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

Feeling Happy……Paint me a picture of what that looks like!

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Lately I have been thinking about what makes me happy; and when I say ‘happy’ I mean real soul fulfilling happiness….. Something that is just for me, something I can completely immerse myself into, something that gives me the feeling of being productive and content (not to mention giving me a hold on my sanity lol!). Now for me, two things that undeniably tick all the boxes are singing (fear not my readers, I will expand further on my love of singing another time) and painting! I can not remember the last time I picked up a paintbrush and was let loose on a blank canvas to create pieces of art unique to me.

Way back (I am getting on a bit now with my 30th birthday looming!!) I studied Art A-level; my grand master plan was to continue along the arty-farty road, splurging out my splats of creativity into bigger and better splodges! However, Glandular Fever, recurrent Tonsillitis and my parents divorce (…cue tiny sad violins) resulted in much of my second year of study being drastically affected; it erased any confidence, motivation or strength I had, leaving me indecisive about my future and I felt I just couldn’t face University at that time. I have carried a lot of pain and bitterness around with me since then, feeling cheated of what my life could have been. However, I have since dabbled in the creative, making homemade birthday cards, the odd scrapbook and painting the walls in my house…not quite the artistic career I had hoped for though.

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So years have gone by and I am now at a place of war in my life (more tiny sad violins please) where I battle with confusion, frustration, a whole heap of negative emotions and a ton of all the other crap that comes with PND!…. Seriously there should be a limit on the amount of baggage that one must carry when one boards the PND plane (destination unknown)!!!!…. Looking back I was always truly happiest when I was in the art room at school, totally absorbed in what I was doing, spending hours painting and mixing colours, it just all flowed and I felt connected. No one judged me; it was an uninterrupted, timeless, beautiful calm. I was secure in a creative bubble where I could be purely and unquestioningly just be ‘me’.

BOOM!!!!!!!!….don’t panic…..it was just a ‘words of wisdom bomb’ exploding a cloud load of glittering realisation into my world!!!!!…..Find something that once made me ‘happy’…..check…..start doing it again…..erm easier said than done but yeah, carry on….no more excuses, make it happen – you are ‘sad’ you want to be ‘happy’ so do something that makes you ‘happy’ so you can be ‘happy’ instead of ‘sad’…..oooo words of wisdom…be amazed!!!

Now I know that when you have PND it is not quite that simple; whether for you it’s the exhaustion (are you a PND Zombie!? – check out my post on this!) or if it’s the lack of time that is creating barriers, all the reasons for you not doing the things that make you happy can just add to your frustration and stress, especially when you want to take these positive steps. As a result, the whole concept can be so daunting and it all seems too much of a chore to do, so we brush (painting pun hehe!) off our ideas and add it to our ever growing list of things that we have failed at. But this is where your support network comes in….whether it be your partner or an organisation like APNI (see my last blog!) do not be afraid to ask for help.

At the weekend I went into town for a wander and eventually found myself in a shop that sells acrylics (my art medium of choice!) and I found the same make that I used to use, it bizarrely brought back a whole host of both good and sad memories. As I have mentioned, I was happiest when I was painting, but it was also something I threw myself into at a bad bump in my life. I do think that my art helped me a lot back then, just as I feel that this blog that I have started is helping me deal with my PND now.

I desperately want to be happier and I am choosing to take up painting again as this makes me feel positive. The more positive things I can hold onto in my world the more positive my world will become. I know that I will struggle to find the time, it will be a hassle and expense to buy all the paints and equipment, but I am hoping that my hubby will help me get things set up so anytime the urge takes me I can just go for it (got a feeling the first few paintings will be a bit of a messy explosion, but if it’s a way of getting all the negativity out then bring it on!).

I hope that this post might inspire some of you to really think about something that makes you feel true happiness, and crucially something that is just for you – I know we love our little minikin’s but we all need an activity that separates us from being a mummy and is just about us, it is ok to be selfish. If you can’t think of anything, ask your friends/family and see if they can come up with something for you to try. Everyone has certain interests or hobbies so that is a good place to start. Or as I did, look back to your younger years and what made you laugh or smile!…..Good luck! 🙂

Mwah
Natalie xxxxxxx

Ps. the photos in this post are paintings that I have previously done 🙂