Questions to ask before giving up

Through my recent experience with the ‘fog’ I discovered this blog. A wonderful Mum sharing her journey with PND. I felt this blog post was worth sharing. And if fog returns I can hopefully use this to help through some of those dark days.

the PND diaries

So, I  have had an extremely difficult week. My counsellor gave me this sheet of paper in an effort to help me not give up. Today I am working through the list as well as a heap of different grounding techniques to try and pull myself out of the fog since my husband (main support) is away.

I thought i would share in the hope it could also help someone out also x

EverythingIsNotOkay

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Breathing a sigh of relief

I woke this morning, and I actually wanted to get up. I did think about rolling over and closing my eyes but I thought to myself ‘I’ll get up and have a cup of tea”. And I actually made Mr Happy his porridge, something I haven’t done for quite a few weeks and I felt proud I accomplished this task. It may sound a small task, but to me it was huge.

See that’s one of the things about depression, carrying out and finishing a task no matter how big or small is actually impossible. For the past few weeks, for many days I have had to force myself to do things we manage to do nearly everyday. Plus, my appetite has been non existent, and when I have eaten I probably haven’t eaten the best foods. But who cares? Its food right? I know that eating well is fundamental to helping with depression, but I struggle to make something nutritious when I have hardly any energy, motivation or an appetite. And the thought of going out feels me with dread. Plus I often say to myself ‘be kind to yourself, you are doing the best you can”.

16/8/2015

16/8/2015

Little Miss

Little Miss

Mr Happy 16 months

Mr Happy 16 months

I also know it is important to get out for a walk, exercise in fresh air is great for boosting a mood, but yet again it was something else that I struggled with. I did get out for a walk with a friend one morning last week which was good. I was really proud of myself for doing it and making the effort. My hubby phoned when I got home and asked if I wanted to meet him in town for lunch. It was a lovely thought, but I had already wanted to turn the car round when driving to meet my friend as the anxiety was kicking in. I was now home and I wanted to stay. I felt secure and safe. He of course understood, he just wanted to check in and see how I was doing.

I have made a few plans for this week, which is good for me. And I am even preparing to be home with Mr Happy all by myself one day this week. To me this will be a big day, which is strange as this was something that would happen quite often. I’m so desperate to have a relationship with Mr Happy again and of course Little Miss. I’m hoping we will have a good day together and if everything doesn’t go as planned, I can call my hubby at work for support.

Found on cardstore.com

Found on cardstore.com

littlebylittle by anothernicole on Flickr

littlebylittle by anothernicole on Flickr

As I am starting to see a glimpse of light through the fog, I can breathe a sigh of relief and know that things will get better. I’m looking forward to being Stacey again, a Mum who wants to spend time with her children and be a wife. It will also be good to enjoy doing the things that make me, and to actually go outside and see people again. Thinking of this brings me hope and a smile to my face.

 

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Living with the fog

I started writing a blog post at the beginning of this week and I had every intention of posting it. I still will, just not today.

Instead I am taking to my blog to write about my week. This week has been AWFUL. I thought last week was rough, but, no. This week has actually been worse.

I felt a lot calmer on Friday and over the weekend. I then woke Monday morning feeling like I had really hit rock bottom. Every morning I have woken this week and just want to roll over and go back to sleep, I don’t want to see anyone and certainly don’t want to talk to anyone. I can hear my husband and the kids having breakfast and I feel, guilty. Guilty I am not up, making the breakfast, chatting to my hubby and the kids and thinking about what to do with my day. Instead I am dragging myself out of bed, desperate for a cup of tea and to take my antidepressants. Anything to just make me feel like Stacey. Each morning this week I have made the effort to help my hubby with the kids, mainly making their lunches and tying up Little Miss’ hair. I breathe a huge sigh of relief when they all leave, it’s quiet, I can slob around in my pjs and drink tea.

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Mr Happy

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Little Miss

I absolutely HATE feeling like this. When did everything go so wrong? Why can’t I be like I was a month ago? I desperately want to ENJOY my kids, but I don’t. Instead I’m wishing they would be quiet and leave me alone. Little Miss is so caring and happy to see to see me, I give her a cuddle hoping it will help. She tells me “Mummy, you’re the best” and asks me what’s wrong? I reply with “Mummy is sad and needs hugs”. I have no idea how to explain how I really feel to my three year old.

