About Me

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

Monday, 26 December 2011

End of an era

Merry Christmas to all my lovely readers - I do hope it has been good for you. Although I do know that for some of you it has been entirely the opposite. And it's fair to say it hasn't been one of the best here either.
But a new year is approaching, and I have every hope it will be a positive fresh start filled with love and laughter.
And with that in mind, this post marks the end of an era. I have decided it will be the last one for the foreseeable future here. Real life developments mean it no longer feels appropriate to post here, and many of the issues I have posted/ranted about are no longer relevant.
I will leave the blog up as a resource for those of you who have found it helpful, and for any in the future who may do so, but I don't expect to be posting here again.
I will be writing elsewhere, of course, because that is what I do, so maybe our paths will cross in cyberspace again.
In the meantime, thank you for sharing this journey with me, for your support and for reading my waffle. I have learnt a lot in the years I have been writing here, and I have learnt a lot from your comments, which shone like a beacon through some very dark times.
I wish you all peace and happiness in the future.

Saturday, 29 October 2011


It's a sad fact that there aren't enough resources in real life to help women with PND and their families. It can be a struggle to get the help you need, and sometimes when you are already floundering in the darkness, it feels like a struggle too far.
But thankfully, as so many times, the internet can help fill that void.
It was quite by accident that I discovered the online army of the #PPDchat mums on Twitter. I can't even remember how I first came across them. I know it must have been on one of the darker days. And although I forget the details,I remember clearly the instant support and the warmth of the welcome.
Since then, I've joined the #PPDchat sessions a few times, when things are too much, when I can't see the light, when I just need to talk to someone who 'gets it'. And the response is always the same - immediate, supportive and full of faith that somehow we will all get through.
All the mamas there are fantastic in their own way, not least because they too are there because they know the hell of this experience.
But today is reserved for @signingcharity , who is always ready to give love and today needs a little back.
I don't know you as well as the other mamas, because I'm new and I can't be there every day. But I know the warmth of your words, the strength of your spirit and the generosity of your heart.
I'm amazed that you can give so much to others while dealing with so much yourself - that takes true strength.
It's okay to say you need help too. I hope I can help give it.

Monday, 5 September 2011

A maze of praise

Someone said something nice about me the other day. In public. In fact, on Twitter.
Now, don't get me wrong - although it may sometimes feel like it, I don't in fact spend my days defending myself from verbal brickbats and people are often perfectly pleasant.
But when I read this comment, which was about my supportive nature, my immediate reaction was "That's nice, but they don't know me very well at all."
It's an interesting reaction, for me, at least. Partly because in fact I pride myself on being supportive and kind and on my empathy. It's one of the facets of my personality that I genuinely like. Yet I couldn't accept that someone else could recognise that in me.
It's one of the things I am working on. Like recognising the positives - including the fact that today was tough, workwise, but I'm proud of how I dealt with it.
I am determined to keep working on it, and everything else. I see my lovely therapist on Saturday for the first time in ages, and I'm desperate to make it into a positive session of strategies rather than an update on all the woe.
There is still plenty of woe. There are still those moments where I think I'm going to get swept over by the force of it, where I find myself fighting for breath in the maelstrom of self-loathing. But I haven't given into it for a while. So rather than beating myself up on the times that I have lost balance in the midst of the storm, I'm concentrating on the times I've clung on.
I know I said it in my last post, and I'm reassured by the response, but I'm so ready to move on from this. I don't want any more days when the thought of being at home makes me throat constrict.
I want to get better. I want my life back. And I will get there, one small step at a time.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

September blues

I can't believe it's September. And that in a little over a week, my beautiful little girl will be starting school. Where did the time go?
I'm trying desperately to see this as a positive and to look at all we've achieved. She's a clever, funny, determined little thing and I know she's more than ready for the next step. The school she will attend is lovely, and she will have a great time and I will love seeing her learn new things.
But I'm also finding it hard that she is moving on and growing up. That I have no more time to "get it right".
I know much of this is normal, and I know of course starting school is not the same as moving out, and we will still have plenty of quality time together to enjoy. But I'm still struggling.
It doesn't help that the end of the summer means little baby D is also getting bigger. In a few short months he will be one - the first year of his life gone. I can't even contemplate that milestone at the moment, but its impending arrival prompts mixed feelings; relief that we have got this far and will never have to do those awful newborn days again, and sadness that so much of his first months have been blighted by woe. Actually, it would be more accurate to say my first months with him were blighted. I worry less that he was affected than I did about Miss T.
I feel bad for feeling like this. That's hard for me to say. And it makes me angry, at myself.
I know this is not my fault. I know this is part of the PND. I know I will get over it. I know that knowing other people have heart-breaking things to deal with does not make my own feelings, when on the face of it I seem to have everything I could ever want, any less valid.
But some people find it harder to see that way, and unfortunately I am finding it hard to ignore them as I usually would. I know it's their problem more than mine but when every fibre of my being screams out to try to make them understand it's hard to accept that some people will never understand, no matter how eloquently (or not!) I try to explain it. But their ignorance makes an already difficult time much tougher.
Others, of course, are fantastic. But I find it harder and harder to reach out as time goes on. To answer the question "How's things?" with the truth, and confess that despite the hours and hours we have spent talking - the hours and hours they have given up for me - that "things" are actually no better.
I think part of that is that more and more reminders of things I'd rather forget are popping up. But maybe that's just my wonky brain again. I see others in situations I have been in and I can't help wondering if their life path will mirror mine. In my head I know it is different - they are different people, they will make different choices, but it still fills me with an overwhelming sadness, and regret that I didn't make different choices when I had the chance.
I'm making the choice now to stop wallowing so you are spared more woe. Tomorrow is another day....and here's hoping for a good one.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Some random thoughts....

