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

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day 2018

I’ve previous shared my experience of living with Fibromyalgia covering topics such as Managing Fibromyalgia while Working , 5 Things That Help Me Manage Fibromyalgia & Managing Fibromyalgia during Pregnancy .

In this post, I want to share what daily life is like with Fibromyalgia & the steps I take to manage life with chronic pain. From the moment my eyes open in the morning, I can feel the pain run throughout my body, my joints are stiff & muscles tense. It takes me a few moments to come around with the fatigue hitting me smack in the face.

I know that if I move my joints will ease up & as the day goes on it gets a little easier to move around & get things done. In January, I had to finish up work due to a combination of pregnancy problems & flare-ups. Having a routine is important, otherwise I would be stuck in bed all day unable to move which only makes things worse for me. Don’t get me wrong, I have days where I have to rest or stay in bed longer because the pain is so intense.

I’ve learned to pace myself when doing daily tasks. Before I would push myself to do something quickly, over do it & then suffer later. Now I do a little bit at a time & most importantly I rest. If I have a busy day planned it takes days of planning making sure I don’t over do it the day before & that I get plenty of rest & sleep.

My top tips for managing my Fibromyalgia are:

1. Pacing; breaking tasks into smaller chunks.

2. Plenty of Rests with time to recover.

3. Keeping a routine.

4. Keep moving. No matter how bad I am, I have to keep moving.

Fibromyalgia isn’t just pain. It’s a combination of symptoms from IBS, depression, anxiety, brain fog & widespread pain. I’m raising awareness of what life is like with Fibromyalgia & how I manage daily life.

You can find more information about Fibromyalgia here:

http://www.fmauk.org

https://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/conditions.aspx?gclid=Cj0KCQjwodrXBRCzARIsAIU59TIrfOTqqzP4E8tWYyPyRiehC_81haaorEErQ43AVWgVwUdMjRiY6t8aAhuLEALw_wcB

Mother’s Day

I wrote this for Mother’s Day on the 11th of March & posting it on International Women’s Day. I feel it’s a fitting post for both.

I’m well aware that life with a chronic illness has been just as difficult for my Mum as it has been for me. From a young age I’ve been attending hospitals for various conditions & my mum was always there supporting me & making sure I followed treatment plans.

She was there every step of the way with me, she endured as much of the pain as I did as she watched me & had many a sleepless night looking after me. Not once did she complain, or question my pain & fought hard for me to get support.

Many times I would falter. I would question my ability to do things. I wanted to give up. It was that voice of my Mum in the background “Leann, you’ve came this far. You can’t give up. You can do this”. She reassured me things would get better & she instilled in me a can do attitude where giving up was never an option.

A strong, independent & determined women who brought me up on her own & supported me through High School exams & University. Through the tears & tantrums she guided me.

I’m blessed to have such a strong women by my side & I hope that I’m half the Mum she is to me.

Photo by Premier Photography

In Memory of my Nephew

On the 24th of February 2014, my nephew Tyler was stillborn. The awful news tore through the family, grinding us all to a halt & filling us with utter sadness. Our happiness & joy of a new baby coming into to the family quickly turned sour to heartache & pain.

Not only did it affect my brother & his wife but the wider family were devastated. As an Auntie, I felt lost & heartbroken & I turned to online resources to help me through this.

The Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Charity Sands provided me with much comfort & support through this experience. The group meetings provided great support & comfort to both my Brother & Sister in Law. Peer support & a safe place to talk helped them through their most challenging point in their lives.

In Memory of Tyler’s 4 year Anniversary I have donated money to the charity Sands & to raise awareness of the great work they do to support families who are affected by stillbirths & neonatal deaths.

For further information & support please visit: https://www.sands.org.uk/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI9arqhey02QIVBomyCh3OjQuBEAAYASAAEgIrq_D_BwE

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