Mental Health Monday: Keeping up Appearances

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, has been interviewed by ITV news recently and shared the stark reality of her feelings when she became a new wife and mother.

The thing is, how many of us recognise that look in her eyes? I’d be willing to bet we all do in one way or another.

But as she says, nobody has really asked her how SHE was doing. She’s been keeping up appearances, looking so incredibly strong on the outside, that it probably never occurred to anyone that she might not be feeling that way on the inside.

How many of us are guilting of doing that, too?

How many of us have a picture just like this one? Smiling and happy on the outside, but actually suffering a lot more than people would realise?

When you have a baby, you’re “someone’s mum”, and all of a sudden everyone is concerned with the new baby, how they’re doing, if they’re okay. It’s a lot less often that anyone is concerned with how YOU are doing, and if YOU are okay. It’s so easy to lose sight of the fact that you are your own person, especially in Meghan’s case, where she has the entire world watching her through the eyes of the press. I felt lonely and isolated enough after having a baby, that I cannot imagine how it must feel for her.

I recently had the strange experience of actually having some time off work, and decided, for once, to treat myself. I took care of ME for once, invested in myself a little bit, and felt so much better for it.

It’s important to remember that every “new mum” is still a person in their own right. It’s important to remember that YOU are still YOU, not just “so and so’s mum”, no matter how many people call you that.

Meghan, thank you so much for being honest about how you’re feeling. Being a parent is so hard, but if you’re only ever told how amazing it is, so that you’re never fully prepared for when it isn’t so amazing all of the time.

I don’t think I’m alone in being in awe of how inspiring a woman Meghan is, all the more so for this honest and frank interview. But there are SO many other mums in the UK and abroad just like her, feeling like things aren’t really okay.

Rosey (@PNDandME on Twitter) is also one heck of an inspiring lady, working so hard every day to make sure parental mental health is taken seriously, and providing an amazing support network for new mums and dads who are suffering with their mental health. I 100% recommend her weekly twitter chat #PNDHour on Wednesdays at 8pm if you feel like you’re alone and could do with a supportive network of people around.

If you are reading this and could do with some extra support, check out these online resources to access help with mental illness:

  1. http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk
  2. http://www.samaritans.org/
  3. http://www.papyrus-uk.org/
  4. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4WLs5NlwrySXJR2n8Snszdg/emotional-distress-information-and-support
  5. https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/mental-health-services/how-to-access-mental-health-services

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Mental Health Monday: Deployment-Related Depression and Anxiety

When Jamie was away in Afghanistan, I was already in a bit of a low place. I was still studying my Bar course full-time and working part-time, and the stress of it all got to me quite a bit. It really didn’t help that, at the time, I was still not able to drive and so I felt really alone and isolated throughout the first 4 months. Plus, does anyone actually enjoy being home alone? Or is it just me that feels really creeped out by it?

My closest family support was my husband’s uncle and their family (who were amazing help) and my mother-in-law, but they weren’t exactly around the corner!

It’s no surprise that I started to feel low, especially given that my recovery from PND was still relatively recent at that point.

So, off I tottered to the GP to talk about it and to make sure I was okay.

The GP wasn’t particularly helpful and kept talking about himself and how his wife copes with him working long hours (NOT THE SAME BRO). But… I was advised to self-refer to TalkPlus, so I did that and I engaged in CBT which you can read more about here (spoiler alert: it was really helpful!)

But actually the most helpful things to me when I was going through that deployment weren’t medical-related at all!

Firstly, the other SWAGs (Soldiers’ wives and girlfriends) and I had a WhatsApp group – where we mostly chatted about rubbish – but it was nice to have that group of us from up and down the country connected in some way, and taking our minds off the deployment! I’m still really good friends with some of them and try to keep in contact with as many of them as possible (if you’re reading this, sorry I’m so terrible at staying in touch!)

One of Jamie’s friends who had left the army by this point was also a big help – he would drive me places if I needed a lift or just pop round for a cuppa. Again, it wasn’t much but it was nice to know that I had someone there who could help me out or just take my mind off things with a chat. He’s been through his own mental health struggles with PTSD so he definitely understood the importance of not being alone!