I have had cause to be grateful for some fantastic friends lately, people who interrupt their own lives and put themselves out to stand as footsoldiers in the battle I wrote about last time.
There are others who are perhaps too far away or with too many other commitments to physically assist, but they are always quick to respond when I give in to the turmoil and reveal a wonky moment on Facebook or Twitter.
Those kindnesses mean more than I can say. When I am sitting alone in the house, struggling with my thoughts, the fact that someone has taken the time to send hugs over the internet, or even just to acknowledge that they have read my words and I am in their thoughts, brings a chink of light into the darkness.
Then there are those who do not respond. Perhaps they too have their own struggles – although I would have thought that predisposed them to responding to others – perhaps they are busy, perhaps they don’t know what to say.
I don’t know. But I can’t help wondering if the response would be different if I revealed I was struggling with a broken leg, or some other physical ailment.
Is it the fact that my difficulties are related to my mental health that is putting people off?
Is there a fear that perhaps it is catching? Or is it that people think it should not be discussed so freely? Perhaps people who sometimes find their thinking a little wobbly should go and hide themselves in dark rooms, preferably padded, until the madness passes.
Or maybe they are just bored of it all. I certainly am. I would like nothing more than to be the life and the soul of the party, with not a care in the world and without the cloud that sees to penetrate every moment.
I don’t know. I think I will never know.
But I do know that I am beyond grateful for those who have shown their support, and I will never knowingly ignore any cry for help I hear or see. Sometimes just tapping out a few lines on a keyboard is all it takes to bring someone back from the edge. And if people can’t be bothered to do that, what hope is there for society?

Thursday, 21 July 2011

End of an era

Miss T has had her last day at pre-school. In September, she will join the reception class of the primary school on the same site.
Of course, this is not a surprise to me. It's not like I suddenly woke up and she'd grown up.
But that's what it feels like. It's unbelievable that I have a four-year-old daughter. That the beautiful, funny, clever little girl who skipped along the road in front of me on the way back from school last week is part of me.
It's hard to connect her with the 'mewling and puking' baby I remember from those darkest of days.
But it's also hard to think that more than four years on, in some ways I am still no further forward. I am still searching for that chink of light in the darkness.
Of course, I know that is related to the arrival of baby D, and that before that we had made amazing progress. But the heights we had reached seem a long way off at the moment.
Battling this illness is just that - a battle. It's a constant uphill climb in search of the sun. And if you relax your grip on the cliff face, it's easy to slip back down. Or to find the ground has shifted without you noticing.
I am trying to see the positives; and Miss T is one giant positive. Baby D's radiant grin, so readily given whatever the time of day or night, and whatever else he may be going through, is another one. Both are the ropes I cling to every day.
I'm slowly learning they are what is important. I'm slowly learning from them to find the joy in the moment and the wonder in the world. I'm learning to follow their example and sieze every opportunity for fun.
And I hope, in time, with those lessons will come some peace.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

25 weeks...and the guilt of a working parent...

I was going to call this post "Nothing's right, I'm torn", so you could all sing it Natalie Imbruglia style...
Her lyrics summed things up nicely at the beginning of this week. Nothing was right - at home or at work - and I felt torn.
Thankfully things have improved, perhaps because I'm learning more about juggling things, but it's still difficult to let go of that ideal of being the "perfect" mum, the "perfect" worker and the "perfect" friend.
It doesn't help that poor baby D has been ill ever since my return. And yes, at first I did think there was a causal effect between the two. He was ill because I was being a terrible mother and going out to work. He didn't get better because he needed his mummy to be home taking care of him.
Situations like that bring my need to be in total control right to the fore. I know those who look after him while I work are more than capable. I know he has a great time and cries no more than he would cry if I were there. But they do not do things quite as I would do them, and that's hard for me to deal with. But I'm trying.
It's the same with Miss T. While at times it's been very trying being at home with her full-time for the last six months, it's also been great in many ways. We've built a closer bond and I cherish time with her. And we've built our own routines, our own ways to deal with certain scenarious and we know what we expect of the other.
So it's hard to see her behave in ways that are not as I expect, and to know that this behaviour continues when I'm not there to check it and hand out consequences.
But staying home with them full time is not an option at all. I need to work. Financially, yes, but also for my sanity. I had a check up today with my GP and she was amazed at the difference. I am me again, thanks to my time in the office. I am confident, I have fun, I am worth something.
And more importantly than that, I drive home every day (well, the four days I work) looking forward to seeing the children. And my days with them are precious. And that's a feeling that five months ago I wasn't sure I'd ever find again.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

