This is Mental Health Awareness week, and while I believe there is definitely much more awareness of the condition, there’s quite simply not enough acceptance. Read More
I feel like my medication has stopped working.
In fact, It’s as though I am back at square one with all the emotional stuff. Annnndddd… to add insult to injury I’m more exhausted than I’ve ever been in my entire life. WTF! Read More
Mental health really is a minefield. I wrote just a week or so ago about how I was feeling really content and at ease with everything in my life. Today, I feel the opposite.
I know getting a good amount of sleep has a lot to do with how well your brain can cope, and I’ll admit to really struggling with sleep recently, but surely that can’t be the main reason for having such hard days?
With anxiety disorder i’ve found that there are certain triggers that can send me on a path towards self-destruction and normally I can avoid those triggers completely. But someone… anyone… please tell me how I can avoid my son???
Matthews birth was such a traumatic time in our lives and despite seeing a counsellor and talking through our thoughts and feelings about the entire process, there are still moments when I feel completely overwhelmed and right back in that NICU.
Yesterday I was making an attempt at cleaning out the files on my computer when I came across an album full of Matthews NICU photographs and videos, as well as a slideshow I made for his 1st birthday.
It broke me.
You think you’re over the worst of it and then 2 and a half years later it hits you, like a freight train.
I’ve been battling with my inner demons about this for the past 2 years and even told you all about asking my GP for help, which I did.
But sometimes the medication isn’t enough. Sometimes the hours of counselling aren’t enough. Sometimes you’re just going to feel it all over again and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
That’s how I feel right now.
I’m sure, or rather I’m hopeful that tomorrow will be better, but today all I can hear is alarm bells ringing. I can smell latex gloves and sterile hand sanitizer. In my peripheral vision I can see coloured screens with oxygen levels rising and falling. I can feel the delicate thin skin of my baby in my hands and I can’t stop it.
This is PTSD.
Sitting down at my desk to write this post, and I’m not entirely sure as to how much I’m going to share. I don’t want it to be one of those “woe me” posts but I also don’t want it to be a ridiculously happy and fake one either.
So I’ll just take a swing at it and hope that it all comes out making some kind of sense.
I’ve been an over-emotional person my entire life.
This is no surprise to my friends and family at all, in fact it’s old news.
So when I fell pregnant with my son, I felt every ounce of hormone changes in every possible way. It was a whirlwind of mood swings, over-bearing love and eventually anger at my body for what happened.
It was obviously heightened considerably during my sons hospital stay and it’s had its peaks and troughs throughout this last 2 years.
It’s something that I’ve always dealt with myself and never thought about getting help with. However, known only to close friends and family, it all came to a head a few months ago.
I’ve never been able to control it, but I’ve always found that I’ve been able to cope. This changed when my sons “Autism” symptoms became more and more apparent. I found that instead of crying a couple of times a day at random adverts or songs I’d listen to, that I was flying off the handle and getting aggressively angry at the tiniest of things. I’d be filled with so much anxiety that I didn’t want to leave the house. I felt like everyone was looking at me, judging me… thinking the worst of me. On the rare occasions I did venture out I’d have panic attacks, and if I was without my husband and son it would be even worse. I wouldn’t go so far as to say my thoughts were venturing towards anything dark or that I was a danger to myself, but there were certainly moments where I thought somebody else would do a better job with my son than I could. I felt worthless.
So I got help.
It wasn’t easy to ask for it, but it was necessary and fortunately my doctor was brilliant.
He diagnosed me with Anxiety Disorder and PTSD (this in particular was a result of life in the NICU). He prescribed a small dose of anti-anxiety medication for me and after several months I can say for sure that it has made a world of difference.
I feel much more level headed about life in general and feel like I am capable of facing any problems we have full on and without fear.
This doesn’t mean I’m “cured“. Not at all. In fact, this last fortnight has been a real struggle, but I’m always hopeful that tomorrow will be better.
I’m sharing this because I’ve done my research. Mental Health, even in 2018, is still such a taboo subject. Being told you just have to “get on with it” is such an ignorant and old fashioned way of thinking. We are all built differently, and what works for some doesn’t necessarily work for others.
Being a mum is the most wonderful and rewarding aspect of my life. I mean it wholeheartedly. But it’s hard.
I only have my son to base this on, but he is 100 miles an hour, every waking moment of the day. The only reason I’m able to write this is because he’s playing in his playpen – and by playing I mean he’s throwing all of his toys out of it onto the floor and screaming at me to give them back so he can do it again. Peppa Pig is both a life-saver and a curse. I hate her because she is obnoxious beyond reason, but she gives me half an hour of rest-bite throughout the day to get things done, so she can stay. He hates his playpen with a passion, but if I need it otherwise my trips to the toilet would result in the utter destruction of every precious and breakable item in my home.