I was obviously forever anxious that something was going to happen to the husband abroad, but regular phone contact was possible for us so I am really quite lucky. Even so, I put a lot of effort into sending shoeboxes of goodies and drawings from Olivia and Kiera and writing letters too. It gave me something positive to focus on and helped entertain the kids!

I also forced myself out of the house despite not driving! I went to uni, I worked part-time, when I finished uni I got a full-time job (that literally started 3 days after I finished so I had no time to dwell on anything). At weekends I tried to go to places with Olivia, I made use of the Welsh Guards Welfare Service and the amazing days out they had planned for their families during the deployment! I went out on my own or visited Jamie’s family (involving a lot of train rides – thank god for the HM forces railcard!)

The evenings were definitely where I struggled – I was finding it harder to sleep and just hated being alone. That’s mostly where the CBT came in to help with my motivation and routine.

Just talking to other people about how I was feeling – not necessarily medical professionals – was one of the best medicines.

So if you know someone whose partner is deployed, give them a shout. Check they’re okay. Go round for a cuppa and let them know you’re there. It can honestly be the most lonely time and just knowing you have a friend who cares can work wonders to help someone feel a little less down about it.

Have you experienced any deployment-related mental stress? What did you find helped you through it the most?

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army wife

Mental Health Monday: Anxiety about having more children after PND

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When I was a 14 year old, my dream for my family life was to have twin girls (Lily and Olivia) and then a boy (Henry). I don’t think i need to go into the whys and wherefores about how that changed, but it certainly did.

Following the birth of Olivia, I suffered with Postnatal Depression for the majority of her first year. Having also had antenatal depression and just not being in the best mental state generally, I sort of knew that I would suffer with PND, though I didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was or to last as long as it did. Whenever I think back to her being a baby, it makes me sad. I didn’t enjoy her being a little baby because I was under so much mental stress at the time. Of course, I can think back to happy times as well as times when I was in the middle of a breakdown, but on the whole, reflecting on her baby stage just makes me feel angry at myself, and terrified it will happen again.

Like I said, I no longer want twin girls and a boy (and my plan for having the twins first has gone to pot anyway), but I have written previously on the blog about why I don’t want any more children now and why I never want to be pregnant again. The PND plays a huge part in that.

I carry so much anxiety with me from my experience of having Olivia that things would be the same again. I honestly could not face that same depression again. It was quite crippling in many ways, and 2 years after Olivia was born I am still dealing with the aftermath and the guilt.


There’s a great twitter chat hosted by Rosey at PND & Me which has covered this topic before, and I liked reading the comments of people joining in and their very mixed experiences…

Some had PND only with the 1st child, some with both, some only with the 2nd or subsequent. I suppose, the point is, that everyone will have different experiences and every pregnancy will be different.

But we knew that already! So…

What are the actual statistics?

  • PND affects more than 10-15% of women within a year of giving birth (that’s about 35,000 women!)
  • Up to 1 in 10 fathers also suffer from postnatal depression following the birth of a baby
  • 33% of mothers who experienced depression in pregnancy then suffered with PND
  • A history of depression makes it more likely that you will suffer postpartum depression
  • Mums who have had postnatal depression with one child are more likely to suffer again with subsequent children

I’d like to think that I’m not the only mum who worries that this would happen again, after all, there are so many of us who have suffered with it once, twice or however many times.

My husband and I often look at each other when Olivia does something unbelievably cute, suggesting another one, but he knows that I don’t want anymore and I feel guilty for that too. But at those times when we think “aww, look how cute our baby girl is,” I do wish I could bring myself to have another child. I wish I could do it knowing that I would be able to enjoy the baby stage like I couldn’t with Olivia, but there are no guarantees, and really, I don’t think I’m cut out for doing it all again.

