Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The more we break, the more we feel alive

So for those of you in my "circle" (I hate that phrase) and who follow me on twitter or Facebook would know the lack of writing comes from a personal issue that could result in a rant rather than a post.

But truth be told I can't hold in much longer, for I've always been an extrovert and writing has always been my salvation.

So a quick recap for my lovely readers and introduction to my new comers. My name is Laurinda I'm 28 (growing younger each year) and mummy to my beautiful toddler Lylha aka Angel Diva ;) oh and Iv been living with a mental illness, post natal depression for the last 2ys and 2m. And I will forever shout from the hills aspirin can fix a headache without shame so why can't we fix a mental pipelines without a raised eyebrow?

Ok back to the post? Well writing your my release so please do your thing

What you know is rocked
What you believe is doubt
What you want is clouded
But in yourself your found

We take what's hard
We take what's due
But rarely take in what is owed
And live by what's due

For fancies and daydreams
Are goals not givens
So stop, pause and stop again
What is that your actually living

For what matters becomes clear
What hurts simply smothers
But what we want, what we need
Starts to beak out in one way or another

For when the smoke lifts
The tears lessen
We can truly appreciate what is here
What is with us can be our heaven

Interpret how you wish for me simply in coping right now mentally and physically I need to appreciate what I do have and that is all I need to focus on in the meantime. That and remembering that we are never alone. Someone somewhere can listen and that's sometimes the biggest medication.

Depression isn't an excuse or something to cringe at. It's our illness someways its fine others we need a hug or a cuppa or a vent. Writing your mine. Search for yours if you haven't already


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Retail Therapy

My apologies first and foremost for lack of posting, had a hectic few months.

As regular readers of my blog are aware I write about my experiences of Post Natal Depression following the birth of my daughter 2 & 1/2 years ago. Iv shared the ups and the relapses with the world to try and do my part in smashing the stigma of depression.

This post is a little different from the previous ones I have published. As I want to share something very different....

The Sparkling in me is delighted that asked me to write a review for the amazing bags that come from Claireabella available from their website. The reason in why I have tied this in with my blog is what's in the title of this post!

Before having my little girl and very much so since I have always found shopping cheers me up no end. Iv always been a "girlie girl" and anything pink or pretty I love to own. Those closest too me know first and foremost what my favourite item to shop for is handbags and iv a very pretty and extensive collection but none stand out as much as my Clairebella bags.

I have been stopped in the street, the supermarket even in hospital for people wishing to know where my handbag is from. I first came across Claireabella from bags I had seen on TOWIE and since the boom of the programme the demand for Claireabella designs have gone through the sky and as a result they are now available via toxic fox for purchasing.
What's more they can be personalized too adding a little X factor too them.

Now my reason for linking this in too my blog isn't just because I have been asked too its also because shopping has always been a solice for me. Whenever I have felt low by something pretty has ignited a pleasure in me, I have also seen recently on the TV that endorphins can be released whilst shopping and give some people the same happy feeling as they get get from chocolate or after sex. Personally all 3 are great but the handbag you can keep for a lot longer!!

As shallow as some people may find the concept off this post I wanted to do it because iv spoken openly about medication and cognitive therapy helping me recover from my mental health illness, but realized there were other factors that helped me in addition to these and shopping was one of them!

So if like me you like sparkly things, personalized gifts and show stopping bags then I completely recommend you visiting and if your feeling low I completely recommend visiting the site with a chocolate in the spare hand!

There is a real pressure that some mums find in conforming to become a Yummh Mummy, having something pretty on the buggy handle for me was a great way of saying the outside says Yummy and inside I can feel and be whatever I wish. Socially acceptable or otherwise!

Iv really enjoyed doing this special post. Sorry for any shallowness that may have come across but Sparkling makes me smile!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Golden Hope and Bronze Bruises

Firstly my apologies for my lack off posting iv had a million and one things to deal with. Plus iv been bitten by the Olympics bug - hence the title.

I decided this post would follow the Olympic spirit but incorporating mental health... Confused?? Let me explain....

The golden moments of the Olympics has been associated with euphoric and ecstatic feelings. Much like when hitting a recovery milestone when suffering with depression. Every accomplishment feels a mini celebration and this was something I made sure I stuck too. When realising I had an illness to recover from I decided to make it steeping stones to an ultimate recovery (be why I haven't completely lost it when relapsing) and cash in on the "quitting smoking ads" - celebrate every win... It seems really simple but iv found that celebrating every "ok day" iv built myself up stronger and recover from "low days quicker".
The references to bronze bruises isn't meant to be a complete negative it's a a bit of a crappy metaphor, that in my mind means that even bad days (bruises) are a step towards ultimate recovery (bronze) a bit like a podium for the winners of the Olympics. As I said told you it was a crappy one!
Anyway I wanted this post to be positive and too say despite all the rubbish I'm dealing with in my physical health my mental health is getting there in true crappy metaphor style, my mental health is getting there and getting there well, a sterling silver if you like!

Xxxx thank you for reading xxxxx

Friday, 20 July 2012

Being brave and bearing all

Ok, those of you who follow very regularly will know that it's been a good few weeks since I lost blogged. The reason for that is simple, I didn't know how to put the words in black and white - the words that admit- a relapse.

Now I want to make one thing extremely clear this post is NOT in anyway a "poor me, pity me" post it's about honesty, it's about integrity and most of all it's about smashing the ridiculous stigma that surrounds mental health.

For reasons in my physical health my mental health has been more than struggling and over the past few months, I am ashamed almost to say, I have noticed my emotions and my control of them spiraling. I can say I hand on heart knew the reason for this but because I was being defiant to my own self and more importantly to my family, I refused to concede to the obvious and kept the British stiff upper lip. What an absoloute mistake and utter joke from the person so passionate in voicing about post natal depression and mental health as a whole. 15,000 plus have read my blog and read the one thing iv always campaigned about is speaking out an giving post natal depression a voice, hell I'm even taking it with the help of some wonderful mums to the press and into the mags. So why did I find it a challenge to take my mind to my GO and lay it bear. Quite simply because I have been doing what at some point in our lives we all do. "going through the motions"

So turnaround, this time, unlike my first diagnosis 2y ago, within 6 weeks my bum was in the seat infront of my GP with my mum by my side admitting I was struggling and need help! Within 30m back on the yellow and green tablet that I purposely take alongside my other pills for my physical problems because I am DAMNED if I'll treat my mind pills any different from my others. It's the same thing it's a condition , it requires a treatment. The irony being my mind will be sorted long before my body. What does that say for mental health treatment? Admittance and support are just the start, asking for the help being key! And to all those without the option to ask for help, speak up and speak out!

And I have to see a success in the fact that this time I didn't hide it from my family, I didn't hide it from my GP I just kept it from myself - although I knew deep inside, and hey there are things we can't control so if I can't control the physical I sure as hell will control the mind!

So... Emotive speak is one thing, clarification is something on a different level and that level is honesty. I can't be any less open about this because I want to be among those speaking up and speaking out!

Thank you for reading my naked post

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Sparkling Smile

I have just realised this is the first post I have written where I have incorporated my blog title in a post, that's a sign it has been a good few days.

After my previous post I had some lovely messages collectively saying "keep smiling..." and I decided to take the advice and these past few days things have definitely felt brighter.

I have posted before about smiling being infectious and it is something I truly believe and wish the world over would catch on. So I decided I would take this on as a silent promise to myself, that despite being faced with any adversity this face would simply smile back and hide my mind screaming in turmoil and see what the response is...

I will also add this was a particular challenging time to take this on as firstly I bank with the f***wits also known as Natwest ... and decided to make this the week I throw myself into potty training!!!

But despite going crazy inside and wanting to lock myself in a room to scream for a few minutes smiling through the stress actually made me feel better to cope with the situations that arose in a much more proactive way.

Now by no means am I saying that being falsely cheery and almost smug is the way to handle stress, anxiety and any form of mental illness but I have found that it does help alleviate some symptoms, a bit like hot water bottles do for period pain... doesn't cure it but takes the edge of for a few minutes.

I wanted to share this with everyone because its something anyone can try and pretty much a fail proof way of having ago at something without loosing anything, except of course you work for Natwest and are being shouted at by a hormonal woman because she can not access her account - smiling in this instance may have resulted in the banks defence screens being activated....!!!

Potty training was something I have been dreading and dreading! I had made the idiotic mistake of trying to get her to do it before she was ready, however at the weekend she asked to be grown up like my best friends little girl and in her words "mummy be big girl like ... and no nappy" so I went with it and barring a few little accidents and a rather large poo on a trampoline it is going really well and I am sure this is because I took away all pressure from her and let her go with it in her own time. But in taking the pressure away from Lylha I found almost instantly a large weight had lifted and something I have been fretting about for 6m or so and loosing sleep over has turned out to be less of a challenge than I overly geared myself up for. Sadly that's one of the symptoms I am yet to find a cure for, the anxiety that comes from the fear of the unknown be that a change in a bedtime routine or tackling the potty. And again smiling through this has made me feel so much better and I am sure has added to my tolerance levels as I am a bit of a clean freak when there is a mess on my floor, to my husbands and dogs annoyance, they think I ambarking mad on the cleaning front!

