I’ve been discharged from the Parent and Baby Unit.
I’m thinking that I was possibly a little harsh in my last post. I have actually learned a few useful things through these counselling sessions (I’m not just saying all this as I found out that my counsellor takes her son to the same nursery that I’ll be taking The Baby to and am now worried if she reads my blog things could get a little awkward. Honest.).
Although I think it is beyond ridiculous to expect someone who is in the deep, dark throes of depression, when reality is no longer palpable, to use techniques that involve grabbing a paper and pen, and objectively analysing these thoughts, through categorising them, assigning them a strength rate out of ten, listing all the evidence that backs up these thoughts, listing all the evidence that discredits these thoughts, re-evaluating them, re-assigning them a strength rate out of ten, and subsequently feeling much better about life (yes, this is an exercise I was told to do next time I felt ‘low’, and yes I realise this one sentence is an entire paragraph), it is actually a useful thing to do when times aren’t quite so dark and difficult.
I have had moments when I’ve been calm and more ‘up’ and have had the clarity to look objectively at some of the thoughts I’ve had during the darker times, and actually it does help to try to find evidence to prove that I’m a bad mother, a failure and an incapable wreck in general. Turns out that there is a little more evidence to the contrary. And to keep this fact in my head goes a little way to helping me realise that when I start to have dark thoughts and feel low, that these thoughts are not facts that I have to accept.
The counselling has also helped me to pin-point things that, while not exactly trigger the depression, certainly contribute to it. I don’t really believe it has a specific trigger, it just sort of appears; attacks.
Sleep deprivation, however, has a major effect on my mood. Sleep is so important to well-being, and this becomes painfully clear when it’s as elusive as it is in the early days of motherhood.
I had SPD during pregnancy, and 6 months in I was unable to sleep properly due to the pain. After nearly 7 months of disrupted sleep due to getting up to feed / rock / walk / cuddle The Baby every hour or two, I was nearly 12 months without a night’s sleep. I was desperate. I was losing myself, and my sense of reality. The combination of feeling low and guilty and anxious, combined with sleep deprivation was a dangerous one.
I had irrational thoughts that seemed perfectly rational (I thought that if The Boyfriend took The Baby out of the house, he would never return. I didn’t want The Baby out of my sight for a second). The Boyfriend and I had endless arguments, all reasonable at the time, all forgotten now, and all due to my foggy, tired perspective.
Even now that The Baby sleeps 10 – 12 hours at night, and I’m not up every hour (although I still struggle to sleep all night, I especially struggle to get to sleep in the first place), if I have a particularly bad night’s sleep, and I’m not very ‘up’, I am on a knife-edge the next day. My mood can so easily go from feeling a bit down to being a full-on Black Cloud due to lack of sleep.
Another factor that can cause me to feel down is the thought of going back to work. A conversation on this topic can turn me into a wailing banshee. So I won’t discuss it. (Just a note to companies and PRs: if you would like to pay me to advertise [parenting-related] stuff on my blog, say, oh I don’t know, a fee that matches my current earnings, thus enabling me to stay at home rather than return to work, you will be helping not only me and my sanity, but the well-being and sanity of The Boyfriend and The Baby. Just something to ponder on.)
The counselling has also helped me to realise that on the days when everyone I encounter is ‘a dickhead’, ‘a dipshit’ and a ‘selfish wanker’, and my throat is sore from shouting at said people (mainly from behind the steering wheel…I dread to think what The Baby’s first word will be), this is actually a cue that a pretty awful bout of depression is about to descend. Irrationality and snappiness is, apparently, a common symptom of depression. I know this because I have looked at several hand-outs outlining what depression is and how it manifests itself. Who says the NHS only addresses a disease and not the individual?
Now that I have been discharged I feel a mix of emotions.
I feel as if I’ve been slightly left alone to just get on with it now, although I was reassured that if I feel the need to beg for help again due to the fact that I’ve had what can only be described as a break-down, I should go to my GP. As long as I realise that I need help before 8.30am, and call them at precisely 8.30am and not a minute later, or I can post-pone my breakdown for approximately 7 days in order to book an appointment on a day which isn’t completely booked-up, then I’ll be fine. No doubt if I do need help from my GP in the future the only real option will be pills, or group-therapy. Thanks, but no thanks, to both.
I also feel relieved that I’m not attending weekly sessions that are, for the most part, a waste of time for all involved. I’m glad I saw it through, though. I had decided when I was referred for counselling that I would stick the entire course out, just to prove that even a full course was not the help I needed. I was right. Stubborn? Pig-headed? Moi?
I think I’ll stick to my strategy of a bit of reiki, wine, cake, ignoring everything that makes me feel bad, and blogging. And to keep inventing evidence that disproves the fact that I am a complete wreck, and indeed, a dummy mummy.