Do one stigma!

I’m so glad I don’t live in a world anymore that thinks mental illness means you’re best to tied up in a straight jacket & put in a padded cell. I say that, I’m sure there’s a few people who would think it’s best haha.

The time I decided to go and get help wasn’t only because my family life & relationship was about to crumble if I didn’t, but because I’d actually seen so much in the press around that time that the stigma and taboo subject of mental health was finally disappearing.

Heads Together‘ which is the charity set up by the Prince of Wales and Princess of Cambridge, jumped out at me so much. Two huge public figures telling their stories of depression including Prince Harry, helped me realise that this wasn’t just effecting me, it was effecting so many others who suddenly just started coming out of the wood work.

It helped me to go to my doctor and say ‘I have depression, please help me’. I hadn’t openly said it before when I had my CBT. I did to the lady who did my sessions though as the scores that came out showed that my mental health wasn’t well at all. I still don’t think I could say out loud what was I put on those forms.

For me then, that was the time. The time to save my relationship and to be the Mum my daughter needed me to be.

You only have one life, and to have depression interrupt it is a piss take! There are so many ups and downs in your life; when you loose someone, you give birth, finances, you get married, relationships, and when luck is either your best friend or the devil! This is just 1 thing that is simply not needed but these aspects can create it.

If you feel that something still doesn’t feel right, talk to someone. Whether it’s a stranger or your closest fiend or family member. Emphasise this isn’t just an every day problem, you’re really actually struggling.

The road to overcoming it should start to show up in front of you & it’s the best bloody road you’ll have ever seen.

My name is Natasha & I have depression

You feel you’re at an AA meeting once you head down the road of taking anti-depressants.

No one knew truly knew how bad I was apart from my husband. I wanted to tell the closest people to me but my fear was rejection and disappointment,

All I thought was people would say ‘get over yourself’, ‘we all have the same problems why are you different’, ‘woe is me’. I hid myself in the house for months on maternity and was petrified of going out.

It was a huge relief saying out loud to my closest friends and family that I had depression and I was on anti-depressants. All I received after that was ….. SUPPORT! Obviously! It’s the one thing again you don’t think you’re going to get but of course you are! They wouldn’t be your closest if they weren’t going to!

The fear takes over and makes you think no one will want to know you if you have depression. You feel like you’re insane and that someone’s about to pick you up to trek you to a padded cell! Truth is, you get your closest wanting to support you, being there to talk to and a big hug which is what you’ve needed since day 1.

They would have been there sooner if they’d known or even if I’d portrayed just how bad I was.

Don’t let the fear of telling anyone your problems, stop you. It may restrict you from the help you could have had sooner. Once you say it, it’s like you can’t stop! I don’t think anyone who knows me doesn’t know now! I openly talk about it to so many people and others who I know are struggling, I tell the, they aren’t alone.

Since starting this blog, as slow as it is, (apologies!2 year old rules the world!) so ,many people have reached out to me. Some I thought were so confident and invincible and have said I have let them embrace what is happening & have given them confidence to ask for help. It’s the best feeling to know my horrible, life threatening experience, can finally help others.

Don’t be afraid. Tell them. They’ll understand. If. It, they aren’t worth your time.

Floaty light!

The first week of taking the tablets were something else! That first day of being off for 2 weeks with a sick note for stress, I sat on the settee and I’m sure I could look above myself! I was only on 50mg but my gosh, does it have an effect.

You know the chemical imbalance comment from your doctor was definitely true when a small dose has such a big effect. It takes a good couple of weeks to get use to these.

I have to say, I was cheered up the day i got the tablets after seeing a drunk man fall into the canal 😂 I did help him! But it’s just typical me to be in that situation!

I decided on the first day to go and get some fresh air. Was that a good idea?! Hmmm!! Thinking the post office was only a short walk over the train bridge, what could possibly go wrong!

I’ll tell you what! Thinking you’re on a travelator going up the bridge and thinking you’re just walking in the same spot for 5 minutes! I wanted to curl into a ball!!

I went home and decided to do what I was suppose to do; rest. I did decide to go and see my best friend though which I probably shouldn’t have done due to driving on those tablets! But I made it! I needed to see her. I was struggling so bad & wanted to just talk & attempt to tell her how I’d been.

It’s hard to put yourself out there to your closest but they are the ones who will understand!

After 2 weeks of being off work and getting use to the ‘new me’ as such, I still felt I couldn’t be as open but I started to tell more people what was happening with me, and telling people I am on anti-depressants to make people realise it wasn’t just ‘me having a moment’ or ‘we all have bad days’, this was more.

Having support around you is so important. You have to feel strong enough to tell people. If not, develop the strength & take a deep breathe & shout it out loud. They need to understand!