22 weeks

I've just been packing up some of baby D's tiny clothes after successfully selling them online, and it made me sad.
Sad that he's growing up and there will be no more babies (but not sad enough to change my mind!) but also sad that yet again I've wasted parts of his babyhood.
Okay, at five months old he's not quite ready to move out but the truth is that yet again, I haven't been as connected with him as I'd like.
Yet again this awful illness has robbed me of some of the joys of this period; the time spent snuggling, the moments of bonding.
While this episode is nowhere near as bad as last time, it's still bad enough for me to feel it's affected my relationship with him. He's a lovely, smiley, chatty little boy and also a bit of a mummy's boy, but I don't feel the same connection with him that he seems to have to me.
Perhaps it's because I've started back at work this week - today in fact - but I can't help wishing I could go back and do this again.
I know that's partly because I still have this desire to do things 'right', and getting PND again was definitely not part of that, but I can't help feeling that I'm letting him down by the way I feel. And Miss T too, of course.
But it's for them that I keep fighting. I hope they know I'm doing my best.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

21 weeks

And yes, I do know it's 21 weeks. But only because we braved the health visitor last week and she told me it was 20 weeks. She also told me baby D was too skinny and we had to start weaning him onto solids, a lot earlier than I wanted to. I don't think I need to spell out how that felt...but if I did it would involve the letters b, a nd d. Another thing I can't get right. You get the picture.
Even leaving that aside, this has not been a good week. I can tell it's not good when I start depending on other people, without actually letting them know I'm depending on them.
Or when I can't even be bothered to explain it all, even here.
You know when you see a small child walking a big dog and they are being dragged along and literally can't stop it? That's how my mind feels at the moment. That old friend anxiety is back, with a few extra guests. I know it's irrational. I know the fact that Miss T has a sickness bug doesn't mean she's going to die. Or that if we put baby D (age almost five months, remember!) in his own room at night he will be fine and I won't go in there to find him lying cold and still. But I can't help it. I can't stop it. And I can't tell you how much I hate that.
I'm great at telling others their feelings are valid. And I know mine are too. But at the moment they are not welcome. Or useful. And they have no place in my life. But I can't make them disappear. And at the moment, I can't really let them out either.
So I'm stuck in no-mans land. Where I spend my days being dragged after that big dog (metaphorically - my dogs are too old and too well-trained on the lead to attempt to drag me anywhere!), my feet skimming the surface unable to get a firm hold. Where I can see trees and fence posts and other things that I could grab onto but I keep missing them or losing my grip.
But I'm going back to work next week. And I'm hoping that will at least persuade the dog to stop for a breather...

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Eighteen weeks...or is it nineteen?

I've actually lost count. How bad is that? I think it's eighteen...nineteen on Tuesday.
Oh well.
Life rather got in the way last week, so apologies. And since then, there hasn't been much joy to share.
That combined with my previous state of mentalness does not paint a pretty picture. In fact, I'm starting to wonder whether what we are doing now, with anxiety levels of meds and gentle talking therapy, is a mere sticking plaster solution. I'm not sure I will ever achieve actual saneness. The sort where you can go about your life and not worry that what you are doing is totally wrong, or hugely offensive to someone, or likely to result in serious harm to someone. The sort where you can enjoy an afternoon, an hour or a moment without fretting about its consequences for the future. The sort where you can be with people and be happy rather than constantly stressed about what they are thinking and feeling.
Does it matter? Maybe not. But at the moment, the prospect of months and years living like this is not very appealing.
I'm not sure what else I can do though. I'm applying all the "strategies", I'm taking the pills. I'm living the dream.
I just have to hope it's enough.

Friday, 1 April 2011

16 weeks...

...and all is still meh. I feel like I'm living in a bubble. Like a piece of gauze separates me from the rest of the world. Like no one can see me or hear what I'm saying. And it's only a short step from there to wondering if anyone would actually notice if I wasn't here at all.
I know it's the effects of those good old pills, and I know that it's better that I take them. But I can't help wondering when I'll start feeling like me again.
Of course it's better that I can accomplish everyday tasks like shopping and driving without irrational panic. And of course it's better that some of the more extreme aspects of PND-me are muted. But I wish that didn't mean the whole of me had to be turned down too. Subdued. Flat.
I spent this afternoon at work and that was great. But that's just an escape. A distraction. My real life now is what I've been doing the rest of the week - juggling two children, housework and general domestic drudgery.
I can manage that, of course I can - it's not rocket science. But I want more.
I want to feel alive. I want to feel happy. I want to feel.
I want Miss T and Baby D to think of their mother as a vibrant, loving, fun person but at the moment I fear I'm more like a hologram. A reflection in water. And if you throw a pebble in, I just might disappear.
But if you reach your hand out, who knows, I might emerge...

