anxiety, blog, depression, mental health, motherhood, parenting, post natal depression, Recovery, Uncategorized, writing

Confessions of a guilty Mum – By Gillian. 

Numb.
The instant feeling when I saw my daughter for the first time. Was I happy? Excited? Elated? Overcome with a huge wave of unconditional love? No, just numb. “No need to worry” I thought, “it’s a huge life event, these feelings will come in a day or two”. Little did I realise that this numb feeling would stay with me a lot longer than that, acting as a dam to my wave of unconditional love. 
I first experienced depression in my teenage years. Pretty sure it was brought on by the bullying I experienced at school. It wasn’t too severe but it it cut deeply in terms of my esteem, confidence and self belief. I thought I had nothing to offer the world. I was put on Fluoxetine and self harmed on and off for a few years. This was further enforced by a toxic 3 year relationship with a man I moved cities for, changed universities for and all I got in return was jibes about my looks and my weight. Paying for me to get hair cuts and highlights, making me think it was because he loved me but really it was because he preferred blondes and my natural brunette colour didn’t meet his approval. After that ended I was at rock bottom. Eventually I rediscovered my confidence and believed in myself. Even started to like myself. 10 years of anti depressants and anxiety medication came to an end. I met my now husband, bought a home and started a new job. When I discovered I was pregnant I was overjoyed and couldn’t wait to start this new life as a family.
So why did I feel numb? 
I viewed my daughter as someone else’s child. I was merely a glorified baby sitter until her real mum returned. The first few days in hospital were fine, my visitors kept me occupied and more importantly they held my child so I didn’t have to. Any chance I got I would hand her to someone else, disguised as me doing them a favour by having the joy of cradling a new born. Secretly I wanted nothing to do with her. Once home and the visitors started to dry up, thats when it all nose-dived. Her cries set me on edge, my heart would race and I would stare at her in horror. I counted down the hours until my husband would come home so I wasn’t alone with her. 
I researched churches that I could leave her outside on their doorstep. “Adoption would be quite straight forward right? Oooh foster care, even better. How difficult is it to get yourself sectioned? If I run my car off the road then people will hear my cry for help, right?” Everyday I obsessed over these ideas, but ultimately knew I just couldn’t go through with any of them. Even when I felt so alone and desperate, part of me still knew my daughter needed me. The repercussions of what I was thinking would be too great to repair. I needed help and I needed it there and then.
Straight on the phone to my GP I went. I’d only left it 3 weeks post partum, I really thank myself for asking for help so quickly. Who knew what could have happened if I kept spiralling downwards. My GP was, and still is, one of my greatest supports. I was put on medication straight away and sent off to see a psychiatrist a few days later. I still remember the sense of relief I felt when I poured my heart out in that 8×6 room, like all my guilt and anxiety completely filled the room up and slowly seeped away through the walls. I had lost so much weight and never realised, never in my life have I been ordered to eat more. With regular appointments, medication reviews and developing my own coping strategies I think I am almost there.
My daughter will be 1 in a few weeks. I still fight with myself daily over how I wasted the first 12 weeks of her life wishing she wasn’t here. On the other hand, the last 8 months have been great and she is thriving. So that’s how I look at it. I might not have been cut out for motherhood from the get go, but I’m learning every day. And I’m feeling a lot less numb, that feeling if unconditional love is finally here and I’m so thankful for her everyday

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anxiety, blog, depression, mental health, motherhood, parenting, post natal depression, Recovery, Uncategorized, writing

The past week – By Georgia. 

Where was I at last week! I don’t even know…
Yep that right it was a week of real ups and downs.

A friend and I have been working on some new projects which involve weekly coffee mornings, weekly walks in the park with our babas… which were have kicked off really well.

I have clubs for my little boy 3 nights a week, my mum visited for 2 days and helped me catch up on washing & ironing.

I had play dates, catch ups with friends, Christening & Kids party at the weekend!!!! Full on right!
I find I have to keep busy, I can’t be at home, I feel I have to be out, when I’m out I feel uncomfortable my lack confidence is letting me down.

Large groups or big social events get me worked up.

I stress that I can’t keep on top of things at home and I know this sounds silly and not worth worrying about but I have to have things in order, can’t bare clutter. “A tidy home, a tidy mind” 

All my rushing around and keeping busy away from home makes not want to be at home on my own with the kids, without my husband. We are bickering over nothing because I am so anxious.