I’m not the perfect mum, not by any measure. I have flaws and I struggle like everyone else, but I think it’s about time we were able to admit it without all of the judgement and calls for public flogging.
Just some thoughts I had on this dreary morning. I’m now away to lift my screaming child out of his playpen and watch him in awe while he tears my livingroom apart in 30 seconds.
I’ve not posted one of these for a few weeks now, and surprisingly it’s not been for lack of the ridiculous (and ever growing) thoughts I’ve had swirling around my head. Really it’s because I’ve been playing host to an awful lot more negativity than usual and I didn’t want to put that out into the universe. Alas… I suppose it’s better out than in…
I’m on week 5 of anti-depressants to treat my Anxiety Disorder and P.T.S.D, and whether it’s this or not I don’t know, but I have been having the weirdest and most vivid dreams. One in particular has been a recurring episode for a few years now, that seems to rear its ugly head every time the news pops up with some sort of terrorist attack, which terrifyingly, is becoming ever more frequent.
What I’ve noticed is that before I could keep these thoughts 90% contained in my brain and when I woke up in the morning I would shrug it off and tell myself that I had to just get on with it. It’s never going to happen to me…
But I just can’t do that anymore. I have a son who I truly fear to take outside my front door. He is already a vulnerable child in the sense that he doesn’t understand his surroundings at the best of times… But I honestly fear that these atrocities are creeping ever closer to what I deem my safe haven, and it fills me with dread for my child’s future.
This is deep and dark I know… But it’s what I feel and fear for.
Am I the only one that feels like this?!?!
I’ve spoken before about our difficulties in getting pregnant and I had no immediate intention of delving into the deep and dark NICU days, but I’ve recently been inspired by one of the lovely ladies I follow, to share our story.
It’s a long and arduous one, that’ll take a few posts to cover but here goes.
On the morning of Wednesday the 19th of August 2015 at 10:54, after a difficult and tumultuous 4 day labour, my son Matthew was born.
He weighed 1 pound and 9 ounces. He could quite literally fit in my hand.
His skin, red and angry, was so thin and transparent that I could see the deep blue veins running throughout his tiny body.
Our first encounter was one of panic and fear. This fragile little being , resting on my hip, still attached to his cord.
I watched, wide eyed, as his little heart pulsated rapidly out from his bony chest. His tiny legs kicking as if uncontrollably against my thigh. Those same kicks, I felt mere hours ago inside me.
He lay there for 1 minute exactly, as the Neo-Natal team watched intently, before cutting the cord and carrying him to the heated Cot on the opposite side of the room.
I didn’t see him again until 10pm that night. Almost 12 hours later.
My husband and mum were able to see him once he was settled in the Neo-Natal unit but because I had a Haemorrhage and Retained Placenta, I had to go to Theatre.
After being in Recovery for a few hours I was taken back to my room and waited anxiously and impatiently until they were able to take me over. Too weak to walk and with a catheter still inserted I had to be wheeled over in my hospital bed.
The NICU was foreign territory for me. I had no idea what to expect, other than what my husband had already told me.
The first thing I remember was the beeping noises. Little did I know after hearing them for the first time, that they would become the soundtrack to that entire experience.
So, I was positioned next to Matthew, who was tucked away inside what looked like a mammoth sized Incubator. His tiny face was covered, showing only his closed eyes and the smallest of openings for his mouth, which had a long tube coming out of it in order to help him breathe. I could hear the noise from the ventilator as it pumped tiny breaths into his lungs, and with every breath his chest rose up and down.
It was the most terrifying thing I’d ever seen.
My beautiful, helpless little baby, kept alive by machines and an abundance of drugs that were pumping through the inky blue veins that protruded his wafer-thin skin.
I’m ashamed to admit that in that moment I didn’t feel a maternal connection to my son.
He didn’t look like the the blonde haired, blue eyed little boy I had dreamed of and envisioned when I felt him move about inside me. He didn’t resemble the chubby little squidgy baby I had hoped to hold in my arms after giving birth. He was alien looking. I was frightened of him. He looked so delicate that I feared my very touch would be cause him pain. But reluctantly, and after being encouraged by his nurse, I put my hand inside the incubator and stroked his back.
He barely moved.
The guilt I felt just watching him was unbearable.
All I could think of was that I’d failed.
I am a woman. My job as a woman is to carry a child, and bring that child safely into the world.
What kind of a woman am I that I can’t even do that… something that my body was made solely for?
All I could see when I looked at my son was how much I had failed him. That I had brought this baby into the world and subjected him to all of this pain and trauma, and all because I couldn’t do my job as a woman.
And now I didn’t even feel a connection to him. That instant moment of love and pure joy was missing.
What kind of mother doesn’t feel a connection to their own child?
Still I smiled and posed for the camera when my husband took our first photograph together… My son and I.Smiling on the outside, and torn apart on the inside, I felt completely alone and full of shame. What’s should have been the happiest day of my life, was one of my darkest.