Postnatal

Yesterday, I received a brand new badge.

Even as a child, my emotions seemed to be out of sync. One minute, I couldn’t stop talking, the next, I couldn’t speak at all.

My parents were often called into my school by teachers, concerned by my lack of communication skills. I was always “the quiet child”. And then, as if a switch had been flicked inside of me, I would be making friends again and seemed “normal”.

I wasn’t depressed, I didn’t cry a lot and I didn’t appear to be an unhappy child. But something wasn’t quite right.

As a teenager, my “mood swings” spiralled. In fact, they became a running joke in my family – everyone put them down to hormones – but they never knew how I would behave from one day to the next.

For several weeks, I would excel at school. Participating in lessons, laughing with my friends, I even became disruptive in class a few times and had to leave the room! But then the next week, I would be a nervous wreck. I felt sick and begged my Mum not to send me to school and when I got there, I would withdraw completely, paying no attention to the subject I was being taught, I would just be gazing out of the window with a million thoughts racing around in my head.

I turned to self-harm at the age of 14, feeling a sense of control and ‘release’ when I was having a ‘down-day’. This is the one thing I am least proud of in my life, but at the time, it felt like I was wearing blinkers… I just couldn’t see anything else happening outside of my own mind.

My sexual relationships lasted for short bursts at a time, as I became detached to people I felt I once “loved” and sought the next one, in the hope that I would feel better again, I guess I blamed the relationships for my feelings of depression.

When loved ones passed away, I disassociated myself from the situation. For an outsider, it may have looked as though I was “being strong” and “carrying on”. I wasn’t, I was simply ignoring the situation, refusing to think about it and instead, focussing on the next big life event that I could tackle.

As my son entered the world, I turned the switch onto “auto pilot” and didn’t stop to think until he turned 4 months old. That’s when my mood completely crashed and I ended up at A&E,  with my medication increased. When he turned 15 months, I crashed again, back to A&E and this time, treated with medication used for Major Depressive Disorder. I now know that I had experienced a “Psychotic Episode”.  I asked to see a Psychiatrist and finally, we are where we are today.

Now, at the age of 25, I look back on my life and realise how much this makes sense. After 11 long, tiring years, anti-anxiety medication and 3 types of anti-depressive drugs, I have been officially diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

I don’t feel happy, or glad that I have received this shiny, new badge of mental health disorder, but what I do feel, is relief. I feel that I can look for ways to help myself, as well as the treatment I am due to receive from my GP. I feel like I am going to get better, at last.

 

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Postnatal

The Sleep Deprived Mother

From the moment Renley came home from the hospital, I just knew that me and my comfy, warm bed were on a break.

For the first 6 months I was breastfeeding, so being up every 1.5 – 2hrs night and day became normal. After all, I had made the choice to feed on demand and knew that this would keep my supply going. Looking back, I remember being sat up in bed, wriggling my toes in the attempt to stay awake whilst Renley was feeding, but this all seemed natural to me. For the first 4 months (pre-postpartum depression), I actually enjoyed having this time with my boy, just me and him, it felt special.

During the days I tried to sleep when he slept, just like everyone kept telling me. But every time I finally settled my mind and began drifting off to sleep, another feed was due.

Being sleep-deprived definitely has an effect on your mental health. You become teary, image_390x355.jpgirritable and impatient and unfortunately, this was just one of the factors that led to my postpartum depression.

At 9 months, Renley was solely drinking formula and was now on a full diet of solid food. He went to bed at around 7.30pm every night, woke at 11pm and 1am and 4am and then 7am… without fail, every single night. Nap times became a chore and he would usually end up in bed with me, just so that I could get some sleep. Looking back, we really didn’t have much of a routine and this probably contributed to his sleeping patterns.

At 14 months, Renley FINALLY slept through the entire night! I had even referred for sleep counselling by my Health Visitor, but by the time my appointment arrived, he’d already managed one full nights sleep (typical!). I finally began getting back into a routine and getting some rest. At 16 months, my medication was changed to Mirtazapine, which also acts as a sedative, so I was actually knocked out every night from 9pm to 8am, which meant Daddy having to get up instead. Luckily for him, Renley now slept 12hrs through, waking only when he was teething or the weather was too hot.

