The Time Of Year For Reflection

It’s the time of year where a lot of us start reflecting on the past year and what we want to achieve in the new year. A lot of us have big plans for the upcoming year – new year, new me – and a heap of us just want it to be better than the year we’ve just gone through.

I usually look at the new year as a chance to start over but this year is different. 2018 has been one of the hardest years of my life and right now I’m just looking to get through each day, each week, as it comes. I can’t even think about making plans for the future other than the plans to get through each day.

2018 was both amazing and difficult. I gave birth to two healthy baby boys after a difficult pregnancy and overnight we went from a family of 3 to 5. We spent the next few months in a whirlwind of feeds, nappy changes and stealing sleep here and there. We were doing well, I was losing the baby weight, the boys were thriving and I felt like I’d skipped the post natal depression this time round.

I used to joke that I didn’t have time to be depressed. Turns out depression has no time restrictions.

Since the depression hit I’ve spent most of my time trapped inside my head and overeating. I get upset or lose the plot then eat to make up for it. Each crying session is followed quickly by a binge on chocolate or other unhealthy foods. The weight piles on, the guilt adds up and the cycle repeats.

I relive the moment, handing over 0.2mls of colostrum I’d painstakingly milked for Miles who was in NICU, crying to the nurse and telling her I wanted him to have it and feeling terrible that they’d given the supply I’d built up before the surgery to Mason as his blood sugar was low. The boys were hours old, both semi unwell and already I’d had to make a choice on who got more.

I remember every single time I’ve lost it this year. The unintelligible screams of anguish directed at the twins who just stared at me, or Raiden who would cry or comfort me, both actions breaking my heart, or at the wall, into a pillow, each scream promising to make me feel better, instead ploughing on the guilt.

I’ve apologized to Raiden so many times this year for losing it. To him and repeatedly in my head. For a while there I found him more work than the twins and I yelled a lot, my expectations of him too high. I felt relief when he was picked up for daycare and dread when it was time for him to come home. I feel truly blessed that I’m still his favourite person although I think our bond is stronger now as a result.

I’ve spent countless nights lying awake, miserable then spent the following day fobbing off the parenting to Zombie so I could sleep or doing the bare minimum to keep the boys going until Zombie got home. I went months barely playing with or interacting with any of the boys because it was just too hard and I didn’t want to. I also spent that time hating myself, my life, everything.

It hasn’t been all bad. I’ve recognized the struggle at almost every point and gotten help and taken steps to try and sort myself out. Together with my psychologist and nurse I’ve got an action plan for each day of the week and what to do when things get hard. It doesn’t always work in practice but it’s better than ignoring the situation.

I’ve developed a thicker skin too. I care a lot less about what people think and I’m finding I have almost zero patience for other people’s drama which is something I’d get all worked up about in the past, especially if it affected me even slightly. It’s been a bit of a turning point for me and hopefully I can stick to it.

I don’t know what the next year is going to hold. At the moment I’m trying to binge eat less, play with my sons more and work on feeling human again. I’ve had such an up and down few months and I just want to enjoy each happy moment as it comes and push through the hard ones until I’m strong enough to cope again. Hopefully soon I’ll be capable of working again then maybe I can finally start enjoying life again instead of struggling through each moment.

Smiles and Sunshine

Katie

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Crying Is Exhausting

I’ve been a stay at home mum again for nearly two weeks now and at this stage being off work hasn’t really helped my mental health. I’ve had more sleepless nights than usual, two complete meltdowns and I’m always close to tears. Most days I feel like I don’t want to be a mother anymore which of course makes me feel worse.

The nurse I see said after seeing the psychologist that one time before being told I’m not bad enough and dragging up every little thing from my past that I’ll probably be fragile for a while, but I didn’t expect it to be this bad. The smallest upset sets me off, gets me yelling, crying, ruminating and it feels impossible to get back up again.

Being a mum is exhausting. Little and broken sleep is exhausting. Having things from your past that you’d buried or ignored for years suddenly consume your thoughts is exhausting. Crying, is mind numbingly exhausting.

Yesterday was a good day. Mum came round and we spent a happy few hours playing with the boys. When Zombie got home from work we did a little Christmas shopping then had a nice evening watching TV before realizing how late it had gotten and going to bed. Considering the night before I’d tossed and turned and finally gotten to sleep sometime before 4am only to be woken by the twins just before 6, I had a really good day and wasn’t tired at all.