Monday, 21 March 2011

15 weeks

Today I am mostly feeling numb. Blah. Meh.
I know it's the result of those little white pills I swallow every morning, and I know it's part of the 'treatment', but at the moment I can't help wondering whether this is better than actually experiencing the emotions that help make me who I am.
Deciding to finally take the pills was a tough one for me. In my head, I know it's no different to taking a paracetemol for a headache, but in my heart it feels like giving in.
All the time I wasn't medicated, I could pretend this wasn't really happening. 'It's not as bad as it could be, at least I'm not on happy pills.' That sort of thing.
But after a tough few days and no decrease in the often-crippling anxiety, I knew I had to do it for the sake of my family.
I think part of the problem is that this time is different to the last time. Then, I knew I was depressed. So did everyone else. There was no question about it. So anti-depressants were a no-brainer.
Now, there are still plenty of people who have no idea. I think even those I see regularly are in the dark about what things are really like. Depression, in its traditional manner of all-consuming darkness, is not really the problem.
This time, it's the invading thoughts that I have to battle. The fear that the terrible pictures I see in my mind will become a reality. The nameless dread that 'something bad' will happen.
I know all these fears are irrational. I've been doing my best to battle them. But this is another of those occasions when my best is not good enough.
So for now, I need a helping hand from those little white pills. But other helping hands are welcome too...

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

13 weeks

Today, as I went out to deposit a stinky nappy in the bin outside for the eighth time (yes, I had counted), Miss T asked where I was going.
For a split second, I wondered myself. I knew, as did she, that I was merely opening the front door to prevent the smell spreading through the house. But as I stepped into the sunshine and saw the long road to freedom, I very nearly shut the door behind me.
Of course, I didn't. And of course, I wouldn't. But the thought of just walking away and leaving it all behind was just so tempting. No more nappies, no more wailing, no more whining. Just freedom. Peace. Space.
I know it won't always be like this. And I know today was particularly testing, with Baby D refusing to nap and Miss T in full-on strop mode.
But that feeling, that craving for something else, is why I am organising my return to work.
I know there will be raised eyebrows at my plan to work a day (or at least a half day) a week starting very soon, and to return properly in May, when Baby D will be just five months old.
But I also know that for me it is absolutely the right option.
I cannot continue like this. I cannot spend Sunday nights battling crippling surges of anxiety at the thought of another week at home alone. I cannot spend my days hoping already over-stretched friends will have a spare hour to provide that much-needed adult company and distraction from my children.
It is not fair on me and it is not fair on them. Any of them. I don't want my valued friendships to suffer because I feel disappointed they do not have more to give. I don't want my children to wonder where mummy is going when she opens the door, or to have to ask where we are going today because they know we cannot be home all day.
I don't want my identity eroded any more by days wandering through streets populated only by other nameless faces, other people with nowhere else to be.
I am a mum. But I am also a person. And I need that space to be me.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Late night thoughts...

I was directed to this earlier and I would recommend that everyone reading this reads it:


For some of you, it will be an interesting read, a moment of thought. For others, perhaps an echo of uncomfortable memories.

For me, it's a painful reminder that I may never be free of this.

I should preface the rest of this post with the fact that it is 1am, I'm listening to late-night radio and I see my therapist tomorrow so there are many thoughts competing in my head. I may not be at my most rational.

However. I didn't have to travel too far to be transported to that moment the author describes. I'm living it. I don't want to talk about it. But I don't want to be alone. I don't want to have to explain. But I want someone to know the feelings that threaten to crush me every minute of every day.

It's not just the emptiness, the awful hollowness that sees me sitting here in the early hours, knowing that I will have to deal with baby d in a few short hours, knowing that day begins for Miss T a few hours after that, but not having the energy to go upstairs and try to sleep.

It's not just the fear, the all-consuming fear that my inability to beat this will have long-term consequences for my children, and for my family. And for myself.

There's also the rage. The red, hot rage that can come from nowhere and can turn me into someone I don't recognise. Someone I have no control over. It's terrifying for me. I can only imagine how it looks to my children.

And that leads to the general unfairness of it all. Why can't I just be happy? Why can't I just enjoy what I have? I'm not living in a warzone, I have a loving family and a nice home, I have a career I love that I can return to. What is wrong with me that I let this enveloping blackness spoil everything?

Why can't I let go of my ridiculous need to be perfect?

And why does every encounter with a happy mother feel like a burning blade to my soul? They are everywhere; in the supermarket smiling sweetly as their offspring help with the weekly shop, at the school gates sharing anecdotes of their toddlers, at the only baby group I have been brave enough to attend, telling of the joy their children bring.

Don't get me wrong. I know there is light at the end of this tunnel. I know it because I've found it before. That is why this time is different to last. I know which hands to grab to pull me out of this. But I'm scared that even when I stumble out into that light I'll find it easily extinguished by moments like the one described by my fellow blogger.

