Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Light at the End of the Tunnel – Part one

I’ve pondered this next post a lot. Thoughts and feelings have gone through my head trying to find the best way to share how I recovered from my PND, and I’m really not sure where it makes sense to start. I think if I’m honest it’s not really felt as if I’ve ever completely recovered from that time in my life. And the events of losing my own Mum at a time when I was again very vulnerable having not long given birth to my second daughter, I feel I’ve not had a long enough period of time feeling “normal” again to say I’m fully recovered. Having said that, does anyone really know what normal is anyway! Isn’t normal what you are used to at any given time? Surely it can mean or be anything you want it to !

I think the biggest part of my recovery was acceptance. Accepting where I was, how I felt, that I was indeed depressed and that I needed to seek help in some form. I didn’t need to keep trudging along alone.

I made the decision I needed help when an older friend of ours in Brittany said to me, “Charlie, if you don’t sort yourself out soon and get help you are going to have a nervous breakdown!” The words “nervous breakdown” hit me hard and made me sit up and take notice. My Mum had suffered a nervous breakdown many years prior due to the pressure and stress of looking after my elder sister. My sister was born normal but was left severely brain damaged at 15 months of age following a routine small pox vaccination. Our lives as a family unit were therefore never what most people would term as “normal” and the stress of having a child who eventually became an adult who needed round the clock care, was unpredictable, at times aggressive and constantly frustrated made for a highly emotive, anxious and stressful environment to live in. It finally took its toll on my Mum a few years after my sister left the family home aged 17 to go into a special home for those with mental and physical handicaps.

I remember that time vividly. I was 15 and this was when I myself experienced my first bout of depression. I remember the concern I felt watching Mum struggle and wondering if I’d ever get her back again. It was a difficult time. So the threat of a breakdown looming over me was somewhere I wasn’t prepared to go in a hurry. I knew deep down I was on the edge but now I had to admit it and find a way to get myself well again.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

I knew I needed to leave France if I was to fully recover, but it wasn’t quite that simple. It took another year from making that mental decision before it was actually possible for us to return to the UK and it was the longest 12 months of my life. I walked every day for over an hour to stay sane, I gave my eldest daughter regular baby massage treatments to stay as bonded to her as possible (it took a full 16 months to finally feel the bond I’d expected to feel when I first had my baby), I tried hard to eat healthily and I kept myself as focussed as I could on the end goal, visualising myself back home in the UK, happy and safe.

Once back in the UK, my husband and I decided to settle in the West Country instead of heading back to the Home Counties where family were and we had previously lived. The thoughts of being so close to London again with a toddler was not what I wanted or needed so we made the sacrifice of living once again away from family but it was definitely the right decision long term.

Not long after returning to the UK, I went to see my new GP who was keen to put me on anti-depressants. I refused and asked for 3 months grace to find alternatives to aid in my recovery. She recommended counselling which I hated the idea of at first. I had done a lot of work on myself as a holistic therapist both spiritually and emotionally and felt I didn’t need someone I didn’t know sitting in front of me with folded arms asking “So, what seems to be the problem?” I had a very old fashioned view of what a counsellor was and I didn’t feel they could bring any worth to my situation. Also the waiting list for CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) was so long on the NHS that the whole idea seemed pointless. However, the GP still gave me a leaflet on counselling which I read and I finally set about looking for a private counsellor who was local to me a few months later.

I was blessed to find a fabulous lady who was an integral part in my recovery. She gave me the permission to truly “feel” for the first time in over 2 years and didn’t sit there and judge me in any way. That was so liberating ! We unleashed the dragon within and as she said, “Once released there is no going back!” and she was so right. The anger, frustration, hurt and sadness I felt came to the surface and was overwhelming to say the least. It was like peeling back an onion. Layer upon layer of raw emotion was exposed and now needed attention. One of my biggest feelings was having been let down by those around me, those I loved. At that time I felt greatly misunderstood and my counsellor gave me insight into why that was and how I could release those feelings and move on again.

I am a highly sensitive person which in my work as a Holistic Therapist is a good thing. I am very empathic and sense feelings, unease, emotions. My instincts serve me well but they can make functioning in the real world tough at times. Even now I often find it hard to know where I truly fit. The total sum of our life experiences make us who we are so I suppose for me most of mine have been intense, stressful and filled with anxiety and caution. Don’t get me wrong it hasn’t all been doom and gloom but as a child I grew up in a highly emotive, stressful environment where I was taught to be overly cautious and wary of life. And being a younger sister of a child with special needs meant that having a “carefree” existence as a child wasn’t on the agenda. I had to grow up quickly and just get on with it.

It’s fair to say that during my counselling sessions these memories and feelings surfaced too and needed to be dealt with. It was an exhausting time but so beneficial and it is probably the one thing I’d recommend anyone who is suffering with depression do for themselves. Whether it be CBT or another form of counselling that resonates with them, it is well worth the investment of time and money.

I’m going to finish this post here and share next time how I continued on with my recovery through changing my diet and also with the healing sessions I had. Although it may seem that what I’m sharing here is very deep and intense it’s important to understand that it’s not all internal struggles and fighting. This journey has given me a greater clarity of who I am as a person, and the type of mother I ultimately wish to be for my girls. Becoming a mother has probably been the biggest, most amazing journey I have ever been on.

What I have experienced over the past 7 years has pushed me to the absolute limits of what I thought I could cope with and I have proved to myself that I am stronger than I thought, I can still cope in the face of adversity, I love completely, care deeply, wear my heart on my sleeve and those are things that I should be proud of. I have often thought of them as failings, as a weakness, somehow looking enviously at others who appear more carefree and happier than me. But time allows me to understand that it’s ok to be different, I matter just as much and maybe through this blog and sharing some of my journey with others, someone may find some solace within the chaos they currently find themselves in. Who knows?

