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A mothers Loneliness

I am lying in bed wondering when the next feed will be.  It is usually around this time so it feels almost pointless to go to sleep before he wakes.  It's in these moments I dare to let my thoughts loose.  The ones I have been too busy all day with my baby to listen to.  It's in these moments I hold back the tears and try to push the welling grief down.  I am led right next to my husband, he is sleeping, and although I could just put my hand out and touch him - he feels further away than ever.I am lying here knowing I am lonelier than ever. My baby is asleep in the adjoining room, he has a cold and I can hear his nose whistling as he sleeps soundly.  In that room is my whole heart, my reason for going on, my reason for living.I have never had many friends, I came from a military family so we moved so many times friendships were fleeting and even in my adult life I have also remained nomadic! Maybe it's a learnt behaviour, not holding onto friendships because I always leave…

Becoming a Bipolar Mum: Feel the fear and do it anyway

This blog is not an easy one to write because it bears a part of my personality that sometimes others can't accept or understand.  I have bipolar disorder and have had that diagnosis for several years and although I am good with that when I made the decision to have a baby it caused me such inner turmoil. 

On the one hand I felt my husband and I had so much love to give a child and that we were ready to start a family and my natural mother instinct was making me broodier by the day!  On the other hand I was crippled with fear; what if I couldn't cope with a baby? What if I got ill and they take my baby away from me? What if my child grew up resenting me for the illness that sometimes darkened my world? What if my child had bipolar too? Could I forgive myself if they felt the depths of depression like me? The truth was nobody could answer these questions and so I had to do some soul searching and I decided rightly or wrongly that to live a life of what if's was not healthy and it was time to do just that - live life!

The first challenge was coming off my medication. I like to think of my bipolar on medication like a child's mini rollercoaster- you know the ones with the cars and fire engines that go round a mini circuit with the odd up and down but quite subdued. Well off my medication it's more like the Big One at Blackpool (Sorry I am a northern chick it's first one that came into my mind) the highs are brief and the drop that follows is rapid and frightening.

So it took all my strength to try and read the warning signs and initiate self care plans which for me included walking, mindfulness, exercising and plenty of sleep. Sometimes it worked and sometimes I would sob my heart out because the sadness I felt was all consuming.
Depression is like that it darkens all that should be light, there is no joy left and everything you once loved feels like it is fading into the distance and you haven't got the energy to reach out for it.
Those days are tough and I found it hard to leave my bed it felt like nothing would go right for us and each failed attempt at conceiving was harder to take.

Then it happened! The line appeared in the window - we were going to have a baby.  The joy I felt was beyond words. I felt like I was floating for days. 

But despite my joy it didn't take long for the doubts to slowly start building. That is what bipolar depression does; it creeps in to those happy moments and starts to stain their purity with fear and anxiety to distort their appearance until you no longer know whether that moment is a good one or bad.  It made me doubt my credentials as a wife and mother-to-be and I started to lose control of the anxiety. As if to consolidate my mental unease my body physically reacted to the pregnancy too as I started with hyperemisis. I was only 5 weeks along when the constant retching and vomiting had me unable to eat or drink and I had to be admitted to hospital to get fluids in me. (Hyperemisis is so awful it can't simply be a side note and so I will perhaps do another blog about it soon).  The sickness was so severe I was housebound for 4 months living on ice cubes and apple as I wasted away.  It is safe to say that being unable to work, home alone and unbearably sick was not good for my mental health and my depression overtook me. The below picture shows how unwell I was - I was trying on a dress for a family wedding and the movement made me hurl all day.

 In my desperation I felt like my existence was futile and the thoughts that grew were starting to edge towards wanting to end my life.  I am aware it will sound to many a drastic leap from feeling low to wanting to no longer live but unfortunately that is how bipolar affects me. My words cannot do justice to that feeling - it seemed to make so much sense at the time but for one thing - that little baby in my tummy. I couldn't cause harm to that tiny innocent life I already loved so much. The conflict in my thoughts tore me apart so I sought help.  I was seen by a local charity and they gave me the hope to carry on and helped me to relax and embrace mindfulness meditation.  I learnt to use a technique called 7/11 breathing which triggers your body to calm and occupies the mind.  I practiced daily and I learnt to accept the sickness and survive it. I was monitored by a consultant throughout The pregnancy and found out I never had to come off my medication as it is thought to be one of the safest bipolar medications available for pregnant women.  So in the third trimester I went back on a low dose.  I had reservations as I was worried about the effect on my baby- but they monitored me every 2 weeks and finally my mood stabilised. During this time there had become another issue; I had started with psychosis, I believed I saw figures that others could not.  If there is one thing in my life that absolutely terrifies me it is seeing these demon like figures.  Although my logical mind accepts it's my brain skipping, a short circuit for a moment of time there is always that doubt, that seed of doubt, that given time grows. It spreads like a weed and makes me believe that I am being haunted by demons and they are there to bring sadness and suffering.  Writing this with a well mind currently, I can barely believe this happened to me, it sounds ridiculous, but at the time it was as real as the ground I walk on. It is relatively easily managed, the dose of medication was altered and I was closely monitored for post natal depression and post partum psychosis.  I have had minor bouts of both since Charlie was born but to date I have stayed really well with lots of support.  I have had days where coping has been really hard, where the tears have fallen and I have wanted to curl up in a ball and just disappear but it's fleeting moments and I think perhaps all new mums have those moments. I still live in fear of the next low or a relapse but I try to put on a smile on my face when I feel it coming for Charlie and just keep going.  I also surround myself with support from the mental health team, a good friend who helps me practice mindfulness and my amazing family.  Between us all we do it! All those fears that could have stopped me are no more than thoughts they are not real and they are not facts. Charlie won't be defined by my bipolar because I am not. He won't resent it or me because he is being brought up in a house where is loved and happy.  I will take my medication and practice self care and I will try and stay well.  Yes I have bipolar but I am going to be an amazing mother regardless!


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