Ok. Truth time. I’ve been struggling a bit lately. The year got off to a pretty positive new start with keeping the house clean and tidy, being fitter and eating healthier, and reducing my antidepressants. When I announced this, my friend Sam from andthenthefunbegan expressed a concern that this was all a bit much. Oh you wise woman you, you may have been right.
In my defense the house cleanliness and fitness objectives were designed to help my mental state. And they have. Having the house clean and tidy definitely makes me feel calmer. The exercise makes me feel great and I am fitter. The diet hasn’t been going quite so well though and I have succumbed to eating comfort food a fair amount because I have been feeling really low lately.
The reduction of the dose of my antidepressants started off pretty well and I thought maybe I was ready. Maybe I don’t have Postnatal Depression anymore. Then slowly… But oh so surely, the negativity, stress and anxiety came creeping back.
The ball of stress in the middle of my chest has returned and I feel like I could cry. I wake up unhappy and I get so irrational and angry. Angry with my husband, angry with my children, angry with inanimate objects. I know this feeling and I don’t like what it means. I do still have PnD and I need to go back to the full dose of my antidepressants.
Much as I don’t like it, there is a feeling of failure associated with this. Now, rationally, I know I haven’t failed. Depression is an illness and I am not better yet. I tried to reduce the medication on the advice of my doctor but this clearly isn’t the right time for me yet. That doesn’t mean I have failed. But I can’t help but feel like I have.
The stigma associated with depression is a difficult one to break. I have always tried to be understanding of anyone with depression but I do think it is difficult to fully understand until you have it… And even then it’s tough! Surely I should be able to snap myself out of this? Come on think positive, stop wallowing! But I know now it isn’t that simple.
Recognising that I need to go back to the full dose of my antidepressants isn’t failing. Failing would be not recognising what I am feeling. Failing would be not accepting the help that is available to me. Failing would be letting the Postnatal Depression take hold again. To give in to the anger and tears and stress that prevents me from being the mum and wife that I want to be and that I know I can be… With a little help.
So I am not failing myself or my family. I am back on the tablets for a bit longer. I will try and reduce then again at some point and will see how it goes as you don’t know if you don’t try. But now isn’t the right time. These years at home with my kiddies are fleeting and I don’t want to waste them feeling stressed and unhappy and blaming them for the way I am feeling. It’s not them it’s PnD.
And you know what? I hate depression. Depression sucks. I hate the way it makes me feel. The way it makes me want to curl up and stay silent. The way it stops me enjoying my family as much. Maybe this is uncomfortable reading and maybe I am over sharing and I apologise if you feel that way. But maybe you feel the way I do and it helps to know you are not alone. Someone recently told me that by sharing my Pnd I had encouraged them to seek help too. That makes me so proud and grateful and if this having this stupid depression and talking about it helps someone else… Then I won’t say it is worth it as I wish I didn’t have it….but it helps so I will keep on sharing.
Most of my posts on here are about our family life and the kiddies especially. Inevitable really as they are the most important things in my life but for now I thought I would write a little post about me. I’m not particularly setting new years resolutions as I don’t think you have to start something new just because it is the new year. The being said there are changes that need to be made and things about me that I want to focus on and now is as good a time as any to start.
Diet and exercise
Yep, starting with the obvious one. I have been eating way too much for quite a while, even before Christmas and have definitely not worried about indulging over the Christmas period. I am not beating myself up over this, life is too short and I have enjoyed myself. But, and there is a but, I am not happy with the added weight I am carrying at the moment.
Our scales broke a while ago and we haven’t replaced them so I don’t know how much I actually weigh (I find it better to judge based on how my clothes fit anyway) but I am carrying it a bit differently at the moment. I’m pear shaped and have always carried extra weight around my hips and bottom. Now though, I guess as a result of being stretched from having 2 children I am very much expanding around my middle and ooh do I hate it! I have been wearing legs and tunics and dresses loads as it is more comfy than squeezing into jeans and it is time to tackle it. I’m a big believer that if you are unhappy about something then you are the one who needs to change it. So that is what I am going to do. No matter how much I enjoy eating, I don’t enjoy carrying around the extra weight so need to change.
