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I’m nervous writing this post, and to be honest I’m not sure if I will actually even post it once it is written.
Life right now? We are on the smallholding. The house is in relatively good condition. No matter what I say about the bedrooms being small all rooms are actually a good size. We have polytunnels already up and fruit trees producing. The field has good grazing. We have been blessed by seeing more family and friends in the last 4 weeks than we did in months when living in Scotland. The cats seem to have all adjusted well and I have a smiling baby girl.
All seems good. I have so much to be thankful for.
So why am I struggling. Why has my anxiety and OCD cleanliness glared up to the point I’m opening doors with my elbows, avoiding light switches, wearing trainers inside and wanting to throw up when in my bathroom and kitchen. The house is pretty clean by most people’s standards but my skin is crawling. Why do I just want to cry? Why am I struggling to sleep each night even though I’m shattered and my baby is sleeping soundly. Why have I stopped taking care of myself, eating and drinking regularly and have become incapable of taking my medicines regularly if at all? Why are the urges to self harm back with a vengeance?
I finally have things I have wanted for so many years. Starting a family and the ability to get back to the land and become more self sufficient.
So why am I falling apart?
I am hoping beyond hope that it is just the cyclical nature of my mental illness. That, like so many other times in my life, I just need to acknowledge this breakdown and shelter in the care of my husband until this cycle passes.
Or maybe it’s the return of the hormones after having a baby. My breakdowns have often coincided with hormones to the point that once a month I would get suicidal like clockwork. Maybe in a week or so this will have passed. Maybe I should go back on the pill to control the hormones. I want so much to be as drug free as possible and natural but maybe natural me is no good.
What I really really hope is that I’m not feeling this way, despite all the good in my life, because I am in fact the spoilt, ungrateful, whiney child that my head is screaming that I am.
It’s 5 o’clock in the morning and I’m waiting for Pip to be a little deeper asleep before I put her down.
We did it. We’re living on a smallholding!
The move was hellish. Packing with a 9/10 week old is nigh on impossible. My husband had to take more time off than we had hoped, I think Christmas time will be hard as virtually no holiday left for him. There was lots of DIY to do to do to get the house presentable. Didn’t get it all done so he may be travelling back to do it.
Even with hubby’s extra time off he ended up not sleeping the night before and I slept very little. We were still packing boxes when the vans pulled up. Yep vans multiple as we have far too much stuff.
The drive down was exhausting, one baby, 3 cats and a dozen fish tank inhabitants and a 5 and a half hour journey that took 8 hours. The delay was partly due to driving slower for all the occupants, partly stopping every two hours to take Pip out of her car seat and largely due to A1 overnight roadworks/diversions.
But we did it. Pulled up at the new house at 3 am with all occupants alive and well.
It’s pretty much been nonstop since then. Still surrounded by boxes, still cleaning to do, things to buy, repairs to do, so much work to do outside and to figure out how things work. But we’re here, on a smallholding, ready to change the way we live.
More updates soon, including a new blog dedicated to the smallholding, but right now Pip is ready to put down and there’s a few more hours of sleep I can get before it is all go again.
I’ve been quiet on here but with very good reason. Alongside feeding Pip on demand we have bought a smallholding and are in the process of selling our house. We get the keys on Monday and I get to see it for the first time! Hubby went to view during the pregnancy when I was no longer able to travel.
I have to admit to being nervous as hell. There’s an AOC on the property and although we have talked to the council and they are happy with our plans I’m a little terrified that it won’t work out. We need me to be working on the land full time and make it successful. With my track record I have concerns, but I’ve always pulled through when animals are concerned. There’s also the hope that being outside, getting exercise, growing food and interacting with animals will help my mental and physical health.
It’s also not much land, 2.5 acres, of which about 1 acre is a fenced paddock. Large polytunnel, smaller polytunnel and a shade tunnel. Plan is sheep for meat and wool and skins, chickens for meat and eggs, currants for wine and productive fruit trees and veg. Hoping for veg/fruit boxes. Also very keen on bees for honey and increasing productivity of the fruit/veg. Further down the line would love goats and pigs but we’ll see. Trying to make sure we learn to crawl before we even think about walking.
Pip seems to finally be full and wind has settled so back to the packing grind for me!
Well I am a mother!
My little girl hung on for as long as she could in there. Past her due date, past curries and sex and pineapple and walks and bouncing on a ball. Past a pessary, broken waters and an oxytocin drip. She didn’t manage to out stubborn the emergency c-section though. Although at that point I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had said she was clinging to the walls as they pulled her out!
I did do the hypnobirthing in a form in the end and found it helpful but I did take the codiene after the pessary kicked in and then again after the drip kicked in. Had a shot of morphine after the drip too. Not quite the pain relief free birth I had wanted but the going with the body went out of the window a bit when it was clear my body was not wanting to give birth.
At the end of the day though (well a very long 28 hour day), my little girl was born weighing 8 lbs 6oz and perfectly healthy. I lost a lot of blood and then aggravated my tail bone by trying to the splits in DVT stockings, but otherwise was fine. Healthy baby and healthy mum were always the aim.
