What A Difference A Year Makes
Whilst I’ve at home this week, I’ve had the chance to look back on the last year. July 2016 and also July 2015 saw me writing about my mental health and how awful everything had become. I can safely say that last July I was in the worst place I had ever been since losing my dad 15 years ago.
At the time, I went through every day feeling, tired, snappy, angry, tearful, resentful of my family and then guilty for feeling that. I finally broke down on my mum a week before the end of term. It was horrible but I am not in that place now.
There are several reasons why, I believe, I have gotten better:
First, I have stopped using any kind of hormonal contraceptive. In June 2016, I was told by my gynaecologist that a Mirena coil would solve all my problems. 5 weeks, 10 lbs weight gain and a nervous breakdown suggested it was not. Having done a lot of digging on the internet and been on countless chat forums, I have found a hidden army of women for whom the coil just made everything a whole lot worse.
It got me thinking, if one of the hormones in the coil is the same as the combined pill, maybe that has been the cause of my mental health issues all along. I started using the combined pill at 16 and had been diagnosed with clinical depression at 17. It might be a coincidence, it might not.
So from August 4th 2016, I stopped any form of hormonal contraception. The issues didn’t go away overnight. I think it was probably November before I finally started feeling really good and that was only after a mini breakdown at October half term. I will admit that I also started taking anti-depressants again in October, on the lowest dose possible as my mini breakdown left me feeling fragile. Always before, I never felt that anti-depressants did anything, but this time… It might just have been the lack of synthetic hormones but I will wait just a bit longer before I stop taking them.
Second, I stopped trying to do everything, be everything and concentrated on me for a change. I written before about how Mummy guilt can hit you all the time and how I had given in to it time and again. This year I’ve done more for me. I’ve been strong enough to say “No” when I don’t want to do something and to just go and do a little something for me now and again. I still feel that my guilt does hold me back on occasions but I’m getting there.
Third, exercise and healthy eating. Obviously these are done in moderation! I have not turned into a gym bunny just yet but I am slowly coming round to the buzz you get when doing my weekly weights class. Himself bought me a FitBit last August and it has also been a good motivator. Healthy eating hasn’t come naturally and is not all the time. As a family we are trying to make sure meals are balanced and that we have more fresh fruit and veg. Sometimes it’s great, other times I binge eat Mr Kipling Angel Slices. I’ve lost a stone in weight since last July so I’m clearly doing something right.
Fourth, I started learning about my brain and how it works. I bought a copy of Ruby Wax’s book “Sane New World”. At first I thought it would just have some mindfulness techniques in it that I could try. What I hadn’t realised was that most of the book is about why your brain works the way it does. Even if you don’t have any mental health issues, I would recommend this book as it gives fantastic insight. I also have a very basic meditation app downloaded on to my phone which I can listen to when I can’t switch off.
In just one year I have gone from angry and frazzled to much more mellow. It’s not perfect as I have two little munchkins, who drive me and himself crazy with their antics. I am, however, able to cope with the cray cray.
Recovering from my laparoscopy has given me time to reflect which I haven’t had in a long while. They didn’t find anything awful, great. They also didn’t find a reason for the pain, not great, but equally not terrible as it comes and goes and may ultimately be hormone related.
I do however have Himself (who loves me despite being screamed at this time last year and having things slammed around the kitchen) and two adorable/possessed little munchkins. Things could be oh so much worse.