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

So, it’s okay to feel low.

So here I am. Feeling a bit low these last couple of days. Combination of things; teething baby, missing my family, feeling like I’m a bit alone. But I know it’s okay to have down days because life isn’t always sunshine and happy, happy. I don’t really trust those kind of people that smile at everything and always seem so happy all the time, it’s kind of a bit annoying right? (You know the kind of people I’m talking about!)

It’s not natural to be happy every single second of every day. I remember talking to my community psychiatric nurse (CPN) in the early days of recovery and explained sometimes I feel a little bit down and I remember her face and her saying “who doesn’t?!” Just like you expect some anxiety in life, you also expect to have days when you think – “wow, I’m really not feeling today”.

There is a big difference from feeling down and being depressed. They are a world away from each other. So I know I am happy. But you can still feel down every now and again even when your happy! That’s life. Just like you can still feel moments of happiness when you have depression. I remember clinging to those moments. Desperate to remember them in the darkest times, willing myself to feel more happiness than sadness. It feels like a very long time ago. That’s how I know I’ve come a long way.

Part of my recovery plan was creating a WRAP (Wellness recovery action plan). Of course this doesn’t work for everyone and I am not trying to be a mental health professional here and teach about this. But it really helps me, just like writing helps me. I sort of know it off by heart. It’s all about writing down a plan about your mental health recovery, how to notice when your feeling a bit unwell, things you can do to help yourself and where to go if you need help.

So today, I know I’m not feeling too great so, I’m probably going to call my family, eat some chocolate, maybe get a cheeky nap in and try and get outside. I’m learning that it’s okay to spend a little bit of time away from Arthur, I still feel guilty, I think I always will. But sometimes I think – “I really don’t know what you need?!” But then somebody else takes him and they sing a different song or they hold him a different way and suddenly all is okay again.

I think sometimes he gets a bit bored of me, entertaining babies is hard! Arthur is a tough crowd! Some days he’s laughing, cuddling, always smiling, self soothing little human. Other days he’s way too cool for cuddling, fed up of my singing and doesn’t like any of my funny faces. He has down days too. But we take the good with the bad.

All the highs and all the lows. 😉

I also remember my CPN saying to me that I might feel a little bit low again after moving to Bristol and being a new place. I didn’t think I would but at the same time, I was kind of prepared for it. So now, I know what to do. I hope if your reading this and your having a bad day too you know your not alone.

You don’t have to have a plan, you could have a person or a place. Somebody or something that reminds you a bad day doesn’t last, a bad day doesn’t mean your going to feel low forever, a bad doesn’t mean your losing your happiness. That’s what I tell myself anyway.

Stay tuned for the next one guys.

Love, Kate. X

So I made a tshirt!

So here we are. I saw somebody had created their own tshirt raising awareness of mental health and I decided I would like to join in. I personally have suffered with post-natal depression and anxiety and come through the other side. I still felt moments of happiness but it always felt tainted, like I had a black cloud always hanging over me.

I created a range of sayings/slogans that I felt best described what you can go through during a mental health illness. I decided on All the highs and all the lows. We some help from my friends and family.

I then set to work, drawing, creating, but I am not an artist. I tried my best to draw my own design but it never came out how I imagined it.

Anyway I decided on a very simple design and thought I would go from there.

I don’t know if anyone will purchase the tshirts but if they do I would love to give back to some mental health charities.

You never know if you might develop a mental health illness in your life, but if you do, you are never alone.

Love, Kate. x

There’s lots of different styles so take a look! 🙂

https://www.mercht.com/c/outoftheshowersandintothesunshine

So, soon I’ll be back on my own.

So here we are. It’s been the three of us for about three weeks now because Jord had some time off before his new job starts on Tuesday. Which of course means it’s going to be just me and Arth again. I’m feeling all the emotions.

I’ve not been on my own for a full day whilst in Bristol yet. I still haven’t passed my driving test and we kinda live out in the sticks. So I’m sort of a bit stuck. There’s beautiful countryside and lots of places to walk but you can’t really get very far without a car.

