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

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