Tag Archives: Mental health

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He has started school, embarking on his own journey through life. Of course his journey started over four years ago, when he first entered this world as a brand new, tiny human being. Back then he was so utterly dependent on me, to do everything for him, from feeding him, washing him, dressing him. I could lie him down somewhere and turn my back for a few seconds, knowing he would stay put, such was his inability to do anything for himself except breathe.

Now four years and four months have passed and he has started school. Proper primary school, with teachers and a uniform and term dates and inset days and homework and god forbid you take him out for a day during the week or else the government will fine you £120 for the pleasure. He cries about going each night and each morning and he drags his feet on the way.

There is writing practise to be done each morning in the classroom. In a class of however many children (25 maybe 30? I don't know) and then their parents and the teachers too. I find it claustrophobic and chaotic and distracting so I am not entirely sure just how much my four-year old gets out of. And if you don't fancy writing what about reading? He can recite the two books back to me but he isn't actually reading, he has memorised them, he doesn't look at the words or the pictures but the distractions in the room. Should I change the book now? Am I doing this right? Am I doing anything right any more and more to the point have I ever got it right until now? Should I tell the teachers that my son isn't getting anything from these 15 minutes each morning, other than delaying the inevitable that I have to leave him behind.

Then he sees his friend and decides that actually it is OK for me to go now, he will be OK now his friend his here. I sense he is still hesitant but take it as my cue to leave.

On picking him up, I question him like he is a terror suspect, asking him all the questions. "Who did you play with?", "What did you play?", "What did you eat at lunch time?" Some times he answers them, other times he doesn't. Every day he asks me why does he have to go to school again tomorrow "because Mummy it's a long time not seeing you and I miss you". It takes everything I have to not let the tears flow. "And I miss you too dude but if you want to be a fireman when you are bigger you have to go to school first".

The husband is working now too. Out of the house from 7 am until 3.30 pm. Leaving me alone to get Harry to school and pick him up, to manage the household, the chores, the shopping, the bills, the appointments, meals and everything else all by myself like a proper grown up for the first time in over two years. And in that two years so much has changed and I think I have forgotten how to run a house and now I have school-aged child and all the school stuff.

So many changes I feel left behind like the world is moving without me. Then a parcel arrives.

Open Uni pic

So I am changing too. Studying and trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.

All of this change is scary and exciting at the same time and I wonder, can I cope? I thought that now was the time to start studying after years of wanting to and never biting the bullet and now I wonder if I have made the right decision. So overwhelmed am I by my son going off to school and the husband working again and having all this stuff to do and trying to manage my emotions. I wanted to speak to my GP next week about weaning off my medication but all of this change has overwhelmed me and now I wonder if I should? Until two weeks ago I felt ready to have that conversation and I still want to but is that more because I just want to stop taking these tablets and to start feeling or is it because I actually am ready?

Next week sees another appointment with my Neurosurgeon, one that I will have to attend alone because the husband will be working and we can't afford for him to lose a day's wage to hold my hand. I have no idea what, if anything will happen. I am still in pain all day, every day. Some days worse than others but I get flustered and anxious and lose track of what I need to say, only remembering after the appointment and will anything I say make any difference?

Mind in overdrive. Change all around me. I can't keep up and feel lost but I don't want to feel lost. I want to feel normal. For once, I just want to feel normal.

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I am on familiar territory, a place I have been before, that which I hoped I need not visit again but here I am.

My life feels like it is falling apart once again. I am no longer in control in of what the immediate or long-term future holds. The hopes and dreams and plans I had just a few short weeks ago are shattered into pieces of glass. ...continue reading

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I am absolutely honoured to host the anonymous guest post from a fellow blogger. One who wanted to share some of her own story but felt unable to on her own blog. I am, quite frankly, amazed at all this lovely lady has been through and continues to battle with her daily life. Please do show her some love in the comments.

10 years ago now my family was complete ( so I thought) I'd been married ten years and we had just sold our tiny flat and moved to a much bigger house in a cheaper area. Far from home.

It was going to be the start of good things.

But not long after we relocated things changed.

I was busy settling the kids into new schools and making our house a home while my husband was busy having an affair with a new colleague.

We split up not long after. 

I was alone in a new place with no support and an ex husband with no interest in helping with the kids.

Two years after we had moved I got into a new relationship , purely casual. It was a neighbour that had been doing jobs around the house for me. I fell pregnant ( by accident) and told the father, I made it clear that he had no obligation to stick around. 

But he changed. He became possessive of me. He wanted my be his side all the time. Didn't like me to sit by the kids. Or hold hands with them. I tried to break it off. 

I didn't want my kids to live like that!

He became aggressive and threatening.

Telling me if I finished with him he would hurt me and himself.

