Issues in the school playground… (written a few weeks ago)


So I have spent most of my morning crying.. Over some bitch in the school playground. Yes I am 31 years old and I am crying over the behaviour of another school mum.. Screams ‘pathetic’ doesn’t it? Well it is, but my idiot brain and emotions won’t let me calm down. My make up is ruined, (the one morning I bother putting some on and this melted mascara is stinging my eyes making everything 1000 times worse), puffy bloodshot eyes, and snot streaming from my face like I am full of a really terrible cold, I am sobbing and borderline hyperventilating like a 5 year old child who needs to just be held. 

Screw her.. Screw that one who made me feel like I did when I was 6 and being called names in the playground for having a birthmark on my forehead. Children are so cruel – no, corrected, people are so cruel. 
Playground gangs and groups are lovely when everyone is friends, organising mum’s wine nights and play dates (for the kids – no kinkiness) but when one school mum decides for no reason that she doesn’t like another, and she forms a little playground alliance against that one person (me) it makes the school drop off and pick up unbearable. This morning was one of those occasions. I’m stood there chatting. She approaches. All backs are suddenly turned and I am somehow out of the circle twiddling my thumbs. It was just one of the moments you wish the ground would swallow you whole, no one would notice anyway. 
I’m not lowering myself to bad mouth her but I just don’t get it. I obviously don’t know this game of playground politics it’s like some sick musical and I don’t know the taunting songs they are all singing. 
There is no point to this post I just needed to vent. At least it’s Friday and I don’t need to visit the playground for another 2 whole days. Over and out.

(Photo: At least these two munchkins make me happy 😊) 

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So… it’s been over a year since I posted…


So sorry for my absence, as my regular readers will know I have had the toughest time mentally since having Emily. 

I am on the mend though, the dark cloud has lifted and I can see clearly through the fog. Thank you so much for all of your comments, inbox messages, Tweets and everything else you lovely lot. And thanks to Milton who shared my first PND post which got 30,000 views! 

I have more to say but I just wanted to write a post to touch base. 

Peace out mummys, Lou x

(Photo taken yesterday by the eldest pink one – flattering I know 😂) 

My husband is struggling with the fact I have Post natal depression #PND


  
My best friend had some bad news recently so me and my other bestie went to visit her on Saturday, a surprise visit. It was just wonderful to see her face light up. We had a proper fun day – laser quest, go karting, meal out, drinks and bingo – yes bingo on a Saturday night (don’t ask).

It was an early start for me, getting up at 6.30am to get myself showered, the kids bathed and ready for the day, breakfast, Jenny all ready for ballet, spare clothes put out, changing bag packed, sorting everyone’s meals for the rest of the day, writing Emily’s routine down, then sorting myself, packing snacks, drinks for me and Alex.. My husband had the children from 9am until we got back at midnight. It was a long, heartbreaking day but I’m so glad we went. 

When I got back Emily woke up, I was so tired and the baby waking up was the last thing I needed, but I dealt with her and stayed up with her until she settled about 2am (even though the husband was up anyway watching prison break) – I suppose he had done his fair share of childcare for the day. 

The next morning I could just feel the tiredness and irritability creep in. The previous day had wiped me out. The 6 hours on the road, the stress and upset, keeping overly happy and upbeat, I felt like making sure everyone was enjoying themselves was my number one task and I didn’t realise what an emotional strain it was.. I was plain and simply exhausted. I cancelled plans with friends, and just planned on staying in and then go out for Sunday lunch somewhere as a late celebration of Emilys 1st birthday. Jenny had been invited to a friends so I got her ready to go and she left for the afternoon. 

My husband went to church in the morning, then went straight out afterwards to go to play squash then relax at the gym and in the hydrotherapy pool. He came back 10 minutes before we were due to leave for the meal but he still needed to shower. This immediately got me on edge as I hate being late for things, in retaliation of me being annoyed at his tardiness he pointed out that I hadn’t sorted a pile of washing from the drier which also got my back up.. And he also said that he looked after the kids all by himself yesterday and he actually managed to keep the house clean and tidy, which I took as a dig at me. All in all, 
I felt stressed, exhausted and upset. I felt useless, rushed for time and under appreciated. 