I can’t say the same for today though. Last night I had more sleep, but broken all the same. The twins didn’t sleep through which is unusual now and Raiden woke up several times (which hardly ever happens) to the point I stayed in his bed with him for two hours until he was asleep and happy again. All normal stuff, these things happen when you have kids and you just have to make the most of the nights they don’t, but apparently I’d had enough. This morning was filled with tears (me) tantrums (me) and a complete meltdown around 8am to the point I actually couldn’t do anything for the boys, I just kinda shut down, got back into bed and cried, cried, then cried some more.

My friend showed up to clean the house about half an hour later and told me to go back to bed. I slept for a couple more hours while she looked after my boys, her boys and cleaned my bombsite. I’m in awe of how much she achieved but she just smiled and said we all have bad days. Of course I’ve cried a lot since then too. Guilt mostly.

So now I’m sitting on the couch, writing this. But it’s slow going. Usually I can bash out a post in 10 minutes or so. This one has taken over an hour so far because I’m just so drained. I’ve probably ticked up nearly two hours of crying today and it’s taken what little energy I had. All 3 boys are asleep and Zombie will be home soon but I’m just ready for today to be over. I’m not a religious person but I’m praying the boys don’t wake before Zombie gets home as I don’t even have the energy to sit up and reach for my glass of water that is less than a meter away.

Exhausted

Being so low is scary. Even at my most depressed in the past I’ve always known, even if only in the smallest way, that it’s not forever. This time round it’s not like that. It feels like the harder I fight the more I get knocked down. I’m still not giving up but I’m finding myself shutting down on a regular basis and then spending hours recovering from the shut down instead of working on feeling more human. My energy levels are non existent and my anxiety levels are through the roof. I feel like I’ve lost all control of myself and I just don’t know what to do anymore.

It doesn’t help that the weather has been all over the place too. December is usually filled with sunshine and fun days but it’s been a mixture of all seasons but mostly grey. Seasonal Affective Disorder has always been a big impactor on me.

I’m lucky. I have Zombie who is wonderful. I have people on my side rooting for me and helping out by taking over or giving me a laugh, just being my friends and not treating me like some broken toy that needs fixing or tossing. I have my PND support group that I can call on anytime, day or night. My GP is 100% supportive and I have the psychologists’ nurse who sees me weekly and who I can also get in touch with, or a member of her team 24/7. I’ve got all the tools required to get through and we have good plans in place to get me through but it’s a rough terrain I’m following right now and it just seems like there are more stumbling blocks than smooth tracking.

Hoping for smiles and sunshine

Katie

A Strange Few Months

It’s been a strange few months. I’ve gone from thinking I was fine, to being angry all the time and just about having a meltdown (which was actually a good thing because it helped me realise that I was not okay) to taking it one day at a time to all of a sudden getting scarily close to rock bottom. Which is about where I am now.

I went into respite for a weekend about a couple of months ago. I spent three nights and days doing as little as possible. I read a few books, watched some TV, stayed in bed for a while, it was really nice to have a break and it gave me a chance to actually miss my family which is something I don’t really do. I always feel guilty when I see mums on social media talking about how much they miss their kids when their in daycare because I don’t often feel that way.

I’ve unfortunately been going downhill steadily since my last post, to the extent that I’ve taken extended sick leave from work. Today was my first day of not working. And it was weird. The boys were in daycare all day and I didn’t know what to do with myself.

The house is a mess, the garden needs a solid effort, I’ve got books I want to read and food I need to eat but I just couldn’t do any of it. So I went to bed. I got up just in time to make it to an appointment I had and that was that. Day done.

Mason meets a cow for the first time

This is really hard. I’ve never been this low before. I’ve not worked once before in my life, about eight years ago after the ectopic pregnancy and I wasn’t this low then. It scares me. Some moments, some hours, some days I’m okay. But most of them I’m not. Tears spill out of my eyes at a moments notice and the cry of a baby is enough to put me on edge for hours.

I need to walk away so often. It takes me twice as long to do things because even the smallest tasks can be daunting. Zombie has been shouldering more than his share of the parenting because sometimes I just can’t. I sleep a lot. Not at night, at night I lay awake for hours, tossing and turning with no energy to get up for a bit to see if that helps me sleep. But during the day as soon as I get a chance to sit I fall asleep. I sleep through the kids noise, I just sleep.

