Now

1 07 2012

If I am completely honest I am still finding day to day life quite overwhelming at the moment. I am doing my best to just be kind to myself, to take it easy and just get through each day in the best way I can. So if I am a little silent at the moment, that is why. I am concentrating on my family and just doing the best I can to stay afloat.

And taking pictures to remind me of these days in the weeks to come.

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Not normal after all

5 06 2012

I stood in a crowd of people fighting back tears this afternoon, trying to hide my embarrassment and upset from my dear, sensitive boy. It was over such a silly thing, not really worth noting, a ticking off from a WI member at an event my mum had organised over a piece of cake.

That wasn’t the problem it was my reaction. Recently something is bothering me. Emotions are close to the surface and I am easily scratched. Easily upset, prone to snapping, over reacting. Something is bubbling in my chest, taking my breath away, stopping me from being able to be still or quiet.

Anxiety.

I know it well, a constant companion for most of my adult life.

And suddenly, during this long and dull drive home from Cornwall it occurs to me that I know what this is, and why I feel this way.

Ten months ago I started taking anti depressants for Postnatal Depression. In the last month I have finished taking them. In the main I was ready for this. I think that the PND has passed, and that it was the right thing to do.

But now I am left with me. And suddenly it seems clear to me that it wasn’t just my PND that those tablets were helping. I remember remarking at the first meeting of my PND support that I had found it easier to turn up than I usually would have because my usual anxiety wasn’t as bad as normal.

And that’s where I am now. Back to me. Low level anxiety pervades me and our life and makes everything so much harder, so much more effort. I’d forgotten what this was like and I don’t like it at all. At all.

I don’t know what to do. Do I go back to the doctor, back to taking those tablets? If I do will I ever be brave enough to stop taking them again? If this is normal for me how can I?

I lived with this for so many years without realising that it could be different. And now I know there’s an alternative I don’t want to go back.

I’m a little bit lost, and very scared.

What do you do when you realise your normal isn’t that normal after all?





Snapshots

16 07 2011

I am driving and both of the children are asleep. I am thinking of my doctor’s appointment in a couple days time and trying to work out what I am going to say. I wonder if I am being silly, if these feelings are just normal and wonder why I suddenly feel that I am not coping. I wonder if I am making it all up.

Wednesday is a good day. We go shopping and bake cakes. I try to relax and embrace the mess. I play bat and ball with Piran in the garden. He is so cute and so funny and he makes me laugh so much. But the sound is odd to me, and I feel like there is a huge whole in my middle. I reassure myself with the fact that he doesn’t know that; he is just having fun.

I rehearse over and over what I am going to say to the doctor. I dread her asking what I want, what I need as I don’t know. Again and again I wonder if I am just making this up, if it is all just for attention. But then I realise that I cry when I am alone, and that doesn’t get me any attention at all. Perhaps this is real.

I cry during my doctors appointment. I list all the things that I am worried about. That by 6 weeks after Pirab was born I felt in control, that this hasn’t happened this time and that makes me worried. That I cry a lot. That I cannot sleep even when I am only getting a couple hours a night. That I am having anxiety attacks over the smallest things. That I get upset over the smallest things. That I am constantly worried. The doctor gives me a questionnaire and it is as if I wrote it myself. All of this things are there.

I drive home from the doctors. It seems that the floodgates have opened and now I have admitted something is wrong all of the emotions are free. Tears fill my eyes, making it seem like the car is full of water and the waves are lapping at my face. I blink to clear my eyes and tears run down my face. I hate crying in the car. I am grateful I am wearing sunglasses.

I have a good afternoon where I get a lot done. I feel fantastic and wonder if this whole things was an over reaction. Logically however I unerstand that this is the roller coaster that I am on at the moment. Highs and lows, good times and bad times. Just because I feel great now, doesn’t mean that I will feel that way all the time.

I lie in the dark. I should be sleeping but I am thinking and worrying as usual. My mind skips from subject to subject. I fidget in my bed. I listen to Kate sleep. I worry if Piran should move to a bed. I am so afraid that I am not giving him the time and attention he needs. There are things I should teach him, but where do I find the time.

