Facebook reminded me this morning that I “came out” a year ago today. When I say “came out” I mean that I revealed to the world, via this blog, that I’d been suffering from PND and anxiety since having my little girl.
I don’t know where that year has gone but I know how much has changed. I know that reading that blog post now almost feels like reading somebody else’s words. Yet somehow it still feels like yesterday.
I also don’t think I’d realised just how far I’ve come in a year until I looked back at the blog post. It got me thinking about what had got me to the much healthier place I am in now – not so I can preach a miracle cure or pretend I have all the answers. I don’t. I just know what helped me get to a place where I finally feel some contentment and strength and most importantly a place where I can really enjoy every moment with my little lady. Ok, so I didn’t enjoy kneeling in a suspicious wet patch during potty training or dealing with the mother of all tantrums in a very public place – but you know what I mean!
My husband has been amazing – I genuinely don’t know where I would have been without his support. I’m seriously lucky. I’m trying to persuade him to write a post for partners who are supporting someone with PND or anxiety.
I’ve also really begun to notice the difference eating the right food makes to me. I’m not on a rabbit food diet, I still stuff my face with chocolate here and there, I don’t deprive myself all the time. But I try and have a decent fruit and veg smoothie everyday if I can. I try and eat less sugar and less junk. I don’t have great willpower, sometimes I have a fat-filled burger and chips…but I try and eat well when I can.
Somebody told me that magnesium is awesome for a lot of things. I think hormones play a massive part in poking the PND bear for me and I think I’ve heard that it helps with imbalances in that field. I think I read it can help with anxiety too. Don’t quote me on that…it doesn’t seem to have helped my memory! I take a magnesium supplement and it may or may not have contributed to me getting better. I’m not a doctor, this isn’t proper advice but I believe it’s helped me.
If you can find the time, doing something you enjoy, even just for a short while, is brilliant. One of the things that was a big cloud for me was the feeling that the old me had disappeared. I didn’t feel at all attractive, I wasn’t performing anymore, I couldn’t find time to really concentrate on anything I enjoyed for any length of time. I felt like everything that made me feel worthwhile was gone. Crazy when you think about it – what could be more worthwhile than motherhood? But feeling like you’re a shitty mother stops you seeing it that way.
Slowly though, and with support from my hubby giving me an hour or two alone here and there, I slowly began to fill those precious minutes with something I enjoy. Sometimes it was drawing the bridal designs, sometimes searching for miniature inspiration or treating myself to a 12th scale purchase. Sometimes it was half an hour to scan a guitar tab site for something with easy chords I could play to make myself feel a sense of achievement.
But sometimes, it was just to wallow a bit. To sit and cry, or curl up under a blanket and watch rubbish TV. Wallowing is fine. Letting it happen, acknowledging how pants it is and just stop fighting against it for a while was so good. I was lucky my husband started to see the signs that I was having a tough day. But sometimes I could just tell him “I’m having a grey day today”. He learned not to ask why – he knew I didn’t have an answer. Sometimes he’d ask what he could do to help, mostly he knew just giving me space if he could was the best thing. He knew suggesting taking little one out for a while would fill me with guilt if I agreed to it – what kind of mother am I if I say yes, take her out? He’d just do it, take her on an adventure, or to Tesco.
So what’s the point of all this? Other than a self-indulgent look back on how far I’ve come. I guess so that anyone who needs to hear “it gets better” can see it does too.
A couple of weeks ago, after a being let down by someone kicked me back by miles, I finally found the courage to advertise on Facebook for a new band. I had replies in minutes and we start rehearsing next week. And I’m genuinely excited to be getting a big piece of me back. I never thought I would and I certainly didn’t have the courage to try.
We moved house in the summer – we finally have a garden and I’ve discovered the joy of twitching (well, watching the birds in the garden). I’ve kind of become Crazy Bird Lady, engaging the waiting Jackdaws in daily conversation as I put the seed out in the morning (“now you guys make sure you leave some for the little birds ok?”).
I got guinea pigs. I used to have them and sadly lost my last two girls while I was pregnant. It was another slightly quirky step towards feeling like me again. I should add that of the 2 beautiful boys I was assured I’d purchased from the breeder, one is now very much pregnant, so I may have slightly more piggies than I’d bargained for very shortly!
I finally have enough room in my heart to utterly absorb myself in motherhood – every change, every new phrase, every giggle, every endless request for the same YouTube video over and over. Of course I lose my shit sometimes, I get tired, frustrated, I worry about so many little (and big) things. That’s because we all do – it’s part of the territory. But I do that without that dark cloud filling the space and sapping my strength. Mostly.
I wouldn’t say I’m 100% out of the woods…maybe I’ve reached 90%…but that feels significantly better than the 80% and the 52%. Yesterday I felt gloomy for no reason and I couldn’t decide whether it was the PND, general depression or just one of those days we all get sometimes. But I went with it and it passed and I feel more positive today.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you’re reading this and you’re in the throes of that dark place and can’t see a light ahead, well here I am shining a little torch in your direction, hoping that maybe my words will help just a little. I was there once and now I’m here – and you will be too one day. It’s ok to be where you are. It’s ok to feel what you feel. It’s ok to keep on your journey because one day you can be ok again.
NB. Pics of my feathered friends are by my very talented hubby and thus I have to say they are copyright of Matt Searle.