Postnatal Depression: Can I write this week off?

So, it’s been a really crappy week in our household… a REALLY crappy week.  In fact, if I’m perfectly honest with myself, I think I could say it’s almost been a pretty crappy month.  Well, maybe 3 weeks anyway.  I’m at a loss to know what’s going on with me lately, and it’s scaring me no end.  So much so, I’ve booked yet another doctors appointment and my HF and I are off to see a couples therapist.   I’m all for prevention strategies rather than cure when it comes to matters of postnatal depression.  Just unfortunately, for the moment anyway, it appears I need a little of both.

Disclaimer:  Monthly, girly talk below

This week was by far been the worst week I’ve had for quite some time.  I feel as though my medication has simply stopped working.  I’ve been feeling this way for a while now, but this week has really been the pits.  Is it my medication?  Or is it because I was diagnosed with severe tonsillitis AND got my period all in one day?  Am I just hormonally out of whack at the moment?  Or is it because the world can stop for everyone else when they’re sick, but I have to soldier on?  Or is it because my family place unrealistic expectations on me to always be strong?  Or is it me placing these ridiculously unrealistic expectations on myself?  Probably the latter.   But as you know, when you’re in the thick of feeling crappy, worthless, and all the other emotions that come with PND (and hormones!), your thoughts simply run away from you until you have no idea where they started from to begin with.  Sound familiar?  (anyone?)

So, this week… Where to begin?  My HF and I have been fighting – A LOT.  I know it’s because I feel unsupported and unloved, and yet my rational mind also knows this is far from the truth.  My HF does a great deal to support me and show his love for me, but I think that’s the key word:  “does”.  Whilst he “does” a great deal, I don’t “feel” love and support by his “doing” these things for me.  Does that make sense?  If you’ve ever read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman you may know what I’m talking about.  This seems to be the issue for us at the moment, and probably has been for quite some time.  I really feel as though we’re speaking a different language to each other and not on the same page at all.   He’s all about the “doing”, and I’m all about the “feeling”, and neither of us are connecting.  I guess it’s an obvious case of “Acts of Service” v’s “Quality Time”!  I feel he may as well be speaking Japanese because I simply DO NOT understand him anymore!  Hence, the couples therapy decision.  Fortunately for me, my HF is not afraid of seeking outside help when it’s required.  I’m really hoping this will provide us both a safe outlet for our troubles and provide us the tools we need to build the bridge back to one another again.  Because I miss him… I really miss him.

And then there’s being sicker than I’ve been in probably 2 years, with the addition of my god-awful, horrible, period just to make matters worse.  I honestly thought it was just a virus.  Everyone else had been sick with either a stomach upset, or vomiting bug over the past couple of weeks and I was fortunate during that time to avoid most of the nasties.  But alas, come last weekend my throat started to get sore and typically I shrugged it off thinking it was just the same “bug”, nothing more.  By Monday morning it became very apparent it was more than just a bug and the GP confirmed my suspicion of tonsillitis (very, very bad tonsillitis).   I used to get recurrent tonsillitis during highschool as a result of being run-down a great deal of the time.  After high school, my tonsils definitely became the guide by which I could gauge my general health.  Throughout my working life, there have been periods of tonsillitis separated with long remissions.  Over the past 5 years or so, I can count the number of times I’ve had tonsillitis on one hand.   Funnily enough, over the years I did a lot of research into why I was getting tonsillitis so often and in my spiritual reading I came across what I believe to be the most likely reason:  my Throat chakra.  This concept really resonated with me for a number of reasons (which I may need to go into another time).  But basically, the Intuiative Journal’s definition for the Throat chakra is, “The fifth chakra energy center is located within your throat and represents the ability to speak and communicate effectively and is your true voice.”  How uncanny!  When things get truly awful in my life, are getting too much to handle and I can’t seem to communicate or deal with the people closest to me the first thing to give way is…  My throat.   A coincidence – ?

