Welcome to Motherhood… and where it all began.

When my son was born, I automatically went into autopilot. The feeds, changing, sleepless nights, they all came naturally which meant I didn’t have to stop to think.

By the time he was 3 months old, I regularly broke down in tears and felt exhausted. After going to see my GP, I was diagnosed with postnatal depression and given medication to help. Six months later, my dosage was increased, as I felt constantly ‘down in the dumps’, I was forgetful and couldn’t focus on anything except taking care of my son. I rarely left the house, the feeling of going out, making sure I’d packed everything into the changing bag was too overwhelming.

Once my medication had been changed, within a month I started to feel somewhat ‘normal’ again, or at least I’d stopped crying every day. I decided to resign from my job of six years and stay at home with my son, who my entire life revolved around. I had few friends after moving to a new area and felt too anxious to go out to groups or events to make any new ones.

But I thought I was fine. This is motherhood. I had days where I felt on top of the world, didn’t need to sleep and could go anywhere I pleased.

And then everything changed. My son was 18 months old and after several weeks of suddenly feeling ‘down’ again, I felt completely hopeless. Thoughts in my head started to tell me that I was a bad Mum, I was lonely and had no routine after quitting my job. Weeks went by, I barely slept at night and felt tired all day.

One particular day, I was having a lie-down in bed while my son napped and I started to hear noises. Really, really loud noises that sounded like aeroplanes flying right above me and bombs being dropped across the town. I thought that I was living in World War II and immediately started to switch off all the lights and shut all of the curtains in the house. I rang my husband to make sure that he was safe, but he instantly knew that something was wrong.

Later, I found out that I had experienced a Psychotic Episode, where an individual has sensory experiences of things that do not exist and/or beliefs with no basis in reality.

From that point, I went from pillar to post for around 8 weeks. I ended up spending a night at A&E at our local hospital, I saw our local Psychosis Team, I saw my own GP on numerous occasions but eventually, I was referred to a Psychiatrist. After just one consultation, I was given the diagnosis of Cyclothymia, a mild form of Bipolar Disorder, whereby an individuals moods rapidly change, from depression to elation.

Having a definitive diagnosis meant that I could do my own research and find tactics that worked for me. I was and still am medicated, in order to keep my moods stable, rather than changing unexpectedly. I have regular reviews with my Psychiatrist and have now requested therapy, to work alongside my medication. I still have good days and bad days, but I’ve learnt how to manage these when I need to.

My son is still my entire Universe.

 

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Giving up the dummy.

Hi guys!

So, as we went away last weekend for my son’s 2nd birthday, I decided that it was time for the dummy to GO.

I had already been taking it off him during the day and he only had it at nap/bed times for several weeks before… so I knew he wouldn’t miss it too much!

When we arrived at Peppa Pig World, I took the dummy away and explained that we would give it to Peppa, to give to the babies, because he’s a big boy now!

He quickly moved on and we had such a busy day that he had no time to miss it.

We also took him to the ‘Build a Bear’ workshop and let him choose and make a new teddy, in the hope that it would comfort him and replace the beloved dummy.

At bed time, he did ask for his “doo-doo”, but I reminded him where it had gone and gave him a kiss goodnight. He didn’t kick-off, but was quite restless for 30 minutes before finally falling to sleep. And that was the end of that.

The biggest reason for our decision that NOW was the right time, was speech. My son does talk and quite well for his age, but since he gave up the dummy, his vocabulary has already doubled! It’s given him far more time to practice talking (and singing!) as there is nothing restricting his speech.

It was also the right time, because I could make up a good excuse as to where the dummy had gone! I’ve read that other options are to give the dummy to the ‘elves’ at Christmas time, the use of special events (e.g. birthdays) means that your child will be too preoccupied (hopefully!) to miss it too much. Dummy boxes is another idea, sending them to smaller babies… perhaps allowing your toddler to help make their own box would allow them to feel included and understand the process a little more.

So there you have it… goodbye “doo-doo” and hello chatty toddler!

Much love,

Jade x

My son has turned 2!

It’s been such a busy (and emotional) weekend, as yesterday my little boy turned 2 years old.

 

For his first birthday, we threw a big party at home… and it was chaos.

This year, we opted for Peppa Pig World and then a quiet family meal at a nearby family-friendly pub.

Peppa Pig World was brilliant. Although, we booked it 2 months ago and since then, Peppa has been replaced by Paw Patrol in my son’s life, but he still had a fab time!

 

31052188_10156222105562567_6901473963147264000_nIt cost £160 for an overnight stay at The Holiday Inn Express and 2 days at the park, which I didn’t think was too bad. Not considering there is so much more to do than just Peppa World… you also gain free access to the rest of Paultons Park, which includes adult rollercoasters and plenty of play areas and smaller rides for the little ones. The hotel was only a 10 minute drive from the park, was clean and the staff were friendly and breakfast was included. There is also a pub just over the road, which has a play area for children and a brilliant children’s menu.

