Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Super Delicate: Blip or Depression?

I started on the progesterone only pill 4 weeks ago because I couldn't stand my monthly cycle and being a slave to it for half of the month. (I'm convinced that I have PMDD, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is PMS but hugely magnified).

Every month for the last 14, I have wanted to call in sick in the week I am due on. Many of my sickness periods have started in that week. It's really obvious.

I started the PoP 4 weeks ago and it's as if my hormonal awfulness has been diluted and is now *every day of the month*. However, the awful urge to call in sick has all but disappeared, which is fabulous.

What isn't fabulous is that I have to get through another 2 months of bad-hormones and then hopefully I'll be on a straight and narrow path.

Help! Reassurance? Advice?

I really want to stay on the PoP because if it works how I think it did before, it will stabilise my pmdd. I think I need to I crease my sertraline. But by 'i' I mean, 'convince my GP to prescribe me something he doesn't want to'. I still have 2 journal articles that I can print off and give to him that I didn't need previously (I'm on 50mg sertraline and 15mg mirtazapine)

I can't stand my mood swings. My delicate emotions can't even stand a discussion about paint with MrB.

Some of it could be that my elderly Grandad passed away from old age last week. Some is because I've had some accidental contact from my mother and she has ripped open the stitches of the wound that never heals.

I need to be kind to myself, don't I? (But being kind to MrB would help!!)

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Mental Health and Motherhood

I'm Caroline, a mum of two boys, two and three years old. This is my story:

Seeing my mental health in retrospect, the problems are clear to see, but it's funny, when you're bogged down at the time, you just don't see it.

In my late teens, I became quite withdrawn and stopped being as confident around my friends. I cried myself to sleep most nights. I thought nothing of it. Crying every day isn't normal, it isn't ok and it's a big red flag.

I had my first real breakdown when I was 24, my job precipitated a complete drop into depression. After a 9 month wait, i had 2-3 years of talking therapy. I just didn't feel like myself. Luckily, I managed to get a new job during this period of time, despite me disclosing my depression. 9 years on and I'm still progressing in my job. I was lucky.

Took me years to emerge from that depression and so by the time I was about 27 I began to feel more 'normal'. My sickness record improved significantly and, although I had mood swings and anger issues, I had 3 'good years'.

...until I discovered I was pregnant with our first, planned child. We decided to have children because we didn't have any reason not to, I had never been broody because of my mini-mum role as a child. Pregnancy hit me like a house on top of a witch. My anxiety skyrocketed and I Googled EVERYTHING, obsessively.

I hated pregnancy, and my antenatal anxiety and depression was untreated, due to lack of help, consistency and continuity of care, I self referred to the specialist midwife who could see me once. Not good.

I had my first child, E. I developed PTSD after a trauma that I experienced in hospital and I self-diagnosed within 10 days. Saw my GP, got a referral for  NHS CBT (I'd done my research) and ...voilà...7 months later I was accepted for EMDR therapy (which I chose over CBT because it had a shorter waiting list). I was cured in time for the second trimester of my second pregnancy.

Yes, I self sabotaged my mental health by purposefully getting pregnant 7 months after the birth of my first child. I love my children, I love how close they are but my antenatal depression turned me into a different person.

I noticed and self-diagnosed my PND (post natal depression, or PPD, post partum depression) when my second child, N was 5 months old. I was crying, I felt awful, I wasn't good enough and my anxiety was awful. I thought that by being better organised or by having more gadgets/ clothes/ toys, that I would get better. Took me another 7 months to accept that I needed medication to help, ix got significantly worse and i had 3 breakdowns in  2014. I would get home from work, unable to function as a person, let alone a mum. I had 6 months off work altogether. I completed CBT (which was hugely delayed by GP stupidity). During the wait, I paid a private counsellor £40 an hour - for me that was money well spent. I learned about myself more in those 10 sessions than I had in almost 3 years of NHS therapy. I clicked with that counsellor and I will be grateful for her help for many years to come.