In my moments of weakness (as I call them) when I think I want another baby, I feel so conflicted because as much as I would love to have another child, I can’t face feeling like I did during my pregnancy and feeling all of the guilt afterwards of not being able to bond with the baby and feeling like I’m simply inadequate!

I know that things are really quite different now – I have none of the external drama going on that I did during my pregnancy with Olivia, so maybe because my life is more stable now, my mind would be too. If I do end up having another one I’ll be sure to let you know 😉 but, for now, Olivia is more than enough, and I am enjoying being her mummy. I can’t go back to what I was when she first arrived, so I’ll carry on being the best mummy I can be to her and we’ll just see what fate has in store for us.

Have you survived PND and gone on to have more children? How were things a second time around?

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Mental Health Monday: I’m taking control… Anxiety vs social media

I have an anxiety disorder. There it is, I said it. Phew! That wasn’t so hard I guess… but I’m someone who doesn’t openly discuss my anxiety issues, (being a bit of a proud and stubborn person), I still find it hard to admit that I have difficulties, which were on a daily basis. But here I am opening up about it and who better to share it with than you lovely mums?

I came off Facebook earlier this year and I’ve not looked back. When I realised that it was causing problems for my mental health, I decided it was best for me to finally ditch it.

Facebook has over the years been a great way for me, (like most people who use it), to stay in touch with old friends and new, but as my long-term relationship broke down, it was visually obvious just how much I had lost in the process. Seeing that old friends and family were deleting me out of their lives, after years together, took its toll on me and contributed towards my illness. Memories popping up each time I logged on. My anxiety was constantly telling me how lonely I had become. Some of my closest friends, I thought would be there through thick and thin, weren’t as supportive as I needed at that time, (and I recognise now that yes I was needy), and Facebook was reminding me of how much fun everyone was having, whilst I was falling into what I didn’t see at the time as depression. Of course when you’re in a better state of mind, you know that Facebook isn’t really ‘real life’, but as a result I was further pushing those people away and isolating myself as a way of coping, which I can see now.

Facebook again continued to serve as a reminder that as I reached my 30s and had become a mum, that I was no longer such a socialite. I love being a mum, so I accept that I can’t do as much; it’s part and parcel of being able to have a wonderful child, but it doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped being me! Am I still fun to be around? My anxiety would chime in to torture and remind me that I’m lonely and instead of fun nights out, I’d be updating everyone on my excitement that I’d managed to get through the day without tearing my hair out.

The final push for me as a mum with anxiety was because I was noticing that family members were using Facebook as a way to ‘stay in touch’ with my daughter, by picture comments. Whilst it’s lovely to hear from people and to get their well wishes, (I don’t want to seem ungrateful), it means nothing to a baby/toddler, when she’s older and can read it’s a different story. I felt like people were knowing what my daughter was up to, without really knowing her and my anxiety again was causing me to have difficulty processing and dealing with this. Relatives, living nearby, were often going long periods of time without seeing my daughter. I knew I would much rather be able to see those people in person to build up relationships the old fashioned way, no matter how often that was. Coming off Facebook felt like the push I needed to arrange to see people more in person.

Coming off Facebook helped me to concentrate on my little circle of close friends and family and helped me to prioritise what is important to me and my family.

Leaving Facebook didn’t of course erase all of my mental health issues, but I’m using the social media that doesn’t trigger my anxieties instead which has helped me to feel more in control. Facebook is no longer there to remind me of the person I used to be; because I am finding that person again myself. Getting additional help from my GP has meant that my anxiety isn’t feeding me this false information, which sends me into a downward spiral where I am convinced that I am lonely. I am also far better at dealing with things that would have previously been a trigger.

I’m in a place now where I can stand up to the anxiety, (which I refer to as the A hole), and I can say I have my daughter’s and my partner’s love and that is more than enough! So with my little social circle of mums and treasured old friends, I feel very rich indeed. I haven’t felt this good about myself in a long time and I have more confidence than ever before to get out and meet new people. Each day feels like a new exciting opportunity now.

Thank you for reading about my journey.

