With one of the topics on The IBD and Ostomy Support Show being mental health I felt it was the perfect time to write this. Now I have spoken a couple of times about being slightly fragile with my mental health and it is mainly down to events in my life triggering feelings rather than being depressed specifically. I definitely feel like the caesarean has deeply affected my current mental state but I don’t think it is just that.
I took part in a survey for North Yorkshire’s mental health services for pregnant women and new mothers conducted by Newcastle university, I think I mentioned it here. Well I was asked to partake in the second part of the study and I will write about the survey when the information has been collated. The lady Kat was really nice and polite, she asked me some questions about how I felt about my mental health throughout pregnancy and since the birth.
I came to the realisation that any mental health issues I have all stem from being sick growing up, being unable to be your typical teen (although trust me I gave that a good go!) and all the hospital admissions. I have fears around certain procedures that cause anxiety attacks when mentioned and I do pretty much anything to get out of them, I obviously have my issues with needles in my hands and injections.
Strangely I actually feel safe in hospital, I say strangely because a lot of people I have met feel the opposite. I guess having the same medical staff (on on each ward looking after me on my many admissions over the years made me feel safe. That doesn’t mean I like or want to be in hospital but I have less stress when I am admitted.
The minute I got home I started taking my sertraline 50 mg again because I was determined I was not going to get post natal depression again. Aimee my health visitor came to see me and I told her my anxieties were through the roof when it came to the kids. I know you can never replace a child but since my sterilisation and knowing I can’t have any more (even though I know I made the right decision for me) I just seem to panic over things. I can’t bathe Jacob because of this fear, in all honesty I have issues with water and my children anyway and struggled to bathe Ra-Ra when she was really little. However 00Steve doesn’t have these issues and just gets on with it because he is fantastic.
On Father’s Day we went to Aysgarth Falls and I had to practically hide behind the pushchair because the way 00Steve and Ra-Ra were playing honestly made me feel sick, if anything was to ever happen to her I know without a shadow of a doubt that he would be straight there to get her back to safety, yet watching them often panics me beyond what I would consider normal.
Aimee suggested I visit my GP and have a medication review to see if it is worth upping my sertraline and to see if we could nip this in the bud. 00Steve and I agreed that it was a good idea (even though he thought I was jumping the gun taking them straight away) I went and saw one of the GP’s who has seen me in the past, she told me that I should complain about how traumatic the caeserean was. Then agreed my anti depressants could be doubled due to how irrational my anxieties have become (this could be partly down to hormones) with another review in a fortnight with the possibility of being tripled. Also I learnt that they should be taken around the same time each day to prevent the levels dropping in your system, that maybe common knowledge to some but I had never heard of it before. I have also had conversations with individuals in the last couple of weeks where I have felt so worthless that I contemplated self harm, thankfully I wasn’t at home so had no way of acting on that and the feeling had pretty much gone away when I did get home. It isn’t something I fancy doing again.
I have noticed I am incredibly anti social at the moment, I don’t want to see anyone outside of my immediate bubble – that includes messaging people including my close friends. With the IBD and Ostomy Support Show I have been having to put a brave smile on because even though my “bowel possie” as my Dad calls them, have become like family, I find it hard to not just hide away even from them. I also have attachment issues when it comes to Jacob but not in the way you may think; I don’t want other people holding him for too long like I start to panic and just want him back. In fact I can’t be the only one because at my eldest nephews 4th birthday my brother’s ex wife nearly cried when I asked her if she would like my youngest nephew back and her eyes welled up. But I remember with Ra-Ra relatives just sitting with her for hours and I would feel like a spare part not like a mum at all.
It is nice however to be the parent who is doing most of the baby jobs feeding and changing; because with Ra-Ra I was so sick from what we now know to be pouchitis, I struggled badly with pain and fatigue that 00Steve had to do more than half for a long time – which to me affected my bond with her. So this time round I feel like a proper parent, I have even survived my first couple of days alone with both of the kids and not had a breakdown like I worried I would do!
But I think from having mental health issues in the past has allowed to me to know when my mental state is “healthy”, which in turn allows me to seek help or try coping mechanisms when I start to feel the scales tipping in the wrong direction. I suffer a lot of anxiety attacks, some of which I can sort of talk myself out of others become depersonalisation or dissociative – where you no longer feel like you are you or kinda sitting outside of yourself. So because I have had rather unpleasant shall I say experiences in the past I am prepared to ask for help before it gets too far now. Luckily I am supported by 00Steve, my health visitor and my GP’s to ensure that I get the help I need before it becomes an issue. If you feel like you have anxiety or need more information on it if someone you love does then please have a look at these useful articles.