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
I have this really vivid memory lurking in my mind, it has been well over a year since this day yet I remember it all as if it happened this morning. Alex was about 2 or 3 weeks old, I was bathing him in his tiny little baby bath and chatting to Oli at the same time. For a mere 5 seconds I looked up and met Oli’s gaze while we were talking and when I looked back down at my baby, Alex had his face in the water. In just a matter of a few seconds he had silently rolled his head to the side, his head was still resting on my palm but his mouth and nose had become submerged. A matter of seconds, that’s all it was. I took him straight out of his little bath as he cried and thrashed his body around in my arms. He was scared, I was terrified. I got him dressed, cuddled him close and while I was feeding him I reached for my phone. That was the day my phone began to mentally torture me. View Post
The year is almost over and, you know what? 2017 should have been a brilliant year for me but I have spent a good chunk of it feeling unhappy. When Alex was born last October I never could have imagined I would be spending so much of his first year feeling sad and battling with anxiety but yet, unfortunately, that has been the reality of 2017 for me. Being a parent is so hard at times and some days, even if you don’t have post natal depression, it can be hard to get a genuine smile on your face. Raising children is the worlds most difficult job and us parents give so much of ourselves to our little people that it is no wonder we can often feel run down, emotional and upset.
As the year has progressed I have started to feel better and I am a lot happier this December than I was in January. I am so relieved to be seeing the year out on a high note and no longer living under the heavy black cloud of PND. It hasn’t been easy to get to this point and I would be lying if I said I no longer have bad days, I don’t think anyone can say they have been happy for 365 days in a row though, can they? I have worked really hard on looking after my mental wellbeing over the past year and it is such a relief to be about to enter a new year as the happy version of myself I knew I was capable of becoming again – nice try PND but I knew I could beat you. My work is not done though, I am determined to keep up my quest for happiness and to become a more positive parent for my boys and for my own wellbeing too. If you too want to feel happier as a mum and want to try and ease yourself away from a dark place to somewhere more positive, then here is a list of things I have done and continue to do every day to try and keep negativity (from myself and others) away. Let’s all make 2018 a year full of positivity, happiness and confidence – we got this mamas! View Post
This time last year I was not in a good place. In fact, 12 months ago I was in a very dark and very scary place. Memories of December 2016 will always make me sad, I had a newborn baby and a three year old excited for Christmas and I felt as far away from festive as was possible. I didn’t know it at the time but I was suffering with post natal depression. I knew something wasn’t right, I knew I felt unbearably sad and anxious all the time but I hadn’t yet admitted to myself or anyone else what was really going on.
Post natal depression is such a cruel mental illness. Having a baby is supposed to be one of the most amazing things you can ever experience but post natal depression violently bursts that happy new mum bubble. A baby who loves you and who you love back completely unconditionally, what could be better? But when your own mind turns against you, makes you feel sad when you want to be happy and horrible thoughts taint those precious moments with your baby, it is a truly heartbreaking thing to experience as a mum. You feel like a failure (why aren’t I happy? I am supposed to be happy, am I an awful mother?), you feel robbed of this special time (Why can’t I just enjoy this time with my baby?) and you feel like things will never get any easier (I am never going to feel happy again). Feeling all these things any time of the year is difficult and just horrible but imagine feeling this way at Christmas? Imagine spending your baby’s first ever Christmas feeling like you are drowning in your own sadness and that you can’t talk about it with anyone because it’s Christmas and you don’t want to kill their festive cheer. That is exactly how I felt last Christmas and, unfortunately, that is how so many new mums will be feeling this December too. View Post