So here we are looking back.

So here we are, reflecting on everything that happened, is it strange to say I had some good times on two mother and baby units? With my family and with my friends. And with the other families, as we all went through similar experiences. Of course, I sadly remember the darkest times like nightmares, their embedded in my brain. But there were good times too, there were positives.

Times when I could laugh and smile, I could almost forget for a moment what was happening and where I was. We all got takeaway one night, we sat round the table and laughed and joked. For an outside looking in, we could have been a group of friends having dinner together at someone’s house.

When one of us was particularly unwell we were there for each other, we left each other notes outside doors, cards and chocolate. Little things, but they make a big impact. We could all understand, to an extent, how a bad day could feel like you’d been hit by a bus. We supported each other, we were there for each other.

My family came to see me, they too were always there. We went for walks and laughed and talked. It felt strange because I never wanted them to feel down, I never wanted them to feel sad. With every day and every goodbye, I always felt guilty. It was a feeling that was always there. They were going through it just like I was and I felt like it was all my fault. Of course, now I know it wasn’t my fault. But I will always feel sad about what I put them through.

But we would talk about how I was feeling, how things were going. They were always at the end of the phone and there was always moments of happiness. My friends too came to see me and I realised how truly wonderful they really are. How they accepted me and what I was going through.

I was terrified they would see me differently, terrified they would think bad of me. Of course they didn’t. It felt like everything was the same. We laughed and we took pictures. We smiled and they made me feel like me again. And all these moments were there. Lots of moments and memories I look back and smile, they were on those Mother and Baby units.

We moan about the NHS and shout about the lack of mental health services. How cuts are being made left right and centre. But don’t forget to shout about the good too. Because they will have to listen. Right to your MP, your local hospital, your local newspaper. If you have had a good experience celebrate it.

I know mental health services are struggling right now. I know I may not be here right now if I didn’t have the help from two mother and baby units. Which is why we need to talk about how they incredible they are. There needs to be more available. The NHS is wonderful, but of course it’s not perfect (nothing ever is). But I always remember the good, I will always share it, I always talk about how I think we can improve.

The staff on both Mother and Baby units were second to none. They held my hand, (literally and metaphorically) their words still echo in my brain when I’m having a bad day. Their teaching and techniques are what got me through and are still getting me through.

Stay tuned for another one. Sorry they are few and far between, life with an almost 2 year old is pretty busy.

Love, Kate. X

So here we are.

So here we are. I read something the other day that spoke about how having a mental health illness had become the “in thing”. How it had become fashionable to be mentally unwell and talk about “making it through the battle”. Actually I really couldn’t disagree more. I think it is that now people actually talk about being mentally unwell more. We actually don’t talk about it in hushed tones so much. We don’t say “they were a bit depressed you know”, whilst looking around to see who might of heard. We say “they have depression”.

We know more now about the many mental health illnesses that are out there. To talk about people actually having a negative impact for speaking about their mental health experiences just seems barbaric to me. Yes, feeling down is not the same as being depressed. Being a worrier is not the same as having anxiety. Having mood swings doesn’t mean your bipolar. But as someone who has postnatal depression and anxiety, I cannot even begin to imagine why someone would suggest that people want to have a mental health illness. Why someone would feel people find it cool and trendy? And how anything negative can come from people sharing their stories.

I still have intrusive thoughts sometimes. 18 months on. Can you imagine having thoughts of harming your own child? Your child who you loved more than anything. Your child that you would do anything to protect. Can you imagine having images of them being hurt just pop into your head? Can you imagine making a cup of tea and being terrified they would get burnt, even when they were in the next room? Intrusive thoughts are normal for parents. They are normal for everyone. But what’s not “normal” is having them in your head every single day, all day. You’re not ok if you plan how to kill yourself on a daily basis. You’re not ok if you refuse to put your child down, forever, because you think if you do they will die. I would not wish a mental health illness on anyone.

