There is nothing I like more than to curl up on my bed next to my two cats and take a rest/nap. This is usually a luxury many people can’t do and certainly took a while for me to allow myself to do this. Working part time means I can cherish the quiet moments in my house when the girls are at school and hubby is at work. No one around its just me and my two furry friends. I can let my mind wander and drift off.
When I was ill with postnatal depression I found switching off really hard to do. Even if I took myself off to another part of the house I could still hear the goings on with the family and found I couldn’t relax. My husband would have to take the children off to the park or to visit his parents so that I could be guaranteed two hours to myself. One hour would be spent winding down my mind and body and then the next hour or so I would finally drift off to sleep.
Still now I find that I need that rest and often when I have been solo parenting due to hubby working away, when he is back it is only then that I can really relax and drift off to sleep for a few hours. I now can appreciate and know that it is a vital part of my self care.
The sixth photo in the perinatal mental health photo challenge.
I’m definitely not active in the fittest sense of the word! But I like a challenge. Last year I challenged myself to walk the London Bridges walk to raise money for our support group Embrace which myself and my friend run as volunteers at our local Children’s Centre. However months of knowing I had to train I didn’t until the last 3 weeks. Despite this I still managed to complete the challenge in one piece, walking 16 Bridges along the River Thames a total of 25km. A huge achievement and one I couldn’t have done without the amazing support and donations we received.
Sometimes it’s good to challenge yourself and get active. Now I need another challenge to motivate myself to get a bit fitter!
Colourful is a word that evokes many meanings to me.
I love the colours in nature, they can zing out at you and take you by surprise. Like seeing a rainbow on a grey rainy day or watching the tree have their last huzzah in autumn and brighten up our walks to school.
Colourful can also be my language! Blue and loud especially when I have had enough. Enough of being a mummy for that minute. For a minute when I would like the bickering to stop or just want to get off my rollercoaster of mummyhood and want my world stand still for a while.
Colourful like the clothes in my Girls wardrobes so bright and cheerful yet all I wear is dark and drab colours. Colourful like the make up in my bag which I rarely wear, telling me of a life I once had. Of a life I miss, yet not forgotten.
Sometimes I dip back into that life, now I know that my life from that time has changed. Changed for the better as I have a beautiful family. When I think of them I think of colours. I think of the moments I have taught my girls to say and later spell the word red. That moment of elation from them and me when they have done it and pride too shining out like a rainbow.
The irony is that when you are ill with postnatal illness and depression, the colour feels like it has been sucked away and there is nothing but black and white. Yet this illness isn’t black and white there are glimpses of colour. You pretend everything is colourful and long for it to be so again.
When colour does come back into your life it is amazing. It’s like being blindfolded and then suddenly you can open your eyes and see the world for what it really is.
The Rainbow of life in all its colourful glory.
Family; Day 4 photo challenge supporting Perinatal Mental Health 2017
This is going to read like my Oscar speech and x-factor elimination…in now particular order and hopefully no-one missed out…
Blood & Marriage family members my husband, mum, children, uncles, aunts and godparents. Without whom I couldn’t have gotten through my pnd years without and for all the supportive words and deeds.
My Besties and oldest friends who despite the distance would call or text me or understand when I bailed out on us meeting up because I couldn’t face the journey or logistics of leaving the house.
My NCT family who have seen me through the tough times and even though I couldn’t tell you how I was feeling rallied round me when I finally did pluck up the courage.
My #pndfamily who have been amazing, some of whom I’ve never met as they are online friends. Others I saw monthly at our support group meetings. Some I only met because I had postnatal illness and without it I wouldn’t have met them. Now I call my friends and an incredible supportive group of inspirational ladies.
My nursery mum’s, who have known each other since our children were 2, meet up regularly with each other or as big group of 7, or 23 when hubby’s and kids are involved! Always therefore each other. Laugh until we cry or cry until we laugh, I love them all dearly.
My Guiding family for which I know that when I was poorly with my postnatal depression was a reason for me to get better and realise what I can achieve when I am well.
New friends; friends for a reason a season or a lifetime. Every single person who comes into my life I love like they are family and that to me is what makes me who I am.
Talking about postnatal illness and what we are feeling is so important. I would even go so far as to say it was crucial in my recovery and essential I keep talking about how I felt then and how I’m feeling now.
I first had to admit the feelings I had to myself and then try and find help and support. Google can be a help but what I realised was that there are a lot of unscrupulous adverts that can lure a vulnerable person into paying a fortune to “get cured”. This shouldn’t be the case for postnatal depression. There are groups and amazing small local charities based around the UK that have local support groups and can offer counselling services. There is also your GP and Health Visitor who can provide some professional guidance to the services that you can access for free.