So my reason for this weeks post is simple: Smile and the world will smile at you!

Please comment, I love to interact with my readers be it here or on twitter @laurindaisla and please add any ideas for anything you would like to read... NB: I don't write about Grey silk ties and riding crops.....
 (proof we are smiling :) )

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

It never rains but it certainly paws :)

Firstly 2 days of sunshine. That's certainly lifted more than just some dampened spirits!! just being outside in the sunshine somehow makes everything a little better.

The post tonight is more of a diary entry than an awareness post but I'd be grateful for you to still read on, because I do take solice in knowing I'm not alone in how I think or feel, sometimes....

I'm sure most people are aware by now that my blog is centered around my experience of post natal depression, following my daughters birth 26&1/2 months ago and although I wanted my blog to help raise the voice and smash the stigma around PND and other mental illness, it is also a portal for my recovery - acting as a journal where words can be my outlet.

So as I started with, a diary entry:

No dates as most of my days roll into one since becoming a stay home mummy (not a bad thing but can be a nuisance at times)....

The last few weeks have been trying, they have been filled with grey skies, (and Christian... Get reading if you haven't ...) with yet more health issues (for me), and generally a few weeks where literally everything that potentially could've gone wrong (in my mind i'll add) did! And because of PND I haven't coped well at all, and for the first time my physical health issues have hugely impacted on my mental health and added heavily to the battle.

Iv spent days over the past fortnight working myself up over my husband working round the clock and away, fretting like mad with the overriding thought "how am I going to do this on my own?". I realized how much the anxiety was making everything else challenging but unfortunately there was nothing I could do to stop the fear - other than get on with it. And I'll be honest when it came down to it I did ok, this probably sounds so stupid but I actually suprised myself how well I coped on my own, running my household off 1 toddler, diva in the making, and 2 young excitable bouncy dogs single handed. I appreciate this may not seem a lot but when iv doubted myself for 2yrs on my ability as a housewife this was a huge test and as a result a massive achievement!! I realized that my fear was just that. Something I over thought and over thought and then doubted... A horrible circle that is so hard to explain and rationalize but so easy to be swept away in.

Prior to my husbands stint away I was laid up poorly, now normally I have my grandparents who rally around me to help with lylha but the day before I collapsed in tesco I was packing them off on a plane to sunny shores. When I came round (rather embarrassed) my very first thought was shit. My parents are both working, my mother in law poorly an my husband "unable" to get out of work I freaked and freaked out big time about who could help me Luckily my little brother who is 22, but never even changed her nappy before, came to my rescue and they had the BEST few days together playing and watching kids tv. Again I appreciate this maybe so mundane for some people but when your everyday can sometimes be a battle of your own emotions and then being someone's total dependency on top of that, and cant be because you're has been, challenging to say the least......

As I said everything that could go wrong.... This last fortnight also, to my absolute horror, witnessed my daughter fall backwards top to bottom down a flight of stairs and I felt so guilty I couldn't catch her from falling that after her 5m of crying I spent a further 30 shaking and crying, and feeling like the worst parent in the world.

And finally the title and my play on words - to top of a mentally exhausting fortnight I get a phone call from my husband, before he leaves, who was out with my 2 dogs to tell me my Nutmeg (I emphasize MY) had been hit by a car. The hours he was out at the emergency vet were frankly hideous. I understand some people's opinions "they are just pets" but to me and my family our animals have always been, and always will be loved members off our family.

Because of the PND but also because of utter love for her all the worst things in the world flashed through my mind and the hardest thought would be what would I say if the worst happened and when my girl woke up in the morning and, as she does every morning, asks first "mummy see Nini & Nana" (her names for our dogs) .... For 3 hours I sat wine in hand and tears down the cheek to then hear the key in the door and her come running through the front door and despite being hit at 30 front on she escaped with cuts, bruises and a bad mood... Those of you who have the privilege of knowing nutmeg will accept the strop is nothing new.....

So I'm sorry for blabbering about my little bubble over the last few weeks but it's made me feel better to put it in words and hope it makes anyone who has similar feelings feel a little comforted knowing that it is something sooo many people feel and not too many will happily talk about.

I keep meaning to add to my posts please add comments positive, negative, suggestive - whatever you wish. All bloggers love comments and this particular blogger loves my readers interactions

Thank you xxxx

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Roses are read but tears run blue

As a football widow iv plenty off time to blog over the next few weeks.

Firstly some wonderful news to share with all of my readers: Lylha's operations on her eyes have been a complete success. She has been discharged from Addenbrookes without any need for any further procedures. Michael and I are absolutely delighted and thank everyone for their well wishes over the past few months.

Ok so the cryptic title of this post. As you all know by now (if you don't now is the time to do some catch up reading) my blog is based on my experiences, my journey and my battle - for want of a better expression - with post natal depression. You will also know if you read my posts regularly lately they have been episodes of darkness venturing their way into my recovery from this horrible illness. As I have blogged I have talked about my feelings and thoughts my feelings and thoughts towards Lylha (my daughter) but I rarely talk about my marriage and how the dark days more than cloud our marriage they engulf it.

Michael is my rock, I make know secret of that unlike my beautiful family he is hard on me and sometimes tough love is needed in times of despair especially when your battling an illness he can't see. But... You sensed a but didn't you....

Because he is a male I feel that my matriarchal role is to be the heart of my little family and therefore I believe my purpose is to look after my daughter my husband our home and our lives but when I get days where looking after my own mental well being is somewhat challenging, dragging myself onto my family throne is more than tough. Not only because my own fear that-he who goes out all hours and provides when his wife is home failing but because his response to this has made me fail in my own thoughts too.

I will add for the male readers and the Michael fan club that this is by no means an attack at men or my husband. I mean how can I expect him to understand an illness I don't understand myself and spend many waking hours writing about and fighting against.

What I mean is there is so little support for the husbands whose wives are battling PND that it ends up causing more stress and conflict. And this only exacerbates the symptoms, in my experience, and this then not only means a battle against the dark days of PND but then a fight to redeem a marriage or a partnership or more importantly in my case a fight to redeem our parental team.

I find because he is the only one there I vent every anger, every frustration, every feeling of sadness, of heartache and most importantly failure through him and too him. I then hate myself for it as it only prompts a fight, of exaggerates a break in the team and then makes the dark days filled with blues, and then of course tears.

It's taken a lot for me to comprehend but my illness is a battle for him too. just like the hormonal pregnant woman there is now a mum who's maternal instinct is in OTT overdrive, making up for the obvious lack at the start (see you should've read the earlier posts if your now lost...) but the practical side of it he goes to work and does his job why is it so hard for her to go an do the job she was born to do??? Now before the feminist band wagon get going that is my perception of MY husbands view not believe of women or my general consensus off male train of thought... DISCLAIMER!!!!

So after 2 years of drifting apart, and then floating together but then drifting even further apart. So I made the decision to bring to a head, and not just the usual loss of temper but actually lay the facts of the illness out, the lack of education and the extreme stigma around it and more importantly how it affects everyone differently. When all we want is to be happy!

So I wanted to share this with everyone whose relationship is sometimes pressured by mental illness and reiterate that education and communication is the best tool we have to support and succeed.

One day PND and mental illness will be accepted like a migraine or asthma and it's sufferers will feel quite happy and quite safe to discuss their chronic illness and the affect on their lives!

And finally (apologies for soppy side)

Roses are red
But years run blue
Whether it's light or dark
Never forget the girl who married you!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Taking a break

Firstly there is a huge gap between now and my last post. Iv had an awful lot on my plate over the past 6 weeks or so therefore decided to take a break.

The gap in blogging works as a double purpose for this post. As iv now become a custom to the rather archaic expression "A change is as good as a rest"

As I said iv had numerous things and events that have taken my energy up over the last 6 weeks, non more terrifying mentally and physically than another operation on my beautiful girls eye. Anyone who's little one has gone under for an op will know that horrible feeling that your child's life is completely out of your hands. And as a result this has triggered a rather strong , but totally secret relapse of my struggle with PND.

I kept it quiet before and after her op from everyone around me that I felt out of control of my emotions again, partly because I felt like I had failed myself and Lylha by suffering again and partly because I didn't want to hear anyone saying "pull yourself together". For me this is the biggest insult anyone can say to anyone with a mental illness Only this time I'm a little bit wiser and iv kept my blog and a journal off my struggle of PND so as soon as I realised of lost control I was able to re-read my previous experiences and although it's taken 6 weeks I'm in the daylight again (please read my previous posts to understand what I mean by daylight).

Iv made no secret that part of my recovery was down to the amazing support from my family and friends and by changing part of my life that was making me feel so low. So I decided again I needed to do something or add something into my world to distract the darkness PND was causing.

So I took a break from putting Lylha to bed and then opening the wine too putting Lylha to bed then spend a min half hour exercising and then opening the wine. Exercise naturally helps with mental health issues as the endorphins that it releases aides a natural high but the sense of achievement followed by the lack of guilt from the calorific wine has really helped me take back my mind.

