Many of you have been asking me this question, so I thought I’d post about it to share my experiences! Before I was diagnosed with Postnatal Depression, I was desperately looking for solutions to treat my symptoms. I had no idea what was actually wrong with me but I could tell you every physical symptom, under the sun, which I seemed to have. They turned out to be the symptoms of anxiety and depression or more specifically, for me, PND. As I looked for help to deal with them, I found some things that really did hit the spot and a few others that didn’t cut the mustard. I thought I’d share some of them with you.
I think it’s only fair to be clear that, for me, what’s really made the difference is Antidepressants and Mental Health Support/Therapy. I could not accept that at the time, when they were prescribed, but now I fully believe that I was so ill nothing else was going to break the cycle of this horrible illness.
With that said, I know not everyone wants to take medication, nor do they need it (depending on the severity of their situation) and the wait for therapy can be a long one. Natural/Alternative remedies can be a lifeline and real support, or they can be a first step on your journey to diagnosis and recovery. I spent ages searching the internet for ideas, so it you’re wondering about what could work, here’s my thoughts and advice on what worked for me.
If you don’t like the smell of lavender, this set of suggestions is probably not for you! But I love the scent and these things really did work for me. I found them best for sleeping. You can get lots of different brands but my favourite (and also the most expensive, unfortunately) is thisworks.
The pillow spray and the pulse roll on are amazing. They really did help to calm and soothe me at bedtime. I also used them when I woke in the night and could not easily get back over to sleep. On a couple of occasions I used the pulse roll on, during the day, when I was panicking and it genuinely helped to slow me down! I know, I know, I was sceptical too but for me they were essential. I have also used the Boots Botanics brand, which is also good, but easier on the pennies.
Not only that I also used Lavender Body Lotion and Gavin bought me this wee smelly pouch which I hung beside the bed!
Oh my goodness – this really works! Again trying was believing for me. I love both the ‘Rescue Night Spray’ and the ‘Rescue Original Spray’. Amazing! They calmed me, helped my mind from running over time (especially at bedtime) and gave security to face many situations, in which I knew my anxiety could overwhelm me. If you were only to pick two things on my list, this and lavender would be my biggest recommendations! It also comes in drops and chewing gum, I haven’t tried either but hear they work very well too.
It’s worth saying the ‘Night’ version doesn’t taste great – I preferred the original – but the taste was truly the least of my worries, so I could easily put up with it.
Tea Tree and Vicks VapoRub
First off, I love water, I find it very soothing and always have. Heat and water really do solve things for me! Tea tree – both for the bath (essential oil) and for the shower helped ease my aching muscles and joints and de-stressed me. If I was short on time I would run the shower really warm and lather my body in tea tree shower gel and let it sit and tingle for a few minutes (the Asda brand is great for that!). When I had more time to spare, a long, warm bath with 5-10 drops of this Tea Tree Oil was an extra treat. I really did notice the difference afterwards. I also was getting lots of coughs, cold and general feeling flu like…this helped so much with those symptoms too. Just as good is Vicks VapoRub, which I used for aching muscles, headaches and cough – yes I do put it on my feet, Gavin’s feet and Reuben’s (baby version) when we have are spluttering all night, it works great for us!
Exercise and Fresh air
This is free…yeah! When my anxiety was so bad I hated to be to far away from the house, I found it hard to be around lots of people or go somewhere new and always felt like the world was crowding in on top of me. But I could always managed to walk. And walk we did – the wheels on Reuben’s buggy are worn thin! But it was good for me and it got me outside the four walls and at least Reuben wasn’t stuck inside all day long. When I felt thing getting too much for me I would often open the back door and sit on the step. Somehow breathing in fresh air deeply and knowing there was more to the world than my walls and ceiling, helped me to make it through. Even better was that Reuben could play around in the back garden while I got space and room to breathe.
I love my wee cup of tea! Boring breakfast, extra hot with lots of milk…bliss! But caffeine wasn’t great for me in the evening and I wanted a warm drink. Chamomile is great to stress relief and to help aid sleep – I found this tea and still adore it. It’s Clipper Tea ‘infused with Lemon Balm and Lavender’ and really does taste delicious. I couldn’t find it everywhere, but normally it was in stock in my local Asda. I had a cup every night about 30 minutes before bed. Just a small cup and you need to let the bag seep for a good 5-10 minutes. I also would make myself get up in the night (if I was just lying awake) and make another cup, with a rich tea biscuit. Normally the process of doing something (rather than staring into the darkness) along with the tea and bikkie helped me to fall over eventually.
After lots of internet searches I decided to try this for the muscle twitches, spasms, cramps and jerking. I read good things, from many people, about how it helped them. I’m not overly convinced about this, to be honest. Many would suggest that I should have invested in ‘better quality’ supplement than just a supermarket brand. Maybe that would have helped. I’m not saying it did nothing. On the other hand it might just have been a placebo. I do remember when I ran out and stopped taking if for a couple of weeks that everything seemed to get worse, but again I can’t say be 100% sure. But it’s worth a try, as for some people it really does seem to work wonders. And when those physical symptoms were at there worst, I would have tried anything for a little relief.
I got these in Holland and Barrett after reading lots of good reviews! My hair was falling out badly and in terrible condition, you can read about that here. I do think they helped. No, they did not make my hair grow back instantly – there is no potion for that, as far as I know! They did help to make it feel a bit stronger and more healthy.
Although, I noticed much more difference in my nails and skin, which was advantage I wasn’t really worried about. I took these for about 3 months and I do believe they helped. Check out the website for lots more advice and positive stories. Looking back now I’m not sure why I stopped. It wasn’t a conscious decision, I think I just got so ill that forgot about lots of things and got out of the routine. I’ve just found a new, unopened bottle, so I think I might start on them again!
I lived on this for months! I found it really helped when my anxiety was awful – it gave me something to ‘do’ with my mouth and something to focus on when I just could not bear to be still. At least I could sit down for 20 minutes and still feel like I was doing something, as I chewed over and over again. Not very attractive, I admit, but it really helped me. Now, I only have the odd packet around and very rarely look for it.
Nytol and Kalms
I can’t really recommend these, to be honest. I did try them but didn’t notice a lot of added advantage. It seems you have to take them for a while to allow them to ‘build up’ in your system. I know others think these are very helpful – so they might work for you. I’d love to know if they have…let me know!
One final thought…
**These are NOT herbal/alternative/natural. You need to get them for the Dr on prescription**
I wanted to mention them as they were my first step in medication, or my last stage in trying to find remedies for myself. I was given them to help the panic attacks and all the awful symptoms they brought. They did help me. They were not the answer longterm, but until I got used to the idea of AD’s they were very good. You must ONLY get these from you GP.
So, as you can see there are lots of things that have helped me during my PND and Anxiety. Some more so, some less. Once again, AD’s and mental health support have been fundamental to my healing, I would not be where I am today without them. For me it was coming to the realisation that while some things seems to be helping there were not getting to the core of what was wrong. I began to understand it in the scenario of a tooth infection! Paracetamol might mask some of the pain, but it won’t take it away completely. For healing to take place you normally need a stronger pain-killer (to actually numb the pain) and treatment for the actual tooth and possibly antibiotics. For me, the AD’s and the Mental Health therapy were the stronger pain-killer and the antibiotics/treatment, everything else was just surface level and wasn’t get deep enough to help and heal the real problem!
But there are other options out there, that may well help you, so have a look and try a few things and see what works best for YOU!