but I was interested in a little bit I spotted in a national newspaper.
Apparently LM Montgomery, one of my childhood heroes and the author of Anne of Green Gables, committed suicide after suffering with depression.
Her family let it be reported that the cause of death was heart failure but her granddaughter has now said it was a drug overdose. She is quoted as saying they realise secrecy is not the way to deal with depression and other mental health issues.
Three cheers for them!

Monday, 6 October 2008

Saving the world one small step at a time

So I have this stupid self-sacrifice schema, which I've mentioned before (and which if I had half a brain tonight I could provide a link to but it's not hard to find...)....
Anyway, in very simple terms it means I tend to do things for other people rather than myself and even at the expense of myself, which is when it becomes a problem.
I know I keep going on about it, but it's genuinely something which I still struggle with, despite months of very good therapy-ing.
Plus I do try to keep it at the forefront of my mind so that when I agree to something which is clearly stupid I can question myself and challenge this schema.
Anyway! It's been well and truly challenged over the last few days. I've seen lots of things going on that I feel the need to "fix" or "help with" and sometimes I have even tried to get involved.
Sometimes that works, and it's not too detrimental to me - after all, a counselling and coffee session with a friend is good for me as well (and part payback for the all the counselling and coffee I've had from them in the past!) - but sometimes I just need to accept I can't do it all.
I can't make everyone happy, no matter how unhappy I make myself in the process.
I can't fix everyone's dodgy relationships, no matter how much I jeopardise mine trying to do so.
And I can't take away everyone's problems, no matter how many I create for myself while I try.
So, for today at least, I've decided on a new strategy. I've decided that if I am as happy as I can be, perhaps in turn some of that will rub off on other people.
So tonight after I picked Miss T up from the childminder (where she had one of her best days ever despite a bad cold and being a poorly person) we had the dinner I had cunningly prepared yesterday (and tomorrow's is waiting in the freezer - please be impressed!) and then we sat on the floor together and just talked and played and sang.
I never thought I would say this but I absolutely love spending time with her like this. Her speech is improving all the time so we can have real conversations (okay, a lot of them involve my imagination, as follows: Me: Did you have fun today? Her: Alex. Me: You played with Alex? Fantastic! And you also went to collect the big boys from school, didn't you? Her: Shapes. Me: You are very good at your shape-sorter now, that's right. - I think you get the picture!) and she can tell me what she wants, and it's wonderful when I can provide it.
And that makes me happy. Okay, we could have spent that time working on saving the world somewhere but I think what we did has just as many benefits.
She went to bed happy, after more singing and playing in the bath, and I felt chilled out and relaxed even after washing up, cleaning the kitchen, medicating the dog, feeding the cats, de-Tashing the living room, etc etc etc.
So from that one little step I hope we can take more giant leaps and our good times will spread around.....and all the fluff can also help insulate us from some of the harsher realities of life away from our happy home as well.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Bad day blues

So today was not so good.
But what is good is that I know why, and by identifying that was able to turn it around for the afternoon. That is good, surely?
It was another case of letting those "shoulds" get in the way of everything else. There's so much non-Tasha stuff going on that I felt I should be sorting out that I wasn't giving her my full attention, which is not something that goes down too well with an almost two-year-old.
So she decided to try lots of tactics to get my attention, most of which involved being as troublesome as possible.
Add a bad cold for both of us to the mix and you don't exactly get off to the best start.
So after several attempts at stopping her fiddling with the cooker switches, a few discussions about why we shouldn't pull dogs' hair and a reminder about drawing on the paper rather than the carpet I'm afraid I rather lost the plot.
It was 11.30am and she'd been up since 6.30am and she had been yawning anyway so I put her in bed. But it was entirely for my benefit not hers.
Actually, not entirely, as after 10 minutes of singing she was asleep which gave me the respite I needed to think things through a bit away from the chaos and pressure so I could work out where it had all gone wrong.
And when she woke we started again and it was much better second time around - but then I only had to manage for an hour until Mark got in so I can't take all the credit.
And in fact, when I say I lost the plot, it wasn't as bad as it sounds. I shouted at her, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It didn't work of course, and she just laughed, which is when I decided bed was the next thing to try.
So - a bad day, but we both survived and lessons have been learnt. Tomorrow I'm thinking about braving the health visitor....eek!