Mental Health

My Depression And Anxiety Relapse

A photograph of a mother hand-in-hand with her daughter running a long Dymchurch Beach - How It Feels To Have A Depression And Anxiety Relapse - Mrs H's favourite things

Trigger Warning: If you suffer from depression or anxiety then you may find this post, about my current depression and anxiety relapse, triggering.

“I am not a stranger to the dark

Hide away, they say

‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts

I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars

Run away, they say

No one’ll love you as you are

But I won’t let them break me down to dust

I know that there’s a place for us

For we are glorious.”

Lyrics from This Is Me from The Greatest Showman, written by Justin Paul and Benj Pasek

My Depression And Anxiety Relapse

As I write this I’m listening to The Greatest Showman soundtrack. I haven’t seen the film but at the moment I find myself drawn to the music from the movie. It seems to speak to me. And it’s especially relevant as I battle a depression and anxiety relapse.

Like most of my relapses, this one came on suddenly and gradually all at the same time. I last relapsed in 2011. And as a result, I was signed off work for three and a half months. I also had to be put on brand new medication and go for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It was hard work but I got better and my mental health was then really great for a number of years. And despite fears that I would suffer from postnatal depression, I felt great once Little Miss H was born.

The Miscarriage Years

This all began to change gradually when we had our second miscarriage. We hadn’t planned on getting pregnant but still, the miscarriage was a shock. Yet, we chalked it up to life experience.

The third miscarriage was a huge shock to the system. I could no longer say that the miscarriages were one of those things. I felt like my heart had been ripped out and an empty hole remained it its place. But I carried on and we were soon trying for another baby. And then I miscarried again.

Prenatal Depression And Anxiety

Each miscarriage took a little more out of me and shook my mental health. By the time I became pregnant with Little Mister H, I was a bundle of anxiety and my midwife diagnosed me with prenatal depression and anxiety. I could not envision a healthy pregnancy and when I experienced a heavy bleed at 6 weeks, I thought that the worst had happened. Just as I’d expected. And I knew that it would mean the end of our journey to become a family of four.

Yet, surprisingly the baby was okay. There was a heartbeat. Mr H and I were in shock. And although on that day we had been given good news, I still couldn’t see a happy ending. We had been through too much and I wouldn’t let myself believe that we could have a healthy baby at the end of the pregnancy.

Throughout the pregnancy, my mental health became more fragile. My wonderful midwife referred me to the local Maternal and Infant Mental Health Unit.

A Rainbow Baby

Then in July 2016, Little Mister H was born. Our second rainbow baby. And I stupidly believed that everything would now be okay. I even remember lifting our newborn baby out of the water onto my breast and feeling a huge weight lift. And for a while, life was wonderful and the past seemed to be behind us.

I  attended a psychological assessment four days after Little Mister H was born. It was brutal and I was grilled about all the worst moments of my life. My milk had come in the night before and I’d been really ill. I was tired, emotional and exhausted after giving birth. And here I was reliving my own personal hell. At the end of the appointment, I was praised for how well I’d coped with everything and told to go home and enjoy my new family.

And that is what happened. For a while. We enjoyed our new family. But then our new rainbow baby grew older and Little Miss H started school. Life was changing and I couldn’t keep up with it.

The Onset Of Panic Attacks

During the summer of 2017, I began to get panic attacks. These attacks would fill me with fear. My breathing quickened until I was hyperventilating. A pain would develop in my chest and I would feel like I was having a heart attack. And the negative thoughts would do the Viennese waltz in my head. Spinning faster and faster, until I felt dizzy and unable to control my own thoughts.

I was once again referred to the local Maternal and Infant Mental Health Unit. I saw a lovely consultant, who let me sob as I told him about the four babies I’d miscarried. And I spoke about the grief that still consumed me. The grief, that in many ways, was more of an issue now that the miscarriages were in the past. The fear and uncertainty were over but the sadness and emptiness remained. The sense of loss never left me.

I also spoke about feeling overwhelmed with guilt. I felt guilty that I was a mother with mental ill health and that this was affecting my children. The burden of motherhood weighed heavily on my shoulders. And I believed that I was failing everyone.

I was once again sent for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and the consultant prescribed me with a new medication that would act as a booster to my anti-depressants. And after a few months, I thought that I was better again.

A photograph of a mother hand-in-hand with her daughter running a long Dymchurch Beach - How It Feels To Have A Depression And Anxiety Relapse - Mrs H's favourite things

Breaking Through The Surface

Yet, I wasn’t really better and my mental ill health was just bubbling under the surface of everyday life. But it broke through about a month ago.

One Sunday evening, Mr H and I were having an argument. It is something that we rarely do and I can’t even remember what it was about.

But during the argument, something in me snapped. I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t stop crying. My head was full of intrusive thoughts. I felt myself being pulled into darkness and I couldn’t escape. I was lost in a fog of depression.

The thoughts in my head raced. And it wasn’t long before I was filled with self-loathing. I desperately wanted to self-harm in order to take the pain away and exert some control. I also began to convince myself that my husband and my children would be better off without me.

