September 2011, I had a total breakdown.
I had 3 kids under 3, I was a total crossroads about what I was doing with work, there was a lot of ‘stuff’ going on internally, I felt totally unsupported by everyone and a martyr to motherhood.
I had rage, anxiety, hypervigilance, intrusive thoughts, I fluctuated between insomnia and then unable to wake up. I ended up with recurrent ear infections that I couldn’t get on top of.
Essentially I was depleted, burned out and very unwell – physically, emotionally and mentally.
I was diagnosed with PND (it was never PND – it was anxiety), put on the waiting list for counselling and prescribed anti depressants.
Now here’s something about me.
I was (and am) one of the strongest people I know. I can cope with a lot. I am and have always been a “manager”, pro-active, positive, the person who organises everything.
In fact, even during this bout of illness, I took on chairing the local twins club and we went on to establish local antenatal classes for twin parents and breastfeeding support because you know… I wasn’t stressed enough!
I was a typical swan – everything looks easy on the outside but internally everything is a total struggle.
I took the meds, started counselling eventually (long waiting list) and the cherry on the cake was starting a new job 6-9 months later. It was a brilliant job at the University of Edinburgh which was probably the best job I ever had with the nicest team and the best boss. I felt like me again. My brain was being used. I had a purpose that wasn’t being a mum. I could wear nice clothes two days a week.
I was chatting to a client this week about medication.
I’m fairly pro-medication in a situation where someone has access to nothing else.
The medication I took meant I could finally manage life and really helped me to have the headspace and clarity to get back to work.
I sometimes believe this medication is what means I am still here now. It was that bad. And I am forever grateful to those pills.
Now, however, I wouldn’t start with medication. Not because I don’t believe it doesn’t help. But because I believe there’s much better approaches that would have got me better quicker without the side effects and ups and downs associated with medication (as there are and believe me I’ve met enough people WORSE from medication).
Here’s what I’d do now if I was struggling:
- Yoga – this might surprise you but yoga for me is the number 1 thing I turn to when I’m struggling. The body holds onto stress. Using your body to get rid of the stress is extremely powerful. For me, that would mean especially Yin yoga but any of the slower types of yoga would be good. I do not get enough time to do yoga at the moment due the house move and the juggle of the summer. I do, however, try to integrate some hip stretches most days and if my mental health was in a mess – this is what I’d prioritise.
- Invest in support for my mind – without a doubt all the money I’ve invested over the years in myself whether personal coaching/therapy sessions or through my learning has given me the ability to manage total chaos calmly. I wouldn’t be fobbed on with a waiting list in the NHS and then access a counsellor who wasn’t very good (I eventually went private and got an amazing therapist). I’d put together a budget and I’d invest in support.
- Get help. Whilst I had a cleaner, I didn’t have enough help with the kids. Because I wasn’t working I took on the responsibility of looking after 3 kids and all the places they had to be and all the food. No wonder I have a total aversion to meal times! I needed help way way way more help than I had. My husband worked long days. I literally had no space to think or breathe. The older kids went to playgroup at the time but it wasn’t enough – I had no time on my own without any kids and I completely lost myself.
- Learn to journal and/or EFT. I really came round to journaling in lockdown. Lockdown was a bit shit for me. I was at home with 4 kids. I didn’t know what to do with parts of my business (I was a doula at the time). It was so hard. But I set aside 10/15 mins every day to journal and EFT and without a doubt, each day I managed to turn my world around and get hold of my mind so I could keep it together. I hardly journal now because I feel when I do it now, I’m doing it because I feel I should rather than needing to do it. However, the journaling in lockdown and the subsequent year or two literally changed my life and I cannot recommend it enough.
- Learn about the nervous system, diet/nutrition, cyclical living and how to get the foundations right which is all included in Calm Foundations.
- Do the things that make me happy – time outside, good music, time with my husband, time with my friends and family, camping, foraging, sea swimming, sunset searching and all the things that make me smile internally.
Much love, Tricia xxx