Magic beans 

I’ve been on antidepressants for my PND twice now. 

I call them my magic beans. I don’t know why. They don’t lead me to a castle in the sky or an ogre or anything that ends like a fairytale. I think it helps me deal with the fact I take them. 

The first time I was diagnosed with PND, I felt shame. I don’t remember much from those first few weeks of diagnosis but I remember being prescribed antidepressants and being outraged at the suggestion. And shame. And guilt. Surely I wasn’t that bad? 

I quickly learnt they’re not something to be ashamed about. They helped level out my moods so I could start helping myself to get better. They stopped my mood swings, endless days of crying and dulled the deep pain I felt. 

They didn’t turn me into a zombie. They didn’t completely numb my feelings. They didn’t remove the pain altogether. I’m not addicted to them. I’m not fat because of them (that’s the cake)!! They didn’t cause insomnia. Nobody knows I’m on them unless I tell them. *

*all things I thought would happen. 

Recently I’ve missed a few days of my magic beans. Not on purpose, just slipped my mind to take them. I know why. I’m starting to think I’m doing well. Really well. I’m starting to think I don’t need them any more. 

I know I’ll be discussing this with my doctor soon. I know I’ll come off them gradually. I know I’ll probably wait until after the kids are back in their routine and I’ve gone back to work.

I know I’ll probably miss the initial high I sometimes feel when I’m on them (oh look doesn’t the sun look lovely today?) but I won’t keep taking them forever. For what they’ve helped me achieve is much more magical. 

They’ve given me my life back. They’ve slowed time so I can enjoy my children. They’re opened my eyes to the sun so I can let the warmth back in. They’ve helped me look forward to things again. 

Perhaps they are magic beans after all. 

I’m a survivor! 

I love when this song comes on my playlist (Destinys Child). It makes me smile. It makes me remember. It makes me believe. I am, and will be again, a survivor. 

I’ve survived post natal depression before. Four years ago when my daughter was one and I had done a phased return to work, I started to feel better so I came off the anti-depressants and began my recovery without drugs. I had a few worries but looking back now it all seems plain sailing. 

I’m thinking about coming off my drugs at the moment – it’s been 10 months. I’m feeling a lot better – today I took 2 kids to a restaurant in town by myself (seriously that is a BIG deal) and I didn’t get anxious at all. I just did it. I’ve come a long way. 9 months ago I was worrying about leaving the house with 2 kids to do the school run. These days I just do it. My mum is coming to help out this summer and for the first time I’ve thought ‘do I need her? I’ve got this!’  

I’m still having bad days but they’re not as bad. Or as black. And I know what I need to do. I get out of the house, find company and talk. I recover much quicker this way. 

These summer holidays are going to test me as I’m mainly by myself but pretty sure they would test me PND or not. Still getting used to the logistics of having two kids and what works best for us as a family. 

But tonight I’m watching my little boy go to sleep and I’m thankful to be here with him. Listening to my daughter splashing around in the bath next door singing about her mummy. Knowing that I am a survivor. And I will not give up. Not going to stop. Going to work harder. 

Break me? Or make me? 

I’ve not posted for a while as I’ve been feeling pretty good where my PND is concerned. My mood has been steady, no major dramas (although arranging the new mortgage came close) and I’ve been having a good balance of me vs family time. 

However, something is on the horizon that threatens this calm existence. Something known as the SUMMER HOLIDAYS. Seven weeks with two children. Five of them by myself.

I’m not special. Countless families do this and survive. Some look forward to it. Some book childcare as they have to work. But this is the first time that I’ve ever had to look after two children by myself for a long time. And not just look after them, but as far as my five year old is concerned, entertain them! 

If the other holidays were practice runs, then I’m on thin ice. Christmas 2014 was a disaster. There were a lot of tears (from me), a lot of bad days and a lot of dramatic phonecalls to my husband. Easter was better. I had better support and lighter days on my side. I coped. Just. 

My plan for the summer is well to have a plan. I’ve made a list of places we can visit where I feel comfortable, have friends who also want to meet up and am trying to not put too much pressure on myself. My aim is to keep my kids safe, fed and loved. The rest is just detail. 

When I tell my friends I’m spending the summer with my kids, they fall into two categories. There’s the very positive ‘oh that will be lovely, it will make your year, let’s meet up’. And the opposite ‘OMG are you insane? They’ll break you. I’ll come save you.’ 

On a more serious note, I’m a little worried. I hope i can keep my PND under control. I hope my daughter doesn’t pick up on it. I hope it doesn’t rain for 7 weeks. I hope people are able to meet up. I hope my kids have fun.  I hope I survive. 

If you know me, please await my call to arrange our meet up. If you don’t, and a lady starts taking to you at the park one day, it may be me. Please listen and suggest we get a coffee or an ice cream or something. 

I can do this. I think. 

Where did PND come from? 

I first heard about those 3 little letters on my antenatal classes. I didn’t give it much thought as it didn’t seem relevant. How wrong I was! 

My daughter (now 5) was born with an undiagnosed medical condition called Pierre Robin Sequence. Unbeknown to anyone, when she was in my womb, her chin got stuck in her clavicle which meant her chin didn’t develop probably, not did her tongue and mouth. She was born with a very small chin, a short tongue and a cleft palate. She couldn’t breathe lying on her back, she couldn’t suck and was partially deaf. 

  • I had planned a home water birth. I got an emergency c section. 
  • I had planned a drug free delivery. I got every drug going and a blood transfusion. 
  • I had planned to breastfeed. I got to learn how to tube feed a baby.
  • I had planned to baby wear. I got a special car seat to carry my baby as she had to be on her front for first 8 weeks. 

At first, we were calm. This was our baby. She was special and we would love her and fit the world around her. We wouldn’t make her feel different. 

But as the days became weeks, the trauma of birth and of what we were now dealing with set in. There were medical appointments every day. Trips to A&E in the middle of the night. Constant worrying. Immense guilt. And the loneliness. Sobbing every single day. Unable to bond with my beautiful daughter who needed me so very much. 

This was never in the classes. 

After 6 weeks I was diagnosed with PND. Given some drugs and booked in for counselling. Everyone around me seemed relieved. I felt shame. More guilt. And even more alone than I had ever felt before. 

Thankfully those weeks turned into months which turned into a year, which meant I recovered from PND. 

My daughters illness was definitely my PND trigger. Her health and behaviour now still triggers some of those old feelings – specifically guilt and anxiety. It can turn my good day into a bad day very quickly. 

I’m not sure if the reason I have PND again is due to the birth of my second child or whether it’s just old feelings resurfacing. I do know I will beat it again and I won’t let PND win.