We fell out. I snapped at him, he snapped back and it turned in to a full blown argument about my post natal depression. He said, “I’m not pussy-footing around you any more, you need some tough love, I’m not walking on eggshells, it’s just not me. I don’t understand you – why can’t you just find something to be happy about? There are plenty of people worse off than you, do you not like your life? You have it easy compared to loads of other people! And you’re talking about wanting another baby?! You need to do some exercise, get happy! Stop moping – these therapists are just being too nice to you, I’m sick of it, it’s not working you need tough love.” 
That helped. I feel much better – having my husband shout at me in the car was one of the lowest points of this shitty PND journey.

What I need is my husband to be understanding, I need a little tact and sensitivity. I need for him to understand that I’m anxious and on edge sometimes and not to add extra stress on to my plate and make me feel worse for not completing every task and nit-picking over the tiny things. 

Although we ended up making friends, I couldn’t shake his words.

That night he showed the usual signs of wanting to ‘get some’ and I said I’d like some cuddles in bed (which could possibly lead to something else but I really just wanted to be held and feel loved before anything else could happen). He said he would rather stay down stairs and watch prison break. I went to bed alone.

The next morning he wouldn’t get up with the kids, he did his usual of staying in bed until 8.50am (the latest he can stay in bed until he has to leave to drop Jenny off at school). When he came downstairs I quizzed him about all of the snack cupboard being eaten (crisps, dime bars, Galaxy, haribo, cake and biscuits) and he said “well if there was something worth coming to bed for maybe I wouldn’t stay up late”. Then he mentioned that he felt like we were “friends who lived together” because we haven’t been intimate in a week.
I am struggling so badly right now. I can’t believe my own husband can talk to me like that. I am beyond hurt. I know it can’t be easy for him with me having my moments of panic and stress but it doesn’t excuse this. 

I feel like I am juggling 20 juggling balls high in the air, one ball may represent a chore I need to do, one ball may represent a nappy change or a bottle feed, hanging up washing, loading the dishwasher or doing the school run. It’s taking all of my concentration to keep them all high up there, in order and not falling. Then something knocks me, like being rushed, a time limit, the husband having a go at me or picking apart the jobs that I have done or haven’t had time to do yet and I drop one of the balls but instead of just one ball dropping, they all come crashing down and I stop in my tracks and cannot function. Although my brain is screaming at me to keep going and act like a normal human being my body can’t and I end up staring at the wall like a deranged person.

I want to feel normal again.. Although I can feel the post natal depression cloud lifting I still have moments of absolute panic and severe anxiety. In these moments I feel like I have drunk 20 cups of coffee and the caffeine is coursing through my veins and I am shaky and panicking. 

Postnatal depression is getting the better of me today. #pnd         


Today is a bad day. I tell myself this over and over again in a vain attempt to calm myself down and slow my heart so it isn’t going to pound right out of my chest. If I sit here trying to push those feelings to one side and pretend to be normal then my panicked state gets worse. My head is going a million miles an hour and is setting me off into a spin.

 
Currently I am sat in the back of the car travelling the 2 hours it takes to get to Leeds to visit my husbands brother, wife and new baby. We are two and a half hours late setting off. 
I panicked all morning. It started with Emily being up several times in the night. She is now 11 months old and is teething. She is constantly whimpering, and is clingy to the point that if I leave the room she cannot cope and absolutely melts down like her whole world has ended. I feel like I need to have a proper Emily-style melt down. 