I was finding myself shutting away from the world again, sparking extremely irritable reactions within my marriage putting pressures on my marriage that need not be there and then not explaining my behaviour as I didn't want to accept I was poorly again. And above all I found a wave of sadness I couldn't shift. But by literally minutes of exercise each day cut through this with more affect than I could've wished for.

It's therefore no coincidence that my break from blogging was the exact same time as a relapse and im slightly ashamed that I didn't put my hand up and say "I'm struggling, help me" especially as I'm such a strong campaigner for parents to speak out and to understand you aren't ever alone.

In hindsight though this relapse has done something remarkable apart from keeping me fitter, it's made me realise just saying PND needs a voice it needs education too. How could we expect a parent suffering from PND to speak out only to be listened to by unsure ears and crucially I think this is why I shut up and panicked.

So although I still truly believe the more mental illness is spoken about the closer we are to smashing the stigma, we need to know what we are talking about.

So I urge anyone who thinks they've spotted the signs in a family member or a friend that they maybe struggling google depression, anxiety, post natal depression, the list is extensive so your ears are sure.

Happy jubilee to everyone, a break from my normal routine has certainly brought back my light and my smile, and my sparkle - diamond style!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

A recipe to de-stress

This week I wanted to share with you all something that I have found has really helped my stress levels over the past 2 weeks - upto the point where I look forward to the evenings now where before it was the time of day I spent every waking hour panicking about.

Those of you who have followed my posts, or popped in and out off my blog will know that following the birth of my beautiful daughter 2 years ago my world sunk into a whirlpool of darkness and anxiety - the diagnosis of these symptoms the hardest pill iv ever had to swallow ... Post natal depression (PND)

I have written posts on a whole variety of my lifestyle some of which PND has affected, some it has dominated and ironically some of which it has improved.

The diagnosis of the illness was challenging enough but living rather than just existing with the symptoms PND inflicted me with we're a battle in itself.

Iv written about how I found myself to come from the depths of depression an back into the light, naturally there are times when I wobble but on the whole it's an illness that is in the background, putting my life my loves and my world centre stage.

However despite a positive attitude and the recovery from PND I still suffer anxiety about the evenings - especially if it's me on my own dealing with it. But by complete accident I have found the most simple yet amazing stress reliever that has in 2 weeks made me excited about evenings more than any other time of the day.

My husband and I a few weeks ago were sorting through our jeans when coincidentally we both realised our waistbands were more than just tight so we decided there and then to start healthy eating but also affordable healthy eating and we stumbled across the goodfood guide from the BBC.

We downloaded a weeks worth of recipes and hit the supermarket firstly I was sceptical that the ingredients wouldn't be cheaper than the things we usually and routinely buy and that eating mainly veg and protein would become mundane and how exactly a less than 350 calorie meal could be satisfying.

My lord was I proven wrong the fresh fruit, lean meat and fresh vegetables plus countless herbs were over £40 less than our usual shop and on the very first evening as I started prepping the food I found myself enjoying what I was doing, excited about the final result and when that came was overwhelmingly proud of what u ha made, and even more delighted when my husband and toddler were just as thrilled.

As the first week went on I found myself getting a total buzz about making our dinner that my mood had done a complete 180 and I was finding that the spark of happiness that I lost with PND was with me most of the day rather than pushed out by evening anxiety. Plus the huge shift in food and easily hitting our 5 a day physically I feel healthier and more energetic

Second week in and I'm already counting recipes for next week an planning shopping around the meal plan. Plus iv lost 4lb now too.

Someone once told me "nothing tastes as good as feeling happier in yourself feels". I completely agree

I wanted to share this with you all, For a few reasons:
Firstly there is a misconception healthier food is more expensive. Wrong it's not

And secondly; its been a huge aid in my battle with PND and if anyone else suffers with anxiety or depression give it a go. You've nothing to loose and hopefully like me you will feel better, and quickly too.

Thank you for reading please share any healthy recipes in the comments below AND any anxiety/depression easing tips you may have
iv lots of mums and dads who would love to know any healthy recipes especially when it comes to upping the intake of their kiddies fruit and veg.

Just to prove the food looks tasty here are some colourful creations from my kitchen

Thursday, 19 April 2012

A different beat

I have decided this week to do something different partly for my own purposes and partly because it may make readers identify with the post on a different level.

Iv had a rather stressful week, so my purposes for this post is because I want to write to help myself feel better.

I have decided to make this post have a rhythm? If you've been following my blog from the start you will know I am currently studying English Literature, so this post also doubles up at a bit of practical revision.

The layout off the following piece of writing is set out too show my journey this far... (have a read of my previous posts if you aren't fully up to speed)

Breathe, grip, shudder, scream
The pain of a nightmare somehow is a dream
For this is happening, there's no stopping now
In my mind it's happened, I'm already so proud
Panic, confusion then terror sets in
This is no way a life should begin
Trauma, stretch marks my whole being aches
But here she is, that first breathe that she takes
Her lungs fill with air
My eyes locked in serenity's stare
A wash with love, a sense like no other
For here is my child, and for her, I'm her mother

Infancy begins with gifts, visits, pink all over the place
Smile after smile but it's only a painted face
For underneath something lurks
Something's not right, is it just that each day merges into tomorrow's night?

I live as expected, with a stiff upper lip
For that's the British way when your mind feels sick
It's not an infection or a pain you can see
But it's just as debilitating, and has invaded me

In the mirror I look, I shiver at the glare
For who is that person looking back with my stare?
She resembles my features but her eyes have no shine
Its unavoidable that glare is mine

Each day becomes the same:

My head hurts, it provokes, it evokes and then takes it toll, Im down and I choke

The circle around me becomes the soul of myself
And it's with thanks to them I do it right and get help

Scary knock on that door, as it opens it creaks
My eyes sting with tears - the tears are my speak
It says it all - a new mum that can't cope
Lost her way, herself, her mind and her hope

Recovery maybe slow but it will come
This is a battle that has to be won,
By me
For her

The fight of my life
For the light of my life
The love of my life
For her, my life

It's been over a year, and my days are brighter
Though, there are dark moments - a stark reminder

In art I find a pause, some time,
too stop and reflect on a healing mind

By talking even shouting I hope someone hears
There is always an outlet for your troubles to share

My heart now melts when I see her smile
PND is an illness not a chosen lifestyle

Now even on dark days there is still sun in my world
Because it shines for me and my beautiful girl
That love in her first breath, will be there in my last
The light in my eyes, and the smile on my face is no longer a mask

A parent's mind can be an enigma
But I'm shouting out loud and smashing this stigma!

Thank u xxxxx

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Saving for a Savvy Sanity

My apologies for the lack of posting - loosing my laptop is proving a challenge, that coupled with being poorly has made for an interesting 2 weeks.

As I stated in my previous post being without Lylha whilst being ill was a trigger for my battle with Post natal Depression to have a mini flare up - thankfully upon physically getting better my psyche followed.

This week I want to share with you a different angle on my battle with PND that for some of my readers will be irrelevant ( we will call you the millionaires) but even so I hope you find this little insight into how I try keep a cap on my PND interesting.

As iv said previously I'm not a medical expert but I'm willing to bet (no pun intended) that there is some link between lack of money and mental health issues. I'm sure most people have experienced a tightness of some sort over the past few years and I would assume this has added pressure on your mental health, be it in the form of stress, depression, anxiety or even simply putting you in a bad mood.

When I had Lylha and went from a well paid, career established, independent woman to a full time mum fully dependant on my hubby and our household income halved I struggled for the first time in not having accessible cash for things we needed and wanted. Now don't misunderstand me, as a former bank manager I fully expected there to be a real tightening on our household purse strings but what I didn't foresee was how the lack of my OWN money would have such a bearing on my mental health.
I quickly found any money I used on myself a trigger for feeling guilty as i viewed it as "family money" and any money my hubby spent I was then annoyed with - despite it was his grafting that brought this income in.

As PND took a huge hold on me and my savings balance dwindled with the financial pressure parenthood brings I noticed I felt I was loosing some kind of a grip on a part of my "pre baby" life and this in turn made me feel awful.
This coupled with the awful "snobbery" that goes with motherhood; The whose buggy does what, I only buy my children the best organic food and snacks and my goodness I'd never let my baby wear tesco baby grows - We all know someone who falls into that bracket and it puts a horrible unnecessary pressure on those listening as some people simply can't afford it, or quite frankly, like me, didn't want to waste money on items that spend 90% of their lifetime being puked on!!
All of these things made an already turbulent time for me that little bit harder to deal with - untill I saw a spark...

I realised that money concerns are the last thing a new mum suffering with PND needs and I needed to find a
way to overcome this pressure to help me feel better whilst having zero disposable income of my own. So I started doing things to help ease the family budget the first and biggest change came from shopping online, it meant I wasn't tempted by non essential offers, items and sales that are infront of you in store (sorry supermarkets) and the delivery cost was cheaper than my petrol. This literally saved us £40/£50pm - money well needed as a new parent I'm sure you would agree. But this in itself didn't help me personally, so I started, from CHB, saving £2pw with the intention that at the end of the yet this was the money we had disposable for the Xmas and new years parties without having to find it, or scrimp on presents to make up for it. This small amount wasn't missed by me personally, and come the end of the year when it was time for Lylha to go to her nannies it was nice to be able to do something where there was no guilt, juggling or worry off expense associated.