 

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My only advice with going away to somewhere like Peppa World with a toddler… is not to expect to get everything done in one day! We arrived at around 1.30pm on Friday and by 4pm, he was ready for his dinner and a nap! So we decided to go back at 10am on the Saturday and came home as he began to get tired at around 2pm. Two half days definitely worked for us, as once we have a tired, hungry toddler on our hands, nobody can get any enjoyment from the day!

As I previously mentioned, it was quite emotional. One, because it dawned on me that my baby is no longer a baby – he’s growing into a little boy. Secondly, we gave up the dummy this weekend (something I will cover in another post!) which means he is 100% growing up. And thirdly, the past year has been a tough one… and we got through it. Which means there is hope at every stage in our lives.

Much love,

Jade x

 

Bipolar Disorder in Childhood.

I have recently posted on Instagram that I have decided to write a book. I have always loved to write, especially in my younger years. However, I had no idea where to start. So after much deliberation, I started with my earliest memories of experiencing mental health issues… at school.

Here is an excerpt that I have written so far…

As I sat in the bustling classroom, staring out of the window, I imagined I was a bird. Flying free and visiting places far away without a second thought. For ten minutes, I sat completely zoned out, not hearing the teacher’s persistent attempts to bring my attention back to the lesson. When I realised that all twenty pairs of little eyes were now on me, I felt my skin burning as my cheeks flushed red, my heart pounding and my stomach aching with the anxiety that was flooding over me. I was just four years old; I hadn’t long started primary school. When the teacher asked me a question, I just stared back at my text book. No words would leave my mouth.

From that day, my grand daydreams and limited speech only became worse.

At break time, I would take refuge on the nearest bench and play out scenarios in my mind that would never come true. I avoided the other children and barely spoke to any other person at school. But when I went home, I was a different child. I bounded around the house, shouting and laughing. Although I preferred to play with my dolls alone, I had no problem in interacting with my family.

Each morning, my Mum would drop me off at my Grandparent’s house, where it would be my Grandma’s job to get me to school. For the duration of my first year at school, I threw a tantrum every morning. I cried and screamed that I wouldn’t go and that I wanted my Mum. I clung to the furniture and couldn’t be moved. Eventually, my Mum dragged me there kicking and screaming, quite possibly having reached breaking point.

By my second year, Mum was ushered into the school for a meeting with my teacher. They had decided to look at alternative options, such as placing me in a special needs class, due to my muted speech and unusual behaviour. I’m not entirely sure what the outcome of this meeting was, but nothing ever happened. Within a week, I had been found standing in the cloakroom, shouting at another boy who had upset me. Due to the sudden outburst, my teacher decided that I was ‘normal’.

And then, nothing more was said.

 

About Bipolar Disorder in Children:

Bipolar Disorder is a brain illness, which may also be called manic-depressive illness or manic depression. Bipolar Disorder in children and teens is very rarely diagnosed, as it doesn’t fit the same symptom criteria as with adults. Many symptoms can be misdiagnosed, as they resemble other common childhood mental disorders, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or described as normal behaviours and emotions.

Children with bipolar will experience unusual mood swings, feeling happier and more energetic than normal during a ‘manic episode’ or feeling very down or sad, with less energy than normal during a ‘depressive episode’. Bipolar disorder can affect how they are doing in school or relationships with friends and family members.

Children and teens having a manic episode may:

  • Feel very happy or act silly in a way that’s unusual for them and for other people their age
  • Have a very short temper
  • Talk really fast about a lot of different things
  • Have trouble sleeping but not feel tired
  • Have trouble staying focused
  • Talk and think about sex more often
  • Do risky things

Children and teens having a depressive episode may:

  • Feel very sad
  • Complain about pain a lot e.g. stomach aches and/or headaches
  • Sleep too little or too much
  • Feel guilty and worthless
  • Eat too little or too much
  • Have little energy and no interest in fun activities
  • Think about death or suicide

How can I help my child?

Make an appointment with your family doctor if you notice any symptoms. Try to keep a ‘mood diary’ a few weeks before, to note down any changes in behaviour.

  • Try to be patient, encourage your child to talk and make time to listen
  • Help your child to understand what they are experiencing and that it’s OK to feel different emotions. This may mean doing your own research to try and understand it yourself.
  • Help your child to have fun. They don’t have to miss out because of their changes in mood, try to support your child and reassure them when necessary.

 

When the waves come crashing in.

The featured image on this post perfectly expresses how I feel when my mood starts to dip. For a moment it’s sunny and then the clouds appear and the waves come crashing in.

That’s when I hit my low.

My head feels cloudy and I can’t think straight, or even at all. All I want to do is sleep the feeling away.

But then the clouds will clear and the sun comes back out. My mind clears and my mood lifts. I’m on top of the world and I can conquer anything.

The time scales of these episodes will vary. There is no “normal” or “stable” period. I’m either high or I’m low. That’s the problem with Cyclothymia. It could last for hours, days or even weeks. There are various triggers or sometimes there are none at all.

But one thing I know, is that the sun will always rise again.

My PCOS has returned.

When I was 19 years old, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a set of symptoms due to elevated androgens (male hormones) in females.

I wrote a blog for three years, providing support to others’ and had followers of triple digits. But eventually life took over and it’s only now, when my PCOS is affecting me the most, that I’ve decided to write about it once again.

