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

Things people say to you when you’re Pregnant with a Chronic Illness

People love to give advice & impart their wisdom as soon as they know that you are pregnant. Even when you don’t ask for their advice, they give it anyway & the same goes for their opinion. It’s not just your family or friends hitting you with their fountain of knowledge but strangers also like to pipe in & get their voice heard.

There’s been some strong opinions on my Vegan/Vegetarian lifestyle & suddenly people are concerned about my protein in take & the lack of meat in my diet. Will that not affect the babies bones? Will the baby grow OK without meat? Just some of the opinions that have been shared with me on the matter of diet.

The most challenging views are from people who think that having a chronic illness means that I have lost the right to have a baby. Some of the following views were expressed at Chronic Pain group, needless to say I never returned after that session.

 

1- How have you managed your pregnancy when your in constant pain?

2- How will you manage when the Baby is here?

3- If you’re struggling just now with fatigue, just wait until the baby is here!

4- What if your Baby has the same health conditions as you? Do you really want that for your child?

Firstly, having a chronic illness I’m aware of what I can & can’t manage & I have great support from my Husband. I can’t look into the future, so I’ll have to wait until the baby is here until I know how I’ll manage. Fatigue is a big part of my Fibromyalgia & Arthritis so I’m well aware of the impact it has on me & the things I need to do to manage. And last but not least, of course every Mother wants their baby to be healthy & we don’t know if our Little One will have any conditions, let alone any of my conditions.

I never blamed my own parents for my diagnosis of Arthritis & Fibromyalgia & never been hung up on “why me”. I’m a stronger person for living with a chronic illness, I’m proud that I’ve overcame barriers & I hope to bring my own child up as strong & resilient, regardless of their health.

People just love to share their opinion. I’m glad I’m not easily offended.

A Valentine’s Night Like No Other

I’m not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day & it’s took me 7 years of celebrating it with my husband to finally enjoy it. I was reluctant to spend it in a overcrowded restaurant with the added pressure of eating dinner in under an hour, before the Waiter gently pushed you out the door for the next set of love birds to arrive. I was reminded of this mayhem as we drove past my favourite Italian Restaurant in Glasgow to see it queued out the door and onto the street!

Instead,we booked a private baby scan at Baby Scanning, Glasgow. I was a little disheartened after my 20 week scan as my little one was lying in an awkward position & we didn’t get any clear scan photos. More than that, I wanted to know my baby was healthy & doing well.

It’s only natural to feel anxious as a first time expectant mum & to put my mind at ease I opted for the 4d scan. The scan was 45minutes & it was great to lie back & watch it on the screen. Our little baby is 24+5 weeks now & our active little one was kicking about with their legs over their head. Time seemed to stop as I was lost in the moment of watching my little bundle of joy move around & was lucky enough to catch them yawn – it’s a hard life.

Not only did we get to see our baby but we heard their heartbeat & got a lovely little keepsake which was the heartbeat inside a teddy bear.

Perfect way to spend our 7th Valentine’s Day together ❤️.

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

We’re Having A Baby!

I’m delighted to share with you our fantastic news & our little bundle of joy is due in June. The past few months have been overwhelming yet they’ve flown in. I’m almost 22 weeks & recently had our 20 week scan which showed a healthy baby wriggling away & hiding from the camera.

We were due to start the next stage of the infertility process & suddenly, out of the blue, this little miracle happens. Feeling content & blessed & taking each day as it comes.

Our family of 3 with our Chewie the Collie is about to become a 4 ❤️.

*Of course our baby reveal photo would be of a Celtic top 🍀*

Self Care Sunday

Self care is something that goes out the window for me when my physical & mental health dips. I’ve struggled over the past week with Arthritis & Fibromyalgia flare ups which has resulted in time off work & I’ve spent most of my time at home resting. The time off work & rest has helped massively & I am now managing much better.

I decided to take some time out today for some self care tasks & to spend some time relaxing, away from my phone & switching off from the world. I took a hot bath with a Soap & Glory Bath bomb & face mask. The Greatest Showman soundtrack played on Spotify & I lay there feeling content.

I went on to have a pretty chilled day listening to music & preparing food for the week ahead. I’m planning on having more self care Sunday’s to help me recover from the working week & to prepare for the week ahead.

It’s true what they say, A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.

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.