So I went a little further I started saving the small change from "popping to the shop" and over a few months this amounted to £90 - had it been in my purse it would've frittered away but in a money tin, almost forgotten about it made a nice dent in lylha's forthcoming birthday presents.

The reason I chose to share this was because one of my recover techniques was based around control and amidst a recession money is, sadly, one thing we need to keep a close eye on and if there is a way to make this a positive and to help someone feel a little easier then fantastic.

By keeping literally a few odd pounds back iv helped save part of my sanity.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Support is saviour

I haven't had the opportunity to write (affectively) this week because unfortunately i'm not very well. However whilst I won't bore you with the ailments one of the things that has really worried me is the care of my daughter, given I'm not allowed to lift anything heavier than a kettle - and at almost 2 she most definitely is.

I have found this week that worrying about logistics of home life whilst being sofa bound, not being able to do anything really for myself other than sleep and spending the majority of time with only the dogs for company I have wobbled in my recovery from post natal depression (PND)

I have found myself on more than one occasion crying over something minuscule combined with the panic that the control that had helped shaped my recovery has now seemed to slip away. As is my sanity with daytime TV

I'm sharing this as more of a diary entry than a post because I started this blog not only to help parents understand PND and to highlight the stigma of PND needs smashing but also as a way of recovering myself and my mind - almost to accept, embrace but also challenge my experiences of parenthood thus far. And by only half a page written I'm already starting to feel a little better.

The title of the blog is paramount to not only the recovery from this blip but also from the recovery as a whole from the entire illness. Without my family and friends physically and mentally I'd be stuck, the medics provide the best tools and medication for treating the illness, but in my experience I'm truly lucky that the amazing support network I have have in turn eased the symptoms whilst the treatment takes hold. My family have been invaluable this week looking after Lylha literally all day every day - which in turn means I'm missing her like crazy which also affects, for me, PND I'm only spending bedtimes with her ATM (not tonight as she is at Nanny's) and being apart from her is really difficult. However her coming home picking up my phone finding a pic of me and saying "Ahh mummy" and then kissing it was the highlight of this week.

As I say my reason for this post this week is more of a diary entry to remind me that recovery is a long process but a process without the support of those closest to me I couldn't be without, and to those suffering in silence find someone a support network with something so scary as PND, as with any mental illness is a huge step to recover.

Thank you for reading. X
Ps did this all on my iPhone. Pretty neat for a technophobic like myself

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Nobody Does It Better ... Baby You're The Best

I have written in detail about my experiences with Post Natal Depression, my experiences of motherhood, labour and being pregnant and I suggest if you want to become on boardwith my style of writing and to grasp what I do and how I do it then please read my previous posts....

Previously I dedicated a post to my daughter Lylha entitled "Because She's Worth It" about no matter how hard PND and parenting can be I keep going and I keep smiling because of her.

What I have realised is I have never shared with anyone why I chose the title of my blog "Smile and the world will smile with you, Sparkle and it will smile AT you" Well this is simple before falling pregnant with Lylha and before being grasped by PND my view on the world was simpler, but even with the toils of parenthood I think this is still relevant: When the world See's someone that looks angry do they react, well if they know the person possibly if not NO, When the world sees someone crying do they stop to help, again if the person is known very possibly but if not known only occasionally, When the world sees someone frown do the react, hardly ever even if the person is known BUT When the world sees someone smiling do they react, well in my experience if someone sees you smiling they will smile back and this is the reason for my title: Infecting the world with a smile even though behind it lies a depth that can be sometimes difficult to live with... STILL WITH ME???

And I love, and have always loved to smile and see a smile - makes everything seems that little less rubbish.

Now being grasped with PND, and rather badly, smiling was sadly something that seemed to disappear not just from my face but also from my heart - but although it is still taking time to recover from the illness - the side affect of loosing my smile had a brilliant remedy - LYLHA

Lylha's ways and mannerisms from such an early stage have made me smile at moments when all else felt doomed. Her presence makes my face twitch and even just the thought of her makes my eye's widen into a bright sparkling smile.

I feel it important to write about this because very few people knew I had PND and those that did weren't aware of how badly it was affecting me because one special lady had the tendency to make me smile through the hardest of moments, the bleakest of days and the longest of nights. Don't get me wrong I spent much of the time frowning and screaming but there were moments in the dark where she made me smile and even if it didn't heal me it certainly alleviated one of the horrible side affects of PND - The lack of smiling.

I don't believe that anyone suffering from a mental illness should be locked away as a prisoner in their own home, in their own room but more importantly their own body and a smile is one way to evoke some freedom and unlock a smile from someone else - something that may one day make all the difference. The infectious power of smiling is something everyone should embrace, its free, its easy and it takes less muscles than a frown!

I am feeling a lot better and taking my recovery step by step but there is nothing in the world that compares to the smile my daughter creates - and at almost 2 she knows how to make mummy smile especially when this results in her being rewarded - cheeky, intelligent, beautiful, a little naughty but most definitely my saving grace and light of my life, that shines through on my face - Nobody makes me smile like you Lylha because Baby, Baby, Babbyyy You're The Best!!

And this is why from a young age, even asleep or watching TV how can she not make you smile

Thank you xxx

Monday, 12 March 2012

The Stress Factor

Over the past 10 days or so my computer time has been somewhat consumed by other things - all of which have been mentally taxing and have seen the odd glass of wine consumed.

Now I know everyone has stresses in their life, and individual stress tolerance depends on their situation and in my opinion the healthiness off their mind, so as mundane as the following may sound my reason for sharing this with you is because it reflects hugely on how my mind and body copes with stress whilst recovering from Post Natal Depression.

So over the past few days a summary of what my recovering mind has had to deal with is: My daughter having another eye operation, to then be told its not likely to be successful and need further surgery, my kitchen being redone which in turn equalled Lylha and I living at my grandparents for a few days (anyone with young kids can understand why staying away from your home with them is a mammoth mission in itself as the stuff you need looks like a 2 week family holiday), a husband with man flu, a car that needs sorting out and selling, and finally and possibly the most stressful of all - my husband has gone ahead (against my protests) and brought puppy Annatto to join my madhouse!

Now these events in themselves may not seem too much, but after having Post Natal Depression (PND) I developed anxiety on the side, and as a result these events have had me fretting for weeks prior to them happening in turn adding to my already sleepless nights. So by the time the events arrived I was already a sleep deprived nervous wreck.

I have found since having PND that I have physical side affects to stress, like many I develop a tension headache and this often leads to a full blown migraine, I am literally sick, I shake a lot and my IBS goes into overdrive, all of which then make me feel physically ill too, thankfully I have a pre payment prescription card or I'd be broke too!

I am sharing these because a lot of women who have come forward about their own experiences with PND have told me about their own physical symptoms and I didn't realise how common anxiety is amongst those who have suffered or are suffering from a form of depression. If it wasn't for me mentioning the "shakes" to a friend I wouldn't have told my GP and certainly wouldn't have linked trembling to me having suffered from PND.

Emotionally my mind is frazzled at the moment one of the sad things personally for me is when something causes a PND trigger I find it very difficult not to become upset, every time I feel anxious or stressed I feel like I am failing again and this normally results in me hiding away for a few days and having a good cry, unfortunately this time I couldn't hide away and get over it in my own time and in my own way as I was staying with family. As a result the tension built up to a head yesterday where I truly questioned my minds health again as I flipped on a fairly momentous scale, emotions + stress + bloody traffic + tescos + a whiny toddler = mummy in a seriously bad place - the good thing is after erupting and then cooling down I started to realise that I must be getting better as before this would have taken me weeks to recover from where as this time it was actually just 1 evening and 1 nights sleep I needed to feel better.

I write about these things not just to share with the world and encourage other parents in the same place to seek help - if they haven't already done so, but because for me writing it down makes how I feel and I how I think real - it's in black and white, it's now something those on the outside can see, and more importantly for me because if I can see it I am not as scared off it. I liken blogging about PND to being like Little Red Riding Hood going through the forest, when you know something is there lurking it sparks fear - but when you can see it you realise it isn't as scary as it seemed in your mind.

On that note meet the wolves in my household Nutmeg and Puppy Annatto:

Thank you for reading, please feel free to join in and comment

Monday, 27 February 2012

Because She's Worth It

I have written in detail about the issues I had during my pregnancy with Lylha and also the troubles with physical and mental problems I am still recovering from since her arrival and one of the things I haven't thought about when sharing my journey with whomever fancies a read is: What do those who don't have children or who are planning children or even those who maybe pregnant at the moment think about my blog - I mean can they relate to it anyway or be excited by it like so many parents have been?

Well if you are one of those yet to experience the joy of parenthood this is for you....

Firstly if you want to familiarise yourself with my journey and my writing style and understand the problems that I am overcoming you need to have a read through my previous posts otherwise this is officially gobbledygoop!

Everyday I feel like I am having a battle with myself and my body be it the physical problems that arose pre and post birth (horrible emergency c sec) and that of my psyche everyday recovering that little bit more from the horror that is Post Natal Depression (PND) - and writing this for those who have not or possibly will never go through these traumas may make you think why do you bother writing about it or even why do you carry on... well the answer is simple its because she is worth it!!!

