Lose Your Way, Find Yourself

‘Well you go through life
So sure of where you’re heading
And you wind up lost
It’s the best thing that could happen
Because sometimes when you lose your way
It’s really just as well
Because you find yourself…’

Brad Paisley – Find Yourself 

Following on from my previous post, as I went to see the Doctor, I was very fearful.  And yet, deep down I knew that things couldn’t get any worse than how they had been for the past 2 years – so I had nothing to lose and hopefully life to gain.

In truth, as I write today and think back over the past 24 months, I reckon I knew for a long time that I was about to fall apart. My greatest fear was that I didn’t have the space to do it. I was clinging onto life by a few finger nails, knowing they were about to break, but determined to keep hanging there for as long as I could. I felt I had no ‘room’ to break down completely – not with a baby to look after, 70 miles from my family, and a husband with a busy job and public profile. I had to keep going and I had to survive. If I didn’t, who would? So I pushed and pushed everything down as far as it would go, until there was no more space left inside of me and I exploded. Turns out I was wrong – there was space for me to fall apart. When I was honest with my family they made the space. They allowed me time to focus on getting better – especially in the first few weeks having been with the Doctor. Reuben and I stayed with Mum for most of the first weeks – with my Dad, brother, aunt and cousin helping to entertain a busy toddler. This was like water to my thirty soul – I had space and time. 

Being honest with myself, others and the GP was my first step on the road to recovery, a road which I am still walking today. I am on the journey to wellness, each day a bit easier than the one before. 

As I am recovering, I thought I’d share the things that are helping the most.

  • Citalopram, 40mg 

I am on medication, Citalopram, which is an SSRI Anti-Depressant. You’ll maybe hear lots of horror stories about AD’s, in the same way I did, but making the choice to face my fear and take them has been one the best decisions I’ve made. The reality is that they do come with side effects, which are pretty unpleasant, but do wear off after a few weeks. When I had my dose increased, they returned again but only for a short time. The truth is they are not addictive and you can come off them – something I am not evening considering for another year! I realise people have lots of different options on whether AD’s are the answer, I’m not here to debate that. For me, they have been a life line. I will admit putting the first tablet in my mouth was very difficult and I cried as I did. Afraid of what they would ‘make me’, worried they might do nothing at all, and aware that others may judge them as a sign of great weakness. I’m well past all of that now. I take my dose every morning and it’s a simple as making my first cup of breakfast tea! I will come off them, but in stages and at a time that is right for me. I want to be really clear – I do not believe there is any shame in talking AD’s, in the same way I don’t think there is any shame in talking any other sort of prescribed medication. But that belief was only really put to the test when I was faced with the decision of whether to put them in my own mouth. In some ways, I am glad that it was something I wrestled with – I don’t believe anyone is given them ‘willy-nilly’ – but I know I needed to be sure it was the path I wanted to go down. I was scared but determined and I am so glad that I made the choice to try them. 

  • Talking Therapy

I’ve been seeing a Psychiatrist, part of the Mental Health Team in Belfast, and also meeting regularly with a family friend (who’s a Health Visitor) and specialises in PND. Both of these people are key to my healing. It has been such a relief to safely tell someone all those things I have hidden for so long. To be able to take all of them ‘out of the box’, look at them, discuss them, and break the hold they have over me. Some sessions have been harder than others, some weeks I have had to ‘dig deep’ and face things I wish I could left buried…but they are better out in the open. It’s been hard work and I’ve had homework to do each week – but all the effort has been worth it.  I am so thankful for the support and time that each of these two people have given me, I count myself very privileged to have had the opportunity to talk to them. 

  • ‘Me time’/Free time

I think all mums will accept that the minute their little bundle arrives, time for ourselves goes out the window. It was no different for me. I had no idea how much I have missed ‘free time’ until I started to put some of it back into my life. For example, until about 3 months ago, I had never been out of the house in the evening, by myself, since Reuben was born. I cannot tell you how strange it felt to leave the house, with him tucked up in bed and head to the shopping centre for a look around. I bought nothing of consequence, but the freedom of being out was refreshing. I have started to do that more regularly now. Gavin’s family have been wonderful and take Reuben a couple of afternoon’s each week. Reuben adores getting to see them and I get a couple of hours to do whatever I need to. I am also indebted to two friends, Francine and Mel, who have welcomed Reuben and myself into their hearts and home.  They are teaching me so much of what it means to be a mum. 

  • Sharing my story

It might sound strange but blogging has been like ‘self-therapy’ for me, in a way I didn’t expect. It’s reminded me that I have a voice and I can use it! It’s helped me to come out from the shadows and face the world that I have been so afraid of for so long. I have had so such support and encouragement, from both friends and people I have never even met! I have had the privilege of hearing other people’s stories –  in person, via text, email, Twitter and Facebook. Thank you! For all of you who have been in touch, you are part of my journey to wellness. It’s so wonderful to know that we are not alone with this illness, only in sharing my struggles have I realised that. 

If you are struggling with PND, or any sort of Depression, I’m not suggesting that what is working for me is exactly what will work for you. You don’t need to start a blog and AD’s may not be the right thing for you. But I am absolutely sure that talking to someone – anyone – a friend, family member, GP or trained professional is key to unlocking how you are feeling. And, let’s face it, a little bit of extra ‘me time’ never hurt anyone – see if you can find simple ways to add that into your life! Whatever help you need or choose to take, the bottom line is you don’t have to fight this alone in fact you are better off not fighting this alone. 

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about how PND has changed me and I feel like I have lost myself in the illness – you can read that here. There’s no doubt that I have “lost my way” in life, due to this. Slowly, I am recovering and healing, and as that is happening I keep reminding myself of the song lyrics “sometimes when you lose your way it’s really just as well, because you find yourself.” I hope that I am beginning to find myself once again. You will too!