Letter to 5 years ago me

Dear me,

Look at you three, a perfect little family and looking tired but happy celebrating MG being one month old. But I know your smile faded as soon as the camera was put down. I know you were one month in to an experience that was far from happy and you hadn’t slept a wink for the last 3 weeks. Here’s what I know 5 years later and what I wish I could have told you back then:

  • You gave breastfeeding your best shot. MG was in neo-natal and you became mentally ill – it was never going to work and it wasn’t your fault. She thrived on formula and is now the most healthy, perfect 5 year old.You are now proud of how you fed your baby.
  • Your family won’t be better off without you. This illness will get worse and your family will go to pieces. They need you so much and you have to fight to get better for them. You and MG share such a close bond. She is everything she is because of you. So without you, your family would fall apart.
  • You will not be ashamed to tell people you had post-natal depression. You will volunteer for a charity (PANDAS) and will tell your story. You and MG will be in the local press for your sponsored walks (raising almost £3k), you will talk to Anne Diamond (I know!) on BBC radio, and at a webinar to over 100 Lloyds Bank employees.
  • You do get better. Through an MBU, medication, a social worker, a trainee CBT therapist, a psychiatrist, your Mam moving in, your husband sticking with you, your new Mummy friends, PANDAS, going back to work and becoming a Christian. There is no one cure, stop searching for it and take recovery one step at a time.
  • You haven’t gone crazy or lost your mind. This is an illness which is just as real as a physical one but admittedly so much harder to bear. This will honestly make you stronger, more compassionate and an awesome Mummy.
  • You will experience friendship like you have never know before. You will find a group of Mummy rocks, most of whom you didn’t even know 6 months ago. They will become like family to you and teach you what real friendship is. They will help you accept yourself completely.

So my darling girl, you DO get better and you have a life so much better than you could ever have imagined. MG and Mr B are your world, you laugh every day and you feel so much love for them that your heart could burst.

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me and psychosis

The Eastenders storyline featuring Stacey’s post-partum psychosis has prompted me to finally write about my experience of psychosis, so here goes…

Although I am very open about my experience of post-natal mental illness, I’ve never much talked about my only diagnosis which was ‘post-natal depression (psychotic)’.

Psychosis for me dipped into hallucinations, delusions and off-the-chart levels of panic.

During a visit at MBU from a friend we visited the on-site Costa with our babies. I can only describe that experience as like being in the Truman Show on fast-forward. Everyone was moving so quickly and the staff were constantly re-filling the fridge, like on a loop.

On a visit home one weekend I saw the same wedding car go by twice within 5 minutes and felt so scared that the world was on repeat and only I knew, only I had noticed.

When I saw the final Twilight movie and Bella becomes a vampire (plot-spoiler sorry!) and she is hunting for fresh blood, I saw on screen how I felt at the height of this manic time. She can sense everything and at this time so could I. I could smell everything, including what wasn’t there. I could hear people coming before they were anywhere near me. I was at 100% red alert and I was the only person alive who felt like this. In some ways my ramped-up senses felt exciting, like I was invincible.

Every cry from my girl instilled panic in me that she was in pain, had meningitis and was going to die. I was convinced I must have done something to hurt my girl without remembering and every blue light or siren was coming to get me.

My diary entries from this time refer to my need to feel safe (much like Stacey wants to keep her baby safe). I was in a vicious cycle of believing that wherever I was I wasn’t safe. I had to go to where it was safe but didn’t know where that was.

I found safety in my diagnosis which came after my discharge from the Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) and having it was the first real step to my recovery. I took anti-psychotic meds, had weekly support visits and the ‘magic’ that was CBT. I came off the meds within a year as they righted the imbalance in my brain at that time and I have since made a full recovery.

The depiction of what Stacey has experienced is so realistic it’s like watching how I felt. It has made me sob buckets, but I cry at most things! I know this soap worked with those with lived experience of this illness and that is why it is so spot-on realistic and I look forward (with a box of tissues to hand!) to seeing Stacey recover.

The fact that the reality of severe mental illness of a Mum is being broadcast on TV can only be a good thing. It’s good because it gets folk talking and then we can change the world.

