7 September 2017

PND Awareness week - My Story

Hi, I'm Hayleigh, I'm 24 and live in the city of Glasgow. I am a mama to one wonderful yet sassy little girl. I'm a Disney princess (seriously) I love things like game of thrones, Harry potter and star wars. I love baking, singing, acting and gin. Oh and I am currently recovering from an eating disorder as well as depression.

I've cried more in the past year than I think I have in my entire life. Over everything and nothing. Out of joy and sadness. I've cried looking at my baby, because I just love her so damn much. I’ve cried because I've felt judged. I've cried because I was pushed out of my job. I've cried because my tea got cold. I’ve cried because I feel like a failure as a parent because the baby is crying. I’ve cried because I cannot control all of my emotions all of the time. I've cried because it seemed like the only damn thing I was capable of doing in that moment. I've cried because, well I don't know why.

Some days I feel suffocated. I'm not sure why. I just do. If my partner is at work, and I'm home alone stuck in because it’s raining, again, and i’m sat about with little to do, I feel trapped. I feel as though I can't breath. Not always, but sometimes. I feel a failure because I’m not always jumping for joy, because some days i don’t want to do anything except sit on the couch.  Some days I get cabin fever and have to be anywhere that isn’t these same four walls I've come to resent. Instead I walk. I walk until the baby gets restless because she’s bored of sitting in her pram, until it’s time to stop for the baby to eat and so I can get a coffee, until we grow tired, until it’s time we got home.

I’ve suffered with depression since I was a teen. Life threw some punches and I didn’t handle them very well. This resulted in what is now a decade of trial and error on finding what works for me. I know all my signs and I’m open and honest about how i’m feeling with my partner. This means when i’m having a bad week we can get try to get on top of things before it spirals out of control. Sometimes we don’t quite manage. My depression causes me to tear myself apart. I forget how to function and eventually my eating disorder shows up with her suitcase and makes herself at home. I’m still capable of supporting others, helping a friend out, looking after baby and ensuring she has what she needs. But I forget how to look after me. I forget how to love myself and instead I punish myself through food for not being a better person, for not having the ability to control how I feel. This creates a downward spiral.

I get anxious over things I know do not call for the anxiety attacks I am burdened by. I struggle to rationalise what I can see happening, to tell myself “it’s okay, take a deep breath and relax” Instead my chest tightens as it starts pounding, my brain turns into a sea of chaos with irrational thoughts swirling around, my body grows weak and I glaze over. This can happen at any point without much warning, if any. Im lucky that my partner can read the signs. He knows what’s happening before I say anything. He takes control, gets me out of the situation causing stress and finds a quiet place to help me find myself again. When i’m alone though it’s a whole other ball game. I have to find a way to find calmness without losing control. When it’s just me and baby I have to take control and fast. In most cases this results in me walking it off singing nursery rhymes to her at the top of my head until it passes, or until I feel I’m in control again.

At first I thought I was a failure because I didn't have all the answers, I wasn't aware that what I was going through was what hundreds of other women were going through. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of. It DOSE NOT make you a bad parent. You are not doing anything wrong by admitting you need some help. We all need help from time to time. We are all just winging it. If I'm perfectly honest, I don't think any of us know what we are doing with life, especially parents. We just pretend we do because not only do we have ourselves to take care of, we are now responsible for other tiny humans. We have this fear that if we admit we cannot quite cope then someone will come take our kids away. That’s not how it works though. Admitting you need help gives you the support you need. It stops you from losing control of everything around you. It helps you find ’you’ again and lets you be the mama you want to be, the mama you deserve to be.

If you feel you need help please ask for it. Talk to a friend, another mum, your doctor, health visitor or talk to your partner. You matter, your health matters and your mind matters.

Love and hugs,
Hayleigh xo

Find me over here and on Insta @hayleigh_meg 

If you would like to donate to PANDAS Foundation ensure they can continue to help support families affected by both pre & postnatal mental illnesses please text PANDAS £3, £5 or £10 to 70660 or visit their website for further information and support.

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