My biggest fear is feeling isolated, feeling like I’m on my own without being able to go anywhere. Part of my recovery plan is getting outside. Seeing people, doing things, exercising, fresh air. Home is lovely but I think I’m someone who can get too comfortable. I sort of forget how much I love being outside.

But I’m also kind of excited. Arthur is developing such a little personality now, he’s interacting more and more. When Jord was at work before I really enjoyed (most of the time) being with Arthur on my own. It might sound a bit childish but I love it being me and him. He’s my partner in crime.

Of course, I love being with family, friends and of course I love it when Jord is around. But I just mean, I feel like me and Arthur have a wonderful bond and I think it’s because we spend so much time together. I never want to lose that. I’m scared if we don’t spend so much time together, we might.

It is hard work and some days I found myself not being able to put down a very clingy baby. But Arthur is definitely (touch wood) better at sleeping now in the day, most of the time, he self soothes. I will put him down for a nap when I can see he’s tired and he will fall asleep himself. It took us a long time to get there but we did. It’s so I can grab an hour to eat or have a quick shower.

Things like having a shower, having something to eat, at one point I could really achieve that on my own with Arthur. And it did affect my wellbeing. It sounds like something very small but when your tired and you haven’t managed to eat anything, and you still smell like you did last night, it kind of gets you down.

We have moved forward a lot. Now, I have energy because I can usually get a cheeky nap in when Arthur is napping. I get chance to make myself something to eat and I can make myself drinks throughout the day because Arthur will play on his playmate for a little while, he’ll sit in his chair whilst I eat. It makes all the difference.

Being able to not feel too tired is wonderful. To drink and eat and enjoy food, not try and wolf it down as quickly as possible. That means I have the energy to play, to sing and dance with Arthur. To make up stories and songs. To take a walk or even two.

We still have days when I’m unbelievably tired and Arthur seems to have woken up on the wrong side of the bed but, they are few and far between. Even though our little dude is teething, he’s still pretty happy, smiley, playful, he’s still awesome. And I can manage the bad days so much better now. It used to make me so anxious when Arthur would cry. Babies cry. It’s their way of communicating. But for me when Arthur would cry I used to thing there was something really wrong. It upset me, really got to me because I felt like we weren’t doing enough, we weren’t doing the right things.

I remember when Arthur was around 3 weeks old someone said to me; “don’t worry, you’ll get to know all his different cries”. I remember looking at her and nodding and smiling but thinking in my head; “what the heck, all the crying sounds the same?! How will I ever know???” But now I do. It took a while but I do know his different cries now. It makes life a lot easier.

So soon it will be back to just me and Arth in the daytime for most days. But I think we got this Arth. Plus there’s always chocolate to help me get through the tougher days haha.

Stay tuned for another one peeps.

Love, Kate. X

So what helps?

So here we are. I though I’d make a list about some positive things in my life that really helped me through my PND and anxiety.

I don’t think the same things always work for the same people but if I can help anyone or just give somebody something to think about, I think that is positive.

1. Eat and drink well. – so I know how easy it is when your down to not eat, to eat badly or to binge. Trust me I’ve done all three. When I was very unwell I did not want to eat or drink anything. I couldn’t face it. I had no desire to eat, no feelings of hunger. But as I started to get better I did eat. I noticed that it helped. It gave me a little bit of energy. I started to enjoy food again. I started to drink more water. I only drink one or max, two cups of tea a day. I don’t drink alcohol. This isn’t for everyone. I’ve just found when I do eat and drink well I feel better in myself. It helps my body and my mind. But believe me when I say this; I totally believe in treating yourself too! Chocolate comes from a plant so…it’s basically like eating your greens.

2. Go outside. – I didn’t want to go outside when I was very ill but every time I did I would feel better. The fresh air. The bright sky. It helps. It’s refreshing. Even if you just go to the shops for 10 minutes.

3. Exercise. – Go for a walk. Go swimming. Go dancing! Have fun. Exercise realises endorphins and helps lift your mood. Find something you like. That sport you did as a kid? Get back into it! I’m going to start dancing again, I used to when I was younger and just the thought of this gets me excited. I can’t wait.

