I’ve always loved him, I just didn’t like me – Amy’s Story
Hi all, and welcome back to my blog. Today’s blog post is the last in this months mental health series. A massive thank you to all that allowed me to share their stories, and helping me spread awareness. If you missed yesterday’s interview with Kaila get that here. Today I am joined by Amy who battled with postnatal depression and anxiety. Please show your support, like, leave a comment and share this post.
I am a Mum of one, Harry is 20 months old, and I live with my partner Luke in Leeds. I work from home in a part time, flexible role that involves social media manager and content writer. It’s a fairly new career which I began after being made redundant very early on in my pregnancy. I’m so happy that I’ve had this chance to move to a career that I enjoy, but handling losing my job, starting again with work and being a Mum for the first time has all had an effect on my mental health.
What type of Post Natal metal health condition did you, or do you have?
I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression and Anxiety just before Christmas, although it’s interesting that my counsellor didn’t always define it in that way. After having 8 weeks of sessions with her, she suggested that the depression and anxiety issues have existed for some years, but it was becoming a Mum that triggered me not being able to cope with them. I didn’t know that PND could be diagnosed so late after the baby being born (he was about 15 months old when I asked for help) and I think that delayed me recognising the condition for a while.
A lot of people don’t realise that it can be diagnosed later when the babies older, or that you can actually get PND later on in the babies life too.
When did you first realise that you had a mental health condition, what were your first symptoms?
I was really struggling to cope with taking on more work once Harry went to nursery. I couldn’t prioritise work, I was missing deadlines and I just felt like nothing I did was good enough. Slowly it started to get worse as the pressure mounted and I buried my head rather than dealing with what was going wrong. I would spend the day in bed and there was one day where I simply didn’t want to come out from under the cover. It affected my sleep too, I’d lay awake all night worrying about work and Harry and then couldn’t work the next day because I was too tired. I felt anger towards Harry too, which I hated. I found him so frustrating and there was a day where I just couldn’t look at him because he had annoyed me so much. I wanted to get on a train and leave and I found myself regularly planning what I would pack and where I would go. It was that day when I couldn’t be around him any more that I decided to call the doctor – I was crying in the street in York about not being able to be a good Mum and I knew I’d hit my lowest point
That sounds like it was a really difficult time for you. I’m glad you were able to recognise at that point you needed help, and reached out for it.
How did this affect your parenting?
I think I just had a short temper and I never, ever felt like I was any good at it. I constantly felt like Harry deserved better but, amazingly, he has turned into a happy boy who loves me. I do think, looking back, that it affected our bond too – lack of sleep, pressure from breastfeeding and a resentment that my life was suddenly all about cleaning and cooking made me struggle to deal with letting go of being single. I’ve always loved him, I’ve just not really liked me since I had him.
What was your biggest worry about having a mental health condition?
Letting Harry and Luke down, I didn’t want to be a burden. Admitting that there was something seriously wrong and not just that I was tired was so hard and I’ve worried about making other people worry. I also didn’t think it was serious enough to ask for help, I spent time with women who had been suicidal and experienced psychotic episodes and I always felt like they ought to be prioritised. My counsellor helped me to see that I was wrong though and that we all need support to help us see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Did you receive any help? If so, what was it?
I spoke to a GP on two occasions. The first she offered advice – but said to come back if I didn’t feel better and then the second she suggested I self-refer for counselling. I think that’s a really important point, to not give up or let them fob you off. You do have to keep asking if you need help and, to be fair to my doctors, they have been a really great support. I referred to Leeds ITAP who then put me in touch with a counsellor named Debbie. From the moment I booked my first appointment with her I felt a weight lift, for the first time in a while I felt like I’d actually done something good and it was the start to me getting on top of life again. I had 8 weeks of appointments with Debbie and I also started taking Fluoxitene while I was seeing her.
Has your mental health improved since?
Definitely, the counselling made a huge difference. I was able to speak to Debbie about things that were on my mind and it was incredible the different things that came up. Conversations were completely lead by me and, unexpectedly, they covered things like my parents, my ex-boyfriends, my current partner and his family and the common theme was that I have felt like I’m not good enough for them or to be treated well. The main thing I got out of the sessions was that Debbie taught me to reflect on the way I’m feeling rather than just try to get over it when I feel low. The high points too, focusing on why certain things make me feel good helps me do more of that in the future. She advised that I start keeping a diary and I have kept that up since because it gives me a chance to write down a couple of things every day that have happened (good and bad) and reflect on how they made me feel and how I can use that for the future.
It sounds like talking to Debbie has been a massive help, I am a massive fan of talking therapy.
What do you do personally, to help your own mental health?
As I say, the diary really helps so I need to make sure I keep that up. But I think part of that is the fact that I love to write, so allowing myself to create content for my blog helps to get passions and frustrations out rather than letting them fester inside me. I am lucky to have a very active social life too, I spend time with friends and I go to the football regularly – things that help me keep in touch with the me I was before I had Harry. Housework is reduced to the bare basics during the week – I do the dishwasher and washing machine once a day and maybe tidy Harry’s toys, but I try not to feel bogged down by anything else until Luke is around to help. I refuse to do the ironing as well! And then, of course, there’s time spent with Harry and Luke. It’s when I am at my happiest and I try to make sure we get the chance to do that regularly as it keeps me going when things are busy and hard.
Do you feel there is enough support out there, for parents with a mental health condition?
There are some amazing services available and I’m lucky that in Leeds I have easy access to lots of support. The trouble is, I know that isn’t the case everywhere so perhaps more needs to be done to offer help online. I’ve joined a couple of Facebook groups to help (Mums4Mums is specifically designed to help Mums with Mental Health) and it’s great that that means there’s always someone there to help me. But I think the main issue is that the wider public don’t really understand it. People see you getting on with every day Mum life and think you must be okay, more education might help people recognise when their friends or partners are going through it.
What advice would you give to parents suffering from a postnatal mental health condition?
Reach out and talk to people, find the person you can be honest with about everything and make sure you have time to really talk it through properly. When people ask how you are, be honest, don’t just say ‘I’m okay’. I’ve recently started putting more statuses on Facebook and Twitter that show others the times that are hard as well as the happy ones – I hope that’ll help my friends who are Mums understand we don’t all live perfect lives.
Thank you so much for taking the time to complete these questions, and helping me spread awareness. If you want to follow Amy’s journey her details are below.
Much love 💕
Blog Address https://amumfullofdreams.wordpress.com/<