I’ve been seeing a psychologist. She wants to adjust my medication but after couple of sessions has advised me that I’m not actually bad enough for their service. I had a mini panic attack when she told me but she agreed to have her nurse see me weekly until the twins turn one.

I’ve never been so low but I’m not bad enough to properly access public maternal mental health services. That’s a scary thought.

First ice cream of the summer. It fell off moments later

Things are not all bad though. I’ve gotten back in touch with a friend I had fallen out with, both us have grown a lot in the past few years and it’s really nice getting to know each other again. Plus the twin’s are going from strength to strength and their personalities are starting to show which makes it a lot easier for me to play with them, something I had been struggling to do for a while.

Four reasons to not give up

I’m still determined to get better. I have a plan in place for support, activities and goals to fully utilise this time off work. Mondays are my break day so it’s okay that I slept all day, but I’m hoping that soon my break days will be more productive.

Smiles and Sunshine

Katie

I’m Tired

Some days I’m happy, some days I’m sad and some days I’m angry. It seems like the angry days outweigh the happy days, but reality is I experience all these emotions daily. It feels like the anger is in control, but the sadness seems to linger as well. I have no idea how I’m going to react from one minute to the next and then feeling flat for extended periods. And I’m always tired.

I’ve never been suicidal. But at times when I get low I begin to feel like life would be easier if it just stopped. That’s sometimes how I’m feeling now. I’m sick of being angry. Angry at my kids, angry at Zombie, angry at my situation. A situation I wanted. Angry of having to keep on keeping on when all I want is to stop for a few days.

I’m physically tired. Tired from having three young children taking turns keeping us up at night and busy all day. I’m mentally tired. Tired of being on edge all the time, tired of fighting, snapping, yelling and crying uncontrollably throughout the day. I’m tired of having arguments in my head, of reliving every conversation I’ve ever had over and over. Of standing in the shower, wasting water while defending myself to people who are never going to hear it and who probably never meant offense in the first place. I’m tired of feeling like I have no personality, that I’m just a shell going through the motions with nothing important to offer. I know it’s not true but that doesn’t stop my brain from thinking it. I’m tired of people asking how I am and responding that I’m always tired when I tell them so. I’m tired of pretending to be okay to protect myself from people feeling sorry for me.

Mostly I’m tired of making promises to myself that I can’t keep. Promises to eat better, to go for walks, to do some yoga, to take some time out (Zombie gives me plenty but at the moment I just can’t seem to get enough). I’m tired of knowing what I need to do to ‘fix’ myself but not being able to action it. Even if I did get myself up and running again I sometimes wonder if there’s any point. I don’t seem to be able to maintain it, I give up at the first sign of trouble. Life is full of troubles so why bother?

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I realised the other day that in my 35 years I’ve never been truly happy. I’ve had plenty of good times in my life. I’ve had a lot of laughs and have some wonderful memories, but Depression and Anxiety always lingered in the background threatening to attack at any moment. Even as a child I’d spend my days worrying. I’m happy to have a wonderful partner and three beautiful children, but something in me just won’t let me be truly at peace.

I know I’ll be okay. Parenting won’t get easier, but I’ll probably get better at coping with it plus as the boys grow they should hopefully become less reliant on me 24/7. I’ll keep going to my support groups. I’ll pick myself back up every time I get angry and sad and I’ll continue to enjoy the moments of happiness. I’ll make my way through the flat moments until I get out the other side. With the weather getting better I may even find it easier to keep some of the promises I make myself.

I don’t want advice. For some reason advice currently makes me angry and resentful. I don’t want people feeling sorry for me, that makes me feel like a failure and I’m doing that to myself enough. I don’t want to be told that this will pass, that it’ll be okay, that I’m strong, that I have a lot of my plate. Most of all I don’t want to be told to suck it up, reminded how lucky I am and that people have it worse than me. I know all this. I just want to be happy.

When The Kids Are Sick

I think the worst part about being a parent (so far) is when the kids are sick, especially when they’re babies. They’re so little and it’s scary. They get fussy, meal times become impossible. It can take hours to get 20mls of milk into them despite their hungry cries. Their tiny noses drip constantly and everything gets covered in gooey snot. Mums face, hands and clothes included. Their eyes drip green goop because their tear ducts aren’t fully formed yet and if you don’t remove it regularly their eyes start to stick together, conjunctivitis, but the viral kind so eye drops don’t work. Their breathing becomes a rattly gasp, each breath struggling to get past all the snot and phlegm. They can be inconsolable at times, especially overnight, those babies that used to sleep through start waking up coughing and screaming every hour on the hour.

