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 there is no right or wrong way.

So here we are. I don’t believe there is any right or wrong way to parent. I do believe that people judge, we question others and make people feel bad for their decisions. Decisions that are right for them and their family. In turn, this has an affect on our mental health. Being a parent is really hard. It’s tiring, emotional, stressful. It’s wonderful and the good will always outweigh the bad but it is hard. I don’t think we should feel judged or guilty for our decisions. Those decisions are not always easy to make and we might even doubt them ourselves but I don’t think we should push our own opinions onto others.

Arthur is now completely bottle fed, do I still feel judged at times because of this? Unfortunately yes. Plagued by comments, pictures, old sayings we are pushed to believe “breast is best” but it might not work for you and that’s okay. Dummies, not for everyone but a lifesaver for others. I remember when I first gave Arth a dummy and I said “only when he’s going to sleep” did that work for us? No. Unfortunately sometimes he’s just very unsettled, he’s not hungry, he might be a little bit tired but not ready for sleep, he might want to play but he also wants his dummy. It works for us so that’s what we go with.

I’m not encouraging or trying to discourage. I’m just explaining that sometimes you have to find what works for you. As long as you do it safely, you have to do what’s right for you and your mini human. They aren’t all the same. They have their own mini personalities. I had to carry Arthur around a lot of the time in a sling when he was younger. He wouldn’t let me put him down, I needed to eat too, even if it was just chocolate!

Playpens? Some people think they trap our mini humans, (yes I have actually heard someone say “trap”) others think they are a safe place to play. For me, having somewhere to put Arthur where I know he’s safe whilst I pee is kind of a godsend! I don’t think he’s trapped because if he wanted to come out I would bring him out.

I feel like we are too dependent on labelling who we are as parents and what we are doing. We try and justify our decisions and explain what kind of parent we are. But I have seen first hand how this can affect our mental health. How by being pushed into what we think we have to be, how we have to feel, how we have to parent, at times it can be too much.

Don’t get me wrong I do believe we are empowering each other too. I believe we are banding together at times and showing support for one another. But I don’t know if we realise how an odd comment or old saying, picture or story can make others feel. I have seen firsthand how the pressures of parenthood can affect your mental health. Those pressures haven’t come from nowhere, we created them. We create arguments and debates, judgements and feelings of doubt in one another. But for some this is harder than others.

I felt the pressure of breastfeeding, the stab of the sayings; “breast milk is liquid gold”. I’ve seen the hard work of handling two children close together. I’ve felt the judgement of having a dummy. Heard the comments of “well you need to be able to manage on your own”. When we say these things, post them, write them, whatever (I say we because I know I have been guilty of it too) I think we just stop for a second and think about how other people might take it.

Think about the parent who has been up all night because they can’t sleep with their baby in their room. Think about the Mum whose despite everything her milk just cannot keep up with her babe. Think about the parent who stays at home and feels guilty for missing work. Think about the parents who look and feel like zombies after another sleepless night. What you say could mean more to them than others. It might have a lasting effect. It might hit them hard.

I still remember many of the things that have been said to me since becoming a mother that have stayed with me but not in a good way. Other people’s opinions or views, stories and beliefs, ones that may be different than mine. Different is not wrong. Different is different. I hope one day we can go about our ways without feeling that judgement, without accidentally putting it across, without doubts. I hope one day we just parent our own way, parent the way that works for us and own it and boss it.

Stay tuned peeps.

Love, Kate x

, P.S Thank you to family, friends, peppa pig, teddies, dummies, playpens, and wipes (apparently a pack of wipes are just so fun) for saving our bums with a moany baby many a times. We parenting the way it works for us!

So what is my PND?

So here I am. I’m not an expert on PND, I don’t pretend to be. I can only talk about my personal experience. I’m not a professional, I don’t have any knowledge. I just have my own journey.

I always find it hard because I feel like you say PND and people automatically assume; you don’t enjoy motherhood, you haven’t bonded with your baby, you don’t feel connected or feel love, it’s not what you thought it would be. Is this the case for everyone? No. That did not happen to me. I never looked at Arthur with anything but love from the second he was here. That’s why when I started to have these thoughts about harming him, my heart broke.

These thoughts would pop into my head when I was feeling anxious, or scared. But I hated them, I hated myself. I never doubted for a second how much I loved my son. I was breaking that this was happening and despite loving him so much I felt like I didn’t want to live. I felt like he would be better off without me. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be alive and be in his life.

PND does not necessarily mean you don’t know what to with your baby. It doesn’t always mean you struggle to care for them. Caring for Arthur, it felt natural straight away, not easy but I just sort of took to it. I was terrified but he arrived and I didn’t know all the details but I knew it was my job to love, protect and care for him. My anxiety would plague doubts in my mind and I often needed and wanted reassurance. I felt like I was winging it but I sort of already knew my son a little bit. I did grow him for 9 months after all.