If not, select a certain few people to talk to and start from there.

Taking these tablets, for me, wasn’t a weakness it was strength. I took the step to make a difference not just for me but my family. I’m so glad I did.

The Big Jump

How do you tell your friends and family that you’re not just feeling a bit low but that you have depression and anxiety? You feel like you’ve made it all up.

You would love the words ‘you’ll be fine’ to work when the closest people to you say it, but it just seems to feel numb when it’s said. ‘What’s wrong?’ is the question I always struggled with and especially if it was to other parents around me because having a baby, you feel everyone is in the same boat, but it’s amazing how different parents cope.

You feel daft saying ‘I honestly don’t know what’s wrong’ or ‘I’m really tired’ or ‘I’m struggling with routine/baby’s sleep/feeding’; most parents have these day to day struggles but for some reason yours is heightened so you feel embarrassed to admit your struggles.

My therapist told me, after doing a self assessment sheet, that I was a perfectionist! Strange how I got offended by that and all I said was ‘No, I just like things to be right!’…… Not the same at all Tash I promise!!…… I constantly struggled with disappointed and when Isobella arrived, no one could do anything as quickly as I wanted it to be done! Hence why I think I went down the path I did.

OK, so maybe I am a perfectionist?! How do I steer away from that or help myself to live with disappointment? Not everything will go right but I couldn’t handle that! If Isobella wasn’t fed bang on time, I’d really start to panic! If she was being looked after and she wasn’t fed on time, I think that was even worse!! I was terrible for timings and sometimes I still am, but I’ve learnt to start to realise that actually, she was OK and is actually growing rather well!

The CBT did work in a way that it helped me to realise that I haven’t always got control. Once you have a baby, it’s hard to be the boss! You will literally do anything for them and bow down to their every demand, but that’s not always necessarily the way to go! Being the parent is the only way you can mildly keep sane as they grow!

Being able to sit with my therapist and go through every aspect of my anxiety and depression, starting with my nanny passing away to my brother cutting me out of his life, it just showed how much I really did wear my heart on my sleeve but I can’t change that. Plus, when you love people so much, sometimes things will impact you more than you realised.

I think both my therapist and I thought at the end knew that as much as the CBT had helped, it hadn’t helped as much as it could have. I was still in a bad place.

One night when I was just too exhausted, I put Isobella in her cot screaming and walked away. I stood in my room in silence but screaming inside and just looked at my husband and said “please help me, I can’t do this anymore. You don’t need me and I am a burden to you. You don’t need me.” He was beside himself with upset. The next day I took myself to my doctor and sat and cried asking for help.

We took the leap of faith and 50mg of Sertraline (Zoloft) was introduced into my life, starting my journey down the antidepressants road.

I was so scared but my doctor put it this way, “If you had an infection and I said we need to put you on a course of antibiotics, would you take them?” I said yes. “If you had asthma and you needed an inhaler for a while, would you take it?” I said yes. “I am advising these tablet to help balance out your chemicals and to bring them back to what they should be for a short period of time (in anti-depressant world), can we try them?”

I said yes. And I am so happy and proud that I did.

You are a Swan……

“You’re graceful and calm on top but underneath you’re paddling like mad”. It made sense. My therapist said she’d never met anyone like me before. My poker face had been mastered for a while but inside I felt so sick. Someone was screaming inside of me shouting for help but I honestly couldn’t tell anyone. Things ran through my mind that I felt so guilty to think.

Doing the form that tells the therapist your current state of mind was horrible. For people close to me to have seen what I wrote on that paper would have shocked them a lot. I ticked boxes that made me cry there & then.

To be so honest to someone I didn’t know, I think actually started me on the right track to recovery as such.

So many things came out about my struggle such as guilt that I wasn’t doing enough for Isobella, and with having a c-section I ended up disconnected from her for 3 weeks. It’s was so horrible. I felt so lost with her & that I didn’t know her. I think the fact that it was ‘she looks so much like daddy’ and ‘wow she’s very fair haired isn’t she’ and the best definitely was ‘wow she looks nothing like you!’

Well!! I’ll tell you what, I know she came out my tummy as I have the scar to prove it! Being able to vent and get so much off my chest made me realise that I actually did have a lot of issues that I needed help with.

I’d struggled with my older so called ‘brother’ completely taking me out of his life for no reason, stopping me from seeing my nieces and nephews. Rejection when you’re suffering with depression; he couldn’t have timed it worse.

Finally we came up with 3 things I needed from this CBT:

  • Reassurance that I was a good mum
  • To stop feeling guilty for everything
  • Stop being a walkover!

It was strange having technically a stranger making me feel like I had the biggest arm around me & that maybe I could get out of this rut. I still couldn’t call anyone and say how much I was struggling. I cried every day and just wanted someone to ask me to talk so I could tell them how bad I’d got, thinking it was best that I wasn’t around. Being a burden. It’s hard to even write this down.