No matter how quickly I overcome the blackness this time, and I believe I am heading in the right direction now, I know it will always be with me, its dark creeping fingers around my throat. I will never get back Miss T's baby days. I will never get a chance to redo these days where I've not dealt with her in the way she deserves. I can't undo the damage I've done, the moments that lead her to reject an opportunity to spend time alone with me - something that was supposed to be a treat for her and me.

I'm terrified that every day I spend finding joy in baby d's developing personality pushes me further away from her. I'm petrified that a gulf is opening between us that may soon be too wide to cross. And that if I don't find a way to beat this once and for all, that gulf will soon separate me from everyone else too.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

12 weeks

If I'd written this post on Tuesday, when it was technically due, it would have been a very different one.
But sometimes it can be worth missing a deadline - just don't tell my editor that!
Today has been a good day. Sure, there was a bit of a hitch in the middle and some frustration I could have done without, but on the whole I've been amazed at the change in my perceptions.
I'd love to report that the shift is down to a new enthusiasm for life as a mum of two, but it's much more predictable than that. There are no prizes for guessing my renewed optimism comes after a visit to my workplace.
I'm not ashamed that I had/have PND and I'm also not ashamed to say that I love my job. I worked hard for my career and I am good at what I do. There is no shame in enjoying my life out of the house. It's a balance I struggled with when I had Miss T but this time I know that time away from the children makes my time with them better.
Today I was in the office to discuss my return to work in May, and the possibility of working some days before then.
All went well and it felt so good to be me again - working Liz, a respected colleague and person in her own right.
Even better, after the meeting (and some added catching-up time), it felt good to be headed for home and my two little ones. Usually I drive homewards with a heavy heart, knowing the drudgery that awaits, but this afternoon I couldn't wait to see their little faces and to spend time chatting and cuddling.
Of course, this doesn't mean that everything in the garden (or house!) is rosy.
There are still issues, still dark days, still tears. I'm keeping a mood diary for my therapist which is an interesting experience. When I fill it in at the end of the day, when the children are sleeping peacefully, it's easy to see the positives. But if I were to complete an entry for each hour or each section of the day, I think it would paint a different story.
One of the lowest points of this week was a comment from Miss T, that the worst bit of her day was when I wouldn't read her a story because I was trying to get baby D to go to sleep. I can remember the moment clearly. He was refusing to sleep in his cot, I had already been up and downstairs seven times, and she asked if I could read to her. My answer was that I would when he was asleep. But he didn't sleep. So she didn't get her story.
The scenario was the perfect example of what I hoped to avoid, and what I dread happening. I don't want Miss T to remember moments like that. I want her to remember a childhood of love, laughter and fun.
Rationally, I know those good moments will probably outweigh the bad, but it's like a punch to hear her say that, and another reminder that I still have a long way to go.
However, today, for the first time, I could see the road I have to travel, and I believed I had the fuel to get me there.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

11 weeks...doing and feeling

My therapist is fond of saying that doing leads to feeling. The theory is that if I act like a happy mum, I'll feel like one.
It worked wonders last time, when I spent months behaving in a way that did not match how I felt inside and it's time to give it a go as I battle back up that slippery slope to sanity.
So this week I'm making a conscious effort to, well, make an effort.
That sounds a lot easier than it is. It's that old cliche - when some people encounter someone who is depressed they are tempted to tell them to pull their socks up and just get on with it.
But as anyone who has been where I am knows, it's sometimes impossible to do anything other than just exist while battling the suffocating blackness.
However, I have a few more days before I have to make a decision on medication, so I'd like to see just what I can achieve without it.
So today I attempted to wrestle control back over my own life. It worked, in parts. We had a good afternoon (thanks in part to the support of one of those friends with whom you can just be) and the evening chaos was lessened by the fact that we had dinner with my big sister and Miss T is still there, enjoying a sleepover.
The morning was less successful but we all survived. And I feel more confident about tackling the rest of the week because of it.
Of course, this doesn't mean that I feel in control. Anything but. Anxiety is the latest old friend to rear its head and it's not a welcome addition.
My churning emotions are not conducive to behaving in a calm and in-control manner but for the sake of my family I have to keep trying.
So even though I feel like hiding away in the safety of my home, I'll be out and about with a smile on my face taking part in fun family activities.
At least it's a step closer to becoming the person I want to be.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

This is not me...