People talk about it being a journey because it is. Least for me it is. Setbacks and good and bad days. Triggers and overwhelming moments, when you think; “can I really do this?” To be in a constant battle (yes I said battle too) with yourself, with your mind and how your feeling is exhausting in every way. When you find some positive, when you feel just that little bit better, when you find yourself in recovery, why not share your story? Shout it from the bloody rooftops. After I shared my story for the first time on social media, so many people messaged me. People I’d never met, old friends, school friends from years ago. They spoke to me about their experiences and suddenly that very lonely, isolating time becomes just that little bit less lonely. That little bit less frightening.

How can that not be good? How can talking about what we are or have been through not be good?

Yes I know, talking about something isn’t going to change everything. We still do not have enough inpatient beds. Mental health nurses are overworked, understaffed and at times unappreciated. Sometimes you might be on a waiting list for 2 years to get help. GPs still don’t know what to do sometimes when you go to them for help. I know this. I am not completely naive. All this, yeah, it’s crap. But that doesn’t mean we shut up about mental health. It doesn’t mean that talking isn’t beneficial. It doesn’t mean posting a cheesy “uplifting” quote on instagram is stupid. Because actually I believe talking about is helping the change. Because more people are signing up to donate to organisations like Mind and Rethink. More people are becoming volunteers in hospitals. The government are starting to take notice. Because we’re loud. We’re talking. We’re making noise and we’re making a fuss. The NHS needs more money to create more beds. More mother and baby units. To employ more mental health specialists. To allow more employers and employees to go on courses regarding mental health. We need it for more nurses. We need it for more facilities in rural areas. We need it for transport for those who can’t get places. We need more housing, because 75% of those who are homeless will suffer with an mental health illness at some point. In fact, 1 in 4 of us will have a mental health illness at some point in our lives. We have so much more to do, so many ways we need to improve.

So write to your local MP. Donate to organisations when you can. Volunteer in your spare time. But don’t stop talking. Don’t stop sharing your experiences. I won’t. And I don’t think anyone else should either.

Stay tuned for another one.

Love, Kate. X

So can we do better?

So when I tell people what I do, I feel so proud, I smile and feel like the NHS is my baby that has just said their first word (weird analogy but you get the gist). That doesn’t mean I think the NHS always gets it right, because I don’t think they do. After all, no one or nothing is perfect, it’s impossible. But I do think the NHS is a wonderful organisation. It’s stretched, we who work for it are often stressed and personally, being a nurse is hard work physically and mentally.

But looking back on my own patient experience. I received incredible care. That’s not to boast, that’s to hope one day everyone will. It’s to talk about the good and celebrate it but more importantly learn from it. I went into A&E at around 8pm on Sunday evening. I had a midwife appointment on the Monday where me and Jordan had agreed I needed to tell her how I was feeling. But by Sunday evening I had decided I couldn’t manage any longer and if I didn’t receive help I was going to kill myself. I stayed in A&E till Wednesday evening. Usually you stay in A&E for a max of 4 hours until you are either sent home or sent to another department or ward of the hospital or another organisation. Within those 4 hours treatment needs to be decided.

Within 4 hours treatment was decided for me, but there were no beds available in the country on a mother and baby unit. Winchester had some but they had a policy that babies had to be over a month old and Arth was around 3 weeks. I stayed in a room for those 3 days with Jord, Arthur and my sisters came in and out too. We all cried, a lot. I slept a little bit on a mattress on the floor. We even smiled a little bit. We talked and cried some more. I begged those who looked after me to help me, I begged them not to give up trying to find me somewhere, and they didn’t.

I didn’t go onto the follow on ward from A&E because I worked there. Just two months before, I had been there working, heavily pregnant excited for my new adventure. Fast forward two months and I was a shell of who I was once. The thought of my colleagues seeing me like this mortified me. I wasn’t ashamed of the situation but I didn’t want to be unprofessional, I didn’t want them to see me any differently. I didn’t want to lose my “credibility” as a nurse. It wasn’t about having a mental illness, it was just about having an illness. So they let me stay in that room for 3 days. I went to the matron who I had worked with before, I broke down and sobbed as I asked her to help. My manager of my ward came in and told me she wouldn’t let me go home, she promised me she would make sure they find me a bed somewhere.