I know it’s a weird way to look at what’s been going on for me, but maybe there is some truth to it.  I can’t speak with my HF without fighting at the moment.  We can’t communicate at all.  We’re about to try couples therapy as a means to “get back on track”.  I get the worst case of tonsillitis I’ve had in years…  What do you think?

It’s a funny kind of post, but I’m really glad you’ve read it and are sticking with me for the ride.   I’ll certainly be sure to let you know how we go and what my GP says about my medication issue.  Thanks so much as always!

Take care,

TSM  xx

Helpful Steps: Inspirational books…

The books recommended below have helped me through my Postnatal Depression, some by providing me positive inspiration, others simply providing me a guide in how to deal with the LM’s (and my) day-to-day issues.  Regardless of their initial introduction into my life, they have each proved extremely powerful in helping me get to where I am today.

Girlosophy – Anthea Paul (Soul Survival Kit / Love Survival Kit)

I know, I know… These books are aimed more at the spiritual, carefree, “young woman” market but I have to honestly say… I love them.  I really love them!  The imagery in these books, together with the beautiful quotes about womanhood are a true escape for the imagination.  Not only uplifting, they provide a sense of self I personally was struggling to find as a single woman in my late 20’s.  Admittedly, I hadn’t picked up either of these books for a very long time, but when the reality of my postnatal depression diagnosis set in I knew within them I could find the solace I was looking for (desperately needed!).  And true to their word, after digging them out of storage, they have helped me considerably.  I often find myself casually picking up either of these books on any given day and flicking through the pages.  Some days I read the quotes, others I simply look at the beautiful pictures and let myself get lost in the tranquility they provide.  If nothing else, I urge you to go into a bookstore and flick through the pages yourself… Let me know where they take you!

You Sexy Mother – Jodie Hedley-Ward

A wonderful girlfriend of mine (who I reconnected with on Facebook after 20 years!) brought this book to my attention during my pregnancy.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, she had suffered postnatal depression 4 years prevoiusly after the birth of her first child.  In hindsight it is easy to see why this book resonated so much with her as a new mum, because it resonated for me during my struggle with PND in exactly the same way.  The advice offered in “You Sexy Mother” is simple, yet empowering.  It simply reminds you of what is important in day-to-day life, the things you let slide due to the pressures of being a new mum.  Throughout the book, Jodie shares her own diary excerpts about different issues, her thoughts and feelings.  In particular, I loved her ideas about reconnecting with beautiful lingerie, creating the home of your dreams, and learning to accept yourself without being defined by your career.  Oh, and her thoughts around weekly planners appealed to me also – being the habitual “organiser” I am!

Save Our Sleep – Tizzie Hall

This recommendation may not sit comfortably with all mums, however I must say it was a saviour for me.  There is a great deal of debate surrounding the issue of “on demand” v’s “routine” for new and older babies when it comes to feeding, sleeping, and playing… Studies have proven many different outcomes mostly in favour of on demand feeding, for example:  on demand feeding prevents obesity in later life, and babies fed on demand have higher IQ’s.   Personally, I am not completely convinced either way is correct 100% of the time.  I believe a great many other factors must be taken into consideration regarding a mother’s preference for raising her baby, be they with respect to both mother and bubs personality, environment, medical conditions, etc.  The judgement quite often imposed on new mums for their choices isn’t fair and becomes a great deal more harmful than good in most situations.

For me, I was fortunate enough to have a baby who very quickly settled into his own routine with very little guidance from me at all.  Save Our Sleep had been recommended to me by my bestfriend who had enjoyed success with her first baby utilising Tizzie’s routines.  That being said, she made sure to explain that Tizzie’s routines are best used as a guide ONLY and obviously the natural connection between you and your baby is what’s most important.  Flexibility is most definitely the key, and you as “mother” must still trust your own instincts and intuition.  Taking this advice, I found Tizzie’s routines were very much in line with the LM’s natural rhythm.  As he progressed through each developmental stage, I would notice his sleeping and feeding patterns changing.  Sure enough, as soon as I looked up the next age appropriate routine in the book it would become clear he was naturally moving in that direction.  So much has this been the case with the LM, I’ve quite often joked that he and Tizzie must have had some connection in a former life – it really is uncanny!

