mental health

Dear mind, fuck you.

Dear mind,

Every single day you do your absolute best to bring out the worst in me. You try to convince me that I am worthless, to anybody or anything. You try to make me feel as though I’m not loveable, that I will forever be alone. You try to convince me that I haven’t got what it takes to be a good mum, or to achieve my dreams. You try to convince me that I am ugly, fat. You try to convince me that I’m a failure and that not only have I let myself down, but also my son. You try to convince me that I don’t deserve to be happy, that karma has got me. You try to convince me that I have no purpose, no meaning.

The truth is, once upon a time I believed you. I believed every single damn thing. How sad is that?! But as time has gone on, I have learnt that I am worthy, and there are so many people who love and care about me! I have learnt that I never have been alone, and the support I have had from friends and family has been overwhelming. And guess what?! I am a damn good mum! I battle with your intrusive thoughts on a daily basis, yet still manage to cope as a single mum and a full time undergrad. I am not a failure. In fact I am passing every single module, and eventually this is going to allow me to provide the best life possible for myself and my boy. How is any of that letting either of us down?! I do deserve to be happy, and that karma that’s got me is purely good karma.

And my purpose is my son. He needs his mummy to be well and happy, and I am exactly that! Happy. I am finally, truly, well and happy.

I will never listen to you again.

FUCK YOU!

Your inner conscience.

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mental health

5 Tips to Recovery.

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I’ve been quiet recently. Since my last post (a long long long time ago) I have been through an absolute emotional rollercoaster. However for the past week or so I have been reflecting on how far along my mental health journey I have come, and to say I’m proud of myself would be an understatement! It hasn’t been without its difficulties, but I have really pushed myself to make some drastic changes to the way I think and how the things around me influence my thoughts, which in turn has led me to begin my road to recovery.

The purpose of my posts are to help others experiencing any mental illness, so I felt that doing a list of tips that have worked for me over the last 5 months would also be beneficial to you guys!

(Note: These are purely based on my own methods that have worked for me. There is absolutely no evidence to say that these methods work for everyone, so please only try these out IF you believe it is the right thing for YOU). 

Here goes…

  1. At the end of each week, write down on a piece of paper all of the positive things that have happened to you during that week.

I know that you may be reading this thinking ‘nothing positive ever happens to me’ because that is depression, right?! I want you to just try and find something that you can put down, even if it seems such a small thing. If you really can not think of anything positive, try writing down the things you have been grateful for during that week. When you are finished, pop them in to a jar, ready to open at the end of the year or when you’re having a bad day, as a reminder of all the positive things happening to you in your life.

2. Cut out any negativity!

So this one may be pretty brutal, but in my own personal experience it has been the best thing I could have done!

Write down a list of all the things that bring any kind of negativity in to your life, and then remove them from it! Like I said, brutal. BUT, depression is causing you enough negative thoughts and feelings on its own, so why allow external factors to do this as well?? Here are some of the things I removed to give you some inspiration:

  • Friendships/relationships which no longer allowed me to grow, no longer encouraged me to better myself, or on reflection were genuinely just not very good people to surround myself with for my needs at the time.
  • Social media – permanently deleted Facebook because for years it had been a platform for me to see and find out things I shouldn’t have had to via that route. No Facebook = No drama.
  • Alcohol – at one point I was drinking every single evening over the Christmas break (to mask feelings and because it’s acceptable at that time of year, no?!), and although it would give me a boost of confidence and feelings of elation, ultimately it would result in a big come down. I now only drink on special occasions (which has only been on 1 occasion since the new year). I feel fab for it.

3. Eat foods high in protein to help avoid the emotional binge eating.

This one isn’t for everyone, however a big part of my PND developing was my hate for my body after having OG. It’s a vicious cycle – you eat to comfort these feelings of hate inside, however over eating then causes you to gain weight. Back to the beginning of the circle we go!

Foods high in protein will keep you fuller for longer, which is great when you are one of those people who rely on food as your source of comfort and temporary happiness (GUILTY!). Every single meal I eat is packed with protein, and although it doesn’t stop me from wanting to snack all day long, it stops me from being able to snack all day long because I’m so full from my previous meal. Problem solved! (just keep them calories within the recommended daily amount).