My biggest concern about being induced and about birth in general was being in the hospital on my own. I don’t do well in hospitals. The staff at my hospital were, for the most part, great. They managed to find a private room for us each night before and after the birth so that my husband could stay with me. I still didn’t sleep much in there at all, despite being in 4 days in total, but I felt calmer in those waking hours. I managed to get through my hospital stay with only 2 panic attacks. One during labour and one at day 2. Much better than I had hoped for.
Post-natal depression was my other big concern and I was very worried a few days after we came home, but touch wood it seems to have calmed down in the last few weeks (she was 5 weeks old yesterday). I am hoping it stays that way and I just get sad with the normal sleep deprivation like most mothers!
My mood has gone down hill a bit in the last week but I think that relates to my little girl (I’m gonna call her Pip in here) going into a Pavlik harness. They picked up on a displaced hip on day 2. She went for her hip scan last Thurs at 4 weeks old and they said the right one is badly displaced the left one isn’t quite right but will be helped with the harness. Most babies are in 6-12 weeks but they said with her hips we are looking at 12 weeks. It’s quite restrictive, cuddling is harder, we can’t remove it at all and so baths are out and no clothes fit. It’s been quite the adjustment even though I knew it was coming. Hoping I come to terms with it as time goes on, it’s only for 12 weeks and in just over a weeks time we get to take it off for a quick bath when they adjust the straps. I’ll do a whole post about it soon.
Right I think that’s all from me for now.
I’m still here. Still fumbling my way through.
I am hoping more updates will follow soon, updates on brewing, on our garden, on our plans to move South, on knitting and the million things in between.
Today though my mind is firmly on baby. I said back at the start of the year that I was pregnant, and briefly mentioned it in my last post. Baby is tucked up still despite us being past our due date. Everything is ready and waiting for her arrival so I am twiddling my thumbs.
I had really thought, based on my previous way of talking about everything so openly here and previously on my livejournal, that I would be posting all the way through this pregnancy. I would be writing about my increasing bump, stretch marks, the ever debilitating SPD, hypnobirthing,my quest into cloth nappies, all of it. But yet I’ve been quiet as a mouse.
I’ve not spoken to many people about baby and pregnancy and I have no idea why. I am hoping that this will fade once baby is here and I just want to shout to the rooftops about her to everyone who passes.
For now I will continue my wait, my time of zwischen as it is put in a good article a friend sent me. But I wanted to come here and post, to open up the route for me to come back after baby is here. Not much of a post, but something I needed to do.
You know the thing I hate most about my mental health? The irrationality. When you’re sitting and crying and someone is asking you to help them understand but you just can’t, because you don’t understand it yourself.
It’s my birthday today. It’s the one day of the year that I can pretty much guarantee year on year that I will be depressed. I’ve tried to understand this birthday related depression over the years, I really really have, but I just don’t.
I will sit and cry. I will sob. I will be filled with urges to self harm and/or thoughts of suicidal idealisation. I’ll go off my food. I will happily stay in bed all day. I will get irrationally angry when people wish me happy birthday. Yet I don’t have a good reason why.
I know when I was younger, not sure how much younger but long before my first suicide attempt, possibly before my self harm started, I would try to comfort myself when the depression was bad. My choice of comfort was the knowledge that it would all end in death. I could take control of that in my life, decide when I die and free myself from it all. I could make things better. I know the old argument of ‘death isn’t better, it is nothing’, but to me nothing was a whole lot more attractive than the hell I was living and that I believed I had been living for oh so long. At some point, probably a birthday when I had seen another year pass by, I told myself that I wouldn’t live to my 16th birthday. I would kill myself before then I promised myself. When it got bad I would comfort myself with that promise, that it would all be over soon and the end was in sight.
My 16th came and went and I lived on. I think it was then that I stepped up plans. Four or five months after my 16th, on a day when I didn’t feel depressed, actually felt quite happy, I had my first suicide attempt. People don’t seem to believe that I wasn’t depressed that day but I honestly wasn’t. When you’ve been depressed for so long and you know that even good days are short lived, you can make that kind of decision on a good day and that is what I chose to do. I wanted to leave this world happy rather than depressed. Suffice to say I stayed in this world, although I am told it was very close, my closest to success to date. I was devastated and started planning my next attempt. Things did not get better for me for a long long while. Years of self-harm and two more suicide attempts that required a trip to A&E followed, along with so many antidepressants that I forget now which ones I have tried.
I’m 14 years on from that suicide attempt now, 19 years on from when I first knew that I was depressed. Life has changed a lot in those years. I haven’t self harmed in 7 months, at least not in terms of cutting, I’m currently unmedicated, I have completed a BSc, MSc and written my PhD thesis, I am a wife in a relationship that is 11 years old, I am a homeowner and I am 23 weeks pregnant with my first child. I really am in a good place in life right now. I have learnt so much more about my mental health and how to cope with it. My anger is in check most of the time and I look after myself as well as others.
So why is it, on my birthday, even though things are going well I am suddenly swamped with thoughts that I would be better off dead, lovely images in my head of all the ways I can achieve that death and urges to self harm that are so strong I have to physically stop what I am doing, grit my teeth and move myself away from whatever I am near? Crying all day, too scared to see people and petrified of my husband going to the shops because I do not feel safe being left alone?
