About Me

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

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The sun'll come out tomorrow....

and I'm going to write about it, even if it jinxes me again.
Thank you very much to everyone who has been in touch with supportive messages, either here, by email or other means. The jury seems to be out on whether I'm going nuts again or just had a bad day so I'm taking a wait-and-see approach for the moment.
And for the moment - at the moment - things are good. Today was one of those rare days when I actually thought I could do this stay-at-home thing long term.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying I want to, far from it - I've got two interviews this week, one of them for a job that caught my eye literally months ago and I thought I had missed out on, so I'm keeping everything crossed for that.
But it did show me that maybe, just maybe, I can get through this job-less, income-less, identity-less void with some parts of me intact.
Again, there was no big secret - in fact, this morning with the whole day stretching in front of us and no plans, it looked like it was going to be another day of doom (we must be on part 6,349 by now...).
But we walked the dogs in gale-force winds and with waves crashing over the prom, which Miss T thought was hilarious, which somehow made it less of an ordeal for me (can't say the same for the dogs!) and after her sleep we made biscuits, which was really, REALLY fun.
Baking is one of those things I've been meaning to do but have always thought would be an ordeal - like painting, which we've only managed once.
But she loved it, I loved it - and we get to eat the results! Could it get any better?!
And Mark and I managed to have one of those elusive chats about bedtimes, and I'm pleased to report improvements on that front too (although he's up there at the moment so my famous jinx may yet take effect).
So today things in the life of Liz are good - hope they are for the rest of you too.

Friday, 21 November 2008

From bad to worse!

Oh lucky people - two helpings of woe in one day!
So I left you pondering the joys of my day up until mid-afternoon, when Miss T finally decided to have her sleep.
And it should have got better from there as reinforcements arrived and I had a peaceful evening to myself to look forward to.
But it didn't. Reinforcements, in the form of a visit to granny and then Mark coming home, did indeed arrive and it was lovely having someone else share the demands, although I did feel that old pressure of needing to look like a perfect parent while feeling on the verge of falling apart the whole time.
I escaped to the shops leaving Mark to do dinner and bed but even that precious me-time was interrupted with a text about a mundane domestic matter. How sad is it that me-time is reduced to wandering round Sainsbury's?!
And bedtime was a complete disaster as the little princess manipulated her daddy as only she can, resulting in a battle lasting more than an hour between them, punctuated with some fantastic tantrums and toddler foot-stamping on her wooden bedroom floor.
I hate interfering when he's dealing with a situation, but I'm afraid it was clear he wasn't dealing with it, and what's worse, was getting stressed out which helps no one (look who's talking!) so I went up and took over. Part of me is pleased to report that after ten minutes and only one return visit she's now happily asleep - and fell asleep by herself - but another part simply feels weary.
I can feel proud I know her so well and can handle her well, but also disheartened that it feels like I am permanently on duty with no respite. This isn't meant as a criticism of Mark, who is fantastic with her, but just a statement that even my precious time off while he puts her to bed seems to be a thing of the past.
I know that sounds selfish, and of course for Tasha it's best that her bedtime is as stress-free as possible, so if that means I do it then so be it. But I'm sure many of you will understand that after a day dealing with everything from negotiations over when she can walk and when she has to go in the pushchair to explanations of why she should not throw balls at the cats, I feel in need of a break.
It is selfish - after all, she's asleep now so I'm getting a break. So I'm going to stop moaning and enjoy it!
But I am left wondering, and almost afraid to write it, when does PND become common and garden depression? Or was today just a bad day? Here's hoping for the latter...

Spoke too soon!

You would think I would have learnt by now. If I'm feeling positive I should keep it to myself, because it's clearly a jinx. Although naturally all the doom and gloom should be shared via this blog - otherwise what would you all do for entertainment? ; )
So yesterday was another good day - so good in fact that I remarked upon the fact to Miss T during bathtime and she agreed it had been fun.
Today has not been. There's not been much difference - we were out this morning, then we fed ducks, but then it all went wrong.
When I think about it honestly, I know it's nothing to do with her - yes, she wouldn't go to sleep when I expected her to, and she pulled the dog's hair, and washed her hands in their water, and had various strops - but that wasn't the cause.
So what was? Partly the fact that I'm stuck at home with no respite - even the work I'm doing at the moment, great though it is, is done from home.
Partly the fact that I was reminded of my atrocious lack of self-esteem - a simple request for a head shot was enough to send me into a spiral of panic and wondering if I could get away with submitting a pic taken four years ago!
Partly frustration that I didn't achieve as much as I wanted in the last two days because of her lack of sleep and trying to help.
And partly - and I know this is bad - a searing jealousy that Mark has been out at work all day and gets to go out tonight as well. It's nothing I haven't done a hundred times, back in the days when I had a job to go to (although mostly my evening excursions were for work as well) but on a day like this the hours are like an endless night and a two hour break just doesn't seem enough.
Of course it will be, and of course tomorrow things will look brighter, but today I'm wondering where I put my lovely therapist's number, and if we could scrape together the money for a rescue-and-restore session with her.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

more thoughts, but some of them are positive!