Useful Sources: BBC Good Food for meal inspo, NHS BMI calculator (although this does not take in to consideration each person as an individual, it is useful to get an idea of how many calories you should be having in a day)

4. Be selfish.

Focus on you, do you, be you. Your happiness is far more important than anybody else’s.

  • Take time out when you need to and don’t apologise! Those who truly care about you will understand. Those who don’t, refer to tip no. 2.
  • Allow yourself some down time by having relaxing candle lit bubble baths or a nice long shower.
  • Pamper yourself. Go get your hair done, or your nails, or what ever else you believe helps to empower you.
  • Exercise – sweat out all those bad feelings and instead feel empowered!
  • Find a hobby to deter your negative thoughts for a while.
  • Say ‘no’ when you want to. Don’t feel forced in to something you don’t particularly want to do for the sake of sparing someone else’s feelings (hello anxiety!).

5. Talk to someone, tell someone how they make you feel, and accept other’s help.

Whether it’s with a friend, family member, professional, or even a stranger. Talk. Something that may seem so large to you can sometimes be put back in to perspective when you talk about it out loud with an outsider. Others can help you to see things at a different angle and it’s these little comments that others make that can help you to think more positively for a day or so, sometimes even longer. I know it can be hard to talk, I really do. But from my own experience, it was talking that stopped me from taking my own life when I was at my worst.

Please, if you do one thing today, ignore those stupid quotes and memes (created most likely by someone who has no history in psychology) which suggest you should withhold your emotions and feelings for the sake of your own dignity. This is not about your dignity. This is about doing what you need to in order to get something off your chest regardless of how others may perceive you because of it! Your own sanity is far more important than your dignity (which btw you absolutely will not lose by speaking up about how you feel!!).

 

Love, Hayley x

 

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mental health

A rant over World Mental Health Day.

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With today being World Mental Health Day, it seems only right to do a post. Now, some of you may completely disagree with what I’m about to say (and rightly so!), however I believe it needs to be said…

World Mental Health Day was a campaign designed to create awareness of a range of mental illnesses, detach the stigmas related to these conditions, and also increase individuals knowledge on mental illness. This campaign has become extremely successful over recent years, with more and more people speaking up about their feelings. It has also allowed a better understanding amongst both sufferers and non-sufferers. Now don’t get me wrong, this is an incredible progression and I absolutely believe campaigning on mental illness still needs to happen (after all, I am training to become a campaigner of PND in men). But here’s my problem with WMHD: it has become a bandwagon for followers to jump on. Some of you may argue that regardless of people’s intentions for getting involved in WMHD, it is still creating awareness of mental health illnesses. To some extent I also agree! But what worries me is whether WMHD is still accomplishing what it set out to.

Today I have scrolled through hundreds of quotes, memes, posters etc. all supporting WMHD. I myself have posted on social media because I do believe this is important! But I can’t help but feel it is just a fashion recently for most. I see people using conditions such as OCD and Bipolar extremely loosely to explain their own behaviours. This is a complete mockery to those who have genuinely been diagnosed with such conditions. It is NOT something to play with! It can make those suffering feel completely devalued and misunderstood. It’s like saying your have the flu when actually you just have a cold, two completely different ends of the spectrum! (I can’t be the only one who gets annoyed by this, right??).

The sad thing about all of this is that there is no way to stop this from happening. We just have to hope one day that the ‘novelty’ of mental illness disappears.

I would absolutely love to hear your own thoughts on WMHD below in the comments!

Love, Hayley x

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depression, Depression in men, mental health

Can males get Postnatal Depression too?

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The simple answer is YES!

For those of you who have read my ‘about me’ section, you will know that my passion is to raise awareness of postnatal depression in men. PND in men is almost unheard of, with people believing that PND can only affect women. However, research has found that up to 1 in 10 new fathers become depressed after having a baby.

“Research has actually found that up to 1 in 10 new fathers become depressed after having a baby.” (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-natal-depression/)

PND in men is sometimes referred to as Paternal Postnatal Depression (PPND). The cause for the onset of PPND is due to an imbalance in hormones, particularly testosterone. However, there are some external causes of PPND.

