What can family and friends do to help?

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I remember, when my little boy Sebby was about 3 months old, I woke up and immediate wished I hadn’t. I didn’t want to get up. I didn’t want to be part of the day. I simply wanted to disappear. I lay there silent as tears rolled down my face. My partner, James, had taken Sebby into the lounge and I could hear their feint laughter and play……”Why couldn’t I do that?”, “He never laughs for me”, “I’m a terrible mother” my thoughts raced. 

My phone rang.

It was my good friend calling. I didn’t want to pick it up but then something, maybe desperation, made me call her back. Her poor husband answered and managed to understand, through my sobbing, that I needed my friend. It felt like hours until she arrived but it was literally minutes. She bounded in and placed her little girl on the bed next to Sebby. She got into bed with me, hugged me tightly and whispered “It’s all going to be okay.”

That was all I had needed and wanted and after a while I got up and sat chatting with the babies happy and gurgling away. 

Family and friend are the most important part to your recovery. Without them it’s just you and thoughts and feelings are easier to tackle when there’s more than one of you.

There are lots of ways family and friends can support you but you must find it in you to let them. It can be so hard asking for help but it’s important to ask when you need it. They want to help and support you.

Here are some ways they can provide you with support.

Research
It is important that family and friends understand Post Natal Depression which is why research is so important. Mind Uk Is a fab easy to use website full of user friendly information as it the NHS website You may have been given some information already that you could share with them. The more they understand the less you have to explain.

  • Be open and honest

The most important piece of advice I can give you is to be totally honest about how you’re feeling. Communication is key. Lack of communication is the start of rows and bickering and shutting people out. Listen to what they have to say, you might not always agree but a lot of the time their advice is often good and necessary.

I have written the following ideas for your family and friends on how best to support you. Sharing information is crucial.

  • Do your research

The more you understand about PND the more support you can give. 

  • Communication

Your biggest role will be to listen but don’t always feel you have to give your opinion or even have a reply, sometimes listening is all that’s needed. Be open and honest with each other but remember that sometimes Mum can’t remember what she has said or done so let things lie and don’t go over things.

  • Seek your support in others

Post Natal Depression is very complicated and confusing to both Mum and you. It is so important that you have friends or family you can confide in so that you don’t get dragged down. Everyone needs time for themselves, remember to look after yourself.

  • Don’t take it personally

I know that I did and said things I wish I could take back but it was out of my control. That’s important to remember, Mum can’t control her emotions as easily and things will be said that can’t be taken back but try not to take it personally.

  • Offer to help

Don’t always assume Mum needs your help. I remember times when family members would assume I wanted things tidied etc but really I just wanted them to sit with me and have a quiet cuppa. Again, communication is vital.

  • Be assertive

“Please go to bed”, “have a wash please” and “now go and get dressed” are things I heard every day. In a strange way it made me feel safe and loved, not always at the time but afterwards. Sometimes you will need to be assertive, not patronising, assertive. Mum will feel better for it. 

  • Follow boundaries

Although you love the child/baby dearly please remember they are not yours. Please follow the parents style of parenting, ask questions and don’t belittle their parenting style.

  • Be involved with professionals

I must explain that I had to go and live with my mum when Sebby was born or I would have been hospitalised. In my experience having my family and some close friends meet my Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) was very helpful. My mum came to my GP appointments and my partner sat in on my CPN appointments.

  • Understand medication and treatments

It is important that partners and close family or friends know what medication Mum is on and when they are supposed to take them. It is also good to know if any other treatments are happening such as counselling and when these appointments are. I always forgot when my appointments were and when to take my medication so my partner suggested syncing our diaries on our phones and my mum was in charge of my medication.

  • Share phone numbers

Make a list of all the telephone numbers that are useful in any event such as CPN, GP, Health Visitor, best friends, partners and other family members. It’s also good to have NightLinks number, the Samaritans and the local crisis team number. Keep them to hand.

Obviously people’s experiences of Post Natal Depression will be different but if I can help just one Mum and their family then it would be wonderful.

Big love 

Cara xxx

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A reality check

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It’s Sunday morning. I’ve woken feeling sluggish and still very tired but as its 9.45am I should really get up. Everything aches, it honestly feels as though I have done a full Pilates session in my sleep! That odd niggle in my knee is now a reoccurring pain that prevents me from kneeling down and getting up and hinders my walking. The sciatica I had when I was heavily pregnant has reared its head and is very painful, stopping me from doing a lot of things I wish I could. Moan, moan, moan…..sigh.

