I weep in the shower so no one will see my tears fall,
I scream silently so as not to make people feel uncomfortable,
I smile broadly when people ask how many children I have and I reply “just one beautiful daughter”
I cry when I chop onions and I cry when the wind blows against my face. I cry when no one will ask me why.
I watch our daughter blossom and smile at the young lady she is becoming,
She doesn’t see my tears in the swimming pool as she says “watch me mum” knowing she won’t seek my approval for much longer.
Once again my tears are hidden by the water, yesterday the shower and today the swimming pool. I have enough love in my heart to have two children shout “watch me mum”, I can’t bear this being how the story ends in my journey of motherhood.
My smile when I talk about my daughter is so genuine but my eyes remain sad. My eyes tell the story of a journey of motherhood different to the one I always anticipated I would have.
I envisaged a big table with several children all doing their homework whilst I stood chatting asking them about their school day and cooking something nourishing for their dinner.
Making the decision to have another child after such serious postnatal depression that left me hospitalised for 5 months last time was huge for us as a couple. We made the decision then decided I must complete my nursing degree first and establish my career again. So long before we were trying, which seems like forever now, we were planning therefore in the years since we made the choice we always anticipated our desire to have a baby would come to fruition quickly. We had an appointment with a perinatal psychiatrist a year ago now and formulated a plan which we anticipated we’d need before long, it hadn’t entered our head we might still be waiting.
Some women are not as fortunate as me, some women will never answer “yes one beautiful daughter” and I can only imagine the torment they feel. I don’t feel worthy of the tears that fall when I remember the blessing of our daughter. God blessed me with a daughter and my tears are disrespectful. My tears show I don’t trust His plan for my life.
I pray that one day I will hold another babe in my arms, the thought of not becoming a mum again is too much to bear. We haven’t planned anything this year, no holidays, no weekends away, I didn’t even enter the Great North Run. Why? Because we assumed I’d either be poorly with sickness (I had hyperemesis last time) or that I’d be hugely pregnant and not up to going far. Neither are true and yet our lives are still on hold.
Each month it gets harder, each month I stand in the rain to disguise my tears for a little bit longer and peel a few more onions. Next time you go to make small talk and ask someone if they ever thought about having another baby or indeed whether they want children at all; don’t. Please don’t. It’s the hardest lie in the world to retain ones composure when waiting for the rain to fall. Hold my hand and stand with me in the rain please.
I consider myself blessed to have been able to remain mentally well without medication for while now but this doesn’t mean it’s all plain sailing. There are blips. Last week was a ‘near blip’ and although upon reflection it was a bit of a worry it is also a boost to my confidence that I was able to manage it. Now please don’t mistake the message in this blog, I am not anti medication; absolutely not, at times medication has been absolutely necessary and has saved my life, in fact Thursday evening last week it was medication which helped me avoid a bigger blip. This blog post is about me explaining how I manage on a day to day basis to stay well (or well-ish!), I know it likely won’t always be like that but I also know from experience that the correct medication works really well for me to aid my journey to remission.
Looking back on last week I am able to see how I caught my mood in the absolute nick of time and that even one day later and I may not have been able to recognise how damaging the effects could be. Let me put into context how I think I came close to a blip… Two weeks ago I worked Tuesday through to Friday which were busy in the way an acute ward is the always busy but actually were lovely shifts where I felt good about the amount of time I actually got to spend with patients that week. I was asked to do some overtime on the Saturday which is something I deliberately rarely do as I am very aware of my need for rest days with low stimulation but was swayed by the thought of weekend enhancement plus overtime rate so agreed. Continue reading →
Last year I published a blog post about my thoughts on the Rotherham report, I received some very kind feedback but also some heart wrenching disclosures from people about their own experiences. One person telling me that I was the first person she had ever told about what she had endured. That blog post was written in anger and not even proof read, I just knew I needed to get it out of my head via my laptop before I would be afforded the luxury of sleep that night. Continue reading →
So I graduated yesterday, I wore my cap and gown feeling so incredibly proud. Not necessarily because I got a degree but because of what that degree stands for. My BSc Honours in Mental Health Nursing means I get to register as a nurse and do a job I love every day and this means so much more than the qualification itself. It means even more than this to me though, it means society has given me another chance, having already lost a career and a business to my own mental health difficulties this made my graduation yesterday especially poignant.
I was invited to visit and have a look around my local trusts new mental health hospital but it got me to thinking of my first ever impression of a mental health hospital was being driven up the hill to a brand new build where I was to be admitted but passing the derelict red brick asylum buildings with their imposing shadow and being terrified of what was to greet me at the brow of the hill. As it was to turn out the hospital where I was to stay was state of the art and had only opened mere months before I arrived but I will never forget my fear at the fenced off terror I imagined behind the overgrown shrubbery.
I gave a talk tonight at the Annual Members Meeting of the Mental Health trust for which I am a governor, my talk was about my journey of recovery and what it meant to me as I made the transition from service user to staff nurse, the words that follow are what I read:
My first contact with mental health services was in 2007 following the birth of my daughter, Eve. After she was born I knew straight away that I didn’t feel right. I spent the first five weeks after she was born racing around, I decorated my entire flat and held a dinner party every night for three weeks! When my daughter was five weeks old depression hit me like a shovel in the face, I didn’t just slow down, I stopped. Continue reading →
The issue of self disclosure in mental health setting is a controversial one and one to which I have given much thought. As I have blogged about previously I am a mental health professional who has lived experience of mental illness and the stigma which comes along with that. Continue reading →
You may have noticed my tweets recently asking about whether your local mental health NHS trust has a recovery strategy or recovery policy statement in place. I’m asking because I am part of a working group within my local trust considering this but it has got me thinking when I have had lots of retweets but not one person has been able to confidently reply and say that their trust has one in place.