When the morning came, my husband decided that he needed an extra 10 minutes in bed. Diddums that he is tired after staying up till 2am watching the end of season 1 of Prison Break. 
His extra 10 minutes turned into an hour, all the while I was stressing out, bathing both the children, sorting clothes to pack for our overnight visit to Leeds, trying to find time to give the baby a breastfeed, making up a bottle instead, tiding up after my whirlwind of a 5 year old daughter, giving the children breakfast, negotiating what the baby and 5 year old want to eat – and what the baby would rather throw at me or on the floor, answering about fifty questions the 5 year old has an various subjects including asking why buddy our elf in the shelf hasn’t been collected by Santa yet – damn you buddy!!! Packing the changing bag, Putting washing on and the drier on, all while Lord muck was enjoying his snoozing.

I felt with every minute my stress levels rise until I actually started growling. I was snapping at everyone, I had zero patience and it took all of my energy not to just sit there in the corner amongst the chaos and rock back and forth staring at the wall like the unhinged person I know is lurking under my skin. When the husband finally surfaced he made fun of my stressed state by saying “chillllll winstonnnn” in a Jamaican accent which made my mental state probably around about a million per cent worse. 

I don’t actually know how I got through the morning. I don’t know how the kids are dressed, how they are clean, I’m pretty sure we have missed out lunch completely. I did a wash load then just left in on the carpet next to the clothes maid then in the last 30 seconds before we left I remembered about it, scrabbled to put it all out, still growling as I’m being hurried out of the door. 

It’s like I have been up 5 hours and I haven’t stopped for a rest, yet I have got things done that would usually (on a good day) have taken me about an hour and a half. I have been rushed by the husband for the last hour with little useful help from him at all. I am complaining I know, but I have even said to him today that I feel like a single parent getting everything done on my own with no help. This would usually be ok and I am usually a competent and organised person but my head isn’t on straight today. Knowing we have a time that we have to leave by, being rushed, having very little help and packing for a night away while dealing with a curious 5 year old who asks endless questions, and a teething baby who has done two severe poop explosions this morning already isn’t a great combination. Today is a bad day. 
I’m sat in the car wondering what I actually packed in our overnight bag because as I am not thinking straight at all I have a sneaking suspicion that when we unpack the bag will be full of dirty washing from the laundry basket, wet towels or clothes from the charity shop pile. Or plates. Yes, just a pile of crockery I have probably packed instead of clothes. I didn’t hear the bag clang and rattle but I wouldn’t put any of this past me I am fucking useless and my brain will not perform simple tasks, I am overwhelmed. I am broken. I am still growling. My throat hurts.

Postnatal Depression. Today has been really bad day. (PND and me)


Today is a bad day. My post natal depression cloud has lingered and I can’t shake the awful feeling it leaves inside me. My head aches, my body is heavy and my eyes are burning. I am irritable and feel detached, lost, isolated and anxious. 

I don’t want to go to bloody baby group. 

I enjoyed it last Tuesday but today is a bad day. I don’t want to go. I haven’t slept at all because my 8 month old baby just must be allergic to keeping her eyes closed during the night time for longer than 2 hours at a time. At 3.38am she decided to have a screaming fit and at 5.24am I was so delirious I ended up breastfeeding her at the end of my other daughter’s bed because I was so dizzy I actually bounced off the doorframe from our bedroom when I went to go to see to her, the floors felt wonky like my house was being tipped on its side. My world still feels like this.

In the light of day when ‘morning’ arrives and everyone gets up for school I just know it is going to be a bad day. I feel my stomach churning and getting all tight and knotted. I feel the anger and emptiness all at once rush at me, bubbling up to my throat then ebb away, disappearing for a few moments of which I have clarity and pour my 5 year old a bowl of cereal. Again the numbness creeps in and Jenny looks at me and asks if I’m ok. I am not. I wonder what I did to make her ask, I feel all panicked and paranoid that I may be giving the PND game away to my little princess. “Mummy’s fine” I smile, and respond automatically, I don’t actually recall my brain requesting my mouth move and those words come out. The anger bubbles. 