I write for a living - in fact, it could be said that I live to write, so why can't I find the words to express how I feel?
It is yet another change in me that means I can't recognise the person I am becoming. I wish I could explain to those I am meeting for the first time how different this me is to the real one.
I do not hide in the shower hoping everyone will go out before I have to emerge. I am downstairs, in the thick of the action, organising a fun family outing.
I do not panic over the simple task of completing a supermarket shop with one baby in tow. I have managed that solo with two children and dealt with many more stressful situations in my working life.
I am not angry, bitter, overwhelmed by rage. In fact, I can't be bothered to be angry. I'm so rubbish at it I often forget what made me cross.
I do not spend time every day in tears. I am a happy, calm and relaxed person.
I do not depend on other people to help me deal with my own children. I am confident and independent and have arranged many solo outings.
I do not snap at my daughter just for being her. I love her funny ways and her constant chat.
I do not want to hide away because I don't know what to say to people. I am sociable and fun and love nothing more than giggly girlie nights out - not deep emotional sessions.
Lately I have been all of these things. And more. This is not me. This is what PND has done to me. And I hate it.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Ten weeks...

I was asked this week what I had to look forward to.
And I'm ashamed to say the only thing I could think of was returning to work.
As I sit here now, with both children sleeping soundly upstairs, of course I can see that there are plenty of positives around, from nights out with friends to fun times with both of them and spring just around the corner.
But at the time, as I thought of the future, I could only see days and days of darkness.
It was - and still is - a terrifying prospect, particularly as my mind is still battling to bury some of the old thoughts that have resurfaced.
I'm not alone in that quest, and this week's therapy appointment equipped me with some new tools to tackle them.
It also gave me a renewed sense of hope, although that's easy to achieve in a week when Mark's on earlies so my solo shift ends at 3pm and I'm not alone for the dreaded dinner-bath-bed battles.
That optimism was fuelled by the publication of the story of my first battle with PND in a health magazine, with a link to this blog.
It prompted a flurry of much-welcome support from people who had been previously unaware of my history, although I'm still deafened by the silence from some quarters.
The timing was nice as it was written before the onset of this episode and it served as a reminder that I have recovered before and I will do so again.
But there are many bridges to cross before then, and some of them feel particularly unstable, with the swirling water too close for comfort.
I'm still unsettled by the urge to return to the bad old self-harming days - it's something I thought I'd left behind years ago and it has no part in the life I have now, along with many of the issues that led to it back then.
But after a bad day, when I have not been able to deal with situations in the way I want to, it surfaces along with a little voice that tells me I deserve to be punished for being so utterly useless.
"You disgust me," it says. "Good mums don't lose control. Good mums don't fail."
I am seeing increasing evidence that actually, I'm doing okay - Miss T is always at preschool on time, even when I'm on solo school run duty, and we're all washed, fed and dressed before setting off; both kids are bathed most nights; we're working on her food issues and other attention-seeking behaviours.
But that can all be wiped out by throwaway comments like: "Having two children is easy when one is four and the other is a baby...", which I heard recently.
However. I can honestly say that I am doing the best I can, every second of every day.
And with the right support, and a sprinkling of sunshine, I will get there in the end. Starting with surviving next week's combination of half term and a late shift.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Nine weeks....and darkness descends

I have been surprised by the speed of my mental decline.
Since I opened the floodgates with the last post, and the events leading up to it, things have gone decidedly wonky.
The thoughts are back.
I wasn't going to go into them, but for the sake of honesty, I will detail a few of them.
There is a family portrait taken before baby D that is one of my favourites. It's of the three of us, with Miss T holding onto her daddy and laughing at me.
Before all this, it was a happy family shot, but lately I see her sending a clear message of where she feels safest, and with whom.
And when the health visitor says Baby D's weight gain has slowed and his line on the chart has dropped, I hear: "You're a rubbish mum."
When Miss T's teachers say she is having some issues at preschool, I hear: "You're a rubbish mum."
And when no one responds or is available to respond when I finally issue a plea for help, I hear: "We're bored of your woe."
As I listen to my tears plopping onto my pillow, I can't help but wonder what sound dark red blood would make if I released it from my arm. If I still had the sharp razor blades I used to use, I'm convinced I would have tried it by now. Do they even sell them any more? At this point, I don't want to find out.
At the moment I don't feel part of the real world. I can see it, and I can see that it is me who is wonky, not others.
But even if I scream at the top of my voice that wonky part of my brain does not listen to the reason I still possess. And no one else can hear. It's as if the rational me is sinking underwater in front of everyone but somehow they can't see. And if that part drowns, what is left?
Before anyone starts hunting for a number for the men in white coats, fret not. Help is on its way. I have a doctor's appointment for Thursday, and am trying to squeeze in another therapy session soon.
There are lifejackets. I just have to work out how to reach them.
But in the meantime I need places to go where it's okay to be sad and where someone will distract Miss T while those tears go plop as they land.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Eight weeks plus...

