Saturday, 18 March 2017

Walking on a tightrope.


I sat on the bed, Elijah was screaming, after refusing another bottle and being up all night. I stared out of the window with the tears running down my face and came to the crushing realisation, I was a crap mum. I couldn’t do this. I began to regret our decision to even have a baby. I bombarded Greg with messages whilst he was ay work begging him to come home. I couldn’t cope, I didn’t know what to do. He offered to send his sister round to help but the shame of someone seeing me like this, that I had failed tore me up. I pleaded for him to leave it, I would be okay. All you want in the world is for someone to help you, yet the minute that offer is there you cannot possibly take it. Instead you continue to punish yourself. Self-destruction intimate, I carried on barely holding it together for more than a day. I tried to control how I was really feeling by not eating and abusing pills.
Our start to motherhood wasn’t the typical kind, and I am unsure if I would have felt like this if we didn’t go through a NICU stay and Elijah’s op. In my heart, I think I would have. Becoming a new mum was both the best and worst time of my life. I loved Elijah with every inch of my being, but I also dreamed of having our pre-baby life back. I even planned of leaving thinking they were better off without me. After all, if a mum who was questioning her decision to have her baby in the first place was surely not cut out for it? That I was trying to get through the day by wishing the time away until bedtime. I crawled into myself, and when I got there, I hated who I had become. I didn’t like any part of me.

Every choice I made, I tormented myself with. I never felt good enough. I pushed everyone away, thinking if I cancel plans and stay in I wouldn’t have to face their questions, their pity. In reality, I was just pushing that help further and further away. Looking back now at those first 18 months, I feel awful knowing how much I tainted those first months of Elijah’s life. I shouted, I had no patience and I was unhappy. I am also glad that I can recognise now it was because I was unwell. There is no need to be ashamed. Many mums suffer a form of Post Natal Depression (PND) and in my case also, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is the most isolating and lonely illness you could suffer from. But, we must not suffer in silence. We must talk about this, be honest and help one another kick its arse. I didn’t get help for a very long time as I was worried what people would think. That one trip to the Doctors began the course that saved my life. My relationship, my chance to be the mother I could be. This is what needs to change, we should not delay getting help because we are scared of the reaction we will receive. PND is an illness and needs treating just the same as if you have an infection.

It can be hard to talk about mental illness. To put those words out there, you are also admitting it to yourself. I shared my story because I wanted it to help someone, to recognise they are not alone, not abnormal and that it is okay to not be okay. There are days where everything is a struggle, you know that the tightrope you are walking on will feel like it is going to snap, that you will fall off and not be able to get back up. But you will. That is also why I resonated with the singer Sandi Thom’s honest account and why I am proud to share this on my blog. There was no doubt when I was invited by the amazing charity PANDAS to share it, that it would sit alongside my story. After all we really are in this together. We must educate ourselves and others of the signs, have more accessible help, even if it is just reaching out to someone via social media. Nobody is alone, nobody deserves to be judged for how they are feeling, and this is what we must strive to change. For now, I am between happy and okay, and that’s enough.

Below you will find Sandi’s experience with PND which she bravely shared with PANDAS.
Sandi Thom
 
“I felt like I was slipping into a dark hole that I was never going to escape from” – Sandi Thom opens up about her struggle with post-natal depression, how she contemplated suicide and her work with pre and post-natal depression charity, PANDAS, in time for Mother's Day.

If you don’t know the name, then you’ll know the song that sent Scottish singer-songwriter Sandi Thom into the realms of international stardom. Her debut single, I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair) topped the UK Singles chart in 2006 earning Sandi the title of fifth biggest selling single of that year, and went double platinum topping the charts in Australia for an incredible 10 weeks at number 1. Sandi then went on to release five studio albums and is set to release her first album since the birth of her baby boy Logan later this year.

Many will remember her infamous webcam rant in 2015 which saw the singer-songwriter take to the internet to condemn BBC Radio 2 and Bauer Media for rejecting her single Earthquake. However, few know that she was actually suffering from pre-natal depression at the time. Sandi’s condition persisted post-pregnancy, with it reaching an all-time low when she contemplated suicide: “I felt like I was slipping into a dark hole that I was never going to escape from”.

After the pregnancy, Sandi had a hard time shaking feelings of intense shame and guilt, stating that “because I had people visiting regularly, asking to see the baby and expecting me to be over the moon, I couldn’t understand where this huge feeling of shame was coming from”. It was only when her anxiety became so unbearable that Sandi decided to come out of the shadows and take control of the situation, “when I started to feel the cloud lifting and could finally enjoy my little boy, I can’t tell you how overjoyed I was to feel happiness again”.

Now 11 months old, Logan is currently on the road with his Mum and is all-set to follow in her footsteps: “I’m so used to being on the road and Logan has been with me for it all. My Mum is amazing. She helps me when I tour and work. Logan is even training to play the tambourine in my band when he’s older. It’ll be a real family affair!”

Sandi’s upcoming single, Tightrope, captures the inner turmoil that saw her teetering dangerously on the edge for well over 6 months. All of the profits from the single which is out just in time for Mother’s Day will go towards PANDAS Foundation, one of the very few charities in the UK that deals with pre and post-natal depression. Sandi hopes to continue her close work with the charity, saying that she’s ready to do whatever she can to raise awareness for an illness that is still very much a taboo subject. "I don’t think parents feel they can be open about the illness and, therefore, try to push it back. I hope to help PANDAS allow women to be more open and potentially we could save lives, because sadly it is the leading direct cause for maternal deaths in the UK.”

Donna Collins, Managing Director of PANDAS Foundation said; “PANDAS Foundation is so excited to have been chosen by Sandi to benefit from her immense talents as a songwriter and performer. Although writing ‘Tightrope’ was a very personal experience for Sandi, many parents across the UK and indeed the world, will feel the lyrics resonate with their own feelings and emotions whilst battling with a pre or postnatal mental illness. Those feelings of losing control, feeling lost, lonely and walking a tight line between functioning and struggling are so familiar to many, but in her bravery of opening up and talking honestly it reiterates why no one should feel shame about their illness. So that they ultimately talk to someone and get the help and support they need. We are proud to have Sandi Thom as an ambassador for our charity, helping us to spread awareness of pre and postnatal mental illnesses.”



Tightrope is released on 24th March 2017.

Song Download - https://www.dropbox.com/s/1lwcb0e8e5wtgir/Tight%20Rope%20-%2024bit%20Master%20RADIO%20EDIT.wav?dl=0

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