Getting to where I am today has not been easy. I set out with intentions for this to be a positive blog, I wanted to offer that hope for recovery which I was searching for when I was suffering the most. I have to visit those dark days to highlight how far I have come.
When I had my first baby I was so overwhelmed. I had been so overjoyed and excited throughout my whole pregnancy, so it was such a shock when I felt the way I did when she was born. From the moment of birth I changed. I was consumed with anxiety, scared something could happen to her, I felt so low in my mood, I had no motivation, I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep, and I was irritable.
I was nervous about going out with my daughter, what if we had a car crash, what if someone tried to kidnap her, these were the kind of thoughts that ran through my head when ever I needed to go out with her. I began avoiding having to go out on my own, I would wait for the weekends when my husband would be home from work. This fed my anxiety and eventually I couldn’t even leave the house with him.
I would leave the house only when I had to, a doctors appointment for my child for example. On the rare occasions I did leave it was extremely difficult, I would have panic attacks, feeling like I couldn’t breath, like I would pass out, I couldn’t hear what was going on around me, just the sound of my breathing and rapid heart beat. It was horrible. I would have these while I was out and before leaving my home, I would have to be ready well in advance because it would take me at least 30 minutes to build up the courage to get out my front door. I felt like such a failure. I felt suicidal, what kind of life was I living? What kind of life was this for my family? I thought they would be better off without me.
Eventually I thought I can’t go on like this. Very slowly with help of my very patient husband I took small steps to regain control. I spoke to my midwife, as I was pregnant with my second child by this point. I told her truth of how I was feeling and I was referred to a local perinatal wellbeing team. They came to see me each week for talking therapies and it was decided I would start exposing myself to situations that made me panic and anxious. I won’t lie it was difficult, but knowing I would have to have another appointment the next week made me want to achieve something. I wanted to be able to say ‘I tried’.
It started with little walks with my husband around the area I live, slowly I built up going further afield. Then we would go to the supermarket, sometimes I’d have a panic attack but I would try the breathing techniques I had been taught and it would pass. The achievement I felt having done it was a confidence booster. It wasn’t all plain sailing, there were times I still couldn’t leave the house, but with the support of my husband cheering me on I tried and tried again.
Eventually I started to venture out on my own with my daughter, it was hard and my anxiety was high, but it felt good to be doing an everyday thing with her. Slowly going out became less scary, and I did it more and more.
After I had my son, I relapsed. I started to slip back into the avoidance of leaving the house. My panic attacks were becoming more frequent. I would go to the supermarket and sit in the car crying because I couldn’t bring myself to get out of the car. I was battling my anxiety and not wanting to fail at the simple task of going to the shop. This time I would make myself do it though. Exposing myself to this fear and finding everything was ok would be the only way it would work for me.
That was early 2013, it took until late 2014 before going out and doing things had become much easier. Now I’m out and about with all the children on my own, not phased by it, I enjoy being out with them. I still have certain situations that make me anxious, but now instead of running from it I stand and fight it, the feeling passes and I’m ok. My extra motive now is seeing how happy the kids are when we are out doing something. My husband and I have been married 4 years and this was the first year we went out to celebrate our anniversary because I couldn’t leave the house before. This year we took the kids bowling and went for a meal. I couldn’t imagine doing that a year / 18 months ago.
Something that really helped me was In 2013 I wrote myself a list (I’m one of these people that loves a list!) and I wrote down a few goals. Some were big things like days out I wanted to do with the kids, maybe even a little family break somewhere. Some were smaller things like take the kids swimming, or go for a meal. Every Time I did one of those things I crossed it off my list. At beginning of 2014 I did the same thing. Now this year I’ve crossed most things off already, and even booked a little week away with my family. I never dreamed this would be possible a few years ago, I was in a dark place and saw no light and no future. Tackling my anxiety has helped with my depression and overall I am feeling so much happier.
This is the message I want to share with you all. Never give up hope, with the right support and being gentle with yourself you can and you will get better. It has taken a long time but I’m getting there. Recovery is possible, it takes time and patience but you can do it.