I see a lot of parents struggling with sleep deprivation and from the bottom of my heart, I know how hard it is. How it feels like it’s never going to end. How you feel totally alone.

 

So, here’s my advice!

It might not work for you – I really do feel that in order to get your baby to sleep well, you need to look at your individual situation.

quoteFor me, it wasn’t until I had reached breaking point just before Renley turned 14 months, that one night when I put him to bed, I left him to cry. He cried for 15 minutes and I thought he’d never go to sleep. I went and cuddled him, I cried because I felt so bad for letting him cry and then I put him back down. I left him for 20 minutes, before going back up and soothing him again (this time, without picking him up – I just rubbed his back). This went on for a good 2 hours before he finally got himself to sleep.

I stuck at it and 3 days later of using this method at both bed times and nap times, he went down in his cot and didn’t cry. He went to sleep. He slept all night. I wished I had done this sooner.

To note: We had tried various methods suggested by our health visitor and many parenting websites by this point, including the “pick up, put down” method to try to allow him to self soothe, putting a muslin/cuddly toy that smelt of Mummy in the cot, putting Mummy’s clothing on the end of the cot, we co-slept for the first 9 months, cradling him to sleep each night, we had the bedtime routine from day 1… nothing else seemed to work for us!

Routine!

Iuntitled‘ve always tried to stick to a bedtime routine. But Renley never had set nap times because we were always doing something different from one day to the next.

Here’s our current daily routine which now works perfectly for us:

* Up at 8am, bottle and TV time, followed by breakfast, getting dressed and play time.

* 10am is nap time. By this time, he’s already getting irritable and rubbing his eyes, so I give him his dummy, tell him it’s time for bed and he toddles off to find his bedroom.

* 12.30-1pm, he wakes. We have lunch and then play time or go out, depending on what we’re up to on the day. He’ll usually have another nap at 2.30pm until 4.30pm.

* 4.30pm is dinner time, followed by play and then bath time/getting ready for bed starts at 5.30pm. By 6pm, he’ll be settled on the sofa drinking his milk and watching CBeebies+

* 6.30pm is bed time. I take him upstairs to brush his teeth and put him straight into his cot, rubbing his back for a few seconds before saying “night night” and walking out. He now goes straight to sleep.

+ Many sources say not to allow TV close to bed time, because it keeps children awake for longer and they struggle to settle. Again, I feel this is down to the individual. We never had the TV on before bed until Renley actually became interested in watching the Twirlywoos on CBeebies at 16 months old. Now I allow him to watch half an hour whilst he’s drinking his milk at 6pm, as he actually sits still and it allows him to wind down! He’s such an active little boy that if I don’t do this, then he just runs about the house getting more and more wound up before bed time.

 

Summary

What I wanted to gage from this blog post, is that you are not alone. I am not telling you how you should/shouldn’t parent, I am simply sharing what worked for us. I 100% believe that different methods work for different families and there is no right/wrong answer when it comes to babies and sleep!

But what I want you to remember, is that this won’t last forever and you’re doing a fantastic job right now.

 

 

Postnatal

There’s a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

So the past week has been CRAZY.

Last Tuesday I visited the psychiatric nurse, who I chatted away to for a good hour about how I’ve been feeling, not just since having Renley, but raking up memories from my childhood.

He called me, as promised, on Monday this week, to let me know that after speaking to a team of GPs, they are now referring me for an assessment with my local Psychosis team. It will then be decided on my course of treatment.

It has been a long old road, Renley is now 16 months old and I’m still having good days and bad. But I’m finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and a definitive diagnosis.

OH! And I also spoke to Sarah Graham, a lovely journalist from Net Doctor, who is writing a piece on Prenatal Anxiety and asked for me to share my experience, in order to raise awareness. So look out for her post on  Twitter! 