I go to see a good friend and she is so wonderful. She tells me that I am not alone, that she has been there and that she has come through the other side. I offload my worries about how we manage difficult behaviour from Piran and she gives me some great ideas. It helps me feel in control. I am so lucky to have friends like this.

I watch Piran playing with a Buzz Lightyear and a Woody toy that he has never seen before. He is enamoured with it and it makes me feel happy. I am trying to capture these moments, to try not to get so wrapped up in my head and my problems that I miss these wonderful moments. He laughs when Woody talks to him. I laugh too.

Kate is very smiley. I sit her up on my lap and she does this thing where she gives a big sigh and makes a noise at the same time. It is almost like a laugh, and also sounds like ahe is saying “Hi”. I copy her and she replies. We have our first conversation.

I am alone on Friday night with just Kate asleep in the house. I get my sewing machine out for the first time since she was born and finish a project that I really wanted to do. It is fun and soothing. It takes just the right amount of concentration that I don’t have to think about how I feel, what I am going to do. I listen to interesting Radio 4 programmes and drink wine. For a moment I just feel like me.





The not so magic roundabout

10 07 2011

Yesterday was our first trip away with two children. We had been invited to the wedding reception of my good friend Make Do Mum and I was so excited to see her on her wedding day. We looked at hotels but it was expensive and then Paul asked how close my Aunt lived and when I looked on the map it was only 15 miles away so I got my mum on the case and we arranged to stay with her.

Yesterday we packed everything except the kitchen sink into the car and off we went. We spent a lovely few hours with my cousins and their children and had a barbeque. We then went of to where we were staying, got settled in and all spiffed up and off we went. I agreed to drive there, Mr C was driving back so I could enjoy a drink or two.

Sadly, what we did not appreciate is that 14 miles to us is very, very different when you are in London. Yep, I am sure a lot of you will be shaking your heads and thinking what silly people but I just didn’t get it. We were staying in Ruislip and the reception was near Putney. Oh my god. The cars, the traffic, the roads. We had the satnav on which was okay to begin with. We crawled along and I got more and more wound up. We hit the North Circular and the satnav was telling us one thing and the picture on the screen something different. I started getting more and more anxious. Thankfully we worked that out and went the right way.

Then we hit more traffic. The satnav permanently told us that we were 5 minutes away. Mr C was checking on his phone and it said we were two miles away. Kate woke up and started screaming, as I had perfectly timed our journey round her feeds thinking it would take us 30 minutes. It was already an hour since we left. I was having to make myself breathe properly, I was totally freaking out and I knew that a full blown anxiety attack was not far away.

We came up to a roundabout. The satnav said take the fourth exit. I checked the sign, counted the exits and worked out where we were going. We went round the roundabout and as we got to the THIRD exit the satnav said turn left. And my head EXPLODED. Kate was crying, I was in the wrong lane, there was loads of traffic queueing down the third exit that the satnav wanted me to go down and I just couldn’t do it so I took the fourth exit.

And ended up on the M4 traveling in the wrong direction having the worst anxiety attack that I have had in the past ten years.

By the time we got somewhere we could turn around we had driven past miles of traffic queueing back the other way. Kate had stopped crying as we were moving and we just had to make the decision to give up and go back to where we were staying (taking an easy route via M4, M25 and M40 instead). In 20 minutes we were back where we started. We changed Piran and Kate into their pyjamas, gave them both milk and packed up the car. Within 30 minutes we were back in the car and headed home.

I was (and I still am) so very, very upset that I missed out on such a special day. In the past 15 years that I have suffered from panic attacks and anxiety I have missed so many celebrations because I was too afraid to go. For once I was really looking forward to it, was all dressed up. I was getting to go out in the evening with my husband. I wanted to see Piran dance at the disco, and get a kiss from the gorgeous bridesmaid K. I wanted to show off Kate in all of her finery. I wanted to see my friends and do the leg dance to MC Hammer. I wanted to take beautiful photographs for my friend with Mr C’s lovely camera. I wanted to share in their day and see a couple I have known for 11 years finally tie the knot.