It was terrifying. I’d had thoughts and feelings that I hadn’t had in over a decade. And although I didn’t act on any of them, I’d scared myself and my husband. Mr H helped me to calm down by telling him what I loved about our children.

This was my worst depressive episode in over a decade and it was clear that my depression and anxiety were worse than we thought. I know myself, and I know that when my mental ill health raises its ugly head then I can go downhill rapidly. That night I’d had suicidal thoughts and a desire for self-harm. Both of those were indicators that I needed to see a professional.

Seeing My Old Consultant

We eventually decided to go and see my old consultant. This is the man that I had seen through all my worst times at university. He is the person that released me into my parent’s care after my last overdose in 2002. He is the amazing consultant who phoned me every day to make sure that I was okay. These phone calls often just involved him listening to me sob down the phone.

I trust him. Mr H trusts him. And he knows me. I don’t have to relive the worst moments of my life with him. Because he has been there with me. He has seen me at my worst and he was my consultant when I was at the lowest point of my life.

Seeing him was the right thing to do, but it was difficult. He doesn’t pull any punches and he won’t let me lie to him or myself. Of course, I had to tell him all about the miscarriages and I wept as I spoke about the pain of losing our babies. He was as kind as I remember him to be. And I felt safe knowing that he was going to take care of me from now on.

My Depression And Anxiety Relapse

My consultant suggested that I needed my medication changed. However, I’ve been on Sertraline for over 7 years now and it is the best anti-depressant that I’ve taken. We were both reluctant to change this. So he increased the anti-psychotic that I take as a booster. And he also prescribed me two other drugs. These are to control my anxiety and to stop the negative thoughts in my head racing.

This new medication also helps me to sleep. Because sleep is something I need. Yet sleep is something I’m lacking.  Sleep is something I crave when depressed. However, sleep is something I fear. I often get nightmares and unpleasant dreams and I struggle to sleep well. I also find that my depression and anxiety are worse in the evening. So, my lack of sleep is to some extent because I’m a mother of two young children but it’s mostly because I have a toxic relationship with going to bed.

Where Am I Now?

It’s now been a month since my initial depressive episode. And I’ve been on my new medication for a few weeks. So how am I doing?

I’m doing okay. I have good days and bad days. But I’m trying to look after myself. Although this is easier said than done. I don’t often like myself enough to make the effort to look after myself. And when my mental health is poor, I lack motivation. So it can be really difficult to force myself to do the things that I know will make me feel better.

It’s a long journey but there are now more good days and I’m coping with the bad days better. I’m getting there. And I’ll get there.

The song This Is Me from The Greatest Showman has become my anthem for this relapse. I may be bruised. I may have scars. But I’m not beaten. I’m not broken. This is me. And I’m stronger than I look.

“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down

I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out

This is brave, this is proof

This is who I’m meant to be, this is me.”

Lyrics from This Is Me from The Greatest Showman, written by Justin Paul and Benj Pasek

A pinnable image for a for a post about the current depression and anxiety relapse that I'm experiencing - My Depression And Anxiety Relapse - Mrs H's favourite things
Hugs
Lucy
xxxx

8 Comments

  • Reply
    Daydreams of a Mum
    September 5, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    Sorry to hear you’ve been through such a horrid time. It’s so hard when you feel better for any length of time and then it crops up and consumes you . Sounds like you have a fab husband and consultant to help you through #blogcrush

  • Reply
    The Willow Tree
    September 4, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    I am so sorry to read about your relapse. I am a sufferer of anxiety and can understand the feeling of how something that creep up on you yet had even there lingering the whole time. Sending lots of positivity your way xx

  • Reply
    Hannah | Make, Do & Push
    September 4, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    Sending you so much love Lucy. You are amazing and so strong for writing about your relapse xxxxx ps I am completely obsessed with The Greatest Showman too… I saw it 6 times at the cinema!

  • Reply
    Fran Back With A Bump
    September 2, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear you’ve had such a nasty relapse. Well done for being so brave and honest about it. As sh*t as mental illness and depression is, it’s so good people are more honest and there is more support. I’m glad the fog has lifted a bit and sending lots of hugs. Xx

  • Reply
    Dynamic Dad
    August 29, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    While painful to read, it’s so good to know that you’re still fighting for yourself and your family. I wish you only the best in your recovery now, and whenever needed. Sharing this will support the many in a similar situation who without it would feel they were totally alone. They are not, and neither are you.

  • Reply
    Debs
    August 27, 2018 at 9:19 am

    What a honest post that is hard but has beauty in it, among the ashes. Beauty in your marriage and in your children. I’m honestly privileged to see some of this first hand and I am certain you’ll feel anxious about the return to school but I promise you I will look after little miss as one of my own. Thinking of you.

  • Reply
    Heather
    August 26, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    I really appreciate you sharing your story around relapse. It’s easy to assume that those of us with mental health conditions recover and somehow it doesn’t darken our doors ever again. However I’ve learnt the hard way, too, that this isn’t the case. As I embark upon recovery yet again, it’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one. Wishing you lots of love and luck.

  • Reply
    Abigail Bryony
    August 26, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    Sending you tons and tons of love and hugs, you strong woman you xxxx

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