I am sharing these posts because I know some potential parents who have heard literal horror stories about pregnancy, child birth and then the parenting after and its put them off. Well I can say with complete conviction I would do it all again in a heartbeat for Lylha. I understand personal preference of not wanting to have children as I was very much on the fence (before the best mishap of my life happened) but I am so glad that my life has taken me down this route. There is truly nothing more beautiful in the world than the sight of my daughters beautiful smile or the sound of her giggling - even with the FUN nightimes we have with her there is something extremely heart warming about the sound of the words "Mummy, Daddy or NiNi (the dog)" coming from my little ones cot in the darkness of the night that even though I miss sleep I just want to see her and cuddle her.

I have said before and I will preach about it forever women's bodies are an amazing commodity we are built for pregnancy and we are built for childbirth and yes sadly things go wrong but that's what the Dr's and midwives are for. What a woman's body does to conceive, grow, deliver and feed a baby is miraculous and I find it fascinating and although I am not one to believe its a right of passage for women to become pregnant I do think its a time in a woman's life like no other (and I had a super shit time with it BUT nothing takes away from the beauty of new life)!

"Because she is worth it" - my daughter will be 2 in April and already my little girl has her own unique personality, her own way of doing things, a little temper (I think she got from her aunt AJ), her own sense of humour, she knows what she likes and she certainly knows what she dislikes. She can make a room full of people laugh at the most smallest of things, she brings joy to almost anyone she meets and she loves her family simply because we love her so very much. There truly is nothing that quite compares between the love of a mother and her child and its a feeling I wish you could bottle and share out to whoever needs a love in their life.

I know this post isn't as powerful as my others in the terms of its morality and the need to raise awareness for PND and to get the parents that need it seeking the help they need but I think its important for everyone who reads my writing to connect with why I do it.

I do it because I want to help anyone whoever felt in the darkness of PND find their way into the light, I do it because writing has been a massive help in my own recovery, I do it because people enjoy reading it, I do it to publicly thank the amazing people who helped me during the horrible dark days and I do it because I am so in love with my daughter and so so proud of her that I want to share it with the world!

And because being a mummy you can do fun things like this.......

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A Weight in Vain

For those of you who have been following my posts you will be aware of how PND following the birth of my daughter in April 2010 dominated me for the first few months of her life, and has accompanied me in someway or another since, and although mental illness is not visible to the naked eye for me there is one huge factor in my battle with PND that is - "the mummy tummy"....

Before I was pregnant, like many women, I was on a constant diet of some sort of another to keep my figure at a healthy and attractive size 12 on finding out I was pregnant I am not ashamed to admit one of my concerns was the changes that lay ahead for my appearance.

I have posted previously about (if you have not read these you may wish too now as it probably makes understanding my journey and my writing style easier) the unexpected and fairly difficult pregnancy I had, but one of the very first difficulties I experienced in my pregnancy was coming to terms with the physical changes to my body - which in turn had a huge affect on my mental health.

Now don't misunderstand me I was under no illusion that my body would stay the same throughout the 40 weeks of gestation, and the days after the birth... the reason I say "days" is quite simple: thanks to the media's portrayal of celeb mum's who within a few days after their little ones have simply popped out are back fighting fit and in a size sodding 6 dress even the ones that believed they were too posh to push and decided they would have a c sec courtesy of hotel Portland! This riles me because, as like many image conscious girls do, I truly believed I would be leaving The Rosie Maternity hospital the size I was when I pee'd on a stick all those months earlier. I even went as far as buying an outfit to bring Lylha home in that still hangs in my wardrobe with the tags on. Of course this was not the reality!!!

The first real obstacle for me to overcome mentally in regards to my appearance came when I was just 11 weeks pregnant courtesy of my husbands grandmother, we were at the wedding of Michael's aunt and aside from his parents and siblings this was the 1st time I was meeting his family (we had been together 9 almost 10m at this point) so naturally I was nervous. She came over to Michael and I after the wedding breakfast and said to me "so are you having twins" I replied with an awkward laugh "Not that I am aware of" (I had an early scan as didn't know dates) she then proceeded to say "are you sure, because your big aren't you?" Now as you can imagine this 1st impression still haunts me, and I left that night with a hubby that was slightly worse for wear and sobbed that I had obviously changed physically so much in a short period of time that I looked fat. Of course I understand it was the bump she was referring too but none the less it really troubled me.

Throughout my pregnancy people continually pointed out the glamorous side with lovely comments such as "my god your boobs have got massive", "your waddling well", "wow your blooming" Now I know these remarks were never meant to cause offence but I found them really challenging to accept. I wanted to look in the mirror and see the woman I was before with just a baby bump - not with puffy ankles, not with an ever growing posterior and not with fingers that needed the wedding ring removed. I truly never felt I "glowed" or "beamed" I felt like whale that waddled like a duck and it really upset me and I am more than sure that my feelings towards my image throughout my pregnancy were a factor in then developing PND.

The reason I believe that my image was a factor in becoming ill with PND is because I still (despite friends of mine having babies and seeing them in the weeks after) really believed I would have Lylha and the weight, the tummy and the boobs would be back to their "regular Laurinda sized self" after she was out. I even convinced myself after the spinal had taken effect and just before they began the c sec (emergency most definitely NOT elective) that this would mean I would be like Vicki Beck's and have my body back that day.

Of course in reality this most definitely did not happen, the days that followed were equally as frustrating I came home and tried on pre pregnancy clothes and they went nowhere near me. Staring into the mirror whilst doing this broke my heart. I could see a lady looking back at me that had my face and was crying my tears but was someone I most definitely did not recognise.

When I started the meds and the talking therapy for PND I told my GP that the way I looked and the weight I had gained was one of the factors that was making me so unhappy and that I had a mental argument going with myself that one side was "I hate the way I look now" and the other saying "don't be so ridiculous beauty is only skin deep" ... I was almost delighted when he reassured me that body image is a major influence on people's mental health and to know that I wasn't alone in how I felt made me feel less stupid and eased the guilt of being a little vain.

Once I started the treatment for PNDpre preg weight and only 2 dress sizes away. As time and treatment carried on as did the weight loss.

Once my treatment for PND was complete in the terms of meds I noticed that my weight loss had slowed and almost stopped with maybe only 1lb a month being shed. I won't lie this has massively disheartened me but has not pushed me back into a state of PND despair.

I still find it really hard to see and hear off celebs that have had their babies and are the epitome of a "yummy mummy" almost instantly, likewise I find it really difficult not to get upset when I see and read of curvier ladies in the public eye under so much pressure to be stick thin rather than curvy and size sexy.

In respect of the PND I'm in recovery, but for the time being the way I look - Well I can't see when I will ever be at peace with the mirror, as I still don't accept the girl looking back at me through tear stained eyes is me.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Blogging doesn't get tougher than this!

When I started putting my journey down in words and took the monumental decision to make my world public for all too see, read, comment and share one of the things I swore to myself (albeit quietly) was that I would be brave enough to share the darkest moments of my journey. This isn't just to help others be aware of Post Natal Depression, but also help me in my recovery from it.


This week has been awful! If there was a darker word than, well, dark to describe how I have felt this week then I would use it.

The events of this week, for me, in themselves have been challenging for the lightest of minds, but when recovering from mental illness (yess... I used its proper term and proud to do so) any occurrence has the ability to tip you back out of the light.

I have spent most of this week attached to a packet of kleenex and putting my faith in my waterproof mascara - which I can confirm held fairly well (congrats bareminerals!) and why the tears were flowing there was no emotional release with it which terrified me. Fear of going back into the dark was gripping me beyond belief. The fear in itself felt another obstacle to beat before even attempting to come to terms with what was happening outside of my control this week.

That's when the light came back on, I was terrified beyond belief I was becoming ill again because I had no control over the events that were affecting my emotions so strongly, but although I couldn't control that I did have control over how it made me feel. WUTIWUF! If you have spent time in any therapy you may've come across this phrase, if you haven't well here you go:


So in order to keep the light on, time to apply this phrase to my situation(s) and hey presto things became brighter. The brighter things became the clearer I began to think, and the clearer I began to think the better I felt.

I am not going to dress anything up with rubbish jargon and awful cliche's mental illness is horrible! It's frightening, it is overwhelming and quite frankly it's difficult to accept. What it should not be is shameful to accept, hence my mind bearing all to the world.

My medication this week to make me feel better on top of WUTIWUF included 1 tub of ice cream, 1 bottle of red wine, 5 hours of jeremy kyle and changing my hair from its 27yr blonde state to brunette.

When I write this down I realise however hard things may have been, they have shaped me. They have given me the courage to do something I have always wanted too, but always been that little bit too cautious too, and that's going brunette. For anyone that thinks get a grip its only hair, that's your opinion, to me my hair is me and its what the world sees and I quite like the world to see something that would make it smile!

Guys I am sorry if this isn't as insightful as my previous posts, but I am determined to keep this blog real and what better way of sharing with you how a life in the day of PND recovery can be (intentionally that way around grammar police)

Thank you for reading - next time something takes away your smile remember frowning uses more muscles than smiling, so technically until your feeling happy again ...your face is getting a work out!

