Don’t Tell Me

There are two things in the world that my brain lets happen uncontrollably…

1. As soon as a newborn baby cries on One Born Every Minute something triggers in me and I cry hysterically even though I don’t feel any real emotion towards what I’m watching.

2. Having to ask a certain person to do something or for something causes my chest to hurt and I struggle to breathe.

The first is some kind of weird maternal thing that is ridiculous but quite funny. The second is anxiety.

I am lucky in the sense that there is now only one real trigger for my anxiety and generally I can keep myself distanced from it so therefore no longer consider myself as “having anxiety”. Some people aren’t so lucky.

Other people’s perceptions of your mental health can have a real impact and add to the struggle. Public opinion is always a huge factor in what my ladies worry about when I’m doing my mental health volunteer work. Friends and family think they are saying the right things but can often make you feel worse. Here is a list of what not to say.

Don’t tell me….

  • To Suck it up/cheer up/relax/calm down

The fact you think I aren’t currently trying to do all these things at once while everything else is whirring around in my brain shows you have no idea how I feel.

  • There are worse things going on in the world

I know! But that doesn’t make the way I am feeling any easier. A lot of my thoughts are irrational, things that you might think are mundane and trivial can feel like the end of the world to me. I know that what I am thinking or the way I’m acting isn’t normal yet that doesn’t mean I can rationalise my thoughts.

  • You can’t feel lonely, you have lots of friends

It is hard to connect to others while you are suffering. It is hard to gather the energy to meet with friends and do fun things. It is hard to talk about the way you are feeling. It is hard to explain that your friends haven’t done anything wrong but that they need to bear with you.

  • To go for a run/a drink/to try a new hobby

Yes for some people these things work but they aren’t the cure for everyone. Exercise can make you feel great but if you can’t muster the energy to lift your head off your pillow your hardly going to run a metre let alone a mile and I’ve gin cried plenty of times when I haven’t been depressed to know that it isn’t a great option.

  • But you managed to go to ????? the other day

Yes and I may go somewhere else tomorrow, but if at that time on that day my mind is telling me I can’t possibly go anywhere with whoever it’s practically impossible to do so.

  • What do you have to be anxious/depressed about?

The official measure of mental well-being has 51 different points and triggers of depression/anxiety. Each of these is a subsection leading to various aspects of each category meaning there can be thousands of triggers,fears and worries for each individual. Some of which could be seen as ridiculous to others. So the answer to the question is absolutely everything and nothing at all.

  • Oh I have that sometimes

Feeling a bit sad or anxious isn’t the same as the crippling reality of depression and anxiety. I get a nervous tummy before going to new places or doing new things, it’s not the same as the weeks/months of pure panic some people have. The fear of letting people down or missing out can take over their lives.

My only advice on what you can say is… “is there anything I can do to help you with this?” And not be offended if the answer is no. Be patient not pushy.

To my friends who are suffering at the moment…don’t be afraid to talk, not all the cures are in conversation but always know you don’t have to go through it alone

She Lays Down 

And she lays down on her bedroom floor, the chemicals that made her laugh don’t seem to be working anymore” 

She Lays Down – The 1975

Bare with me with this one….believe me it was as difficult to write as it probably is to read. 

When I had Rory I was alone, a young single mum that was paranoid. Scared about how people saw me and what they thought of me. I was nervous, things were hard but I was happy.

When I had Addie I had everything I thought I needed, a family, a home, money, stability yet most days I struggled to even leave the house. I cried at the thought of going out in public. A lunch date with friends saw me being sick for an hour before I left the house. 

The only ideas of postnatal depression that I had were that Mums didn’t bond with their babies and they wanted to die. This wasn’t me. I loved Addie, I was obsessed with everything about her, I wanted to show her off I just couldn’t psysically bring myself to go out and do it. I didn’t think I had postnatal depression I just thought I was losing my mind. 

When Addie was about 3 months old my boyfriend didn’t come home after a night out, when he did he had a phone full of messages to and from a girl (I know I’m a psycho for even looking). Looking back now I obviously should have done more about my relationship then. He was a dick but I relied on him too much to do anything about it. I knew at that point though that I had to get better, for myself and my children. I needed to take control.

Going to the doctors and saying “I think I’m depressed” was one of the hardest things for me. I didn’t think I was unwell enough for them to care. I had bonded, I didn’t want to kill myself, It hadnt been a traumatic birth. I was obviously wrong. Turns out that sometimes you can be depressed for no real reasons, sometimes the chemicals in your brain do something weird and just make you feel that way. I got help and I could function again. 

When that boyfriend left a few years later the depression came back in a second, like it was always there, hiding just under the skin, waiting. Again I cried all day, I slept for hours and hours, I didn’t eat for a month, barely left the house. This time however I recognised the signs, this time no chemical imbalance just trauma from the actions of a bellend but still the same old depression. I chose to be medicated and undergo a short course of CBT. 

I was lucky that I had friends and family to help me through these stages. I did however worry that the only advice I had from my therapist was to “get out there” “do things” “join some clubs/groups” impossible when I couldn’t even get dressed most days. I worry what happens to women who don’t have that support network. My depression could have ruined my life, there were times when I felt at rock bottom. 

Him leaving was the best thing to ever happen to us, my darkest times replaced by my strongest. I am proud that I have become the woman I have, I took charge. My children are happy, we love each other’s company, love life and each other. Who can ask for anything more than that?  

If you are struggling right now my only advice would be to talk to someone, a friend, a loved one or a stranger (even me if you have no one). That person may not have all the answers…fuck they might not have any but I can guarantee they will do all they can to help you find them. 

Check out PANDAS UK, Mothers for Mothers, PND UK  for support and advice concerning  postnatal depression and MIND for help and advice when it comes to all forms of depression.