Mr Happy will look at me and smile but he favours my hubby for everything he needs. The rational part of my brain is trying to tell me it’s just because I haven’t been able to pick him up post surgery , but the emotional part is taking over and saying he doesn’t need you, he doesn’t like you, you are a rubbish Mum. The emotional part of my brain is winning.

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Image from SupportGroups.com

This fog is horrible, it’s robbing me of my sleep, appetite, being a parent, a wife, a friend and ability to work. There are things I need to buy, want to do with the kids but my usual enjoyment for shopping and motivation for life has deserted me.

The past few days all I have wanted to do is sit around in my pj’s all day, but a friend visited yesterday afternoon and I went for a walk with another friend this morning. Thank you ladies, because of your visit and encouraging me to get out, I have showered and dressed even though I didn’t want too.

I’m hoping when I wake tomorrow I can begin to see the fog starting to clear, I’m desperate to be who I was.

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Image from Pinterest

Me and the Fog

When you hear the word depression, who or what do you think of? Someone you know? Do you have it yourself? Or do you tend to ignore it, because it makes you feel uncomfortable? When I hear the word depression, I think of myself. I’m Stacey, 34 years old, I am married and a mother to three children. I’m fortunate to watch two of them grow and the other watches over us.

I faced my depression at the beginning of this year, I knew I was on a downward spiral, the fog was closing in and I could not stop it. Waking up most mornings with that awful dread, “do I really have to get up”? I just wanted to lie in bed all day and hide from the world, but I had to get up, after all I have two children to care for. The days were hard and long being stuck at home with two under three, but it was my choice to have these kiddies. “Why didnt you take them out” you might be thinking. The thought of going anywhere, terrified me. I didn’t have the energy or the patience to deal with them and the thought of getting organised to go out, filled me with dread. Each weekend when my hubby was home, I would say to myself “right on Monday, I’m going to take them to the park across the road”, BUT, Monday would come around and I just couldn’t face it.

Happy Kids

Love these kids

Happy Kids

Those days were, The. Worst. I hated that I was not really wanting to be a parent and interact with my kids. I would tell myself I would feel better tomorrow, but tomorrow would come and I felt exactly the same. Bedtime was just as hard as the morings. I was so, so tired, mentally and physically, I just wanted to sleep but I couldn’t get off to sleep. Plus I knew as soon as I went to sleep, the morning would soon come. I just wanted this vicious cycle to end.

I sought help from my counsellor again. Seeing her was usually enough to help me see through the fog that would be constantly blurring my vision and felt like a heavy weight, weighing my down. It helped to see my counsellor, but it wasn’t enough. I still continued to feel overwhelmed, anxious and negative thoughts were still there, full force. I made an appointment to see my GP, I had been putting it off for a while, maybe even years. I didn’t want to admit I needed antidepressants to give me my life back. My GP was fantastic, he and my counsellor both agreed there was a time and a place for medication and this was the time.

To be begin with some of the side effects of the antidepressant was not much fun, I felt worse. I was told I would feel worse before I got better and that was the truth. I was so fortunate my Mum was able to travel from England and visit us for a few weeks in February, she ‘got it’. She was there when I needed to talk, cry, vent and above all she was there for the kids. Plus it took pressure off my hubby, because he really has seen the BAD times and I think my Mum was great support for him too.

Fast forward to now, Friday 7th August. I’m currently off work after my surgery to have my appendix removed. I’m out of my usual routine, unable to work, and most importantly I feel I am unable to be a Mum to my children. I don’t know where it came from but on Wednesday I, well you could say, I lost it. The fog had slowly been returning and now it was back. I ended up ringing the Mental Health Crisis team, I needed someone, anyone to listen. I wanted to quit my role as a wife and a mother and to run away. Yesterday (Thursday) I had a visit from the mental health team. The two guys that came to the house suggested I needed to increase my medication, I was hesitant but knew it was the best decision. Thankfully I had a counsellor appointment which was already booked. My hubby came with me which I felt was really beneficial for both of us. I left the appointment feeling a lot calmer and the fog was starting to clear. I will be better, I will not let this illness beat me.

Found on weheartit.com

Found on weheartit.com

Taking an antidepressant has saved me from the dark days and I feel it has given me back my life. I still have the odd times when I feel the fog is closing in but they do help. I know there are some people out there, who may be reading this that do not believe in medications. That’s fine, I believe you have to do whatever works for you. For years I resisted medication, thinking it wasn’t right and it wasn’t for me. I did not make the decision lightly. Looking back I have had depression on/off throughout my life and it is in my family. We only have this life and we need to do what is best for us and our family, our kids.