Teddy fell over on the way to school last week and we were no more than 2 minutes late, the way the school office spoke to me and handle this literally put me into a melt down. My husband was away with work for two days, the kids we acting up at bedtime as he wasn’t around. This made things worse.

Friday end of the week, everyone exhausted, no clean uniform, no dinner, straight out from school drop off… yeah I know you still with me.
Rather than going home after my morning of bits to do I couldn’t face the overwhelming battle of the house. So stayed with a friend until Teddy finished school, then went for a play date and dinner came home quite late, still nothing done.

A unsettled night with Frankie for no particular reason. Then bang anxiety is pulsating through me like something is about to explode; I am getting on and doing things but my mind is constantly racing to the next and the next and the next thing on my to do list. Teddy’s out the door to Stagecoach, Frankie is napping , husband is getting his haircut & picking a a quick food shop, whilst unlike usual having peace and quiet to myself for an hour to do my hair!!!

Now getting hot and sweaty because I’m conscious of time, and feel like I’m rushing.

I stop I want to cry I don’t know why but I just do. I do some breathing exercises to calm down and focus to I can think rationally, but hey NO! Babies awake, hubby and Teddy are back. We’re all trying to get dress, eat a quick snack, pack the baby bag! 

I can’t finding Teddy any clothes that actually fit either too big of too small, WHAT! How did this growing thing just happen without me noticing???

We get in the car we already running 10 minutes late, I’ve forgotten the present & card (no massive biggy) I’m really hot, I’m clenching my teeth and realise I don’t have my mouth guard in, too late to go back, I’m just staring out the window, I just want to cry. In my head Ihave criticised everything from my hair, shoes, outfit, how my outfits not fitting comfortably, second guessing what my husband has and hasn’t packed in the bag without World War III starting. 

I know a lot of poeple attending the Christening some i’ve not seen for some time and other I see quite regularly, I feel lost, vacant, I just wanna get in the car and go home. I put on a smile and face public.

Wow what an incredible venue, an amazing day, our friends hosted a brilliant event, I wish I could have relaxed and enjoy it.

Conversation was tough, I wasn’t in the zone. I sat a table with Frankie on my lap and decided this is my purpose and place for the rest of the day…. I don’t have to get up I don’t have to get into deep and meaningful conversations with people, just sit and be a mum and hide behind my baby…. because no one will notice.

We came home I spent the rest of the evening wondering if people felt I was different but i’m hoping they’ve had enough alcohol to not notice any difference. 

Relieved to home!!!

Sunday was a chilled morning then it was off to the party, feeling more relaxed about today social situation but anxious as I know my husband will still be at work when I get home, can’t focus on dinner time, do want to go home, agggghhhh I hate this so much.

We get home; kids are feed, bathed and in bed.

Shortly after my husband arrives home and once again everything seems ok, my mind is playing the weekend over and over again on how I felt 
It’s not always like this but this was how my week panned out and hopefully but journally & sharing this with you we can both start next week with a fresh start!!
Thanks for checking 

Much love 

G xx✌🏻💕 

anxiety, blog, depression, mental health, motherhood, parenting, post natal depression, Recovery, Uncategorized, writing

The past week – By Chelsie W. 