An example, however, of the need to be flexible with any advice you are offered with regard to your little one, is Tizzie’s advice on how best to express your breastmilk in preparation for growth spurts and the like.  I for one could not express milk early on and only had enough for the LM himself.  By not taking on Tizzie’s expressing advice, I soon developed my own expressing routine I could use when required.  Had I become frustrated at not being able to follow her routine to the letter, it would have imposed a great deal more pressure and anxiety on me to do something I naturally just wasn’t capable of doing.  And in the end, it all worked out well for us… So again, flexibility is the key!

A Happy Mum Blog – Jackie Hall (no relation to Tizzie, I believe – ?)

I personally think this blog speaks for itself, so won’t go into it in too much detail… Other than to say, if you are suffering from postnatal depression you will find this blog (and website) a wonderful resource and support centre during your darkest times.  I spent a great deal of time simply reading through blogs and articles, finding some comfort in the fact I was not alone.  Please do have a look for yourself.

Baby Love – Robin Parker

If there is anything at all you are wondering about your child, then this is your “go-to” book!  Even though it was first published in 2005, I have found the advice offered in Robin’s book extremely helpful, simple and to the point.  Whether it’s different types of rashes, how to recognise and treat a mastitis infection, types of car seats to buy, or different methods for settling your little one, Baby Love has it all.   Simply go to the appendix and look up your desired topic – I guarantee it will be there!   The other thing I liked about Robin’s style of writing was the fact she would always offer all available opinions regarding different issues (eg. “on demand” v’s “routine”).  Whilst she would have her own thoughts and opinions, she would still offer the other side of each arguments as well.  Very respectful and easy to read.

Of course there are many more, however these would be the main resources I would lean on during those times I found myself constantly questioning what I was doing and who I was becoming.  Trust me… There were a great many fiction novels thrown in there too, but perhaps I’ll leave those for another time.

Thanks so much as always and hope you enjoy a wonderful weekend.

Take care,

TSM xx

Postnatal Depression: My “I Am…” poem

I awoke this morning and decided to have a quick read over my morning coffee of any new stories my fellow bloggers may have posted overnight.  What I found was an influx of “I Am…” poems utilising this template from Mama Kat’s blog.  Two poems, one by Mama Wants This! and one from Farewell Stranger, caught my attention and motivated me to try one of my own.  It’s a wonderful idea, and amazingly liberating… As Robin from Farewell Stranger commented, the path your poem takes is sometimes not at all in the direction you originally thought.  Needless to say, mine was a little more sombre than I had intended.

If the mood strikes you, I urge you to attempt a poem of your own.

I Am

I am scared and vulnerable
I wonder am I ever going to make it through this dark time
I hear the voice I used to have as if from a world far away
I see the confidence I used to wear as if it were only yesterday
I want to be again that strong and determined woman from my past
I am scared and vulnerable

I pretend every day to be okay but that’s often not how I feel
I feel inside I’m slowly falling apart while the mask I wear remains intact
I touch my face in the mirror wondering if the real me is still in there somewhere
I worry perhaps she’s not and the reality of who I’ve become is not a reality I like
I cry for my former self who couldn’t see where this journey was going to take her
I am scared and vulnerable

I understand this feeling of helplessness will pass
I say to myself every day to persevere and have faith there is a bigger picture at play
I dream of a time my family will be free from this overwhelming cloud of depression
I try to remain positive and believe there are sunny days waiting for us
I hope those days are not too far away because I miss them and the happiness they hold
I am scared and vulnerable

Thanks so much for reading!

