Monday, 18 May 2015

Mental Health Awareness Week 2015

I'm in bed with a hot water bottle, three layers of jumpers, a cup of tea that I've let go cold even though I forced myself to make it in the first place, and biscuits that there's probably no point in eating as I can't taste much because I have a cold, and I don't really even fancy. I have a million emails to reply to, (okay, like, ten), and quite a few people have been so kind as to comment on my blog this week and I've not replied. I suck. 

So I just want to write a short, but kind of important, one tonight so that I can reply to said emails and comments and maybe even get to bed before midnight. Let's see if I can get the words out. 

This week was Mental Health Awareness week (...last week now, it's waaaay past midnight). It's not something I'd ever been, erm, aware of before, but it feels like kind of a good time to share a little bit about what I've been going through lately. I've actually touched on this before; I know it's hidden deep in the blog somewhere. 

Depression. 

I don't even know if it really counts as post-natal as it's something that's been with me for a long time. The age of eight is when it was most vivid and when I think it started. These thoughts and feelings are very familiar, but it doesn't make them any easier to cope with. It really doesn't. In fact every time it happens it feels worse than the last time. 

You know what 'they' say about you not being able to really remember the pain of labour so in hindsight you're all like 'it wasn't too bad', but then when you're in labour with your second child you're all like 'FML, this really kills' - I imagine it's like that. But not quite because I've not had another child. And not quite because it's not really the same at all. But I can't remember the pain of labour, possibly because I was high (the pethidine wasn't really my choice), but that intense emotional pain is just really hard to tap into, for me, when I'm feeling ok (not in labour). But when I'm feeling low, I look back at my life all I see is the lowness and emotional pain, the bad decisions I think I've made, my failings, my inadequacies, my I'msofuckingshittyshitfuck.

So... 

I started one-to-one CBT three weeks ago. That's what my Wednesday appointments are for, if you're a regular reader. One of the mums I met on maternity leave, in real life, is a professional behavioural therapist and when I had my latest lowest point she told me that I could self-refer to where she works. Thankfully as I was still on maternity leave, I was fast-tracked and was assessed the day I made the initial call and my first session was a week later; the week I started back at work.

My CBT has been free of charge; to be honest I don't know how it's funded, I need to find out. I will be having eight sessions in total, and I am so thankful that it has been available to me. I feel like we're (my therapist and I) only just scratching the surface and we're already almost half way though the course, but I guess we'll have to see. I'm trying not to panic about that.

I've not wanted to write about this for so many reasons. For one, fear of being judged my employer(s) (I'm moving jobs soon). But, really, if a workplace want to penalise me for having such issues then that is their shame, surely? I've actually been functioning ok in a work capacity, kind of surprisingly. I had the option to be signed off, but I didn't take it as I suspected work might be good for me. And I think it kind of has been. It's actually a break compared to looking after Joseph for the day. I developed a pretty succinct social media and content strategy the week before last, and I did two presentations last week which I think went pretty well. I felt knowledgeable and confident about what I was talking about and it made me want to do more and maybe even pursue what I was talking about as a profession. But, oh wait, I'm leaving my job, I won't get to do more of what I did, I won't get to explore that interest any more, maybe I'm going to miss my calling, maybe in two years' time that'll be a 'thing' and I'll have missed the boat and it'll be another thing that I wished I'd properly pursued. 'Maybe I should stay. What have I done? What am I doing? Am I doing the right thing? I'm such an idiot.' And so it continues. I can do my job. I think. 

But what I also do really well is the crippling self-doubt. There were at least two incidents at work last week that sent my thoughts spiralling. I was able to discuss them with my therapist in depth-ish and we started talking about how I have those same types of thoughts about literally everything - there's a definite pattern. So I asked 'what can I do to stop them' and she said that's what we'll work on. I need to change the way I think. I think I need to get better at arguing with myself, or debating with myself, rather than letting myself be bullied by, er, myself. Except my bully self seems so right, and my positive self seems just so naive to ever believe that she's anything less than completely crap, useless and pointless. 

It's 11.45pm. I'm failing at bed time and getting the words out. 