So this week has been an awful week …
To start the week things where not too great.. Between me and my two girls ..Layla 2 and Maddison 11 months… having a sickness and diarrhoea bug I spend most of my time with one or both clinging to me. I’m not going to lie it was really hard emotionally … at times I just wanted to be left alone. Having bipolar, anxiety, OCD and emotional problems sometimes I just don’t have the mental space to cope, especially when my poorly children need me every second of the day. 
Then came the nights when the kids where in bed and I got half an hour break in between changing pjs because my eldest had been sick again, and she was telling me she didn’t feel well … it was in these moments I really felt like the worst mother in the world.. all that swirled through my bipolar mind was ‘i can’t even have five minutes to myself’. As a mother I should be able to spend the entire night telling my sad, poorly children that everything is okay.. but for me I was emotionally drained I was ‘touched out’ .. in other words I just wanted to be left alone … but even though they were poorly and I went through the motions to make sure they were cared for, loved and made sure they knew their Mummy was there for them no matter what. I also have a husband to contend with … now the kids are in bed and I’m already so physically, mentally and emotionally drained, my poor husband wanted his share of me … and in my mind my husband, unlike my kids, can just sit on the back burner till I’m ready to be around people again. 
And of course this then lead to problems between me and the hubby … I can totally understand his frustrations and I honestly feel for him .. but it’s in these moment that I need his support .. I need him to be there and to pick up the slack that I just can’t cope with anymore … I’ve given every thing to my kids and I had nothing left for him.. and I still needed and wanted more from him … 
My bipolar mind had once again taken over everything … now my kids have only had the bare minimum from me and my husband has had nothing but grief from me … once again I’m not good enough… I’m not good enough and I’ve honestly tried my hardest … my hardest isn’t good enough … 
I would give anything to just wake up and be able to have a whole day without having to fight… fighting to just do what should be completely normal to every other person … I wake up every day completely exhausted… and I know i have to find the strength to make it through another day … and I go to bed even more exhausted and know that every single day for the rest of my life is going to be a fight … the only difference between days is whether or not that fight is bearable or not! 
To make it even worse my husband wants to take me away for our 2 year wedding anniversary in March .. we want to go to Prague and I’m so bloody excited … we are gonna have 4 days with no children and the limited emotional capacity I have is going to go to my poor husband for a change…. but as with everything in my life … my anxious mind takes hold as I’m fighting to get some sleep and turns this one light in my future into a nightmare… in my mind .. we are gonna die, get robbed, kidnapped … the worst is gonna happen .. if you can think of it .. so have I… 
But after all is said and done I have survived another week … I have succeeded in my fight … it may be one day at a time but I am still here and still fighting ..

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Opinions on medication – By Kirsten. 

My journey started at the age of thirteen, whenever you think about a thirteen year old you generally don’t believe they could have depression but this was just the beginning. Generally in my younger years of being diagnosed I wasn’t using medication because of my age, I was referred to see a counsellor who I would see once a week at school whilst living in Australia. This was amazingly helpful for me as I didn’t have much family to speak too and although I was popular everyone thought depression was attention seeking and didn’t believe depression was a serious issue. Although different issues have happened throughout the past ten years including two of my best friends committing suicide, my first born dying and other situations I seemed to get through everything just “fine”. When my eldest was eleven months I then yelled out for help whilst my health visitor came over because I never used medication and now living in the United Kingdom this is when I began taking 20mg fluoxetine, my side effects were crazy, I lost my sex drive, I was falling asleep, I felt really dizzy during the day, I stupidly stopped taking them and not asking for more answers or different medication. I didn’t take any medication again until my youngest son was a month old.. I then started back on fluoxetine 20mg again, took them for six weeks and had a review with my local GP at which they were upped to fluoxetine 40mg and again because no change upper again to fluoxetine 60mg.. along side this I see my mental health team once a week and although everyday is a challenge I can feel myself slowly over coming this battle.

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Opinions on medication- By Jasmine. 

Unfortunately, there is a huge stigma around the use of medication for mental health. According to some people, it suggests that you’re just ‘giving up’ and using the meds as a ‘crutch’. That’s like telling someone who decides to take blood pressure medication that they’ve given up on their blood pressure. If someone is diabetic, you wouldn’t question the need for their constant injections, would you? So why is it so different for people with mental health issues? Let that sink in for a minute… 

A few years back, I had mixed views on the proposition of medication; the same as when I was first diagnosed with all of my conditions. I worried what people would think or say – ‘What if people think I’m crazy? What if they don’t understand?’ I was desperate to feel happy and normal, but I felt embarrassed and ashamed that I needed these meds at such a young age. My parents would always say ‘You don’t need medication, just be happy’. Oh my goodness, yeah, I didn’t think of that! Like it’s that simple?! Many people think it’s just stress or life events that cause depression. WRONG! It can also be caused by a chemical and/or hormonal imbalance in the brain, so you can’t just ‘smile’ or ‘snap out of it’; sometimes that ‘choice’ to be happy is taken away from you.  

