My Happy Pills

Dealing with my depressive fog and open mental wound

I┬áhad spent the last 5 months or so contracting in my new job and just been made permanent in the role when my uncle was taken ill from his nursing home. Unfortunately he had been bed bound with illnesses and falls throughout my pregnancy, I did get some opportunity to talk to him in a lucid state while I was pregnant with my son. However, towards the end of my last trimester his health was not getting any better despite my uncle trying to regain his independence, but he just couldn’t and never returned home. He had to be relocated to a nursing home after my son was born, I had a lot of my own health issues with my baby and myself going on too, and didn’t get to see that much of my uncle until my son was almost a year old. My mum took my son up to see my uncle when I was at work sometimes, but it was a long old trip for them both, but glad that my son may have brought some smiles to my uncle and distracted him from his pain. The first month into my new permanent role, my family had to make the decision to turn my uncle’s life support machine off and say their goodbyes. My father had already passed away as well 8 months previously.

One of the managers at the time caught me coming out of the toilets at work looking distressed, I just had enough of bad things happening in my life. I reluctantly accepted counselling, I knew I couldn’t go on as I was. I went once a week to see a counsellor, I always dreaded that I would remain silent and not have anything to say to the counsellor. However, that was far from the reality I had envisioned, the hour went quickly and I was always surprised how much I said and how on earth I got on to some subjects. I think in some ways it felt like that old saying ‘a weight had been lifted to get things off my chest’, but then sometimes I felt like I was going round in circles. I opened up about the repetitive molestation events I suffered with at the hands of a family member (somebody who fortunately passed away when I was 10 and is no longer in my life) when I was too young to know any boundaries, and ignorant to the fact that this responsible adult was taking advantage of me, that was the darkest and most difficult things for me to recall or even explain. I tried to talk about it objectively and distance myself to not get upset. To recall it is like being an observer or narrator in a film of my early life. I think the counsellor maybe saw a link with my treatment at work, all the life changes I have been through recently, new baby, new mum, family deaths, pushed out of work whether directly or indirectly and being made to sign a gagging order had reset a trauma trigger off within me. The new company I worked at had only signed me up for 6 sessions, the counsellor said I needed more and that I should see someone with more specialist training. My line manager offered that I could have more sessions, but I said I would get the specialist sessions that I needed from the NHS. I didn’t realise how bad I would feel after the counselling had ended, I just had dark thoughts, felt on edge and didn’t want to be alone near railways, especially difficult seeing as my commute to work involves that form of travel.

I couldn’t go on any longer like this and saw my own GP, who immediately prescribed me anti depressants. I was apprehensive about going on them, worried that I would become some zapped out zombie, but I just gradually became calmer and felt I was getting back to being me again. Of course, I am far from a perfect human being, and have relapses from time to time, underground lines and certain stations still make feel nervous at times and I can feel my heart racing, and I had to rely on coping mechanisms to get through it. Sometimes I probably feel stressed out by situations that others may find trivial. I should go back to talking therapy to develop better coping mechanisms, but at the moment it’s just not something I wish to do or have time for, and one day I will, especially if I feel as bad as I did when I first went to see the doctor on the day I was prescribed anti-depressants.

The doctor has talked about weaning me off my meds this summer as I have been feeling good for a while, but don’t think it will happen. Too much stress going on with my son’s behaviour, well nursery reports, starting school and now with a person I never met going too far with personal animosity. Still will try to stay strong, anti-depressants are not a sign of weakness, but taking good care of your well being like you would for any other part of your body.

Family Drama

imageThursday 15th September 2016 – Family drama

Had a nice time away in York with my ickle family, 4 days or thereabouts away from reality. Had up and down days with our son, first time he has whined about going on holiday, most of the time he is excited about going away, but he said he wanted to stay home, but then by the end of our short vacation he didn’t want to go home. His worst behaviour was the day before we left, massive tantrum, gasp, but more about our vacation in a separate blog later, and I promise there were more highs than lows.

Anyhow, I wasn’t expecting to come back to family drama and my mum reeling off a lot of gobbledygook. Drama about my dad’s ashes, if you didn’t know, a few blogs back I said my dad passed away during my son’s first year of life. It was a difficult year of change, and far too much at once, but that’s life sometimes, it spins out of control. The other fact to fill you in on is my mum finally separated from my dad late in life. As I have alluded to in a previous blog, my dad was a difficult man with many demons that he unfortunately failed to completely conquer, yet I am sure deep down inside there was a good heart with good intentions and on occasions it revealed itself. However, he was a man of his generation, and some of those wasn’t good qualities, which he seemed to be in conflict with himself, a crisis of masculinity as such. It also depresses me that he never really turned things around for himself, and the only lesson I have learnt is I don’t want to create that life for myself as in my love ones finding it hard to be around me and waste a life being unhappy, and making strife. However, I have inherited his temper, if you believe you can inherit traits as I do, part genetics and part nurture, and I do find it hard to control at times.