The external causes of PPND include (but are not limited to):

  • lack of sleep
  • extra stress due to becoming a dad
  • feeling excluded due to the new arrival
  • a poor relationship with the mother
  • lack of support from those around you
  • If the mother of your baby suffers with PND, you are also likely to suffer

The following are symptoms of PPND:

  • feeling overwhelmed and helpless
  • irritability and hostility towards friends and family
  • difficulty in bonding with the baby
  • feeling guilty for a lack of bond with the baby
  • chronic fatigue
  • feeling like you can’t cope
  • lack of interest in the things you used to enjoy
  • feeling sad/crying a lot
  • headaches
  • constant worry about the babies health
  • problems concentrating and making decisions
  • thoughts of self-harm or harming your baby

 

If you believe you or your loved one is suffering with PPND, contact your GP or other health professional for diagnosis and further advice on ways to overcome PPND. The sooner it is treated, the better!

The following are treatments/strategies for PPND:

  • Antidepressants
  • Counselling
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Meditation/mindfulness
  • Support groups

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like some more information on PND/PPND.

Love, Hayley x

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mental health

PND and me – my story

28th November, 2016 | 9:55AM

With my OH and mum stood next to me, I remember looking around the room, eyes blurred from gas and air, trying to come to terms with the fact that I had just become a mum. It was something I’d had 9 months to prepare for, 9 months of wishing away time so that I could have my baby boy in my arms, AND HE WAS FINALLY HERE… so why did I feel so disconnected from my tiny, beautiful newborn baby staring up in to my eyes? Why did I feel emotionless? Why wasn’t I experiencing the supposedly magical moment of holding your baby in your arms for the first time that everyone talks about?! Skin-to-skin with my boy, I asked for someone to take him off of me. I felt absolutely no bond whatsoever.

31st November, 2016 | 5PM

It was finally home time! I was in pain from surgery and tired from the lack of sleep since going in to labour – I couldn’t wait for my home comforts and a nice long soak in the shower! After spending a good 20 minutes trying to fit the car seat in to the car amongst all of the baby boy balloons and birthing bags, we were on our way… at a slow pace of 30mph due to OG’s worrying, doting dad. We sat in silence, holding hands, waiting for the tiniest noise to be reassured that OG was in fact still in his car seat (PHEW!).

Arriving home, I left OG with my OH so that I could take a shower. I stood in that shower feeling absolutely amazed and proud of myself for bringing this tiny human in to the world – I cannot explain just how incredible that feeling is! Having crawled back downstairs, I looked over at my OH with our son in his lap bonding over their first football match together, thinking to myself ‘what did I do to be so, so lucky?!’. I felt an overwhelming amount of love for these two incredible human beings. Life was perfect.

A couple of weeks later…

I laid in the bath, sobbing quietly so that my OH wouldn’t hear. I felt repulsed by my weight gain and stretch marks from the pregnancy. I had gone from being in the best shape of my life, to a saggy skinned, size 14 clothed, tired looking 23 year old. In fact I struggled so much with coming to terms with my new mum bod, that I remember breaking down over my OH accidentally putting my new cream jumper – the only piece of clothing I felt nice in – in the wash with darks. I could see how angry my OH was with himself. He knew.

From this point onwards, I cried to myself on a daily basis. A couple of times my OH caught me, but most of the time I managed to keep these breakdowns to myself. As the months went on, I started to become so disconnected from everyone and everything around me including my son. In fact I resented my son! I didn’t feel any love for him. I blamed OG for my loss of interest in things I enjoyed previously, and I found myself sleeping for hours on end only to wake up and be physically unable to open my eyes.

After a few weeks of passing out on the sofa at 5PM every single night, my OH had clearly started to worry, suggesting I see a doctor. I knew what he was thinking, and I was angry at him for it! See, the thing about PND (and other types of depression) is that you yourself are not aware of these changes happening to you. To me, I was fine.

4 months postpartum…

Having eventually listened to my OH, I’m sat in my doctors office, listening to her tell me I have PND and handing me what felt like hundreds of leaflets and numbers for further information and help. I left that office, with a prescription for antidepressants in my hand, feeling like an absolute failure of a mum. I didn’t deserve to have been blessed with such a beautiful child. I couldn’t cope anymore. I didn’t want to be here.

This was the beginning of my PND journey.

Love, Hayley x

 

 

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