Authentic Recovery – Under a cloud
This has been a hard week. I’ve been blogging a lot recently and I’ve been busy doing my bit to raise awareness of PND, that you’d probably assume I’m doing really well. And in some ways I am…but I still have my moments, as this week proves. I have come a long way in 6 months, but it’s good to be reminded that I still have a distance to go.
So to be open, honest and authentic on this journey, I thought it only fair that I share what’s been hard this week and why.
I went to bed on Saturday night with nothing major ‘wrong’. We’d had a good day, enjoyed a lovely dinner out and a catch up with our favourite box set – a perfect Saturday evening! On Sunday morning I woke and I knew there was something ‘not quite right’. I found it very hard to get myself awake – I’d had lots of fitful dreams, all night, and they seemed to want to ‘pull me back in’. I found just focusing my mind and opening my eyes hard. As I came round, I was met with a cloud. No anxiety, no stress just the sense that I cloud was looming above me and about to tip its contents over my head and pour for hours to come.
And tip it did. As the morning went on, I sensed the familiar dark hole open up around me and the overwhelming tiredness take hold. I was so thankful that Reuben was with my parents for the day and the night. All I wanted to do was lie on the bed and block out the world. I was hungry – my tummy was making noises – but my appetite had left me. I was a little emotional but more often just numb. I could not face getting into the shower and having the water pound my body, I imagined it would actually cause me pain. Gavin was brilliant, he listened, gave me space and reminded me that this period would pass. About 4pm, I dragged myself off the bed and ran a bath. That helped a little and at least I was clean!
As I was immersed in the hot water, I decided that I would face this blip head on. I determined to walk through it, holding on as tight as I could, not allowing it to tip me over the edge again. I reminded myself that I have come so far these past 6 months and that there is always light at the end of the tunnel now. It’s not a lie to say that I’ve stood on the edge of a very dark, deep hole. It seemed to be begging me to join. It took all my might not to give in.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the worst of the darkness lifted but I was left feeling very fragile, exhausted, low and bruised.
My mind has also been playing with me – the mental effects of the blip are very evident and hard for me to shake. This time around it’s about my weight and body image. I look in the mirror and the only words that come to mind are “I hate myself”. I’ve tried on clothes that used to fit me perfectly, before having Reuben, and they don’t sit on my body/frame like they used to. That has destroyed me. In reading about the “mummy body”, I found this article and words which describe my situation perfectly:
“Ladies may lose all the weight, but the parts shift and don’t necessarily fall back into the same places”.
YES, YES, YES! My body is not the same as it used to be. I may still be able to wear the same size of clothes size as I was – but I don’t like the ‘new’ me. I haven’t really been that bothered about it until now but suddenly it’s hitting me – my hips and bum are not the same and don’t get me started on those two milk producing organs that seem to have taken on a life of their own!!
To make matters worse, Christmas 2014 and early 2015, I was so tiny. In reality I know that was because I wasn’t eating; my metabolism was working overtime with the anxiety; and I was walking at least an hour, if not more, everyday. One pair of jeans, in particular, used to hang off me. They were my favourite. Now they fit me. I HATE THAT! No matter how much I tell myself that it’s a mark of my recovery – I can eat; my anxiety is more under control; and I don’t have to exercise to try to mask my pain – it just isn’t cutting it. I love getting better, but on occasions I have been angry at what it’s “doing to my figure”. Oh, I know. It sounds likes nonsense at best and vanity at worst. It’s a battle that I facing very minute of the day. Somedays I’m scared to lose it, others I seriously consider giving in.
Today is Friday. This week has been really hard and in some ways still is. Friday is the day I normally try to share on my blog. So, despite how I’m feeling I didn’t want to run from that.
For anyone reading and struggling also struggling today, here’s some important things I’ve been reminded of this week –
- Blips are ‘normal‘. Everyone has bad days, whether they struggle with a mental health issue or not. They are nothing to be ashamed of. It’s also normal to have the odd ‘set-back’ as you are healing and recovering. If it was any other illness, that I was battling, and I had a day or two when I didn’t feel great, it wouldn’t be a surprise. or a guilt maker. Recovering from anything takes time and never follows the path we’d assume.
- Blips don’t last forever. They do pass. They don’t mean that all the good work you’ve done is wasted. Often because of them, you learn something new that will help in your next season of recovery.
- The ‘something new’ for me is that I need to pace myself. I am so keen to do lots, to raise awareness, to promote PND and the support needed. In truth, that’s why I’ve started to try to run, when I really am only just able to walk. I have so many ideas and dreams for what I’d love to do with this issue, to help others and make a difference, that I forget to take care of myself. I forget that telling my story is hard work. That making myself vulnerable with one person or hundreds comes at a cost – it takes a lot out of me. I forget that there are things that can wait and do not need to be completed today.
- I can beat this. No matter how hard the day might be, I am not going back to where I was. I know myself now and I understand the illness better. I have the tools I need to make sure this does not steal my future. That doesn’t mean it’s all up from here – another blip will come. I might need some more mental health support. My medication might change. But I can beat this. I will beat this. I do not want this to define me and I do not want to give in. Even saying those words and meaning them shows me how far I have come in the last 6 months. Most days I did not believe that I could beat this and I was sure it would define and drown me. But it hasn’t and I won’t let it.
I wanted to write this today to be authentic in my recovery journey. This is not a quick or easy process. Just because I am busy doing lots does not mean there is not lots going on below the surface. But more importantly bad days, blips, set-backs are not signs of weakness they are proof that I am fighter!!
If you are struggling, don’t give up! Take heart that it is ‘normal’. Talk to someone – talk to me, if you’d like. Be good to yourself, be kind to yourself, go easy on yourself. And look for the light at the end of the tunnel – it is there, I promise!
This isn't the first time I have shared my ups and downs of recovery - you can read more, from a few month ago, here.