This Mummy Can be Supportive

Thank you for all the messages of support after Kate’s post. We’ve been sent lots of really great ideas to help her and eventually when Kate feels up to it she’ll put them in a blog post so anyone can make use of them too. 

It’s been a hard few days for all of us. Kate had a doctor’s appointment on Friday which thankfully was really helpful and they’ve adjusted her meds, offered her CBT and took her seriously. He also gave her the number of a Crisis team just in case. Kate was supposed to go on a shoot this weekend but he strongly advised that she cancelled and after a lot of persuasion from me, she did. Being in a tiny little room over night on her own at the Travelodge isn’t good for anyone let alone when your mental health is bad!

I wanted to write something about what it’s like being the partner of someone who is going through a period of bad mental health… it’s really not easy – it’s so hard seeing her like this and there not being anything I can physically do. Kate has a lot of pain with her disability and usually I can help by doing practical things like fetching her painkillers, running her a bath, help her get dressed etc. But there’s nothing I really do at the moment and looking on helplessly isn’t an option either. However, when I asked Kate if I was helping, she said I was. So I asked her what I did that was helpful…

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I guess it’s going to be different for everyone – I’m sure some people just like to be left alone for instance, but that’s what is working for Kate at the moment. She’s gone into work today which is really great and hopefully she’ll be able to manage the whole day there. It helps that she is the boss and knows that she has the option of leaving if she really needs to! A couple of other things that have been helpful I think are that I’ve been trying to give Kate all the rest and extra sleep she may need – however, without letting her sleep in too late as then that would result in her not sleeping at night and as everything seems so much worse at night – for anyone. 

I’ve also tried to be decisive about things as I think Kate feels quite lost sometimes with making decisions even about what to eat, what to do in the day etc so as long as she is feeling well enough to go out and about I’ve tried to come up with gentle plans for the day which include eating clean and well – no caffeine, things that give her a bad tummy (she is allergic to a LOT of food, nightmare!), no alcohol and lots of fruit and veg.

At the moment we are just taking each day at a time and knowing that we are not alone in this is so helpful and reassuring.  

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This Mummy Can… Deal with her Mental Health

By Kate

I have struggled with my mental health for a long time. Something bad happened to me when I was young (sorry, no details this time!) and I have been dealing with the fall out from it for a long time now. I started going to therapy about seven years ago and despite my best efforts I still need to go twice a week to keep my head straight and to keep me from doing damaging things. I also take a low dose of anti-anxiety medication every day to keep me on a level too. For a while now I’ve been managing well, but the last week things have suddenly got a lot worse.

I don’t know what’s happened but my anxiety has really peaked. I started to feel a bit wobbly from the middle of last week and each day things have got slightly worse. I can’t really describe how I’m feeling… it’s quite on and off, but the worst is when it feels as if my heart is beating out of my chest. Sometimes it feels so bad that I wonder if I’m having a heart attack and just calling it anxiety! Then I’m also having a really hard time concentrating on anything and my focus is way off. When I’m around Holly and Scout it feels a little easier but still pretty bad, but when I’m not around them it is way worse. 

I’ve looked at lots of articles about how other people manage their anxiety and one of the biggest things soooo many people talk about doing is exercise. They go for a run, they go to the gym, they lift weights, they box, they do yoga… the list goes on. So what do you do when you have a disability and can’t do these things? Well this is what I’m struggling with at the moment. I mean, physically I could go to the gym, or I could go for an evening dancing with my friends. But then the next two or three days would be wiped out with serious pain and me having to stay in bed to recover – and this just isn’t an option anymore with a very active ten month old around!

Last year my anxiety was bad before Scout was born (I convinced myself that both she and Holly would die during childbirth – spoiler alert, they didn’t) and at that point I decided to give up caffeine which has really helped but now that I’m already off that, giving it up isn’t an option and clearly it isn’t a trigger this time. I wonder if the fact that I’m about to be really busy at work is contributing to my anxiety? I do feel a bit like this week is my last week being ‘relaxed’ about work before I dive into a six week edit – but I have a week in the middle there where I’m on holiday with my beautiful family, so I wonder can that really be what’s bothering me? And does there need to be a trigger or is it just ‘one of those things’? Perhaps it’s just my Complex PTSD rearing it’s ugly head and this time it’s happened, being a mum has meant that it has made itself even more known to me than it has before.

So when you’re a disabled person who sometimes struggles to get out to enjoy the fresh air even, what do you do to help yourself? Well, some friends have been helpful and suggested things that I am going to try – the first is the Headspace App. I really find it hard to switch off my thoughts and be in silence (bad thoughts always come creeping in so I’m too scared to) so I’m hoping that this will be an easier way to get into that whole mindfulness thing. Another friend has suggested that I try and focus on small, manageable tasks like tidying a room or sorting out a drawer, so that is going to be one of my jobs this evening. Someone else has suggested a ‘breathing app’ which may  sound weird because, you know, we all know how to breathe. But as I’ve said, I’m willing to try anything at this stage.

If anything is helpful I will be sure to let you know. And if you have any other top tips for managing anxiety I’d love to hear from you – feel free to comment below or hit me on twitter (@katiekatetweets) or insta (@katemonaghan).