Jenny skips off to school with her daddy, it’s 9am and I am not dressed, neither is Emily. The house is a mess and the sheer magnitude of what I have to do before I leave for baby group (in 15 minutes) is overwhelming. In my mind I’m imagining each chore stacking one of top of each other until there is so many that they all come crashing down on me and in that moment I crumble. Rabbit in the headlights. My brain is screaming at me to pull myself together, make a list. 1. Make husband lunch to take to work. Ok I can do this. Muddle through. TWENTY minutes later I have prepared him a lunch. 2. Change Emily. 3. Get dressed. 4. Hang washing up. 5. Brush hair, teeth, put make up on, deodorant, perfume, pack changing bag, put Emily in the pram. 

By 10am I am almost ready to leave, I tell my husband I don’t want to go. He says it is good for me to go and I should go if only for an hour. Really he means that it gets me out of the house and Emily gets to play with new toys, it pushes me out of my comfort zone and doesn’t let my anxiety get the better of me. 

I know all of this yet I still drag my heels even walking there. I get to the community centre and contemplate just sitting outside for an hour on the bench. I have a full blown argument in my head saying: ‘technically’ you made it to baby group, you were at the building so if anyone asks I was actually there, then my paranoia hits ‘what if one of the mums asks where you were? What if they are watching you out of the window now? What do you look like standing there like a lemon?!’ I go inside. 

It’s not too bad, I drink coffee, talk to other sleep deprived mums about how bloody awful this whole being-a-mum thing is but laugh it off so people just think I’m funny rather than bat shit crazy.

I can’t move for the rest of the day, I am exhausted, tired from the lack of sleep but also from the constant headache, the ringing in my ears, the numbness, the being surrounded by people but feeling so lonely – isolation, and also from the pretending for an hour to other mums that I am a funny, breezy type of mum who has her shit together. I honestly don’t even know how I got to the school to pick Jenny up, or how Emily stayed happy and fed/changed in those few hours.

Dinner somehow magically got made, the children were magically bathed and in their pj’s and the the hubby walks in. He spends a while putting them to bed for me. I finally allow myself to really crumble.

I’m sat on the sofa, jaw clenched, eyes darting across the same square patch of wall, stuck in the same uncomfortable hunched-over seated position as it somehow strangely feels safe, if I move slightly I quickly recoil back to my original position.

My eyes relax a little and start to stare at one patch of wall and glaze over. I am tired, my eyes are burning, I don’t actually know how I am functioning. He comes back downstairs to sit with me, he tells me he doesn’t want me taking the ‘easy way out’ by starting on the medication my doctor prescribed me a few months ago, he knows I, today more than most, want to take them. I want to feel normal. I don’t see it as being a ‘quick fix’ I am insulted. I don’t feel like he understands me at all. 

I also feel failed by the NHS, my counsellor openly admitted she has absolutely no idea what to do with me, she and none of her colleagues at ridge lea hospital have any idea about PND and now our 8 sessions are up I have been signed off her little list and now referred to a group workshop for stress and anxiety starting in NOVEMBER. I have been forgotten about. I have no help. No support. Nothing. Just the medication everyone – apart from my husband – thinks I should take. My husband goes out to a triathlon swim training session at the gym. I stay on the sofa for a while, in the same hunched position.

I decide to get up, actually, only the fact my feet are cold makes me get up. I head towards the shower, strip and stand under the hot flow of water. I’m most content when I’m facing the shower with my head and face fully under the cascading water. I stand there not washing myself, not examining my wobbly bits, not thinking of a list of jobs to do, not wondering if things are ok downstairs, making mental notes of where school uniforms are and what to do for dinner tomorrow night, all of these things rush through my mind in a usual shower. No, today is a bad day, this shower is full of nothingness yet the silence and water noise is deafening. I stand under the shower, now moved to my shoulder, singing/muttering/humming the chorus of ‘I caught mommy kissin’ Santa Claus’ on repeat for probably 15 minutes or so. It is September. 

Today has been a bad day.