I started to tweet about my mental health when I was at my worst. I felt so alone and through the 'safety' of an incognito twitter account, I learned about my illness. I've had to learn to be careful, Facebook made me more upset, I compared my 'crummy life' to everyone else's happy smiling photos or nights out and child's accomplishments. Deactivating Facebook was the best thing I could do to protect myself during my breakdowns. Give it a try, it's strangely liberating.

I now believe that I have an undiagnosed personality disorder and I am starting a new therapy next month as well as seeking a psychiatrist's opinion.

If you suspect you or a family member have a mental health issue or illness, go and see your GP.

My most important lesson is that I need to practise self-compassion. To give myself credit for what I have gone through in my life and to be kind to myself. It really does help.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Broken Biscuits for Emotions

MrB has often said that my head ks wired differently to lots of people's. Maybe he was joking, but I like to think he has known how broken I was better than I did and that he always accepted it once it had become apparent how fantastically ruined I was by crappy parenting.

I'm fed up of being scared of abandonment:

Each time MrB goes to work for a late shift (or heaven forbid something else that involves him leaving me), I react with anxiety. On good days it's minor discomfort at the time and an hour or so before, but at any othler time it can be as bad as causing anxiety all day leading up to the departure. Cue, arguments in the hour before he leaves for work and terrible nagging, pulling and desperate anxiety of he has an impending night out. The night of his stag doo, I cried for 3 hours straight. FFS!

I hate abandonment for a couple of main reasons: my parents divorced (acrimoniously) when I was 6, seeing my dad every friday for tea and every other weekend we stayed at his house. I hated Sunday evenings, the car ride home I would hold back the tears and just be overwhelmed with the feelings that I had learned to hide from my shit head of a mother.

Then, me and MrB got together properly after our first full term at uni. I was at Leeds, he was at Nottingham. We saw one every other weekend when possible, and needless to say, it fell back into the Sunday evening heartbreak. I was crying myself to sleep every night already by this stage. I must take this opportunity to say that I graduated from Leeds with a 3 in my Chemistry degree. Not amazing but I have never failed an exam which I didn't intend to. I was at breaking point -I passed a bloody hard degree whilst crying myself to sleep every night. I am bloody amazing, yeah?

A bit of self-compassion there.

I avoid rejection and abandonment where i can in relationships. I didn't answer texts or calls from uni friends after we all graduated and I basically drifted away because I couldn't stand the responsibility of friendships. That the responsibility to be entertaining and interesting was ever present and that inadequacy would lead to rejection.

A hallmark of anxiety and depression is mind reading and also thinking about yourself and the world inside your head more than you really should. Remember, other people have their own broken biscuits and monkeys to deal with, they really don't analyse what I say.

I don't even phone my siblings, or text them because I have nothing to offer them. I have nothing left in the pot of emotions to be able to help them through their respective battles. We have all been screwed over by that woman.

I'm going on now, I just needed to get this out, get something out of my head.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

My Mother's Day (not the nice kind)

MrB 'helped' the boys to make me a lovely card (Funky Pigeon), he helped the boys to buy me a gadget that I've wanted for a while (a wireless phone charger kit) and I received a couple of nursery made cards.

I got a lovely handpainted mug for myself and I set about facilitating the boys to make lovely decorated tea towels for MrB's mum.

In the days before, I had started to question my current position on seeing my mother  In August  I decided that I didn't want to see my mum on a monthly basis anymore. Although the boys loved her, I felt like I was damaging a bit of my soul, each time she visited.

I hate her. Then i feel guilty, forget how damaging she is, idealise her as my 'mummy'. Then when I do see her, she  reminds me of the emotional dysfunction and of how  alone I was as a teenager , and it hurts me a bit more each time.

I have seen her twice since August, 45 mins for E's birthday in December and another time a few weeks later for Christmas (the second time was much much shorter as I made it abundantly clear that I wasn't having any chit-chat).

