Friday, 29 January 2016

Social Media Safety

I am employed within the public sector, and as such, I am bound by rules of professionalism, integrity and respectability.
I use this blog as a way of saying, 'hey, this is me, here and now.'

There have been times when I have felt really really low. I am very self aware and in full knowledge of my fitness to do my job. I disclose my mental health issues at work, to those who need to know or who ask.

My opinions are mine, and mine alone. I never disclose my employer and rarely my job. My online, social media presence is completely unconnected to my job but it remains an essential part of my mong term recovery.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Keep your friends close and your partner closer

A few months ago, during my blip I noticed that I was pushing myself away from Mr, emotionally. I can't put my finger on the mechanism of how I did it, but it is what I have always done, in order to cope with the push/pull of his shifts and my fear of abandonment.

This gradual retreat into myself, when he was around then linked to a paranoia. I was convinced that everything meant that he was going to 'dump my sorry ass'. Every look perceived in a negative way, always feeling under attack, looking for ways to test whether he loved me (read, more arguments).

I was really really unhappy, and the paranoia was so so damaging to my happiness and my marriage. So I did what I always do, I wrote in my therapy book and consulted Google. I came across the concept of 'prickly thoughts', and grabbed onto to speak!

A prickly thought is something that you think that makes you feel a bit sad or uncomfortable. It causes sadness, anger and fear (you know, like Yoda said).

About myself - I'm not good enough
About MrB - he just doesn't get it, he doesn't care, he doesn't love me.

These thoughts were very upsetting, and make me feel guilty for thinking them.

Sadness - depression, insecurity, Disappointment.
Anger - frustration, spite, bitterness.
Fear - anxiety, worry, overwhelmed.

Labelling feelings and recognising that thoughts lead to feelings and behaviours. As taught in CBT.

I then wrote a pros and cons list of feeling that 'he doesn't love me, I am not safe'.

I'm prepared for the worst
Him leaving me is my worst nightmare
Surely, being vigilant will help?

It makes me grumpy
I'm anxious and scared.
I'm wearing a shield
I'm neglecting my love for him
It erodes and degrades my happiness.

My prickly thoughts hurt me, that is the conclusion.

I am loved
I am worthy
I grew up under threat and am wired for fear and struggle
I am worthy and loved.

He lives with me, he loves me, he has always loved me. IGNORE THE PRICKLY THOUGHTS.

Easier said than done? I didn't find it to be like that, if you love them, then stopping the prickly thought it easier than you think

I was sure to write in my journal each night, congratulating myself on work done. And I also told MrB about my irrational writings and feelings...In case he found my book and it upset him.

I'm always happy to discuss CBT, send me a tweet :)

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Sleeping Through

Let's talk about how my meds affect my sleep, they have improved the quality of my sleep and banished anxious hours laid in bed, dreading having to get up.

I'm on sertraline, which slows my brain down, and makes me sleep a bit deeper. This was always the case, even from the beginning, so I have always taken it at bedtime. This isn't the case for everyone, but I'm grateful for this side effect, especially as I'm a great believer that a decent night's sleep helps me to work though problems.

I was started on mirtazipine, initially as a direct swap for sertraline, long story short, I ended up on a low dose of both and have been this way for a year. Under the supervision and advice from doctors. Anyway, this drug has revolutionised bedtime for me in many ways.

I fall asleep quickly - with orodispersible tablets, they get to work much faster and I can be asleep within 15-30 minutes!

I get back to sleep easier and faster after loo trips and night settling.

I don't wake an hour before my work alarm, and so don't have to fight my intrusive thoughts alone for ages before I even start my day.

I also sleep heavily, REALLY heavily! None of this sleeping with one ear open after kids malarkey, mirtazipine knocks me out. If MrB is at home, I mostly sleep through the night with the odd loo trip. I often wake in the morning to discover that he has been up 3-4 times with the boys in the night. When he is at work at night, I do get up, I think I sleep a bit lighter when I'm solo. But I feel quite bad at MrB is doing all the settling. I tell him to give me a nudge, and he does when he needs to, but i get a lot more sleep. So I'm trying to let him have more lie ins to evening out, and to be fair, if sleep keeps me being a decent mummy, a reliable worker and an emotonally stable wife and best friend, then I don't need to feel guilty. I am, however, very lucky.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

My PND story

I've written many posts over the last 18 months about my mental health, the whys, hows and reasonings ramblings). I often use my blog to work out my feelings or "where I am at" there and then. Today, I'm going to talk about my PND journey,as I've been suffering a few flashbacks on holiday and I want some closure.

I'm pretty sure I didn't have PND after having Ewan so i pick up the story after Noah's birth in March 2013:

The pregnancy had been anxious, my anxiety lessened somewhat by having an elective caesarean booked, but heightened because Noah was small for dates and had weekly growth scans from 28 weeks. I was signed off sick from work at 26 weeks due to pelvic girdle pain.

The delivery went well, the midwives and doctors followed by caesarean birth plan and nothing bad happened. He latched on lile he had read the manual and I felt accomplished-ish.

I have no recollection of "the baby blues", I felt ok, and MrB had a few weeks off work and then went back to his shift pattern of 6 days on, 4 days off. It was hard, I had 2 boys under 18 months and for 5 months I thought I was fine. Close to the end of August, I self diagnosed with PND and went to tell my GP. With retrospect, things were dark from only a month post-partum, I remember feeling worthless, like I had no personality and nothing to offer my friends if I saw them. I felt empty, but assumed that was how all mums in my position felt. Health visitors asked how I was, I said "oh yes, I've had depression before, I know what to look for".

I couldn't see where the tiredness ended and I began, I was tired to my very soul. MrB was a saint and let me go to bed really early (asleep by 7pm) and always fully pulled his weight 50:50.

when Noah was 10 weeks old, MrB took us on an inpromptu holiday to centerparcs, he just knew I needed something and he hoped a holiday was it. The holiday made me feel a bit better and "less murderous" was how I phrased it to a concerned friend on Facebook.

August 2013, my GP offered me citalopram because it was the "cheapest" and neglected to refer me for the CBT which I had asked for. I refused medication for months, trying hard to use exercise, serotonin boosting supplements and precisely arranged logistics to get better. No amount of organising, hoping or gadgets could help me shake off the feeling I was failing at everything.

I was also getting worse, consistently with every 10 day cycle of MrB's shifts. It was awful, I was being the best mother the children could want for, we went out, they were always clean, and yet, somehow I was never good enough for my own standards and comparisons with other mums. I was desperately lonely, believing that I had no friends, and hoping that I wouldn't bump into anyone I knew when we were out, and if we did, I'd hide. Ashamed of myself and my lack of personality.

PNDHOUR began in January 2014, I found it within a fortnight and was a regular contributor. I met many women who supported me, and showed me the kindness I had no way of giving back either to them or to myself. I learned that medication is not something to fear, that it is a necessary tool in recovery for many people with mental health illnesses.

I want to cry, having written this story, because I don't know how I would have made it through 2014 otherwise. I had no idea how ill I was, and I'm not sure how many other women felt like this.