Take care,

TSM xx

Postnatal Depression: Night sweats and vivid dreams…

A little while ago I posted about the anti-depressant medication path I took when first diagnosed with postnatal depression – Postnatal Depression:  My steps to healing… (Part 1).  There were a lot of twists and turns along the way, but eventually I came to a balance between the impact my medication had on my mood / general well being and the unfortunate side effects each medication seems to have (if you avoid these you are one of the lucky ones!).  Whilst Lexapro has absolutely worked for me with regard to my ability to face the day and regain some “normalcy” to my life, there have been some side effects for which I wasn’t really prepared.  I thought I would share with you the two most obvious ones today…

Night sweats

Don’t ask me why, but the “night sweats” are one of the strangest side effects I’ve experienced.  I’ve never been a sweaty person, even whilst exercising, however not long after starting Lexapro I began sweating uncontrollably during the night.  But only during the night.  Never at other times during the day.  Weird!  At first I thought it was because of the weather, we were experiencing strange fluctuations from warm to quite chilly nights.  Then I realised even on the coldest of nights I was still sweating.  Usually occurring between 1am and 5am (again, I don’t know why this is – ?), I find myself dripping in sweat to the point of waking with my pajamas damp and clinging to me.  It’s not very pleasant at all!  Even my HF has noticed how much I’ve been sweating, given he is usually the “warm-bodied” one and I the “cold-bodied” one.  Now he doesn’t need to be my hot water bottle during the nights, as with this side effect things are most definitely taken care of – and then some!

Like most anti-depressant medication, when you look at the list of “potential” side effects for Lexapro it pretty much covers everything you can think of.  I always find that quite interesting as you read it and wonder to yourself, “Is there anything I might NOT experience?”.  Night sweats is listed as a side effect and from what I’ve researched, most cases disappear roughly three months after the medication has begun.  If this is the case, I am hoping my sweats may start subsiding in the not too distant future and my nights can return to a much less “liquid” state.

Vivid dreams

The second side effect I’ve been confused by are my dreams.  I’ve always been a dreamer (in the literal, and not-so-literal, sense), however my dreams since starting on Lexapro have stepped up a notch or two both with regard to their intensity and content.  I do believe your dreams are messages from your sub-concious:  things that might have happened in the past, or even during that day, moments that may have consciously passed you by.  My re-call of dreams has always been okay, with perhaps half of them remaining cloudy and indecipherable upon waking (and obviously there are times you feel you haven’t dreamt at all).  But since taking Lexapro my dreams are clear, complex, intense, at times over-powering, emotional, and confronting.  And my ability to re-call them in the morning has improved substantially!  Whilst I find the content of my dreams is not bad, they are certainly not nightmares, there does seem to be some connection to my sub-conscious the Lexapro “brain technicians” have not only found but have significantly upgraded.  This upgrade in my neural pathways has thus allowed for people, thoughts, and feelings from long ago, and the current day, to surge on through with gusto!   It really is quite astounding, and interesting to say the least.

Some of my dreams are so bizarre in their content I’ve awoken in the morning thinking, “What on earth was THAT about!”.  People who have no right being in the same dreams as each other, combined with situations or feelings that have no right being attributed to them, are now the norm for my night time viewing sessions… Where does this all come from?  At the very least I feel I’m able to better decipher what is going on for me psychologically by the content of these, at times, very weird dreams.  My belief is there is something in them from which I can learn, or try to gain some closure from, regardless of how strange they may appear at the time.  Well… that’s what I’m telling myself anyway.  Perhaps I’m just trying to make myself feel better!

So there you have it… Two very unusual and different side effects from taking Lexapro (20mg/daily).  If you’ve experienced some side effects on your anti-depressant medication, it would be great for you to comment about what they were.  I find by sharing it definitely helps alleviate the stigma attached to the taking of anti-depressant medication and might make the difference for another mum out there who is considering whether or not it is worth it.  For me, personally, it most certainly has been.

Take care, as always, and I look forward to sharing more with you soon.

TSM xx