Depression is an illness, not a low mood. The experience of depression is different for everyone. Support is essential to help anyone through their journey. The Depression Website is a great source for anyone who is struggling and has information to help others help you.

cropped-craftyorganisedme-sig.pngImages courtesy of Pinterest

Sands Conference Wellington 19-21st June 2015

I figured it was time that I shared some of things I experienced at the Sands conference in Wellington. I felt I needed a few weeks to let everything ‘digest’ and reflect on it. I have shared some thoughts with people who have asked me about it. I know there are some people who aren’t in a position to ask me or haven’t seen me since I went, but I just want to say I would love to talk about it if you want to listen.

We had an extremely bumpy landing in Wellington, it was my suggestion to fly so I take full responsibility and again I’m sorry to the other 2 ladies I flew with. I usually don’t mind flying but this particular morning I wish we had driven down the night before. On a positive note the weather was fab when we flew home, so it kinda made up for the unenjoyable arrival.

I had the pleasure to hear 4 wonderful keynote speakers. Sherokee Ilse and Suzanne Pullen from the United States and CarlyMarie and Jane Warland from Australia. All four of these ladies shared their babies stories and it was truly an honour to have them share their stories about their losses. It was definitely a weekend where it seemed to appropriate to say your babies name and share your story of babyloss.

There were various workshops to attend, often there were 3 running at the same time so we were able to choose which topic we wanted to be a part of. There were a couple of workshops that were ‘creative’ focused, so I was pretty keen to attend those.

CarlyMarie spoke about Creativity in Babyloss, this was fab. She shared the things she has done to heal herself since the loss of her baby. Another Mum who is also a bereaved parent shared the things she has created and made in her babies memory. This workshop was called Speaking from the Heart and this Mum also has a great blog where she shared the things she creates and provides information for others wanting to do the same. Check out milaandcuatro

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I also attended a workshop which discussed the importantance of sharing your baby loss story and ways you can do this. We were all encouraged to write a letter to our babies and we were given the opportunity to share what we had written with the group, if we wanted too. It was actually the first time in 4 years I had written to Alex. The words flowed easily once I put pen to paper, and it make me question why I had never done it before. I found it very therapeutic and I was happy to read my letter out loud.

Another workshop I found beneficial was Parenting After Loss; a workshop for Bereaved parents. Since I have been fortunate to have 2 children after baby loss I felt this appealed to me. I found it really good. Jane Warland was the speaker and she discussed parenting after loss with and without living children. I often worry that I will mess up my children due to the loss of their big brother but there is actual research out there which states the opposite. This is a great relief to me. It is important that my children grow up knowing there have an older brother and why he isn’t here.

I managed to go to a session which discussed Natural therapies for grief and loss. We were all given a gratitude journal (which I’ll save for another blog post) and did a deep breathing/mediation exercise which was very beneficial.

I also attended the conference dinner on the Saturday night which was a lot of fun. I was feeling pretty tired though and didn’t party too hard as I was keen to get back to my hotel room and sleep.

I’m going to end this blog post, I feel I have summed up my weekend. I am so grateful for the opportunity to meet some wonderful people and hear their stories on baby loss. I feel I came home healed, refreshed and more positive about my grief. It was a great experience to attend the conference and I look forward to the next one in 2017.

Travelling home

Travelling home

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Love to colour

 Who doesn’t love to colour? I used to love to colour when I was a kid, a new colouring book and some felt tips were always a great present and I know my 3 year old Little Miss enjoys colouring. She was lucky enough to aquire some new books and pens for her recent birthday. Even now I’m an adult I enjoy sitting with Little Miss and doing some colouring with her. I always find it a good chance to connect with her at her level and have a catch up, as well as teach her colours and shapes. 