His ashes have not been scattered yet or a final resting place decided, he passed away now over 2 years ago and this is the drama that I have come back to that my family cannot decide where to scatter them or bury them. Ideas have been put forward, but no one can agree, and now my mum has his ashes in her flat and is sitting with the light on to go to sleep haha. I laugh as she is so superstitious and really she didn’t need to take charge of this, as she is his ex partner, really his next of kin should do this, my older sisters, but they can never agree on anything, one of my sister sees herself as the boss and thinks she always knows best.

My mum has come up with a well meaning idea of where, but it seems impractical, end of Brighton pleasure pier really seems inappropriate to me, although understand she has probably her fondest memories of my dad there. However, really think my father’s resting place should be somewhere more scenic and peaceful, I think the one thing he deserves in death is finally less drama, somewhere beautiful and peaceful despite his faults.

Family or should I say family drama to be avoided at all costs where possible lol don’t get me wrong I love my mum, she has a good heart, and don’t want to upset those of you who have lost mums. My mum has been very supportive, especially during difficult times with our son’s childcare, and she has been a rock, but she does get huffy when you do not completely agree with her and in the more recent past, especially during my parent’s separation I did wonder which one was the grown up or more appropriately put the more senior grown up out of us.

I wouldn’t, but to settle the argument let’s do a poll, I wouldn’t really as it is inappropriate. However, to settle an argument choices are

A) Bluebell woods by the Bluebell Railway as he loved going here and loved the trains

B) End of Brighton Pier and I really don’t like this idea, but anyway maybe I am missing something as I think it is too busy and not appropriate place to scatter ashes

C) Somewhere near the Northumbria coastline as he is originally from this region and always talked about how unspoilt & beautiful it was

D) Memorial Tree planted in the Lake District with his ashes, again as he loved the beautiful scenery here and the only family holiday I actually had and remember

Vote if you want to, although not necessary.

If anything I hope I have made readers feel comfort in the knowledge I am from a dysfunctional family, perhaps more dysfunctional than your own haha. Also there is really life after death, for the living as well.

Further introduction, my early days of Motherhood

So, I did a kind of brief intro about 5 blogs back, this time I thought I would summarise really the start of my motherhood journey. I became pregnant by surprise after thinking I never would, just always assumed I had fertility issues, never really confirmed as such, but I had a minor op on my womb a year before I fell pregnant, so who knows maybe that helped me conceive. Anyway, after the initial shock my partner and I were happy with the news although a little overwhelmed, and we did our best to get things prepared and right.

Pregnant businesswoman working on a laptop

I was happy with the job I was in and always hope to return to work after taking maternity leave, although I knew becoming a working mum would be a challenge and eventually hoped to move onto something that would stretch my capabilities more when the time was right, but I never anticipated the rough ride that I was going to get though. My pregnancy went relatively smoothly after a few initial concerns, however, work was just trouble. Trouble was everyone was concerned how overworked they were going to be in my absence and wouldn’t give it a second thought to how this would make me feel, so insensitive, at first maybe not consciously, but then it turned malicious. I mean I know I should have expected this, people only like to feather their own nests these days. However, I truly felt I was working in a nice environment with people that I could trust and that we did favours for each other, I had always been prepared to cover people in the team whatever the circumstances, and I hoped that individuals would be happy to do so for me as well for a small period of time (I was only going to take 6 months off), but no. If you are wondering why not just get someone into cover my role, I work in a very specialised role, where there is not an abundance of people with the required skills available and it takes time to train someone to do the role. I left work to go on maternity leave depressed when it should have been the happiest time in my life, I dreaded returning back to work from day 1 of my maternity leave and not for the right reasons. Most mums probably go through that they may feel like that they will miss their child and everything they might miss, those first milestones by being at work, but this is I just dreaded to returning to an awful atmosphere and of course I did have those feelings later as well, I wanted to be there for more of the firsts. I did my best for those first few weeks on maternity leave to put these thoughts of work out of my mind and concentrate bringing this new life living inside of me into the world, and start preparing everything, although no matter how prepared you think you are, you never are.

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When life changed…

Yes, we were not prepared. I have to be honest my labour experience wasn’t the best, I think a night without my partner or any family on the early labour ward spoilt it. My early contractions were very painful, I had a lot of pain relief right from the start, found out that I was in back to back labour with no previous warnings that my baby was in this position, everything was suppose to be normal. I remember having gas & air and not reacting very well to it, and throwing up as my mum walked into the ward to be reunited with me in the early hours of the morning. I was glad to see her as she stopped me from choking on my own vomit as no midwives were around and she took control of the situation, with my partner looking on, guilty and helpless, bless him. I do apologise if I make labour sound horrid, it’s just my experience and one that I wished went better. Things did get better once we got up onto the delivery suite, although the medical staff decided it was best I had an epidural as was not coping with the contraction pain in my back, although this probably made my labour longer, first labours usually are anyway.

