First off I want to say that I have found parenthood difficult. It doesn't come as naturally to me as it does to others, and the transition from being independent and free person, to a mother who is relied upon for everything has been a real struggle. I struggle with feelings of guilt on a daily basis. At the same time that I want to be home with Nicholas, reading and playing with him, I want to be out doing my own thing. Being free to do what I like, when I want to.
In particular, I have found the last few months really difficult. I had been living in a world of darkness, where angry and impatient thoughts clouded my everyday thoughts. I had lost the ability to think clearly. I couldn't even really go out anymore because it was just too hard. I couldn't think ahead and prepare like I was once able to. Nothing excited me. I would get a full night's sleep and still wake up in the morning feeling unrefreshed and tired, and the prospect of the having to get out of bed in the morning and look after a baby, let alone myself, was just too difficult.
So, with a realisation that something wasn't quite right, and with some pushing from a friend and a husband, I took myself off to the doctor. I saw two actually. The first one didn't quite get it... I told him how I was feeling and what I was thinking, but he just thought that if we were able to fix up Nicholas' sleeping habits I would feel automatically better. He gave the number of a sleep specialist (more on that later) and told me that if I didn't feel any better in a few weeks/month, I could go on anti-depressants. Not really the answer I was looking for.
The second doctor I saw was much more understanding. She listened and took everything I said about how I was feeling on its own merit (not because of Nicholas' terrible sleeping habits). She also took blood, and tested my iron, B12, D3 and thyroid hormones. Most importantly, she took what I was saying seriously. She did give me a week's worth of anti-depressant, and if they did make a difference she would write a script. I didn't take them. I wanted to see first if there was anything unusual about my blood work before going down that road.
So a week and a half later, I returned to the doctor, having not taken the anti-depressants and not feeling any better, to find out that I have an under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism). My body had been trying to compensate with elevated thyroid stimulating hormone, but the thyroid output was still low. As I was sitting there listening to her tell me this I almost began to cry. As she was describing the symptoms of an under-active thyroid, it all suddenly made sense: fatigue, weakness, depression, hair loss, weight gain (I didn't really gain weight, but I did stop loosing it even though I was actively trying to). This is the exact way I was feeling and there was, thankfully, a way of dealing with it.
For about the last 20 days now I have been on medication called Thyoxine, which is basically thyroid hormone in a tablet. Within the first week I began to feel better. Now, after 20 days, I feel pretty much my old self, and as I look back on the last few months and compare them to the way I am feeling now, the difference is immense. I am no longer fatigued, angry and apathetic towards life. When I look at Nicholas I don't dislike or resent him anymore. I see his happy face and it makes me glad. I am starting to look forward to things again. Now that my hormones are a a bit more balanced, life is a bit easier.
Experiencing this kind of darkness, albeit briefly, has really opened me eyes to a few things that I am keen to remember. Firstly, feeling like this is not right. It's not normal, for me*, to be sitting in my room, night after night, in the dark, watching tv and shutting the world out. It's not normal, for me, to not to want to visit my friends, to talk to anyone or even leave the house (I'm often prone to cabin fever). It's not normal, for me, to feel angry and frustrated all the time, to not like myself or even my child, and for me to think to Daniel and Nicholas would be better off without me. This kind of behaviour, for me, is unusual. These behaviours emerged over a short space of time, and I want to remember what aspects of my personality changed, so that if it happens again, I will not only be aware of it but will also act more quickly.
Secondly, this experience has made me realise how blessed I am to have such a great support system around me. I know I have mentioned this before, but I just want to say it again, "THANKS all of you!" I have a wonderful husband who listens and takes my feelings seriously. I have a few very close friends who I share everything with. They are super supportive, and do things like suggest I go to the doctors and then make sure I do it. I also have parents and parents-in-laws who were extremely helpful. They helped me look after Nicholas, keep the house clean and cook meals when it was all just too much. It is so easy, as a mum, to feel like you are alone in this parenting journey sometimes (the extended version of this will be left for another post), but with a good support team it makes life a little easier during the hard times. I just hope that in the future I can provide to others the support they need, just as I was given in my time of need.
With these last two points in mind, I also realise how important it is to talk with others about how I am feeling. To not keep it bottled up inside, but to share how I am feeling, and not be afraid to admit and ask for help. Honesty in this type of situation is essential. Without the help and encouragement of others this time would have been much worse than it already was.
So basically this is why I haven't really been blogging a lot this year. I was finding it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, let alone having enough motivation to sit down and write a blog post. Hopefully as time passes this will continue to change, and I will continue to feel more like my old self.
*I have used italics to point out that this behaviour is not usual for me. I don't want to generalise or offend anyone.