 

 

Long time no blog

So we hope this blogs finds you well. Me and MG are very well. Here’s a catch up since like Easter:

MG turned 4. We threw her a Princess & Knights party in our Church hall. Then we headed for a week in Euro Disney. It was awesome and the Disney obsession has only grown since.

I spent a weekend away at the brand new Center Parcs with 3 of my rocks. I cried with laughter, hysteria (from the Tornado water slide) and sadness (watching ‘The Theory of Everything’ – this is me, I cry at films).

MG graduated nursery. She refused to meet the man to get her scroll but enjoyed throwing her cap in the air. I visited Harry Potter studio and went on the actual Hogwarts Express. Someone deleted my photos so I will have to return!

I delivered a big, solo, successful, on-brief project at work and subsequently was advised I would be on formal capability. I took time off. There was no way I was going to continue being treated the way I was for over 2 years. Enough was enough. I spent my time considering my next career move and applying for jobs.

MG left nursery having had some settling in at ‘big’ school. She was excited. I was sad. We spent a lovely week in Cornwall just us 3. I read a lot of self help books and we ate out every day – talk about having a rest!

MG started school and although the first few weeks were hard at drop off time, shed came out every day with a big grin on her face having had a great day. I returned to work where unsurprisingly things the same, infact worse! I was blessed to be offered a new job and promptly resigned.

While working my notice we celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary and my birthday. I was so touched by all the good wishes I was given when I left work. Then me and MG took our first train trip to visit my family. On our return we all visited Team S and me and Mr B went to 2 comedy gigs in 4 days. That was a good month.

I started the new job working with children which is a dream come true. We took MG on her first flight to her first wedding. She was so good on the flight and she and the school doll got to meet the captain (she nearly stole his hat) when we landed. MG thought the bride was a real princess and agreed. We had a lovely Uni reunion where I felt blessed to be with my friends of 17 years when so many lost theirs that weekend in Paris. I did a lot of serving at Church and MG went to 2 5th birthday parties in 24 hours.

Then began December and I became a social butterfly!! So far I have done a mulled wine catch up with my dear friend who I share a ‘giving birth’day with. Coffee with my lovely friend of many dimensions (Church/neighbour/school Mum). Dinner with my old CDO chums. Me and Mr B spent a day/evening at our ‘Christmas do’ (shhh it was just us). Out with my Mummy rocks. Coffee with one of the strongest, caring women I know. Drinkies with my Twyford gang watching ‘First Dates’ and eating cheese and chocolate. Dinner with 2 new friends (school Mums).

MG has had a fun-filled December too. I watched her at her dance class and was so proud of how she did all the moves and followed her teacher the whole time. Grandparents and dog visited and spoiled her as per. MG got a reply from a certain someone who she wrote to at the school Christmas fair. The playdate at her BFF’s this week consisted of them talking minion to each other while eating dinner. MG was amazing in her nativity. She looked beautiful as an angel and delivered her lines perfectly (you can tell her Mummy has an A-level in Drama – just saying!). Today she has breakfast at school and met Santa then we took her to her first Panto which although she enjoyed it I don’t think she found it as funny as I did.

Phew! Back on track.

 

That was Easter 2015

Easter week 1:

M – the Godson turned 6 and not too sure how that happened. I did 2 courses in 1 day and a 100 mile round trip to Mother Ship to do them. I am a Sunshine Yellow – full of ideas but rarely actually do them to their end. MG went to bed with a temperature and scratchy throat.

T – I went to gym & back and MG still wasn’t up. Spent the day wfh with her laid next to me on sofa.

W – same as yesterday but inc a GP trip to be told MG has throat infection and no medicine needed thankfully as trying to get meds in her is no mean feat.

T – did the gym then MG only just got up in time for us to bez to music group. Then it was to my work to hand out invites and Easter chocs before a Mcd’s for lunch then to the castle to buy teabags for Grandma (and have fun and buy a fairy wand of course – don’t know where the wand has gone but it was an essential buy at the time).

