Anxiety Archives - PANDAS Foundation UK

2

Lucien’s Marathon

1) Please tell us about yourself?

My name is Lucien, 32 from France. I have been living in the UK with my wife Alix for almost 10 years and consider myself more English than French! Our son Oscar is 2.5 years old. I work in sports marketing, and apart from running, I enjoy sports in general, music and film.

2) Please tell us about your marathon?

My marathon was Sunday (9th April) in Paris. I’ve been training hard for the last 6 months, gradually building my training regime. I only started running 1 year ago, after 31 years of hating it!

3) Please tell us about your experiences of perinatal mental health and why you are supporting PANDAS?

It wasn’t something my wife and I were ready for. I don’t think anyone can be. But in my case, I had a misconception of what it meant. My wife was ,and still is- one of the strongest persons I know, and when it started few weeks after our lovely boy Oscar was born, I think both of us actually fooled ourselves into thinking it wasn’t that. It couldn’t be. She was just tired and it would pass. But it didn’t. Things worsened, to a point where I was fearing for her safety. Never our child’s. Remarkably and bravely Alix decided to get help and it was the best decision she could take.

I remember feeling this complete sense of being useless. I am used to making her feel better after 14 years together and I know what to say when she’s down. But this wasn’t “like before.” And we now know this isn’t something you can get out of without the help of professionals. This doesn’t make Alix, or anyone seeking help weak or weaker. Actually for me realising this is beyond your control and requiring professional help is a sign of strength. Alix received the help she needed from NHS professionals, who were absolutely amazing. But we wish at the time we’d known about PANDAS.

4) How can supporters follow your marathon and sponsor you?

I’m starting on Sunday around 08.55 UK time, and you can track me (my race number is 71199) here: https://track.rtrt.me/e/ASO-PARISMARATHON-2018#/tracker You can support me (and PANDAS of course) by donating on my page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LucienBigois

5) Finally is there anything else you would like to add? 

To people reading this at that crucial point when you do not know if you, or a loved -ones is suffering from perinatal mental illness, and think it will go by itself, please do seek help. If nothing else ,you will get the chance to have a chat than can be more powerful than you think.

Thank you for reading and I hope to make PANDAS proud. I won’t set the timer on fire – but I’ll do my best.

Lucien is running a marathon in Paris on Sunday to raise funds for people suffering with perinatal mental health. We would like to say a huge thank you to Lucien for sharing his family’s story and for having the strength to train for a marathon.

4

A Not-so Traditional Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day, historically, is a day for children to appreciate their mothers and all that they do for them. Slowly, like many of these seasonal events over the years, this has become commercialised and now for many the pressure of ‘fulfilling’ the glossy-magazine, smiley, happy, room dressed in walls of flowers – just never quite happens.

Many mothers have children who don’t even know the meaning of Mother’s Day. And there are also children who do not have mothers. Many mothers are single and don’t have that one person who can rush out to Clintons and bring back a ‘I LOVE YOU’ teddy bear. And many Mums, like the mums that are supported through PANDAS, are mums with perinatal mental health illness. Depression, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, to name a few. The energy consumed with this means that we are tired. Exhausted and drained by our thoughts, let alone once the day starts (if we haven’t been up all night already!) So, Mother’s Day for some can just be another huge burden that we can’t perform to on that day.

“JUST ONE PICTURE for Instagram!” I screamed at my equally exhausted husband, 3-year-old and wailing 6-month-old baby. With a full stream row over the top of the babies crying I sat in a heap on the floor and wept. I didn’t know why I was crying? Was it because we wouldn’t make it to our harvester Mother’s Day lunch, was it that my kids weren’t hanging off my ankles telling me how much they appreciate my efforts. Or was it that I couldn’t put a selfie on Instagram displaying my proud mother hen moment in my nest? On that day I hated Mother’s Day. And then, my 3-year-old wiped my cheeks and said, ‘Love you mummy’ and that was my moment to feel proud, it made my day. – Sarah

Social media and commercialisation are two of the biggest contributors to mental health in parents when considering things such as Mothers or Father’s Day. Constant marketing and promotion of what we ‘should’ be doing in an idealised world cannot be helpful to the many parents out there suffering with PND. One women kindly spoke to us about her traumatic experience over Mother’s Day two years ago.

Clair and her husband were visiting family with their newborn baby. Whilst the family cooed over the baby, Clair felt disconnected and isolated from her baby. On top of her stress she started to feel physically unwell and assumed a cold was on its way. Clair started to deteriorate and soon went downhill. Being rushed to hospital by her husband, it was confirmed that Clair had an acute case of Mastitis (Swelling of the breasts). Sore and in pain, Clair felt relieved to be away from everyone for the night whilst hooked up to a drip. She felt safe and looked after. She didn’t have to join in with happy families and she didn’t have to smile.

