I haven’t been able to write much lately. Most days have felt as though there’s a fog hanging over life, with the briefest of snags through which the sun dares to poke a tentative ray. But the snags have been few and the light has been short lived, because I always seem to end up back where I started. Lethargic, uncaring, unwilling. I’m almost four months into my CBT sessions and I can tell you that they’re not getting any easier. Each week is now preceded with feelings doubt, dread and doom because I know what’s coming. And the days immediately after I am exhausted, and not just emotionally. My bones seem to take on the weight of whatever my mind cannot cope with, and I know that one day my body will collapse and bring it all tumbling down after it. Unless I get back up and fight. This is what I know I must do, and this is the hardest thing in the world for me to contemplate right now. I haven’t wanted to write at all, but this is everyone’s business and you need to know.
You need to know what it’s like. To sit in that small room with it’s strange temperature fluctuations (or is that me?) and it’s bare, empty walls. To sit in that not quite comfortable chair and open up your heart to lay it all bare in front of a relative stranger. To leave that rooms to fall into the arms of nobody, to know that once this hour is up there is nobody there to give you a hug. You need to know what it’s like to have to reach so deep inside yourself that what you see there makes you cringe, makes your skin crawl. What you see there makes you want to beat your fists against the wall and wail and scream. What you see there is both a shock and yet just what you expected all along. (more…)
CBT is hard. I started this course of treatment before Christmas, and I intended to update this blog, and Maternity Matters, regularly with my progress. I wanted to show others what it was like, so that maybe I could help someone else along in their journey. But it’s hard. It’s really hard. Most days I don’t want to talk about it, let alone write it all down. I’ve told people snippets of what is happening, but I cannot fathom the energy to lay it all bare. I cannot allow the prickles to seep into everything right now. It’s easier to leave it all in that little room once a week, and it will probably stay there for a long time. Because right now I don’t feel strong enough at all.
I had a post in my head a few weeks ago,entitled Happy. I was in the middle of a ‘high turn’ and things were bright, happy and calm. I was spending delicious days with Elsie, really spending time with her and loving every minute. I was thankful for people around me, and I was loving being busy with work, stimulated with the team I work with and positive about life ahead of me. I knew. I knew it wouldn’t last. It never does. It always comes to an end, I just didn’t realise it would be so abrupt. (more…)
On Saturday I attended the Maternal Mental Health event at the Cumbria Infirmary, hosted by the Happy Mums Foundation and the World Health Innovation Summit (WHIS). I was invited to speak about my experiences so that I might be able to help the professionals understand what a traumatic pregnancy and birth can be like for women. So that they might better understand the things that they can do to help. So that other women like me might not fall through the cracks for so long.
It is always hard to speak about what happened with my son’s birth. And last week was a big week for me because I finally had my debrief, and I also had my second CBT counselling session. And then there was the PTSD diagnosis.
I’d like to say that seeing those four letters on the page came as no shock (hadn’t I always known that I wasn’t depressed? Hadn’t I aways known that there was something more, likely to be PTSD?) but actually I’ve really struggled with knowing that someone else agrees with me at last. Someone else, who is professionally qualified to do so, is taking control of my care now. It feels strange. To hear her tell me she will never ask me to fill in a PND questionnaire. To hear her tell me I have been traumatised. To hear her tell me she believes me, she is sorry for what has happened, and she intends to help. It’s all so new for me, and the effects of it are still coursing their way through my life right now.
I was in two minds about Saturday. I was scared. Not of speaking, but of getting there. Making my way to the train station, sitting on a train, finding the venue. Even knowing that Jenny would be there at the station in Carlisle was very little comfort, and this is a perfect example of just how far reaching my birth trauma has been. The thought of travelling alone to Carlisle was terrifying and had it not been for Jenny I would not have gone at all. (more…)
I posted recently about finally stepping into the GP’s office and walking away with a label around my neck. Post Natal Depression. It hasn’t sat well. It’s off centre, like a pendant too heavy on a delicate chain. Swinging, useless, lopsided and ugly. The wrong label. A little bit off. I couldn’t really explain it, but my heart was saying no. And then I remembered that I’d been there before. In the early days after my son was born, and they told me I had PND and I argued, and they told me over and over again that I was wrong. Back then I stuck to my guns, and those around me who knew me best agreed. Not depression, something else. Something far too complicated to deal with maybe. And so this time, too, the label doesn’t quite fit, and I’m not the only one to believe it.
With my first Think Positive counselling session behind me, I am more assured and more confident that I have not lost all sight of myself. I don’t know why a professional opinion on the state of my mental health means more than my own, but it does. We’re in agreement: post natal depression doesn’t sit right because it’s not right. I’m not depressed. I’m not.
Post Natal Anxiety is my label now, and its of no great surprise at all. And so I am learning to talk about the things that make me anxious, and the reasons why they do. The hope is that I learn to deal with them in a different way, and re-learn how to think positively and with a clearer, more rational response.
I am at the beginning.
I cannot see the end of this tunnel.
No light, not yet. (more…)