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.


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?


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.

Not the best week ever.

30 07 2010

Health Warning: This is a miserable, self obssessed, woe is me blog post. If I were you I would just skip over it. You have been warned.

I’m really starting to regret writing this blog post. I feel like since I did I am being tested, that life is trying to make it too hard for me to actually see my promises through.

As those of you that follow me on Twitter will no doubt be sick to the back teeth of hearing me say, I am ill at the moment. Since Monday morning I have felt constantly sick. I have not been sick but I am just filled from head to toe with a queasy feeling. It is hard, tiring and upsetting. I have been to the doctor and they gave me tablets that have made no difference. I have had an upset tummy as well on a couple of occasions and headaches which come and go, mainly at night but for over 100 hours I have felt sick. Whether I eat or not makes no real difference, only in the way I feel sick. If I don’t eat I feel sick with stomach pains from hunger. If I do eat I feel really sick and need to lie down.

Piran has been with my MIL almost all week. I am just incapable of looking after him. I get upset and he gets frustrated and being stuck in the house is so bad for him. I am lucky that we have someone to help out. I miss him. Yesterday was my birthday, and I spent it alone feeling ill. Today is Mr C’s birthday. Sunday is Piran’s birthday. We were having a party for him tomorrow afternoon and one for us tomorrow evening and both have been cancelled. I just want to feel well.

Last year I spent my birthday and Mr C’s birthday in hospital, in pain from the Prostin and with no sign of the baby coming ever. This year I have spent it in bed alone. My first birthday as a mum and it’s all screwed up. I have looked forward to making Piran a special birthday cake for months and months. Last night I went and bought him one. I am so disappointed.

Occasionally I feel like I am getting better, I did this morning, but now I feel just as bad as I did a few days ago. Will this ever get better? I can feel myself teetering on an edge. It is one that I know well, but one that I haven’t been near for quite a long time. Real life, being a mum, looking after my family keeps my feet and mind rooted fully in the real world. But being ill, not being able to get out, being alone for long periods of time, not much fresh air, all these things drag me down into the black hole that is inside of me. I don’t want to go there but I don’t have the energy, and I don’t feel well enough to stop it happening. I am so glad that it is the weekend, that Mr C and Piran will be here, that I will not be alone all the time. I really just need to hold on until this evening and then hopefully everything will be okay.

Please, Universe, let me get better for Sunday. I just want to enjoy my baby’s birthday.


13 05 2010

Today I freaked out. I was exhausted and the house was a mess and I still felt ill and couldn’t do anything without getting wheezy and the carpet was dirty and there was mud all over the house and the washing was still in the tumble dryer from yesterday and the dirty dishes were piling up and there was stuff on every single surface that I could see and I couldn’t even get the hoover out of the cupboard because it was so full of stuff and I opened every cupboard in every room to try and put something away but there was not a single space and I just moved things around and didn’t make a difference and Mr C called to say that he had a meeting that would go on late tonight and that meant my planned night out was off but I couldn’t even care because there was this pain in my chest and I was panicking and wanted to hide or I wanted to cry or I wanted to run away. Thankfully Piran was with his Nan.

I sat on the sofa on the phone to Mr C and just cried. I ranted about all of the things above, and the fact that there is so much stuff of Piran’s that we don’t use or he has grown out of but that I don’t want to give away or sell because I want another baby in the near future so that would be silly but the house is fit to burst.

I said that all I wanted was for someone to give me a nice, organised house that had a place for everything, I promise that I would keep it tidy and clean.

When I feel like this, when all of these thoughts crowd into my brain I just shut down. As the panic increases I slow down. The most I can do is sit on the sofa and watch television. I can shut out the guilt, I can start to breathe again. So long as I don’t take my eyes of the screen. Sleeping works usually too, but despite the fact I have been up since 4am I just couldn’t do it.

I sat on the floor and stared at the carpet. It really was dirty. Perhaps I could just hoover the carpet downstairs? If I just did that I would have accomplished something today. I went to get the hoover out and started to get distracted by moving stuff in the cupboard about. I realised what I was doing and stopped. I slowly and carefully hoovered the carpets downstairs, moving things, putting them back.

I realised that if I concentrated on one thing I didn’t panic. I didn’t get overwhelmed.

So this afternoon I slowly put one thing away at a time. If I tried to pick up two things I stopped. I would take one thing, put it away and then looked around for the next thing. I managed to tidy the front room and the hallway. I even dusted.

I don’t know why I have written this down. Perhaps the next time I have a day like this I can read it again and remember that by just focusing on one thing I can get over these feelings. These days are not new to me, although the added exhaustion of being a parent adds a new dimension. I feel like they come more often than they used to, but I can’t really be sure that is the truth. Every week there seems to be a reason why I do not feel ‘right’. I am frustrated. I have everything I ever wanted but I don’t seem to be able to get away from these old feelings, the old patterns. I want to be a happy, fun mum. I want to count my blessings every day. I want to enjoy the life we have made for ourselves. 

Week 4 of Maternity Leave (36 weeks)

1 07 2009

Your view:

My view:

Ah ha! I remembered the photos this week. I stuck the top one on Facebook yesterday and all of my lovely friends have been leaving comments like “wow, you are huge”. SO LOVELY!

Anyway, what did I do last week?