Today I am very sad. I am suffering the effects of a very emotional day and of spending 5 hours in total in the car. I am worried about the fact that since having Kate my anxiety levels seem to get worse not better. We talked about that in the car on the way home. Mr C was worried that I have been depressed and that I wasn’t telling him. I don’t think that I am but I am worried about myself. I had agreed to go and talk to someone about the way I feel at the moment. I need to trust myself to know what is normal and what is not. I know that two babies is hard work, but I think it is more than that. But I am afraid that people will think I am not trying hard enough to cope. That everyone finds this to be this difficult and they just get on with it. That I am somehow being useless and pathetic and should just pull myself together.

I dressed Kate back up this morning and took her with me to do the shopping. Her Auntie A bought her this beautiful dress and she has almost grown out of it without wearing it. So today, I made myself make up for one thing I didn’t get to do yesterday and I showed Kate off in all her finery. Who cares if it was just to random strangers in Tesco.





Those familiar feelings

1 07 2011

This morning I woke up with pains in my tummy and a more than familiar feeling in my chest of not being able to breathe fully. Like something is juts resting on my ribs. I know this only to well, the vague and constant unease, the inability to settle to anything. The beginning of a full blown anxiety attack.

It has been a while but that does not mean that it doesn’t scare me anymore. If anything it is the opposite.

I should have seen the signs really. The constant feeling that I am never up to date, never on top of everything. Putting unrealistic pressures upon myself even though rationally I know that I only had a baby eight weeks ago, that these first weeks have not been plain sailing and that we are all suffering for it and should all be good and kind to ourselves.

The worst part of this is the constant stream of worries and thoughts that run through my brain, stopping me from shutting down and sleeping while I can. I crave routine like a junkie craves their next fix and we just haven’t got there yet and it is literally sending me crazy.

Today I have to take Piran to nursery for 11.15 and stay with him until 1pm while he does his sponsored ‘Toddle’ around the garden and has a picnic. Obviously I have to take Kate with me. I was on tenderhooks all night to see what time she would wake, when she would feed. Then mentally counting forward the hour until the time we have to be out. Millions of things going through my head, calculations and questions…

… so if she eats at 5 the next will be 8 then 11 but sometimes she will go 4 hours between one of those so maybe 12 but i will still be at nursery then so I am going to have to feed her while we are there which I just really do not want to do because we will be outside in the garden and I might not be able to find somewhere to sit and I don’t think that I will be allowed to go inside as I have to be with Piran all the time as he is not meant to be at nursery at that time so they will not have the staff required to look after another person and what if she cries and cries and is fussy and it takes an hour to feed her. So if I can get her to feed at 10 then she will not need another until I am back from nursery but that means I have to feed her at 7 which is only 2 hours after this feed and she will be fussy and fed up if I try to feed her like I am trying to fatten her up. And we haven’t done Piran’s dinner and when will Piran sleep because I need him to have a nap and we have to go out at nap time so should I try and get him to nap before we leave or shall I just not bother. What if we leave early and drive around he can sleep in the car but that is no good because then I wouldn’t be feeding Kate at 10 which I really need to do…..”

…and on and on and on until I am so wound up and anxious that I cannot think straight.

Thankfully it was an early start around here so Mr C helped out and did some jobs, and looked after small people while I did some jobs so that everything is ready for my Dad’s visit this weekend and I feel much better.

In the end Kate wanted milk at 7 and I will feed her again now. Piran happily went for a nap at 9 because he was up early. I wrote this post to make me feel a bit better. Not sure if it worked yet. Is it any wonder I am exhausted by tea time?





From the archives: A small world

21 06 2011

There are posts in my archives that mean a lot to me that may not have been seen by quite a few of my readers. So, for a short while, during these crazy new baby days when I don’t have the time to blog as much as I would need or like I thought that I would share some posts from the past, in a ‘From the archives’ series. As much for my own enjoyment as well as, I hope, yours. 

In keeping with the CyberMummy theme this week this is the post that I wrote shortly afterward. I am again feeling nervous and apprehensive about going to CyberMummy and meeting all of these wonderful people. It is so much bigger this year too. At least I have a baby to hide behind, although having a newborn definitely brings out my old anxious behaviours so if anything it is worse this year.

Quite possibly the only time some of you have met me I stood up in front of a room of 200 people and opened my heart, soul and mind to you by reading one of the most honest and personal blog posts that I have ever written. I think that I did okay, despite a nervous wobble at the beginning and a few tears along the way. I couldn’t believe I could make a room full of people laugh but I did.