5. Spend time with your loved ones. – If you can’t face going out to them or even them coming to you then just call them. Or text. Send pictures. Anything. Communicate. I didn’t want to speak to any of my friends or most of my family when I first became unwell. But as soon as I did I would feel a bit better. Even if it was just for a short while. Your loved ones will still make you laugh and think about every day things. They’ll take your mind off those dark thoughts and feelings of hopelessness. But they will also be there if you want to talk, if you want share how your feeling. That’s why they are amazing. That’s why you shouldn’t shut yourself off from them.

6. Go to Mother and baby groups. – (if your a new Mum) – It’s great way to get outside. To watch your little one play and interact with others. You will feel so much pride. I was terrified of this but now I really enjoy it.

7. Do something for you. – Even if it’s just watching your favourite film. Making yourself a hot chocolate with all the trimmings. Buying yourself something. Having a hot bath. Anything. Just do something for yourself. You need to take care of yourself.

8. Go to your favourite place. – Whether it’s the beach, the countryside, surrounded by animals, the city at night, your childhood home, wherever. Go there and stop and just take it in. Whenever I go to the beach I feel so calm. So peaceful. It helps everything else go away.

9. Mindfulness. – Take a little bit of time to stop and think. Bring yourself back to the moment. Try not to worry about the future. Be in the now. Take things slow and one step at a time.

10. And finally something so simple it’s silly, but it’s helped me so much; taking a deep breath. – Stopping, maybe stepping away from a difficult thought or situation and just focus on your breathing. Take deep breaths. Just breathe. I can’t tell you how many times this has helped me.

I could probably go on forever. Some more that I won’t go into too much;

Walking away

Distracting yourself

Resting

Doing what scares you

Different breathing techniques

Relaxation

Art

Listening to music

So much more! There is so much you can do for yourself. Try something, try anything. Talk to someone.

I hope this helps even if it’s just one person in the world.

Look after yourself, stay tuned peeps.

Love, Kate x

EDIT- I totally forgot something that is very important to me at the moment…

Medication. – I am currently on antidepressants and I am not ashamed to admit this. If you need medication to help you get through a tough time in your life that is okay. It doesn’t have to be forever.

So here he is.

So there we were. What I went through was hard for my partner Jordan too. It really tested our relationship. Becoming parents for the first time is hard enough, going through a mental health illness at the same time, everything becomes even harder.

Jord explained how he felt sad to see me go through PND. But mainly he was angry. He was angry because he didn’t get to have the same experience that most first time Dads do. He had to visit me and Arthur, he spent a lot of time and money on travelling to see us when we should of been at home with him. We should of been doing all the firsts together. Seeing all of the firsts together. Instead he was going home alone every night.

I knew he was angry and part of me wanted him to scream and shout at me (he never did). I guess I wanted him to get it out, to let go of the anger. But looking back I don’t think it would of done us much good. Jord never fully understood but he was always there. He tried to understand but I don’t think anyone ever really can unless they’ve been through it themselves. We cried together, we laughed and had genuine happy moments. We also had moments that will always be in my mind, so sad and final, me talking about not wanting to live and almost saying goodbye. But Jord always fought for me. He would tell me he wasn’t going to let me go, and he never did.

Despite being angry, hurt and sad because the situation he knew it wasn’t my fault. He said he never felt completely comfortable coming to see us. He wanted us at home so we could feel at home, so we could be together. I will always feel guilty for putting Jord through PND, for taking Arthur away from him. Although I know it wasn’t my fault too, the guilt is always there. I don’t think it will ever go away. Neither will the terrified feeling that this may happen to me again when we have another child. But I’ve learnt to take each day as it comes. I’m trying not to look back, not to look much ahead but to just be where I am right now.

Jord has explained to me it was really hard for him but deep down he knew I was in the right place. He knew I had to be there, he knew I needed help. Through it all, we made it. I believe it as made us stronger than ever. Despite that I still wish every single day I never went through what I did, and I never put my family, Jord and my friends through what I did. But it happened. We can’t change the past. Now we’re a happy family of three, our biggest battle is who’s going to change the explosive nappy. Most of the time anyway. If your going through something remember, it’s not your fault. Those who love you, partners, friends and family, there will be there for you.

Stay tuned peeps.

Love, Kate x