So please, remember you don’t know what I do.

So here we are. As I prepare to go back to work I’m feeling very emotional because I’m leaving my boy for 13 hours of the day. Whilst I’ve been on maternity leave I’ve often been made to feel a bit lazy for not working. For wanting to spend time with my son and build a bond, I’ve been looked at like it’s not normal, not ok.

But nobody knows what we do and nobody knows how much I love him and how much I want to spend time with him. And that’s ok. We all parent differently and you can’t know or judge what I do because your not me. If you are a parent you did what you did. I am not the same. I am me.

Here’s a few of the comments/ questions I’ve had;

1. Well you don’t do anything all day

2. See how you can feel when you actually achieve something?

3. You feel very tired when you don’t do anything

4. When are you going back to work then?

5. Don’t you get bored?

6. You’re lazy!

7. I didn’t have that luxury of not working

8. Have you moved from that spot?

9. Your so lucky he’s always asleep

10. Well, I know what it’s like to have worked hard my whole life

Let me tell you something – being a parent is hard. I don’t just sit in front of the tv whilst Arthur entertains himself, feeds himself and looks after himself. I feed him, I clean him, we play together, we eat together, I cook and make him food, we do activities, we go out together, walking, swimming, painting. Nappy changes, baths, sterilising, paddling pools, beach, ice cream, dog walking, teething, cuddles, crawling, exploring, washing, shopping.

It’s non stop. When he’s asleep, I’m usually tidying or cleaning. I quickly shower and get to go to the toilet. I cook and eat something for myself. I have a drink because I haven’t had anything in hours. Sometimes I nap. 9 months in and yeah, sometimes I still nap when my Little A naps. It helps a lot. In that short window of time I have for myself there’s often lots to do but sometimes I say – sod it, I’m too tired, nap it is. Sometimes I just lie down, sometimes I blog or reply to my messages. Does that make me lazy? I don’t think so. Within an later we’re back in the midst of it. I’ve been climbed on, sicked on and my ears hurt from baby screeching, my short nap a distant memory.

I can’t just leave Arthur whilst I go off and do some housework. I don’t get to sit back and watch a film whilst Arthur sits still for 2 hours. He doesn’t wipe his own bum, that’s on us! Words, comments, opinions, they hurt. No matter what I achieve in life, work, whatever, Arthur, looking after him, being his mother; will ALWAYS be my greatest achievement.

To have people undermine me and make me feel inadequate because I don’t want to rush back to work (and yes I know I am lucky I don’t have to go back so quickly for financial reasons) well it’s just not nice. I don’t ever feel like I haven’t done anything all day being with Arthur. I’ve kept a mini human alive all day. I’ve managed to feed him, entertain him and stay alive myself too (always a bonus). The point is, I’m so proud of being a parent to Arthur.

I know it’s too early to be thinking; “he’s kind because of how we’ve brought him up” I know that. But his personality is developing, he’s being taught language, manners, how to feed himself, how to stand, he’s learning everything. And I’m proud that I’m a part of that. I’m proud to watch him develop, to watch him grow.

Why are we so concerned with what other people are doing? If I had gone back to work with 3, 4, 6 months whatever, I’m sure I would of felt judgement for going back too soon. You can’t win. But I know something for sure; I do not want to become unwell again. I do not want to feel pure exhaustion from anxiety all day. I don’t want to feel so much pressure, so much worry that I feel like I don’t deserve to live. I do not want to see everything as a risk, everything as a possibility of causing my baby harm.

Being at work is going to be so challenging for me. I have already told Jord that if I can’t do it, if I can’t be away from Arthur for 13 hours of the day then I will have to look for something else. But that is a big maybe. I am hoping that the two days I am at work I focus on work and I enjoy it. Because I do love my job. I do miss it. I want to overcome my anxiety of leaving Arthur because I won’t be able to be by his side all day every day of his life.

But nobody gets to tell me how I parent. Because you don’t know. We shush in our sleep, I read and sing books and nursery rhymes even when he’s asleep. We tidy and clean, cook and shop with our Little A always first and foremost in our mind.

He will always come first. I know I am doing something right because we’ve made it this far. I’m trying not to let other people’s words and opinions get me down. And I know that these words do not mean to hurt but that doesn’t mean they don’t.

