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We have a smallholding!

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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!

Dans

Motherhood

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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.

Dans

Still here

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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.

And down we go

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Well I finally handed in a draft of a chapter of my thesis I have been working on for a while. Most of the Easter weekend was spent on it. Late nights, missed lunches, tears and headaches. So you’d think I’d be happy right, feel a little weight off, feel accomplished? True it was much later than I had wanted to submit it (about a month), true it doesn’t have a discussion yet (waiting to check the content is ok as have changed this chapter a couple times now) and true I did leave out an aspect of the data analysis as I was just sick of it. So it’s not as good as it could be. But something with the supervisors to get feedback and comments on is better than nothing right? I can now prioritise getting in and getting some of my final lab work done, I can prioritise making the slides for and practising a talk I have to give last week, I can move on to my other big results chapter. All good things right? I even learnt how to use a statistical programme that I have been struggling with for the last 3 years. Also good right? I should be feeling pretty darn motivated and happy, shouldn’t I?

But I’m not. I read a couple chapters of my current book last night as a reward (hadn’t done any non-thesis reading for a while) and went to bed feeling as I should. I woke up empty. Like someone had left the tap running overnight and everything within me, that made me me, was gone. I managed to get out of bed for the postman as my husband was in a meeting. I stayed up for about 30 minutes before I returned to bed. I didn’t even sleep just lay and stared at the walls. I’m not even sure I was doing much thinking. I tried again, got out of bed, had a shower and dressed, had breakfast and tea and decided to work on my talk and maybe start on that other results chapter from home rather than go in and do lab work. I got as far as opening powerpoint and checking work emails. Then I realised I had been staring at the walls again for who knows how long. I returned to bed, maybe a nap would reset my brain. Sounds silly but sometimes that does work. I read someone on here saying that they ‘woke up on the wrong side of the bed’ referring to a bad day. And it’s true, I never know how I will be when I wake up. Regardless of the events preceding me falling asleep I can wake up on top of the world or at the bottom of a deep dark pit.

I slept for about 6 hours. I woke up no better. I couldn’t motivate myself into the garden. I managed to clear away dinner from last night and eat some lunch. I wrote the title of my talk. I made tea. Our housemate came home and started on dinner. I did the washing up and tried my best not to cry. Everyone has gone to bed now. I’ve written the text for most of my slides, not even looked at the chapter.

I want to say that I am trying, trying so damn hard to keep it together but it feels empty. If I was trying I would be doing better wouldn’t I? My therapist says I place unrealistic goals on myself and am overly critical when I don’t reach them. I don’t think getting up and staying up and maybe doing some work is unrealistic though. My CBT at the moment is all about challenging my thoughts. So here goes. Current thoughts, feelings associated, rational way of looking at it and how I feel about it now

Thoughts:

I’m lazy, stupid and useless. I hardly do anything in the house. I can’t seem to do this PhD. Better off if I wasn’t here wasting people’s time and taking up resources. I can’t even motivate myself to do the things I like. I am taking no pleasure from food or TV or games. I’m just watching the days of my life slip away. What is the point?

Feelings:

Throat is tight, feels like my chest cavity is caving in, whole body feels heavy, eyes burning, want to run, want to be small, cover myself with soil or blanket or water. Want to throw up.

Rational:

You are depressed, looks like quite severely as you have lost pleasure in even eating. It is going to be harder to do things. You are still doing things in the house just not as much. You cooked dinner the other night, came up with ideas for dinner tonight. You are still taking basic care of yourself. You are still plodding at the PhD, not at the pace you would like but you are doing something with it every day. You have not resorted to harmful coping strategies. Those are all accomplishments. You can be very intelligent at times but the depression affects your concentration. When that is bad you will struggle to do tasks that you can normally do. If you try at the right time you will be able to do well with the PhD. People love you and rely on you. If they do not think you are a waste of their time or resources you cannot override them and say that you are. You are capable of many things when you are not depressed, you manage to maintain a fair amount even when depressed. Be proud of your achievements, however small, and be kind to yourself. This will pass and you make progress again. If the thesis isn’t submitted in June/July then you can’t have the external examiner you were hoping for. Another can be found. If you are still struggling come October then you may be able to negotiate with the university for extra time. If it really cannot be done then you drop out. It is not worth ruining yourself over. You are currently stressed, which is affecting the stomach acid, causing the nausea, anxious which covers most of the physical symptoms and depressed which covers the mental apathy. Take time, be kind, get back on track.

How I feel after looking at it rationally:

A little better about timings of PhD but still like I am letting people down around me, like I’m failing. I feel that if I was really trying I would be able to do it all. So if I’m not doing it all I can’t be trying my hardest. I guess I can go round in circles with the thought challenging. I can challenge the thoughts until I am blue in the face but until I can believe those challenges more than I believe the thoughts I’m stuck. Intellectually I know the challenges are right, but it doesn’t stop the thoughts from telling me that they are just excuses and platitudes designed to make me feel better about myself when the truth is there is nothing at all to feel good about.

