Breaking My Silence

It’s been 3 weeks since Caleb was delivered by Emergency C Section & it’s been a hectic few weeks. I’m not sure what day of the week it is & days seem to fly by.

The first week was difficult due to the pain & I found it hard to process what had happened. Mentally & emotionally I was going through it all in my head, the induction process, 16 hours of labour & finally the emergency C Section.

The induction process sparked a Fibromyalgia flare causing additional pain which I struggled with. I felt like a failure during the process as my body failed me & continued to do so during labour.

People often describe that perfect moment of meeting their Baby & describe it as being the best day of their lives. I never felt this & I was plagued with guilt after having Caleb.

I lay there in the operating theatre feeling helpless & watched my Husband hold our son for the first time. I was so proud of him lying there in his Daddy’s arms but I was very aware that I was lying on an operating table & I felt somewhat disconnected from the situation.

I’m feeling more settled & in touch with how I’m feeling. I opened up to my husband about my struggles & together we worked through it. I am blessed with a beautiful boy & I am filled with pride & love for our family of three.

I’ve also been sharing my journey on Twitter & I’m thankful for the love & support people have shown me on there. It’s good to know I’m not alone.

Caleb Joseph, 22/05/18 💙.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

To mark the start of Mental Health Awareness Week I want to share my story of living with Depression & Anxiety.

I’m rolling it back to early 2017, I was at my lowest & I felt this wave of anxiety & depression take over me. I had previously struggled with both but this time it creeped up on me without any warning & smothered me.

I was lost, miserable & angry. The anger stemmed from my frustration of a Three Year battle to conceive. Infertility Appointments which made me feel like a failure. The Specialists had no answers as to why I couldn’t have a Baby which added to my miserable state. Unexplained Infertility.

I struggled to deal with the situation I was in, I pushed people away, I lashed out & I hated myself.

A dark cloud was over me all the time, I tried to shrug it off or ignore it but I just couldn’t. My actions spiralled out of control as I couldn’t see a way out of the situation. I turned to painkillers to help me manage. Of course, they didn’t help but I had to take them.

One day I broke down to my Husband, he could see that I was in a bad place & had noticed I was hiding painkillers from him. He always reassured me that the Infertility issues were our problems, not just mine & we could find a solution to any problem. He encouraged me to reach out to my GP & seek help & that’s exactly what I did.

The hardest part was opening up & telling someone how I felt without covering it up with “but it’s fine, I’ll be okay” or “I’ll deal with it, I just have to”. I came off painkillers, spoke to my husband more about my inner battles & I acknowledged my anger & worked to change it into something positive.

A year on, I still choke up at the thought of what would have happened if I continued down the road I was on because I was desperately looking for a road out.

I opened up. I told someone how I really felt. I got help. Here I am, a year on, 37 weeks pregnant with our little miracle. I’m extremely lucky & thankful & I continue to battle my demons but I’m not alone.

Don’t suffer in silence. Reach out. My door is always open to others who want to talk.

The following links have useful info & support:

https://www.seemescotland.org

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk

https://www.samaritans.org

Fertility Support: How to Plan & Prepare

My husband & I went down this route after two years of trying & struggling to conceive. My periods were irregular because of medication I was on for my Arthritis & Fibromyalgia. So it was difficult to track when I was ovulating & we were very much in need of the support from the infertility service.

I had to get a referral from my GP to the consultant at the hospital but this wasn’t a straight forward process. I was 25 at the time & I remember vividly the GP commenting on my age & how I had the rest of my life in front of me. She uttered the words “You’re 25, not 35.. plenty of time for a family” & I quickly chipped in to remind her that it was my choice. I never did get a referral from that GP but that didn’t stop me. I went to another GP, explained my circumstances & the referral was made.

After a 6 months wait, I was seen by a Gynaecologist who examined me & discussed the issues I had been having. I remember telling her the main reason I was there was because I was looking for answers. Her response stays with me to this day & at the time I didn’t understand what she meant. She told me not to look for answers because they might not be there, I might never get the answers I need. It soon made sense to me that this would be the case.

The first appointment with the infertility service was with a Nurse who took our medical history, performed blood tests, ultrasound & a further appointment was arranged. The appointment focussed on do you drink alcohol? Do you smoke? Do you take drugs? The line of questioning changed to weight & the dreaded Body Mass Index (BMI). I’ll be honest my weight and BMI fluctuates; managing chronic conditions & trying to be active is difficult & this was reflected by my weight.

Don’t search for those answers; what if they do remain unanswered. Most couples who receive fertility support are classed as “unexplained fertility” & we fell into this bracket. I hated that it was out-with my control but so many things remained in my control. I stopped drinking alcohol & I altered my diet for it to be more healthy & found a meat free diet was much more beneficial for me.

The best advice I would give you if you are about to embark on your journey is to prepare, support each other & aim for a healthy lifestyle. If you get the opportunity I would recommend pre pregnancy counselling, it’s especially useful if you have chronic conditions & are on medication.

Still to this day, I remain in the unexplained category but with changes made to my lifestyle I’ve been lucky enough to conceive without any support. Those questions still remain unanswered and I feel very lucky to have conceived before starting the IVF journey.

Time To Talk

Having a mental health issue can make you feel lonely, isolated & worthless but Time To Talk encourages everyone to have those conversations about mental health & to open up about it.

