Wednesday, 1 June 2016

MENTAL HEALTH AND MOTHERHOOD

I've had a bit of a break from blogging over the last week and a bit. In fact, I've had a bit of a break from most things internet based. I haven't been posting very much on Instagram and I haven't been posting much on my personal Facebook either. Messages have been opened and then ignored, birthdays have been and gone without me saying Happy Birthday and birth announcements have passed by without me sending my best wishes. I think I've just been a bit absent. In my family's life, in my friends life, and even a bit in my own life really. And if I'm truly honest with myself, which I'm not entirely sure I want to be, I'm pretty sure I can attribute this behaviour to The Black Dog. Yep, that's right. Depression. 

Being pregnant was a pretty intense nine month high for me. I was taking an anti-depressant, a mood stabiliser and an anti-anxiety medication before falling pregnant and I came off all medication as soon as I found out we were expecting Freya. I sailed through my pregnancy mood wise without so much as one single down day. I felt absolutely amazing. I was so pleased that I was a managing without medication that could potentially harm my baby, and I was so pleased that the hormones my body was producing because of my baby were keeping me and my moods afloat. I remember thinking maybe I was cured. Maybe this was it. I'd managed a whole 9 months without medication and surely I could carry on without it, right?

And I did just that. Freya is almost 6 months old now and I still haven't made an appointment with my GP for a mental health check up. I think I've been scared to. Depression is something that has played such a huge part in my life for such a long time, and I so wanted to believe that it was gone forever. I didn't want to be a mum, or even just a person, that could only get through the day if I was taking a pill to help. I've been scared that people will think I'm not coping with Freya, or that I wasn't capable of still being a good mum if I was honest about how I've been feeling. I've even panicked about Freya being taken away from me if I opened up about the return of The Black Dog, and the thought of not having my baby is enough to make me keep my mouth shut for years, even though I know that's not going to happen.

But then I thought back to a few years ago, when I was hospitalised because of The Black Dog. I was 17 and petrified. I spent five weeks in an Adolescent Psychiatric Ward that was almost two hours away from my home. I was miles away from anyone I loved and, although it did help me in the long run, it was a very difficult experience. A ward full of 10-15 teenagers who all wanted to isolate and harm themselves can be an extremely toxic place to be. I don't want to put myself through that again. I don't want to put my family, or Lewis and Freya through that. I have responsibilities now. I'm someone's mother and I can't let myself go into self destruct mode and wallow in my own feelings. I have to get up and get on. I have to put my daughter before myself. 

But it's hard. It's really really hard. Some days I just want to cry all day over absolutely nothing. And some days I just want to stay in bed all day. Am I a bad mum for admitting that sometimes we do just that? There's definitely been a few days in Freya's life where I've been so down we haven't left the bedroom. Hair washing has taken a back seat, along with the housework and the laundry. I can't believe I'm writing this down with the intent of publishing it to the internet. I'm embarrassed by how I'm feeling, which I know full well I shouldn't be. But I never ever thought I'd be telling my closest friends and family this is how I'm feeling, let alone writing it for my readers. 
I've been thinking about this a lot the last week. The 16th-22nd of May was Mental Health Awareness Week and I have always been a huge advocate for speaking out about our experiences with mental health. Why should people with a broken arm or leg be able to post online about their illness but if someone writes about how depressed they are it's attention seeking? I'm a firm believer of if we all treated mental health illnesses in the same way as we treat physical illnesses, things would be so much better. People would be so much more open to talking about their feelings and so much more receptive to treatment if they knew their illness would be treated with the same respect as an illness that can be seen. 

I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with this post, to be honest. I know I wanted to be honest about how I'm feeling, and I know I wanted to make a point about how mental health should be treated in the same way as physical health. But apart from that, I think I just needed to get everything off my chest. I will be making an appointment with my GP this week and more than likely asking for some medication. I could probably have done with making this appointment a month ago but at least I'm doing it now. 

If you're in a similar situation to myself, or are feeling a similar way and are finding it difficult to talk to someone, please, please message me via one of my social media pages. I know I'm not a medical professional, but I am a good listener and I have a long history of experience with mental health issues (a good 9 years to be precise!). Or if you would prefer to be totally anonymous but still want to talk to somebody, I will leave the details of the Samaritans here

Thanks for reading, 

Grace x