Of course the main thing is going to be watching what I eat again. I have done weight watchers before and find the points really help me be aware of how much I am eating etc. so I will be doing that again. No fad diets here, just sensibe eating. Exercise is going to play a big part too though. My friends and I have been swimming once or twice a week for a while (thank goodness or I don’t know how huge I would be) so that will continue and I want to make it a definite twice a week thing. I also want to do more yoga or pilates as I really need to strengthen my back.
I’ve always had a few problems with my back, especially my lower back but since having kids my upper back can get terrible too. (All the carrying and stooping over etc.) It gives me horrific headaches from the referred pain and I know I need to work on strengthening my core and my whole body. There is a great pilates class nearby I was supposed to start a couple of months ago but, well, it hasn’t happened. The first week I didn’t go as LM had croup, the next week hubs Grandpa died that day, then I was ill, then I was preparing to host hub’s grandpa’s wake, then Monkey had croup, then I did actually go but the woman running it had the flu and cancelled the class! Then I was out for a meal and then it was Xmas week and they closed. So it has been a catalogue of disasters but I really want to try and go in January.
I’ve also been wondering how I can squeeze some yoga in to my day as I have a couple of good dvds and even 10 mins of good stretching here and there would be better than nothing. Every evening at the mo hubs does bath time with the kids and because I am shattered, unless I am sorting laundry I am generally lying on my bed playing candy crush until LM gets annoyed and I play with her while hubs carries on bathing Monkey. I am trying to make this a bit of yoga time instead and I have managed 2 days so far! Hopefully I can improve on that and hopefully it will contribute to me feeling better, fitter and stronger.
I haven’t talked about it much for a while because I have being doing so much better on antidepressants but the time has come where my doctor has suggested trying to see how I feel about coming off them. There’s no rush obviously but it has been over 6 mths and I guess you don’t know if you don’t try, right? So she has suggested taking them on alternate days to see how I feel. I started this right before Christmas and sadly it didn’t go well. I would skip a tablet and feel fine all that day, but the following morning I was feeling very stressed again. I wondered if it was psychosomatic but I would have thought that if that was the case then I would have felt anxious on the day I skipped a tablet, rather than 24hrs later?
Anyway I got quite anxious and stressed and after a chat with my husband, who was concerned about the way I was reacting to things, we decided I wouldn’t try this until after Christmas. Christmas can be stressful enough as it is and he didn’t like seeing me reacting the way I was when things were at their worst. I am trying again now though and so we shall see how things go this time. If I react the same way again then I will tell my doctor that I don’t feel ready yet, as I don’t want to pressure myself into coming off them until I am ready.
I also hope to make a bit more time for me and my friends this year as it is all too easy to be consumed with family life, though I know it does me the world of good to just be me from time to time. It’s a difficult one as my kids are the most important thing in the world to me but I know it is good for them to have time with their Daddy and with their grandparents and good for them if I feel fresh from having a break. The doesn’t always make it easy to leave them though or take away the guilt when Monkey gets sad about me going. Which happens.. even some time afterwards and even if he had a lovely time at the time, he just comes out with the fact that mummy going somewhere made him sad. Talk about pulling my heart strings! But I know he has so much of me that it isn’t a bad thing for me to do things for myself sometimes too.
As for the blogging…. I um and ah about it a lot and think about stopping but the truth is enjoy it. I am always thinking about what else I can blog about. I am never going to be a huge blogger, I just don’t have the time or energy. I don’t contact pr companies or fight to get what I can… If someone would like me to review something and it is something I would genuinely use then I will review it. Otherwise again I just don’t have the time or energy. But that’s OK because it is a hobby I enjoy and the rest doesn’t really matter. I am going to make more of an effort to engage with the blogging community though and my favourite bloggers in particular. I can be very insular by nature and tend to hide away rather than joining in with things but this can mean I miss out so I want to try a bit harder with that.