I'm back on anti-depressants. Not something I wanted to take again - I stopped when I found out I was pregnant. I don't want to rely on medicine, but I feel it's necessary at the moment and I don't plan to be on them in the long term if I don't need them. But I'm allowing myself to take them because the first time I was prescribed them I turned it down, for fear of becoming dependant on them, and it led to some pretty awful things - or things not happening, rather - which, I often wonder could've been avoided had I just taken the medication in the first place. I don't know.

I could probably keep going; writing about what I've not been able to do because of it but bully-me says it all just sounds like I'm using it as an excuse. I've realised through recent events and through therapy, though, that blogging - or writing - is really important to me, and something I want to take seriously. But I've found it incredibly hard to write anything meaningful or well, and for me that's been really hard. I've been writing what I can, but I've not been able to tap into what I really want to write about. I want to write about Joseph's birthday, his first holiday, my return to work, my first year essentials, my experience with reusable nappies. It's so incredibly frustrating. It's like I fail me. But also, all of these things are of significance to me and I think that's why I'm struggling. 

I'm working on it, though. Things will get written. Obviously, I don't expect by magic for things to happen. Everything takes work. But sorting though my thoughts are a huge priority. And also my house extension. Yeah, that's supposed to be happening really soon and guess who hasn't cleared their loft. 

I must go to sleep. It's a school night. Thank you for reading. And, please, be kind. If you can't say anything nice, say nothing... Or something like that. 

Good night. 

P.S. Shout out to tinybuddha.com; almost every time I've Googled a thought I've had, there's been a Tiny Buddha article appear in the search results which has distracted me from the original thought. The founder, Lori Deschene, is pretty amazing, by the way.

P.P.S. Not my usual Sunday post, but I plan to write what I usually write on a Sunday on my lunch break tomorrow / today. It's gone midnight. I'm sorry if you're someone waiting on a reply, and I'm sorry I've not replied to your blog comment either.

P.P.P.S. I should add that I am working on giving depression the boot, for absolute good, because I want to be the best mother I can be. But I wonder if I'll ever feel 'enough'. Enough of a mum, wife, daughter, friend, employee, blogger, writer, citizen, liver of life?

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10 comments

  1. Hey Hun, I really hope you're feeling better today - new day new start. I can totally relate to this post - we go through a very very similar thought process on pretty much everything. I also am filled with self doubt and I feel like a pretty ungrateful cow most of the time but I just can't help it. I even tried to do the "ten things I'm grateful for today" exercise and struggled with that so gave up! Maybe doing a weekly post on something like that may help us both to focus on the good sh*t x

    Remember you haven't been back at work that long and it's all a major change too. A change that's likely to shake things up a little again. Really glad that you took the steps to try CBT - I've had a few rounds of counselling (one when I had my car accident and again around the time I got married) - the last time I just didn't "gel" with my counsellor and it messed me up more! Just what I needed but the first time really helped as I had a great rapport with my counsellor. It'll help you unmuddle your mind and lift that cloud so you can see a little clearer. Like you, I'm not sure what the root cause of my sadness is. I wish I did.

    If the medication works for you and is helping, take it without guilt. If it means you feel like a better and happier version of you right now.

    Blogging is a great help - sometimes just unloading your thoughts makes a big difference. I also find it so difficult to articulate myself when I'm feeling like shit but somehow the outpour of love from my jibberish from such supportive mummies like you does make a difference to how I feel.

    I'm struggling to write my post on our holiday - it just sounds flat and empty. So now I've explained to myself that actually it doesn't matter if I don't write it this very second. I now have a notes section on my phone especially for each post I have in mind and every time I think of something that sounds like it makes sense, I add it on. Try that x

    You are an amazing mum and I know me saying it probably won't make a difference to you - but there will be other mums out there (like me) that wish they could be even half the mum that you are to Joseph!

    Sorry if this comment is a bit all over the place - been up lots with Arjun last night so a little sleep deprived but wanted to message you.

    Stay smiling xx lots of hugs xx

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    1. Hi Harps,

      Thank you for your comment - it made perfect sense to me and not all over the place at all. Some really useful tips there - especially about drafting your post ideas.