Mental health aside, I have been spending the past few days with my Fiancé and son, as it was the better half’s birthday this week! I’ve also been manically wedding planning as I realised we only have 5 months until the big day!

Hope everyone’s week is full of sunshine,

Jade

Uncategorized

Raising Money for PND Awareness Week 2017

Hi all!

Myself and Renley will be carrying out a sponsored walk on Sunday 3rd September in Leicestershire, to raise funds for the PANDAS Foundation, in aid of PND Awareness Week (4-10 Sept 2017).

He’s only 15 months old, so the walk will only be 1 mile, but all donations will be paid directly to PANDAS, who provide support to families affected by pre and postnatal mental illnesses, including support groups and a telephone helpline.

Please click the link below to read our story – any donations would be hugely appreciated!

Click here to read more or to donate

Read more about PANDAS

Thank you so much,

Jade x

Postnatal

An ongoing battle.

After my initial relapse when Renley was 8 months old, I sailed along in life quite nicely. I decided to quit my job and stay at home with my son. I started up my own business and I felt independent again.

But when Renley turned 15 months and just before I started a busy week at work, I crashed. I well and truly crashed. I woke up in such a low mood that I couldn’t leave the house for a week. I began to have, what my doctor describes as “psychotic episodes”. Now, I mentioned in a previous post that these had started during my first relapse, but this time it was much worse.

I heard noises that nobody else could hear. I checked for running taps over and over again in our home, despite my partner telling me that they were all off. I was convinced that someone was out to get me and the smallest comments that people made to me resulted in severe paranoia. After a week of living in this tormenting bubble, I went to my doctor.untitled3

She referred me to the NHS CRISIS team, who discharged me almost immediately when I attended my mental health assessment, putting the noises down to my anxiety. My son went to his grandparents for almost a week, on the doctors instruction to ‘rest’. Eventually, I hit my lowest and ended up at our nearest A&E for 14 hours one Monday night. My medication was changed from 100mg of Sertraline to 30mg of Mirtazapine, a drug that is used to treat major depressive disorder. I was referred to a Psychiatrist, with an appointment arriving within just a few days of being referred.

After a few days of feeling like a zombie on new medication, I finally began to feel ‘normal’ again. I started to sail along just like before.

I’m now well-aware that I could relapse at any moment, but I do all that I can to stop that from happening. I talk to my partner and my family and close friends, I ask for help for the first time ever and I try to stay calm and relaxed by getting out of the house when I can. With my Psychiatrists help, I’m hoping to become the person that I used to be, which I know won’t happen overnight, but this time, I have hope.

Postnatal · Pregnancy and Prenatal

Preparing for a visit to your GP

Each time I’ve visited my GP to discuss my mental health, I walk in with sweaty palms, feeling sick to the bottom of my stomach and I truly feel fear.

But when I walk out of that room, I feel free. Like a whole ton of weight has been lifted. That’s when I know that I made the right choice to talk.

 

Although it can be scary, to admit how you are really feeling, there are ways in which you can prepare!

Write down the following:

  • Medical history, including family and past traumas; Particularly if this is your first visit to your GP, it’s often that they will ask things like “have you suffered from depression in the past?” or “have your parents ever suffered from low moods or mental disorders?”. They may also want to know if you have experienced any past traumas which may have led to the feelings that you are experiencing. Having these details to hand will make it much easier to remember details that you may otherwise forget.
  • Symptoms and feelings; note how you’ve felt and how long you’ve been feeling this way for. E.g. Constant low mood for 2 weeks, unable to leave the house for the past week or sleeplessness for the majority of the month.
  • Questions to ask; Note down what you want to know! If you’re unsure of how effective councelling or medication may be or if you want to know if a type of medication has side effects then ask the question! It’s far better to prepare yourself whilst you have that dedicated time with your Doctor, than have to go back in a month’s time because you think something isn’t quite right.

And please, please, please remember that your Doctor will NOT judge! They speak to many patients with similar concerns on a daily basis and they really are the best people that will aid with your recovery.