Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Making Plans

I have talked at length about my self loathing and how I believe I am unlovable and can't see why anyone wants to see me. Basically my 'imposing complex' is very scary, and I can become absorbed in it and feel I don't know what to do.

Completely at odds with this is the fact that I now have a list of people that I need/ should/ want to see but I have zero ability to sit down and think about when I can see them as it would require looking at MrB's shifts and the very thought of that makes me bury my head in my hands!

So, just know that it isn't that I don't want to see you, it's the fact that I don't have the mental capacity to work it out at the minute.

Silly brain!!

A Brief Note to Teenage Caroline

It has been about 2 weeks since my strong suspicion that I have a personality disorder was validated by a  psychiatrist after a lot of research, many tears and phone calls, I can finally say that I have emotionally unstable personality disorder.

This knowledge, can now be treated as fact by my subconscious. Having a professional agree with my self diagnosis is great for my ego, but the very fact that I know that I'm 'just' broken and not a shitty person has really helped me with building my self-compassion.

I can now give myself credit for having mood swings, I can tell myself that they won't last forever, I can allow myself to obsess over silly little things for a short while if i have the time and energy.

I can resist the urge to snap at MrB for standing on my foot (new sandals alert!) And then, once I had calmed down, I pointed out that I resisted and made a joke about my being emotionally unstable. It's ok for me to joke about it, woe betide anyone else!

Because, that is what I am. It is what I have been since I was a teenager, and having children has removed my spontaneity, the last minute things I filled my life with as a non-parent were my self-care mechanisms to fill the hole inside my chest.

Then I tried to fill the hole with Kit Kats. It didn't work.

Tonight, I have recognised that in order to be coping as well as I do (holding down a job and career for 9 years, a relationship for 16 years and being a recovered PND mum of two toddlers)... I must have some pretty awesome personality skills and facets to be able to do what I do (MrB is awesome for putting up with me, and always being there for me, even when he wasn't my boyfriend, he was and is the best friend I have ever had).

More ramblings, more raking through my cluttered mind.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A Most Amazing Appointment

I met with 2 members of the CCTT (complex care and treatment team) today. A psychiatrist and my named social worker. I've had a month to work towards this appointment and I was terrified when I went in, I was shaking, anxious and kept myself busy all morning.

"You don't need to tell me your history, I have read the notes from your last 2 psychiatry reviews"


I smiled, breathed a few sighs (and the obligatory giggle) of relief and the session continued.

I explained that I feel mildly depressed and about my depressive episode in February. Including my triggers (anything social!). She agreed to increase my sertraline to 75mg. Yay!

She addressed my personality disorder concerns head on. Saying that it isn't the fact that i don't pose any risk to myself, more the stability of my work and relationship that goes against diagnosis.

I explained about my mild trichotillomania (I can spend 45 minutes pulling out leg hairs with tweezers). I explained about the strong genetics with my parents (one who definitely has a personality disorder and the other who is on a mood stabiliser).

I explained that I want a diagnosis to 'fight against'. She seemed sort-of satsfied that I care and that I'm self aware enough and resourceful enough to manage a diagnosis.

My social worker said that I shouldn't fight against a diagnosis, and that to use too much therapy might disable my own mechanisms. He was spot on, a diagnosis will enable me and give me something to work with.

Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder

If you Google it, it's BPD. I  wrote about my symptoms  here .

Diagnosis, something written down and sent to my GP is huge. I have a thing. There is a reason that I'm a bit odd, I'm not just a shitty person who has had a fair amount of luck.

I explained that my stable life has been a lot to do with luck...not being sacked, happening by radiotherapy training during a breakdown as I needed to quit my job, my mother winning the fricking lottery and the best luck of all. MrB. He's amazing.

So now my feelings have been validated, I'm increasing my sertraline, and starting Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (DIT) in a couple of weeks. That course will last for 16 weeks and then, if I still have issues I can be refereed staight back to the CCTT and my Social worker.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Happy Families

Ha! In my paternal family? In my family full stop? Behave!!

Now, with MrB's family I have been spoiled: you send cards at birthdays, give hugs to say hello and are generally friendly.

In my paternal family, it's awkward. Maybe it's just my take on it, it's perhaps how I view it, being socially awkward and anxious I'm not exactly seeing social interaction.

Anyway, get over it, that's why I took the children with us, as a social buffer and so that they would have a memory associated with their Great Grandad, even if it was just a party.

I hate people who ignore me at social things, there are two of them in my life and one of them was there today. This particular on e, my dad's wife of 18 years, took a dislike to me about 6 years ago when I had a frank discussion with her and my dad about coming to my wedding (i.e. that it was non negotiable).  Her reason at the time was that I appeared to take my mum's side..
When I was 15, living with my mum and basically dependent upon her for everything due to her need for control and emotional neglect. But this woman chooses to hold a judgement I made more than half my life ago against me.

Now, I expect her to behave in this way and my standard method is to try to achieve early eye contact with an open mind and see what happens. This was ignored (in fact, my dad ignored me, like he did at the last family gathering we were all at together).. I digress!

So then, after that test of the waters, I go about my business, trying not to take it personally that some idiot thinks that I'm not worth their time (I invariably do)


When the time for leaving was upon us, we were first to leave as we had a decent journey home. I had to fight the urge to just walk out and painstakingly made sure that I said goodbye to anyone I was related to. I hate doing this, but i felt it was necessary as i will most likely never see some of them again (that's a shame, but I can't fix anyone but myself right now).

I said goodbye to the ladies in the kitchen, I knew 3 out of about 6 of them. They all turned to say goodbye EXCEPT my dad's wife.