They lose their beautiful smiles and stare at me with red ringed miserable eyes. It breaks my heart every single time. They are miserable and in pain and they don’t understand why.

And then of course we get sick, which makes it even harder to deal with. Gone are the days where we could sleep off sickness if that was what we wanted. Then of course the toddler who’s always the first to get sick is fine now, after days of experiencing a ‘man flu’ that could rival the biggest man babies sickness, but with all the energy in the world making him a whirlwind of flying snot and germs.

When my boys are sick, I wish I could fix it for them. I want to wave a magic wand, banish the snot, get rid of the cough, restore the sleep and find those beautiful smiles. I want to hear them giggling to themselves if they wake during the night instead of coughing themselves awake all the time. I want to spend a day not wiping dried up snot from their hair, arms, the bed, the floor, myself…

Having a nap at after hours

And I want the continual crying to stop. It does things to my head, stresses me out, makes me want to cry too. It affects me worse once I get sick as well.

We’ve had a rough winter, cold after cold, every time one of us gets better, someone else gets sick and of course since the twins live in each others pockets we always get a double whammy with them. But we did have the entire month of August without sickness which was wonderful.

Then September came and we’ve had a three week stint of the worst sickness in a long time. The twins and I practically lived at After Hours, even spending an entire night there. Unfortunately they had Bronchiolitis, which is a viral bug so not a lot could be done other than trying to keep them hydrated and giving them love. One week was so bad that I was averaging about 2 hours sleep a night as well as dealing with a cold myself (thankfully not as bad as theirs). I cried a lot, I was emotionally and physically drained.

On the mend

We’re coming out the other side now thank goodness and it’s spring so hopefully there won’t be anymore sickness for a while, although there is teething to look forward to.

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

Experiencing Postnatal Depression For The Second Time

I woke up angry this morning. It’s been happening a lot lately. Not every morning, but most. Angry because I have to be a mum.

I wanted to give up. I imagined dropping the boys at daycare and running away. I like to think I’d never go through with it, what kind of mother abandons her children, but it took several minutes to brush the thoughts aside.

It’s the worst feeling and it all comes down to Postnatal Depression. I thought I’d avoided it this time, but in the last two months it’s become glaringly obvious that it’s back. As depression often does it crept in slowly, I thought I was fine until one day I realised I wasn’t and that I hadn’t been for a while.

My main symptoms are anger and guilt. I get angry when Raiden doesn’t listen, when he repeats himself, when he asks for something he doesn’t actually want, when he cries for no apparent reason. Basically, I get angry at him for being a typical two year old. I get angry when the twins won’t drink their bottles before bed, then wake up starving twenty minutes after I’ve fallen asleep and when Zombie sleeps through their cries (he doesn’t always). I get angry when they poo minutes after I’ve changed their nappies, when they roll onto their stomachs and get upset because they can’t yet roll back and when they cry. Basically, I get angry at them for being typical five month olds.

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Got myself all dressed up on Saturday for a work do, getting away helps for a little while.

The anger is hard. I sometimes yell, although not often. Mostly I just feel annoyed and get huffy. I throw blankets off roughly as I get out of bed, bang bottles on the benchtop while preparing them, roll my eyes when Raiden repeats something I don’t understand for the eightieth time, slam doors, stomp my feet and generally behave childishly. Sometimes I get to a point where I’ve had enough. I ignore my children, pretend I can’t hear them. I don’t know how long for but something in me overrides any maternal instincts and I selfishly stay in bed or continue what I’m doing while they cry out for me.

It’s horrible. The guilt consumes me. I couldn’t tell you how many times I cry in a day. My children don’t deserve an angry mother. They didn’t ask for it and it breaks my heart but in the moment I struggle to control my emotions. I’m happy to report I don’t harm them, but I fear one day I’ll be a bit rough with them while I’m angry, a thought that scares me to no end. I worry I’m scarring them emotionally, setting them up for anxiety, making all sorts of mistakes that will haunt them for life and put them in the same mental illness cycle that I’ve battled for years. I worry I’ve delayed the twins development because sometimes playing with them is too much effort. I worry constantly about how my depression is affecting them, Anxiety has become part of the furniture again.