F – Good Friday and Mr B was airport taxi man dropping friends and collecting fam. Church was a family service where we learnt why this Friday is GOOD. Lunch with the fam in town then a mooch and food shop. Me and Mr B watched ‘Boyhood’ and are still undecided.

S – Did gym first thing. Tried out trampolines. Easter Fun Day in local park organised by my fab friends. Mooched round shops and had JL free cakes and drinks. Nearly finished Broadchurch S1. Cried a lot. Still can’t believe I thought David Tennent’s character was called Broadchurch hence the title.

S – Woke up. Made playdoh. Church where MG was a super friend to another girl and super brave and stayed with all the bigger kids so me & Mr B could hear the wonderful Easter Day sermon. Yummy roast lamb for lunch at home just us 3. Walked round local village inc graveyard which I always love – reading the names and what the families have put on headstones. Tea in same Italian we ate lunch on Fri as that’s what MG wanted to do – she ate it it all again and saved us washing up. Finished Broadchurch S1. Got through a whole box of kleenex but so worth it. Turns out I cry at anything to do with Mothers, children and references to my Lord.

Easter week 2:

M – Did gym while Mr B took MG to cinema to see ‘Home’. They weren’t keen but MG was happy with her free Cinderella slipper keyring. Bought a trampoline and new BBQ. We looked well British – first sign of sun and we go buy huge summer garden nonsense. Christened the new BBQ the same day with Mr T over and Mr B went to cinema for 2nd time today.

T – back to work – boo! Did no gym, Did no nothing.

W – Did do gym. Did do stuff at work. Did do bedtime with MG while Mr B was out in evening.

T – Did walk to music group in town. Did get free M&S coffee. Did get sore throat. Did jobs in town. Had our lovely friends over and the girls veered from whining and arguing to holding hands and kissing. Played in garden and in the park. Mr B out in evening again and came home with a trophy.

F – lazy morning. Sore throat gone – must have been all the strepsils. Visited friends for playdate where MG took over again playing her choice of role plays – no idea where her bossiness comes from! Then we did costa lunch and food shop. Mr B home early so all has dinner together and some trampoline time too.

S – we all 3 went to local swim park place. MG as per only wanted to stay in the baby bit but loved it so can’t grumble and I don’t like water slides and lagoon currents anyway. Then my Uni BFF and 2 kids came to stay the night on their way home. Kids played so well, we had BBQ, fit all 3 blondies in our tiny bath then they all slept well while we put the world to rights over Pimms and decaf tea – rock’n’roll.

S – missed Church to hang with friends who let after a park trip and before lunch. Yummy roast chicken lunch, garden play, Creams for a sundae & milkshake then another play park. Home for tea infront of ‘Frozen’ DVD.

Happy (belated) Easter. ‘He is risen indeed. Hallelujah.’ Goodnight xxx

Where did that week go?

Writing this a day late, that’s how quickly that week went. Here’s what I remember we did:

Mon – weigh day & lost 2lbs. Started the day with a gym sesh. Ended it with growth group which I was 1st to which never happens which is the result of no fb I think.

Tues – started the day with a swim. Visited my gorgeous friend in the evening. MG did last football lesson of term and was much proud of certificate.

Weds – had the day off work. Did drop off then car for service then to Church to serve. Our children’s team are simply awesome. Quite how they made the year 6 kids understand the Easter story is amazing. The questions the kids asked were incredible. If only adults were that genuinely curious and open to ideas. Then collected MG early and we went home and ate chocolate egg and watched Paddington.

Thurs – dropped car to garage again for fixing work this time. Got a bit wet walking to rhyme time. Did an M&S date with friends then me and MG hit Costa for lunch! Collected car then on to watching week at ballet. MG started grumpy then got into it and made my heart swell doing her dancing. Evening was gym time then TBBT – yeah!

Fri – Playdate where MG got the grumps a few times. Home for housework and more grumps over me not being able to make MG’s hair longer in a plait – 3 going on 13! Took MG to my gym for a swim. We both had a lot of fun with much giggling. Babysat another gorgeous girl in the evening.

