Hellooooo 2015……You Delectable Little Delight!

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Firstly….Happy New Year to all you amazing people out there!
Secondly….Thank the heavens above 2014 is finally over and done with! Yey!!!!!
Thirdly….Hellooooo 2015! Grrrr, you delectable little delight!!!

2015….You are going to be the year of strength, new starts, positivity, inspiration, courage and love!

To say I am pleased to see the back of 2014 is an understatement….ahhhhhh….cue a big sigh of relief! I thought 2013 was beyond challenging with the arrival of my daughter, the constant demands and new responsibilities of motherhood, being diagnosed with PND and battling the ensuing chaos and turmoil that came with it. But alas, 2014 was apparently not going to get much better either; it was the year that really pushed me to the edge of my sanity, leaving me barely clinging on by my fingertips. Steeped in confusion, pain, self loathing and guilt, my depression reached new depths. Then the inedible icing on the cake was the dissolution of my marriage followed by a house move….I would have preferred a glistening juicy red cherry on top, but obviously 2014 did not get my memo!!!!

Although most of last year was like a very deflated sponge cake, basically disappointing and a spoiled mess, I must not forget all the little ‘wins’ in my battle with depression, finding the strength that I never thought I had within me and the precious moments that I have had.

It has been an unbelievable delight to watch my beautiful daughter flourish into the most glorious little lady. I marvel at her pureness and her unique individuality. It is for and through her that I have found my strength, and yes I know that sounds like a complete cliché, but I have come to notice that it is the days and nights without her, when I falter. In reality, it does not matter where we draw our strength from to keep going, we should be thankful and proud, taking one step at a time.

So now we move onto 2015….is it really that big of a deal??? Surely 1 January is just another normal day? So why do we put so much focus on it being a ‘fresh start’? The answers really aren’t that important, if it encourages us refocus on the positive, then surely it is a good thing?

Despite me seeing in the New Year with a full blown cold…..as I write this I have already worked my way through several packs of Kleenex tissues and have accumulated a nice little collection of ‘snot rags’ (personally I am convinced it’s the last of the crap from 2014 clearing itself out!)…..it is the most inspired and motivated that I have felt in a long time.

I am ready to make positive changes, take care and be respectful of myself and start the year as I mean to go on. I have already made my list of New Years Resolutions, which, lets be honest no-one ever intends to keep, it’s more of a token effort and habitual conversation that everyone takes part in. However, this year I have written them down and intend to achieve them. To others they may seem petty or insignificant but they are achievable; the last thing I want to do is set myself up for failure or add to my ever growing list of things to stress about….that’s just a recipe for disaster!!! People often forget that when you have PND or any other form of depression, the simplest of achievements can make the biggest difference to our state of mind.

So here’s to 2015 and setting little goals to help along the path to recovery!

Maybe at the end of this year I will be getting that ripe, juicy, plump cherry on top….and maybe even a few little sprinkles too, just for good measure!!!

Happy 2015 to you all….

Mwah
Natalie xxxxx

Ps. Hope you all had a lovely Christmas…… /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8af/63820791/files/2015/01/img_8197.jpg

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I am broken!

The last few weeks have been some of the most emotionally challenging, exhausting and stressful times for me. The majority of the days have been a huge struggle, paved with panic attacks and anxiety, leaving me feeling that I have literally lost control of everything in my life.

Here is something I wrote one night when things were particularly dark; but when I read it back the next morning I surprised myself, it amazes me how creativity can evolve from such ugly things…….

‘I am broken’…….

I am broken, exhausted, it’s going to take far more than glue
To repair this mess that I have dissolved in to
Shattered in pieces so tiny and small
How do I pick them all up with little help at all
My hands are scared from picking up the shards before
Tender and hurting, ripped and clawed
No one to help for fear of cutting their hands too
Left alone yet again feeling so useless, without a clue

Just sweep it up, hoover it, whatever it takes
To clear this mess up my mind continuously makes
The quicker the better so people can again walk on my floor
Blind to the devastation that lay there before
Collapsing with exhaustion without hope to carry on
No energy, no motivation, my happiness just gone
Even if I somehow manage this immense feat
To mend all the pieces so all nice and neat
There will always be lines and cracks etched within
Areas of weakness that lay beneath my skin
How can I concentrate on the task at hand
When I’m still pulling out splinters from last time around

Can the pieces be washed away and I just start anew
Flawless and unmarked, primed to be viewed
No expectations, no judgements, nothing to hide
Everything perfectly presented, with great sense of pride
Reinvented, reconstructed, rebuilt from scratch
But in reality there will always be the hatch
That leads to my past where all the mess is stored
Like junk in an attack, a pile of items emotionally flawed
But brick by brick and day by day
The foundations are forming where broken pieces once lay
So maybe there is hope, I must believe that there is some
Just let the dust settle, could the best be yet to come?

