An open letter to my doctor’s receptionist

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I had post natal depression, twice and have anxiety too. I manage this by taking anti depressants. It took me 3 years and a second baby to come to terms and accept the fact that I need medication to help me balance my jumble of thoughts in my head so that I can not only function as a mummy but be the best mummy I can be to my children.

Stepping into the surgery this afternoon I was already anxious. My prescription was wrong and I was 10mg short of my correct prescription. Now that might not mean a lot to some people but I know that can make a huge difference to me.

Only last weekend I was so distracted with family life I missed a daily dose of my meds. It was only after a number of hurtful arguments with my husband and seemingly uncontrollable outbursts I then realised the reason I had become a screaming banshee was that the hormone level inside my body had dropped dramatically due to me forgetting to take my daily dose of antidepressants. It shocked me to see that functioning, calm, part of me slip away so quickly.

So when I’m standing in front of you asking for this mistake in the repeat prescription to be rectified. Whilst my daughter plays in the waiting room and a queue of patients are lining up behind me. I do not expect you to look at my notes on your screen and try and make sense of them. Reading them outloud for everyone to hear and see that I am getting more and more uncomfortable with this situation.

You are not the gatekeeper to personal information and my circumstances to discuss my mental health in such a way. Nor are you qualified to question why I need to do this. You had no idea of my circumstances. The fact that I know how my medication and dosages can affect my mental health and the wellbeing of my family.

How dare you make me feel like I am a junkie needing a fix when all I needed was to rectify a mistake on my prescription.

I am quite frankly appalled at the treatment I received and am speaking up for all the other patients for whom just walking up to the reception desk in a doctors surgery might be the first and biggest step in their recovery process.

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The day I nearly ran away

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The day I could have run away

It was day away from the children that had been planned for a while. My youngest daughter was 10 months old and I had admitted to having postnatal illness for 6 months, and been taking antidepressants for 4 months. This timeline is important to note as its key to know that Pnd and fighting this illness doesn’t just go away once you seek and get help. It’s a fight and a journey that can last a long time.

I had signed up to a jewellery making workshop and was looking forward to learning a new skill. Plus a day away from the children was a real treat. Armed with a bundle of magazines and chocolate I was giving myself all the treats I’d been missing out on because I had been feeling in such a low mood for months.

I arrived off the train in London Kings Cross station and heard an announcement for a train leaving in 10 minutes to Leeds. As I was walking I was day dreaming and it went something like this.

If I got on that train to Leeds, my family wouldn’t know where I was until I didn’t arrive home that evening. So I would have a head start. I imagined me getting off that train and booking into a hotel. All I wanted to do was sleep, and enjoy that sleep in peace and quiet without being needed. I truly did think about it. But I’m glad to say I walked off the station concourse and went to find the address of my course.

I’m not sure what did actually stop me, perhaps the thought of having to call my husband to tell him where I was. Perhaps the thought of having to explain why I wanted to do it was not enough to warrant the worry and stress it would cause my family. Perhaps I knew I had got the support of my family.

But for others the thought of having some space and time to themselves is craved for so much that my situation could have quite easily happened and indeed does happen to others.

To get that “me time” is so important but mums in particular have this inane and unwarranted guilt that they “don’t deserve it”, maybe they are told or hinted at that they “don’t do anything except look after the baby and see friends at playgroups or play dates” . Maybe they think that because they don’t “work” and are at home looking after their child that they are not worthy of a break. Any of these thought have certainly gone through my head at one time or other and I know others think them too.

I often feel that as my children get older the “me time” opportunities are often easier to organise and even more essential. But the guilt is still there. Plus the logistics of organising it can work out to be akin to a military style operation!

I needed the “me time” opportunities when they were babies because I was wracked with anxiety and my body couldn’t relax in an hour massage, I would need a weekend just to unwind. I didn’t take this opportunity and probably wouldn’t have done even if it was offered to me hence my imagination on that station concourse about taking myself off somewhere to sleep.

“Me time” when they were toddlers was a logistical nightmare. I would feel guilty that I couldn’t cope with them, think that others would be able to. I do however suffer with severe sleep deprivation and once did manage to arrange a night away in a local hotel. My need for sleep totally outweighed my anxiety and it was blissful for that short 12 hours reprieve.

“Me time” now they are older is somewhat easier to organise and arrange yet my guilt and anxiety is back with a vengeance and even though we have been given the opportunity and “weekend away babysitting token”. I don’t know if I’m ready to cash it in yet. Even though my logical head is saying “you need this, why aren’t you packing your weekend away bag right now?!”