So two weeks ago there was light in the darkness and a fighting spirit.
But two weeks is a long time - it's a quarter of baby d's life.
And I'm sorry to say those spirits are weakening.
Part of the reason this post is late is that I did not want to have to write it. I didn't want to admit to myself the truth I have known for a while.
I have brushed aside the hours I have spent quietly sobbing to myself while Miss T is at school, or in bed, as just a bad day or the results of sleep deprivation.
I have crushed the feelings of failure, ignored the self-loathing, and stepped back from the rising tide of anxiety.
But today I am finally admitting to myself - and indirectly, in this post, to others - that it's time to ask for help.
What form that help will take I'm not entirely sure. I know I don't want to start popping pills again, but I also know that decision may not be a rational one.
But perhaps rearranging my next therapy appointment for sooner than the beginning of March would be a good start, or visiting the GP for an honest conversation, or even braving the health visitor again.
I'm sure I don't have to spell out to you, lovely readers, the disappointment I feel as I write those words. In myself, mostly.
I feel I have let myself down in succumbing once more after all the work I put in to fight this. I feel I have let baby D down in failing to give him a PND-free start to life.
I feel I have let Mark down in not being able to give him the sane wife who copes calmly with family life that he deserves.
And most of all I feel I have let Miss T down in replacing the in-control, fun mummy with an emotional wreck who can't give her the stability she so desperately needs.
I wrote some time ago that I felt Baby D was my chance to do this "right". And it's hard for me to accept that history is repeating itself.
Of course, this time it is different in some ways. Part of the reason it is taken so long to admit I am losing the fight is that it feels so different to last time. I can bear to spend time with Baby D. In fact, I enjoy doing so. I do get out of bed each day - but mostly because I have no other choice. I do still have some days where the sun shines.
But I know in my heart it's not right. I know it's not normal to dread going home if it means I will be alone with both children. I know it's not a good sign that very few days pass without tears. I recognise that the thoughts creeping into my head that stop me from sleeping need to be tackled. For the sake of my family, if not myself.
I know all these things can be dealt with. I've travelled this road before.
But I hope this time the journey will be quicker and perhaps less bumpy.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Six weeks...

Apologies this post is late - such is life with baby D and Miss T. Sometimes things get in the way.
This week, real life has pushed its way into our baby bubble with a vengeance. Some of it good (a work function that gave me valuable time to remember what it is that makes me more than just a mum) and some of it bad.
I heard this week that a former colleague commited suicide in the most awful way. I can't claim her as a friend and I have no knowledge of what was going on in her life, but have since learned she suffered with depression and it all just became too much.
I can't articulate how sad that makes me feel. Sad that I didn't know she felt such pain and couldn't offer to help. Sad that she believed there was no other way. Sad that her family and friends are left so bewildered and lost.
But I'm also angry. Angry that this blackness is so hard to fight and that sometimes it wins. It sounds trite but it makes me more determined to keep on fighting - I don't want to get sucked so far down I can see no way back up.
So what of my life?
Well, six weeks is supposed to be a magical milestone when the sunshine returns and all's well with the world.
It's not quite like that here. But there are chinks of light in the clouds!
The official verdict from my therapist and the health visitor is borderline mentalness - I suppose it's good they both agree!
There are good days, and there are bad days. Lately bad days but I think that's related to the above.
And the mad list?
Here is is in case you'd forgotten...
) Reluctance to be alone with the baby
2) Avoiding interaction with the baby
3) Auditory hallucinations
4) Not getting out of bed
5) Excessive crying
6) Obsession with perfection in other areas, eg housework
7) Obsession with being seen as superwoman, ie not failing at anything
8) The thoughts...I don't know how else to describe them. Imagining bad things happening...
9) Reliance on others for activities, ie packed diary of social events and feeling of disaster if any are cancelled
10) Denial of change in circumstances, ie "I'm still me,this baby isn't relevant...", annoyance with people's insistence on discussing it...

It's looking better than I feared. There have been tears, but there has been sadness and I think that's okay. At least I'm acknowledging it.
I can confidently say there is no perfection in my housework, and baby D and I have plenty of interaction.
Problem areas? I still hate to fail - I hate if he cries and I can't fix it or if Miss T is struggling with something because it feels like a reflection of my parenting skills.
And I'm definitely relying on my lovely friends and family to keep me floating near the surface and I'm lucky so many of them are playing their part in this. Some are still missing and others are just not worth talking or thinking about. If they reappear once this is over I'm afraid they will get a very cool reception. I can't help but feel angry at the way some have acted.
And number 8. One of the scariest. I have to confess there have been some of those thoughts. I'm not ready to discuss them just yet. But I know they are there. I have so far been able to deflect them thanks to the work I've been doing to prepare for them and I hope that continues.
One thing my colleague's untimely death has brought home to me is the importance of asking for help if you want it - after some encouragement I have been doing so and in the main people have responded. I know there are those who believe I should keep it all hidden and paint on a happy face but that just doesn't work for me.
It relates to what I have ranted about in previous posts. I am not ashamed that this is happening to me and I'm not ashamed to talk about it.
But that doesn't mean I'll spill all for entertainment or to give certain people something to be related later over dinner...if you didn't care enough to be there when I needed it, don't expect to be told now.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Something else a bit different....

I wanted to do this a while ago, but life got in the way. Better late than never...