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Mental Health Monday: Struggling With Depression or Anxiety?



Today’s blog post is a special contribution from Anna Kucirkova. Anna speaks 3 languages has a passion for kids and writing. While she has been to many places in Europe and South East Asia she still wants to explore the rest of the world.

Struggling with depression or anxiety? Here’s what you need to know!

Anxiety and depression are broad terms that can induce some anxiety just by researching and thinking about them. Oftentimes the two conditions overlap, which creates a confusing set of symptoms that both overwhelms and causes you to feel extremely low. 

If you believe that you may be affected by anxiety and/or depression, take a deep breath–you are not alone. The effects are serious but also fully manageable with the right tactics.


In this article, we’re going to examine the vicious combination of anxiety and depression to understand how they are related and how the latest research helps us understand the connection between them.

What Are Anxiety and Depression?

depression
Anxiety disorders cover a broad spectrum, in large part because doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists have created multiple categories of anxiety based on their triggers or causes. 
However, all anxiety  disorders are primarily characterized by a sense of excessive fear or tension. This is usually understood as a heightened response to a real or oftentimes perceived threat, or anticipation of a future threat that is often not based on situational reality. There are some exceptions to this, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which often creates a sense of anxiety without any connection to specific events. 

People suffering from anxiety experience disruptions in their behavior and ability to function normally. Many times, the heightened fear and anxiety responses associated  with anxiety disorders manifest themselves in panic attacks, which are a psychological and physiological response to a generalized sense of fear. Other symptoms may include difficulty breathing, rapid heart beat, a sense of tightness in the chest, difficulty concentrating, etc. 
Essentially, when the body is in the grip of anxiety, it has unnecessarily entered into fight-or-flight mode. The body thinks a threat is present and unleashes a host of chemicals that prepare the body to either fight or run from the perceived threat. 
Like anxiety, there are multiple types of depression which are typically categorized by causality or frequency of depressive episodes. General depression (often referred to as “clinical depression”) is diagnosed by a list of symptoms that range from the familiar to somewhat surprising. 
The primary and most well-known symptom is an overwhelming feeling of sadness and/or a loss of interest and enjoyment in most usual activities. The other symptoms associated with major depression include changes (decrease or increase) in appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia, changes in motor skills and cognition (either increased activity like fidgeting or decreased activity which results in a generalized lethargic state), constant fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, recurrent thoughts of death and suicidal ideation with or without specific plans for committing suicide, and changes in cognition. 

This last symptom is one which is often overlooked in the popular understa
nding of depression, which can lead to a further spiral as a person feels sad or “low” and subsequently struggles to complete tasks they previously found easy. Symptoms of depression last for two or more weeks and typically represent a substantial change from a person’s functionality and personality prior to the onset.

How Anxiety and Depression Affect You

Dealing with either or both sets of anxiety and depression symptoms can prove severely disruptive to daily activities, both because of anxiety-related heightened responses to relatively normal external inputs and because of depression-related suppression of energy, cognition, and general satisfaction. 
Psychologists are increasingly noting a correlation between anxiety and depression, which may be structural or psychological. Feeling anxious can lead to depression and feeling depressed can lead to anxiety, as in either case the mind starts to fixate on the recent change in mood, which further affects mood. 
depressed guy

Both disorders have widespread physiological effects, from changes in brain activity and energy level to reduced ability to function at the typical level for a given patient. Stress, anxiety, and depression all create vicious cycles that affect your immune system, digestive system, and adrenal responses, all of which have widespread trickle-down effects that can cause other medical issues. 

The most significant effects of anxiety and depression are widespread impacts on quality of life, including happiness, ability to complete basic self-care and educational or professional obligations, and mental and physical wellbeing. It’s not uncommon for people crippled by anxiety or depression to be unable to leave the house, go to work, or even perform simple tasks. The energy required to overcome the symptoms is simply too much. 

The combination of disorders can dramatically impact mood and even the ability to make it through the day without major setbacks like panic attacks or depressive episodes. The potential debilitating effects of these disorders underscore the need for accurate diagnosis and comprehensive treatment plans that allow you to resume life without the fear or weight of anxiety and depression.