As a matter of coincidence, it is N's birthday in the coming week, so we are trying to arrange her to give him his presents. She has sent me texts, and on one occasion , when I sent a brief reply, she CALLED ME UP. I shouldn't have answered, she is neurotic and does it to my other siblings. Anyway. I did answer. No idea why. It's just added to the brain-maelstrom this weekend though.

Today, I was ok, I am a bit hacked off about my being in limbo since November about my ongoing mental health support.

Then, I slipped up...In a long queue at the post depot, to collect my mother's day gift, I went on to Facebook. WHY???

It was like being stabbed in the chest, three lovely people saying how wonderful their mothers are, and that they have been inspired by them.

I've been inspired by my mum too, to not be a sociopathic, lying, thieving, duplicitous, selfish, hypochondriac, fantastist, devoid of affection and genuine love.

Mother's Day can stay, but next year, Facebook, I'm leaving you on the 5th of March for at least 7 days. To avoid the trigger.

Because I'm worth it.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Gender Neutral parenting

So, it's no secret that I have 2 little boys. They love trucks, they adore all-the-trucks, and we own lots of toy diggers.

I'd like to believe that I try to parent them neutrally, just as I would if one (or both) of them were girls:

Crying is ok (as long as it isn't pointless tantrum crying that drives mummy mad!).
Carrying a comforter toy close at hand is fine.
Wearing princess dresses (obviously)
Having a toy buggy and referring to the toy that rides in it as a baby (i like to make the baby cry so that their 'daddy' can cuddle them better).
If the shop only has a pink tube of toothpaste, I'll buy it.

Am I afraid that my boys will become...(whispers)
Cross dressers?

Get lost.

I'm afraid that they will end up as emotionally screwed up as I am, I'm afraid that they will keep who they are on the inside and never trust anyone. I'm afraid that they will suffer from mental illness.

I'm not afraid that they will become people, and seeing the glee on their faces when they prance around singing For the First Time in Forever. And I'm pretty sure they this won't do them any damage.

I tell them that they're handsome, and gorgeous. We enjoy real and pretend cooking together (the real cooking requires a level of patience that I am yet to acquire). I'll probably teach them to know their way around a sewing machine and to crochet if they fancy it.

The only thing about having boys is that I will never get to practise my fish plaiting skills in their hair. Ho hum.

And as a final point, I will not be saving photos of them being themselves for their 18th birthday. I don't plan on mocking my children, thank you very much.

Princess Anna loves diggers too!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Girls and Science (STEM)

Today, once again, the debate about why girls don't seem to take part in science has been brought onto our news bulletins. Part of the article came from a Chemistry lab at my old high school. I remember that lab well, gosh I hated chemistry.

All that matters is that girls are people, just like boys. Some people like science, some people hate it and there are myriad of ways that people can feel about all of the branches of science that are out there.

If we tell society that girls aren't interested in science, then we perpetuate that idea amongst the people watching TV. So maybe one family watching will steer their daughter away from science because they saw on the TV that girls don't do science. Society has potentially lost a budding inventor or discovery!

'But what about the pressures on girls to look good from their non-scientific role models?'
Go out and ask a group of girls and a group of boys, from similar demographics who they see as role models. Many teenage boys probably like footballers. So that argument is null and void (and sexist!).

I am a therapy radiographer, I have a degree in Chemistry and also a degree in Radiotherapy and Oncology.

I chose a degree in chemistry because, despite it being my worst science, I felt that too many girls did biology and mostly boys did physics (and I dropped out of A level physics so I didn't have to see MrB as much after we broke up at 17, young love eh?).

I flipping love science.

It is the reason the sky is blue (the very same thing that makes blue eyes blue), why sunsets are beautiful,
why your plastic carrier bag works,
how new drugs are developed,
why people are cured from previously fatal diseases.

Science rules. It isn't cool, it may not be rock n' roll and I am pretty sure that Nobel Prize winning scientists aren't as cool as your favourite celebrities. But science rules.

Stick this in your news bulletin!

And please can we stop saying STEM? It makes it all sound boring. No one wants boring!!