Now I don’t see it as running away. I’ve read too many quotes to make sure you get your energy up so that you can reenergise yourself.

Quotes such as “You can’t run a car on an empty tank.” Or “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Are really important to make note of because it’s true. You need to give yourself that time out, that moment to re group your thoughts and reenergise yourself. It doesn’t make you a bad mum to want to do these things it makes you a good mum because you know yourself that you give so much to your children that you need to give time to you. So that you can be that fun mum, so you can be school run mum, working mum, play date mum, PTA mum, mum who meets up with friends, mum who is a happy wife/partner, mum who has not lost herself but knows who she is and knows that everyone needs that time and that break. No guilt allowed.

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A close friend of mine has suffered with depression most of her adult life. To look at her you would never know, to speak to her you could never tell. This week she shared with me such a powerful poem about her deepest feelings. With her permission I am sharing it with you.

Here it is

Life
Thousands of words, many left unsaid
Mulling around in my crazy head.
I sometimes can’t seem to do right for doing wrong.
Often wonder where I really belong?

I feel so alone in a crowded place,
However, I don’t want people in my face
Often I scream and shout inside
Through my smile, I often hide.

For those in the know, it is hard to say
What they are thinking about you today.
My mind often doing overtime
As I’d committed a serious crime.

I feel so alone in a crowded place,
However, I don’t want people in my face
Often I scream and shout inside
Through my smile, I often hide.

Often I try and put the past behind
But this world can be so unkind
No matter what I am going through
My thoughts are of friends and how they do.

I feel so alone in a crowded place,
However, I don’t want people in my face
Often I scream and shout inside
Through my smile, I often hide.

Regrets have been many and opportunities seem few
It doesn’t matter whatever i do
The demons won’t leave me alone to try
And get through a day without a cry.

I feel so alone in a crowded place,
However, I don’t want people in my face
Often I scream and shout inside
Through my smile, I often hide.

Yes, I have often been on the edge,
Not yet fallen, though clung to the edge.
“Get a grip”, “pull yourself together”, are often said,
Difficult when you think you are better off dead.

I feel so alone in a crowded place,
However, I don’t want people in my face
Often I scream and shout inside
Through my smile, I often hide.

Face to face talks are often few,
If only friends really knew.
The deep pain contained inside,
Instead of “I’m fine”, often lied.

I feel so alone in a crowded place,
However, I don’t want people in my face
Often I scream and shout inside
Through my smile, I often hide.

Often the bottle of frustration spills,
As I battle with my inner battle of wills.
Debating and overthinking in my brain,
Is it true? Am I going insane?

I feel so alone in a crowded place,
However, I don’t want people in my face
Often I scream and shout inside
Through my smile, I often hide.

I often wish the solution was clear,
And that I could be guided by someone near.
Sometimes a hug is all I need,
Though often my soul is left to bleed.

I feel so alone in a crowded place,
However, I don’t want people in my face
Often I scream and shout inside
Through my smile, I often hide.

my photos don’t say a thousand words

With another “motherhood challenge” doing the rounds on Facebook for no particular reason. Here’s my thoughts again.

itsamumslife2016

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Whilst there are many social media trends of posting a “way back” photo, no make up selfie, or the twelfth photo in your phone album. One that is currently circulating of which I’ve no doubt I will be tagged to join in is “post 3 photos which show you’re happy being a mummy.”

I could quite easily scoop out 3 or more of my favourite children’s photos, ones which I’ve probably posted before but I wonder what does it actually mean? Do those 3 photos perfectly describe my journey as a mum? Or are they the photos I want others to see that it’s okay that being a mum isn’t always about the happy times.

Neither is most likely the answer. I don’t know what photos would honestly perfectly depict an honest account of me being a mum. Should I take a photo of the laundry pile or the state…

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Love yourself ; a poem for mothers

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Mirror mirror on the wall,
I don’t look at you at all
I don’t see me, myself and I
Looking back and wondering why.

Never looking directly at me
Why am I afraid of what I see?
My tired eyes, look but skim past
They only wander looking so fast

When I do look close
The thing I see most
Is the lines that show I laugh a lot
And the not the furrows of when I am not

I see the look of love I give to my baby
Not the dreams I think I’ve lost but maybe
Just this once I start to see
The person that is the real me.

The mum that my friends see
A woman, a mother who is strong and free
To fly from her struggles and rise above
Who should give more time to herself and show her more love.