It made such a difference to me to be able to sit in someone’s living room surrounded by other mums who “get it”. It was a huge weight to not feel judged or to have to feel you should put on a mask of “everything is okay”. Talking really helped me. Is rising too, I was able to put down in words how I was feeling and I used them to tell my close friends how I was feeling. That was another huge step on my road to recovery.
Now I am a “well-mummy” I, along with a friend of mine run a support group for other mums in our local area. No mum should feel they are going through this alone. It is only through talking to others do you realise that we are not alone in this and we can recover.
This is the second photo for the month of November to celebrate and promote perinatal mental health awareness.
It is a very poignant photo and evokes a lot of sad emotions for me. I remember the lead up to this photo like it was yesterday, I recall the feelings and physical symptoms of postnatal anxiety at its highest, I’m pale, almost White, a fake smile if that but also looking at this photo through the eyes of a now “well mummy” I can also see that it was not only me that was going through it. The whole family is. My husband has a fake smile too, it’s not meeting his eyes. Even my children aren’t happy in the photo. I had actually only just got in the restaurant to say goodbye to our hosts after spending the last hour throwing up in the car park and on the phone to my support therapist.
This is what postnatal anxiety does. It robs you of any happy moment to enjoy. We were going to a family event in the south of London. This meant a long car journey from North of the river ie north London. Before the journey had already began I had spent most of the morning on the toilet and feeling nauseous. My key symptoms of anxiety and post natal anxiety was similar to that of a norovirus bug, need I say more? Between us we got the girls ready in their best clothes, and set off. My husband had to stop and pull over before we had got to the motorway so that I could throw up. My stomach was like a washing machine, I had begged him to go solo and take girls or just go alone, but we needed to go together, or he had persuaded me that it would be fine. It wasn’t. We arrived and I took a deep breath. I was fine for the church service but could feel my stomach relaxing and with that the rest of my insides. Not a good sign. Once we got to the restaurant I ran to the toilet. Not great either. I made my way outside on the pretext that I needed fresh air. Family all around me at the restaurant felt so constricting I couldn’t breathe. I literally stumbled ran and threw up simultaneously to the car. Shakily I rang my support therapist. Usually we spoke weekly about my postnatal depression but this time I text her saying I wasn’t coping well at all. She immediately rang me and spoke to me for about 30 minutes. She was a volunteer and gave her time to me without question.
Although I would much have rather remained in the car, my husband had been texting me “where are you?” “Are you okay?”. No I wasn’t but I think by then he realised that we had to go I wasn’t coping. I made my way back to the restaurant dreading the stares of the family members wondering where I had been. God knows what excuses my husband had given. We returned and as he realised looking at my face that we had to go, we made our way to thank our hosts, the official photographer wanted to snap a photo of the beautiful family he saw. This was it. Smile, cheese, flash. Thank you, let’s go.
I felt dreadful, I felt like I had all eyes on me, I know I didn’t look well. I certainly didn’t feel well. I wasn’t well. I was in the throes of postnatal depression and postnatal anxiety. And this is the raw truth of it in this photo.
It’s only now looking back on this photo and seeing my husbands face that I can see that he was put through the mill as well. The times when I begged him to stay home and look after the children as I felt I couldn’t look after myself let alone them. The times I begged him to come home early as I was throwing up in the toilet whilst the girls were in the lounge watching tv. The times I begged him to leave me at home and he go and see the family on his own or with the girls, making up excuses to me. The time I called him to collect me from a long awaited girls night out as I couldn’t get out of the toilet without feeling like I should go back in.
Postnatal anxiety is a thief, a cold callous thief. I know this now but it doesn’t stop me feeling emotional about the time it strayed onto my patch.
This is my first photo for the November photo month celebrating 30 days of Perinatal Mental Health photo Challenge 2017
The idea being each day is a theme and you post a photo with something relevant to that theme.
Day One 1st November is Goals.
Here’s my photo. A happy excited family at a train station. That’s me with my children about to get a train from London Paddington to Wales to stay with some friends. I’m travelling solo as hubby will join us tomorrow. Just a normal photo. However even now I’m here in Wales staying with our friends at their gorgeous cottage I still can’t believe I even considered embarking on this journey. Probably even a year ago I wouldn’t have even contemplated it, yet now this is our second solo long distance train journey in less that a week as during our first week of half term we went to visit my mum up north, solo, sans hubby.
I have to say that I do love a train journey, I always have, except when the fast trains go too fast and I feel travel sick! I like looking at the change in town to countryside views out of the window, daydreaming I could live in that farm house we have just passed. This photo is hugely significant in that I now not only believe in myself but have finally got most of my anxiety under control. Don’t get me wrong I have off weeks or times when it comes back with a-vengeance but for the everyday adventures, this is now a reality and not just a passing thought. I feel rightly proud of myself for doing this and for trusting myself to actually make it happen.
So #pmhphoto2017 #Goals #moreadventures.