I stood my ground , but then one night he came round to talk and smashed all my possessions. Then he hit me.

The next day I asked my ex to look after the kids and I took an overdose.

I couldn't see any other way out.

The kids weren't safe. I wasn't safe and the baby I was carrying wasn't safe.

I began to feel really unwell and realising what I'd actually done I called an ambulance.

It turned out I hadn't taken enough pills (thank god).

I was kept in hospital for a few days, I had to have lots of meetings with the psychiatrist and couldn't leave till he was sure I wasn't going to do it again. I was discharged and in the morning I took my kids, left all our stuff behind and got a train out of there.

I went home. 

To my mum.

She took us in , but she made it clear that she was angry with me.

Coming home tail between my legs single with kids and no home.

I didn't tell anyone I was pregnant.

We had to apply for temporary housing as mum didn't have room for us.

And when I took the kids to visit their dad he told me he was keeping half of them till the house was sold (to get half the money).

He tried to make me choose between the kids. I couldn't.

He kept 3 of them.

We would be 200 miles apart.

I was living in temporary housing, with depression (diagnosed after the overdose) and now I had to fight to get my kids back.

I still hadn't told anyone I was pregnant!

At the first custody hearing my ex was told to give the kids back, and told there was no way they would be removed from me. He appealed. Which meant another 8 months apart while social services did checks and reviews.

I was getting more pregnant all the time but I couldn't connect with the pregnancy. How could I look forward to a new baby when my children were so far away from me?

When I was 8 months and very visibly pregnant mum confronted me and made me go to the doctor. I was given a scan to make sure baby was ok and flagged up for depression.

It was Christmas when the baby was due. After getting a court order to have the kids for Christmas I had to go 200 miles by train to collect them. Just a few days before Christmas Day. My GP warned against it but I had to have the kids with me. 

I went into labour the next day.

I was out shopping for presents at the time. I had to go to the hospital alone as my mum had the children.

Labour was difficult. I was alone and still felt no connection to the baby. 

I was scared that I couldn't love it.

That changed the moment he was born as soon as I held him I loved him. Although I was and still am saddled with guilt over the fact that I had been completely disconnected from the pregnancy.

I had the kids for two weeks over Christmas. It ripped my heart out letting them go back. The guilt was huge. Sending them away while I had a new baby.

In January all the social worker reports came back, all recommending the kids be returned immediately to me.

On the day of the custody hearing in February, at the court my ex stated that he no longer wanted to appeal for custody. 

The sale of the house had gone through and his new wife was pregnant.

All those months of heartbreak were for nothing. 

I got the kids back a week later!

Having us all back together was one of  the most happiest moments of my life.

We settled down quickly and for  6 years we've lived in the same house in the area I grew up.

I'm now closer to my mum than ever.

Although initially she had been angry she is ultimately very very proud of me after all I went through and survived.

The guilt will always be with me. I didn't love my last baby till he was born, I overdosed while carrying him

But he is loved, he is loved so so much.

Not just by me but by his siblings and my mum. He is my silver lining.

My point in writing this post was a few reasons : to say that if you are in an abusive relationship getting out of it will be scary. Terrifying. But do it. 

Get help. Get out. It may seem like the hardest thing you will ever do. But do it. Get out.

If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, fear, don't go through it alone. Don't be ashamed to ask for help, to tell what you are afraid of. Do it. 

I didn't do it. And things could have been so much easier if only I had. I could have had support throughout my pregnancy.

If you come to a point where you feel like you can't go on get help call a relative , a friend , your doctor , the hospital , an ambulance. Call someone get help.

Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Things can get better!

I went through the absolute worst year of my life. I hit rock bottom. I wanted to end it. I struggled with a pregnancy I couldn't  connect to.

But now we are stronger and happier. 

Life throws crap at us but I know I can deal with it. I know I can ask for help.

I got out.

If I'd asked for help sooner it would have been easier.

Never be afraid to ask for help.

 

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It is a very strange feeling to me. Feeling content.

For the first time in a very long time I feel content. Happy even with the hand that life has dealt me. I have become quite the domestic goddess and housewife. I enjoy taking pride in our home, keeping it fairly tidy (there is only so much a naturally untidy person can do when they have a 3.5 year old child!), cooking nice meals when well enough. Certainly with the colder evenings demanding good old casseroles and stews it is a heck of a lot easier physically; to just throw stuff into a large pot or the slow cooker and wait. No standing over the stove for what feels like an age. With nursery being an easy, short stroll in 10 minutes even with me and Harry, I have even been doing my fair share of those as well.

I guess a lot of my contentment comes from feeling secure in our home but a lot also comes from feeling like I am doing my bit around the flat as well, I feel I have a purpose again.

It is funny how you don't notice these things until you are in a better place. I hadn't realised I felt I didn't have a role until I had one again.

