The Fog 

When I was at school, my mum worked a lot of hours so I spent a lot of time with my dad whose idea of childcare was putting on a horror film. Needless to say I now hate horror films although I never watch any as just the trailers spook me out!

However, I do remember a film called The Fog. When the fog descended upon a town, strange things started happening. 

I often think of my depression is like a fog. Or a large shadow. Sometimes the fog is right over me and sometimes it’s a long way away. It’s never completely gone from my sight though as I can see it from the corner of my eye. 

Sometimes I’m running away from it and sometimes I’m fighting my way through it. Sometimes the sun shines through and sometimes it’s very thick and dark. Sometimes I’m with friends in the fog and sometimes I’m alone. It’s noisy and silent all at once. 

It’s a good analogy for me as I like to visualise my fears. And when I see it getting closer, I start running. 

  
And in real life, I’ve found that running is good for me too. It gives me time to myself, to lose myself in what my body can or can’t do, and another focus. A stronger focus. One which I can control and get better at. I never thought I would say this – asthmatic and big boobed – but I love running. 

I know the fog will only lift when I get better. I’m working towards that at the moment. With a mixture of drugs, talking therapy and exercise, I should get there soon. But for now, I’ll keep on running. 

Good week 

Yep it’s been a pretty good week this one. I’ve had more good days than bad. My mood has been consistent throughout which is always nice. I haven’t nagged at my husband or fallen out with my mum too much. No dramas or incidents. Plenty of baby groups and meet ups with mummy friends. 

But one thing has let the week down. One thing. Can you guess? 

It’s got 5 letters. I never seem to get enough. I dream about it. I argue about it with my husband. I used to take it for granted. I miss it. Children avoid it whenever possible. 

Yes, it’s SLEEP. Sleep. Such a small innocent word.

So my situation is that my eldest child has trouble getting to sleep. And my youngest doesn’t sleep through the night. So I go to sleep late and often have a very disturbed night. Most days I’m sleep deprived, living off large cups of coffee and trying not to sit down in case I nod off.

The reason I bring it up is that I’m certain sleep deprivation and depression are linked. 

I feel a lot worse when I’m not getting enough sleep. I parent with less patience and are more grumpy with my children which means I berate myself later thus the circle of hatred continues. I also exercise less which I know helps my mood immensely. So then I’m cross with myself as I haven’t made the effort to exercise as well as being grumpy for being tired. 

  
I snap at almost everyone I cross paths with. They snap back as they’re usually tired too. I feel guilty. I feel horrible. I feel I should be coping better. 

But there’s a fine line between enough sleep and too much. Why is that? It seems totally unfair. Too much sleep leads me to feeling inadequate and guilty for not spending time with my children. Too much sleep leaves me in a worse mood when I’m sleep deprived. 

I haven’t got any answers for lack of sleep. However, it does remind me that self care is so important especially when you’ve got depression. I know some people will think this is selfish or self indulgent but I think it’s vital for self preservation.  And self care to me starts with sleep.

Good night. 

“The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself.” ~ Steve Maraboli

A letter to my husband 

Dear P, 

Before we became mummy and daddy, we were simply ‘him’ and ‘her’ or ‘the Ryan’s’. We spent a lot of time together, we were interested in each other’s days and took the time to listen. We ate out in restaurants, went to the cinema and watched football together. We spent lazy Sundays at the pub, enjoyed our lie-ins and visited friends spread out over the country. We were together together for 12 years before we had children. I thought the transition to mummy and daddy would be easy. 

Never have I been more wrong. In the 48 hours of labour, our whole world turned upside down. Our daughter was born with a undiagnosed medical condition which brought about so many changes to all our lives. My dream of breastfeeding was replaced by tube feeding. My hope of baby wearing was replaced by adapted prams and car seats. My longing to hold my baby in my arms was put on hold for the first few months. I found it hard to bond with her and fought hard to stay in control of my feelings. 

Unfortunately I lost the battle and was diagnosed with post natal depression a few weeks later. I felt so much shame. How could I feel so low when I had been blessed with such a bright, determined little thing who needed me so much? I withdrew into myself and felt so much guilt for not carrying a healthy baby. I must have done something to her. 

You were my rock. My absolute rock. You wavered in the storm but held firm. You organised the visits for the nurses looking after our daughter, phoned relatives and kept the housework going. You had to watch the woman you love suffer and change beyond recognition. 

Thankfully, after a year of treatment for both me and our daughter, I recovered and we set about rebuilding our relationship. Then 4 years later, with the birth of our son with no medical complications, the post natal depression hit me again. This time I felt very anxious and angry. These are feelings I know you have struggled with as I only show them to the people I am closest to – you and my mum. For some reason, ones which we are currently investigating through counselling, I tried to push you away. Thankfully you resisted. 

We are now addressing our relationship and giving it the tlc it deserves. We have a lot of work to do – me more so. Some days I miss being me. Other days I miss being just with you. Not mummy. Just maz. Your wife. 

  
Ten years ago on the sunny island of Cyprus amongst our friends and family, we committed ourselves to each other. That love still grows inside of me. It’s just sometimes hidden under a dark shadow that I am fighting. Please know that you mean the world to me and I will continue to fight it. And someday soon your wife will return to you. 

Thank you for all your support and love through my illness. 

Maz x 

Note to readers: my husband is not keen on PDAs (public displays of affection) so he probably won’t read this. It’s really therapeutic for me to write it though! 

Friends 

Friends are the family you choose

My post natal depression has had a huge effect on my friends. I’ve lost some. Some have unfriended me on Facebook. Some cross the street to avoid me. Some don’t reply to my texts. They have their reasons but I try to not let it bother me. 

BUT, and this is a positive, post natal depression has given me some fabulous friends. Ladies who understand me. Who let me be myself. Who will listen to me unburden myself, never judging me once. We drink tea, eat cake and exercise together. 

Some of my friends have visited the dark places I’ve been. Some can’t imagine it but want to still come along to support me. Some are confused (I always look happy apparently). Some cry with me. Some are very honest with me in return. Some want to look after me (tea, milk, no sugar). Some want to help me. Some just message me to say they’re thinking of me. Some say I inspire them. Some say they are proud of me. 

My friends are fabulous and I am grateful for each and every one for their support through my illness.   

  

Good day 

Today has been a good day. I often find myself reflecting at the end of the day whether it has been a good or a bad day. Good means I’m more productive in the evening and able to relax. A bad day results in my mind dissecting my day over and over, and berating myself for mistakes. I go to bed anxious and upset and usually at war with everyone in my house.  This is post natal depression. 

Before children, I was the life and the soul of the party. I was a fun, creative and impulsive person. I would drive to the seaside just because I wanted to see the sea. I would drop around friend’s houses unannounced with flowers just  because I liked them. I exercised regularly, read frequently and loved my life. I never thought that would change.  

But with the birth of both my children,  came this dark, anxious place that I had not been before. It was unpredictable, unwanted and unavoidable. In the first instance, I suffered for over a year and things improved with drugs, cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling. This time round, I’m trying drugs, relationship counselling and exercise. 

Not all my days are dark. Like I said today was a good day. Today a stranger would not guess where my mind takes me on bad days. I often praise myself on good days, glad to be feeling happy and content with life again. Glad to be enjoying my children and not worrying about them. Glad to be functioning ‘normally’. 

I am open with my friends about my depression. On Facebook and in person. I want it to be a part of the conversation about my life. About me. I’m not sure I will ever be that fun impulsive person ever again, but I’m sure I’m going to try to find her and this blog will help me do that.