  

I have postnatal depression. The woman behind the smiley mask


I knew I was ill when Emily was about five weeks old, my health visitor had visited me that afternoon and after telling me that Emily wasn’t gaining enough weight, yet again, she sent me to the doctors for a check up. She made me feel like I wasn’t producing enough milk for my baby to grow big and strong and that annoyed me to start with, she said she needed to decide if Emily was just slow to gain or if she was failing to thrive. I hate that phrase. I knew she was having enough milk, she gulped it down, I felt my boobs fill from under my armpits, and when I expressed some off I got about 6 oz which is a big feed for a baby her size. I felt angry and offended, I felt watched and like I was already failing as a mother – like the voices in my head weren’t already telling me that. 

I had a dull nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach, a churning panic that I didn’t love her and I should feel something by now. I didn’t. All I feel is nothing. A numb, lost feeling like I didn’t belong. A detached, emotion-less, zombified version of myself I didn’t recognise in the mirror anymore. It’s all in the eyes. It’s not the knackered woman with blood-shot eyes and bags under them that I mean, when you look deeper and end up staring intently, searching, because there has to be more than what you see? But the eyes staring back at me are blank and emotionless, blank, dull and they see life in fuzzy shades of grey, rather than full high definition 1080p sharp picture quality with bright colours. 

  
 

When my health visitor returns a few days later she asks me to fill in a mental health questionnaire, a mood chart with questions like ‘are you feeling hopeless? Do you feel like you would be better off dead?’, I panicked and circled ‘not at all’ like a normal person would, and laughed the questions off as ludicrous and unnecessary when inside I was ashamed and embarrassed that any mother could feel nothing for her baby. 

I feel itchy and uncomfortable in my own skin, I want to tear my face off, that fake smile and ridiculous bubbly laugh I have mastered, it sounds like my old laugh but like I’m playing a recording, not me actually generating the noise. I have a mask on, under the mask I am the sullen, sad, emotionless, half-person but the mask I am holding up has a huge overcompensating smile drawn on, and bright, loving, attentive eyes. I hold whole conversations and act so normally, using deflection methods to keep people from asking anything too much about myself incase the paint of the mask may smudge. When I am back in the comfort of my own home I can’t remember a thing that was said, I panic I may have made a fool of myself and decide to avoid social situations where possible.

At home I was irritable, snappy, and tired. Not just tired because Emily wasn’t sleeping it was different. A tiredness that can’t be cured by sleeping, my whole body aches but I can scope with that it’s the lack of concentration and memory loss which has me puzzled. I am angry and confused by the fact I can’t remember anything, not baby brain, I can’t even picture my baby in my head when I close my eyes. I wouldn’t recognise her in a room full of babies, I can’t even read a trashy gossip mag or scroll through my Facebook newsfeed or text people back. I used to be ‘fun mum’ to Jennifer, constantly chasing her round and playing on our hands and knees, colouring, jigsaws etc but now I am just boring mum, useless mum, fucking idiot mum who just sits on the sofa feeding Emily wishing she was anywhere but here. 

I care for Emily but more like I would a niece. I change Emily’s bum, not because I want to but because I have to, same with feeding, winding, changing her clothes, bathing and all the other mundane, yet essential rubbish us mothers are supposed to absolutely live for doing. I do nothing spontaneously, I don’t really care but the mask I wear daily says I do. The mask says I am a wonderful doting caring mother. I am not.

A week before my eldest daughters 5th birthday when Emily was almost 3 months old I was diagnosed with post natal depression. I went to a weigh in for Emily at the local sure start centre and my health visitor was there. I felt sick to my stomach, I was avoiding eye contact but my mask mustn’t have been on straight as when she looked right at me she must have known. She looked right at me, into my sad, empty eyes and asked if I was ok. I just started crying, like a sobbing, snotty, uncontrollable yet hysterical child. It would have been utterly embarrassing if I had been in my right mind. 

She came to see me the next day where I admitted to lying on the mood assessment and told her a bit of how I was feeling. I felt a little relief from sharing, like someone had just turned the valve, let some steam out and the pressure wasn’t quite so tight on my temples anymore. 

