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

Fundraising for PANDAS Foundation UK

Today, me and my son, Renley, completed our 1 mile “toddle” to raise money for PANDAS Foundation (Pre & Postnatal Support Services).

We travelled over to a national country park in Leicestershire and headed to the tea room, one mile away from where we had started.

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Renley did amazingly well, despite having a few tantrums when his independence was threatened – he did not want to hold our hands and he made that known! So he settled with keeping hold of his pushchair, just in case Mummy couldn’t be trusted!

 

 

By the time we ventured back to the car, he decided to relax in his stroller, before falling soundly asleep for his afternoon nap.

I am super proud of him for walking so well and I’m extremely proud of myself, for getting out there and raising money for a service that I truly believe helps hundreds of families that are going through mental health illness each day.

We have so far raised £175 and would love to reach our target of £200! Please, please help us to reach our goal, by clicking the following link to read our story and donate… JustGiving Page

Thank you so much!

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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.

Postnatal · Pregnancy and Prenatal

Mindfulness Exercises

Quite often, we find that the weight of life is getting on top of us and sometimes, we just need to slow down…

Try these mindfulness exercises to calm your mind and body throughout the day and before going to sleep at night!

  • Make a journal or daily planner; write down thoughts/feelings to identify the triggers which may cause you to feel anxious or stressed. Use a daily planner to set goals throughout the day and note what was the worst and best parts of the day. You can then look back and see which areas of your life need to be changed in order to reduce stress.
  • Breathing; Breath in through your mouth and out through your nose to the count of 6. Try to empty your mind, focussing on inhaling and exhaling. Imagine seeing your breath float in and out. Release any emotions that you breath out.
  • Grounding; This exercise is particularly helpful if you’re struggling to sleep. Lying down, start by carrying out the breathing exercise above. Once you have a clear mind, focus on different areas of your body, starting at your toes and gradually working upwards to your head. Relax each body part and release tension as you go, until your body becomes completely limp.
  • Sorting boxes; Take a deep breath and try to notice how you are feeling. Sort your thoughts into 3 ‘boxes’ in your mind: Thoughts, Sensations and Emotions.

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Postnatal

It’s all fun and games. Until you have postpartum depression.

In April 2016, my darling son, Renley was born. From the moment he arrived, I automatically went into autopilot… I didn’t stop to think, let alone make any time for myself for at least 3 months. By the time he was 4 months old, my life came crashing down.

My moods sank, I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t enjoy being a Mum.

I visited my GP, who changed my medication from 20mg of Fluoxetine to 50mg of Sertraline, an antidepressant that positively affects communication between nerve cells in the central nervous system and restores chemical balance in the brain. b540c9cf138653fc6b156ce5795deaf5--depression-support-depression-awareness

Although I didn’t necessarily feel good, I felt ‘normal’, like I was just staying above water.

But my the time my son was 6 months old, my depression had relapsed worse than ever. I couldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t get dressed in the morning or shower. The only thing that I did manage to do, was look after Renley. I became so withdrawn that I wouldn’t even answer my phone. I slept as much as I could whilst he was sleeping, but  I barely ate. I began hearing this annoying little voice in my head telling me “you’re a terrible Mum” and much worse. I started to have “psychotic episodes”. In the end, Renley was out at his Nanny’s, when I phoned NHS 111. I couldn’t carry on. I just wanted this feeling of exhaustion and no hope to end. I was sent to A&E where I saw a Psychiatrist.

After hours of waiting around, I explained how I was feeling and was diagnosed with postpartum depression and my medication was increased to 100mg of Sertraline. I was apparently referred to the CRISIS team (a mental health service available via the NHS) but nothing ever came of this. I went home and had regular reviews with my GP.

I would like to point out, that although I wanted “it all to stop” I never actually had the intention of suicide. I knew in the back of my mind that my son relied on me and this may have been the only thought that kept me going this whole time.

But what I want you to take away from this, is this…

You are not alone. You are not abnormal if you aren’t enjoying motherhood or you are struggling to cope. You just need help.

Talk to your health visitor, your family and friends, your doctor and once you’ve admitted how you feel, that’s the hardest part done, it’s onwards and upwards from there!

Useful links

Postpartum Depression Help

Samaritans Helpline

About postnatal depression (MIND)