To my beautiful daughter,

You have dealt with a lot in your four short years with our family, from a mummy who didn't know how to love you to the arrival of your baby brother. But you haven't let it faze you and I'm so proud of the person you are becoming.
Your cheeky grin brightens even the darkest days, and you'll never know how important that is to me. And when your face lights up and you rush over as I walk in the door I'm always glad I came home.
We waited a long time before deciding to expand our family partly because we were worried about the effect it might have on you. We've had such fun in the last year and I had to be sure it was worth risking that to give you a brother or a sister.
I hope, in time, you'll agree that it was. I didn't always get on with my sisters when we all lived together but now they are some of the most important people in my life. I hope you and Daniel will experience the same thing. Maybe with a bit less fighting in between...
I know it feels like the fun has been on hold lately, but I promise it won't always be this way. We'll still have our special times together and they'll be even more precious as your brother grows and inflicts boyness on our household.
I promise to always make time for you and your pinkness, and to use the dreaded "in a minute" phrase as little as possible.
I promise to do my best to make sure he leaves your shoe collection, hair pretties and other special things alone, and to spare you from football and dinosaurs - unless you want to join in with him.
You've taught me all I know about being a parent, and I'm doing the best job I can for you. I know I get it wrong sometimes but I do try to learn from my mistakes and to make decisions with your welfare in mind, even though you may not always agree.
I know we'll have more clashes as you grow, and I remember how traumatic those teenage years can be. But I also know that our relationship is strong enough to weather those storms.
I promise to always hear what you say and I promise you will always be my best girl. Forever.
All my love,

Five weeks..

Another premature update, but hey, at least it's an update!
I've survived another week. Believe me, that's an achievement in itself.
Other achievements? Both kids are still alive, have been regularly fed and dressed in relatively clean clothes.
I got everyone out of the house on time last week for the school run, and was only late picking Miss T up once.
We've had some days without tears (from me, at least - I don't think either child has yet managed that milestone...) and we've had some fun times.
Less positive aspects? I've lost control a few times and really shouted at Tasha, I've had times when baby D and I have been out and I just haven't wanted to go home, and there was one memorable moment when Natasha ended up fetching me tissues and giving me hugs when it all got too much. That's not how I want her life to be.
I've also seen my lovely therapist who put some things in perspective. After seeing her I did feel a lot more positive - the general conclusion was that I'm not yet mad, but on the cusp of it. However she feels that with the right intervention we may yet be able to avoid the dark side.
She insists that it's good to show extremes of emotion to Miss T and I can see her point, which is that it is part of life, but it's hard for me to accept that. It's just not the way I'm used to.
So the edge of the cliff is starting to look a bit further away - on some days at least.
I continue to be surprised by how amazing some people can be, and how oblivious others are. I've tried to ask for help - and could not have predicted those who responded - but maybe I wasn't clear enough. I do know that I need it. Those days where I can get out of the house and meet people are so much easier to bear than the ones where I'm home and the combination of four walls and two children is almost too much.
Having said that, today I was alone with both of them all afternoon and we all just about survived. The only meltdown was over dinner which is nothing unusual at the moment and I managed not to react. It was a close-run thing but I managed it.
Tomorrow we also have no plans and I won't pretend that's not scary. I'm hoping some of my requests for assistance will pay off but if not I'll do my best and that will have to do. I have no more to give.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Four weeks...

Tomrrow is the four week milestone, but the laptop is powered up today so it seemed as good a time as any.
I'm not sure what kind of post this will be, so apologies in advance. I've started writing it in my head several times over the last few days and it changes depending on what sort of day it's been. I've decided just to let my fingers do their thing and see what comes out.
So there have been more bad days. Some good ones too but they can have bad moments as well. On a really bad day it feels like I'm losing my mind; like it's disappearing piece by piece over the edge into the abyss. And if I peer over after it what I see is so terrifying I can't even think about trying to retrieve it.
On a normal bad day, it feels like everything is just too much effort. Even getting off the sofa.
But on a good day, when one child is asleep and I can spend quality time with the other one, I'm not sure what the drama is about.
Mark is back at work next week - tomorrow in fact - so that will present a whole new challenge. I have a lot lined up to keep us busy with lovely friends playing their part with play dates and evenings in.
I do still feel disappointed in others who have been less helpful. Or less present. Or who seem to be able to make the effort for others but not me. Perhaps it's the old mental illness stigma, perhaps it's that it's just more fun to visit someone more cheerful and less mad. Or perhaps I'm just paranoid.
It has been suggested that I ask for help from them, and others, and see what happens. I'm tempted to do so as a social experiment if nothing else - watch this space.
Baby d is stirring so my time here is up for now. But I'll leave with an important (to me at least!) reminder. I know most of you lovely readers are here because you care or because you are interested in the PND experience. But I also know (thanks to Google analytics!) that there are some here for other reasons.
I don't care if this is emailed around the office as a good laugh ("see what that mad cow is up to now"). I started this blog all those years ago with the declaration that I was not ashamed. And it's still true. I may be on the road to happy pill heaven again but I'm not ashamed of it. So I will continue to be honest here for the sake of those who need help staying strong - and for myself.