Sat – did the food shop instead of the gym. I won’t lie – I should have gone to the gym. Had a lovely lunch with lovely friends and our girls had much fun dressing up and taking each other to “school”. Afternoon was MG’s once-boyfriend’s party. It was a football party. MG is not going to be a footballer as she was the only child to roll the ball with her hands along the ground. She loved it though I think. Evening was dinner out (Indian) with Mr B as we had 2 babysitters.

Sun – Church then lunch at ours with lovely friends and their boys. We did an egg hunt indoors – one is still missing! Had a toys sort-out. Me and Mr B started series 1 of Broadchurch so sssshhhh.

nighty night xxx

A quiet one this week – a rest before the hectic season begins

Mon – started the week with my gym routine. It didn’t hurt as much as last week so I can’t have done it right! Evening was growth group for Mr B so a night in for moi.

Tues – a 30 lengths swim to start the day. A long work lunch in an eerily quiet Italian.

Weds – gym routine to start the day again and Mr B played badminton in the evening. Check us out Mr & Mrs sporty – haha!

Thurs – a morning off and in it’s place a walk into town and back. The girls were super confident again and went to the front and joined in. Only taken them nearly 4 years and they start school in Sept! Paid Church for MG’s party then M&S coffee. Girls last dance practice before watching week. An evening just us girls as Mr B was up town in Lan-dan.

Fri – a 30 lengths swim and home in time to not see the eclipse – clouds pah! Hung out with the gang in the morning then a girls shopping, Starbucks & library trip in the afternoon. Evening was DVD date night.

Sat – I cried (in a good way) at Church breakfast & was greatful for my bacon roll and wonderful company. Then food shopped while MG & Mr B went swimming. Afternoon mooching at home then I babysat in the evening and enjoyed watching rubbish TV on channels we don’t have – I am easily pleased.

Sun – Church where I did a Sunday school shift & delighted in how awesome 2 year olds are. I volunteered for one thing next week and am now doing drama inc a bit of baptism – eek. Mr B did delish roast chicken then gardened while me and MG went to Baby R’s 1st birthday and ate much cake of the chocolate variety.

I bid you an early good night. xxx

Happy Mothers Day – a job that is 24/7 & I wouldn’t want it any other way

This week saw exercise and healthy eating for the 1st 4 days and ended with an entire day sitting, eating, drinking and reading – bliss.

Monday – first gym venture, forgot a padlock and only managed a stroll on the treadmill but you have to get your bearings and ease yourself into these things. Evening spent pouring over videos of MG as a baby as was feeling sentimental. She was so cute I could burst.

Tuesday – second gym venture and did a 20 minute swim and my hands hurt – weird.

Wednesday – was at the office by 7.15am – I know! Tripped it over to Southampton to do do the 2 mile walk for the Homes for Britain campaign. So proud to work in affordable housing and so proud of my very clever and creative colleagues – gush over. Evening was date night and a soppy British film on tv.

Thursday – a walk into town for me and MG (well she was pushed but y’know). Music group, M&S lunch, birthday call to up Narff. Ballet and lost house keys. Evening was my first PT session. Beautiful and lovely as the trainer was I think she wanted to kill me!

Friday – hosted playdate with the boys as BFF has licken pops. Jo-Ja did our hairs at the salon which was much fun. Followed by impromptu soft play as Baby S had found MG’s 20ps. Evening was a rare night out with my 3 BBFs for a tasty Indian, vino & cocktail – much fun.

Saturday – soft play 4th party, arrival of Grandma and walk in the woods.

Sunday – Mothers Day seasonal breakfast in bed & lovely pressies and cards. Church where MG played Delilah in the Samson story at Sunday school. Mr B made tasty lamb for lunch, then I read all the papers which I haven’t done in years.

Happy days. Night night and “see” you again next week. xxx

Happy International Women’s Day!