The next day was the morning of Mothers Day. Clair was discharged and went home into the arms of her husband. There he gave her her baby, and a small gift. And inside two little foot prints of her baby boy. Whilst she wanted to feel tears of joy, she felt nothing. Cold and numb. Clair bravely smiled at her husband and baby and got through Mother’s Day wishing it was over. All she wanted was her baby to display something. To give his mummy some real visual live feedback, but it wouldn’t happen.

Since then, Clair’s experience of Mother’s Day has improved year by year. Now approaching her third Mother’s Day Clair wants to have a day of no expectations, and just embrace the day.

For some, its our first ever Mother’s Day and we want to have our flowers and breakfast in bed moment. But for others, this can be a cruel reminder of not being a parent. wanting to be a parent or for some like Annie wanting to be a better parent and ticking the boxes.

We must remember that children don’t remember presents, they remember presence and even if you are having the worst day you could be, a child’s love is unconditional. It is ok to feel sad, it shows children how to accept emotions.

Every mother out there is doing their best. And that includes you, reading this.

Words – Annie Belasco
Contributor – Clair Priestley

PANDAS are here to support you. If you need a listening empathetic ear we are open 24-7 with our email services info@pandasfoundation.org.uk

or you can call us between 9-8pm on 0843 2898 401 Calls cost 6p per minute plus phone company’s excess.

24

My PND Experience – Part 1

I wrote this article for PANDAS in the hope that one day there won’t be such a thing called stigma when it comes to mental health.

I suffered with depression prior to my pregnancy because we found out we couldn’t conceive naturally. I felt like the world had come crashing down around me. And I was very low. We planned our fertility treatment and ended up having IVF. I became very anxious; I basically lived in a bubble through my pregnancy. I would over analyse everything, I wouldn’t eat anything unless I prepared it or if I told someone what to prepare. I read the labels on everything. I wouldn’t over exercise. Because I was told it’s better for baby to lay on your left, I was so scared to lay on my right side during my sleep that I hardly slept. I prayed everyday that we would make it to the end and meet our little girl. But at the back of my mind I was worrying about what my life would now be like. Did losing my “Pap” mean that I got to have a baby. There is an old myth that when you lose a loved one a baby comes along. He was my closet relative and this played on my mind throughout.

I was anxious, irritable, agitated, tired from lack of sleep, nervous, low and spent a lot of time crying.

I had all different sorts of ideas running through my head. How can I care for a baby? What if this happened, what would I do? Is this it for the next 20 years. Then I’d think: I can’t wait, all those cute clothes and day trips out.

It was exhausting.

During my pregnancy I suffered with severe morning sickness and had to have medication. I was diagnosed with pelvic girdle pain and saw a physiotherapist. The IVF and pregnancy certainly took its toll on me both physically and mentally. I had a few scares through my pregnancy regarding my baby’s heart rate. This did not help my anxiety at all. I expressed to the medical professionals my levels of anxiety and that I was concerned about my delivery. I was exhausted from not sleeping with worry. I didn’t think they would get her out, due to previous Gynae problems. I was told it was just nerves and not to worry. “Every mum feels like it. Every mum gets nervous.”

I was not asked about my mental health during my pregnancy. I was always told it is first time mum nerves. My advice would be to other parents, don’t accept this if you feel low. Then please seek help.

After a rough pregnancy my baby decided to come a few weeks early.I had mixed emotions, I thought finally we would get to meet and this worry will be all over with.

That’s what I thought anyway.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

 


 

Kerry Thomas, in her own honest 

 

words, is married to an “amazing husband” and is a proud mother to a beautiful little girl. Kerry started writing mummy blogs regarding post traumatic stress, postnatal depression and birth trauma following the birth of her now two year old.
Kerry has a strong desire to write about her mental health experiences through blogging and on social media, and is also writing a book to help others who are struggling. Her aim is to give people with mental health illness  a voice.
She has written a three part series of blogs for PANDAS -the first introducing herself and her pregnancy. 
33

Talia Dean – X Factor Star, PND survivor & Inspirational Mother

We are delighted that Talia has recently opened up and talked about her experiences of Perinatal Mental Health Illness. Talia is a true demonstration of a mother who can manage a difficult pregnancy, light up her own flourishing career and be the best Mother a child could wish for. Talia is working with PANDAS as an ambassador to encourage others to speak up, share their stories and end the stigma. PANDAS are here to help parents. And we want you to know that it’s OK not to be OK.

