Monday, 7 July 2014

I'm almost myself, just not quite

It's been touching to have a few people check up on me as I've been absent, particularly those who don't know me from Adam in real life (thank you Rachel and The Boy and Me).

I sat down to write many times in the last seven months and each time found myself an hour later staring at a blank page. I didn't understand why. There was so much going on in my life - back to work, two children to bring laughs and experiences into my life - yet I had nothing to say. That was reflected in my personal life. I could happily talk about nothing with work colleagues and acquaintances, but conversation ran dry with old friends.

Looking back now I can see that I had simply lost myself. I could function, I looked after my children, I threw myself back into work full time. There simply was nothing else left. Looking back at my year of maternity leave I can now see that I went into full avoidance mode: I started a peer supporter course when Badger Cub was three weeks old (obviously taking him with me); I volunteered at a new mums group at a local children's centre and spent my time listening, sympathising and giving information and advice in as unbiased a fashion as I could. If I concentrated on sorting out other people's issues then I didn't have to acknowledge my own.

Thankfully this has changed.

Maybe it was the Sertraline? I have been taking it for seven months, six of those at the relatively low dose of 50mg per day. A month ago I decided (after much research) to lower my dose to 25mg. Timing it with the onset of PMT probably wasn't the best idea but we survived the emotional onslaught and I've levelled out on the other side. The "brain zaps" in the first ten days (apparently a common withdrawal symptom) were unpleasant but have passed. I'm going to leave it at least another month and then try to come off it altogether, only not coinciding with PMT this time!

Maybe it was the CBT? I certainly think it has helped the personality in me that adores process and checklists. Being able to recognise my thinking errors and core beliefs has stopped the downward trend of negative thoughts.

Maybe it was the counselling? That was eight hours of my life I'm never going to get back... Possibly the most awkward I've ever felt, but perhaps that's the point? Having a stranger sit and wait for me to talk, to spill over with emotion, to watch me not talking. If nothing else it identified that I was angry. I was angry over the way I had to fight to break NHS red tape and birth my baby the way I wanted. I was angry that NHS policy could be so blind, so fearful of litigation and blame that they'd prefer to cut him out of me. Rather than confront that anger I diverted the energy into breech support forums, into peer support work, into anything that meant I didn't have to deal with it. The anger is diffusing. Still there but fading.

Maybe it was a combination of all of these, and also the relief that I had acknowledged the problem and was doing something about it.

I'm not quite there yet, not quite found, but I'm getting there.

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman /
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