It has been over two years now since I first experienced severe anxiety. Every day I was scared, my heart would start pounding for no reason, I would feel like I was going to faint and my mind would be racing so fast I’d sometimes forget to breathe. The only thoughts I had were negative. I would play out worst case scenarios in my mind, a constant loop of ‘what ifs?’ would torment me and intrusive thoughts would flood my vision and leave me feeling terrified. While all of this was going on I was trying to look after a newborn and a toddler, this felt impossible most days when the majority of my anxiety was triggered by worrying about them constantly. When I was experiencing these feelings, I was convinced I was the only mum out there who was going through this. I felt so alone and scared and I truly believed there was no one else who could possibly understand what I was going through. Well, that’s simply not true. Anxiety is really common, especially amongst new mums, it may effect us all in different ways but you are not the only person to experience it. In this post I am sharing the stories of lots of different mums, to help those of you who may be struggling and feel alone but to also help the families of people with anxiety see what it’s like being a parent with this condition and hopefully find ways to support those around them. View Post
A new year has landed and I’ve got that fresh start and new beginnings feeling going on, are you feeling it too? I am not making any new years resolutions or setting any blog goals though as I never manage to see them through or stick with the new habits so I won’t even be trying in 2019. Besides, I don’t really want to eat less chocolate or start jogging and isn’t that what most peoples new years resolutions are anyway? There are lots of things I want for the year ahead though and one of the main ones is to be happier. Regular readers of my blog will know I have battled with post natal depression and anxiety over the last two years and although I feel I have mostly recovered, there are still the bad mental health days now and then that can leave me feeling overwhelmed, anxious and sad. From now on, whenever I am doubting myself, whenever I feel like a bad mum or that I am not good enough, I am going to have a positive little word with myself and shift back into a happier mind set. If you want to be a happier mum this year too, here are five things to tell yourself every day. View Post
I suck at making Mum friends. There, I’ve said it. I have friends, I have friends that are also mums but the whole going to a baby group or chatting at the school gates and making a new mummy bestie, yea, I suck at that. When Leo was small I met a quite a lot of mums at various groups, being a first time Mum I really valued those conversations with other women who just got how tough having a baby was (plus, it was always useful knowing I could ask someone for a baby wipe or two if a poonami happened and my nappy bag was empty). I was braver then, naïve and not scared of judgement, twenty two and thought making Mum friends was going to be easy. Through some kind of magic I did make a few close friends but I have a very annoying habit of befriending people who will later go on to move miles away. My best mum friend relocated when our boys were one and then when Leo was two I moved away and making new Mum friends at baby groups when I had an extremely chaotic toddler was more than difficult, it was impossible. I spent a long time feeling lonely and that I was a bad Mum because I didn’t have a big group of other Mum friends and their babies around to go to soft play with, ask over for play dates or to invite to the boys birthday parties. I’m out the other side of those feelings now though and I’m here to tell you this, if you don’t have mum friends that does NOT make you a bad Mum. View Post
About a month ago I decided to stop using Instagram. There was a combination of different reasons why I decided the social media app was no longer for me, the biggest one was the impact it was having on my mental health. It might sound strange to those of you who have never suffered with mental health problems, but Instagram was really messing with my head. I felt invisible in the crowd of millions of other users, I felt like no one cared what I had to say and every picture posted that only received a handful of likes made me feel like no one liked me, not just that they disliked the picture. So, I posted a photo of myself and I told my 2000 followers that I’d had enough, that Instagram was making me feel lonely and miserable and for something that is classed a ‘social’ media platform, it was making me feel anything but connected to everyone else. Before I signed out for the last time, I was definitely an Insta addict, I was on my phone ALL.THE.TIME. So, how have I coped without Instagram for the last month? Would I recommend everyone take a social media detox to help improve their mental health? What have I learnt in my month off Instagram? Here are my thoughts.. View Post
Tonight I slipped back into the darkness.