Stay tuned for another one peeps.

Love, Kate. X

So we’re moving forward…

So here we are. I Won’t ever forget it or be ashamed of what I went through. Nor will I pretend that I am not afraid it will happen again in the future. But for now it seems we are moving on. Life is moving forward and the dark days have gone for now and been replaced with mainly sunshine. It feels so good.

I will always try and blog. But they might be a few and further in between now. I will always talk about mental health and I will always be here for anyone who needs to talk. I’m moving forward with my life now but what happened to me has helped to shape who I am.

I know if I got through it once I can get through it again. For the future I am hoping to come off my antidepressants completely. I’m hoping to life a healthy life, mentally and physically. I’m prepared for when I decide to have another baby what might happen. I’m going to be open and tell everyone what happened and welcome every bit of support I can get.

So here’s to the future. It’s going to be scary, up and down and who knows what’s going to happen. But I’m excited. It’s hopefully going to bring happiness, progression, love, laughter, opportunities and possibilities. Out of the showers and into the sunshine. 🌧☀️

Love, Kate. X

So don’t be afraid of needing medication.

So here I am. I’m currently on the maximum dose of antidepressants. Am I ashamed of that? No. I think they are part of what saved my life. I started of on a small dose. It was increased and increased again.

We had quite a few setbacks along our journey and each time would hit me hard. A very low point on the unit was when I was in isolation on my own. I didn’t want Arthur to become unwell again and on the unit I felt like people were avoiding me because they were afraid of catching it. I felt very alone. I confided in a member of staff and explained I wanted to kill myself and how I was going to do it. My antidepressants were increased once again and I became more high risk so I was observed more closely.

It was part of a very up and down journey. I do not know if I would have overcome those very low moments without medication. I am someone who doesn’t even like taking paracetamol. Yes I am a nurse. Yes I know the benefits of medication. But it’s just me. If I can find a way without medication I will do it. But when I became unwell I tried to do it by other means. I went outside, I kept busy, I exercised, saw my friends, my family but I needed more help. I needed professional help.

When I was admitted to Nottingham I couldn’t wait to begin antidepressants. They were my first sign of hope. My first glimmer of a future. I remember the consultant explaining to me they can sometimes at the beginning contribute to you feeling worse before you feel better. My heart dropped at the moment. I was panicked at the thought; how could things get worse than this? Thankfully I didn’t experience that. They did take a few weeks to take affect but then they began to help.

They were then increased again because I was on a very low dose. They wanted to increase then slightly because they start at a small dose to see how your body reacts and if their successful and how the side effects affect you. I’ve think I’ve been quite lucky in I haven’t had many side effects (I don’t think). I’m also lucky that it can also be treated for anxiety.

At a very low point in my time at Winchester they were increased again to the maximum dose. I was wanted to end my life and could not see a way out. I was seen by the doctor and my observations were increased. We decided the antidepressants needed to be increased again. I wanted help. I couldn’t see any hope. I would of tried anything. Anything in the world. Thankfully, I got through that low point. The medication definitely helped.

Unlike for my depression, I tried many different medication for my anxiety. The first one just basically, some of the time, knocked me out for an hour or two, which was good in a way because I was having trouble sleeping when I first became unwell. But if I couldn’t sleep, or if Arthur needed me and there wasn’t chance to sleep then I would feel so tired. I would feel just drained of any energy I did have. It took me a while to realise this but when I did I stopped taking it.

Then I tried something for anxiety which affected my milk supply. This is when the issues escalated with breastfeeding and my anxiety along with it. Soon I stopped that one too. And then their was the final anxiety medication that caused me to sleep through Arthur waking up in the morning. I’ll never forget waking up and him not being there. I had seen him just a little while before in the night and I was on the unit so I was sure he was safe but, I was so confused; why did they take him? Was he alright? When I find him the staff member explained he had started to wake up and cry. My heart broke. I had slept through him crying. I will never forget that feeling of guilt. Never. I had taken that last medication for a day or two, it was then stopped too.

So my experience with anti anxiety medication has not been positive. Eventually I decided I wasn’t going to take any specifically for my anxiety. I was going to try and manage it on my own, without medication. Months later, I’m still managing. The anxiety slowly (very slowly) decreased. I didn’t really realise how much it truly affected me until I now long back. I was a mess! It ruled me. I was afraid of everything. Everything was a risk. Everything was a danger to Arthur. And I had to protect him from everything. It was exhausting. I still have my odd moments but it is a world away from what it once was.