Yet despite this I still have the anxiety and depression, lingering in the background, teasing me almost.

anxiety
Image courtesy of Frame Angel / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just a couple of weeks ago I decided to stop my medication. Now before you all tell me off I had already had my dose halved by my GP a couple of months ago so was on a fairly low one anyway. Yet within a day or two, the husband noticed just by my mood and asked me if I had run out. He then gently probed and suggested that whilst I may have felt I could manage without, for him to notice within a day or so perhaps I still need them for a little longer, so reluctantly I requested a repeat prescription.

I know that no one can be happy all of the time. I realise that every person on the planet is entitled to have a down day or two every now again. The problem I have is I worry that feeling low is a sign of returning to the dark place that I would like to never visit again. The anxious moments make me wonder if I need CBT again. I struggle to find where normal behaviour ends and the mental illnesses resurface. Will I ever know where that line is?

I am pretty sure it cannot be normal to get upset, in tears almost, when your 3.5 year old occasionally requests cuddles with Daddy instead of Mummy. I am convinced it cannot be normal to get upset at times over friendships broken months ago. It definitely isn't normal to assume that the fellow parents on the school already decided they don't want to become friends when you've never so much as said hello.

I just wish there was some klaxon in the sky that went off to warn me when things hit a crisis; at least then I would know and wouldn't be endlessly questioning myself, waiting for the black hole to come.

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So, I guess you all know I suffer from depression.  It is largely under control with the help of medication and a supportive family.  However, there are times when I get bouts of anxiety too.  And it all becomes just a little too much.

Today was one of those days.

We woke this morning to a misty start and I knew that once that mist had lifted, today would be a nice, bright day.  A taster of the Spring that is sure to arrive soon.  One of my favourite times of the year.

It all started so positive.  There is something about the Spring sunshine that brings out the best in me.  I had decided that we would all head out together, either to the local park or farm to make the most of the sun.

A lazy morning followed and then I announced that I thought it was a good idea to go out for a couple of hours.  Except I forgot something.  We had planned (and we were looking forward to) a roast dinner.  Which we hadn't yet started preparing, never mind cooking and it was already 1pm, having just finished a light lunch.  In seeing my positive mood, the husband suggested I take H out and give him some space to prepare dinner in peace (not something he would have suggested had he suspected I didn't feel up to it).  To which I agreed and started getting myself and H ready.

Then it hit me.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

The nausea.  The sweating.  Within seconds of putting the keys in my pocket a fear gripped me.  Although I suppose in reflection fear is probably too strong a word to use but I couldn't bear the thought of going outside without my husband.

I am not as mobile as I used to be and I worried about H running off and losing sight of him.  Sure, I could take him to the park in his pushchair but once there he'd need to be let out.  I panicked about what other people would think about me.  Why I think complete strangers would give me a second thought I don't know, but I did.  I worried that I would have to speak to other people for some reason and frankly I am not great at speaking to people I don't know.

And now?  Now I feel silly.

I let my son down today and I let myself down.

I know I struggle with depression still but I do hope that once we have a more permanent home, a place we can call home, that I may slowly be able to come off my medication but the anxiety, that hasn't happened for a long time and frankly, I am gutted.  It came as such a bolt from the blue.

Tomorrow I shall pick myself up and try to make it up to H.  I shall take him out tomorrow instead and we will go to the farm to feed the pigs and the ducks, maybe even have a cake in the coffee shop and today will be forgotten.  I hope.

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As regular readers will know, the fabulous Penny, Annie and Tanya have been to Ghana, visiting various projects that have been set up and run by donations to Comic Relief here in the UK.  As part of a plan to raise awareness of the work that Comic Relief has done in the last 25 years (yes, it really is 25 years old!) these bloggers have been sending digital postcards to around 150 of their fellow bloggers and here is mine!

Ghana

 

Dear Rachel

This woman Vivienne is one of the members of the Mental Health support group set up by the Basic Needs Trust in Ghana and funded by Comic Relief. She is standing next to a member of staff from the Trust. Like many of the group members, after treatment for her illness Vivienne received a small loan to help her progress as a dressmaker, and joined the self help group of which she is secretary. We spoke very briefly, but her passion for helping others within the community with mental health issues came through loud and strong, she is a really inspiring woman. She also welcomed us so warmly to the monthly group meeting. Amazing project.

 Love Penny

 

GoodWork
Go girls!  You did a fabulous job!
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Sometimes life throws you a curve ball or two and it can be difficult to see through to the positives.

It is how you deal with those curve balls that shape who you are, who you become right?

As a family we have had a huge amount to deal with in the last year.  Redundancy, illness, relocating, illness, new job, losing job, illness, debt, more debt, illness, losing our home.  And so it continues. ...continue reading