Accept who I am and what will be will be
Believe I am the imperfectly perfect, ‘Beautifully Broken’ me

How do I help support someone with Post Natal Depression?

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Over and over again my husband and I have argued over his degree of supportiveness since I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression. On a physical support level he has been great; taking care of our daughter when I need extra sleep or time to get ready, helping out around the house and doing the food shopping; also, he has always been a very hands on dad when it comes to the baby duties, happily volunteering for nappy changes, bath and bedtime routines, feeding and even taking her to baby groups. He works shifts, so this has worked well with our family dynamics and I really can’t fault the fact that he is an amazing dad! However, on an emotional support level, he has been a big pile of stinky baby pooh!!!!!

Four months after our beautiful daughter’s arrival, I received my PND badge, returning from the doctors with a confirmed diagnosis, an on-going prescription and a box full of pills – not quite the new mummy trophy’s I would have liked to have received! One of the first things I said to my husband after my appointment, was that he needed to research Post Natal Depression. It was immensely important to me that he should prepare himself for inevitable shit storm that was coming our way; the path ahead was going to difficult and he would have to put up with lot from me, picking up the slack along the way!…..I explained I was aware that I was a raging and unpredictable ball of emotional carnage, but I literally had no control over how I was feeling.  I urged him to find someone to talk to as I knew he would need support too and even suggested that he talked to my mum, who also experienced PND after she had me. I asked him to find out as much as he could about the symptoms of my illness so that he could support me and get a better understanding of what I was going through (in all honesty I was uneducated on PND too, so it was going to be a learning curb for both of us)……And the result of all this pleading, urging and explaining……diddly squat!!!!!!!

The months went by and I kept asking if he’d researched PND or spoken to anyone else for advice and support, the answer was always ‘no’. This really hurt me, especially as his reasons were down to things like: not enough time, he didn’t feel he needed to or he’d just forgot! The one person who I thought would be my absolute rock had left me consumed by the crashing waves in a sea of depression; it was a devastating blow, which left me feeling even more emotionally isolated and alone. I think that in his mind the pills would help, I would then get better and everything would go back to ‘normal’. The sad fact is, that anti-depressants are only part of the solution to recovering from PND; without real support and understanding, sufferers are highly unlikely to get better on their own.

It can be a very long and difficult road recovering from PND; on your journey you need someone to hold your hand to keep you steady, on the right track and to help pick you up if you stumble. Travelling the path alone is treacherous; it is so easy to trip up, fall down and just stay down. If you travel the PND path without the full support of those closest to you, it can prolong the journey and the scars from the falls will cut so much deeper. Sometimes there will be friends or family who will offer you a hand and help you up if you fall, but before you know it they have toddled off to continue along their life paths. Alone again we stand, afraid to take another step, dreading another crippling fall, weak from the scars we already bare. This is no way to travel….

I can not stress enough that those supporting a loved one with PND must fully commit to every part of their journey, they will need to be strong for the sufferer……so make sure if you are that guide, you are fully equipped with the correct attire, allowing you to remain strong and hold your footing!

Mwah

Natalie xxxxxx

 

Ps The attached picture is of one of the vitally important information leaflets provided by APNI (The Association for Post Natal Illness) – an amazing organisation – please check out their website! – http://apni.org/

Association for Post Natal Illness

PND Support…..APNI – Association for Post-Natal Illness

I want to help make other mummy’s aware of an AMAZING and invaluable charity who have had a massive impact on me and my life as a PND sufferer. 

They offer extensive support, education and information and I can not recommend them enough!  

The Association for Post-Natal Illness is the leading organisation in its field and a Registered Charity (No. 280510), which was established in 1979 to:

  • Provide support to mothers suffering from Post-Natal Illness
  • Increase public awareness of the illness
  • To encourage research into its cause and nature

They provide a telephone helpline, information leaflets and a network of volunteers, who themselves have experienced Post Natal Illness. Additionally, they run a support service for husbands and families supporting depressed mothers too. You can contact them in confidence, knowing that you will never be judged and that they are always there to help, listen and support you on your journey to recovery……You Are NOT Alone!

NEED HELP NOW?……

Call them between 10am – 2pm on: 0207 386 0868

Office hours are: Monday to Friday – 10am – 2pm

Email them on: info@apni.org

If you are outside of the UK – you can contact Postpartum Support International (PSI) on the following website: www.postpartum.net

My experience with APNI:

When I was first diagnosed with PND, 4 months after the birth of my daughter, I asked for additional help and support from the doctors, but the best they could do was to offer me more anti-depressants and told me to contact Relate for counselling (at the time money was, and still is, in very short supply, so I felt that this was not an option). Then when I spoke to my local Health Visitors, they suggested a couple of websites I could take a look at, but nothing that was really helpful to me. Unfortunately, they too were unable to recommend any support groups. This left me very despondent, feeling isolated and alone in my battle with PND; especially as my husband was being less than helpful and exacerbating the whole situation, through his lack of understanding and lack of desire to even try to understand my illness.