So, it might come as a bit of a surprise if I tell you that throughout my whole adult life I have suffered with social anxiety, depression and panic attacks. When I was 18/19 I was living with friends and had a full time job. I had a nice boyfriend, a great social life and brilliant friends. But without any warning I started to get anxious and have panic attacks when we went out clubbing. So after a while I stopped going. Then I started panicking when we were in a restaurant or pub. So I stopped going. Then it started at people’s houses, then when shopping and bit by bit my life got smaller and smaller until the only places I could handle being were at home or work.

I cannot remember what made me finally admit that something was wrong and go to see my GP but I went thinking he would just tell me that nothing was wrong and I should just get on with it. So I was shocked when I walked out that day with antidepressants, a sick note from work and an appointment to see a therapist. I guess it is not until you stop, and look at your life that you really see the extent of the problem.

I went for my first visit to my therapist, her name was Elizabeth and she drank herbal tea. We talked about how I felt in social situations, what I could (very short list) and couldn’t do (very long list). Together we rated them in terms of difficulty. Going to Tesco to do the shopping at a quiet time of day, going into town for an hour on a Saturday, going to the pub, the cinema, a nightclub. Off I went the first week to try and achieve one small thing. I had to write a diary every day and bring it with me each week. I don’t really remember much more from the therapy apart from one thing. I was struggling with the whole process when we suddenly had a breakthrough. I remembered a night, one that I had pushed to the back of my mind. Not a horrible memory but one I wasn’t happy with or proud of. Turns out, this was one of the most significant nights of my life considering the implications it has had over the years.

I was 18. I had passed my A-Levels and gone off to University in Cheltenham. I was young, it was my first time away from home. I couldn’t get a place in halls so I lived the other side of town from my campus, in a room in a family home. One night during Freshers Week there was a comedy event at the SU bar and then I tagged along with some people that I had met to a nightclub in town. Once there I don’t remember a lot. I had been drinking but not excessively as I had to get myself home. I remember being standing by a railing looking at people dancing and feeling hot and hemmed in and panicky. The next thing I remember is coming to as a bouncer carried me down some back stairs, and dumped me on some steps in a side alley. I was alone and scared. I guess he just assumed I was drunk but I have no idea why he thought it was okay to just leave me there. Thankfully I remembered how to get home from there, and following large groups of people as much as possible so people didn’t know I was on my own, I made my way back to my room. Within 5 weeks I was back home, although I didn’t think that this incident was even part of the reason I left it definitely knocked my confidence and I found it harder to make friends.

Discovering there was a root cause to my anxiety definitely helped me deal with how I felt and to understand what happened and why. I had three months off work, and bit by bit I reclaimed bits of my life. I learned to recognise the signs of a panic attack, to know how to diffuse how I felt before it ramped up into a full blown attack. I learned that a panic attack was never going to make me throw up in public (my biggest fear). I ended up being signed off work for three months, on antidepressants for over a year.

I am not ‘fixed’. I never will be. Funnily enough I am happier standing up in front of a room of strangers than I am going to a friends house for a party. I know that I will never be the life and soul of the party again. I know I probably spend too much time at home in my comfort zone. I came to terms with my new smaller, but happier and more comfortable life. The day I moved to Brighton was a high like I had never imagined. I felt that I had done it, beaten it. I soon found out that was not exactly the case, that I still have limits. I hate going for a meal with lots of people, a combination of worrying about the bill and I tend to end up in a conversation vacuum, where the people either side of me are both talking to other people and I just sit there like a plum. I don’t do house parties anywhere other than my home (and I can only invite close friends). I get freaked by crowds. I don’t like to be hemmed in, I will always be somewhere on the edge. I still have dark, black days where I just want to stay in bed, although having a baby means you just can’t do that anymore.

I read Rebecca’s post on two-become-four and I started to leave a very long comment so I decided to tell my story here. I just want to say that yes, it can feel like life is small and these things will never get better. But that sometimes they do, and perhaps if there is someone out there that feels like I did, you might be stood on a stage one day overcoming all of your fears and feeling like you are on top of the world.