It was, in fact, more of a fall than a slip. I was like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland: falling, falling, falling, wondering if I would ever stop and what the world would look if I did. My toddler is ill and my five year old forgot how to use his quiet voice and his listening ears in bed this evening. The older one woke up the younger one; I moved them in to share a room at the beginning of the week, just another fuck up to hang from my ever expanding mummy mistakes belt. The five year old settled but the toddler was having none of it. He screamed, fidgeted and fought sleep with every ounce of his being. So I rocked him in my arms like a newborn, all 11kilos of baby chub and gorgeousness. He’s an Oscar winning actor in the making, he looked peaceful so I lay him in his cot, the second he was gently placed on the mattress he started screaming and was wide awake again. I picked him up, rocked and shushed him some more. View Post
People blog for loads of different reasons. You have the bloggers who do it for the money, the bloggers who want to raise awareness, the bloggers who just love to talk and the bloggers who want to share their opinions and beliefs in a space online that they have carved out as their own. Recently I have been questioning why I blog, why do I spend hours of my life tapping away at this computer, crafting posts that I hope will you all read and enjoy. The answer has changed over the three and a half years I have been writing Naptime Natter, it started as a diary, then a place to create an income of my own and has evolved into a home of completely unfiltered honesty about motherhood and family life. Since I began blogging about post natal depression and the loneliness and challenges of motherhood, I have received several comments, emails and private messages from other parents thanking me for my words, from other parents who have felt just the same as me. Today I wanted to do something a little bit different, I have written a poem for all those people who have struggled, whether with their mental health or the day to day challenges that we experience as parents. To all of you who have related to the stories I have shared on this blog, I write for you. View Post
This week, postnatal depression and anxiety support charity PANDAS Foundation are running an awareness week – #PNDA18. The theme of the week is Hope, stories and support will be shared all week to provide hope to all the mums struggling with their mental health that a happy life is something they can have again. I have written a piece for PANDAS that will be shared on their website tomorrow, until then, I thought I would share five little things we can all do on a bad mental health day. The cloud of depression can be heavy and all encompassing but there are ways to ease the pressure and make it out through the fog, if even just for a little while.
When Alex was a couple of months old and I felt like I was slowly losing my mind, I never thought I’d feel happy again.
When I was exhausted beyond measure and crying every day, I never thought I’d feel normal again.
When every decision I made was followed by crashing waves of Mum guilt and self doubt, when I had no time or desire to look after myself and when the only thoughts I had where anxiety fuelled and terrifying, I never thought I’d smile again.
There was a long time that I thought my brain was broken, that I couldn’t trust my own instincts and the majority of the thoughts that whizzed around my head scared me to my core. I had post natal depression brought on by really bad anxiety and for months I didn’t get the help I needed. Over 18months on, I no longer say I have post natal depression, I am no longer a giant ball of anxious energy. I’m happy now, the happiest I’ve ever been. If you are struggling, if you are trapped under that dark heavy cloud and feel like the storm will never pass, I’m here to tell you that you can get through it, you won’t always feel the way you do now. View Post
Do you have a happy place? You know, a place you go to in your mind when you just can’t handle another second of the real world and you need to escape. It might be an abandoned beach, with just you on a deckchair with your favourite book for company. Perhaps it is a room full of your best girlfriends, you are all talking about anything and everything, laughing and drinking wine. A beautiful waterfall, a serene lake, the top of a snowy mountain watching snowflakes drift peacefully to the ground. Wherever your imagined happy place may be, when you need a minute to yourself, take yourself away from the stressful situation, close your eyes and go there. That’s what I do. View Post
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I have reached a point in my motherhood journey now where I am starting to think about what career I want to have when Alex starts pre school. It is hard to know what to do when I have never had a career before. If you are in a similar position or are thinking of a career change, perhaps you will be interested in learning what it takes to become a counsellor. Today I have a guest post from Chrysalis Courses about what skills you need to be a good counsellor. Also, if you are struggling and feel you may need to see a counsellor, this post will help you know what traits and skills your counsellor should have to be of a real benefit to you and your mental wellbeing. View Post
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If you are a regular reader of Naptime Natter you will know that I am very passionate about raising awareness when it comes to mental health, especially the mental wellbeing of mothers. Today I have a guest post for you from the National Counselling Society, covering the main things we should all know about mental illnesses and what we can do to help society change its attitude towards mental health. I hope you find it useful. View Post
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, a week for open and honest discussions about mental health. I have said this a million times but the only way we can make those of us struggling with mental health issues feel more comfortable and confident to seek help and support is by talking openly about our own struggles; normalizing an issue is the best way to help break the stigmas that surround it.