Two weeks ago I decided to leave the Slimming World group that I had been part of to follow a more natural diet (but really it was because I missed avocados). I had convinced myself that I wasn’t losing enough weight and following a diet combining more natural foods such as avacados, nuts, hummus etc etc would help me shed a lot more. It didn’t.

By the time my CPN had been to see me a week later I had put on 6lb and was feeling more miserable. My weight loss, or lack of, is a trigger for me and I could feel a low creeping up behind me. How could I have put on such an amount of weight in such a short period of time when I was eating so healthily? Except I wasn’t, if I’m honest I wasn’t eating healthily at all, I was binge eating crap. Biscuits, cakes, chocolate, white bread, chocolate spread, crisps then the healthy foods. I would eat it all in secret then feel terrible and disgusting and embarrassed. No one knew how bad it had got because I told no one.

It wasn’t until I’d got on the scales and noticed some new, sore, stretch marks on my tummy that realised I had to change. I had to change my life long negative eating habits, for good this time. ย I miss chasing and running about with my son. I want to be able to tie my shoe laces without great discomfort, I don’t want to out of breath walking up the stairs of our flat anymore, I don’t want to be overweight anymore. I want to be happy with what I see when I look in the mirror. I want to be healthy. I want to be a good role model for my son.

My brother has recently lost 8lb in his first week at Slimming World and that was the kick up the bum I needed. He was so happy. I wanted that feeling. So I text my consultant and explained that I felt like a failure but wanted to come back and she was wonderful about it. So I plan to return this Thursday.

Ive planned my meals for the next 7 days using the Slimming World magazine online and have ordered our shopping online accordingly. I’m feeling determined. Wish me luck.image

What goes up must come down

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It’s 2015, Happy New Year!…or should I say “Happy February” ?!  Rather than make resolutions, which would inevitably end up un-resolved, I simply decided that I would do ‘more’. The kind of ‘more’ that involves losing an unrealistic amount of weight in an unrealistic time frame resulting in more weight gained….poop. The kind of ‘more’ that meant sticking to a regimented routine to fit everything I was supposed to do, in and everyone I was supposed to see, seen thus resulting in a very exhausted and lonely me in a very untidy and disorganised home…whoops.

So I ate my way through January and wore joggers (still wearing). I put all my stuff into places that couldn’t be seen by the naked eye and I saw the same people throughout.

I stopped going out as much and I am slightly ashamed to say I stopped washing as much but then what was the point if I wasn’t going out or seeing anyone? Those close to me were starting to notice the difference. Then I got worse, my mood plummeted and I was so very low, then I rocketed back up again and I felt wonderful and I did all the things I’d been meaning to do at double the speed without hardly any sleep- what a sense of accomplishment! But unfortunately what goes up must come down and go back to the doctors…and the mental health team….and the psychiatrist then back to the doctors.

They all suggested (because it’s very difficult to diagnose properly) that I have Bipolar (Manic Depression) triggered by my pregnancy and birth of my son. Bugger!

We are going to be as positive as possible, which is very hard when you’d rather lock yourself in the bathroom than talk to anyone.

If you have any advice, know of any services that might be helpful either in Cornwall or online that you could share I would love to hear from you.

Time for bed now. Night.

X

Back into the blue

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I honestly thought I was better. I thought that I had finally been cured and the post natal depression was gone……er nope.
Last week was awful. My partner and I were bickering constantly and I was angry all of the time. In my mind Sebbys grizzling became full on screaming and my body was exhausted from total lack of sleep. Little annoyances quickly became huge problems which I started to obsess over and I felt myself being pulled back down. I hadn’t washed, our home was a mess, I was ignoring my calls and I’d started avoiding all social situations. I just wanted to pull the duvet over my head and disappear. But I still didn’t speak to anyone, not even my partner and then wondered why it had pulled me down so deep. I was deeply, deeply miserable and if truth be told I had convinced myself that the best thing for everyone would be for me to leave my partner (but thankfully I didn’t).
My Post Natal Depression has affected and continues to affect, so many important people in my life that I can’t shake the enormous sense of guilt it has created. My partner pointed out today that there seems to be very little information and support for partners and those living with someone with PND. Cornwall, where we live, has been particularly difficult and unaccommodating. Once our little boy turned one all of my professional support network, my GP the Mental Health team and my Health Visitor disappeared and I didn’t have the energy to go and get it back.