When I look back at that incredibly difficult time, I will never forget those who worked tirelessly to help me. But I know this is not always the case. I have had people message me saying they’ve been to their GP and they’ve sent them home saying “there’s not much they can do, see how you feel in a few weeks”. I’ve seen people bounce in and out of hospital overdosing again and again. I know young people who were put on waiting lists even thought they harm themselves every day. We say depression and people roll their eyes. They say “oh she just gets a bit anxious”, like it’s nothing.

But it’s not. There isn’t enough mother and baby units in the country. Some people don’t have one anywhere near where they live. There isn’t enough inpatient beds. There isn’t enough permanent staff because nurses are too stretched. We have waiting lists even though some people don’t have time. We have people who work in healthcare who disapprove of mental illnesses. But we can do better. And from a few years ago I think we already are.

Finally it is becoming more recognised that men suffer depression too. Addiction is treated as a mental illness. There are more volunteers on the streets because 80% of those who are homeless in the UK report their mental health suffers. Charities like Samaritans have call lines open 24/7. We have World mental health day, International day of happiness. Of course there is still a long way to go. More money is needed. More education in schools, healthcare and workplaces. More staff and more organisations to make more beds. But, like I said before, nothing is perfect. But, to me the NHS gets it right a lot more than they get it wrong.

Stay tuned guys. Sorry it’s been a bit quiet here.

Love, Kate. X

So parenthood can be very lonely.

So here we are. It can be hard to be a parent and at times I’ve found myself feeling very alone. I think it’s for a few reasons. Every baby/ child is different and at times I’ve found myself feeling like nobody is feeling the same way I do. Or sometimes you feel like everybody else has it together. Like you see pictures of children eating amazing meals, home cooked, 3 meals a day with snacks in between. Sometimes I can’t even get Arth to sniff food, i mean a sniff wouldn’t really be much use but you see what I mean. You think, what are they doing differently?! Then you get mountains of different of advice and feel more lost than ever.

Sometimes at 3am in the morning when your bouncing up and down with your one year old and then the next day you have someone say to you; “oh my baby is only 10 weeks and she sleeps through every night”… Suddenly you feel like you will never have a full nights sleep again (you will) and your the only one in the world. Sleep is a big one because at 3am in the morning it can feel like the world is dark and your the only one awake.

I think we compare ourselves against each other and if we cant “keep up” with others or if something is different for us we feel very lonely. We can feel like we’re doing something wrong. But just because we do something different to others doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

It can make you feel like your alone, that you can’t talk to anyone about it for fear of being judged.

There’s also the loneliness that as amazing as our children are, their not the most amazing conversationalists. In my experience anyway. Sure as they get older I feel like this feeling gets a little bit easier. In the early days when your talking to your baby and their just looking at you blankly like “can you just feed me and shut up please? Oh,and I just did a big one in my pants.” And that’s about all you get. That for me, felt very lonely. It’s hard because you want to feel like your doing it right, you’d like some reassurance. Maybe they could fill in a questionnaire, maybe rate you out of 10, anything would be good.

The point is, it is lonely. I don’t think this is just a “I’ve had PND and been lonely” kind of thing. It feels like everybody feels this way sometimes. From what I gather. It is hard and it does still feel lonely sometimes for me. The first of my childhood friends to have a baby, sometimes I feel alone just because I don’t feel like they want to talk about big poops, teeth and weaning. Their life has taken a different direction to mine at the moment so sometimes you feel like your on your own.

But I know I’m not. It is lonely sometimes. And it’s ok to admit. I think it’s to admit even if you have family and friends all around you. Even if you’ve been trying for your baby for years and years. Even if you’ve lost a child. It’s still ok to admit you struggle with feeling alone sometimes even when you have your baby there, even when your surrounded by your children. Sometimes I think we all need adult interaction. We need to talk about something other than our babies, something other than what we do and what they do, we need to stop comparing. You need to take a breather.