So maybe I ought to start by asking myself what recovery is? I’m a third year student mental health nurse so often hear people talk about working with a ‘recovery model’ but I dispute this; recovery is not a model it is a process. Continue reading →
I knew that financially being a student again was going to be tough, I had been a student before I knew that there was always likely to be more month left at the end of the money than the other way around. Nothing prepared me for the hardship and sacrifices this past three years have brought us. Continue reading →
I was sat at home preparing a presentation I have to give tomorrow at university dipping custard creams in my coffee and wondering whether I could provide myself with sufficient excuse to not go to bootcamp class tonight. It’s only my excuse for me, it’s only me I need to justify it to but still it needs to be a good reason or I’d have to force myself to go.
My brain was dulled and my eyes sore from staring at the laptop screen so I decided I needed some fresh air. I needed to blow the cobwebs away and the gale force wind out here has certainly done that! Continue reading →
I have just watched the Kerry Katona documentary on catch up for Channel 5, it’s called ‘My Secret Past’ and is worth a watch. I have long believed that my battle with mental illness is a combination of the two, that I have a genetic predisposition but that trauma I experienced during my childhood triggered it off. I guess it’s no different to someone having a genetic predisposition to heart disease but whether that person eats a fry up for breakfast then sits on their backside everyday makes a difference to whether they trigger those heart problems off or not.
had an appointment today with my GP who is exceptionally supportive with my mental health. I know at times she has been as frustrated as I have been with secondary mental health services on my behalf. To have the support of someone who truly believes in the concept of recovery is vital to achieve mental well being. My appointment was booked several weeks ago to discuss my next drop in dose of my Venlafaxine. Continue reading →
1. To always have hope. Through both mental illness and via situations I have faced I’ve felt hopeless at times in my life. I can’t necessarily change how I think or feel when in the grips of mental illness but I can change how I deal with situations that life will invariably throw at me in the future. I have ‘Dum vita est spes est’ tattooed around my ribs which means whilst there is life there is hope in Latin. I truly believe that no matter how utterly hopeless you may feel at any given moment if you just keep on going moment by moment it can get better. So no matter how low one feels it is important never to take a permanent action to solve a temporary feeling. Continue reading →
Christmas; the most wonderful time of the year? Or is it?
Not for everyone it isn’t. Three years ago I spent Christmas in a psychiatric ward away from my husband and daughter and that will always be at the back of my mind as the shops begin to fill with glitter and the TV adverts show perfect family Christmas’.
I can tell myself I ‘forgive me’ for missing that Christmas with my daughter and build lots of new happier memories in the years since then. What’s not to forgive? I was ill. Continue reading →
Yesterday was my daughters seventh birthday party and although I knew I was stressed trying to arrange it along with working full time and writing university assignments nothing prepared me for the reaction that this party provoked in me yesterday. Continue reading →
I am often left wondering, based upon my own experiences, if those who prescribe medication realise the impact on a patients life that the medication has. I imagine they feel pleased if the medications treats the original symptoms or disappointed if it doesn’t but should accepting another illness in its place be classified as a success? By that I mean that it is such a fine balance to relieve the original symptoms whilst not creating side effects which can be an illness in themselves. Continue reading →
Is a mental health diagnosis a modern day equivalent of a straight jacket? I began to wonder this after a few conversations recently where the subject has come around to the different way people react to a person once they discover a diagnosis of mental illness. Continue reading →
Why do I find dieting so hard? Why can I not be happy when I look in the mirror?
I remember when I was at school studying ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ understanding on a deep and very unfortunate level why Tess felt the need to shave off her eyebrows to disguise her beauty to men following her rape. I knew what it meant to wish that I hadn’t been so appealing in that way. Continue reading →
I should be used to the question by now… ‘So why do you want to be a mental health nurse?’
I usually witter for a few minutes about reassessing my life and career after I had a spell being unwell after having my little girl. I never offer the information but if I’m pushed I have been known to admit that I had post natal depression. I hate that word ‘admit’ like I am guilty of something. I have no guilt or shame over my mental health and have spoken openly about it for years but being used to assumptions made often by people who should know better I usually stay quiet in a new workplace. Once people get to know me and respect me for who I am and what I am capable of I am more than willing to be open. Continue reading →
It may seem like the most simple thing in the world to know whether you have had a bad day or whether you are unwell with a relapse of mental illness. It’s not easy at all.
I’m not sure why I get so worked up about this issue maybe it’s fear that I am becoming depressed again? To a point the reason is not important it is the way I deal with it that matters. Continue reading →
Today I am struck by how alike the weather reports are to descriptions of mood… “The black clouds are descending” “my sunny disposition” I have even been known to use the phrase saying “all clouds have a silver lining” meaning that my mental health issues have had a positive impact upon my life as well. If I had never had a mental illness I would likely still be a Human Resources Manager, still have a financially secure lifestyle and not met lots of wonderful people who I am now fortunate enough to know. Continue reading →
I am passionate about fighting the stigma which still surrounds mental illness and will always try to be as open as possible about my history of mental health difficulties. This got me to thinking though, by replying to a ‘Hi how are you?’ with ‘Fine thanks’ am I adding to the stigma?