Me and MG finished the week on a Frozen-filled-sugar-high at a 4th birthday party and what better way to celebrate being unashamedly female. This weeks summary (written while catching up on this weeks TV via Gogglebox, and drinking an ‘ickle vino):

Didn’t walk to GG as it was k-k-k-cold, Mr B saw a nice new shiny car unveiling, me and MG walked to town and back in Springtime sunshine not once but twice in 2 days, the girls were full-on zooming and making us proud, loved having a sneek-peek at our dancers, we adored our pizza play-date reunion, had a short & very sweet funding meeting, we hosted Friday play-date, we both joined the gym – whoo hoo!, me and Mr B finally watched Gone Girl, we had a lovely 3rd play-date, hung out in the garden, won the Church quiz (well our team did. I was the only one knew ‘marrowfat pea’), got a bit emosh at our Church talk today, food shopped, went to a soft play/Frozen party and MG had her face painted by actual Elsa, then returned home to home cooked roast lamb – mmm.

Next week will include exercise and eating nice food.

Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite. xxx

Spring has sprung…well maybe not quite

This week has been pretty quiet but rather exhausting and not helped by being back at work and also feeling a bit germy:

MG was a bit emosh going back to nursery. She finds the noise overwhelming which is unfortunate as it’s a room of pre-schoolers. Used our collective discretion in growth group discretionary week and decided to have a week off.

One of me rocks got back from India and can’t believe our lives are such I haven’t seen her yet.Did unexpectedly see me work rock and enjoyed the de-brief of our 2 weeks apart.

Immensely enjoyed dinner with the Twyford crew (of 2) despite a certain relaxed vibe from our waitress. Nothing better than a catch up and general gossip.

Took delivery of a new dishwasher from 2 nice JL chaps (how middle class are we?). Went back to ballet and the girls went crazy after a week off, bezzing round the reception playing numerous hide-and-seeks. Love the giggles and sarcasm a hot room of Mums-of-girls can have. Packed up t’car and headed to Grandma’s for the weekend.

Spent the day at the Morgan car factory having a tour, followed by afternoon tea. Felt deeply sad that on his 5 year anniversary my beloved F-in-L wasn’t doing this with Mr B, but honoured to be there. Got to say I actually loved the day and kind of want to build my own car now – weird! Then we went to a big park and bumped into MG and Grandma. I discovered I do not like trampolining. I do like having dinner made for me, and Prosceco – but this is nothing new.

We all four of us enjoyed shopping and F&B’s lunch. Grandma fed us well and got us tipsy – again in the evening.

First day of March started sunny and blue-skyed. By the time we were all dressed we were too late for a stroll as it started to drizzle. Read a lot of the book I was about to give up on and think I will likely finish it now. Searched for an Italian summer break. Was well fed – again.

Next week looks full so best have an easy evening and early night. xxx

Half term week; I like how literal this term is

This week me and MG did our first solo trip up North to visit the fam – this is how it went:

Left Brum late Monday morning in the rain, Tangled stopped working about 10 minutes in, rain was so heavy I ended up taking the M6 toll by mistake, gave MG her first McD’s experience where she had 2 happy meals & was incredulous at me announcement that I once worked in a McD’s, scared Mr B into thinking we were in Macclesfield not Mansfield (the road just said M’field), arrived at Chez Parents in time for tea, opened a lot of gifts,

did the beach & park, visited the Great Great relations,

both had a 9am lie-in (it’s the sea air), Grandma took us to see the Peppa Pig movie, MG joined in all the actions and thoroughly deserved the balloon & cake afters,

we spent a good 2 hours at soft play, invited ourselves to me Godfathers and MG did a jigsaw rather than watch cbeebies (unheard of) while us young ‘uns discussed kids shows & movies, found out who shot Lucy Beale or summat!,

home on Friday via YSP to meet MG’s Godmother & boys which was lovely, very happy to see Mr B & our welcome home dinner,

had a massive lie-in, had crepes and ice cream at Windsor Creams, found out the new owners of The Beehive know how to cook & choose wine while enjoying wonderful company,

felt wobbly at Church about anger, MG had a tv-free day & really enjoyed it playing games & make believe, I actually laughed out loud at Top Gear (and swooned at Olly Murs).

I feel like we were away for much more than 5 nights & think the coming week will be exhausting.

Oh, and there is the small matter of me giving up facebook for Lent, my thumbs is lost when it can’t find the app icon (which I deleted to save temptation). It’s been liberating so far and I am shocked how many times I think in terms of how to word a status update.

Night night, see you next week xxx