I have an appointment with the GP next week and with my therapist this week. I just want to be productive again. Hell even if it’s not with the thesis I could be knitting, brewing, spinning, sewing or gardening. I could even be doing laundry, cleaning and cooking but I’ve no desire for any of things I usually find joy and self worth in. Horseriding tomorrow night, fingers crossed that can help me shake this mood a little. Another day at home tomorrow to finish talk and start on chapter then work Thursday and Friday with supervisor ┬ámeeting last thing Fri. There is still time to bring this week around. Maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up on the right side of bed.

I leave you with a gif that describes me today perfectly.

Image

The journey so far – Mental Health Problems

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Well here goes.

 

Well I have had this blog for a while now and touched on a a few aspects as I said I would in the first post, but I’ve yet to really mention my mental health. I wasn’t sure how to go about it without making it depressing. I’m struggling at the moment now so I figure it is as good a time as any.

I had been diagnosed a few years back (wow just thought about it and it’s more than a few years back, about 6 years ago). I was told then that I had Type 2 Rapid Cycling Bipolar. Later I was told that it was more like ultra, ultra rapid cycling. I can never do anything straight forward. My moods are rarely straight forward, at bad times it can be that I can only tell what my mood is based on if I am crying or laughing.

I get deep aching depressions, have battled with self-harm, can be plagued with suicidal thoughts, anxiety is common, I can be too scared to leave my bed, far less be around other people. I can be angry, irritable and irrational, the violence has thankfully been low, I don’t think I have ever hurt anyone other than myself, but have been known to throw things. I can be irresponsible, take risks I shouldn’t, spend money I don’t have. I can also be so happy, so in tune with the world around me, productive, caring, giving. I can feel so full of life that I can’t stop moving or talking. I make plans, so many plans and they all need starting on right this minute, this second. My husband is very practical and early on in our relationship he would always counter my ‘I’m gonna give it 200%’ with the statement that it would be impossible as 100% is the maximum, it’s not possible to give more. After a few years of knowing me he accepts that I do in fact give more than 100%, but maintains that it is not possible and uses that as an explanation for my crashes. I am just so full of energy that I just do and do and do.

I go though all those emotions, which many people probably do, but I can go through most of these emotions in one day, on a bad day I’ll go through them several times. At my most recent appointment with a psychiatrist he suggested I may have something called emotionally unstable disorder. I laughed, I hadn’t heard of it before but it sounded apt. He listed off the traits and my husband and I could only nod (my husband now accompanies me to my psychiatry appointments, I never tend to give a balanced view of things, always focusing from the standpoint of my current emotions). Got home and googled, it’s actually Borderline Personality Disorder. That I had heard of. It had been suggested to me many years ago, it had also been the outcome of an assessment I had back in 2010. I had dismissed it then, much as I did the Bipolar diagnosis when I first got it.

I mean depression is one thing but Bipolar and BPD? Those are like seriously crazy people right? Unhinged? I think I was *that* bad, and come on, I mean what you call me up is just me being happy and productive. So what if I talk so fast I scare you, so what if you think I’m a little out of control. I am having fun, is that not allowed, must it suddenly mean I’m even more crazy if I’m not depressed and suicidal all the time?

That was pretty much my thought process on the bipolar diagnosis. In time, and with reading I came to accept it. Took a little comfort in there being a name for it, it summed me up pretty well apart from the lack of psychosis and the ultra, ultra rapid swings in mood. Some psychiatrists don’t accept that ultra rapid cycling bipolar is a thing. My psychiatrist said maybe the short duration of my highs is what protected me from developing psychosis, my highs don’t get enough time to build to that level. The BPD does fit me better. Maybe that is the issue maybe ultra rapid cycling bipolar crosses over into the BPD in terms of symptoms.

I think I will come to terms with the BPD diagnosis. Over the last year I have been made to see how much my mental health, illness, issues, whatever you want to call it affects me and even more so those around me. That’s been one of the hardest things for me to deal with, my effect on others.

I’ve started CBT, should also be seeing a CPN soon. I’m medicated with antidepressants but tbh at times like these I’m not sure they do much. I do also have SAD and some kind of hormonal linked depression, actually had an artificial menopause for a year that gave me bit of freedom from all this, but that had to stop as I couldn’t tolerate the add-back hormones, made me suicidal again. I’m working on mindfulness. Trying to work with the mood swings, do stuff when I can and when my brain can’t process I do something physical like gardening or cleaning, I can find them quite therapeutic. On the really bad days I can’t get out of bed and I’m working to try and lessen them.

So there you go, my ‘brief’ journey so far of my mental health. Kudos to you if you managed to get all the way through that! Hopefully there won’t be too many dark depressing posts, but part of this blog is to chronicle how I live with this, how I weave the rest of my life around it, so I guess you kind of needed to know about it. I apologise for any typos, spelling errors or general rambling in this post. If I go back and read over I’ll feel embarrassed and change things so this is going out raw.