Today is Time to Talk Day 2019 and its all about having an honest conversation and challenging mental health stigma, so in light of this I thought I would share my story about my own issues with mental health.
I always wanted to be a mum, I have always been maternal and I just assumed that I would get to a certain age, have a baby and I would find it easy and enjoyable. Fortunately for me I fell pregnant very easily and was very excited about the prospect of being a mother. Unfortunately during the first trimester I started feeling a bit strange, I was getting very irritable and I started having irrational thoughts, I felt like I was in danger and I started thinking that something bad had happened to me in the past but that it was so bad that my mind had hidden the terrible thing from me. Then I started thinking that I was going crazy and I couldn’t quite understand why I was feeling so scared, I would have an argument in my head about why I would forget something so bad and I would rack my brains trying to think about what it was. I thought it must be a pregnancy thing. I remember I was at the park with a friend and her toddler and I asked her if she felt like she was going crazy during her pregnancy, I assumed she would say yes and that its completely normal, so when she said no, I wondered why I felt like I was.
Things got worse throughout my pregnancy, it got to the point that I was scared to go out anywhere. I remember I went to the local supermarket and I saw someone from school who I hadn’t seen for a few years, I was so scared of them speaking to me that I put down my shopping and ran out of the shop. Another time, I went to a 60th birthday party, a very close friends dad, who I had known all of my life, there were loads of people I knew there but I was terrified of anyone speaking to me, I remember thinking I just wanted the ground to swallow me up.
In hindsight it is so obvious that I was suffering with severe anxiety, but at the time I honestly didn’t know what was happening, so I never spoke to anyone about it.
10 days before my due date I bent down to get the enchiladas out of the oven and my waters popped (still makes me giggle), I phoned the hospital and they told me to come in. At this point I wasn’t scared at all, I was just really excited. We got to the hospital and a few hours later our son was born. It was a tricky labour, his heart rate dropped considerably, I completely lost control and didn’t have a clue what was going on, I had a couple of midwives and obstetricians helping him out and he was delivered by ventouse, my partner couldn’t cut the cord, they cut it and took him to give him oxygen, I then had a quick cuddle and was taken down to theatre for surgery. I remember lying on the bed with tears rolling down my cheeks, the nurses asked if I was ok and I remember just feeling really scared and overwhelmed by what had happened, yet again I didn’t say anything.
I went to the ward with my son and my partner went home (it was early hours by this stage). I remember falling asleep and being woken by the sound of crying and I realised it was a baby, it took me a lot longer than it should have to realise it was my baby and it needed feeding. I tried to feed him but I didn’t know how. I called the midwife and they said they could take him to feed him, I said that’s fine and I went back to sleep. Again, in hindsight, and having had another baby since then I realise that I clearly wasn’t in my right mind at all and I honestly didn’t have a clue what was going on.
We took him home after a couple of days and I remember feeling so scared, I honestly don’t remember much from the first days / weeks / months, but what I do remember is the absolute fear I had around 5pm every day when it started to get dark outside.
That first year was a very difficult one, I just didn’t feel anything, don’t get me wrong I loved my son with all of my heart and cared for him but I always felt like I was on the side lines watching myself, I remember thinking there is nothing wrong with my life but I also didn’t feel like there was anything right. I didn’t want to tell anyone as I thought they may think I’m crazy and take my son away. I googled post natal depression a few times but it always said no bond with the baby and I felt like I had a good bond. It was about a year after when I finally acknowledged that the way I was feeling wasn’t right, feeling numb and withdrawn, having constant irrational thoughts and just generally not feeling myself so I spoke to my aunt and it was such a relief actually getting it out. She had 2 boys herself and knew that it wasn’t normal to feel the way I was feeling. This made me feel so much better and that it wasn’t that I was a bad mum but that there may be more to it. I went to the doctor who confirmed that it sounded like post natal depression and offered me medication. I didn’t want medication so she introduced me to mindfulness which helped but I didn’t really know what to do with it.
Then a friend mentioned Hypnotherapy and gave me the number of a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist. I can honestly say that changed my life for the better. I went for a consultation and she spoke about the neuroscience behind depression / anxiety, etc which helped me to understand what was happening in my own mind. She told me ways I could help myself. She explained that rather than focus on the past all of the time that I needed to focus on how I wanted to be feeling rather than how I didn’t want to be feeling. Over time I did notice positive changes in my life and I started to feel a lot better.
I went on to have another pregnancy but this time it was smooth sailing, no anxiety, no depression, just a straight forward pregnancy and then the most amazing labour. I was completely in control the whole time, I knew exactly what was going on, I didn’t lose my mind at all, I just went with the flow and delivered another perfect little boy, I remember pulling him through my legs up to my chest and just crying / laughing with complete joy and exhilaration.
I look back on my first pregnancy and I feel so sad. Sad that I didn’t realise what was happening, sad that I didn’t feel the joy that I did with my second, sad for my little boy who has, without a doubt, been affected by the trauma he experienced during his time in my uterus and also during the first year or so of his life. But I don’t regret anything, firstly, because I realise I did the best I could with the resources I had, but mostly because it has changed my life for the better, I now appreciate life so much more than I ever did before and I now feel like I’m in a position to really help others.
During my first pregnancy I felt like I was on the verge of a mental breakdown and after the pregnancy I just couldn’t ever see myself feeling happy again but I can honestly say with the right support I have completely turned my life around and I see it as something I needed to go through to get to where I really needed to be.
It was only after my second child that I truly realised the power of Hypnotherapy / positivity / mindfulness / human interaction.
If you feel like you are losing your mind, or that you are having irrational thoughts, or that you have lost your zest for life, or you just don’t feel right in anyway, please talk to someone. I have detailed below some contact details.
White Horse Hypnotherapy, 07775600526, firstname.lastname@example.org
Worldwide directory of emotional support helplines.
C.A.L.L. (Community Advice & Listening Line)
CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
Directory of helplines available in the UK which you can search to find support suited to you.
0300 123 3393 (Monday–Friday 9am–6pm)
Details of local Minds and other local services, and Mind’s Legal Advice Line. Language Line is available for talking in a language other than English.
Mind Recovery Net
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
Produces clinical guidelines on recommended treatments for different conditions, including guidance about joint crisis plans.
Next Generation Text Service
Provides a talk/type relay service for anyone who has difficulty hearing or being understood when speaking over the phone. The cost of making phone calls through this service depends on your telephone service provider.
NHS Direct Wales
0845 46 47
Non-emergency medical help and advice for people living in Wales.
Lists contact information for helplines and listening services in universities and colleges across the UK.
0800 068 4141 (weekdays 10am–10pm, weekends 2pm–10pm and bank holidays 2pm–10pm)
text: 07786 209 697
Provides information and support for anyone under 35 who is struggling with suicidal feelings, or anyone concerned about a young person who might be struggling.
Rethink Mental Illness
116 123 (freephone)
PO Box 90 90
Stirling FK8 2SA
24-hour emotional support for anyone struggling to cope.
0300 304 7000 (4.30pm–10.30pm every day).
Helpline offering practical information and emotional support in a crisis.
App with help and resources for people who feel suicidal or are supporting someone else.
0300 330 0630 (10am–10pm every day)
LGBT+ helpline. Provides listening services, information and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.