How to Control Anxiety and Depression

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The good news is that anxiety and depression can be effectively managed and treated. This sometimes feels impossible for those who are in the grips of either or both disorders, which is exactly why it is so important to seek help professionally and support from friends and family. 
The causes of anxiety and depression are widespread, and range from structural and chemical to situational and trauma-induced. Even though the symptoms may be similar, the diffuse causes and disorders require different treatments. 
Virtually all cases of anxiety and depression benefit from talking therapy, which allows patients to discuss their feelings with professionals who help externally process underlying thought patterns or experiences which contribute to depression and anxiety. 
Counselling (or therapy) is an important component of every treatment plan, because it provides consistency, accountability, and an objective external monitor of relative mental health who can assist in recommending further therapeutic practices and/or medications. 
Additional treatment plans include medication to balance serotonin levels or to calm hyperactive and anxious brains. Oftentimes, depression medications provide comprehensive benefits including improved cognition, renewed interest in preferred activities, and a more ‘normal’ function of neurological pathways, which can alleviate depression-related anxiety, too. 
Anxiety medications can come in both daily dosages for management and ‘emergency’ doses to calm down gripping panic attacks which bring physical and mental effects and can be potentially life threatening.
In addition to medications, supplements such as St. John’s Wort, Lavender, and SAM-e have proven successful in mitigating some of the most crippling side effects. 
Virtually every form of anxiety and depression benefits from natural lifestyle changes that improve holistic health and provid
e natural relief for many of the stressors and symptoms associated with each or both disorders. 


Regular exercise is a proven mood booster that actually changes your body chemistry. Even a vigorous walk releases endorphins that may not otherwise be activated, and the associated health benefits are known to improve self-confidence and provide a healthier, more targeted outlet for many of the latent emotions that manifest in anxiety/depression. 
Higher-intensity exercise is universally regarded as one of the most effective treatments for mild depression or anxiety, and meditative pursuits like yoga or certain hobbies are also considered to be effective ways to redirect mental energy and provide you with a sense of calm and ‘control’ that is often lacking when anxiety grips your mindset. 
Mental illnesses can be frustrating and overwhelming because they seem so vague and deep-set within your mind, but they also are unique in that they can be treated through mindfulness, conversation-based therapy, and small lifestyle changes that can radically alter your overall outlook and well-being.

Conclusion: Don’t Let Anxiety Or Depression Destroy You

Mental health is inextricably linked to physical health. Just as mental illness can have negative effects on your physical well-being, physical health problems can affect your mental health. These include poor diet, lack of exercise, sleep deprivation, and social isolation. By focusing on sustainable, healthy daily routines, you can set yourself up for success in battling anxiety and depression. 
And with professional counselling and potentially medication, what seems like an insurmountable battle may actually be treated with great success. If you feel anxious or depressed, don’t let it overwhelm you. 
Instead, start with the most important step of all: pick someone to start talking to about your feelings. When you are in the throes of mental health issues, it can be impossible  to make the small-but-necessary first steps in treating them. But once you commit to starting, it’s amazing how much better you’ll feel.

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Mental Health Monday: It’s okay not to be okay

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So we all have times where we’re not ourselves, and if you suffer from mental health issues then you’ll know what I mean when I say sometimes it’s okay not to be ok. It has come out in recent news that Demi Lovato was hospitalized due to a relapse in her mental health, and it truly baffles me as to why people felt it was okay to criticize her for this? Mental health isn’t something you can take a tablet to fix it takes years, sometimes lifetimes to be in a good place…and that’s okay because everyone copes in different ways.

I have had my fair share of experiences with mental illness;  Anxiety, depression, paranoia, post-partum psychosis and BPD to name a few. My experiences are completely different from those of my friends and family members that have experienced these conditions, so to people who don’t have any experience with poor mental health (and I mean this in the nicest way), what might have worked for your Aunt Becky’s hairdresser’s niece isn’t going to work for me. You see, this post isn’t just aimed at mums – as humans we are not expected to hold it together every minute of every day, nobody is expecting you to be perfect and that’s okay.