After many desperate and dark days, I randomly stumbled across APNI…thank god for Google…let me here a Woop Woop!!!!!!! However, it still took me a very long time before I actually contacted them. I wanted to work through my problems myself, as I have done so many times in the past, but I was also ashamed and felt I didn’t deserve the help. I had a lot of people close to me saying ‘it’s just the hormones’ and ‘you don’t need all that rubbish like anti-depressants and counselling’ and ‘you just need a bit more rest, you’re just tired’…..etc etc…… It all added up to me believing I was going crazy and convinced that I was making something out of nothing. As a new mother and with very few of my close friends having children, how was I to know that this wasn’t how every first time mum felt???…..I didn’t want to be seen as a hypochondriac or drama queen, so I tried my best to just get on with it. I became an expert in hiding my true feelings, wearing a glittering PND mask! Looking back, this just caused me to withdraw and isolate myself further.

When me and my hubby first decided to pursue the next logical step in our relationship, neither of us expected me to get pregnant as soon as I came off the pill; there was no real period of ‘trying for a baby’, no time to get excited about the idea of being parents, and no time for mental preparation. This meant that for me the whole pregnancy and birth of my daughter was very surreal and overwhelming. I began to tell myself that perhaps I just needed to adjust to motherhood and then I would be fine, even though I was very far from feeling ‘fine’!

Eventually, after a self harm incident I had, it scared me enough to realise I needed some serious help and couldn’t continue as I was. I rang the APNI helpline; the most lovely lady answered the phone and was nothing but kind, reassuring, helpful….for the first time I felt I had been accepted for who I now was and that it was ok to be not ok. She sent out loads of informative information, including leaflets for my hubby to read to try and help him understand how he could support me. I wish I had known about APNI and had contacted them sooner, as I believe I would be much further up my path to recovery and my marriage may have not taken so many devastating blows. This is why I am desperate to share this amazing organisation with others, and I implore that anyone suffering from any low moods after pregnancy…..please get in touch with APNI!

The most invaluable service that they provided me with, was the volunteer service. They listened to my situation at home and matched me up to a volunteer who had experienced PND herself and under similar circumstances. She initially contacted me via email, which is great for those sufferers who do not feel able to give voice and openly talk about there feelings (you can also request to speak to them on the phone or communicate by post). Finally, I had someone who listened, advised, understood exactly what I was going through (that is the best bit about the matching process) and there was no pressure to conform or hide how I was feeling……the relief to finally ditch the PND mask that I had been wearing for so long was intense. It gave me a new strength and drive to get better, that I had not felt before. It finally seemed possible that I could recover from PND, this dark isolated hell I had been living no longer seemed like my forever home!

Looking back to when I was first diagnosed with PND, I wish I had had someone there to say to me:
‘Natalie, you have Post Natal Depression; you are not going crazy, this is very real and very serious; do NOT let anyone make you feel like you are lying, unworthy or be ashamed of what you are going through. Here are the information leaflets, here is a support network that will not judge you, make sure your husband understands that it’s not just up to you to sort things out alone, as he will have a massive part in aiding (or hindering) your recovery. Friends and family should not expect too much from you, and if they do put pressure on you, then tell them. If they still do not listen, then it is ok to remove them from your life for a time, or at least until they are prepared to sympathise with your needs. You will not get better on pills alone, you will need help and support from those around you; if they can not step up to the mark then they will only make things worse. They should love you enough to be prepared to research as much as they can about PND, it is NOT up to you to do this for them. Only surround yourself with positive people, you do not need other peoples negative energy keeping you down. You are not alone, there are hundreds of people out there who have felt how you do. Do not be afraid to tell your friends and family how you feel, do not worry what they will think of you. True friends are not just there for when you are happy and want to have fun, true friends should want to be there for the bad times too! Say exactly how you feel, even if it may offend or hurt others, nothing can compare to the damage it will do to you if you hold it all in. You have limited control over what is happening to you mentally; remember it will get better, but it will also take time. Be patient, others supporting you should be prepared to be patient too. Take one day at a time, there is no need to look at the bigger picture. Do not be afraid to say you need help. When the good days start to outnumber the bad ones, then you can take comfort in knowing that you are getting better, however slowly this may be…………After every dark night, there will always be a sunrise.’

Mwah

Natalie xxxxx