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. So let’s talk about money.

It’s something people can be uncomfortable with. It’s something that’s not really spoken about. I will tell you the truth. I think sometimes it’s harder than we think. They have been days when I think “do we have enough for food?” They have been days when I’ve cried because I’m scared about the future. They say money can’t buy happiness but the thing is, you do need it. We need it in life. It’s sad but we do.

I know we are incredibly lucky to have a roof over our heads, we are incredibly lucky to have food in our fridge. But we do struggle. Babies are expensive, life is expensive. Transport whether you have a car or you get the bus, train whatever, it’s expensive. Sometimes trying to save feels like we’re trying to run in sand. We’re saving and saving but we’re actually not, the money is going but there’s actually nothing to show for it.

I don’t think we talk about it enough. We don’t talk about food banks. Or soup kitchens enough. We don’t talk about affordable housing and loans enough. But it happens. And I don’t think we should be ashamed. We need to talk about how if you have twins you can only claim child tax credits for one of them. We need to talk about how expensive house deposits are. How expensive childcare is. We need to talk about flexible working. We need to talk about car sharing. All these things that need work, change, discussion. Otherwise we won’t ever see improvements.

There are a few people out there who are talking about the tricky subjects. But I still think we need to do more talking. There are times when I feel like I need to shy away from talking about tough stuff like money, I don’t want to speak about it. I don’t want to think about how I’m struggling. But we should. I don’t think you should feel shame in looking into getting help with money.

And with everything we went through I did worry about it. I still do. It was scary thinking about Jord travelling to see me in Nottingham, money goes quick. Hotels, food and petrol. It went. And it went quick. When you become unwell you have to focus on getting better but the world doesn’t stop. You still have to pay bills, buy food, you still have to live.

Worrying about money created stress for us both individually but it also puts a strain on relationships. It slows down healing and getting better. It makes everything harder. Even now it’s still hard. Times are tough. You know it’s really tough when you google; “can I sell a kidney?” Turns out no, FYI. It’s good to know these things though.

Children are expensive and money does have an impact on mental health. For those instagramers that do sponsored posts, I say good on them. They get a lot of stick but it’s a job. It’s a way of providing for themselves and their family. I would do it. I am not ashamed. I work and I love my job. I want to move further in my career in the future. For myself but for my family too. For self development but for the money too. I don’t think about spending money on material goods, I want money to buy our own home. I’d love to be able to help my Mum, to give back a little.

So here I am. I’m talking about money. I’m trying to work out how to buy our own home. I’m trying to move forward in my career. I would like to blog and one day I wouldn’t say no to doing sponsored posts on Instagram if it works for us. I would love it if my writing around mental health and motherhood got published, if it was really recognised. Money? We do need it. I know we are incredibly lucky. Sometimes I forget, but I know. But I’m still going to strive to do better, to develop.

Stay tuned for another one.

Love, Kate. X

So here we are.

So here we are. I don’t get many emails or messages about collaboration or promoting. But when I do I always want to try my best to support smaller brands and businesses.

So when an editor from the company Tenfold contacted me I was bit like erm…? Not really sure I’m the your gal but, then I looked into them and thought, you know what? I will post your article about social media. I am using social media. I use it for my little blog to get my voice out there. So I will support your business. So here’s an article about social media and using it effectively.

https://www.tenfold.com/social-selling/5-guidelines-for-using-social-media-effectively

I’ll always try my best to support these kind of people. For I am in the exact same boat…

Stay tuned for another one guys.

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 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