The common symptoms of PCOS are these:

  • Irregular or absent menstrual periods
  • Difficulty becoming pregnant (due to irregular or failed ovulation)
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Weight gain
  • Thinning or loss of hair from the head
  • Oily skin or acne

For 3 years prior to falling pregnant, I experienced all of the above. I came off the contraceptive pill for 2 years and in 2015, I finally lost 2 stone in weight, partly due to stress and partly by following the Slimming World plan. Despite only having periods every six months, I fell pregnant within 7 months of starting a new relationship.

A year after my son was born, I had no symptoms of PCOS, apart from my periods being sporadic – happening every 5 weeks to 7 weeks, but nothing major. And then I miscarried.

When I attended an ultrasound scan, to ensure the miscarriage was complete with no further complications, I was told that I no longer had cysts on my ovaries.

I was told that they had probably resolved after becoming pregnant, but I couldn’t quite believe it.

A further miscarriage occurred later that year and my periods gradually slowed again.

My son is now just turning 2 years old and all of my symptoms have returned.

I think that the biggest frustration for me, is not knowing whether or not I could be pregnant. We’re trying to conceive for the second time and I’m wasting more and more money on pregnancy tests again. In turn, the frustration triggers my depression and my moods fluctuate more than ever. After seeing my GP, I felt no better and told that I would need to have a 3rd miscarriage or be trying to conceive for 2 years, before they would refer me for specialist help.

However, I am forever grateful that I have been blessed with my son, as prior to that point in my life, I never believed it would be possible. Now, I remain in hope that I can do it all again. Further posts will follow. 

Hope & healing to you all,

Jade x

 

Holiday Stress.

So tomorrow my family and I fly to sunny Spain!

But is it just me, or is going on holiday really stressful?!

We go every year, sometimes twice (which is great) to visit our Grandparents, but the week before we go, without fail, my symptoms trigger.

I think it’s the trying to remember to pack everything, making sure I know exactly what the schedule is for the day we fly and it generally upsetting my routine.

And going with an almost two-year-old makes it even harder.
Just the thought of a 2 1/2 hour plane ride with a restless toddler sat on my lap gives me goose bumps.

Yet once I’m there, I’m at my happiest and my symptoms subside.

So, how to tackle the pre-holiday blues? Read on for my top tips…

 

Planning.

Plan the journey to the airport, the waiting times for boarding and the journey to your accommodation when you get there. Check passports are in date when you actually book the holiday. Dependent on the time of arrival, buy essentials when you’re waiting to board… for example, we’re flying at 5:25pm, won’t arrive in Spain until 9pm and the supermarkets will be closed when we get there. I know full-well that my son will want milk to settle him to sleep and for his breakfast first thing in the morning, so that’s top of our shopping list!

Write a list.

Think of everything you’ll need whilst you’re away, whilst you’re on the plane (e.g. toys to keep little man entertained or snacks) and even include things the most obvious things like passports and travel insurance details. Write it all down and tick each item off as you pack. Try to make the list with your travel partner, as two heads are better than one… and half of the time, my brain doesn’t function fully so I’m bound to forget something important!

Don’t over-pack

Every year, I over-pack. My son ends up not wearing half the clothes I’ve wedged into the case and by the time we go to fly back, we’re over on our luggage allowance. Things like shampoo, toiletries etc, we buy out there in smaller quantities. It’s easier if you can speak the lingo but definitely not essential! I helped a lady choose some hair conditioner last time we were there, so there’s usually English-speakers around that can help.

Rest

This may seem silly, as most of us rest on holiday. But over-doing it before you go with leave you stressed and exhausted. Try to split tasks between you and your partner if able and don’t stay up late to get jobs done. Have a long bath the night before you fly and try to put yourself into ‘holiday mode’.

 

I won’t be posting so much over the next week, so much love to you all!

Jade x

 

Too “complex” to treat?

Yesterday, I had a 4-monthly review with my Psychiatrist, to discuss how I’m feeling and getting along with my meds.

After trudging to the clinic with my 2yr old in the pouring rain, I was informed that my appointment had been cancelled and nobody seemed to understand why.

However, I had already complained about the service I’ve received at my local mental health outpatients clinic and so the lead nurse there came to have a chat with me.

For months now, I have been requesting therapy, alongside my medication, which I have been taking for the past 6 months. Although I understand why medication is given – predominantly to stable my moods, I don’t want to take them for the rest of my life. Not to mention the fact that they knock me out at night and leave me feeling like a zombie through the day. That isn’t how I want to live.

Anyway, the nurse who came to see me, Alex, explained that he would make another appointment in 4 weeks time, with himself and my Psychiatrist to discuss options available. He then went on to say that they had been struggling to come up with any treatment options in the way of therapy because

“I do not fit a specific criteria and I’m too complex”

Upon leaving the clinic, I felt hopeless and confused as to how I’m ever supposed to feel better, without relying solely on my medication.

Therefore, I am now researching Cylothymia on a larger scale, in the hope to adopt some new coping strategies and treat myself instead.

Stay tuned for updates on these.

Much love and hope,

Jade x