Unfortunately, I had a maternal fever in labour and most likely had an infection, I did get antibiotics whilst in labour, but my son still wasn’t well once he made his first appearance into the world. He was sleepy, had a low body temperature and not feeding well, and I was very much in pain and delirious, not a good combination. My son showed signs of infection and was put on IV antibiotics. After initially not feeding well he soon made up for it and had a voracious appetite, one unfortunately I couldn’t cope with the demand even more so after we got back from our 5 day stay in hospital. I also found out that my father had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, I had ambivalent feelings towards my father, he was never a model father, but he was always there, but never one to learn from his mistakes, which infuriated me. Still I didn’t wish this news on him and there was nothing I could do. I never got to see him before he passed away as I was in a predicament with a newborn baby that had just got over a potentially serious neonatal infection, treated for suspected sepsis, he had been so lucky that it never turned into anything serious and I didn’t drive, my father lived too far away and I suffered with spd postnatally for 3-4 months.

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Dark times

Things didn’t get much better after we returned home, my son was feeding a lot, but he was not happy with it, his naps became erratic. He threw up more, and not just spitting up. I don’t really feel I got the support I needed off of the NHS, we eventually got a diagnosis of mild reflux and was given medicine for him, which helped a bit, and we did our best with doing our own research to help him. However, it was a struggle with a baby who didn’t sleep well and was not happy being fed. My son did become a happier baby a few months before I had to return to work, but a few things spoilt that time, a landlady wanting to hike up the rent on our flat, but paying a letting fee for the privilege of agreeing to it and drawing up a new contract. As the place was not exactly perfect, it seemingly was when we first moved in, but we had very noisy neighbours above, a pet rabbit poo problem on the balcony, so we never really used it and issues with me leaving a pushchair in the communal hallway for a tiny bit of the day before my partner came back home from work. So, we decided to say no to renewing, even though she was aware of these issues, she sent us a no fault eviction letter and gave us 2 months to find somewhere else, which was charming, we quickly found a very small house to move into. We have been reasonably happy living there for around the last 3 years.

A few weeks of my maternity leave were taken up with the stress of moving again rather than enjoying quality time with my baby. I was sad to leave my little one as those last 2 months of leave I really felt I just started to see a happy baby and now I had to leave him. His settling in sessions at nursery didn’t go well, he didn’t like to be apart from me one bit, although I tried to get him settled in. Lucky for me, my mum was happy to look after him for me instead, which she did for the first 2 years almost. I am very lucky she is retired.

I returned to work, I did my best to take no notice of the icy atmosphere, but then finally just as I was thinking maybe things were settling down. My son was better at napping and had almost outgrown his reflux issues, so in theory could cope with going on longer journeys. I thought finally I would take him to see my dad and I knew it probably be a goodbye. However, he died a few weeks or so after I thought of the possibility and a month after I returned to work. Then trouble started again, my attendance was being monitored by the company, I had taken time off for illness and bereavement. I was reminded absence was a burden on the company, I snapped and I left. The union sorted out a pay deal, although that was the right thing to do, I just wanted to return to my job without all this bother. It was a difficult dark time and stress took its toll on my health for a while.

Things got worse, before they got better

However, I immediately started contracting work within a month of leaving my previous company, my only wish was that extra month I got to spend with my son, which was great, was filled with less worry. I was made a permanent employee after 5 months of doing contract work for them. Shortly into this I lost another family member, a dear uncle, that had always helped my family out and was a rock, and deserved so much more than he got out of life, I just thought things were never going to get any better and that I might head for a breakdown. I have to say the company I work for now have been the complete opposite, offered counselling and allowed me time to go to these appointments, and have been understanding during times of illnesses or when my childcare has fell through and it has made a world of difference. I am now on anti depressants, unfortunately the counselling did not work for me, but I appreciated the company’s support. After being fearful of going on anti depressants I have to say they have done me a world of good, and I am not a drained zombie zapped of all emotion without coherent thought (OK the last bit some of you might question lol). I may return to talking counselling when I feel I am ready for it.

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New beginnings

My confidence had took a severe battering after all these life changes, motherhood, repetitively moving house, adjusting to a new area, returning to work after an extended absence, bereavement, leaving job, starting new job, and mental health issues. However, now I feel it is returning and new beginnings will happen.

Links for reflux survival guide & tips:

http://www.bliss.org.uk/reflux

https://reflux.support/

Links for maternity discrimination:

https://www.maternityaction.org.uk/?doing_wp_cron=1482221664.2515180110931396484375

http://pregnantthenscrewed.com

Links for bereavement:

Bereavement Leave and Your Rights Article:

https://www.theguardian.com/money/work-blog/2014/jan/10/bereavement-leave-your-rights-support-work?

NHS Bereavement Guide:

http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/bereavement/pages/bereavement.aspx

Links for maternal mental health:

http://everyonesbusiness.org.uk/?page_id=6