Thank you for listening. Do share your thoughts. It’s always lovely to hear from you. Have a wonderful Easter together with those you love. Until next time xx


Post Comment Love

17 comments:

  1. Sounds like you've been on a roller coaster of a journey, one of the most important things is the people you have around you, your support network - your friends, family and sometimes even strangers. It's amazing how our feelings and emotions work, something which we put to the back of our minds can suddenly reappear out of no where hitting us faster than a speed train. So glad that you've found something which works for you. Good for you, sharing your experience - i'm sure it'll give people hope who are currently going through it now xx www.mrsmummyx.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Hi Gemma - Thanks for popping by. Luckily I'm no longer suffering with PND but since losing my Mum 17 months ago i have been low in mood. Not surprising really ;0) I feel it's important to share our experiences of PND - it has such stigma attached. I've more to share on the blog as well as this journey. Hope you'll pop back again soon x

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  2. Wow - what bravery, courage, insight and self-awareness you show here. Thank you for sharing so honestly. Pleased to have found you via #PoCoLo. xx

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    1. Thank you for your lovely words xx I myself follow you on Facebook :0) Funny how we start connecting to each other. Thank you for popping across to say "Hi". It means a lot xx

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  3. It's very brave of you to share this, I suffer with mental health issues of my own and also found private counselling to be invaluable. I hope others read your story and realise there is a way out.

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    1. Hi Livi - Thanks for stopping by. Lovely to connect with you xx It's so important we share our journeys. So often it gets ignored and forgotten about. What makes my heart sing is that there are more people coming out of the woodwork and sharing with each other. There IS life after depression and other mental health illnesses. We do get through it, it makes us stronger people and we come out of that darkness eventually xx

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  4. Charlie, you are a brave and strong lady. As you rightly said, one of the first steps to recovery is recognising what needs fixing. You have a wonderful and valuable story to tell and I am so glad you shared this on PoCoLo xx

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    1. Aww thank you Tori xx I'm looking forward to sharing some more upbeat stuff too in the coming weeks. But I think this difficult journey is one worth sharing to help break that stigma xx I'll be back for some more #PoCoLo soon xx

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  5. Wow this is such a brave and honest post. Thank you for sharing and what a long way you have come. I am rally pleased to have found your blog through #PoCoLo xx

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    1. Feeling blessed to have you all pop across to say "Hi" and give me some #PoCoLo xx Hoping we can move forward now as a family and fill our lives with a bit more sunshine again. Thanks for popping by xx

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  6. this post must of been so difficult to write. I have been here to and i know how hard this it to deal with.

    The fact you wrote this means your stronger than you think xx

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    1. Hi Jaime - It's funny this all started with this post:

      http://www.madmummymusings.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/pnd-what-makes-one-person-feel-theres.html

      which I wrote in response to Karen Simpson taking her own life after suffering with PND. Her suicide seemed to hit me really hard, so I finally shared my story. It seemed to resonate with a lot of people. I also followed it with this more personal account:

      http://www.madmummymusings.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/my-personal-journey-through-pnd.html

      and felt the need to now complete the puzzle with the final missing pieces. One more post to share on this difficult journey and then some more upbeat stuff I think :0)

      It seems so many of us have suffered with PND in varying degrees - more than we realise are out there. Maybe by sharing we can finally dispel the stigma attached to it and support each other on this incredible journey called Motherhood xx

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    2. PS: Thanks for stopping by Jaime xx It's lovely to have you here. Happy Easter xx

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  7. What a very brave, strong and determined person you are. I think in many ways grief changes us forever, I have never returned to the person I was after we lost our son, I think that I just learned how to live with it and developed methods of coping.
    To deal with the loss of your mother and PND must have been dreadful, but taking the steps towards getting the help that was right for you must have been a huge relief. I remember feeling as though the weight I carried on my shoulders got a little lighter bit by bit. I look forward to reading your next post x

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    1. They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger eh Nichola?! Sometimes I wish the Universe would back off ever so slightly. I read your "About" section on your blog. Wow, you have been through a lot too. I remember having a "moment" when my youngest hadn't moved for several hours. The panic I felt was indescribable. I can't imagine the total devastation you must have experienced in losing your beautiful son xx I agree that grief in all it's forms changes us for ever. I was just feeling bouyant again when Mum passed after my second was born. It seemed cruel to deal me that card after the PND with my first. But you either let it destroy you or you use that experience for the good and I think that blogging seems to give an outlet to share, be heard and maybe just maybe help someone else feel less alone. I'll be following your blog and blessed to have connected with you xx Much love xx

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  8. I am slowly reading through your posts now we have connected. How very brave to be so honest about your feelings. I am sure many women will find reassurance in your posts. My husband currently has depression but thats as far as my insight goes. It sounds as though you have been lucky to find some useful professional help. Big hugs to you and I look forward to following your journey xx

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    1. Hi Karen - Great to connect with you too :-) We friended each other on Britmums a while back I noticed, but I don't think we made the correlation then ;-) It's been a long journey but I've found so many others who have walked this journey too so I think it's worth sharing. The more we talk the better it feels. One more post to complete the picture but other happier stuff to share too. It hasn't all been doom and gloom ! Sorry to hear about your husband. I think it can often be as hard if not harder being the one on the other side. You just don't know what to do or say to make it all better. Sending you a big hug too xx

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I love to hear your thoughts and feelings on what I write so please do leave me a message. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you again soon xx



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