We have to remember there is no black and white when it comes to PND. My experience is not the same as others. Do not assume you know what someone has gone through because they tell you they have had PND. Mental health isn’t easy and simple, you can’t just fix everybody in the same way because we all go through the same thing.

They are so many different illnesses and they are so many different stories. They are many reasons why somebody may develop PND. They are different levels of severity of the illness. Some can manage it at home, some may need to go to an acute ward, others like me, go to a mother and baby unit. We’re all different.

I met people who had already had one baby and thought because their first baby was very easy going their second would be the same. I met people who previously had mental health illness’s and then developed PND. Some struggled to cope with having two so close together. No two people are the same.

I’ve seen PND show itself in different ways. I have heard from people’s experiences that they became very angry at others. Some left the situation and couldn’t face parenthood, others struggled to bond with their babies which resulted in low mood. For me, I had instructive thoughts about myself and Arthur, I had intentions of taking my life. If you meet someone with PND, let them tell their story, if they want too, don’t think you know just by hearing “PND”.

It’s hard because everybody goes through something different, I think sometimes people don’t know what to say or do. What I found the most helpful is just people being there. I didn’t like being alone during recovery but it wasn’t because I couldn’t cope or didn’t like being alone with Arthur, it was because I wanted my loved ones with me at a really difficult time. Even if we didn’t talk, even we just sat down together, watched a movie, had something to eat, they were there.

If your reading this and you think somebody might be going through PND or you know they are, let them talk. Be there and listen.

Stay tuned for the next one peeps.

Love, Kate x

Image from Metro.co.uk

So sometimes you need people.

So there I was. I remember when I first became unwell I was scared to tell my friends, my family. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know how to say it. I asked Jord if he could call my sister, who could tell me Mum. I asked him to phone his Mum too, and to tell our friends over the phone. I couldn’t face saying the words. I couldn’t face them.

I’ll never forget being in A&E explaining how I felt to professionals and my loved ones crying. I felt devastated that they were going through this too. That they had to see this. It sounds strange but I don’t like to need people. I want to be able to do things myself, to be strong and to be independent. I love my family and friends and want to be around them but I want to be able to be alone too.

The thing is sometimes in life you need people around you to help you. Even if your stubborn as hell like me, you can always get through what life throws you on your own. When I was first admitted to Nottingham Mother and baby unit (MBU), I didn’t want to come out of my room. I was afraid. I didn’t know how to talk to people, I didn’t know what to say. Depression does that. It makes you feel like you need and want, to hide away. That’s what it did for me anyway.

But the thing is, despite being terrified, as soon as I started coming out of my room, talking to others, just sitting with other people, I felt a little bit better. I realised being on my own, with just my thoughts, it was lonely. Exhausting. I needed people around me to say “keep going, you’re doing great” I needed that reassurance. And sometimes you need to just walk away from a situation that is distressing you. But you can’t do that if you don’t have anyone around you to watch your baby for you, or to try feeding them or burping them.

Anxiety made me doubt myself and I asked a lot of questions when I first became a Mum. Google is great but there’s nothing like somebody standing beside you saying, “yeah, this what I did, have a go. You’re doing a wonderful job”. No man or woman is an island (About a boy reference there – great film!), we need people sometimes, and that’s okay. It was terrifying talking to my family, my friends but as soon as I did, I felt a little better.

Some people do still find it uncomfortable to talk about Mental Health. Some might talk a bit more quietly or they might avoid eye contact. But that doesn’t mean we should stop. We shouldn’t. If anything it means we should talk about it more. To get past that. To get to a place where it’s considered “normal”. To walk past someone and say – “oh I heard you’ve not been very well, how are you now?” As simple as that! It shouldn’t be something we are afraid of.

I remember my community nurse said something to me that has really stuck with me. She said about how you don’t have to tell people you were ever unwell. It’s true, if you’re ever unwell, you don’t have to tell everyone. It’s not something you need to talk about with everyone if you don’t want too. I chose to write about my experiences to help raise awareness and because it’s helped me so much. But you can still raise awareness and talk about these things without making it personal. Without sharing your own story. It’s a part of your life but it’s not a part of you. It’s not who you are. People can’t just tell by looking at you that you’ve had a very hard period in life and you don’t have to share it with those who you don’t want too.

The good thing is, I think we’re getting to the stage now where everything is easier to talk about. And know this – needing people, it doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t mean you are not brave. Mental illness is not about being brave, you cannot just wish yourself better. You can’t say to yourself – “right I’m going to stop feeling like this and start being brave”. I, personally do not think it works like that.

So there we are. Stay tuned for another one guys. Sorry it’s been a little while. There’s some more stuff coming soon.

Love, Kate. X