I think we need to say to each other “I feel the same” and “you do what works for you”, “mine still don’t sleep”, and “go out and do something for you”. Having a baby made me feel like I wanted my Mum around me more. My family. It made me feel like a child myself again a little bit. I wanted to have those I loved around me just to give me a nod when I would say something like “but that amount of poo is ok right? Should it be that colour?”. I still call my mum when I have a moment of parent terror, like when Arth feel into a big muddy puddle of horse poo…face first, mouth open…yep that happened. Que call to my Mum; “is he going to be ok? Should I call the doctor?!” He was fine and laughed and felt quite happy about the situation actually.

My point is, feeling alone sucks. But we are never truly alone. There is always someone who knows the exact right thing to say. There is always someone who will just nod and hug you. There is always someone who helps that loneliness. And I totally believe it’s ok to admit.

Thanks for sticking with my very infrequent posts peeps. Stay tuned for the next one, I’ll try not to leave it so long.

Love, Kate. X

So here we are, sleep, it is important.

So here we are. Sleep and mental health. – Man it is important. 9 months in and I’m still napping when I need to. Most of the time (fingers crossed it stays like this) Arthur sleeps pretty well, naps and at night. But not all the time. And I’m prepared for when and if it all goes tits up. Sleep is so important to me, for my mental well being. To feel ok, emotionally, physically.

We do obsess over it as parents but for some it means more to others. For me, it really impacted my mental health. It made everything so much harder. Being alone in the middle of the night with just my thoughts, whilst feeding, it was hard. Not being able to pass Arth over and say; “can you feed him?” Nope, he needed me because Jord doesn’t have the right nipples (men eh?).

I remember a professional saying to me about how it was ok if you didn’t sleep, you just had to get used to it. But what if you can’t? What if you simply can’t manage it? That’s ok. Arthur would feed sometimes for an hour or more at a time. He usually when for around 2 hours between feeds, I was lucky if he went near 3 hours. Some babies sleep for 4 hours between feeds straight away. Some wake up every hour, even at night. If your struggling it is ok to say, I need help.

I know it is national breastfeeding week and please know I am not trying to deter people from breastfeeding. It is wonderful. But remaining well is important, for you and your babe. If sleep does mean a lot to you, if you really struggle without it, ask for help. Suggest one expressed feed at night for you partner to do so you can sleep. Spend some time at your sisters, your Mums, your parents in laws. Ask them if they can help out a little, if they can have the babe whilst you go for nap.

Obsessing over sleep, when you get it, when your babe is going to sleep through the night, it’s not healthy. But it’s ok to admit you need it. It’s ok to admit you miss it. It’s ok to ask for help. We don’t just need to accept it and put up with it, they are things you can do to help. But, I also remember a professional saying to me; “even when your tired if you can’t sleep but you desperately want to, don’t just lay there obsessing about it. Don’t just lay there wishing you were asleep.” They told me, listen to some calming music, read you favourite book, have a relaxing bath. Wishing yourself to sleep will not help. If your content lying down, then do it, relax. But I think if your lying down just wishing you could sleep but can’t, it doesn’t help. It just makes things worse.

Some people drink caffeine by the gallon, some people just magically survive on minimal sleep and still seem to boss life. Me, not so much. I didn’t do much expect feed Arth, eat and sleep for those first couple of weeks. The washing came second, washing up cane second, takeaways, ready meals, batch cooking, became our best friend. Make up? Pffft! The world was lucky if I managed a shower lasting more than 30 seconds. When I become unwell, it was so hard to not have Arthur with me at night. I couldn’t sleep with him there, I couldn’t sleep without him. The anxiety was too much either way. I began to learn how to function with very minimal sleep.

Medication helped. Eventually sleep came back to me. I am not ashamed of needing it to help me sleep. I am not ashamed my boy had to have expressed milk and formula overnight when things got real tough. I needed help. I couldn’t do it on my own. I totally believe it is ok to admit you need sleep. But just try and remember, it does get a bit easier. Don’t let routine, bedtimes, napping, rule your life. That’s my advice anyway, I hope it helps, even if it’s just one person, if it’s just a little bit.

Stay tuned 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 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