When life is going well why does my birthday still trigger these feelings? The only thing I can think is that it is at least partly due to the aspect of a birthday in that ‘another year has gone by’. When I remember that another year has gone I remember that so many have gone already, I have survived through so many, and although not all of those years were dominated by mental illness they have all been tainted by it. Every year I struggle. Every year there are instances where I watch as my mental health wears me down, scares me and makes me think that this is the year I will lose to it. Every year there are times where I watch as my mental health causes me to lash out and hurt those around me. Every year there is another event that I will forever remember because I am so ashamed of my own actions.
Yes every year I get through all of those things. Every year is a year where I have survived my mental health, where I have tried to rebuild the bridges that my mental health caused me to damage, where I have achieved things I am so proud of. And maybe if that was it I would be ok. Maybe I could look at all the bad that has gone, weigh it against the good, hold my head up high saying ‘I’m a survivor’ and celebrate my success at being where I am. But it’s not.
I think I get the depressed feelings and urge to self harm and thoughts of suicide on my birthday now for the same reason I did when I made that stupid promise to myself. I feel like I have been living hell for oh so long. I didn’t know how long it could last then, I had only been ill for a few years and already it seemed like it was too much to cope with. Now, well now I have lived with my mental illness for so much longer. Nearly two decades. I really do think if that was it I could be ok with today though. But that isn’t all there is.
Back then, when I made that promise to myself, there was an out. There was a way to end it all. I haven’t had a suicide attempt in nearly 8 years and I’m not sure I will ever again have a pre-meditated one (I can’t speak for what happens in a impulsive moment – that will forever remain a danger for me). I really seem to have moved to the point where I no longer see planning to end my life as an option. ‘Hurrah!’ I hear you say, that is great progress right? But on days like today it is deeply depressing. I know that an imminent death is not an option, but I also know that medication is not an option (been told so by my psychiatrist), I also know (through having done enough of it) that CBT and other talk therapy is also not something that will make me better. This is it, this is me. I will continue year on year to fight my mental health, I will hurt those around me, I will be ashamed by my own actions, this is the rest of my life. There will be good things too, amazing things, but I will not stop having urges to self harm, I will not shake the self hate and disgust I so often feel, I will not stop having intrusive thoughts of suicide. And that thought, it is exhausting, it is depressing, it is soul crushing.
Fighting for so many years already and knowing I won’t stop for the rest of my life is just too much to think about and yet birthdays remind me of this.
The real kicker is that yesterday I was ok. Tomorrow I will be ok. It is just today. It is only day that I stop and see the long road behind and the even longer (hopefully) road ahead and just cannot walk any further. As quickly as it came these feelings came this morning they will be gone tomorrow. It’s so irrational. How do you explain that what has you sobbing and scared today won’t affect you tomorrow? My husband wanted so much to do fun things on my birthday to make me feel better but all of it is wasted on this day. Celebrations on other days can be appreciated but nothing seems to be able to penetrate my mind today. If I wasn’t pregnant I would have spent today in bed, taking my diazepam and not eating, ignoring the world until tomorrow. It really is like a 24 hour mind bug and that is surprisingly hard to explain to people.
So 2015, it’s good to meet you. There is so much that I would like from you that I feel it would impossible for it all to happen.
I’ll try and start with the most important.
I would like to have a healthy baby in June, hopefully following a pregnancy and birth that doesn’t put me off for life. If we can do this 2015 I think you will go down in my life history as being awesome, nothing else required.
I would like to survive my viva, get through my corrections and graduate. I actually feel hopeful about this. I am pretty sure that this will happen ok. If we can then writing a couple of papers would be quite nice.
I turn 30 in February. Feb is always a hard month for me, my SAD is in full swing and I find birthdays depressing. It would be really nice to just celebrate this birthday. As a bit of a babymoon (last holiday without baby), a celebration of PhD finishing, and a celebration of my birthday my husband and I are hoping to go off for a long weekend to a sunny place, not sure where yet but somewhere new. Just to relax and be together. I don’t know if it will happen, it will depend on when the viva is and how the pregnancy is going, but it would be great.
Now that the thesis is out of the way I would like to move in 2015, find our ‘forever home’ and get settled, hopefully before baby is born. Again I have no idea if it’ll happen but it would be nice.
I would also like, with the free time I have to connect again. I have felt a real disconnect from everything recently. I would like to knit and brew and bake. I would like to grow food and cook. I would like to play boardgames again, I miss it. I would like to read more books, so many books to be read. I would love to learn how to sew. I hope that 2015 will see me using my hands and getting crafty again!
I would like to get into shape, sitting and writing a thesis does not make for a healthy body! I would like to maintain the health I have and build on it. That includes my mental health.
As I said at the top. So much that I would like from 2015. For now I sit here with my baby in my belly, my cats around me, a pregnant friend next to me and the sounds of my husband and our friend playing boardgames. You are off to a good start 2015. I raise my glass to you and welcome you!