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CBT Session Six – What The Future Holds #PND

And so I came to the end of my therapy sessions. I already miss it. It’s helped me so much. It’s changed me so much. I feel happier again. I like my daughter. I enjoy time with her. I enjoy things in general. And I don’t get half as anxious as I ever did. I still do, it isn’t completely gone, but I am better prepared to deal with the anxiety. I guess the question is, what happens if the anxiety or low mood start to affect me too much again?

That’s where the sixth session came in to play.

First of all there was a section on problem solving. I’ve never really considered trying to solve problems an issue. I guess though, sometimes I do get anxious over something and sit there trying to figure out a solution. Perhaps the steps involved with problem solving might be quite useful. The thing that I took from the problem solving was the final step – reviewing what happened. Did it work? And I was reminded about how I was stuck in a problem at a soft play a few weeks ago. Husband had left Elvis and I there alone as Robin got grumpy. So he drove home and left me with just the change bag. I asked him to take my phone and purse so that if anyone stole the bag all they got were toys and clean nappies. All was fine until Elvis bumped his head and was really badly crying. It might have been soft play, but he hit his head outside of the soft play on the hard floor. Well, he wanted to go in Daddy’s car. He didn’t want to walk home. My mind started whirring. Could I carry him home? Could I get him to my mum’s who lives very slightly closer? Would my mum be in? Should I ring Hubby? What if Robin was asleep, should I get to wake her? Wait, I don’t have my phone. I could ask another mum, a stranger. I don’t know Hubby’s number. I could ring my own phone? It’s on silent, he wouldn’t notice.

This was all going on in my head whilst I was getting his coat on and zipping it up. As it happens, once we walked outside I distracted him with a tree and he found Stickman and we talked about that the whole way home.

What I took from the problem solving was Review. If it had been a proper emergency, what would I have done? Sure, someone would have leant me their phone, but I don’t know hubby’s or the house number. I could ring my mum, I know her number, but she might not have been in. So, how to solve a problem before it could happen – write the emergency phone numbers and put it in the changing bag. Maybe even include a few coins of loose change to give to another mum as a gesture when they let me use their phone. It’s probably a really good idea even if the phone and wallet are in the bag, probably a bit more useful in an emergency should something happen to me when I’m alone with the children.

The rest of the session involved reviewing the previous 5 sessions, but in our handouts there were forms on how to cope with setbacks. I scanned all of the forms first! Haha, then I can change things later and adapt things should I need to without wasting my time making my own version. The first few were about identifying if we were green, amber or red with regards to our moods. What the signs are for each, where support is in any of the colours, how to work on getting back or staying in the green.

Then there was the review day sheet with a suggested review date of three months. These I definitely plan to use and have even written in my diary when the 3 month review is due, except I have a provisional earlier one for once I’m back at work as that could drastically alter things. The first page details what has happened since the last review, what’s gone well or not, what I’ve learnt and putting tools into practice. The second side is the 12 week goals, leading up to the next review. My goals have included:

  • Remain calm regarding returning to work, don’t ruminate on it
  • Build exercise into the new routine once back at work, use SMART goals to achieve a new routine
  • Continue the bath time and relaxing reading even when there is no exercise right before it – SMART goals to make sure I keep these elements
  • Make time for my personal social life and for increasing the social life of my children with SMART goals and prioritising. But realise that if Robin’s nap schedule means that afternoons are tricky that I have to think about how to do it to limit any anxiety about having an over tired baby
  • Spend quality time with the children, Husband as a family and as a couple by being assertive and using SMART goals
  • Accept any social aspect through work. I haven’t been to any since Robin was born as I did not feel comfortable leaving Robin before Christmas. I do know and I won’t let fear stop me.

I think, in a nutshell, it’s primarily about having a balance between work, life, mum, wife. It’s not all one and little of the others. I have to be mum. I have to work. That doesn’t mean that I can forget to be me, to be a partner and wife. They all need to co-exist. Sure there will be times when the balance is a bit skewed because it has to be. Robin’s naps might mean I need to limit social activities for Elvis. One of them being ill might mean that I need to alter work requirements or having my normal me time.

Some of it will be trying to pre-empt things that I know are going to make me anxious. Like the family holiday that we have planned in August and one set of the family that I really, truly would rather not see. It’s just going to be one day though and I’ll have had months to prepare, to use the tools. Or being trapped in the house with both kids when one or both are ill. Yes, I might feel trapped and bored, stuck and so, so tired, but it will pass. That one definitely needs the 5 area treatment! Maybe the in laws one, does too! I might need to interrogate the hot thought on both of those.

Here’s to the first review date!

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CBT Session Five – “Sorry, Not Sorry” #PND

Session 4 left me trying really hard to think about how I was thinking. To notice a hot thought and recognise that the thought was starting off a cycle (going into the 5 areas), and to then interrogate that thought to see if it was true, if my reactions were valid. It is an amazing process. In theory.

It’s not so easy in the moment, but I guess that’s the point. It’s about noticing whenever you notice, hours after the fact if needs be and then interrogating the events. With time, you’ll get quicker at it. I have used it and it has helped. Unfortunately, I’m a talker so when I get a Hot Thought which causes me to fly off the handle with my husband, it doesn’t feel right to me to figure out what happened and simply say sorry. To me, I need to explain to him why it happened, what I was thinking and feeling. Well, that’s like doing the 5 areas just out loud. I guess it might be helpful for him to see where I’m coming from, but might not be super helpful to me moving forward as I need to be able to write down what happens.

This is why the daily mood/activity sheet is so helpful.

Session 5, however, held some answers to a problem that, I guess runs deep within me. And this blog.

