I’ve been well now for nearly 3 years. Recovery is individual to everyone but one thing we all know is it isn’t an easy, straight road. Here I share what I’ve learnt from my own difficult moments and relapses.
I’ve had two main ‘relapses’ when it came to my postnatal mental health. The first was when I started to improve after my first baby, and I was pregnant with my second baby. My 1:1 sessions ended and although I was told I could go back for more if I needed, I didn’t and I began to decline into severe depression. The second was when I fell pregnant with baby number three, I improved a lot, but a difficult miscarriage triggered my anxiety again.
Here’s what I’ve learnt from those moments..
Self Care is vital
I bang on about self care a lot, and I will keep talking about it because I can’t emphasise how important it is to look after yourself! Parents always put themselves after everyone else, and of course we should put our children’s needs before our own – but that doesn’t mean we should neglect ourselves. You do deserve that rest, the washing up can wait 15 mins while you have a hot cup of tea, take some time to do things that you enjoy. I know it’s easy for me to say, and often we will say we don’t have the time, but it’s really important we need to make the time because the benefits are great for both yourself and your family.
Recovery is very much ‘snakes and ladders’
Recovery is rarely simple, easy or quick but never forget it is possible. We can get disheartened and frustrated by waiting, the seemingly endless days of struggle. We can begin to feel we are making real progress then something happens and we feel we’ve taken 5 steps back. It’s important to remember that we might fall back a few steps but we never end up back to the beginning. Small progress, is progress which is good.
It’s good to talk
Talking is important, trusted friends, family or support networks can be wonderful when we are struggling. It always feels good to get things off your chest, feel less alone and sometimes just vent about how you’re feeling. Don’t bottle things up, you’re not alone and there are people and organisations which are there to help – be sure to use them. Friends and family want what’s best for you and to support you so try to engage and embrace those around you.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help again
Medication, if you’re taking it, mustn’t be stopped suddenly. Make sure you’re taking medication as your doctor has instructed, I’ve been lapse with mine in the past which has lead to my mental health declining. If you’ve started to wean off the pills, but feel you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to go back to your healthcare provider and tell them this. There’s no shame in needing medication, and no shame in needing to take it again.
The same applies for Therapy, don’t feel like a failure if you need to go back for more sessions. When you’re recovering things can come up which are difficult and going back to your therapist is a great idea to gain extra support. I felt too proud to go back to therapy, I was embarrassed and felt like a failure so I didn’t and it resulted in my depression spiralling and I nearly ended my life. When I had my third baby the minute I felt the familiar symptoms creeping back I went straight to my GP, referred myself for therapy and requested my prescription for antidepressants again. There’s no shame in it, and it really helped me to get to where I am today.
With these lessons, I’ve been able to keep a good balance in my life and my mental health. Like everyone I have ups and downs, but as I shared in my last blog post, I know that by making small adjustments I can keep things steady and enjoy life.
What are your tips? Have you learnt anything during your recovery?