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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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It Gets Better – A 20 Month Age Gap, A Year On

One of my greatest anxieties, other than getting children to nap, has been being alone with both of mine. Where other people can never get out of the door on time with their children, I have always been able to get one and then both of them, including me and Hubby up, dressed, washed, fed and out, by whatever time I need to. I guess that I kind of don’t understand those that can’t, those that have anxiety or panic over trying to get somewhere on time, but then I freak out at the prospect of being alone with mine. Or at least I did.

Even just a month or so before Christmas, the thought of Hubby going to spend all day long at the football filled me with dread. Or Elvis being ill and needing to stay home from nursery. God, no. I just couldn’t bear the thought. I’m not even sure fully what it was about being alone with them. Maybe how to keep them both entertained. How to feed him and myself solids with a baby who didn’t eat. Who do I leave screaming to deal with the other?

It got easier as Robin got better and more independent with napping. I started using the TV less to babysit Elvis when Robin needed things. Then when she finally started eating and crawling it got even easier. She developed a routine that fit with him and his nursery run. The only times that I’m really alone with them is a Friday after swimming and then weekdays for a short while before and after his nap. He started dropping his afternoon nap as early as October and I don’t remember freaking out about it.

He did have two days off sick in November and then Hubby was planning on going to the football, I would have been alone with them both for 4 whole days. I was scared of that.

Today, Elvis awoke at 1am with an awful cough. Then he woke again at 5. It sounded really wheezy. At 6 I brought him in to bed with me and told Hubby that we weren’t getting up. He wasn’t going to nursery. I didn’t even need to think it over or try and get over any anxiety, I knew I could do it and didn’t feel any anxiety. Because, yep, whatever you want to think of me at other times during this past year I have gladly sent him in when he was a bit ill, because I couldn’t deal with him and her. I was so anxious, so scared, that I sent him off a bit ill. Others might frown upon that, but I just couldn’t do it. I was too scared. I won’t say that the therapy has helped with that particular issue (Robin growing up has), but it would have helped amazingly.

I can cope with a 20 month age gap. I am coping with that age gap. At the moment. I’m pretty sure I’m over the hardest, the highest hurdle and I have all of the tools from therapy to help me should any future hurdles involve anxiety.

On that note, I have been blogging about my 6 therapy sessions (first, second and third) and I do think that maybe my PND is more PNA and it is far more manageable. I got a letter on the weekend discharging me from their services and it said that at the start I had a level of 13 on the depression scale, 11 on the anxiety and I ended with a 3 on depression, 4 on anxiety. I think the anxiety should have maybe started higher as there are a lot of instances that I didn’t realise I had anxiety. But then I realised a lot doing the course. Such a lot.

I guess, what I’m saying for anyone with a 20 month age gap, whatever might worry you, whether it’s minor or life controlling, it gets better. You might need help from friends, family or professional people, but I’ve made it to over a year in and today I am happily sitting at home as Storm Imogen blows down my fences with a bit of an ill boy on the sofa and a potential teething girl attempting to nap and I’m not stressing, I’m not worrying, I’m not panicking. I’m not reaching for the junk food to eat my feelings.

I’m living.

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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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Yummy Mummy: Another 0.2kg Lost

A slow week again, but with Robin’s first birthday we ate alot of cake and didn’t eat at home at all for one whole day. On top of that I always have a take away on the weekend. And I had extra lazy days because a cold knocked me out and I’ve just wanted to sleep! 😴

But 0.2 loss is better than nothing and waaaay better than a gain. Only 1.1kg from my first goal! Yay! Maybe 3 weeks if I stay really good.

In other Yummy news, I’m reading “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” and I am loving being back in Westeros. I’m still doing at least 3 nights of Dance Central aerobics and my PND therapy course has ended so it’s up to me to remember to keep working at keeping me happy (still working on the blog entries). My attempts at my own social life have been knocked a bit but it is cold season and I refused to let some let downs get me down.

I’ve finished decluttering the kitchen cupboards. I simply emptied one and sorted through it, ditching things that haven’t been used in ages, dishes without lids or multiples (who needs 3 ceramic trays?) And then moved on to the next. I do still have the stuck thought of I might use it one day which I can’t shake, but I’m making steps to make space.