One thing that really grinds my gears on mental health is the stigma surrounding it. Why are people so ashamed and afraid to talk openly about how they are feeling? Having a broken mind is no different to having a broken arm – both take time and care to heal. Of course, in this day and age you still find people saying, “Oh get a grip”, “Mental health isn’t a real illness” or my personal favourite… “Stop attention seeking.” These are always the people that have had no experience of mental illness and I’m super glad life has been peachy keen for them, and I honestly hope they never do experience it.

When I think back to the time my mental health was at it’s worst, I reflect back and look at how far I’ve come. I would be lying if I said I’m completely cured… I still have a hell of a long way to go, but when I look back and remember sitting on the edge of a bridge over the M20, I tell myself it’s okay. I’m only human and some days I’m going to be a mess, some days I’m going to feel worthless but until anyone has walked in my shoes who the hell are they to judge me?

Recently, I discovered a young person quite close to me was suffering with depression and self harming, it broke my heart that they felt they couldn’t talk to anyone about it. When I asked them why they didn’t talk to anyone they replied, “people will think I’m a freak, I have seen how people at school get treated for being like this and I don’t want that,” and I was left speechless. Why do we live in a world where people, even more so young people, can’t talk about their mental well-being in fear of being bullied for it? Why do they feel they can’t discuss it openly or freely without fear of being judged?

So my darlings, don’t ever be ashamed of who you are or what you are going through, you are NEVER alone and you will get through this. You are worth so much more than you feel you are and it’s okay not to be okay.

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Mental Health Monday: my BPD story

BPD: the world through my eyes

I guess it all started when I was 13 and my mum took me to the doctors, I remember sat feeling the most vulnerable I’ve ever felt in my life “ There’s something wrong with her, she has this insane temper…now I know they have mood swings at this age but this is something else” my mum said to the doctor, I couldn’t bare to look either of them in the eye, long and short of it is I was referred to the child and adolescent mental health team, who to be quite frank didn’t really do much just started me on fluoxetine and at the ripe age of 13 my journey with anti-depressants began.
At 15 the journey took an unexpected turn as I found myself on the phone to Samaritans as I had lost all hope and was prepared to hang myself that evening. I still remember that conversation word for word, and I’m eternally grateful for Samaritans. “ It’s just anxiety and depression, try not to worry lets try you on a different anti-depressant” the child and adolescent mental health team said, and the journey changed to citalopram and I was introduced to zopiclone- a strong sleeping tablet
I must have stayed on citalopram up until I was 19 because I was taken off it when I found out I was pregnant. Now it’s no secret that after I had my baby boy I suffered from postpartum psychosis, and shortly after I was referred to the community mental health team which brings us to now.
It’s extremely rare for me to find a psychiatrist who I can open to and be completely honest with. I poured my heart out to this doctor, You see, I’ve always had a fear of being abandoned and unwanted, it’s not that I crave attention it’s that like most people I crave the feeling of being loved but in the same breath I push people away because in my eyes it’s easier to push them away myself than let them close to me and than have them pull away from me.
Then next he asked about the self harm. Since I was 13 I have abused my body. I’ve picked at my skin, taken multiple overdoses as well as attempting to end my life off of a bridge, I told the doctor everything and he looked at me concerned and just returned to writing it all down.
“Would you say you have tendencies to be impulsive Amy?” he asked. Now this bit was almost a comical moment as I had a flash back to every reckless, impulsive thing I’ve done to date. I smirked almost with tears rolling down my face… “Well it’s been said… yeah,”  I chuckled. “ I just have these intense mood swings. I can go from feeling on top of the world, and like I actually have control of my life but the slightest thing can happen and I’ll crumble, I can’t cope with it and that mood will last anything from a few hours to a few days.” At this point I started sobbing uncontrollably.
You see, I never wanted to be like this. To be constantly paranoid and overthink every possible thing,  to read every text message over and over again until I’ve convinced myself that the person who sent it is annoyed at me…and god forbid someone doesn’t text me back within 3 hours because I will convince myself they don’t like me. The temper that comes with it is like a firecracker, I have such a short fuse and when I lose my temper I have no control over what I say and I will willingly cut ties without even thinking. The self doubt is there every day, every damn day I tell myself I can’t and won’t achieve things…it’s like a little niggling voice at the back of my head, almost like a little mouse nibbling away day by day.”So Amy, I think there is a bit more than depression here. From what you’ve told me and looking at your history I think you have something called BPD, formerly known as EUPD…have you heard of it?”…it was almost a relief to know everything I had been through was an underlying condition.

