Im so proud of you, you’ve admitted to yourself that things are not as they should be, you’ve done the bravest thing and asked for help! So now what?? Am I going to be bombarded with appointments? therapy sessions? Am I better?? Well lovely the short answer is No. I will tell you my story and what happens in the days, weeks and months after you speak to your health practitioner and start the steps to your recovery.
Back in 2016 my mental health came crashing down around me very quickly as my 4th child turned 9 month old, the night my family realised I was actually genuinely ill was a breakthrough time for us all and the next few weeks were full on and very confusing.
Please help me!
Ok so you’ve done the hardest thing and told your health profession you need help or in my case a family member has contacted your GP on your behalf…As I sat in the chair looking in my GPs eyes with absolute desperation almost wanting to jump over her desk and curl up in her arms to feel safe, I felt like my whole future was in her hands. I thought she would give me a cuddle and pack me off to the local Mental health treatment hospital but nope thats really not how it world.
Your GP will ask you some questions, try get a picture of how your feeling and what could be causing the feelings and emotions you are describing. Be honest, don’t hold back because I promise you your GP will have heard this before which does not mean you are any less important but your honestly WILL help your treatment. When I was in my early days of my illness and in my very dark place my biggest fear was being honest, I was petrified to tell my health care team that actually my intrusive thoughts were so bad that I wanted to die or that my self loathing and psychosis episodes made me want to hurt myself. I was absolutely petrified of loosing my children or having them removed from me because of these feelings but please be honest and I can promise you its going to be ok.
The next step is for your GP/midwife or health visitor to refer you to your local NHS mental health team, you will be contacted by a member of the team to arrange a convenient appointment for your assessment. Your initial appointment will usually last an hour and is an opportunity for you to discuss your current difficulties. You don’t need to attend this alone you are welcomed to bring along a friend or family member for support if you should want. From experience this initial appointment can take up to a month to happen. After your assessment the mental health team will decide if the perinatal service is the best service to support you, if so you will be allocated a clinician within the team. they will work with you to agree a care plan to help you meet your individual needs and find the best solution to support you on your road to recovery. But patience really is the key because unfortunately most NHS Mental health teams are so overworked and understaffed it can be incredibly frustrating waiting for appointments and getting your care plan in place, so ive put together my 5 tips for the early days, ways which you can help yourself and aid your own recovery.
Journal the shit out of your life!
In my early days I had lost all of my desire to leave the house or pretty much go anywhere, I couldn’t bare my own company either so as you can Imagin the days really didnt go fast. Then I found an unbelievable comfort in a little purple notebook which id had sat in my bookcase for ever. This book became my lifeline, I took it absolutely everywhere with me. Inside I wrote positive affirmations, quotes and basicly anything that made me feel something on Pinterest. I cut out and stuck in things that made me smile and I wrote down things I couldn’t tell anyone. There are some amazing Instagram accounts which really inspire and bring out your creative flare.
So for some people this is their last resort and a topic of taboo but for me the way I was feeling meds were a no brainer. Your GP knows what they are doing and will only ever prescribe you with a low dosage and the right tablets for you and your symptoms. Never compare your meds with anyone else, every person is different. Make time to understand your meds and always follow the dosage and instructions on the pack. I have changed my meds at least 6 times over the last 3 years and I can finally say I am in a posittion were they have completly changed my life.
Self care…Remember to Love yourself
- Be kind to yourself – Don’t expect too much of yourself, it is easy to feel overwhelmed as a new or expecting mum. Don’t pressure yourself to do to much
- Sleep when you can – this may seem impossible but it can make a big difference to how your feeling
- Accept help – If people offer don’t feel embarrassed to say yes
- Get up, washed and dressed – It can make a huge difference to how you feel
- Take time for you where possible – meet friends, relax with a book, watch TV, craft or try relaxation techniques. A little time to yourself can make you feel amazing
- Do some kind of physical activity – It can help distract you and improve your physical and mental health
Knitting and Painting and Blogging Oh My!!
Finding yourself a new hobby or taking up a new craft or even making endless pin boards on Pinterest can be a fantastic distraction from what’s happening in your head. I will happily admit that my Instagram has saved my life, from posting pics daily of things I love, feeling that little less alone through watching peoples stories and making some incredible friends, Instagram has been my rock. Find something that challenges you, something that inspires you but also something that you can almost use, that wont matter if you leave it for days or weeks but will always be there for you to go back to. Plus Netflix you deserve a shout out in this section!!!
Research FOR YOUR LIFE!!
We are incredibly lucky to be in an era were we have so much information at our fingertips, I quickly learned that there are so many other people feeling and suffering in the same way as myself, research really makes a difference to your recovery. Research coping techniques, mindfulness, Yoga, CBT, self care the list goes on. Lets be totally honest here, no one wants to feel depressed or have anxiety and as much as medication and health professionals will help you your road to recovery will happen a lot sooner if you invest ALL your time and effort into your own recovery.