If you read my blog regularly then you will know that I am currently taking anti depressants to treat my post natal depression and perinatal anxiety, something I was at first very nervous to admit. When a loved one or friend is struggling with depression it can be difficult to know what to say and sometimes you may say something in kindness but actually your words can have the opposite effect. For mental health awareness week I have decided to share a list of things not to say to someone struggling with depression, not to make anyone feel bad who may have made these comments in the past but to help those who know someone with depression to not end up accidentally hurting them further. View Post
It is hard to watch the ones we love in pain, isn’t it? When a loved one is hurt, physically hurt, sometimes there is nothing we can do but more often than not there are practical steps we can take to help them to feel better. If your baby is teething you can give them some calpol to ease their pain, if your toddler has cut their knee you can clean it up, pop on a plaster and seal it with a magical mummy kiss. When someone we care about is struggling with their mental health, when they are in pain but we can not see the cause, it can be really hard to know how to help them. Post natal depression is awful, in fact, it’s agonising. When you want nothing more than to be happy and enjoy your baby but your brain has other ideas? Well, it is a really painful time for mums but also for their family too. If you have a wife, sister, friend (or any other mum in your life) that is having mental health struggles , here is a list of things you can do to help a mum struggling with post natal depression. These things are simple yet effective and it is often the smallest things that can help mums going through depression the most. View Post
Everyone has bad days. Parents, children, teenagers, wealthy people, healthy people, singletons, the ones in happy marriages and every single other person who walks the earth. Bad days are, unfortunately, just a part of life. I had a bad day today. A really really bad day. It was one of those kind of days where you feel like drawing the curtains tightly shut, creeping back into bed and cocooning yourself from the world, along with all it’s frustrations and complications, in the safety of your warm soft duvet. Sometimes you have a choice whether to wallow in the hard times or muster some strength from within and move towards a better place. If you struggle with depression, sometimes it feels like that choice is cruelly being kept just out of reach, instead your mind keeps you captive in your house, convincing you leaving and breathing fresh air is pointless. Today I wallowed, I let mum guilt consume me for not being a fun mum for Alex and I had a cry, a rare phenomenon since I started on anti depressants. When I have bad days, times where my mood has a direct impact on the kind of day my kids have too, I end up feeling like the worst parent in the world. Well, amongst all the negative fog occupying my mind today, an epiphany managed to burst through – a bad day doesn’t make me a bad mum! View Post
Since having Alex back in October 2016, I have learnt quite a bit about mental health. I have learnt that just because you haven’t experienced mental health problems in the past, that doesn’t mean you never will. I have discovered someone can outwardly seem like they are coping just fine but on the inside they are feeling unbearable pain they feel they must keep as a secret. One of my most recent learnings is that we can relapse and recovery is never as straight forward as we would hope.
In January, after months of feeling like my old self, I started to feel really low again. That familiar weight of sadness had crept back in and was resting, heavy and unwelcome on my shoulders. I had started to feel like I was loosing control of my thoughts again, anxiety was seeping through my mind and drowning my normal train of thought with terrifying ‘what ifs’ and worse case scenarios. Unlike when Alex was a newborn, I recognised something wasn’t right really quickly and after a week of daily crying sessions, I knew I needed to get to the doctors as soon as possible, suffering with post natal depression was without a doubt the hardest period in my life and I was not prepared to get dragged back down into the dark again. View Post