Emily is 6 months old today and I am still completely suffering. Every day is a battle. I wake up and put my mask on, push the ‘autopilot’ button and get through each day acting as I should. Only this method isn’t working for me anymore as this morning I woke to find that half a year has gone by since the birth of my baby girl and because of my ‘mask/autopilot’ method I have zero memory of the last 6 months. It’s like I have moments of clarity and I am puzzled as to how I even got here – like when you are driving and you get to your destination and think ‘how did I even get here? Did I run any red lights? How did I even indicate or drive on the left if I cannot remember any of it?’. I want it all to be clear, but with the clarity comes the sad woman under the smiley mask and I don’t think my friends, family or husband can cope with that pathetic excuse of a person. None of them asked for this. When my husband said ‘I do’ and agreed to try for a baby he didn’t agree to me being an unfit wife or mother. I know marriage vows say ‘in sickness and in health’ and I know I am ill but it’s not a visible illness, I can’t put a plaster on it or put my head in a sling. 

2 weeks ago I visited the GP on advice of my health visitor, I was prescribed some anti depressants but the long list of side effects, combined with me breast feeding, and feeling like even more of a failure by popping a pill is stopping me even collecting the prescription. 
I have tried CBT and got referred by the mental health team to see a counsellor who I am seeing weekly, and my health visitor fortnightly… 
I am trying, I just don’t know how I will ever feel like myself again. I don’t know if I will ever again see in colour. 

 

I had a baby, 6 months ago… Welcome to the world Emily


   

  


I woke up this morning to the realisation that today my baby turned 6 months old and I haven’t even introduced her to my online world yet, no birth announcement, no birth story, no ‘welcome to the world’ blog-post or Tweet for which I can only apologise. I wish that it was because my life just got busy having two little girls running me ragged but sadly this isn’t the case – I will get to the reason of my radio silence in my next blog post.

Emily Edith Mitchell was born on the 20th January 2015 weighing 6 lb11 1/2oz, all natural, no pain killers… In fact, no monitoring, no planned epidural, not even a peek at my specific birth plan the team of cardiologists had spent time planning throughout my entire pregnancy – I actually almost gave birth in a wheelchair in a corridor between the induction bay and the delivery suite. It was scary. I will write my story when I can get my head around it. 6 months on I am still not able to talk about it, anyway this is supposed to be a happy and short announcement post, I will get to the nitty gritty soon enough.

Emily is a tinker, the complete opposite of Jennifer, who by 7 weeks old was sleeping through the night. Emily appears to be allergic to sleep, she is a boobie monster and spends hours grazing on the boob. She is grumpy for absolutely no reason – so much so that Jennifer calls her ‘The Beast’. That being said Jenny loves being a big sister, she turned 5 years old when Emily was just shy of 3 months old so there is a substantial age gap which works for us. Jenny thinks she has her own real-life dolly and says she is lucky to have a little sister, she writes me cards and picks me flowers to say Thank you for giving her a little sister, there is thankfully no resentment towards our new addition at all.

Before I got pregnant we were singing along to Frozen’s song ‘Do you want to build a snowman?’ and she reminded me that Anna and Elsa’s parents die at one point in the song, she looked at me with sad eyes and said, ‘At least Anna and Elsa have each other, If you and daddy die I will have noone’. I almost died inside at that cute yet morbid thought. The point I’m trying to make is that all of her friends have siblings, even her fictional friends, and she saw herself as being different. Now we have given her a sister, even though she is a nightmare baby, Jenny loves her unconditionally and can’t wait for Emily’s milestones, can’t wait to teach her things, to play with her, to show her off and just have Emily in her life.

Anyway, short and sweet I am glad I have written this, I am glad I have formally welcomed Emily to my online family now, I am glad that my writing has come back to me naturally even though my grammar is probably the stuff of teachers nightmares, but I am proud of myself. I will write again very soon and fill you in on the rest, until then wish me luck, the beast has awoken…

Lou xxx