A small world

20 08 2010

Quite possibly the only time some of you have met me I stood up in front of a room of 200 people and opened my heart, soul and mind to you by reading one of the most honest and personal blog posts that I have ever written. I think that I did okay, despite a nervous wobble at the beginning and a few tears along the way. I couldn’t believe I could make a room full of people laugh but I did. 

So, it might come as a bit of a surprise if I tell you that throughout my whole adult life I have suffered with social anxiety, depression and panic attacks. When I was 18/19 I was living with friends and had a full time job. I had a nice boyfriend, a great social life and brilliant friends. But without any warning I started to get anxious and have panic attacks when we went out clubbing. So after a while I stopped going. Then I started panicking when we were in a restaurant or pub. So I stopped going. Then it started at people’s houses, then when shopping and bit by bit my life got smaller and smaller until the only places I could handle being were at home or work.

I cannot remember what made me finally admit that something was wrong and go to see my GP but I went thinking he would just tell me that nothing was wrong and I should just get on with it. So I was shocked when I walked out that day with antidepressants, a sick note from work and an appointment to see a therapist. I guess it is not until you stop, and look at your life that you really see the extent of the problem.

I went for my first visit to my therapist, her name was Elizabeth and she drank herbal tea. We talked about how I felt in social situations, what I could (very short list) and couldn’t do (very long list). Together we rated them in terms of difficulty. Going to Tesco to do the shopping at a quiet time of day, going into town for an hour on a Saturday, going to the pub, the cinema, a nightclub. Off I went the first week to try and achieve one small thing. I had to write a diary every day and bring it with me each week. I don’t really remember much more from the therapy apart from one thing. I was struggling with the whole process when we suddenly had a breakthrough. I remembered a night, one that I had pushed to the back of my mind. Not a horrible memory but one I wasn’t happy with or proud of. Turns out, this was one of the most significant nights of my life considering the implications it has had over the years.

I was 18. I had passed my A-Levels and gone off to University in Cheltenham. I was young, it was my first time away from home. I couldn’t get a place in halls so I lived the other side of town from my campus, in a room in a family home. One night during Freshers Week there was a comedy event at the SU bar and then I tagged along with some people that I had met to a nightclub in town. Once there I don’t remember a lot. I had been drinking but not excessively as I had to get myself home. I remember being standing by a railing looking at people dancing and feeling hot and hemmed in and panicky. The next thing I remember is coming to as a bouncer carried me down some back stairs, and dumped me on some steps in a side alley. I was alone and scared. I guess he just assumed I was drunk but I have no idea why he thought it was okay to just leave me there. Thankfully I remembered how to get home from there, and following large groups of people as much as possible so people didn’t know I was on my own, I made my way back to my room. Within 5 weeks I was back home, although I didn’t think that this incident was even part of the reason I left it definitely knocked my confidence and I found it harder to make friends.

Discovering there was a root cause to my anxiety definitely helped me deal with how I felt and to understand what happened and why. I had three months off work, and bit by bit I reclaimed bits of my life. I learned to recognise the signs of a panic attack, to know how to diffuse how I felt before it ramped up into a full blown attack. I learned that a panic attack was never going to make me throw up in public (my biggest fear). I ended up being signed off work for three months, on antidepressants for over a year.

I am not ‘fixed’. I never will be. Funnily enough I am happier standing up in front of a room of strangers than I am going to a friends house for a party. I know that I will never be the life and soul of the party again. I know I probably spend too much time at home in my comfort zone. I came to terms with my new smaller, but happier and more comfortable life. The day I moved to Brighton was a high like I had never imagined. I felt that I had done it, beaten it. I soon found out that was not exactly the case, that I still have limits. I hate going for a meal with lots of people, a combination of worrying about the bill and I tend to end up in a conversation vacuum, where the people either side of me are both talking to other people and I just sit there like a plum. I don’t do house parties anywhere other than my home (and I can only invite close friends). I get freaked by crowds. I don’t like to be hemmed in, I will always be somewhere on the edge. I still have dark, black days where I just want to stay in bed, although having a baby means you just can’t do that anymore.

I read Rebecca’s post on two-become-four and I started to leave a very long comment so I decided to tell my story here. I just want to say that yes, it can feel like life is small and these things will never get better. But that sometimes they do, and perhaps if there is someone out there that feels like I did, you might be stood on a stage one day overcoming all of your fears and feeling like you are on top of the world.