I am not ashamed I am still on antidepressants. I am not ashamed I need medication to help me. I hope it’s not forever, just because one day I would like to be completely free of this. But for the moment, those little tablets are what I need. If you’re are struggling please don’t be ashamed in getting help. Don’t be closed off from the idea of medication. And don’t think you will HAVE to have it. You might not. Help comes in many different ways. Don’t be ashamed of needing it. We all do sometimes.

Love, Kate. X

So those thoughts.

So there we were. This post might be a bit hard to read for some. It might be triggering so please don’t read if your feeling in a bad place. Instead talk to someone, anyone.

So I won’t ever forget those very dark days. Those days when the intrusive thoughts were so frequent. I could handle them about me, yes they were scary, but those thoughts about Arthur, they broke me. They happened a lot at the beginning and they plagued me, they made me doubt myself, they made me believe I would never get better.

Often those thoughts would come from a risk, like if there was a car going fast, I’d think about Arthur’s pram going out into the road. They were devastating. I was fighting with my own mind and every time I thought about something like that I would then feel hopeless. Sometimes they would come from nowhere, those are the ones that hurt the most.

I think for a lot of people, there is a certain time of day that is harder than the rest. For me it was usually in the evening. I would become very tired, I would often be on my own and it would come to the time where all I wanted to do was sleep but I probably wouldn’t. Least not at the beginning. I would be physically and mentally worn out. My depression meant I was desperate for sleep but my anxiety wouldn’t let me rest. Plus I was a new Mum and that’s pretty tiring in itself! This is when the thoughts would haunt me.

I remember speaking to a Doctor in Winchester and she told me how intrusive thoughts about your baby were really common. She said how they were normal and a lot more people had them then I might think. But I sobbed to her, I broke down and swore that if they continued I would not carry on living. I couldn’t deal with them being in my mind all the time. I couldn’t imagine living with them forever.

She told they would stop and she told me something that I didn’t understand and still don’t now really; these thoughts come from a place of love. She tried to explain the best she could but I still don’t really understand but she assured me they would stop. I still have one every now and again but I think everyone does. Ever thought about smothering your partner whilst they snore away keeping you awake? I know I have! (Sorry Jord).

But the thing is; thoughts are just thoughts. They are just that. They are not actions, they are not real, not really. They are there in your mind but they go away as quickly as they come. I wouldn’t ever hurt anyone. But to have those in your mind all day every day, it’s exhausting. The images, the feelings that go along with them, they break you down.

Every time I would feel a bit of hope they would come and I would be knocked back down again. It was the times when it there was silence. And this scared me very much. I thought to myself; “will I ever be able to be still again? To be at peace where I can sit in silence without fighting my own mind? Will I ever be able to just drift off to sleep and have a restful night?” Thankfully I am a world away from where I once was. It feels like I’m so much lighter. It’s only in the last couple of months I’ve actually felt like I’m not tired anymore. I’m no longer exhausted, mentally and physically, I am no longer fighting so hard to stay alive.

If your having these thoughts, if you feel like the world is becoming dark and your losing hope, PLEASE talk to someone. Anyone. You can talk to me, you can find me on Instagram at katehereiam

If your worried about someone else, reach out to them, or reach out to somebody who could help. Don’t let them fight alone.

Don’t be ashamed and scared of what people will think because people will help you. And you WILL get better.

Stay tuned. Until next time guys.

Love, Kate. X

So remember the power of your words.

So here we are. It’s sad to see that some people can’t see that their words affect others. Something you might say in passing might remain with someone else for a very long time. I have experienced this first hand. I still remember the stinging words about how breastfeeding is best. I remember crying and letting it consume me and thinking about it all day long.

I remember people telling me when suffering with crippling anxiety; “you don’t know everything, you can’t control it all”. Actually that’s not what it’s about. It’s about being afraid of everything. It’s not about thinking you know everything so doing it your way. Tough love doesn’t really work, the words just hurt.

