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

So here we are.

So my cousin asked me to have a look into trans mental health. This is something I’ve really struggled with. Because I’ve been trying to find out stuff and find the right words but to be honest there really isn’t much out there.

Mind are brilliant and they have a whole section on LGBT mental health. They have information on support, personal stories and what to do if you need help. There is also specific LGBT 🏳️‍🌈 organisations and charities. But I couldn’t find much positive news/ things we are doing for specifically trans mental health.

One thing I did find that the World Health organisation up until recently classed transgenderism as a mental illness/mental “disorder”. They have now changed this (hallelujah)! For one I think it’s scary to think we still use the words “mental disorder”. I think it has such a bad feel to it, it sounds so negative. We have even started to move away from using “disorder” in the physical medical world, as a nurse I really don’t hear it very often anymore.

It’s outfashioned and outdated in my opinion. But secondly and my most important point; being transgender is NOT an illness. It is not a mental health illness. Those who are transgender are unfortunately more likely to suffer with mental health illnesses but it is not one in itself. I think to suggest it is, is wrong. It’s scary to think that one of our biggest health organisations described it as this.

So what did I discover on my quest to find out about trans mental health? Well, we have a lot of work to do. I found out that those who are LGBT are at higher risk of developing a mental health illness due to bullying, lack of acceptance and discrimination. This is so sad and just shows we need to change.

But yesterday I watched Bristol pride and felt so much love. It was wonderful to see so much support just for people being themselves. I saw so many organisations coming out and supporting pride; football clubs, health services, shops, political parties, it was wonderful.

However I hope one day the feel of protest is not a part of pride. I hope in the future it is not something we need to protest about. That one day it is accepted and there is no negativity, just love, just celebration.

So here’s to a future of improving mental health services for everyone. To recognising those who are at more risk and improving the support that is out there.

Love, Kate. X

So we’re moving forward…

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

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

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

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

Love, Kate. X

So don’t be afraid of needing medication.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Kate. X

So those thoughts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned. Until next time guys.

Love, Kate. X

So remember the power of your words.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned for another one guys.

Love, Kate x