I just spent this morning clearing through my clothes stored under the bed and although I do have a huge pile to donate to charity, I still have loads to put back under there. I am incredibly proud of my self, however, as I hate getting rid of perfectly good clothes. The problem is I do consider my body is in a state of flux. I am actively trying to lose weight and I’ve been pregnant for over half of the past 3 years, so just because I have loads of clothes that don’t fit, it does not mean that they won’t again. I’ve read some articles on declutttering and they state that you should get rid of things that don’t fit, if you ever lose the weight, you’ll want to buy new. Well, I don’t think that applies to me quite yet. These articles are quite ruthless on what you should ditch and whilst I’m nowhere near their level, I’m ditching stuff I wouldn’t have before. If part of my PND is feeling like I lost myself then why would I get rid of the clothes that I associate with the me that I was, the me that I assume or hope I will be again?

Or maybe that’s exactly why I should get rid of them. A clean slate and all. The person that I was is never going to be the person I can be again. I’m a whole new person and that person who wore Little Miss t-shirts is like my distant relative.

It’s just that, yes, my whole entire body has changed, but I’ve spent 3 years in maternity/nursing-able clothing and, well, it’s pissing me off. I’m fed up with it now and I keep all of the clothes that I loved back in the distant past because I want to remember what I was, who I was, what I looked like, but also what I can be when I don’t need an expandable waist to accommodate a growing child or easy access to my boobs for another growing child.

I’ll re-evaluate the clothes when I get to either the right weight or when my breastfeeding journey ends forever, but even so, I’ve cleared out 3 big bags for charity.

Along with 2 bags waiting to be taken to our local BHF store, I also have three bags of kitchen things ready to go and maybe a box plus of kitchen things that are currently in the shed… they may have to wait until I clear up some space as they might need a clean now! Our back room is still a dumping ground. There’s the three huge piles of boxes that are waiting for the next Little Pickles Market and two huge piles of DVDs/games waiting for me to sort out a Music Magpie order. Oh, and I sold on most of my unwanted Christmas presents last week on ebay and made over £40. This house will declutter, it will just take a while as I am a super-hoarder.

So, maybe only 0.2kg down, but two huge bags and three carrier bags of charity worthy stuff down. That’s a pretty good week, I reckon!

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The Blame Game

And how to get over it?

With only a few weeks before my return to work, I think I’ve realised why I really don’t want to go back. Rewind almost three years ago to when my maternity leave with Elvis was almost up and work errors meant I didn’t get paid. Then I got paid too much. Then they took back my overpayment leaving me with nothing that month. No warnings, no explanations until I questioned, no communication at all and still no real explanation as to why I was penalised for their error.

I was given assurances that it wouldn’t happen this time.

Rewind to a year ago when I recieved a letter telling me you’ll be surprised to learn that you’re not entitled to maternity pay. Replace surprised with fucking fuming.

Rewind to the beginning of this tax year when, 4 months into it, I discover that someone hit a reset switch at work and started paying me. I never realised. I didn’t get payslips. I told them, the payments stopped and I heard nothing else from them. So I owe them money. A lot. I have no idea how much. And I was technically claiming benefits because I knew I’d have to pay back the overpay. (And the benefits are because I wasn’t entitled to maternity pay, which they could have told me before I went on maternity leave, but didn’t because they’re incompetent).

So I fully expect to either not be paid this month or to receive a huge bill. And if they don’t pay me, will my nursery fees be paid? Nope.

And I blame work. I blame work for every second of stress the pay issues have ever caused me. I blame work for not being able to pay my mortgage when I returned. Most of all, I blame work for how my daughter was born.

The letter about my pay, or lack thereof, came 14 hours before my waters broke and over a week into my maternity leave. 36 hours later I had the choice of induction or emergency surgery. I spent two nights away from son. Two whole days and Robin was born only about 36 hours before my planned surgery in which I might not have visibly been away from home at all due to nursery.

I could have gone in to labour at any inconvenient time but that’s out of everyone’s hands. That’s nature.

Instead I seem to firmly believe that the waters going was from the surprise at not being entitled to pay. I was fuming. I was so angry at their incompetence, not to mention the fact that I had no idea if we could afford no income from me after about 6 weeks. I blame them for not having figured this all out earlier, giving me extra time to fill in the paperwork and find my payslips. As it was, I filled it all in, had a baby and had to redo the forms because the forms were invalid. If we hadn’t have changed management, I might have been told earlier. I might have been calmer. And I blame them for all of that pain, for sobbing on the second night away that I just wanted to see my son. I blame them for rushing home to see my son and having a longer recovery.

