Fade away

20 07 2012

Just over three months ago I left my job that I had been doing for eight years. When I went back to work after my second lot of maternity leave it just didn’t feel right anymore. I just felt like I didn’t care about the job any longer. And that made me think that it was time to move on, to do something new and exciting and that I would want to do as opposed to ended up doing.

I now work one day a week for a sewing shop in Eastbourne, keeping their website and blog up to date, their facebook and twitter, and many other bits and pieces in between. I thought that this would be the perfect postion for me, putting together my online skills and experience with my love of making and sewing and fabric.

On paper it is just that. But actually I find myself feeling just like I did when I went back to work before. And that really, really scares me.

Tiredness and Postnatal depression have robbed me of my passion and love of being organised, getting a job done, throwing myself into a task and not stopping until I have given everything I have and done the best job I can.

That scares me so much. That has always been such an integral part of me. This work ethic, the drive to do well, to impress, to be the best I can at something. Without that I just feel so flat and dull and nothing.

Instead I am now fighting apathy every step of the way. I am so very tired all of the time. Sleep doesn’t seem to have much of an effect neither does rest or time off or time alone. I have no pride in anything at the moment. Not in my work, or my home or my accomplishments. Projects I had been working on have been discarded and forgotten about. I feel a sadness and a futility so deep down that no matter how much I try I can’t fight the tide. I am sinking into myself and I don’t know what to do.

This was probably the worst time to start a new job. I feel that I have let myself down and let everyone else down. I am just going through the motions. I am vacant and not paying 100% of attention. I am dull and lifeless and perhaps I will just fade away. I don’t recognise this person and I don’t like this person. I am worried that leaving that job was the wrong thing to do, that I should have stayed where it was safe and just waited it out.

I want to be vibrant and fun. I want to have passion for something and I want to inspire others. I want to teach, to remember what it was that gave me light and hope and that spark and get it back. I want to get up in the morning and look forward to the day ahead. I want there to be light at the end of my tunnel. I want to have a smile on my face.





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?





Me

20 04 2012

Today I went to the doctor to talk to her about starting to stop taking my antidepressants.

It is a strange feeling to be here. I don’t want to count my chickens but I feel so much better than I did and that makes me want to scream and shout a bit. I did it, I bloody did it.

Friends on twitter told me that when you have two children it is very very hard but after the first year you start to feel human again and it starts to get easier. I trusted them so I believed them but at the time inside I was screaming WHAT? A YEAR? A WHOLE YEAR? YOU MUST BE JOKING.

Well, I can honestly say that they were right. Kate came into our lives 352 days ago, and as I rush headlong towards the huge milestone that is her first birthday I definitely feel that this is now easier, that going out and doing things, getting through a day at home, managing to look after a family of four is not the impossible task that I felt it was at times over the last twelve months.

And now it is me in that position, with a very good friend due to give birth imminently to her second child, my best friend pregnant with her second in the summer, trying to find the balance between warning them that two children IS MIND BLOWING SOUL SUCKING SLEEP DEPRIVING UTTER CHAOS and reassuring them that yes, this will be hard but if I can do it they can and that I will always be here for them. Just concentrate on getting through the first year.

Ah-ha.

We are so blessed with our beautiful children and now I have a handle on them and looking after them and getting through each day it is time to turn my attention to myself for a bit. The next few months are going to be hard with Mr C away during the week 75% of the time, but we have our routines and our friends and I am sure we will be fine. I have left my job of eight years and now I work one day a week freelance for the Owl and Sewing Cat, updating their website and I am starting blogging for them too. Any of you sewing / crafty people should check it out. And if you are local to Eastbourne then I highly recommend their workshops – I have attended both the dressmaking and quilting ones and I loved every minute.

I am also making a little money from this blog, and a couple of other things that I have been working on. I still feel like there are not enough hours in the day to get stuff done and shortly I will have a backlog of reviews on the blog but slowly it is all slotting into place. One thing that I am doing at the moment is attending a three week Beginners DSLR course with Jerry Lebens Photography School and after the first week I must admit that I love it but it is definitely a trial and error thing. This is my favourite photo so far this week. It is great to get my brain thinking of something new.

I love my life. I love being home but I really love having the opportunity to do something new. I am learning and it is exciting. And under it all I am remembering what it is like to be me.





Bonding

10 02 2012

One of the real breakthrough moments for me in my journey with postnatal depression over the past few months was when I realised that Kate and the depression were two very separate things. Yes, the fact that Kate had colic, and was a difficult, angry, feisty little baby was hard, and didn’t help but even if she had been quiet and placid and sleepy I would have still felt the same. More sleep would have made a bit of a difference but the anxiety and roller coster style ups and downs would have still been there.