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

It's Not Right but Its Okay

Again for the pop lovers among you I'm sorry this is not an ode to Atomic Kitten...

Disclaimer done!

Before you read my post I want you to think about something I saw on a tweet the other day: "The Past is History, The Future's a Mystery but Today is a Gift which is why its called The Present"

As I have previously spoken about, in detail, I suffered with PND following the horrendous labour and birth of my daughter, now 21 months. As a result of those posts I have had some wonderful messages from as far a field as Jordan (the country not the errr model?) all of which have had a running theme - many of them are accounts from other Mums, and husbands of Mums who have had experiences of PND, some are messages of support and encouragement for starting this blog and others are about How am I doing now?

So, with no further ado The Present:

I have descirbed PND in all of my written work in the past tense, I have to admit this is entirely subconsciously! I guess I assume that as I no longer take anti depressants, I no longer attend counselling sessions and I have many more periods of "light" (all will be revealed) that I am in recovery from PND. In reality I think this is far from true, I guess like a recovering alcoholic having a small glass of Wine, (I'm not going to reiterate again I am not medic or trained health professional) having a moment when I feel down has the makings to throw me back into darkness at any given moment - only now I am aware of this and can put things in motion before I am gripped back there.

Like many Mum's who have shared their accounts with me there is something that is always there, I use the terms light and dark as its the only physical way I can bring myself to accept PND and its presence in my life. Unlike when PND had hold of me, I am able to let moments of darkness, things of infuriation and those instances of complete anger pass through me, but I do have a fear that something too upsetting, too difficult to negotiate or quite simply the wrong thing on the wrong day could see me plummet back into a world where the only light was artificial. What I am not aware of is a group or an organisation that are there for PND sufferers whose symptoms, for want of a better phrase, are in remission. If anyone does know of such a group please share it as I am sure there are Mums and Dads who would be interested.

What having PND has done to me has made small and mundane arguments or instances that before having Lylha I would have brushed off or even laughed off become an obstacle in themselves to get over, what I mean by this is: Not only having the argument to settle but recovering mentally from the emotions and feelings that go along with arguing or being in an upsetting place is a battle on its own.

I am lucky that those around me are aware that I have moments of fragility BUT even luckier that they don't tread on eggshells around me as how could I ever have the opportunity to know I am able to handle things better without those moments sent to try us being there. I think people pussyfooting around would have made these past few months harder to deal with than when a blazing row erupts, as does the feelings that accompany it. What I think is crucial is that me or anyone else that knows they need help sometimes is able to be in a position when they can say I am slipping again and I need some help with this, be it a reassuring chat and a cuppa or going back on meds - whatever works!

I love the phrase "pick your battles" and its one that since coming off the meds I have applied massively into my life, true to form sometimes the law of sod means I pick the wrong battles, but for me only having certain things to deal with at anyone time and being able to put others aside till your ready to deal with them is a way I can actively feel that I am handling this state of PND recovery.

I know we can't see Mental Illness but for me this surmises it: If you break a bone you take the time, the medication and the support of the cast to repair it - but every now and then once its healed it gives you Gipp, a little pang to remind you of the break, and some things you could do prior you can't now. Same with Mental Illness ONLY there isn't a bandage to repair a fractured mind, but there is treatment, support and unlike a broken leg smiling won't ease the pain - BUT it can with a fractured mind.

So as you see I know I'm not right but I'm Ok - a place where I am happy to be until I am in the next stage of recovery!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Not just a parent

As my previous posts have highlighted I am a proud Mummy of a beautiful little girl, but as incredible as motherhood is it's not a journey I have found easy, and at times have not been able to cope with. I am lucky, I have an amazing support network from family, friends through to my GP who helped me recover from the horrible illness that is Post Natal Depression. Its an illness that so many parents suffer, but unfortunately for whatever reason is one some suffer in silence. I totally understand going to a health professional and admitting that you have developed these awful feelings when the world expects you to be on cloud 9 is a daunting one, but actually without that admission to your midwife, health visitor or GP its an illness that doesn't go away and can have a severe hold over someone. I am fairly sure than anyone who has suffered from PND will throw their hands into the air when asked Who would never ever want to feel that low again!

Although I cant pinpoint the moment for me that PND crept in, I was fairly sure from the start that I knew what started the awful emotions that followed, and it was that I felt I was just a Mum! As daft as that sounds, for me it was something I had real trouble accepting, I wanted to still feel a wife, a woman and an individual who's mind wasn't 100% focused on how many ounces does your little one drink? For some women, I believe their ultimate goal in life is to go through the right of passage and become a mother and embrace the life that comes with it - the home-maker. But for me as terrible as it may come across that wasn't enough. I have always had the desire to learn, to think and to achieve and being at home and adjusting too domestic duties was the start of me snowballing into the depths of PND.

I knew from the moment I saw Lylha that I wanted to spend her early years at home with her, I didn't think it fair to spend such a rough 9 months carrying her for someone else to get the excitement of her 1st step or 1st word! But I also knew I needed something mentally challenging to occupy me, to start with I was too tried to even get my head around what I could do to stimulate me and by the time I came to discover what I could do PND had taken over my life.

I also felt that there was a 3rd person in my marriage which was a weird feeling to have, I didn't know what I expected to feel like as a family before it happened, but when it did I didn't expect to feel the way I was - I almost resented the fact there was 3 of us and only wanted a 2 person world either me and my daughter or me and my husband and as for sharing her with other people it was a no go, it was a period of time when emotional confusion dominated my every minute.

Once diagnosed and starting to recover I decided to take the time I would have been at work and make good use of it. 1 of my many dreams was to be a Journalist or an English Teacher, (I made a few wrong decisions as a teenager as far as education went and although I got great A Level results I couldn't bear the thought of more studying and decided to earn money - ironically that lead to much more studying than what my degree would've taken but at least I will always have it too fall back on) so I enrolled with The Open University to study English Lit and English Language with the intention to one day teach it, by enrolling on the course alone I had something significant to look forward too and this in itself lifted me almost instantly.

6 months into the course and I am loving it, my brain feels like its being challenged again, and it has also made a huge difference to my general well being I spend my evenings  (when  Lylha is asleep...) reading and writing about some of my favourite authors, poets and linguistic specialists this alone has added a different dimension to my current worldly being (deep, yes i know)!

My husband and I are trying to implement a monthly night off parenting and letting the grandparents have their special time with Lylha, as she is so funny at this age (I am scared I will blink and miss the stage), although we are yet to find a convenient time we have had some wonderful date nights where I have turned off all contact to the world, as has he, and we have had a simple bottle of red wine, watched a film and laughed - something that hasn't been in our lives for quite a while now. We are hoping this month to upgrade to a night out together but knowing for a few hours we are Husband & Wife again, a reason to get glammed up, a reason to feel more than just parents for a while is worth its weight in gold to us.

As this last year has gone on my lifestyle has become almost a 1000 times (yes exaggeration) busier than what it was in the first 6months of motherhood and I can hand on heart say it has made me appreciate being a parent more than words can say!

Peppa Pig DVD and a cuddle!

Adding extra activity, combined with the anti depressants and talking therapy, into my life and into our marriage has made me as a woman feel almost whole, and why shouldn't it???  I am pursuing the career I have always wanted, I work a few hours a week for one of the loveliest families I know, I have started blogging which has lead me down a really exciting pathway too work with some amazing people, I have a lovely home and most of all I have most precious gift - a family I love beyond imagination only topped off by the little girl who fills me with joy, unconditional love and simple innocent laughter! Oh and I can hold my hands up in the air and say I no longer have a bloody clue what happened in Eastenders, Hollyoaks, or Emmerdale last night, last week or last year I ditched the compulsory soap viewing in exchange for my sanity!

Monday, 16 January 2012

It's Been a Hard Days Night

Firstly I am so grateful for everyone who took time out of their day to read my blog "A Labour of Love" focusing on labour, and Post Natal Depression. I am overwhelmed at the wonderful comments, messages and support I have had in bringing this important issue into light.

Right, this is not a post about The Beatles, (although I am humming the song as I type) it is about the wonderful topic that unites almost every parent around the globe - Sleepless Nights.

Now when I fell pregnant with Lylha I was well aware that as a Newborn there would be many a night where sleep was a distant dream away, and looking into the future I had guessed her teenage years will bring on the odd sleepless night, however, what I (and a fair few of my Yummy Mummy friends) didn't envisage was a toddler who would rather sleep on a laminate floor than go up in her cot and settle down for the night!