The absolute worst part is that my boys still love me unconditionally. No matter how angry or dismissive I get, they still adore me. Raiden looks crushed when I dismiss him. The twins faces light up when I pick them up to feed them and ignore them while doing so because at that exact moment I just can’t deal and yet they’re still excited that I’m holding them. I know they are tiny humans who don’t yet comprehend emotions, but I feel like I don’t deserve their love which sets off the waterworks again.

I’m getting help. On Thursdays I attend a support group through PND Canterbury. It’s a group of mums going through the same things and it’s very supportive. We are all members of a Facebook group too so if we’re having a bad moment we can post and support each other. It’s helping, but on days like today Thursday feels like a million years away. I’m trying to look after myself like I described in my Winter Health post, but some days are easier than others. I’m lucky to have Zombie, he’s so supportive and constantly reminding me that I’m actually doing a good job, that I’m not a terrible person however it’s hard to believe all the time. And of course I’m on medication although I often forget to take it which is probably making things worse. Setting alarms doesn’t help because life with three tiny humans is so unpredictable. There’s is no guaranteed time I can do something on a daily basis.

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Going out for walks as often as possible. It’s slow going at times but being outside helps.

I’m not asking for sympathy and I’m really hoping I don’t get judgment either. I’m not the first mother to feel this way and won’t be the last, but when people try to justify my depression, reminding me that twins let alone singletons is no picnic it actually makes me feel worse. People telling me how amazing a job I’m doing doesn’t help because I don’t believe them, especially when it’s someone who hasn’t seen me in action. I know we’re supposed to reach out and be supportive of each other, but sometimes it’s easier to not have people around. I’m not sure it’s healthy but I feel like depression has different stages and I’m at a bit of a hermit stage.

All I can do is fight. Get out of bed, out of the house, take a break when I need it, just keep on keeping on. Some days, like this morning, fighting feels like the last thing I’m capable of, but I’m still at a point where I can, so I will.

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

Back To Work After Having Twins

Today I roasted a chicken. I cooked a cottage pie, a chicken casserole and made a cajun chicken pasta for dinner. I baked some sugar free apple and cinnamon quinoa flour muffins, boiled some eggs and cut up some carrots for work and daycare snacks. With the vegetable offcuts and the chicken carcass I made a stock for use on other meals.

Cajun Chicken Pasta. Was going to make my portion with zoodles but ran out of mission efforts.

While doing this I also put through two loads of washing, played with my kids as much as possible, went to the supermarket and bathed all the kids. With Zombies help of course. The twins watched me cooking from their bouncers, peacefully for the most part and the toddler and Zombie spent hours outside playing with the sandpit and the slide Zombie made.

I also spent a lot of time apologising to my boys for being so busy.

Sugar Free Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Flour Muffins. They are crunchy on the outside and not cooked on the inside but delicious. Recipe here.

On Monday I went back to work, part time, two and a half days a week. On Monday evening when we got home from work and picking up the kids from daycare after six and couldn’t be bothered cooking we got fish and chips. The evening was a blur of feeding babies, getting toddlers fed and organised for bed before finally falling asleep on the couch. On Tuesday when we had the same issue and decided to whip up some toasties for dinner we decided that we needed to be more organised. 

I’m wanting to eat healthier. Since I was pregnant with Raiden my diet has been all over the place and I’m suffering for it. My eczema is so bad I’ve had to go back on some pretty nasty medication for the forseeable future to get it in line as with three kids under three there’s a lot less time for organising a processed food free menu. Plus my weight is creeping back up, I’m perpetually tired despite the fact that my boys sleep through most nights (I’m so grateful) and I’ve recently discovered the PPD is back.

Cottage Pie for lunches and tomorrow nights dinner.

So Sunday is now the cooking day. I’ve prepared enough food for lunches to last the week, three dinners that just need throwing in the oven and snacks to tide us through our work days. It’s relatively healthy with nothing out of a packet involved and now all we have to do is pack the boys bags for daycare. I’m currently melted into the couch with no desire to move, the house looks like a hurricane went through it, but at least I know that no matter what tomorrow throws at us, we will eat. And that’s a good thing because frankly I quite enjoy not feeling hungry.

Smiles and Sunshine

Katie