I knew I had reached a dangerously low point and needed help when I began to feel like I didn’t want to be here anymore. I was about 17/18 at the time, and I’d started to feel empty and numb. I was scared because I felt like I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was put on an antidepressant called Citalopram at the beginning of my battle, and at one point, I decided I ‘felt fine’ and stopped taking them. My depression became severe within a few days and I was self-harming by punching or head-butting walls. I decided to start taking them again and was going steady. When I found out I was pregnant in 2015, I stopped taking them as I didn’t want any risk of harming the baby. For a while I was on cloud nine! I was so happy and excited about becoming a Mummy, me and my fiancé had just moved into our first place, I couldn’t wait for our future together. But then my anxiety started to flare up; I was uncontrollably crying at the horrible intrusive thoughts I was having due to my OCD. At a check-up at the hospital, they became concerned when I told them I was struggling. I was kept in over-night and wasn’t even allowed out of the ward on my own, as I was seen as a risk to myself. I felt the lowest I’d ever been, a total failure to everyone around me. I was offered Sertraline as it’s perfectly safe to use during pregnancy, and most commonly used by pregnant women, but I refused. However, I had loving family and friends around me and, over the next few weeks, I really started to improve. I started to feel so happy that I thought I didn’t even need them! 

Oh, how I was wrong! Within 3 days of giving birth to Alfie, my anxiety hit me like a tonne of bricks. I was having nightmares and racing thoughts, hot and cold flushes, nausea, difficulty sleeping and I hadn’t eaten in days. When Alfie was about a week old, I was taken to A&E, gasping for air and feeling like I wasn’t really here (depersonalisation). It transpires that I was having a panic attack, which had lasted 5 days! I was sent home having been told by the doctor ‘It’s just your anxiety.’ Just anxiety? I just wanted to die, to end the suffering. But then I felt guilty – ‘How could I leave my precious baby without a Mummy, and Ashlee without a fiancée? I’m the worst Mother in the world!’ I was so scared for my own life, I was so confused and sad and felt like no one understood or wanted to even try. The next day I went to the Crisis Team at my local hospital, where they assessed me and prescribed me Pregabalin for anxiety and Mirtazapine for depression. This type of antidepressant also helps with sleep and appetite. I took them that evening and got an early night. The next morning, after a solid sleep, I woke up feeling hungry for the first time that week! I never imagined they would be so helpful and I dread to think where I’d be now if I hadn’t taken them. 

18 months on, I’m now on the highest dose of Mirtazapine as my depression has become quite severe again, but my psychiatrist has started the slow process of reducing my anxiety meds, as he feels that is improving. I feel proud that I may be able to live a more ‘normal’ lifestyle, not constantly thinking ‘Have I taken my tablets yet today?’ or making sure I’ve got them with me when I go out etc. Yet I’m apprehensive because I’m scared I won’t cope without them and might hit rock bottom again. But I’ve got people around me to help so I’m trying to stay positive and focused, for a healthier and happier future. 

As with all medication, there are side effects that aren’t too pleasant. Obviously, my antidepressants are for sleeping, so within half an hour of taking them, I’m like a zombie! This is really frustrating because then I don’t get to spend quality time with Ash – instead I’m in bed by 10pm! Then comes the difficult decision: Do I take them later than usual but be super tired in the morning because they won’t have had long enough to wear off? Or do I just skip this dose altogether so I can a) relax with Ash and b) not feel as tired in the morning – even though I’ll feel slightly lower in mood and a bit more anxious? However, if I don’t take them, I get awful withdrawal symptoms: nightmares, shaking, nausea, night sweats but shivering with cold, upset tummy and very tearful. This

2/2

then causes me to feel more depressed in general because I’m angry at myself – ‘If you didn’t need all these tablets, this wouldn’t happen!’ This then sets me off on a downward spiral: anger, frustration, suicidal thoughts, sadness, guilt. It takes all the strength within me to try and pick myself up and have the courage to face the day ahead. It’s important to be kind to yourself and give yourself time and patience to heal properly. 

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” 

Jasmine x 

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Am I not strong enough? – By Jade.

”What do you need that for? Aren’t you strong enough to cope without it? Many people go through worse than you Jade! Get a grip.”

These are all the negative thoughts I had in my mind when the GP first told me take medication back in 2010 after loosing my beloved Grandad to heart failure. I felt numb or was it that I wasn’t strong enough? Logically we know what the answer is – That I was dealing with bereavement of a loved one, my Grandad. My heart aches still thinking of him now and how I miss him. The pain was  excruciating, how could I feel so dead inside but have the burning pain of grief surround my whole heart and soul.