After I had Piran it took me a long time to bond with him in the way I had expected to immediately. I have always put that down to the scare of him being in Special Care just hours after birth and the fact that I held back, didn’t want to love him until I knew he would be okay. I know I have written about this before but somewhere along the line I fell deeply in love with my little boy and suddenly I understood what everyone else had been going on about.

Then we had Kate. And yes, I felt happy and elated when I had her, and walking out of the hospital on the same day was just amazing. Then I got home and realised that I had no idea how to look after a newborn baby even though she was my second as for the first week with Piran most of it was handled by the SCBU nurses. Then she started crying and didn’t really stop until she was nearly five months old.

I am not sure how we made it through that time. I know for sure that it wasn’t easy and that we are still getting over it. I was so focussed on getting through each day and trying to make our baby girl as happy as I could that I didn’t realise for a long time that I didn’t yet have those feelings. I would have done anything for her from the minute that she was born but it never seemed natural.

I was up in the night with Kate two days ago and as I stood in her room, holding her, rocking her, murmuring into her ear with her hair tickling my nose as I placed tiny soft kisses on her cheek I suddenly felt it. That point deep in my belly that makes me feel like hugging her and holding her all the time. Pride and love and bubbles in my stomach that feel like they burst when I hear her laugh. So much love I am not sure what to do with it.

I wonder now if this is just my way. That I am a slow burner when it comes to these things. Now that it has happened twice I am not so concerned at all. In a way this delayed reaction helped me get through the last few months. I have trouble hearing Kate cry at all these days but in the beginning I had to listen to it for hours on end. I have always been happy to leave my children with their dad, or grandparents or at nursery and walk away and have me time. Perhaps this delayed reaction really helped with that (and in turn helped me keep my sanity).

Or perhaps it is just as I have suspected that I am not really a baby person at all. Obviously I liked my babies but now she is nine months old and can interact with us, shout and laugh and clap and follow me it is nothing short of amazing. I always say that I don’t want to wish her baby days away but actually I suspect I really do! I am fairly sure that this is my last baby, and if my theory is correct, and babies are not my thing then I shouldn’t be getting broody round any newborn babies any time soon.

Mind you, if you see me looking wistfully at toddlers can you remind me how much I really love sleep?





My name is Kelly and I have Postnatal Depression

28 11 2011

When I started to realise that something wasn’t right with me and how I felt after Kate was born I initally spoke to Mr C. Then, before even making that first trip to the doctor I turned to my blog to write. It is what I have always done when upset, or anxious or struggling in the past and it was the natural place for me to get it all out of my head. Snapshots was the post that I wrote on the 16th July this year.

Since then I have written a number of posts, some positive and happy, others not so much but always writing and sharing. And through doing so I have learned that I am not alone, that there are others out there who have felt this way and have found the time to leave me a comment and support me in some way.
I have never been afraid to admit how I am feeling I have openly told people that I have had Postnatal Depression this time round. Although I hated saying “I am suffering postnatal depression” so I have tried to say experiencing instead of suffering. To me suffering makes it sound like I am passive and I am not. I am doing everything I can to find a way out of this. Perhaps I am happier to talk because I have suffered from depression in the past. However I do know that others may feel completely different from me. And I cannot imagine what it could be like to feel so bad that you are unable to reach out and speak to anyone at all. I could not have got to the place that I am at now without the love and support of my friends and family, the doctor I have been seeing, the group that they sent me to.
I remember when I was talking to the Health Visitor in the first place, asking for the contact details so I could go to a group and she was very apologetic that we were talking in the room where the babies were being weighed and she hid her face and whispered. I remember being really shocked. If she acts like that then someone else might get the impression that it is something to be embarrassed about, or ashamed of. If that Health Visitor was the first person I had seen and she made me feel like that perhaps I would never have talked to others, or attended my group. 
Until people stand up and admit that this is NORMAL. That this happens to all sorts of people in all sorts of situations then there will always be a stigma attached to it. Today I have discovered a new blog Boo and Me and she feels the same and is doing something about it. The little badge below is from her site. Others have written about this recently and I just wanted to add my voice to the mix. Read about how she is trying to raise money for The Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation by arranging a raffle. Please, visit the site A Helping Hand and then buy a ticket or two if you can.

Boo and Me




The Gallery: Something I am proud of

23 11 2011

This rather dodgy collage may seem like an odd thing to be proud of. It is not the collage itself but what it represents.