I remember hearing people say “there’s loads of nutters out there.” Feeling broken that we still live in a society where people thing that’s an okay thing to say. I remember another person talking about how they would hate to be in a “nuthouse”. All I could think about was; that’s me, they are describing me, my life, that’s not an okay thing to say.

I remember hearing someone say; “eurgh you don’t want this disgusting stuff do you?!”, when giving another persons baby formula. I’ve had people ask me “well it’s not hard to look after a baby?!” And “what do you all day?” Babies, are hard work, being a parent is hard work.

Words hurt. I won’t ever forget many of the things I have read about being a mother, a woman, being on social media, having a mental health illness. I won’t forget all the little comments, the things that people say without thinking. They are still some people who live behind current times and think; women belong in the kitchen, women shouldn’t work, mental health illness is “mental health issues”. Having an mental illness means you’re a “nutter” or “you’re crazy”.

Remember the power of words. I have seen and felt the pressure of other people’s views, others comments and opinions. For some, they mean so much. I’ve cried many tears over what other people have said to me. What other people have joked about, the comments and the questions.

Whatever way you decide to parent, live, be, if it’s not hurting anyone else, if it’s safe and it makes you/ your loved ones happy? What’s wrong with it? Sometimes you don’t have to give your opinion if they don’t ask for it. Before you think of a little comment or a joke, remember not everybody feels the same as you. Remember some things hit home.

You do not know what battle somebody is fighting by looking at them. And you do not know somebody from looking at their life on a screen. You do not know who they are from reading about them. You don’t know what kind of person they are. You don’t know what your words might mean to them. You don’t know what your words could do.

Think before you speak. And if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it! Don’t call illnesses names, don’t judge others by their circumstances. Just don’t do it. Words can be so powerful. They can be so hurtful. For someone who is struggling it could be the very last thing they need.

But most people are wonderful. Sometimes the kindest words from someone else can stay with you for a lifetime. You can remember those words years later and still smile. Remember the power of good words. Remember the power of kindness.

Stay tuned for another one guys.

Love, Kate x

So it’s taken us a long time to get to this point.

So here we are. Everybody does things in different ways. Parenting is no different. For me at the beginning, especially, I felt like I HAD to try and follow every bit of professional advice to the T. I am not advocating that you don’t do that but I think there’s a way you do things, as long as they are safe it’s about doing what’s right for you and your family. To a certain extent that might be doing things down to that T.

Looking back I was so anxious and I’ve really come a long way. One of my biggest things was Arthur sleeping. I’ve spoken before about my absolute pure fear of SIDs. Official advice advises that babies should sleep in the same room as you until their six months. Even during naps. I was really strict about this and found it very difficult to leave Arthur when he was asleep at the beginning. I would only leave him with Jord or sometimes his Mum or my family to sleep myself. Even then I found it very hard to get to sleep.

I became so sleep deprived. It’s only recently that feel like I’m actually not tired from having a baby…I know that sounds very strange but having a baby is like a whole new level of being tired! It’s impossible to describe. So when I first became unwell sleep deprivation made everything so much worse. I had gotten to the point where I couldn’t sleep with Arthur in the same room. Every movement he made, every time he made a noise, I had to check on him. And when he was quiet, still, I had to check on him even more.

I would repeatedly check if he was too hot or too cold. If I did manage to get to sleep it would for moments at a time and he’d then be ready for a feed. It was exhausting. In Nottingham they advised that Arthur not sleep in the same room as me at night. I was terrified. Again, I couldn’t sleep. Not with or without him. All I could think about what I had read about them staying with you. To reduce the risk of SIDS, he had to be with me.

But I was exhausted. They had to give me some anti- anxiety medication which basically made me so drowsy I would fall asleep. Then I started to sleep for a couple of hours a night. Then slowly it increased. But my heart was broken. I felt so guilty he wasn’t with me and every night I was terrified of what might happen. It also made the feeling of being away from Jord even more devastating. He couldn’t even watch him. I had to leave him with basically strangers to me and I was so scared. If it wasn’t for the medication I don’t know if I would have slept, I really don’t.

But thankfully I did. Arthur still sleeps in our room now. We live with Jords parents at the moment so we don’t really have a choice about that but even if we did, I still wouldn’t want him to go into his own room yet. Now at nearly 7 months, I have just started to let him sleep, on his own during the day with a monitor. I often feel my anxiety begin to bubble away but I know it is good for the both of us. When I stayed in the room whilst he napped I had to be so quiet that if I made a noise it would disturb him and he wasn’t getting enough sleep.