Assertiveness.

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Good Food Habits

I think I have quite a bad relationship with food. Well, good if you consider the fact that I love food and could eat all the time. I quite frequently eat until I’m past full. Since the New Year and my Operation: Yummy Mummy, I have slowly started changing my relationship with food. I put my food into my fitbit food diary so kind of calorie count – my aim is to restrict take aways, unhealthy snacks, not limit or alter my usual meals.

I’ve been doing better. But I still have bad days. As part of my PND/PNA therapy we learnt to use an activity diary to try and track when our moods drop to try and find a cause. Well, yesterday I felt low and I know it was because I ate badly. So I considered what I ate and when and have come up with the following changes:

  • Freeze flapjack so I don’t have a whole batch sitting in my fridge. I kept eating it in case it spoils!
  • Don’t cook extra for myself when cooking a quick meal for either child. Just because I know I’ll want some sweet potato fries. No, just no. Also applies, don’t eat their leftovers no matter how badly I want a fish finger!
  • When having leftovers for a meal, spoon it out of the tub onto a plate/bowl. Last night I ate all the pasta (except for whatever I kept randomly spooning onto Robin’s tray) as it was in the tuperware tub. I ate too much as it was leftovers and more than 1 portion. It’s too difficult to see in the tub.
  • Alter food input on weekends where I am nowhere near as active. Today, I’m trapped in the house with both kids. My activity levels are way down yet I’m still overeating. Or maybe eating my normal amounts but less active. Not good.

Realising these bad habits and finding solutions is one thing, actually sticking to them is another. I just ate multiple jelly babies and two pieces of flapjack as I was bored whilst both children slowly finished their meal 😯

Somehow I need to find some willpower and motivation, simply being just 0.7kg from my goal (potentially 2 weeks away) is not enough of a motivation apparently. But then, how am I supposed to not feel low when I’m stuck in the house with both children, Elvis being a bit ill and super tired and cranky. I didn’t even dare risk going to the shops today. How do I entertain myself on those types of days?

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CBT: Session Four – I Can Read Your Mind #PND

The fourth therapy session was the first one after a huge break over Christmas. During this gap, not only had Robin started sleeping through the night and dropping her morning feed (only two feeds a day left), but she had started going to bed really easily (quick feed and then done) so I’d started reintroducing things to my life and, unlike previous attempts, had begun to enjoy them. I guess it was part of the depression, the constant thought of “what’s the point?” What was the point in trying to do aerobics or go jogging at bedtime, she’d still be screaming? Why bother getting up early to do it, I’m too tired anyway? I don’t want to read a book, I want to veg out on the sofa and watch TV, get bored and eat junk food. Everything had seemed so hard, so hard to motivate myself to do and so hard to wrangle the family to allow me to. But that had started to change over the Christmas period, with a cinema outing and date with my mum, going out for drinks with a friend – no children in sight, taking the time to exercise, trying to get my diet in order and using calm, quiet times to read my book so that I finally got interested in it. I’d never seen that as part of the depression, but it was.

In the fourth session, we learnt about negative automatic thoughts (yep, I know them very well) and what type of thinking you do. I’m a black and white generaliser who can read minds and plays more on the negative than the positive.

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CBT: Session Three – Oh, There I am! #PND

As I walked into the third session, I was still feeling so so down from the session before and then my failed attempt to socialise, that I wondered what the point was. But I wasn’t about to lose my place on the course and I really loved the creche aspect! Honestly, possibly not the best reason, but I’m not going to lie – it was not hope and optimism that made me go on the third week. Haha! The third session was all about rumination (I tick all the boxes, so, yep, I ruminate. A lot) and introduced SMART Goals.

Well, somewhere in the week afterwards, I began to see some light.

I think it happened when I set my SMART Goal in front of everyone in the therapy session. Because that meant I had to stick to it. Right?

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CBT: Session Two – What Do I Like? #PND

Still no closer to figuring out who I was, session two actually sent me plummeting into a deep giant cavern that was possibly worse than I’d felt before. The second session introduced the lethargy spiral and identifying whether activities you do are pleasurable, routine or necessary. I learnt about how to prioritise my demands.

Well, what the bloody use was that when I am a super organiser. Even now with kids, I organise and plan. That’s what I do. And I think I kinda excel at it. Ask me to deal with not having my routine and I might scream and cry. I might avoid doing something that could alter my routine as I don’t know how I’d cope. But, I didn’t need help with prioritising my demands. I know my daily demands and they never change. Then I read the list of possible pleasurable activities – visiting friends, reading, watching TV, playing with the children, going to the cinema, go swimming, go for a run… Well, I couldn’t see a single thing that I could find pleasure in.

I spent a week in such an awful rut. I tried to be sociable (it was nearly Christmas and Robin finally started going to bed better), but it made me feel worse. How on Earth could I try and figure out who I was if I didn’t know what I liked?

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CBT: Session One – Who Am I?

Last year, I went through a pretty rough time. I’d already consulted my health visitor about needing to speak to someone regarding how I was feeling. It was getting worse, week on week, or maybe month on month and I was waiting for the appointment when we went on a family holiday. The final day of the holiday I could not stop myself from crying because I desperately did not want to go home. I was walking back to the lodge in the dark (it was dark by 7pm) after the dinner and the entertainment show, with Elvis. My OH and Robin had gone a different way with the pushchair. We were walking past the bird enclosure and all I could think was that I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to run away with Elvis. Sod, my husband, sod the baby, sod the boring everyday routine that I hated. I didn’t want to go back to the real world. I didn’t want to go back to my life. I wanted to run away.

And I just kept crying.

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