The night Lylha was born I was absolutely astounded that she went to sleep at 11pm and awoke for a feed at 6am the following morning, I rather smuggly text my husband at home this wonderful piece of news and proceeded to brag a little about it to some of the maternity staff... When the midwives came around on day 2 I told them this and the midwife told me - this happens a lot on baby's first day, they go through all the energy of labour too and she was probably as tired as you were... She was very right, night 2 was singularly one of the hardest experiences I had ever had, genuinely. I was still in hospital (if you hadn't read my last blog Lylha was delivered by emergency C Sec), in a fair amount of pain, the excitement of my family coming to meet her had been and gone, Michael had left for the night to get some rest and I then tried to settle Lylha at 11pm on a bottle and go off to sleep... Did this happen?? Did it hell!!! Lylha screamed all through the night, regardless of being fed, changed or simply cuddled - as a very new Mum I was constantly buzzing the staff to check she was ok and intermittently texting my hubby with hourly updates of "she is still awake!!!" Eventually we both fell asleep at 7am the following morning as both of us were totally shattered.
Day 3 We were allowed home, and as we got through the first day of Lylha in her new home and the lovely visitors "popping past" wanting cuddles and pictures, I was suddenly aware of how shattered I was and terrified of the night ahead - which again was equally as painful as the night before, only this time I had my husband shouting at me saying "We can't have this every night". This goes to prove no matter how aware you are of sleepless nights until you are actually in that position there is no way of describing how hard and how stressful they become.

For the 1st 3 months of her life (totally normally) Lylha would awake at least 3 times a night, and from about 4pm every afternoon I would begin to feel anxious, fearful and emotional of the night I had ahead - (I will ad Michael helped me in the early days at weekends but in the week he started work at 5am.) I thought I was stupid being scared of night times, but I was most definitely not the only new parent feeling that way.

By 6m I was still getting up at least twice a night for over an hour each time to feed, change and cuddle back to sleep and my Health Visitor (who do a good job most of the time) really upset me by saying "She is a bit old to be waking all the time have you weaned her?" - We were only just starting the weaning process and I was really put out thinking should I have done this earlier, is it my fault my child doesn't sleep and in turn both her and I get irritable too quickly?

At 10m Lylha would possibly sleep for 6 hours but still be awake the rest of the night and getting her too sleep was a horrible battle (one that still reduces me to tears on a regular basis), we began stopping cuddling her to sleep downstairs, and after her bath and bottle routine laying her in her cot with a musical light to watch and listen too, to get her go down for the night... Yeah right!! That was the plan anyway - she would scream and scream to come out of her cot, me being her Mummy and a total softy can not bear this noise so I was fighting myself and back the tears not to go in and soothe her every other minute - my husband on the other hand doesn't find the controlled crying difficult he just sees it as a way of her learning how to go to bed, in theory this is great, in practise its heart wrenching and unbearable.

Also around this time I found myself stopping going to Mummy groups, I never fully took to these anyway, as I was finding it increasingly difficult to listen to "oh my child sleeps through, has done since they were...old" when you haven't slept in 10m and feel you must be doing something wrong this kind of speak makes you want to either cry or scream - or both as I did on a frequent basis.

The stress of no sleep also took a huge toll on my relationship and my weight, being tired I was craving sugary foods, and quite frankly couldn't be arsed to exercise and eat healthy - as long as Lylha had a decent healthy dinner I was happy on wine and crisps... 2 stone heavier happier in fact!

By 12m we had cracked the odd night of unbroken sleep - which even if its 1 night in 7 is a saviour - if you are in a place now where your bubba won't sleep I promise you when you get the odd night you do feel that your sanity is somewhat restored. Of course the other 6 nights are painful and stressful but a small weight does arise of your shoulders, and gives you the chance to say to others "ha my baby finally slept a whole night" like many others the 1st time this happened for me was a momentous occasion one that needed a bloody good facebook status and a few family text arounds!

As she got older eventually we have reached a few good nights each week of sleep, but by no means in a position where we can say "our daughter sleeps everynight". What hasn't eased though is bedtime fun, at 21 months she is much more aware of everything - including when In the Night Garden Comes on, knowing bed time is around the corner - and sure enough as soon as she is in her cot, music and nightlights on, main light off and door pulled too the screaming starts - as does the every 10 min traipse up and down the stairs, letting our tea go cold, our tempers flare, and my tears flood. Its a regular thing to take 2 hours to settle her down - which then in itself feels an achievement, only to be destroyed on the nights she doesn't sleep or the mornings when she believes 4am is a perfectly adequate time of day to be arising!

I can honestly say it does get easier the older they get, and the slightly more used to it you get - but for everyone of you that thinks you have to put on a front that your baby sleeps, don't! I think the ones that don't are the majority and there is a weird snobbery (fake word but don't care) surrounding baby sleeping patterns.

I also am aware that lack of sleep can add to Post Natal Depression (which my last blog focused on) so if your in that place speak to your Dr, Health Visitor, a friend or your Mum - she has been there!

Lack of sleep is hard on anyone, especially new parents who have an uphill learning curve from the moment the little one is handed to them - but we do it, we are built for it and for every bad day there's Jeremy Kyle - perfect pick me up when your reminded No matter how difficult your world is at the moment at least I am not on his stage awaiting the DNA on the 4th potential Dad!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

A Labour of Love

Right firstly a disclaimer, this is my personal experience and opinion of my pregnancy, labour, delivery and the early days. I am not in the medical profession, nor do I presume to have any clue about medicine, other than what I have been told through MY OWN experience.

I will also add this is exceptionally personal to me, and am doing this as a request from a wonderful group of people there to support mum's to be, new mum's, and those of us that still need a little help despite how old our angels are. I will also add its long winded, waffly and terrible grammar (which I don't write like normally) but its from the heart and soul completely

I am happy to hear opinions but I do not want critical or nasty stuff about this as every women's experience is different, and every women has the right to feel how she wants about her journey!

So here goes:

In the summer of 2009, Michael (then fiance) and I had set a wedding date and were searching out somewhere to live, we found a beautiful quaint cottage that we decided to make our home in. The weekend after we moved in we had a significant moving in party with friends, family and alcohol... The following day I woke up more than worse for wear!! The Monday after my Sunday hangover Michael and I had to go to our local council to give notice on our marriage on the way there I was still feeling sick as hell, my tummy ached and I just wanted to sleep - so I pulled in at my GP's office to make an emergency appt, by fluke she was actually in the reception (due to previous health issues we are on first name terms!) and said pop in now you don't look well... She asked how long I had felt this way and when I thought about I said actually a little while now, true to GP's form the usual words of "Is there any chance you could be pregnant" I quickly said nope - on the pill - you know that - have been for 15 years! to which she said 2 months ago when I put you on antibiotics and told you to use other contraception you did, and at that moment my heart sank as I could believe I was using the words "well we used the rhythmic method". I was quickly handed a pot , popped outside to pee, came back inside, and her words will haunt me forever "We don't tell you to use other contraception for fun",your pregnant. One word fell from my lips - FUCK. I got up walked out, drove gave notice on our marriage and then went to work in a total state of shock. By hometime I was still maybe using 1 syllabic words and was about as coherent as I had been the Saturday night before, this time without any substance to it. I went to tesco bought 5 (yes 5) more tests and thought there could be a mistake - Iv a size 10 wedding dress to wear in 4 bloody months time! The classy girl I am did 2 tests in tesco, both said Mumma (pregnant but you know what I mean), so I drove home - went to the loo did the other 3, all said the same came out handed the sticks to Michael went back in the bathroom and cried, and then cried some more - till I went downstairs to the best thing a girl in that state could need, her Mummy! Michael had called my Mum who was now on my sofa telling me it "it will be ok - you can do this, we are here every step of the way"

The early weeks were pretty standard, puking all the time, loosing my temper and my memory was a daily occurrence, my boobs had swollen to more than the F they already were (yep no size 10 dress for me now) and my nipples felt like they were frequently being grated. When I saw the midwife we worked out I was about 10 weeks gone as I had a slight period but nothing heavy, and though it was down to diet and loosing weight.

With my 12 week scan came everything I could ever need in my mind, the beauty of my babies heartbeat, made in that instant everything ok, and I knew this was all I ever wanted, just hidden behind a career I loved, and a social life to rival the TOWIE girls! My family and friends when told were equally as shocked but so pleased for us!

At 20 weeks things took a scary turn for us, I was due on the Friday to be leaving for my hen weekend with my best friends in Norwich for a yummy mummy to be spa break, on the way to work I really unwell and struggling to walk and catch my breath - By lunchtime some of my staff (I was their boss although they all mummied me) had suggested I see the Dr ASAP, I drove home went to the Dr with my mum and she sent me straight to The Rosie Maternity Hospital in Cambridge, when I got there they whisked me off, called my husband, took me to the delivery unit and told me that there was a concern about a blood clot. After ample painful tests it was confirmed I had a blood clot in my leg, this is apparently common in pregnant women but I had no idea it was life threatening. I then underwent more tests and treatments, one of which involved a scan of my leg to size the DVT, I, cheekily, asked the sonographer if he could show me my baby to cheer me up - he did and it made everything else feel better instantly, I still carry that pic around with me to remind me that anytime I'm scared, I have her with me.
The treatment worked, and after a few days (hen do and birthday written off) I was allowed home but signed of sick until my mat leave, I loved my job and I never thought that day when I left was the last day I would be at work, but it was as my no1 job from that moment on was me and my bump, even if I did have the stress of a wedding around the corner - which was magical as we had the snow as our backdrop!

At 21 weeks I found out my bump was a a she, and I spend the following 2 days in tears as was so happy the scan was all ok and I was having a little girl!!!