So today after much deliberation, I spoke to Outlook South West after completing an online self referral, and the woman I spoke to was so understanding and caring that I couldn’t help but cry with relief. Someone wanted to listen. Someone wanted to help me. I’m booked onto another course in February called Finding Yourself which specialises in helping those with PND. I am also calling the Dr, again, and will hopefully get to see her at some point soon!

I really want to be free of it now. I want to be better. For my family but mostly for myself.

Use #PNDfamily and #PNDchat on Twitter for great online support. It’s really helping me, knowing there are other mums that feel the same way. It’s also fantastic if you aren’t up to speaking to anyone face to face yet.

Roll on February!
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Mabel

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This is Mabel. She is our totally bonkers, furry new edition to the little family.
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She is the daughter of my in laws sheep dog, Zaz. You wouldn’t believe me but she was the runt! I helped deliver her, yep I am also a canine midwife in my spare time ha ha, and instantly fell in love with her. She soon became the second largest in the litter and full of mischief. We are still in the dark as to who the father is so for now she is a Collie X……..something! The possible fathers could be Springer (doubtful!), Black Lab, Husky (yikes) or German Shepherd. I am more inclined to think she is made up from one of the latter two as she is, at only 11 weeks, huge!
This was Mabel at 5 weeks old……
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And this is Mabel at 11 weeks……

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Any ideas are welcome! I’ll be posting a lot more about our lovely girl and how her relationship with Sebby is getting on, they are best friends already! X

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Sunday

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Yesterday Sebby got up and walked. For the past couple of weeks there’s been a lot of Mogli ( Jungle Book) style crawling and sofa cliff climbing going on, resulting in many tumbles and frustrated grizzles. We then had a few wibbly wobbly jelly leg steps, which were followed by a very genuine round of applause from the entire audience. But yesterday BOOM! Off he shot and it was tremendous. I thought my heart might burst with pride and admiration as he toddled, gingerly, towards me arms outstretched with the biggest grin I’ve ever seen him wear, utterly determined to reach me. And he did……..well he got a foot away from me, then launched himself into my lap with a satisfied, exhausted, gurgle.
He has gone off with his daddy to Lanhydrock this morning, in his new shoes, looking more grown up then I ever dared dream he would at the age of one. I’m supposed to be tidying the flat but instead I’ve very selfishly sat down, drank a strong coffee and silently reflected on a very difficult but very rewarding year.
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I am very lucky x

A little bit of me time

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Last night was one of the most exhausting and frustrating yet. While I did feel sorry for my boiling hot, teething, little Sebby I also had this almighty urge to take up smoking again or bang my head against a wall. I settled for Peppa Pig and EBay instead. Tick tock, tick tock………Thankfully, when I had just about reached breaking point, my wonderful mum came to my rescue. Sebbys crying (or screams of unexplained fury!) had seemingly woken her up, along with most of the street. He eventually fell asleep at around 3.30-4am but was wide awake again at 7.30am.
After I’d stuffed him full of banana I carefully drove back to Cornwall.

The remainder of today felt like I was running over slippery sea weedy rocks, drunk. The order of things went poo, scream, poo, feed, scream, walk, scream, poo, feed and a cheeky little skiddy- I’d like to add that was Sebby and not me!
Finally we managed to catch our screaming (with wicked laughter this time) smudgy, snotty, Peppa Pig spaghetti smeared son and wrestled him into the tub. I collapsed on the bed and listened to the happy chatter from the bathroom. I love hearing James singing his special songs that apparently he only knows- it makes me smile. After a bit of a chase, and he’s not even walking yet, we bagged up our baby and put him to bed. Of course he kicked up his usual stink but then something happened…..he stopped crying. I sent James in after a few minutes of silence who reported that Sebby was in his cot playing….yes that’s right playing! Of course once he’d seen his daddy that was it. So we decided to do what all good, decent parents do and got out of there sharpish and hid in the lounge until the monitor fell silent again.
We checked him again after 10 minutes and this time our little angel was lying at the head of his cot on top of all his soft toys. Lovely.

So after that I sat my arse down for a spot of me time and completely lost myself in a little world of colourful crochet. I used the Simply Crochet granny square app it’s free and you get a new square each week.
This is the first time I’ve worked from a pattern and I’ve only been crocheting a short while so I’m really chuffed with the result. My tensions a little off but it’ll come with practice. I used some fine Bergere yarn which I brought from a fab craft shop in Okehampton called Rockin’ Beads on a 3.0 mm hook. Hope it inspires someone out there ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy craftin’ and happy snoozing x

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