So we’ve come a long way. Anxiety is horrendous. I know feel much more calm, at peace about a lot of things and it makes parenting so much more enjoyable. Of course I will also have anxiety, maybe more than what a parent should have. But being a parent is scary, you will always have it. It will always find you because they change every day and new scary things happen! (Yay!)

But I really do feel like I have come a long way. I remember on Winchester MBU we had a stress and anxiety management group and we were going round the room with each of us talking about what our biggest anxieties were. When it came to my turn, I began to quietly sob and simply said; “Everything, I am anxious about everything.” I was so terrified of so many things. It was almost as if I was terrified of living because every single thing felt like a risk to Arthur. And I felt so much pressure and responsibility to keep him safe but some things were out of my control to a certain extent and I would crumble at the thought of not knowing what to do.

The thing about my anxiety is that it also fuelled my depression. It made me feel weak and pathetic, scared and exhausted. I felt like I couldn’t face life. I felt like I was too scared to carry on. It made me feel like dying would be better. Dying would be easier. It really is a terrible thing. But if your reading this and you struggling with anxiety, know this – if I got through this so can you. You can learn how to manage it. You can learn how to cope with it.

It might not ever completely leave you. But it doesn’t have to affect you so much it stops you from living. You don’t have to always be scared. When I find myself feeling anxious I try and just stop in that moment, take a deep breath and try to slow everything down. Mindfulness; I learnt about it briefly as a nursing student and to be completely truthful I thought it was a load of mumbo jumbo. I would be the one who would peek with one eye whilst everyone else had their eyes closed to check the clock because I was hungry and wondering when lunch was (always about the foooood). But I did come around to it. I still read about it now sometimes and try an exercise and feel no better for it and think – “that was really silly”.

But the thing is with mindfulness you don’t have to imagine your a ship and you crash through the rocky seas across the ocean to get this beautiful island whilst the sun sets…blah blah blah! You can just take a deep breath. You can just close your eyes and count to ten. You can imagine yourself at your favourite place. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, it can be as simple as you like. It can be anything that helps you feel calm, that helps you feel a bit of peace.

So if you are struggling with anxiety please remember you can find peace.

Stay tuned for another one guys. Love, Kate. X

So we’ve had a few tough days.

So here we are. We’ve had a bit of a difficult week really. Arthur hasn’t been very well. It’s been hard. Sickness bug, cold, injections and teething. This has resulted in little sleep for everyone and lots and lots of crying. (From Arthur) It’s brought a new cry which is like he’s in pain which breaks my heart every time.

He’s still smiling, as always. He’s once again astounds me with how brave he is. Of course with little sleep comes increased anxiety from me and little energy. Which in turn means I don’t want to go out, I don’t want or have the time to eat well. But as soon as I do go out I feel better, and when I eat some goodness I feel better. It’s like I just need the initial push. You know what you need to do something but you just can’t find the motivation to do it.

Well this morning I’ve drank more water, had a healthy breakfast and done some writing. Despite a lack of sleep I already feel a little bit better. If you too are having are hard day/ or week I hope you find something or someone to help you feel just that little bit better.

I’m going outside even though it’s miserable and I’m going to eat and drink well today. I’m hoping for a cheeky nap or an early night. I think sometimes we just have to take each day at a time and find a way to get through it. We need people around us and need to do things that make us happy even if we’re a sleepy zombie whilst doing it.

Arthur’s health has always been very anxiety provoking for me. I get very scared and always think of the worst case scenario. He had a tough start to life with quite a few illnesses but he’s a badass and got through each one and I know he’ll get through this too. For such a little dude he has so much strength. He’s my biggest inspiration.

Anxiety is always hard because it makes you question what’s a real worry and what’s not but I always try and trust my instincts. I would rather worry a little bit more about Arthur’s health then miss something. I’ve learnt quickly that babies can become very unwell very quickly. So here’s hoping things pick up this coming week. Despite it being a hard week, I know things will get better eventually.

If you’ve had a hard time recently, take one day at a time. Hey take each day an hour at a time if you have too. Things will get better.

Stay tuned peeps. The only way is up.

Love, Kate x