The drugs played a part in me sobbing hysterically to just get my baby out because I wanted to go home to see my son. The hormones, lack of sleep and pain definitely played a part when I was alone in the hospital so Daddy could put Elvis to bed and sobbed every time I heard a newborn cry because I wanted my son. But the reason, I believe, in my irrational head, is that my waters only went because I was stressed by the fear and anger that letter provoked within me and if the waters hadn’t have gone, would contractions have even started? Because the doctors only made me stay in due to potential issues with my scar tissue.

Perhaps I can take ownership of some of it, but not all of it. Their incompetence caused so much stress and so much pain. It is their fault that I had emergency surgery and their fault that I spent so long away from my son. I blame them for the stress of trying to fill in paperwork within days of my daughter being born. I hate them for having the nerve to call me twice in the week after I gave birth, the first time less than 24 hours later, to discuss my complaint. And management knew I’d had my baby as I’d had a congratulations from them, an email promising that we’d discuss my complaint, but to forget it for a while to focus on my family. Well, the other guy who was ringing me, clearly didn’t want me to focus on my family.

Meanwhile, no one has kept in any form of contact. None of the admin people even still work there. I randomly bump into people and hear about the redundancies, hear about who’s walked out, moved to another school. I used to work in a team of 12, now I think we might be about 10, maybe 11, but I only really know 3, maybe 4. I think it is compounded by the fact that I was only back for a short time in between maternities. I think I made about 5 months. My job is pretty physically active. I’m on my feet all the time, rushing from lab to lab to prepare things, lifting and carrying things constantly whether they’re heavy or not. I couldn’t do that during my 5 months back. I couldn’t even sit in the usual work room due to the chairs being too high. So, really, I’ve spent over 3 years not doing my job and I don’t know what to do to. Because of all of the departmental changes (we became an academy during my first maternity leave), I don’t think I even know the people I work with.

So, I don’t know how to do my job, I’m the new person walking in to a department almost, I probably won’t get paid properly for a good half year and, yeah, I’m anxious, desperately trying to put the steps I’ve learnt in therapy into use to not completely lose it.

And I don’t know how I’m supposed to walk into work and not hate everything and everyone I see. I hate the very thought of it.

And I truly don’t know how to let that go.

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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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Operation Yummy Mummy: 0.8kg Down!

Woohoo! So, after yesterday’s God awful mood, apparently it paid off! I really was not expecting to have lost 0.8kg. I really didn’t. I mean I was super good. I used my fitbit to track my calories in (although very roughly because I am not about to start weighing all of my food), I only went over my allowance yesterday – which was more because I really was not very active. Today and tomorrow might be a problem, but my baby girl only turns one once! I also did have some junk food (that which is forbidden), like jelly babies, some left over Christmas chocolate, but I ate far more in moderation than normally.

Apart from today perhaps, but I needed to make birthday cakes and check the icing tastes nice!

I think I also did well with my step count every day last week including Friday. And I did some Dance Central on my Xbox, which really works up a sweat.

According to my weight goal (the first of which is my pre-Robin weight), I am only 1.3kg away. Then I’ll only be 10 away from my ultimate goal, 15kg away from my I can dream that I look like my 18 year old self again, can’t I? goal, which I think I’d actually be too skinny if I lost that much weight.

I have 7 weeks until I return to work, about 5 until I head out to do the return to work clothes shopping, I reckon I can reach my first goal and be on the way to the second. I’m assuming that it’s going to start to get harder the longer I go though. The fat will be more stuck on me and it’ll be less pregnancy weight and just I ate too many cookies weight. But I am also hoping that my activity levels increase once back at work.

On other Yummy Mummy news, I am almost at the end of Hester Browne’s Swept off her Feet. It took me forever to get into, but one of my goals from therapy was to read more, to dedicate time to it and enjoy it, so after my Dance Central fun, I have a bath and read at least a chapter. I am so enjoying it and am, of course, rooting for Evie and Robert. But then, I always root for the main character in most books but definitely in Hester’s (except Little Lady Agencies, where I never liked the American and always preferred the best friend… 3 books later!). I really really want Evie to stay and help run the castle with Robert!

I haven’t done anything on the social side of things, but Hubby had football which takes him out ALL day and I didn’t want to risk a bad night’s sleep the night before. This coming week looks far more promising…!

So, as we pretty much literally approach the dawn of my baby girl reaching her first ever birthday, I do finally feel like I can say that I’m happy.

 

I’m happy!

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