I opted to take medication which back then was Citalopram, it worked quiet well for me actually,  no side effects apart from when I began taking them, they gave me horrendous shakes but I was in a place where I was starting to feel myself again. I wasn’t having intrusive thoughts about myself and loved ones, I was managing okay with life. Over time I went to 40mg of Citalopram and realized in Jan 2015 that I was pregnant, due to my previous miscarriages I told the GP I want to get off of them immediately as I didn’t want to risk anything that could harm this little life growing inside of me. I was weaned off them as quick as I could but I soon started feeling the illness creeping back to me, I was diagnosed with Ante-natal depression and anxiety (same problem, different name I thought).

After Eden was born I struggled immensely, I was put back on Citalopram. This time however it did not work. I as placed on Venlafaxine 75mg and again over time it has increased so now I am on 225mg. I also take an anti-psychotic to stabilize my mood and manage my anxiety, which is 5mg of Aripiprazole.

There is so much Stigma on medication and that we should be able to cope without it, Mental health is an illness and disease. How would you manage diabetes or a heart condition? You wouldn’t reject medication because you felt that you were strong enough without it. It is the same for medication, it is a crutch alongside therapy and helpful coping mechanisms that you will begin to manage your MH condition but I think the first step and priority when you are in that black hole of illness is getting medication that is right for you, since being under the mental health team, speaking with a psychiatrist and trying medication that wasn’t right for me – I have now found one that I am suited to which helps me manage my life effectively, it helps me function.

Yes I still have bad days and days where I feel I can’t cope but I know I would be in a far worse place if I didn’t take my medication. There are some concerns about dependency on medication, I don’t see taking medication as a dependency as such, it is more to help me on the road to recovery and as we can only live in the ‘here and now’ – I can’t predict where I will be in the future so.. why worry about whether or not you’ll be on medication or not?

I personally think that medication has saved my life on a few occasions, it has balanced my mind and thoughts whether it be suicidal thoughts or crippling anxiety – Medication seems to level this out. My advice would be, if a medical professional advises you to consider medication, please understand you have an illness just because it isn’t in sight or touch doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist and you surely aren’t weak for accepting that support for your brain that has a chemical imbalance, yes a REAL chemical, not imaginary imbalance.

Go easy on yourself and know that medication can be the first step to help and recovery

anxiety, blog, depression, mental health, motherhood, parenting, post natal depression, Recovery, Uncategorized, writing

Opinions on medication – By Laura.

It was back in 2011 when I was first diagnosed with depression. I had put it to the back of my mind for so long. I brushed it off with having lost 3 people in 15 months. My step-mum (only reason I had contact with my dad), my nan then grandad (I was closer to these than anyone else in my family). After all of that I then miscarried. I felt like I couldn’t go on. I did get the courage to go to the doctors, I was put on Fluoxetine. As soon as I picked them up I felt stupid, like I didn’t need tablets, they wouldn’t help. Back then I was quite young and naive, I felt so alone, like I was the only person it this position, shows how much I knew!

Depression was something I had never really heard about. Obviously I knew what it was but I never knew anyone who had experienced it, or so I thought. It was as though I was in a bubble, oblivious to the real world, not realizing how many people suffer. For years I took the fluoxetine, pretending to be fine, pretending it worked, not breathing a word about my mental illness. Although I felt no better I put my focus on keeping busy, I worked my way through college and university whilst working a part time job. It felt like no matter what I done, this was it. There was no more to life, and it all felt pointless. I thought here must be other people who felt like this, but it was still so unheard of, it was always a condition people kept to themselves, but why? It’s an illness, nothing to be embarrassed about. Yet I still felt embarrassed.

Nothing changed for so long in my situation, I thought if the medication I had didn’t work that was it, there was no more I could do. Things then hit an all time low, I overdosed. Looking back now I don’t know why I done it, but I took all the pills I could find and went to sleep, hoping I’d not wake up. I don’t know how long I slept for, but I woke up and I couldn’t see, I was dizzy and everything was blurry. I panicked and called my ex partner, I told him I took tablets and didn’t know what was happening. He told me to get water, I tried and fell down the stairs, I had passed out. I spent a couple of days in hospital, dealt with the crisis team for a one off meeting.Other than that, nothing changed.

To be  honest not a lot changed after that, I was exactly the same. Years passed, I went through another miscarriage and my husband and me broke up but I just kept going, on the same medication. It wasn’t until I met my current partner and fell pregnant things changed, I stopped taking all medication and felt fine for so long.

I was diagnosed with post natal depression when my daughter was 6 weeks old I finally decided it was time to admit the previous medication didn’t work. I was put on Citalopram, however I only lasted 2 months on this as it made everything worse. I was like a different person, as though I could see what I was doing and how I was acting, but I couldn’t control it.