This post might seem a bit doom and gloom, but that is BPDin my eyes, It’s a constant challenge. I’m on a waiting list for counselling but like all NHS services, the mental health team are under strain. I was told BPD treatment is 50:50, 50% medication and 50% talking therapy. My new tablets have been the most helpful to date, and on the whole I have good control over my BPD. So to anyone newly diagnosed, know it gets better and know BPD does not define you.

Five years later…

“Suicide does end the chances of life getting worse. But it does eliminate the chances of it ever getting better”

It’s that time of year again. Maybe sometime, I’ll shut up about it. But all the time I know that I might be helping someone else by talking about my experiences, I’ll share them.

  • In April 2011, I started to notice severe symptoms of depression within myself, after 5 years of battling with self harm.
  • December 2012, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and given 6 months of Sertraline.
  • May 15th 2013, my mental illness took over and I decided to act on my negative feelings in attempt to end everything, as a result I was hospitalised.
  • A minimum of six disastrous months on several antidepressants that did nothing for me.
  • March 26th 2016, I was diagnosed with PND, GAD and PTSD following a traumatic labour.
  • June 2016, it was suggested that I could have BPD
  • 1 year of mirtazapine and a 4 stone weight gain.
  • January 29th 2018, I was diagnosed with Cyclothymic disorder (a milder, yet more chronic form of Bipolar Disorder) and Borderline Personality Disorder.

To me May 15th 2013 was like a semi colon (;) , representing where my story could have ended, but instead continued.

Five years on is such a bitter sweet feeling. Not only am I proud, when I think about how far I’ve come. But I am pained when I think that it’s taken me 5 years to get close to the help that I need and deserve.

The contrast between wanting to die and not being able to – with wanting to be alive and almost dying numerous times due to things that are out of your control is terrifying. It really reiterates how quickly your life can go full circle in such a short space of time.

I remember, sitting there in hospital wishing that I’d have died. Wishing so much that I could have just let go. I was convinced that I’d never get better. That I’d never feel better. That I’d never get a correct diagnosis. That i’d never get the help that I needed. I was in the bottom of a pit. There wasn’t a way out.

I have received my correct diagnosis and had many other mental health struggles since my most serious suicide attempt. I’d go as far to say that life since has been harder than I ever imagined. My pain hadn’t peaked on that night, I didn’t realise the depths of despair I’d get to – but my resilience and strength has just kept growing. Of course my mental health relapses due to the cyclical nature of my diagnoses. But, even when I feel like the worst person in the world with nowhere to go- I look at my baby and know that I at least got something right. Her smiles brighten my day and her laugh brings tears of joy to my eyes. Most days, just getting out of bed hurts and exhausts me so much I can barely carry on. but I constantly WORK so HARD to just keep going.

Anyone can go through a mental health issues or illnesses, it’s a hell of an ordeal. Recovery can be lifelong. Most days are a challenge, but there’s always days worth fighting for. This is anything but a cry out for attention, I just want anyone going through the same to know they’re not alone. Your experiences make you, who you are. You owe it to yourself to live for another day and give yourself another chance.

“Keep strong little fighter, soon it’ll be brighter.”

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Mental Health Monday: a poem for my daughter…

Depression is a friend of mine.