Click Here for Talia’s The Sun article!

PANDAS grass
3

Fear and Parenting

Fear and Parenting – by Amy Dear, for PANDAS Foundation

Fear is something that, as parents, we are constantly bombarded with. Just had a baby? Congratulations, both on your new child and your new state of constant terror. It’s nearly constant, from the moment you take your child home from the hospital and think ‘Really? You’re just letting me leave?’. Fear becomes your constant companion. Unending, primal, and best described as the sense that we are all (despite the baby books and manuals and well meaning advice from friends and relatives) getting it horribly, horribly wrong.
You only have to look at the absolute plethora of baby books out there to see how common fear is. From books about co-sleeping, whether or not to cry-it-out, reward charts and naughty steps and not using the word ‘naughty’ at all, it turns out there are a million ways to parent (and despite angry arguments on forums across the land, parenting differently to someone else won’t, in fact, end up with your child irreversibly damaged. You’re doing just fine).

Read More

Kerry and Edith
13

My Journey – by Kerry Webb

I’m a mental health nurse, so you think I would recognise the signs and be able to know when to act? Unfortunately not…

 

In February 2015 I had my first daughter, Amelia Alyce. I had some symptoms I brushed under the carpet during my pregnancy for quite some time, I now recognise these as panic attacks, dark intrusive thoughts and rumination.

Read More

6

Invisible

Mental Illness is invisible.

When someone is ill, or hurting, or injured, they go to the doctor. They’re not too ill to get up, they don’t need the hospital or an ambulance. They can still carry on the basic daily functions – but they just don’t feel very well.

Maybe they have a temperature – a runny nose, a cough. Maybe they’re feverish. Or perhaps they were injured somehow – a cut, a graze, a sprain. At worst, broken bone. They might need a bandage, a cast. They might even just need a plaster.

Perhaps they need medication to fix it. It might be antibiotics, or pain relief while their body heals itself. They’re given a clear timeline – two weeks, a month, a couple of months, and you’ll be better. If you’re not, please come back.

So they come home from the doctor to their loved ones and they say “This is what happened, this is what’s the matter. I’ll be better soon.” They might have a day or more off work, or just need to sleep for a bit. Maybe (if they’re very lucky!) they get a card, or flowers, or chocolate. Read More

Relaxation – PANDAS Advent Blog

‘Relaxation’, by Charlotte Saker

 

For many people the Christmas season is a time of joy, family and celebration.  But for a lot of us it’s also a time of stress, anxiety, and disappointment.  There are high expectations over the festive season of happy families, cooking a big meal, buying and giving lots of presents and generally having that Christmas card perfect holiday.  But not all of us can live up to those ideals.

Read More

A RECOVERY STORY – BY THE BUTTERFLY MOTHER

“Postnatal Depression recovery stories.” These were the only words I typed into my browser for weeks. My anxiety was incredibly high, I genuinely thought I was losing my mind. Instead of cuddling my son or enjoying his first smiles, I was scouring the internet for undeniable proof that I wouldn’t feel this way forever.  
 
Despite what my damaged mind was telling me, things did get better. I don’t feel that way anymore. So I’m posting my own story for any other mums who might be searching for answers now. 
 
My son was born at 1am on 27 Apr 2013 after 12 hours labour, an epidural and finally an emergency section. They had given me so much anesthetic at the last moment I became “blocked,” meaning I couldn’t move or feel anything besides my head and neck. I couldn’t hold my son for several hours, and I couldn’t feel when he was feeding.  
 
Looking back, things weren’t right from that very first day. I wasn’t feeling anywhere near the post-birth euphoria I had been expecting. But it wasn’t until 8 weeks later the cracks finally began to show. 
 
My son had just begun sleeping better, only waking for one feed during the night, but while he slept soundly at last I lay wide awake. The less I was able to sleep, the more I panicked during the day. How can I take care of him when I haven’t slept? What if I drop him down the stairs because I’m so exhausted? What if I fall asleep on the sofa and suffocate him? Of course, with these anxieties running around my mind all day I was nowhere near relaxed enough to sleep when night came around, and so the vicious cycle continued. I was lying in bed for around six hours each night, my heart racing and my thoughts spinning, until my body eventually gave in and I slept fitfully for between 1-2 hours before I awoke with a jolt, feeling sick and panicked once more.  
 