I found support online, found so many other women who had been through the same things as me. It was a huge relief, I could finally open up and talk about anything that was bothering me to a group of understanding, supportive women.

Since then I have been put on Sertraline 100mg and I feel like a new woman. I finally found something that worked. Although I still have bad days and I don’t think I will ever be 100% it’s good to have finally realized medication is different for everyone and how important it is to find the one right for you.

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Opinions on medication -By Chelsee.

It’s took me forever to find an antidepressant that suits me and when I did, I fell pregnant again and I had to start from the beginning.
I first started on a low dose of. Citolapram which got upped a few times, in the end it made me loose quite a bit of hair so I asked to change. 
I changed to imipramine… never  ever again! They made me so spaced out I couldn’t move of the sofa, it was almost like I was semi paralyzed. So once again I went back to the doctors and I was put on fluoxetine, 20mg for a week then up it to 40mg! I felt good, I think I had 16 good days before I had an ‘off’ day. I felt great, then I fell pregnant – Doctors told me it was safe to keep me on them so they were giving me an alternative medication or I could try without (never going to happen) so they gave me a antidepressant called sertraline and just in short, they’re horrific; well for me anyway, I had anger problems I would lash out at my partner I would hide myself away for days on end (not really unusual for me) but it was starting all over again.
I lost my confidence and I didn’t know how you regain control, so instead I just suffered in silence. I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl in June, and most women think about getting their baby home; all I could think about was changing my tablets again, I knew I didn’t suit them. 
I stayed on them as the doctor said it was safe to be on them, then one night I lost it, I lost control and I attacked my partner so viciously I completely blacked out. I had no recollection, I’d been waiting for a referral to the mental health team for a while but now I was adamant I was going to sectioned 😔 I didn’t know who I was anymore and that scared me.
I approached the doctors who tried to find me something that could help, so as of now I’m back on fluoxetine 40mg daily, they don’t ever stop me having depressing days but they reduce them massively! These are the tablets for me! I also suffer from insomnia now so I’m on zopiclone 7.5mg (the highest) and whilst they’re absolutely amazing (like a sedative lol) I would much prefer not to have to take them. 
As of the now, life is okay. The tablets take the edge on and I feel like I’m not in a black while; I can communicate with people and do things i couldn’t before. 
My baby is only 4 months old and my other two are at pre school and school so I would hope to like to start working again, I love the sense of being able to provide. 
Mentally, I’m getting there with the help of medication and having to make a few changes.
Most days it seems I take so many tablets I must rattle when I walk – haha!
Any questions about anything I’m here.

Chelsee A.K.A the walking pharmacy  😊
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Fluoxetine – By ‘From Mind to World’.

Prior to being diagnosed with postnatal depression and anxiety, I was fairly naïve to all things mental health. So when the doctor diagnosed me with postnatal depression and anxiety, and prescribed me anti-depressants, it was fair to say it was a little bit of a shock. Despite the shock, I was fairly open to taking medication if it was going to help me feel better. I did not want to continue the way I was feeling anymore and I wanted to do all I could to help myself.

 

The thing I was worried about, apart from telling my husband about my diagnosis, was that he would not support me in taken medication and would suggest that I was able to get through it without medication. This definitely says more about my state of mind at the time than my husband as he couldn’t have been more supportive about getting me better. I remember him saying ‘you wouldn’t think twice about taking medication prescribed by the doctor for a physical illness, so why is this any different?’ And he was right. It isn’t and it shouldn’t be. So with my husband’s support, I started taking 20mg of Fluoxetine every morning.

 

I had obviously spoken to the doctor about any possible side effects and had also done a little bit of research myself, as I wanted to be aware of what to expect. Of course, as usual on any medication, there was a whole long list of possible side effects. I guess the pharmaceutical companies have to do this to cover their backs. The main side effects I noticed in the first few days of tasking my medication were an increased appetite (mainly for unhealthy food), what seemed like an unquenchable thirst, tiredness and headaches. The strangest side effect I noticed was that I felt like I was floating around in a bubble and that I was moving much slower than the world around me.

