Time to Say Goodbye

Dear Readers,

I didn’t want this blog to be like others I have seen, fallen away in a cobwebbed corner of the Internet, appearing abandoned, lost and forgotten, as their authors moved on to new projects. It has given me too much to share that fate, but it is time to say goodbye.

Dreaming of the Temple was just that. A way to reflect upon, and find healing from, past experiences, and, from there, form a platform for the future. I have now been to the temple, started a family and received the opportunity to pursue further study. The dreams represented by this blog have been fulfilled, I have  been blessed, and therefore must pursue a new challenge.

I am unable to express the gratitude I feel for the time you have spent reading and the support you have given me through this blog.

As as someone who has massive issues with technology (it’s like we are allergic to each other) this has been an incredible adventure. Thank you for accompanying me through this search for healing.

Whilst I am not, and most likely never will be, completely unburdened by mental illness, the past year has provided the understanding, reflection and acceptence for me to leap forward into a new chapter of my existence.

I truly don’t know what this next chapter will be, I have been involved in some incredible projects and more may follow, but I have the distinct impression that this, sadly, is not one of them.

Becoming a mother at the end of last year has given me a new perspective, altered the form of my mental illness and changed my priorities. Whilst blogging has been a great hobby, I don’t feel it is part of our future.

Perhaps we will meet again on a blog far, far away. Until then, I hope you too find internal peace and healing.

 

Advertisements

Fed is Best

Breasts, bottles, both…

I’m not really ready for this yet but let’s talk about the emotions of feeding.

Before we start, please reread the title, FED is BEST. This has nothing to do with the options available and the choices made when it comes to feeding our children.

This is all about acknowledging that feeding is the most talked about, emotionally loaded, hot topic out there.

It’s the one everyone has an opinion on and can be surprisingly hypocritical about. The most prominent example are those who lecture new mums on the properties of breastmilk but then flip out at mothers breastfeeding in public.

There is a particularly prickly minefield for those who do not direct nurse and express milk to take out and about. This may be because there have been challenges establishing direct nursing or because you don’t want to direct nurse in public. Even before I started exclusively expressing I was planning to pump for feeds beyond my front door because I am so uncoordinated I couldn’t envisage a time when I wouldn’t flash someone by mistake. (Those of you who can seamlessly and confidently lift up tops, pull down bras and simultaneously get a baby to latch on are magicians in my eyes).

Let’s Start Here

Although it is the most talked about and heavily advocated, breastfeeding is hard.

It is painful, hormone-fuelled and difficult to master. Even for those who pursevere with nipple cream in hand and come out the other side successful, it is a long slog of especially sleepless nights, anxiety over the quantity being consumed by your little one and hours of crying.

The crying isn’t just from mum either. My husband found our (eventually unsuccessful) breastfeeding attempts to be heart-wrenching, anxiety-inducing affairs where both baby and I were in tears and he felt utterly helpless. (I actually think it was more intense than the birth from his perspective).

If breastfeeding is not established; latching difficulties, challenges with milk supply, exhaustion, and so on, it can result in a huge amount of negativity.

A lot of this is from mum herself. Feelings of guilt, anger, disappointment, of failure.

If there have been supply challenges then formula feeding is often the next step, and many feel this is the most sustainable option as expressing can be all consuming. Some will still be topping up with formula despite putting in the long hours it takes to express. Some do a combination of breast, expressed and formula.

There are those for whom formula feeding is the most suitable and sustainable choice right from the start. This is perhaps the hardest choice of all because of the continuous pressure, attitude and opinions piled on by society, friends and family. These mums face harsh judgement, constant commenting and the most vicious external obstacles.

Let me know your feeding stories. As mentioned in the main body of the post, I did try to breastfeed so have no experience of choosing to formula feed from birth so I would especially love to hear from you. 

Baby Blues

So no prepared post this Monday sadly, due to a weekend of a potential postnatal depression.

I have been feeling really strong since the birth and actually didn’t get the usual weepiness attributed to Day 3 when milk typically comes in.

However, my anxiety kicked off again on Saturday and last night I felt so low.

I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel tired as is typical of new parents, I just felt numb.

I had to force myself to express as I just couldn’t be bothered and I feel terrible to confess that there were a few hours where I didn’t feel anything for my baby either.

I hope you will bear with me though as I have some posts in the pipeline; risk taking, expanding your comfort zone and a sonnet challenge!

Blogging Milestones

Welcome to 2019! 

I’ve been posting a lot about New Year and the associated resolutions this month and it seems appropriate to outline my blogging aspirations for this year.

Firstly, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read, like and comment on my posts. When I created this blog a year ago it was purely personal and I couldn’t imagine anyone reading it, let alone engaging with the content. Thank you!

I considered quitting so many times over the past year, and it has been a big lesson in perseverance which has aided my recovery and stimulated my mental well-being.

Now, I want to move forward.

All posts providing blogging advice emphasise consistency in producing material. This blog has had neither consistency of content or regular posting.

I have very much been learning whilst doing with this blog (having a lot of fun!) and it has taken a long time finding its feet. I outlined in my Dreaming of the Temple posts the initial ideas and expanse of topics I was considering exploring. In my very first post, I described my approach to blogging as ‘talking to myself’ and to be honest that isn’t going to change.

What will be different this year is that I have refined my content. I have 3 main areas that I enjoy posting about: mental health (which I am particularly passionate about and it the primary focus of the blog) accompanied by lifestyle and creative writing.

Those of you who have been following my blog since the beginning know that this year I am intending to return to university for postgraduate study. Last year, blogging helped me gain the confidence to apply for my masters and practice writing. This year, I’m looking to get back into the habit of deadlines. So the intention is to have a much more regular posting schedule, requiring me to create worthwhile content following a reliable timeline. The practice is especially required with the new arrival. Study, research and work with a new baby requires juggling, extreme time management and a flexible, yet diligent schedule.