After 6 days of sleeping only an hour or two a night I burst into tears during a group I was attending at my local children’s centre. The staff were incredible, they calmed me as much as possible and called my health visitor. For the next few days she came by to see how I was, she listened to my fears and heard how I still wasn’t sleeping. I took all the usual advice – bath before bed, fresh bedding, read a book etc – but this only made my sleep worse. The pressure to sleep increased my panic and continued the cycle.  
 
I was then referred to my local Perinatal Emotional Wellbeing Service (PEWS). This is a fantastic NHS service which, sadly, isn’t available in all Trusts. Fortunately for me, Essex has it and that small team of individuals probably saved my life. Or at least kept me out of hospital. 
 
After they assessed me I was diagnosed with Postnatal Depression. I had been desperately hoping there was another explanation but deep down I knew it wasn’t only insomnia, I wasn’t eating or able to think straight either, all triggered by horrendous anxiety. PEWS liaised with my doctor (who was fairly useless, more on that in a future post) and visited me at home twice a week. Under their guidance, I found the courage to begin taking a combination of medication (a sleeping aid, diazapam for short term anxiety relief and eventually, reluctantly, an antidepressant).  
 
The medication firstly helped to get my sleep back on track. I was terrified that the sleeping tablets wouldn’t work but 15 mins after taking my first one I succumbed to sleep on the sofa and my husband helped me to bed where I slept solidly for four hours – a vast improvement from how I was. Each night I would fear the tablet wouldn’t work and each night I slept, for an increasing length of time until my sleep patterns were fairly normal again.  
 
Despite the improvement in sleep and appetite I was still suffering from anxiety attacks almost constantly. I simply couldn’t function properly. Once the drugs took some effect PEWS sent round their Occupational Therapist who specialised in anxiety management. I still think of this amazing woman as an angel sent to save me. She gave me some basic, CBT-based tools for managing fear which, with lots of hard work and practice, began to improve my mood and functionality.
 
Eventually PEWS were able to discharge me when an appointment with an NHS therapist became available. Again, I was very lucky to see a CBT therapist who had a lot of experience with perinatal mood disorders.  
 
One of the most difficult things about this illness is the slow recovery time. In my opinion, medication goes a long way to take the edge off and kickstart your recovery but it can only do so much – therapy is a vital tool for long term recovery. Through therapy I was able to begin to reroute lots of damaging negative thought patterns. 
 
Recovery was definitely an accumulative process for me. Medication and therapy bore the brunt but there were many other aspects of “self-care” which were vital to me; good, regular sleep; a decent diet; fresh air and a walk every day if possible; supplements; support from family and friends; mindfulness; books and websites like Anxiety No More. And, critically, online support.  Postpartum Progress and other blogs, and Facebook groups such as PPD Chat Support have been so valuable to me. Knowing you aren’t alone can help tremendously. 
 
Unfortunately, even with these tools, recovery takes time and patience, which is the biggest challenge of all. I remember being filled with despair when I read how long recovery can take for some people but the important thing to remember is even if full recovery takes months or longer you won’t be in that acute stage the entire time. The real hell was lessened in a matter of weeks for me. After that it becomes manageable, life becomes more bearable. You feel stronger and safer. You might not be thriving but you’re surviving. 
 
Parenting is hard and I still feel overwhelmed by it sometimes. I still wonder how I’ll cope. But then I remind myself that I’ve come through the last two years so there’s no reason I can’t keep going, keep striving, keep getting stronger. I also remind myself of all the things experiencing PND has taught me. I know how to deal with unhelpful thinking, I worry considerably less, I don’t sweat the small stuff and I have much more empathy for others. In some ways, I’m stronger. I think I’m probably a nicer, less selfish person. I’m not going to ever pretend PND is anything close to a gift, but there are certainly aspects to my personality and my life which have benefited. 
 
PND isn’t fair. It’s a cruel and terrible illness. But recovery is possible.If you’re reading this and thinking you’ll never get better try to remember that everyone who has ever recovered once thought they never would. And then they did. Read More

DO I LOVE MY BABY? – BY THE BUTTERFLY MOTHER

(Original Content taken from The Butterfly Mother blog)

bonding

Yesterday we had the paddling pool out for the first time. Caterpillar had a lot of fun and then wanted to come and sit with me where I was watching from the picnic blanket. I wrapped him in a towel and we snuggled down and cuddled, looking at the sky and talking about the sun and clouds, singing songs and tickling each other. Not an unusual sight for a mother and toddler, but a moment perhaps more significant to me than it would be to someone who hasn’t suffered Postnatal Depression. Read More

12

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close