 

The doctor said the medication could take up to 3 weeks to have any real effect. At this point I was having 2 weekly reviews with the doctor, so we were discussing my progress regularly. After a couple of weeks, the doctor was not happy with my improvement on 20mg Fluoxetine, so they upped my dosage to 40mg a day. On this dosage, I saw a definite improvement in my depression and anxiety, however after a few weeks it seemed to plateau and again through my reviews my doctor advised me to up my dosage to 60mg a day (which I understand is the highest does you can take of Fluoxetine).

 

This was a real turning point for me. A few weeks after taking 60mg a day, I felt like I turned a corner. The only way I can really describe it is that everything felt lighter and easier all of a sudden and there was a definite shift to more ‘good’ days than ‘bad’ days. This was probably a good 12 weeks (3 months) after my diagnosis. In this time, I had been fortunate enough to have paid sick leave from work, which definitely contributed to the speed of my ongoing recovery. It meant I had time to really focus on myself and as our son was still going to nursery on the days when I should have been at work, I had 3 days a weeks all to myself.

 

Longer term side effects were trouble sleeping at night and extreme tiredness during the day, along with weight gain from my increased appetite. I dealt with the tiredness by switching around the time of day I took medication. Instead of taking it in the morning, I decided to trial taking it at night, with the hope that it would help me sleep better at night and be more awake during the day. This has worked for me. I now sleep much better at night and also am less tired during the day.

 

With regards to my increased appetite and weight gain, since having my son nearly 2 years ago, I have gained about 1 and a half stone. Now to some that might not seem a lot but I was actually lucky enough to lose weight whilst I was pregnant due to ongoing ‘morning’ sickness, so to me this is quite a gain. The depression and medication have definitely played a big part in this over the last 2 years. Whilst ultimately I am not happy about this, I have to remember the tremendous journey my body has been through over the last 2 years including growing an actual human (this still completely amazes me!), postnatal depression and anxiety and ongoing recovery from this.

 

It is a constant battle in my head between wanting to do something about it and finding the time and motivation to do so; but at the end of the day, you have to be in the right frame of mind to achieve. Right now, I would much rather spend time and effort making sure my mind is healthy and then hopefully one day in the not too distant future (I have signed up to run a marathon in April 2018!!) the same time and efforts for my body will naturally follow.

 

I have now been taking my medication for 10 months (the doctor advised to take it for at least 9 months minimum) and I do not have any plans to come off it this year. I would like be off it by summer next year, so may start the weaning process in the spring when the weather is less dull and dreary. Of course any weaning from my medication will be done in consultation with my doctor.

I think, if I was only able to say 2 things about taking anti-depressants, I would stress the benefits of them in terms of clearing your mind to enable you to fully benefit from other therapies, whatever they may be – for me it was counselling; and that recovery takes time – there will be good days and there will be bad days, but with the right help and time the good days should start to outweigh the bad days.

 

Lastly, remember to be kind to yourself. Any illness is not your fault and you deserve the time and help to get better.

 

N.B. It is important to remember that all the side effects of taking medication I experienced are also symptoms of depression itself. Also that along with taking medication, I have also had a total of 5 months off work, regular reviews with the doctor regarding my medication and weekly counseling for 9 months.

 

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anxiety, blog, depression, mental health, motherhood, parenting, post natal depression, Recovery, Uncategorized, writing

’50 SHADES OF GREY’ – By Steph.