 

 

 

 

New Year: A Time for Reflection

Three years have passed between New Year 2016 and New Year 2019. These were the last time I felt strong in myself and confidently optimistic about my ability to strive into the year ahead, and the first time since.

Three years ago, I simply couldn’t imagine being where I am now. Given my recent trauma (little did I know there were still two cases of harassment to follow) I had certainly written off any possibility of getting married, buying a house was far from my mind and children seemed a dream away.

New Year 2016 was just before I hit rock bottom, the eye of the storm as I rallied from abuse and assault before plunging into deep depression just a month later.

The Power of Hindsight 

That same month I met my husband and, as I have said before, without his intervention I hate to think what might have been the outcome.

The sound advice given to mental health suffers is to NOT make any life changing decisions.

However:

I was suicidal and got married

Bought a house whilst struggling with depression

Had anxiety and had a baby

None of these actions where taken lightly, a lot of consideration went into each and a lot of love, peace and healing was gained.

I have been incredibly blessed.

Return to Work: What’s Good for Baby, What’s Good for Mum?

I have a new emotional expedition I hope you will join me on. 

The time is approaching for me to make a big decision: to go back to work, to extend maternity leave or to stay at home. I have a few weeks before I need to give a final answer and, as ever, this is my exploration space. 

Before We Begin

There are so many factors that go into every individual’s choice that the concept of a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way of mothering needs to be exterminated. Unless you are outright neglecting, manipulating or abusing your child, there is not a wrong way to parent. 

I find it’s often women perpetuating these notions of right and wrong, I suspect driven by our own insecurities. We are desperate to be perfect, a desire fuelled by hormones, anxiety, love and the pressures of society (real or abstract). 

As ever, opinions are polarised, and the middle ground, although walked by so many, is obscured almost entirely by the prevailing opposites. In this instance, the two extremes are full time work and staying at home although a range of alternatives exist including working from home, being self employed, part time work and I am sure many more I have just never considered. 

Where I Am Right Now 

As I say, there are many, many things to consider, and I want to begin by acknowledging how fortunate I am to have maternity leave in the first place. I have the good fortune to live in a country that has statutory maternity leave, to be an employee and work for a company that I trust to uphold my rights. I am very blessed as not only is this not the experience of women in many other countries, it is not the security afforded to all in my own. 

Currently, beyond going round in circles about the choice and logistics of each outcome, I am aware of the implications of all options on my mental health and wellbeing. 

There have been great blessings to maternity leave but, as a workaholic, there have also been struggles. 

Therefore, there are not just the practical influencers such as finances, child care, the dog and our schedule as a couple to consider, but also emotional; family considerations, couple time and my own well being. 

Some might think it is selfish, but this decision is not just about what is best for baby, but also what is best for mum. 

Be More Edison

Last year, I published a post about Thomas Edison. 2nd January 1879 was the day that Edison began work on his first generator, only to see his life’s work go up in flames in 1914. Yet was he deterred? Not at all. Almost 70, he simply began all over again.

For me this is what January, and New Year, is all about. It is a time of year when everyone is reflecting, looking back at the year gone by and making plans for the year to come. It is important to be aware that this reflection makes it a challenging time of year for many, especially if personal tragedies have occurred. I like the Thomas Edison anecdote because it is all about renewal and rejecting regret. Regrets, and the expectations that lead to them, are the biggest foes of mental wellbeing in January.

Be More Edison

This year, I too am starting over. Our little family has grown and new life has brought rejuvenation. The past year was filled with personal reflection and emotional exploration as I attempted to regain some past integrity I felt had been lost through traumatic experience.

The initial ambition when I created this blog was to find solace, and perhaps provide some too, along the way. Now, I feel refreshed, thanks to you dear reader, I have persevered and gained confidence.  Like Edison, I have begun rebuilding, forming a disposition that I recognise from before my mental health broke down and becoming suicidal. Recovery, especially from an emotional injury, is a long journey, but I do believe it to be possible, however long it takes.

Take your time.

Where to Start?

Mental illness can be all consuming and because it is invisible can take longer to recognise, diagnose and understand.

Identifying the triggers for episodes of mental ill-health is an important place to begin. The trigger is the connection between the symptoms you experience and their root cause, most frequently a past experience. It’s working backwards to move forwards.

If you have been following my blog for a while, you will be aware that the trigger for my depression and suicidal thoughts was a series of negative relationships and intense academic anxiety. However, my anxiety is much more ingrained and has a root buried much deeper in the past.

Over the last year, I have begun to mentally excavate around the root. This began by assessing my panic attacks and identifying when the latest one started, working back from the obsessive behaviour to its trigger.

This is a good place to start because it does not require going outside, getting dressed, or even leaving the safety of a duvet cocoon.

Once identified, triggers can be used during grounding to re-centre and gradually gain control over mental illness, instead of feeling that it is control of you. It took me years, but I can now identify activities that are more likely than others to affect my mental wellbeing. As a result, I can be selective in my actions. This does not mean avoiding triggers outright. But it means that I can choose to engage with a stressor and feel in control or disengage from it if I am already feeling overwhelmed.

This isn’t about ‘Saying No’, which so many people find difficult. This is about self-awareness and being able to use that awareness to cope with the things you say yes too. Personally, I think it is generally good to say yes. Yes is positive, it makes you feel capable, because you are capable. If you didn’t know that on some level, you’re subconscious wouldn’t have jumped in and said yes on your behalf before the rest of your brain had thought it all through.

Have faith in yourself and your abilities, even if, like Edison, you have some rebuilding to do.