I knew that there was so much more to life that this horrible illness! Getting married, watching our beautiful daughter grow, knowing the sleepless nights would pass and that our lives together had only just started! So many positives blocked by black clouds.

This was the first step to making my life and my families life so much better.

I would always think about a song my Grandad loved as he passed when I was 6 months pregnant ‘Don’t worry about a thing, cuz every little thing is gonna be alright’. Amazing how much I’m hearing that song on the radio at the moment!

Is it just me?!

Am I the only mum who isn’t nervous about handing their baby over to someone for cuddles?! That’s all I could think about! I only wanted my daughter to be held by people I trusted. After talking to my Health Visitor about how I felt, she agreed with me that I needed to do what was best for me and Isobella in terms of being comfortable; if you’re not then your baby isn’t!

Too many times did I ask for Isobella not be crowded and I completely understood that people wanted to see her! But you do feel invisible! They don’t see you, ask how you are and how you’re feeling. You’re not the only Mum on the planet but each one goes through one hell of an experience carrying a baby! Sometimes all you want is someone to ask how YOU are!

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Too many times did I say something and it was overlooked. Too many times did I ask to be respected as a Mum in the choices I made yet told I may not be doing the right thing. It’s so difficult. This for me was the start of my journey to a place I never wanted to go to. The struggles mentally were real. I felt invisible, unknown, in a corner and all I wanted to do was take my daughter and hide away where no one could find us!

Maternity was lonely; It always is but you don’t realise how much. I wanted to get out and find places I could go to mingle with other parents, but every time I went to put Isobella in a car seat or the pram, the worry of ‘she’ll be hungry at that time’ or ‘she’ll need a sleep at that time’ so we can’t go out, happened too often. She was a terrible sleeper. She only slept once in her pram until the age of 10 months and still, I could count on one hand how many times she has now; she’s 2! People would say ‘she’ll sleep in the pram it’s fine’….nope! Have you seen a child scream till they go purple because they want to sleep but will only sleep on you! How do you get out of that rut!

 

I wanted to be like my friends. I wanted to manage just how my best friend did and does just so amazingly, but i just couldn’t get myself into the mindset of ‘take it in your stride and let others help you!’. For me, this triggered so many doubting feelings. Not the fact that I was feeding my baby well, keeping her clean, dry and safe, and giving her all the love in the world; I wasn’t praising myself for that! I would constantly doubt myself for the things I couldn’t get right!

My Health Visitor many times told me I should give anti-depressants a go. Isobella was only 5 months old and I felt like I would be defeated if I went onto them. She decided to sign me up to CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). Did I think it would work?!…… No!! But my friend had done it and it helped her so I thought I would.

First day I went I said to my now husband “This isn’t going to do anything for me. I talk to you all the time so how is it going to help me speaking to a random person?”

Little did I know it would help me more than I thought.

Yes sir, no sir!

Being a first time mum, you always take on board as much experience from others as possible. However!! I have never felt so much pressure as I did with some of the midwives! Don’t get me wrong, I think midwives are incredible & they have to follow NHS guidelines for mums and babies, but the pressure to breastfeed was so much.

I had a c-section due to my daughter deciding to flip round at 37 weeks. Being told to lie on my side to breastfeed after having major surgery was not fun! The pressure as a new mummy is so intense & that had such an impact on how I grew as a mummy.

The pressure I put on myself really did tumble into how my anxiety progressed. Feeling like a bad mum if I didn’t feed my baby every 4 hours & waking her every 4 hours was so horrible. Again, midwives have to advise this but! I understood with my baby being just 5lb 8oz but the guilt was so heavy.

‘Trust your own instinct!’ After a while of struggling to try to breastfeed a baby who couldn’t latch on properly, I went to the bottle; best thing I’d done. I also expressed for a couple of weeks. Even while sat with a FAB supporter (family & babies) watching my breastfeed she applauded the bottle! Knowing how hard id tried!

What I am trying to say is don’t let the pressure build on you. Trust in yourself. If things don’t happen bang on time then don’t panic. I have to say this to myself every day being such an organised person! Seeing mums close to me who are relaxed & have chilled & happy babies, makes me think why couldn’t I be like that! My daughter is amazing don’t get me wrong! I know I could have saved her a lot of stress through & myself if I’d had gone a different route. A calm one!

Hindsight is a beautiful thing! Just be you; trust in yourself! You’re an amazing parent. You are helping a human to grow!!

If I’d have had this drilled into me at the beginning, maybe I wouldn’t have gone down the route of so much anxiety & PND, but it’s built me to be me now; a progressing & successful mummy.