At the end of March I shared the first part of my recovery from PND. If you are new to my blog you can read my previous posts on my PND experience here: the post which sparked my decision to finally share that I had suffered with PND, my personal journey through PND, and the first installment of my recovery out the other side. This post is the overdue second part of that recovery. And here I’ll share with you what else in addition to counselling finally helped me to feel well again.
As I've mentioned in my other posts on PND, it’s never something you expect to suffer with. When it happens and you realise that things are not as they should be one of the first emotions you feel is dread. It’s scary to be depressed and feel that you aren't fully in control of how you are feeling. The logical part of your brain tries to put some perspective on it all; the fact it’s normal your hormones are all over the place right now, the fact that having a baby and becoming a Mum for the first time is overwhelming at first, the fact that it is often normal to experience a period of “baby blues”. But, when you finally admit to yourself that all those feelings are still there after many weeks and months, that you are permanently anxious, stressed, tearful and feeling misunderstood, you realise that perhaps it’s all a little more serious after all. Then comes the decision; how do you actually make it all better again.
I’d been depressed for about 2 years before we came back to the UK and saw my new GP. As mentioned in a previous post, she wanted to put me on anti-depressants which I was vehemently against. I asked for time to try other avenues and one of them was counselling. This was my turning point. It gave me a clarity I’d not had for a very long time. It gave me answers to so many questions and misunderstandings. It made me realise that I wasn’t a bad mother and I would get better. The light would finally shine again once more.
The other avenue I pursued was changing my diet. When you become a new Mum you often eat on the run. You grab a bit of this, a bit of that and can often end up filling yourself up on cereal, toast, and snacks which aren’t giving you the full nutrient quota your body desperately needs particularly if you are breastfeeding as I was. Pregnancy takes every possible ounce of nutrients your body has to grow your baby and if you don’t top that up, look after yourself nutritionally as well as emotionally then you begin motherhood depleted of the essential nutrients you are going to need. Add to that a good dose of sleep deprivation and it’s not surprising that the body and the mind start to suffer. Your hormones are all over the place as your body adjusts so you can see that not feeding your body properly can really make a huge difference to whether you feel well or not.
I ate fairly healthily during my pregnancy but as my Mum was in the UK I never had her helping me stock pile the freezer with nutritious meals for when the little one arrived. I was too tired at the end of my pregnancy to do this myself so I wasn’t really prepared on that front. I’m a great believer that you are what you eat and I feel we often overlook this and look to pharmaceuticals to sort out the problems that often a change in diet would sort. I can honestly say that in addition to counselling it was what I ate that had the biggest impact on my recovery. I had heard about the importance of eating a more alkaline based diet. The body ultimately needs to have the right ph balance and if it is too acidic it will look to the body to balance that out. That means if you don’t eat enough alkaline foods your body will strip the body of the alkalising minerals it needs. That then depletes the body further and so it goes on.
I searched the internet, found ‘Energise for Life’ and decided to do their 12 week alkaline course. I had read a lot about juicing and raw foods and was fascinated by this new way of eating and how it had helped so many back to full health again. The great thing about the course was that it eased you gently into this new way of eating. You were given the shopping lists you would need each week, the recipes, acid/alkaline test charts, amongst other tools to keep you on track. It introduced me to juicing and by the end of the 12 weeks I felt like a totally different person, literally. My mood lifted considerably. I couldn't believe that food impacted my moods quite as much as it did.
I lost the extra weight I had been carrying due to over eating and decided to carry on and do one of Jason Vale’s juice detoxes. I lost a further 5 llbs in weight and felt amazing. Since this time I have made sure that I still juice and I know that as soon as I veer off track too much on my diet, my mood suffers. I will be sharing some more about juicing with you in future posts. I've recommended it to friends and have seen before my eyes the change in them. It is truly amazing to see someone complete a 7 day juice detox and come out the other side a new person. It is quite incredible. Never underestimate the power of nutrition. Mother Nature put it all there for a reason. She’s a clever one.
To complete my recovery I reconnected to my spiritual side. Before having my eldest daughter, I gave treatments in and taught Reiki. I was very connected to my spiritual self but the depression took me far away from this part of myself. I therefore decided to have spiritual healing which was incredibly empowering. I also went to see an amazing Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist, Ken Lloyd, who helped to rebalance my hormones amongst other things.
For me anti-depressants weren’t the answer. I know that’s not everyone’s experience. But for me it was not the route I wanted to take and it worked.
I still have my low days. With a 2 year old toddler in tow it can be hard to find a moment to yourself particularly without family nearby, but I think you learn to cope. You learn to not set your expectations too high; you’ll only fall flat on your face if you do. Being a parent and being a Mum is a tough job. There’s no knowing how it will pan out. For some it’s a blissful journey, for others it’s slightly more rocky. Mine’s been the latter.
My only hope is that my PND with my eldest daughter and my low moods with my second haven’t impacted my girls too much. I never envisaged the raw emotion being a Mum can bring. It often takes you to places you never imagined you’d go. But I look at my girls today and I say to myself, “You haven’t done such a bad job Charlie”. They are two happy, loving souls and the bond I have with them is truly unbreakable.
All I can say to anyone suffering PND right now is that you will and you do come through the other side. You don’t end up residing there forever, I promise you. We all recover eventually in our own way. We all have our scars, our war wounds and that’s ok. We are, after all, human.
I’ll end this post with one of my favourite quotes from Indian Spiritual Leader, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh about becoming a mother:
“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.”
If you fancy keeping up to date with my musings then you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Bloglovin. Please do leave me your thoughts. I love to read them xx