I think back to this time last year when I was stuck in a bad place physically & mentally. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia alongside my Arthritis & medication was the first port of call. I didn’t realise the impact the medication would have on me & before I knew it I had spiralled out of control into a depression.

Living my life in constant pain was telling on me, I was exhausted & I felt trapped. Trapped in my body of pain & misery. Everything was out with my control, the pain, the low mood & anxiety. I didn’t talk to my husband about how I really felt & instead I turned to painkillers.

The telling point for me was when I was driving & the thoughts of not being here whizzed through my head & ways of ending it would become more vivid & harder to suppress.

I didn’t feel like Leann anymore, I was no longer a supportive wife, a daughter or friend. I was hiding things from my husband, I was storing painkillers everywhere for the just in case moments & I hated myself.

I finally plucked up the courage to say to my husband, I think I have a problem. Saying it out loud I knew I had a problem & I couldn’t hide from it anymore. My husband encouraged me to go to the GP & I shared my cocktail of meds with him & the harsh reality of the situation smacked me in the face. If you continue like this Leann, you will harm yourself. Right up to that point, that’s what I wanted, or at least I thought I did.

I had so many reasons to stay alive, my husband, Puppy, my family, my future. I had a future. Reaching out, opening up & talking about how I really felt was a big leap for me but it saved me from the depression.

My relationship with medication & painkillers was a toxic combination & I decided to come off everything. It was difficult, I couldn’t see the immediate benefit but I kept going & I looked for other ways to manage my pain & mental health.

The most helpful book I read was Matt Haig’s Reasons To Stay Alive. His words rang true with me & his experience helped me to see that I wasn’t alone & it also helped me to open about my mental health.

A year on, I’m more open about how I feel & I openly share my journey. I have a future. A second chance of life with my husband & our new beginnings with baby Kelly due to arrive in June ❤️.

As much as it was difficult for me to reach out, it saved me & I hope you can reach out too if you are struggling. You are worth it. You do have a future. Keep going.

#TimeToTalk

New Year Goals

As much as I had my health struggles in 2017 & was challenged by them, I did manage to have a good year & achieve my goals. I done things my anxiety told me that I could never do such as going on my friends hen do to Liverpool, travelled to New York & Philadelphia & completed & passed my masters dissertation.

When I think back to this time last year I was filled with self doubt & riddled with anxiety. My mind would remind me of all the things I couldn’t do but I challenged this thought process & achieved my goals which I am incredibly proud of.

My goals achieved in 2017

1. I became Vegan in January.

2. Completed & passed my dissertation.

3. Went to Liverpool on my friends Hen Weekend.

4. Graduated from Uni with a Masters in Career Guidance & Development.

5. Gained confidence to write & started blogging.

Goals don’t have to start at the beginning of the New Year & throughout the year I set new goals & took a little longer to achieve some of them than expected but I done it. I had a great sense of achievement & goal setting helps me stay focussed throughout the year.

My goals for 2018

1. Complete another Veganuary & follow a vegan lifestyle.

2. Continue to write & share my health journey.

3. Learn mindfulness techniques.

4. Be more active.

5. Read more books.

Looking forward to 2018 & I am ready for the next chapter in my life.

The Puppy that changed our lives

This time last year my husband & I drove to Perthshire to collect our little fluffy bundle of joy. When we arrived we were greeted by a lovely family who welcomed us into their home to meet 3 gorgeous Border Collie Puppies. They were the cutest yet tiniest little things I have ever seen. As soon as I seen them, I knew it was a Border Collie I wanted & we were lucky enough to get one of the pups.

You couldn’t take the smile off my face as I cuddled our precious little puppy that we named Chewie. I was bursting with happiness & couldn’t wait to get him home & settled into his new home.

Chewie has brought so much love & happiness into both our lives & I couldn’t imagine life without him. My anxiety had a grip of me last year & I was constantly anxious, experiencing panic attacks & having night terrors. Chewie brought a happiness & comfort into my life that eased my anxiety immediately. On my worst days, he comforts me with cuddles & knows when I’m having an off day. There’s no better feeling than Chewie welcoming us home with sheer excitement & cuddles.

I am so grateful, thankful & happy to have Chewie in my life.

First Christmas Anxiety Free

On the run up to Christmas I get myself into such a state worrying about Christmas Day & having family over sends my anxiety through the roof. Anxious thoughts creep in of how the day will go, how will I feel, how will I cope & the what if scenarios spiral out of control. Exchanging gifts & receiving gifts are a big trigger for my anxiety & I find it very challenging. To add to the pressure this year my Dad spent the day with us which is the first time in 10 years that I’ve spent Christmas with him.

It came as a surprise yesterday that I managed to do everything we had planned; Morning Mass, paid a visit to my nieces & nephews & had family round for Christmas dinner. Not only did I manage but I got through the day without feeling anxious with no intrusive thoughts or panic attacks.

This came as a surprise that I not only managed to survive Christmas Day but I was anxiety free. I didn’t take that for granted & very much enjoyed the day. For once, my anxiety didn’t have a hold of me & my thoughts & I made the most of an anxiety free day.

I’ve had a relaxing Boxing Day in my pj’s watching Beauty & the Beast, Friends & some football. It’s exactly what I was needing & a self care day is a great way to come down after Christmas.

Feels good having another little win over Anxiety. First Christmas Anxiety Free in 14 years!