I know it's shocking, but I'm feeling positive today. Don't get too excited; there has been no fantastic job offer, although some things are bubbling away and I'm really hoping they work out. I can't put my finger on the reason for my good mood this evening, and actually I think that's a fantastic thing - in the same way that one of the worst bits about depression is not being able to explain why things look so bleak, it's wonderful to feel good and know it's not due to a specific external factor.
Of course, there are still things for me to brood on, and I thought I would share one of those with you here. It's another of those dreaded reaction-to-comment type moments and I can't work out how I feel about it.
So here goes.
Miss T has been in her "big girl bed" for a few weeks now and mostly it's okay. But there were a few extra bedtime traumas for a while as she learned to go to sleep on her own in a new environment.
I've always been a bit strict about her sleeping patterns because I've heard and read so much about parents who struggle to change bad habits, like babies who will only go to sleep if they are being held/rocked/driven round the block. Anything for an easy life! So right from the beginning she was put in her cot awake and the result was that bedtime was miraculously easy - we put her in her cot, she went to sleep.
Understandably, that didn't happen with her new bed and she needed some extra reassurance. But I believe it's still important she goes to sleep on her own, without someone sitting on the bed or in the room - the consequence of that happening is that each time she opens her eyes during the night and realises whoever was there has gone she starts screaming and insists they return.
Unfortunately, a consequence of that belief is that she cries when whoever is doing bedtime leaves the room.
Mark finds that incredibly difficult and is desperate to go back in and stay until she is asleep and when we were discussing it he said he just couldn't bear to hear her crying.
I can understand that, sort of, and I recognise a physiological response in myself when she is crying - I feel anxious, increased heartrate, etc - but despite that it doesn't actually bother me that much.
I bet you can guess what's coming next! I'm wondering if that makes me a terrible parent, if I'm too detached, if I'm hard and unfeeling. Shouldn't I be rushing in there too, or sitting downstairs in tears as I've seen parents on Supernanny etc do in similar situations?
I know that's ridiculous - and Shoulds are banned in my new post-therapy life - but it's something to think about. I'm tempted to say - and did - that she's not really crying at those times, she's just expressing her anger, which is different to genuine distress, and of course I hate it when there are real tears. And it's never for more than a few minutes, and it's not constant screaming, just intermittent roaring, which does all suggest to me that she is just trying it on to get her on way.
But maybe all of this means I am an extremely harsh parent and she will grow up feeling unloved.
Does anyone else wish there were clear instructions on the right thing to do, or multiple choice options with the choices being the long-term consequences of the actions?

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Gloves - woolly and kid!

We've had a lovely morning, which surprised me.
After all, on paper it looked like being a disaster. I was out with friends last night and consumed a bottle of wine, topped off with a Baileys, and felt awful when I woke up. Add the fact that Mark is working today and I'm stressing about job interviews and preparing for them and it should have been one of those days best forgotten.
But actually I think we did very well. I managed to get up, showered and dressed before Tasha woke and haven't even resorted to the electronic babysitter so conveniently provided by her favourite DVD. Instead, we've been enjoying the autumn weather in the garden of her granny's house, which is packed with outdoor toys, and in the park. And we've even managed to get some chores done! I didn't manage to convince her to keep her gloves on, so any tips welcome.
Which brings me on to the subject of the other kind of gloves, after the points made on the last post.
Do I think I should be handled with kid/velvet/any other kind of gloves? My immediate response is no. But then why do I bother telling people about PND if I don't want it to make a difference?
Part of the reason is to raise awareness generally and convey the message that it's okay to admit you have had mental health problems. But of course there are more selfish reasons too. Maybe one of those is a sort of safety net - so if I suggest meeting up people are less likely to turn me down because I might go mental?
I certainly don't think people should censor what they say in case their comment happens to be the one that I end up pondering at 3am. I genuinely welcome all comments, whether or not I might perceive them in a negative fashion. And actually when I do it's quite helpful because it teaches me to use my mindfulness, or wise mind, or whatever you want to call it, to work out whether that perception is based on fact or my scheming schemas.
I fear this is turning into a ramble, and I know I should be doing other things, like preparing a presentation for an interview on Monday. But I hope it helps as some starting thoughts - more comments? ; )

Friday, 7 November 2008

comments on comments

The downside of being open and honest with people is that they are often open and honest back.
It's mostly welcome, and it's certainly better than pretending things are fine when they're not, or that everything is fluffy when the sharp edges are showing, but sometimes it's difficult to take.
I've had two conversations with people lately that brought this to mind.
One was with a work-type contact, who when I said I had PND asked why I didn't just "snap out of it".
It's an interesting question, and one I really struggled to answer. He said he had experienced depression, but realised other people were worse off and then found his world a brighter place.
My first reaction was to think he can't have had the same experiences of depression that I did, but who am I to question his perceptions?
It's excellent if that strategy worked for him, but it just didn't for me. And even this week, as I struggle with the realities of life at home with no work to escape to, I can see that others are worse off. But it doesn't make me feel any better. I've never found my black moods something I can just shake off, or snap out of.
Someone once suggested it's better all round, physically and emotionally, just to let them run their course, and I can see the sense in that. I'm not sure those around me would always agree though!
The other comment that's been on my mind came during a conversation with a friend, who remarked on how much more confident and happy Tasha seemed compared to the first time we met.
Of course that's a positive thing, and I personally believe there are many reasons for that, including her time spent with our wonderful childminder.
But my friend suggested at least part of it was down to my improved relationship with her, and my "recovery".
Again, that should be a positive comment, but my good old schemas couldn't help interpreting it as a negative, a criticism of my parenting so far. After all, if Tasha is confident now and that's down to me, then her clinginess and angst before was also down to me.
Of course I know most of it wasn't, and it was just her age or the stage she was going through, but it's not that easy to believe, especially after reading more and more research about the importance of love and loving interactions in those early months.
The thought that Tasha could suffer any long-term ill-effects from all this crap is my worst fear, and it's something I will remember as I continue with my struggle to "snap out of it".