I don't have to prove myself to her, she is much older than me and if she can't be arsed being nice then I need to not care. What sort of selfish idiot does that at a funeral reception party. What a dick.

There, I said it.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

What #pndhour and Rosey have done for me

Inspired by the Mirror article this week, I have a piece about how meeting Rosey has improved my life and the lives of others. For professional reasons, I wouldn't be happy being in the press, where potential work clients could see my photo and I couldn't risk any of my words being misquoted or misconstrued.

Rosey has created an online community. This is an amazingly innovative but incredibly simple feat because she used Twitter and two 'hashtags' to help to empower women (specifically mothers) to connect and seek empathy, support, praise, kindness and find like minded peers online.

Becoming a mother is possibly the most life changing part of a woman's life. If any part of the process is marred by mental illness related to pregnancy or parenthood, mothers become isolated and the illness can worsen. In January 2014 I had hit a real low, I was about to return to work after the birth of my second child and I truly felt alone and isolated. I had told a couple of family members about my post natal depression but it was still very much a secret and to all intents and purposes, I was alone in the world. In January 2014, I stumbled across #pndhour, a weekly discussion of set topics, where sufferers, professionals and survivors can join in and interact as much or as little as they feel able to. This was a fabulous discovery as Rose had set up the chat and time, which is so very simple but incredibly effective at helping mums to network. I have found so many other mums who have had similar experiences but, most importantly for me, I chatted to women who had recovered from post natal depression. These women were an inspiration and a light at the end of the tunnel.

However, the true master-stroke in Rose's twitter success was her creation of #PNDchat - it's a way of asking for help, for example,

'I'm not feeling great, nothing feels easy today #PNDchat'.

The true beauty of this is that it enables women to learn to ask for help, it connects mums with another person who searches the hashtag and happens-by the #PNDchat message. Having utilised this tool most weeks for the last year, I have recognised signs of my own illness and have changed who I am as a result of receiving the kindness of complete strangers.

#PNDchat is a 'place' where someone can tell you the kind words which you cannot tell yourself when you are depressed.

I have learned to relate to other women and I have become much more able to express my compassion and empathy both in written terms and in real life. This is genuinely due to #PNDchat and #PNDhour.

Rosey saw a need, in herself and in others and through pure ingenuity was able to make peer-support a reality with tangible life-improving results. This is in terms of my own mental health improving as well as me giving support back, as I have had a few mothers tell me that I have helped to save their life, and this type of feedback is seen fairly regularly within the online community.

Rose's Internet creation has lasted for over a year so far, and remains mostly on Twitter - the simplicity means that new followers can join in as soon as they want or need to and so the community continues to grow in this way. Rose continues to work tirelessly, despite being a single mum of three children and despite suffering the realities of post natal depression herself. She promotes herself to Twitter celebrities, to garner 'retweets' in order to spread the word about #PNDhour to those who need it. She is keen to improve herself in order to help more families, selflessly working.

At the first anniversary party in January 2015, strangers congregated in Edinburgh to celebrate the success and power of #PNDhour. Rosey was completely unassuming and was truly humbled when she realised how much of an impact she had had on so many lives. She is an inspiration and has helped me to connect with other mums and to fight my way out of the darkness of post natal depression.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

We Didn't Have PND in My Day

So much pressure to look perfect!!

...tops the list of things NOT to say to a mum who is struggling with peri-natal mental health issues (not just limited to PND).

No one said it to me, perhaps because I don't have (m)any maternal role models in my life (other than MrB's mum, who is amazing) and perhaps because I just don't meet many real people.

In one light, it is a thinly veiled criticism of 'women today' *insert eye roll*. However, far from seeing it that way, I think that it shows the tremendous amount of pressure women have on our shoulders in modern times. Equality and feminism are fabulous, and I am in no way bemoaning these movements, but they have driven women to strive for and expect to be able to juggle more than men are expected to (arguably)

Women (like me) feel that they should have the perfect body, a good job, a husband, clean and well-mannered children, cars, an excellent wardrobe, endless patience, perfect homes (PINTEREST!!) and untold traditional 'housewife' skills (cooking, sewing, cleaning ...caring about the bin being emptied). Throw in tighter household budgets and you have so much stress, so little time and even less energy. Don't even get me started with the obsession with needing to put on a facade for Facebook.

I feel like my generation feel pressure to be a superwoman combination:

Supernanny (unruly toddler skills).
Nigella (cares about eating and cooking food and dinner parties).
Kate Middleton (despite hard pregnancy shizzle, she still looks great....ok ok it's the money and the nannies).
Lauren Laverne (I want to be cool, and a mum).
and too many celebrity, airbrushed women, who I know I don't want to be, or look like, but I still believe that their skin is perfection without makeup (reality check, writers HAVE to say that so-and-so looks perfect)

So maybe PND wasn't as common, it was definitely talked about less than it is and women didn't have #pndhour, babycentre or Dr Google to help them work out a tight spot. Bear in mind that people say that cancer wasn't as common as it is now, but that fact is a combination of contributing factors. Don't take it as an insult, maybe say that thing about cancer in response?

And no, I don't care about the bin being long as I don't have to do it.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

When Billy Bear Came to Stay

Horror of horrors! Billy Bear wanted to come to our house last weekend. Naturally, I was up to the challenge:

Billy 'had a lovely journey in the car'. Noah introduced him to daddy and then the poor cuddly was offered no hospitality.

'Billy came to ikea with us' ... and then stayed in the car for the next 4 nights. Poor Billy.

'On Sunday, we went swimming' and we loaned him some bathers. Well, yes, on Wednesday I finally dug out the swimming shorts and took a photo.

We did try to show Billy a good time.... is this just a Parent Test?