Mental Health Monday: Coping with a relapse…

It’s not always plain sailing…

Our mental health, much like our physical health, can be up and down. You can be fine one week, and  find yourself in a bottomless pit the next. Whether you’ve largely recovered or you’re gradually on the road to recovery, it’s important to remember that relapses are normal.

You won’t always feel as great as you do on your best days and you won’t always feel as bad as you do on the worst days. It can be a rollercoaster ride of emotions, helterskeltering to the bottom or being chucked up in the air in a fit of happiness!

What do you do when you are relapsing?

1. Remember that just like having any kind of physical relapse, this is normal! You will have bad days (probably for a long time) but they’ll get fewer and fewer as time goes on and as your brain repairs itself.

2. Take some time out – self care is even more important when you’re going through a relapse. One of the easiest ways to keep yourself going is to pamper yourself a bit, make sure you look after yourself, force yourself to get out of bed and have a shower, but do take it easy. If you need to rest, then rest. You know what you need, so listen to your body and give it a break!

3. If it lasts longer than a few days, seek help. Sometimes relapses do need some medical attention and you might need support when you’re dealing with them – don’t be afraid to reach out if things get too hard. If you don’t feel like you can talk to the people around you, you are always more than welcome to reach out to one of us for a non-judgemental rant and rave, but we still advise speaking to your GP if you’re struggling!

4. Remind yourself that you are not a bad mother… When depression strikes, you can feel like the whole world is against you and that you’re completely worthless. It can take a long time to realise that those thoughts are the depression talking – you’re a perfectly capable mother, and you should never ever criticise yourself for having a relapse. You wouldn’t criticise someone for suffering with cancer, so why criticise yourself for suffering mentally?

5. Focus on the good days, they’re what will get you through the bad ones. When those bad days do come and plague you, it’s important not to dwell on them for too long or to overanalyse the way you felt when you were at your worst. You’ll have days that are equally on the opposite side of the scale that are amazing, and focusing on those days will help you pull through in the long run!

Is there anything else that you do when you suffer with a relapse in your mental health? Let us know!

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Mental Health Monday: Why I let my daughter see me cry…

Olivia has just turned 2, and she’s already so receptive to other people’s emotions. She has been from a very young age. If she sees or hears a baby crying, she goes over to them and tries to comfort them in her own adorable way. She understands that certain things make mummy sad or happy, and she tells me when she is sad or when she is happy.

I honestly don’t believe we would be at this stage if she hadn’t ever seen me cry (on numerous occasions).

I want her to know that it’s okay to cry, and that she should never feel ashamed of crying. Crying doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong. You’re releasing a lot of emotion in the only way you can, and if you didn’t release it, you’d be worse off. You would bottle it up and the upset would turn into anger. I’m okay with Olivia seeing me upset.

There are many, many times when I’m upset because of Olivia. Maybe it’s sleep deprivation or just a general feeling that I can’t cope anymore on my own with her because I’ve had a whole day of her shouting “No!” at me and throwing herself around in a tantrum on the floor. It’s those times that I think it’s most important that she sees me crying – when it gets to that point.

I don’t want my daughter to grow up thinking that there are no consequences for her actions. There are certain things she will do that will upset the people around her, and every time she sees me crying, it immediately stops her from doing whatever it was that drove me to tears in the first place, and she comes and gives me a “cug” and we both feel better afterwards.

I want Olivia to grow up to be kind and nurturing, and learning to comfort others is a huge part of that! If I had a son, I would do exactly the same with him. It’s even more crucial to help boys learn that crying is okay and that they don’t have to bottle up their tears.

In the UK, mens’ suicide rates are 3 times higher than women’s, and a huge part of this is the notion that boys and men can’t show emotion. Suicide remains the biggest killer in men aged 20-49, and yet an astonishing 34% of men said that they would feel ashamed or embarrassed to take time off work for their mental health, compared to 13% feeling embarrassed for time off for a physical injury (https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/key-data-mental-health).

Mental illness is seen as a weakness, more so amongst men than women. I would never, ever want my children to grow up seeing these indiscriminate and often debilitating illnesses as things that make them weak. Facing their illness head on, confronting their fears, and learning how to properly cope with emotions is the best strength that our children can learn from us parents who have unfortunately been there and well and truly got the damn t-shirt!

My daughter will learn to show and cope with her emotions and to be supported, and my sons (if I ever had any) would learn the same.

Emotions.

We all have them. Why should we hide?

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Please tell me they grow out of the screaming phase?

Seriously, kid. Did I not do enough to bring you into this world? I think the screaming and crying I did then was enough for the both of us for the rest of our lives!

Picture this:
A lovely family day out to London. A short train ride, followed by a short walk around from Waterloo station to the London Aquarium and the London Eye. Plenty of snacks to entertain the little madam.

Oh yes, and the god awful screeching of a nightmare 14 month old. FOR NEARLY THE ENTIRE DAY. Minus 30 minutes of peace while she slept.
Seriously, kid. Did I not do enough to bring you into this world? I think the screaming and crying I did then was enough for the both of us for the rest of our lives!
The options seemed simple; ignore her, or pull my own hair out, strand by strand. Have you ever noticed how insanely difficult it is to ignore that sound that grates on you like no other? Today has been so emotionally draining. Every day like this I question if it’s my fault, if there is some reason why she behaves like that for me, as usually it is just me she plays up for. At least today her dad was there too… it made me feel like slightly less of a failure knowing that both he and I were trying to tell her off (to no avail).
It’s pretty hard to keep your cool and act like an adult on these days though, when all you want to do is cry and scream back at them. I always envisage the advert where mum and toddler both have hysterical paddies in the middle of a supermarket, thinking one day soon that will be me.
They push and push and push you until you break, don’t they? Please someone tell me that the end is in sight. These tantrums are getting the better of me and in all honesty I’m almost at that stage of being the mum in the supermarket kicking and screaming back.
Am I going senile already? Or is this normal? Any words of advice for this tired mum?
Rant done. Over and out.