I am also going to try and be a bit more organised. While Hubs has been off we have done a lot of sroting round the house, the loft and garage are much more organised as are many of our cupboards and the conservatory is possibly the cleanest it has ever been. So this should help. I have aso been rubbish at doing things like sending thank you cards over the past year which I hate so I am going to try and be more organised in that respect too.
So I say I am not setting new years resolutions… but I guess I am. I just hope that they are realistic and achieveable though rather than pie in the sky objectives that will fall by the wayside after a few months!! Over all I think I just want to be happy this year and I hope that by making a decision to change the things I dislike that I can achieve that and feel better overall.
Are you setting yourselves any resolutions this January? What would you like to achieve over the next year?
In general I am quite an upbeat positive person but for some time I have been feeling very very low and not myself. I have felt very negative about pretty much everything and feared I was sounding like such a misery on my blog. I considered the possibility of Postnatal Depression but the label seemed too big, if that makes sense. I think of PND and I think of Mum’s suffering with it and I just feel like “no, not little old me, I’m just a daft woman struggling to cope. I just need to get on with it and sort myself out.” So for some time that is what I have been trying to do.
I’m a big believer in faking it till you make it. I felt if I told myself I was happy then eventually I would get there. So I kept trying and making myself take deep breaths and stay positive and fixed on my goals. But the problem is that anytime anything went the slightest bit wrong I would crash and be right back to rock bottom. My attempts weren’t working. My motivation for my diet has gone too and I have been comfort eating like crazy but not feeling any better.
A good friend of mine used a great analogy for depression recently. “It’s like you’re constantly cycling uphill and you’re giving all you’ve got. You can’t stop peddling as you know you’ll go downhill, but you can’t keep going the way you are either.” I felt this summed it up perfectly and I have been trying so so hard to just keep going but it wasn’t working. I know how lucky I am and I have a wonderful husband and 2 amazing kiddies but I really haven’t been enjoying, well, anything, for some time.
It has also started to affect Monkey too. The last couple of weeks in particular were really low for me and I have been in tears quite a lot and very snappy. Monkey is a sensitive little soul and he really takes it to heart when I shout at him or am upset. He obviously copes with the odd time but the frequency lately has had a cumulative effect on him. He has been going through a bit of separation anxiety at playgroup and crying a lot about going and when he is there. He is waking up some mornings crying. When we ask him why he just says “Mummy.” Which makes me feel awful I have to tell you.
So last week I finally accepted that this isn’t normal. That it was time to get some help. I went to the Dr and after a chat with a very lovely lady Dr she confirmed my suspicions. I am suffering from postnatal depression and it does need to be treated for my sake and the sake of the children.
As well as the low-dose antidepressants my lovely GP said I also need to let go of my need to be in control. I need to stop trying so hard to be a perfect Mummy all the time as I am dooming myself to failure. She said I need to remember that I am a person too and not just Mum and have to put myself first sometimes. I need to make time to do some exercise as that will help my mood too. She really was helpful and understood exactly how I felt.
I am a few days into the tablets and have felt a bit odd at times, which I think is normal. But in general I am already feeling better. I think even just the act of accepting that I need some help, and taking the pressure off myself instead of constantly trying to pretend all is fine has made a big difference.
Hubs has been great and supportive. He has said he feels guilty like it is his fault and he should have done more and of course that isn’t true. In true man style he wants a solution and he wants to ‘fix’ it but he is coming round to the fact that medication is the right thing for now. I never wanted to be on antidepressants and never thought I would be, not that there is anything wrong with them, I just didn’t think I would need them. But right now, I do. They are low dose, non-addictive so I can stop anytime, although my GP has recommended I use them for at least 4 months.
So we shall see how things go, hopefully the tablets will just help me stay a bit more level and stop the crashing lows I have been feeling, meaning I can enjoy my little ones, and everything, a bit more. The label of “postnatal depression” still feels a little uncomfortable, like I don’t deserve it, but I guess like anything it is a spectrum and there are varying depths of it. I still feel uncomfortable writing this post but I have accepted that I need some help and I will come through the other side of it, I know I will.
Have you suffered with postnatal depression? How did you feel about the label?