At 36 weeks I had my routine appt and felt a but funny, during the appt my midwife said I'm sorry but back to hospital, your blood pressure is right up and there is protein in your urine, which indicated but wasn't confirmed that I had developed pre eclampsia, when I got to hospital this was confirmed, and I was then kept there until the day my little lady made her way into the world. My blood pressure stayed up but the protein stayed at only slightly raised so I did make it full term, but was induced that day because the risk was to high to carry the pregnancy on.

The induction, for me, was simple and quick, a dodgy tampon thing (I will add I had a sweep the day before which was horrible and quite easily the single most undignified point of the whole process), lay down for an hour and then off for a walk, but under strict instructions to stay on the ward!! For my blood pressure to keep being checked...
At 8.30 my husband left for the day, and the midwife's famous words in his ear, get some sleep she still has 2 more parts of the induction process to go yet....
At 9.30 (during the first televised debate between clegg, cameron and brown) I started to get an urge to wee a lot, but whilst having a wee it bloody hurt for a minute or so after, I told the midwife and we were worried it could be the onset of a urine infection, she paged the dr (who never made it), and form then on every 5 mins or so I was back and forth to the loo, I then said to her I think I'm in labour, she replied "you'll know if your in labour", as I wasn't sure I assumed not, by 10.30 the pain was a lot more and a lasting the whole min and I said to her then I really think I am having the baby, as if in a film at the moment she replied no your not my waters broke! We actually both laughed as she said "do you want my job" I was on a busy antenatal ward and the only woman in labour and no other new mums around so I wasn't popular with all these mums to be's sleeping and me moaning every couple of minutes, not loud, but loud enough to make you think shit this will be me soon!
When she checked me both her and I were amazed when she said to her colleague go ring dad and the delivery unit she is 6cm!! I was astounded I had gone that far on my own and with no pain relief, it goes to show how amazing women are, and I mean that sincerely when you think what our bodies do from the moment of conception through to breast feeding!
I was taken upstairs by 11.30 and my husband was told to make his way, when I arrived upstairs I asked if I could use my mobile to call my Mum and she said yes, I had my mobile in 1 hand and the gas and air tube in the other saying to my mum between contractions "you lied this fucking hurts now!" she was amazed how far along I was with only a few tokes of the gas and air, and her telling me how proud she was saw me through. As the gas and air intake increased as did my lack of any sense when I began talking to my dog, at which point the midwife freaked thinking I had another child and this wasn't a first labour, she took the phone, my mum explained it was about the dog - and at that moment my husband walked in (2 pissing hours later, as he wanted something to eat and shower) to his naked wife, of her head on the floor shouting at my dog down the phone and in between getting mum to let me talk to my sis and bro who were pissed and just came in from a night in a club - she must've been so proud 3am and all her kids off their faces!! Michael took the phone after an emotional farewell to my family and I got on the bed and started to really feel the pain. Amazingly I never shouted or cried, just quietly went between gas and air, and sipping out a straw as my mouth was soo dry. I dreaded every examination as it brought on another contraction which by now were every 3 mins and lasting over a min and I was really starting to feel the affects of not being fit for labour before hand.
At 10am Michael remembered my midwife stating I would need an epidural as the baby was back to back and the chances were the long labour would affect my blood pressure, so after 12 long hours an anaesthetist came in and fitted an epidural, 10 mins later I was still in agony, so he came back re did it waited and sure enough 10 mins later I was still feeling all the pain and now my bloody back hurt too, he tried 1 more time to cite the epidural but it didn't work, and I was heartbroken, I was in so much pain, I was tired, My back now hurt, I was woozy as hell from the gas and the saving grace in the epidural had failed, in that moment I had never felt so vulnerable to my body and susceptible to pain as I ever had before - quite frankly I knew I had more to come yet and I was terrified. But I had my scan picture and I closed my eyes put my legs in stirrups and said lets get on with this.
At 11.30 a dr came in and examined me and said to me that my heart beat and babies heartbeat were identical making it difficult for them to see if she was in trouble so they attached a clip to her head, she talked more about the back to back presentation and I pretended to listen, getting on with the job in hand which was getting myself through the contractions as calmly as possible for me and baby, as she went to leave the room I remember asking if I would need a c sec, and her words still echo in my ears "Its looking that way, but lets hope it doesn't come to that" I think I knew then I had gone as far as I could, but we carried on. At just before midday when the dr left I said I want to push - they checked and I was 10cm, they talked about something called inactive pushing and active pushing because of the epidural even though it hadn't worked, but I have no idea what it meant other than a women for 2 hours repeating every 3 mois "well done, well done - and turning to my hubby and saying your nearly a daddy"
At 14.15 my dr and the anaesthetist came back in an said to us, they were sorry but babies heartbeat were showing signs of struggle, along with merconium in the waters, my bp was through the roof and quite evidently she didnt want to come out - the dr and the midwife proceeded to tell us it would be an emergency c sec performed under general anaesthetic because of the problems they had with the epidural, on my way to theatre in the corridor there was a hold up and as the gas and air was attached to the wall of the room I was in, I was very much in a public place, crying in pain and point blank refusing to put any clothes on, classy! But not having the gas and air to handle the pushing nothing out pain was nasty!
When we got into theatre we were met by The Rosie's chief anaethist who said to me give me 1 go at putting a spinal in, if it doesn't work I'll put you straight to sleep, by this time I had been in labour some 18 hours, had pushed for nearly 3 to feel the head go back in, was tired and fed up with people putting their hands up there for what felt like any apparent reason, so for the first time in the whole process I turned around and said after your staff's attempt to take the pain away, and failed quite frankly you can fuck off! He said there is no need to swear and I replied there is plenty, he then said right sit on this bench please, the theatre staff held me down on this horrendous metal bench whilst someone was putting cannula's in my hands, and he said "go one then tell me your plenty of reasons.." I can't even remember what I said as I was still pushing every 3 mins he then said to the theatre team lay her down - he then walked to my feet and sprayed me and said did you feel that, and I said "no" he asked are you still in pain and I realised I wasn't, he looked at me and said spinals in girl, good aren't I? Michael then came in and sat with the anaesthetist who stayed next to me throughout and said "in a min you'll feel some tugging and then you'll be a mummy" he was right I felt this weird tugging sucking feeling and then saw my dr stand up with this little bundle in his arms, saying she is a bit shocked so the paeds are going to check her over but she is here. As anyone can imagine not hearing a cry was the worst silence I ever felt and for what seemed an eternity (prob was no more than 30 secs) I stared at Michael with tears in my eyes, and then I heard her - the most beautiful heart warming sound, a sound so full of love and they brought her to us, placed her in Michael's arms and in that moment I was so in love with my beautiful baby girl and my husband.

A few days after the birth I was allowed home with her, that day I felt unusually emotional, and Mum said I had the baby blues, combined with the post op pain.
I will add here if anyone thinks a c sec is the easy route THINK AGAIN!!! Its major surgery, its exceptionally painful after the drugs wear off - and you have a newborn to look after whilst being in agony, plus you can not drive for 6 weeks after.
I hurt and was on strong pain killers for almost 4 weeks, healing time from a normal birth is MUCH less and more straight forward as I ended up having another op recently because of the C sec nearly 2 years ago!!

As the days turned into weeks I noticed the sadness wasn't going away, I had started to hide myself away, and that love that I felt in the 1st few days didn't seem there. I felt like this little person had invaded my perfect relationship and taken away my life, my figure and my husband. Luckily for me my best friend (not how that comes out) had post natal depression and her and I have always been so close and honest that when she realised the signs she helped me make contact with the dr, whom it took 5 mins to realise what I hadn't in 5 weeks and that I was suffering from post natal depression. I will add as I think its important that I never had any feelings of harming Lylha or anyone else, just that I wanted to lock myself away and not face anything and anyone. The dr prescribed me anti depressants but also talking therapy - which between the 2 really helped.
It also helped when I told my family and friends and I felt a weight have lifted knowing I was ill and I wasn't a bad mummy like I thought, and again this made me feel better.
I took baby steps and one day at a time, and of course I had bad days and me and my hubby have been on the brink of separation.
After 3 months one morning when I was dressing Lylha the moment hit me where the bond suddenly broke through and the immense love, protection, admiration and devotion came through and it was like a light switching on, which made all the sleepless nights and days, all the arguments with Michael, all the moments of crying myself to sleep OK,
It took a further 4 months before I stopped the meds and counselling and although I feel much better nearly 18 months on I still have days where things aren't great especially around the time of the month when bloody hormones grip me again.

I want to say to anyone who feels they have post natal depression or has had it, don't be afraid or ashamed its an illness, we wouldn't think twice about telling people we had a headache and took asprin to make it better.

I was told by my GP who incidentally is a man, that anyone that has major surgery (c sec) or major trauma (labour and birth) are given a week or two to recover and are fussed over till they recoup, accept when its having a baby, your given some pain killers, checked your haven't hemorrhaged and are told to go home, and be a mum. He is right, and its no surprise then mums and in some cases dads develop post natal depression.

Lylha will be 2 very soon, and we are very happy, still don't sleep.... she amazes me each and everyday and I love her more than words can say. I am still completely amazed by how amazing a woman's body works to produce life, and although I am far from ready at the moment YES I would do it again!

Thank you