      Completely relate about writing but everything sounding flat and empty - I read others' posts and think they sounds so passionate and vibrant. I know I can sometimes but it's so hard and I can't do it daily like so many bloggers can. I wish I could.

      Oh don't say that you wish you were half the mum I am - if you can say to me that I am amazing, then you have to believe you are amazing too. Let's try to believe we're amazing together, even though we don't feel it at all.

      Thank you for the support and I hope Arjun sleeps well tonight. So much love and thank you again xxx

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  2. Aw baby's just woken but I couldn't read and run. I've had CBT to. It was a life changer (tried two different therapist. Clicked better with the second). In answer to your last question, I'm not sure we ever feel "enough" of a mum all the time. There's do much to do and so little time! It's a huge sometimes emotionally overwhelming job. I just ask myself at the end of each day is he fed? Is he loved? Does he seem happy? That's all I can hope for really. You are enough. From what I've read and seen of you you seem like an amazing mum. Even more amazing for looking depression in the eye and saying "right, I'm going to deal with you"

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    1. Hi Jules, thank you so much for your comment. I relate to not clicking with your therapist. I have had counselling in the past and it seems, in hindsight, they let your thoughts spiral and don't stop you or help you. Whereas with CBT, so far, they have been able to stop me and challenge me, but not in a judgemental horrible way. I've actually even had group CBT before and I think that helped to an extent but, again, in hindsight not enough as these thoughts still feature in my life far too frequently.

      I like the questions you ask yourself; I am going to ask myself those too.

      Thank you again for your support and kind words xx

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  3. You're amazing. It's so brave of you to share something so personal. I hope you feel like it's lightened your load somewhat. I really understand how you feel, life and seemingly "small things" can be so overwhelming when you're in the grips of depression. It's hard to muster up the strength to even shower or leave the house - the fact you're back at work and raising a child while dealing with this is very inspiring. I also don't think anybody will judge you for sharing this, nor think it's an excuse. If anything, it will help others who may be going through the same thing feel less like an anomaly. You're doing great. You got this x

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    1. Thank you for your kind words and support, Katie. Depression really is a fucker and I hate that it's so common to so, so many people. I am doing my best re: motherhood and work, and life in general, but there's alllllways this huge overwhelming sense of inadequacy in all that I do - nothing is ever enough - and there have been days where I just can't deal. Full stop. I'm working on it and I wish it could all just go away, or when it's been bad I've wished I could go away; not be here. The last time that happened was when I sought help; something has to change. Joseph needs a mother and, as Ruari pointed out to me, it's better he has one at all (even if she thinks she's not good enough) than not having one. That really brought it home to me and since then I've not felt like I need to go - but rather I need to learn to cope better. Depression is so complicated and difficult, and different for everyone - all we can do is support each other. It's kind of like motherhood in that respect - I know you're not a mum - but you know what I mean.

      Thank you again for your support and sending so much love to you x

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  4. Wow, you should be proud of yourself, that was a well written, honest piece of writing, full of emotion and I really hope you're having a better day today. I too would love to do more writing, I took a creative writing course with the OU and it was brilliant, I want to do the level 3 next year, keep at it, you're good.
    Lupin Girl x

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement with my writing. I often feel inadequate but I think I just need to practice and keep going when it feels like what I'm writing is rubbish. That course sounds great - I hope you do get to do the next level. Thank you again xx

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  5. I just want to say that I connect with this so much, and I'm also currently undergoing 1 to 1 CBT! Had a meeting this morning, and what you said about whether you'll ever be good enough really resonated with me as it is exactly what I was saying this morning so, you're not alone in that but I also wanted to share what my therapist said to me.
    She said something along the lines of "stop worrying about being good enough and think about the fact that you're doing enough good"
    You are doing enough good mothering that your baby is thriving and that is fantastic!

    Thank you for writing this post, it was beautifully written and really meant something to me today.
    Hope you're feeling better xxx

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  6. Wonderful, honest, open, beautiful post <3. CBT is a life saver x.

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Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. It really means a lot! Nicki x

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