I know it’s hard to understand,
But there’s something that I must explain:
From the first moment that I first held your hand,
I was overwhelmed with pain.
I’m a mum without a mum,
And in a way I always was,
So meeting you on the outside
Was terrifying.
Your arrival meant her arrival,
Untimely, and unwanted
Just like me.
The loneliness consumed me…
I didn’t know how to be.
I was now a mother, determined not to let you down,
Spurred on to be the best I could with no role models around.
Two short weeks and your dad left, too,
Back to work he went.
I guess a part of me always knew
That I wouldn’t cope –
Would have no hope –
For anything getting better.
My dark days became darker.
I let you down, and couldn’t forgive myself.
I should have fought harder,
But a first-time mum is never believed,
Never listened to,
And never taken seriously.
My downward spiral became far worse,
And I didn’t know when it would end.
I felt like I had no-one,
No family. No friends.
And now I’m in that dark place once more,
But I’m trying to make a change.
I want to learn how to be my best
And to feel okay again.
I love you so much, with all my heart,
And I doubt that you’ll ever see
Just how important you are in my life,
For, without you, how could I be me?
I’ve learned to be your mummy
In spite of all the trouble
And I love you and myself now,
In fact, nothing can burst our happy bubble.
I may be facing darkness
But you give me light
And when my hope is flickering
It’s you that makes me fight.

 Monday Stumble Linky

Tales From Mamaville

Mental Health Monday: why the stigma?

You may be familiar with the hashtag #endthestigma on social media, used in conjunction with posts about our mental health. Opening up discussions about mental health can reduce the stigma and lead to better understandings of what the issues may be, but why is there such a stigma in the first place?

3 things we can do to help future generations 

#endthestigma

https://player.vimeo.com/video/301598462 #EndTheStigma from Mummy Kind on Vimeo.

1. Remember, your mental health is a disability with the power of invisibility

Imagine instead of depression or anxiety or bulimia, you have a broken leg. Everyone can see your broken leg. Everyone can imagine and envisage how painful it must be, so then you get empathy.
With mental heath conditions, your illness is under an invisibility cloak. Nobody can see it, and very few people can then imagine the pain that you’re in. There’s a lack of empathy, and an attitude of “just get out of bed”, or “you don’t look depressed”.
One way we can stop these ridiculously unhelpful comments is by being open and honest. Not with the world but with ourselves and those close to us. Don’t hide away because you have an illness! This will also enable our children to grow up knowing the issues and with a better awareness and understanding, so that the stigma will be even closer to disappearing completely when their generation are all grown up.
2. Treating mental illness the same as a physical illness

Off the back of the first point, physical and mental illnesses can both relapse! So why on earth are we more afraid of admitting that depression has reared its ugly head again than we are of a chest infection coming back?

I recently went back to my GP to have a chat about my mental health, and he very helpfully explained to me that I must not see medication as a failure, having tried to manage for so long without it. I wouldn’t try to treat a kidney infection without medication so I shouldn’t have to try and treat my depression or anxiety without medication either!

The sooner people understand that physical and mental illnesses are the same, and should be treated in the same way, the better!

3. Don’t let society tell us who to be

Society generally often has an opinion of who we should be or when we should be happy… Well, for starters, you can be both depressed and happy – it is possible! But that aside, societal attitudes have a lot to do with why there is a stigma in the first place.

Emphasising certain attributes on young boys that they have to be tough and cannot show emotion is one thing which contributes to men’s suicide rates being so high! For us females, telling women that they should be happy following the birth of a baby is yet another aspect of the huge circle of guilt that plays into postpartum mental illness!

Teaching our children that they can be what they want to be and that they can share emotions from a young age can really help to alleviate the stresses they will face as adults in the same way that we are under those stresses now.

This post was written as part of our Raising Healthy Minds Campaign

So that is this week’s #MentalHealthMonday post! Get involved with the discussion on twitter and tweet us @mummykindoff

Let us know if there’s anything you do to raise awareness of mental illness! We would love to feature the stories of brave men and women so please get in touch!

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