 

Recently I have seen quite a bit of information about adult colouring books on social media and I also found a couple of articles which I found of interest. There is evidence that colouring can alleviate stress in adults and also depression. Having depression myself I found it interesting and intriguing. “Colouring can calm the mind and occupies the hands, giving the individual something to do as well as alleviating any negative thoughts”. I also thought it was fascinating that individuals who enjoy creative activities are able to deal with stress better. I love to craft, but of course being Mum to two little ones, working part-time and home-life responsibilities, I don’t always have the opportunity to escape and indulge in craft time. My scrapbooking is something I can really enjoy when I have time to myself. I have actually ordered myself a colouring book, Anti-Stress Colouring: doodle & dream by Christina Rose. I’m looking to doing some of my own colouring, I looked at the sample pages online and they look great. I hope the colouring is something I can do whilst I’m at home, for me and maybe at times alongside Little Miss when she feels like colouring. 

https://psychologies.co.uk/why-adults-are-going-back-colouring-books
 

When I searched for adult colouring books, a great article by the New Zealand Herald came up from April 2015. Adult colouring books are currently the top selling books on Amazon and in the UK 5 different adult colouring books are In the top 10 books. Johanna Basford’s adult colouring books, Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest are hugely popular and are good at easing stress and ‘calming one’s inner child’. A quote from the NZ Herald I thought was engaging is “colouring is all about regaining mindfulness and getting a digital detox”. I’m aware that Mindfulness is a therapy used in the treatment of depression, but I’ll save the discussion about that for a blog post another time.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=11429558
 

  Whilst looking for photos for this blog post, (usually I find everything on Pinterest, another love of mine)! I searched adult colouring books and loads of pins of black/white pages appeared. All printable, ready to be coloured in. There were also some great quotable colouring pages, which would be ideal for adults or kids to colour and could be used to decorate bedrooms, playrooms or for my teacher friends, classrooms.

 

Love this one, this was one of the many downloadable prints I found on Pinterest. Are any of you keen to get yourself a colouring book?


        



Remembering Alex

10:18am on Friday 3rd June 2011, is a day forever etched in my mind. It is the day we welcomed Alex Michael Smith into the world. He couldn’t stay though, he was stillborn. He was 27 weeks gestation, a perfect bundle of 2lb 2oz and 37cm long. There was nothing wrong with our dear boy. My husband was holding my hands as I birthed Alex and I remember looking to my left hand side and my Mum was holding onto my Mother-in-law, both were crying. Tears of sadness? Or maybe tears of joy. Or maybe both. I remember being asked by the midwife before he was born if I wanted him placed on my stomach. “I don’t know”, I replied, “let’s just get him out first”. My first instinct was to grab him and pull him close, which I did. I looked at my Mum and said “He looks so familiar” and she said “Of course he does, he yours”. He sure was, is, my first born Son and baby.


We spent most of that day with Alex at the hospital in the room in which he were born. The things I remember most about that day are holding him, staring him and loving every one of those previous moments. Only a few family members got the privilege to see him and hold him, we decided it wasn’t a time for friends to visit. We took as many photos as we could. I had left my camera at home, but luckily the others who were there took photos. I couldn’t bring myself to have a photo with Alex, I felt I had to smile in the photo and I didn’t feel like smiling. That is something now I wish I had done. I think we always look back at pivotal moments in our life and think about how we could of changed them to make it better. I do love the photos we have, they are very special. Leaving the hospital without him was gut wrenching. I’m sure I must of cried the whole way home. I feel a piece of me died that day and that part is with Alex. I hold his memory in my heart and he was buried in mine and Daddy’s love.

Wednesday 3rd June 2015, Happy 4th Birthday to Alex. 🍰🍰🍰🍰🎈🎈🎈🎈

My husband and I decided last year that each year we would use Alex’s birthday as a family day. We would both take the day off work and do something fun with Little Miss and Mr Happy. We are thinking about swimming, since Little Miss has been asking to go to the pool lately. We will visit his grave at the cemetery, take him some flowers and we will release 3 balloons. We released 2 balloons at his funeral and it has always seemed to be something special we can do each year to mark his birthday and to eventually involve his siblings. We chose 3 balloons because we felt one balloon represented us, his parents and siblings, one balloon on behalf of my family and the third balloon symbolises my husbands family.

Last year I made 3 cupcakes, so this year it will be 4. Plus I have the added help of Little Miss to help me decorate the cupcakes. She has already requested we make Alex a pink one! Each year I try to think of something we can do as a present for him, the idea of donating money to a worthy cause is always a good thought. But back at the beginning of April CarlyMarie  was offering a deal on one oh her beach butterfly memorial prints. There were lots to choose from but I’m pleased with the one I picked. We can put the print onto a photo, card or a canvas if we wish.


For those of you that are interested CarlyMarie has a Facebook page and a website. She is a bereavement artist from Perth, Australia and she will be the keynote speaker at the Sands Conference in Wellington on 19-21st of June, so I’m looking forward to hearing her speak.


Thank you if you have read this, it means a lot to me to be able to share my journey.