Today was our last session of our Postnatal Depression support group. We were asked to make a picture or write something that showed our journey over the past ten weeks. This was mine. It may seem a bit odd but in essence on the left is me having a baby and already being a mum to a toddler. That I was shaken to my core with how I felt afterwards. That I wanted some treatment.

Then I went to group and was made to feel welcome.

On the right hand side I picked words that describe what my life is starting to be like, and how I want our life to be.

At the bottom is my new mantra. Thank you to Emily for sharing this with me recently. The words have been firmly stuck in my head since I heard them and I think it sums up my new frame of mind perfectly.

I am proud of myself. I am proud of the other women on my course. I am proud of the way we opened up and supported each other. I am proud that I plucked up the courage and went on the first day. I am proud that even though Kate had a complete meltdown in our first session I still went back. I am proud that I went along with an open mind and heart. I have learnt so much about myself. I can see how lost I was back then, and how far I have come. I am proud that I have been able to acknowledge that something was wrong, that I needed help and that I sought the help I needed. I am proud that I have felt able to write about my experience here, and I hope that this might make others feel less alone.

I am proud that I have seen this course through to the end and taken the messages and techniques away and applied them to my life so we can all move on from this difficult time and start to enjoy our life as a family of four.





Finding my way again

14 11 2011

In my PND group last week we were talking about expectations and positive and negative thoughts and how you may say and think one thing but if you take the time to examine it then you realise that actually you are wrong.

One thing I have said over and over to Mr C in the past few months is that ‘I don’t get anything done on the days that I am with Piran and Kate all day’ (Tuesdays and Thursdays). Now before people lynch me I know that there are many people out there that do the full time stay at home thing with two and more children all the time but I am talking about me here, and how I cope.

When I talked about this in group I set myself a homework to actually take note of what I did on these days. I feel like I don’t achieve anything but the truth is that on those days the house gets very untidy and I rarely manage to clear the kitchen and do the washing up before Mr C gets home.

So last Thursday I wrote a list of everything I did all day. It was pages and pages long and it made me realise that if I lower my expectations a little (why do we expect so much of ourselves?) then more of my days will be a good day.

For weeks I have been going to group and the two other ladies say that they are feeling positive and that they are getting better and I drag myself in feeling like I am getting worse and that I am always bringing the group down. But I am now thinking that if I lower my standards then more of my days will be good days and I will feel better.

It really is already working. I didn’t do the dishes or tidy up on Thursday last week but I did get two children dressed, fed and out of the house twice. I did a bit of laundry and played with my children. I was tired and stressed but overall it was a good day. And since I lowered my standards a little there have been more and more good days. Accepting that a bad hour doesn’t ruin a day has helped a lot as well.

Finally I feel that the good days are outnumbering the bad. I do feel like the fog is lifting somewhat and I have the sparks of a bit of energy to expend on something other than just getting through the day. I feel a bit inspired and a bit silly. I have noticed myself laughing a little, and teasing Mr C. Behaviours that I didn’t miss when they were gone but am shocked when I find myself doing them again. I sat and wrote my love letter to myself and it reminded me of more of these things. Like the fact I love animal socks and comedy dancing. I know I still have a long way to go but I feel like I am looking up, not down for the first time in a long time.

With clarity comes some sadness and regret. That my darling husband has had to deal with all of this. That I have perhaps not been playing with my children as much as I should have. Details, like the fact that at Kate and Piran’s Christening I didn’t get pictures of them with their godparents. I am really upset about that. I really was in a state back then.

But there is no point dwelling on the past, it is time to look towards the future. And the future is all sparkly and Christmassy so that is a winner. It is our first Christmas at home since we became a family and my mum and stepdad are coming to stay. The inlaws will be here too and I really hope that it is a special time. I am taking back control of me. I have lost 15.5lbs and gone from a size 16 to a size 14. Today I packed up all my size 16 clothes and put them in storage bags with my summer clothes. If I haven’t had to get them down from the loft by next summer I will get rid of them.

I am also trying to get myself organised and back on track, with the blog and with life. I have many reviews to write so I may be posting one every day or two until they are cleared. I also have a couple of posts that I really want to write (this was one of them) as well as the Make it Monday posts so it might be a bit busy round here!

Because I don’t really like a post without a photo, but I don’t have one that goes with this post I have these two instead. Firstly, my MIL bought round some old pictures of Mr C and his sister and I made this little collage last night. I think they look so alike!

Secondly it is my wonderful Mum’s birthday today so I thought I would put my favourite recent picture of her too.

Thank you all for all the love and support that you have shown me over the past few months. Every comment, every tweet means the world to me and I cannot imagine what my life would have been like if I didn’t have such a wonderful amount of support.