 If there was a pill to sort any problem I’d take it. I have an addictive personality, I always have had. I just manage it better now than when I was in my teens or twenties.
Every time something has been wrong in my life I have self medicated, I didn’t always realize that was the case but it was.  I threw myself into a new project or eating plan, a new exercise regime, anything to take my mind off the real problem. I got so busy I was manic for most of the time. I didn’t want to slow down or take my time, I wanted it done yesterday. I was head strong and impatient and most worryingly manic. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to slow down….now I couldn’t. Slowing down means thinking about things, dealing with things, letting worry hit the pit of your stomach. So on and on and on I went like a Duracell bunny. Clean house, more hours than required at work , gym, dogs, the cycle continued.
I was always very blase towards antidepressants. Whilst running my own business with predominantly female staff I heard the words ‘stressed’ and ‘anxiety’ banded around day in day out. I was deaf to the conversations. I saw young, mainly single mums living in a cycle of blowing their wages on nights out, hair appointments on installments over paying their bills. Drugs fueled weekends whilst dumping their kids on randoms. Monday Morning would come and ‘depression’ would hit, signed off ‘stressed’ from work, ‘back on tablets’. It annoyed me, I was there working 7days a week in my familiar manic state gaining customers for staff to let me down.
My mum would rant at me frequently about the situation. ‘They don’t know they are born!, they should try bringing up three children with little money, no nights out’ blah blah blah
My view on mental health issues and medication changed massively in my thirties. Why? I wound up with a partner with Bi-polar. Or did I?  A lying, but charming, seemingly intelligent but manipulative guy entered my life. Within a few months he’d moved himself in, started checking my things, accusing me of looking at other men. My life wasn’t my own any longer, I rarely left the house. His control over me progressed, I didn’t tell anyone. He lied to me about his past, I found out he’d been married with children, he’d left debt wherever he went. He lied compulsively giving such incredible detail. I started to research his behavior, reckless with money, compulsive lying, always wanted to be the center of attention and all information led me to believe he had bi-polar.
I walked on egg shells daily, no social life, I stopped socializing, the violence increased but he was always sorry. It came to a horrible end when he attacked me , quite badly and I finally had him charged. This was to be the first time in my life I was offered anti depressants. I couldn’t sleep, the flash backs were horrendous, I couldn’t face food and my weight dropped to a number I don’t remember seeing ever!  So for a short time I took the tablets. I don’t recall what they were , only the way they made me feel. Sick, tired, emotionless and ravenous! I stopped taking them weeks later and ‘got on with it’.  My partner was charged and given a suspended sentence, ordered to attend a domestic violence course. This was to be the start of his diagnosis. He asked me to attend mental health appointments with him and I knew that I needed to if I was to get the true version of events. I needed a reason for why he’d been doing what he’d been doing. I needed to put a label on it.  When he got diagnosed with Bi Polar and prescribed Olanzipine I felt relieved. Six months later I’d been fooled into giving it another try. Things were never right between us. It’s incredibly hard to be intimate with someone that has hurt you so badly. We moved house for a fresh start but I lost friends and respect from family.  Everything went ok and I went onto marry him….for a short period. Life got busy and one day he told me he didn’t think he needed his medication any longer.  The panic hit me, this wasn’t part of the deal. He was now a director of a successful company, our bills were paid on time, we had a lovely home. He had given me my life back by allowing friends and freedom. That pill made this happen , or so I thought.  But then my mind started to work overtime. Had he not been violent to me again because he knew he’d go straight to prison?  Did he fool the mental health team to gain that label to get back into my life.  I started to dig again and of course I found lies, just better hidden. The past was still chasing him and he was creating worse problems in the here and now.  This was to be the end of our marriage.
I’m suffering from Post Natal Depression. I hate that I take anti depressants. I have never had a problem bonding with Oliver. I look at him with all the love in the world, I always have , well maybe not the first time I saw him, he looked horrendous.  But as shit as I feel some days I never want to harm him.  My depression molds itself into self loathe and a lack of positivity towards the future.  I’m still 2 stone heavier six months on. I hate the way I look. I can’t remember the last time I felt attractive and that rubs off onto my relationship with my partner. I don’t look or feel like the girl he met. We’ve been together two years shortly and I worry that we never spent a lot of time having fun before being thrown into this premature baby whirlwind.  I don’t want to socialize , I cringe at the thought. I live in leggings and loose tops. I recently doubled my dose of fluxoetine after deciding I didn’t want to feel like this anymore and swallowing a handful of my favorite painkillers washed down with Gin. I wasn’t thinking straight I was tired, hormonal. The overwhelming feeling of being a new mum, a first time mum in such weird circumstances had taken over.
Do I think the tablets help? I think they make me more bearable to be around. Maybe I’ll be less fraught, maybe I’ll sleep better. Still to this day I don’t like being slowed down. I can’t train at the gym like I used to, I can’t find it within myself to do  the things I know spell success towards me looking and feeling better. Why? because I feel weak, although I’ve overcome my biggest hurdle in life of having a child I had him by C section, I’m a child birth failure. I failed to carry him longer than 30 weeks even though I was sat on my ever increasing arse and hardly moving.
My depression journey isn’t over but I like to think it will be a short lived one. I have no sex drive, no drive to better myself. I can barely get out of bed most days. I can only hope that my relationship doesn’t fail or even worse I fail at being a good mum.
I never did grey, always black or white. Go hard or go home, all or nothing.  I need to beat this feeling before black and white becomes 50 shades of grey and I never see clearly again.