Monday: Got up, went to Tesco and bought some food as my Dad’s sisters had called me the night before to tell me that they wanted to pop in and say hi. So I got back, tidied the house and was unsurprisingly exhausted by the time that they were due to turn up at 11.30. Luckily they were 45 minutes late so I had time to recover a little. They stayed for a couple of hours and we sat in the garden and drank tea, ate cake and talked mainly about babies. Then they left and I went off to yoga which was okay, but I am not really enjoying it as much as I hoped I would. Had to watch my DVD on breastfeeding in the evening in preparation for the next day. It was interesting but annoyed me a bit. I know that breast is best. What I want to know is what I can do if I am struggling with it.

Tuesday: Went into Brighton for breakfast at Girlie # 2’s house. Had a gossip and a catch up and sausage sandwiches and juice and then came home to meet Mr C as we had our one and only antenatal class in the afternoon. It was an experience I can tell you. It is three hours long and dealt with the topics of labour, pain relief and a short bit in breastfeeding. There were 7 women and 5 of us had bought our partners. It was quite awkward, I felt okay because it was my midwife running the session so I knew her. We had to do the talk to your neighbour and then introduce them bit. It was like being at school or a work training course really! Cringeworthy. I won’t go into the details but it turned out I seemed to be the most prepared and well read person there. I can honestly say that I didn’t actually learn very much that I didn’t know but I have my pathological need for control and as you cannot control labour I have just read everything that I can get my hands on! Funniest moment for me was when the midwife said that we were welcome to take the placenta home so we could cook and eat it. I thought Mr C would actually pass out!

It is so annoying the way that they run these sessions though. One three hour session, there was so much more that they could have covered, that I would have liked to know more about, like how you feel after the birth, how long it takes to recover, what is normal, what could be signs of PND (I have had trouble with depression in the past so I am concerned about this). Also, we were shy and if it was a course, not just one session I would be more inclined to talk to the other couples and perhaps even make a new friend or two. My final complaint about the whole thing is linked to the breastfeeding issue. I read this very interesting post this week and feel that this ties in really. If there was greater support both before and after birth with regards to breastfeeding then perhaps more people would manage to still be breastfeeding after a couple of weeks. I have been given a DVD, shown how to breastfeed using a teddy (someone bought a toy dog, the mind boggles!) and will have advice straight after the birth and for the couple of home visits in the 10 days after the birth but after that I am on my own. The nearest NHS clinic is 30 minutes away once a week. So I just feel that the support could be much better and that would help with breastfeeding rates.

Wednesday: Stayed home and defrosted the freezer. The excitement never stops I tell you!

Thursday: Went to town and ran errands in the morning and saw the midwife. Squigler is still on the right hand side but everything else is all fine. Cleared the fridge and cooked up a storm to fill the freezer full of food so we have meals for after the baby is born. Yummy.

Friday: Went into town and met a friend for Pancakes and Tea and cuddles of her 6 month old baby boy. More cooking and the like in the afternoon.

Saturday: Oh it is so hot. In a crappy mood this morning so spent time sorting Mr C’s seed collection in the garden under the umbrella with my feet in a bowl of cold water. This cheered me up. Then Girlie #1 came for a visit and Mouldy popped over and we had a lovely time in the garden in the sun eating fruit and scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream and cups of tea. Bliss.

Sunday: Lovely lady popped in for a drink and a chat early in the morning and we compared pregnancy notes. She is 3 months behind me so nearly 6 months and starting to really feel it now (I just kept thinking Oh. You. Wait. It gets worse!!!) In the afternoon we went for lunch in a pub with some of Mr C’s relatives (the first time I had met them!) but Squigler was not impressed with me sitting down so I kept having to get up and walk about. It was too hot as well. The sign of the week to come!

Dealing with Hidradenitis and pregnancy

19 06 2009

Warning: Woe is me post. May be a good idea just to skip this one!

We have been away for a couple of wonderful days on holiday, and everything was perfect until last night when I felt a familiar bump come up on my bottom. I knew that my recent run of luck was too good to be true. I have a Hidradenitis flare up again. I was used to getting these every month before I was pregnant but the last one I had was in February, around week 12 so the fact that I had made it to 36 weeks was nothing short of amazing.

Anyway, what this means is that I cannot sit, or walk or lie down comfortable. The only place I get some relief is in the bath where I cannot spend all my time. I got so little sleep last night and this just means that I am in a foul mood.

Sorry, complaining so much but this hurts and it scares me. I have learnt to live with the condition in the best way that I can but what happens when it flares up and I have a baby to look after. What happens if walking is too painful, if I cannot sit comfortably to feed him?

I want to scream and cry that it is not fair but that will not achieve anything. Will go and get a cuddle from Mr C and some reassurance that everything will be okay and I will perk up again I am sure. Being in pain and not having pain killers always makes life seem worse anyway.

Looking on the bright side, we really did have a lovely time away together.

A little bit of perspective

8 09 2008

I am just sat here, trying to stay awake because it is only 8.20 on Monday evening and I am so tired due to miserable manic insomnia last night where I was awake from 2.30 until 5.30. Then the alarm went off at 6.30 and I wanted to DIE.

Anyway, that last post there was uber depressing and I am very sorry. Things are better now because I just read this “No matter what horrible thing you’re going through, when it’s all over it only takes three seconds to sum it up. Remember that.” in this post here.

So, a little perspective.

I have health problems, they suck but I am well enough to enjoy my life.

That is better :o)