Category Archives: Postnatal Depression

Befriend your feelings

Feelings can make or break a situation. Things happen, events unfold, we go through processes, schedules, routines but it is the emotions we attach to ‘things’ that show their importance in our minds.

We have a birthday; we can feel happy or sad
We win a race; we feel happy
We have a baby; we feel every emotion under the sun, sometimes all at once.

Do you get what I mean?

I have been thinking about emotions for a long time and trying to figure out a way to learn to relate to them and the simplest way I thought of was to think of emotions like people and our connection with them would be like any relationship.

The kids’ movie, Inside Out does show this beautifully as each emotion is it’s on ‘person’, has it’s own traits, colour and affects us differently. Depending on which emotion, or ‘person’ is in charge, we react to situations accordingly.

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In the movie, we have Sadness, Anger, Disgust, Fear and Joy. Arguably, these are our basic emotions.

In my life and indeed when I work with clients, I try to park the emotions when trying to look at a situation logically. This is the best way to figure out how to process it and how to move forward. Then it’s a case of asking what emotions are coming up when thinking or talking about the situation.

Each emotion comes to the foreground for a reason and to find out, what the reason is, we can simply ask ourselves – or ask the emotion.

“Anger, why did you show up when I saw everyone sitting watching TV when I was struggling with the shopping?”
“Disgust, are you trying to protect me from something that will infect me and make me ill?”
“Sadness, hello again, so you’re back. What do you need me to work on this time?”
“Fear, I see you are trying to keep me from hurting myself, thank you but I’ve got this”
“Joy, the emotion I want all the time but you do need to make way for others, so I can learn about myself but so nice to see you. Yes, we are so happy when we look at all the things we are grateful for”

I see these Emotions as different parts of us, different Selves making us who we are, making us Whole.

What emotion would you add as your basic?
I might add stress, but does that come under fear, I wonder?
Disappointment? Frustration? Despair? Vulnerability? Gratitude? (is that an emotion?)
Well, I guess the movie was trying to keep it simple and it’s not easy trying to simplify something so complicated.

What emotion do you struggle with the most? What is it trying to tell you?

Don’t forget, you’re not alone. If you need support, I’m here to help you <3

Symptoms and Causes

I’ve been in the mental health field for a number of years now and although the majority of my work is working with people to cope with their symptoms, I am realising more and more we need to deal with the causes.

What do I mean by this?
Depression, anxiety, stress and much more are symptoms of how we live our lives. These are the result of what pace we go, how we process and react to things, where we are and who we are connected to.
Thankfully in most cases everything is good and any symptoms can be dealt with, perhaps not even noticed.

But it’s when the symptoms stop us from living, stop us from being our True Selves, we need to get support. Much of the time, this is where I come in.
And I love my job, don’t get me wrong but I have to be honest with you – I am seeing an increase in anxiety and depression and this is NOT ok.

I get frustrated at society and what we seem to focus on as a collective species, far removed from how we are meant to function and life, might I add.

I have worked with many people not wanting to go on medication for their symptoms eg depression and anxiety, so I know first hand people can get better by changing their thinking, changing things in life such as pace, connections, and focus on their needs and their very existence.

I know it can be done and I for one am campaigning that we need to start from scratch but build our lives in a way that suits us better. Let’s look at the causes and work on this rather than just the symptoms.

Maybe then we can start making some serious changes in our lives and in our greater society.

 

The greatest teacher you’ll ever know

Maybe it’s just me but I find a lot of my answers to the big questions of life from nature. In this Western world it is the norm to rush, to do Everything and do it quick, do it to keep up, to not fail. We end up anxiety driven exhausted shells of who we are meant to be and I’m not sure we are designed as a species to live this way.

Nature does things in it’s own time. In it’s own season. With Spring around the corner, my mind is starting to think of the garden, to think of blooms. Starting to feel hints of fresh air, starting to see the first signs; snowdrops, buds, new growth.

This has all been my inspiration to put together the 6 month program Head Garden. I could have done a quick 6 week package but NO, I want to take time, I want to go at a slower pace, to go at nature’s pace.

You can’t force seedlings to grow quicker than they will, You can’t force things to fruit quicker than it’s meant to (OK, I know, you can technically with green houses etc ;)) When not interfering, nature does things when they are meant to happen.

We have lost the art of Patience. We have forgotten how to wait, to nurture, to work slowly and deeply.

There is such a need for quick fixes; I’m depressed, Here are some pills and you’ll feel better in 2 weeks. I’m anxious, Here is something to numb you instantly (take your pick from scrolling on social media, sugar, food, alcohol, drugs, gambling and do add your own)

For me gardening has forced me to slow down and remember how we are meant to live as a species, how we are truly meant to be. It calms my anxiety, lifts my depression all in the quiet and peace of my own back yard.

If you would like to join me on my 6 month program, starting 1st March, join me in gardening and looking at what else we can learn from nature, please have a look at the following link (click on the photo). I’d love to have you ๐Ÿ™‚

‘Me’ time isn’t a myth

My clients hate it when I say this to them. When I ask them about ‘Me’ time, they look at me like I’m talking a different language or offering them something alien.

Do you remember a time when you had time for yourself? Maybe not practically but time in your mind to think, to form a sentence (something I struggle with as a mum, for sure!). And when we have some time for a break, a breather, what do we do? Rush around doing all the jobs we have to do to feel a teeny bit of satisfaction and achievement that never comes.

Let me ask you this. When you say you have ‘no time’ to take out for yourself and recharge, what are you actually saying?
There is time for work, the kids, the washing, ironing, cleaning, dusting, reorganising your sock drawer, watering the dead plants, but no time for you.
So you’re saying you come below the dead plants? That is your level of priority?

You, who holds it all together, who is CEO of the house and family. YOU.
Below the dead plants and socks?

There is no judgement here but come on!! You are so worthy and valuable but you can’t see it.ย  We’re taught as women to be ‘Good’ which seems to encompass looking after everyone – BUT not at the detriment of your mental and physical health. We can of course look after others, but you don’t have to do it 24/7, every second of the day. And you certainly don’t need anyone’s permission to take a break or feel guilty about it.

I’m sure many of you have heard about the plane safety procedure of putting on your own oxygen mask on before anyone else’s in case of an emergency. And how many of us panic when our phone batteries need charging and we can’t find a charger?

How can you make time for yourself though?

  • Set aside 10 minutes a day just for you. Sit and do nothing. If your mind is racing, let is race, don’t judge or react to the thoughts, let them flow past like you would if you were sitting by a river.
  • Be mindful when you do things. Instead of rushing, take your time and use all your senses; what can you hear? see? smell? feel? What are you saying to yourself? Is there anything that is so heartwarming you’d like to save to memory?
  • Set clear boundaries. If you need time, make sure others know not to disturb you. It’s ok to want privacy when you go to the bathroom you know ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Be your own best friend. You know when you are tired, so why keep pushing? Be kind to yourself and acknowledge all you’ve done, then be gentle with yourself and say what you would to a friend, ‘hey, did you want a cuppa and a five minute breather?’. It’s a start ๐Ÿ™‚
    Why bother with all this though? Creating time for yourself will help you be clearer about your life, where you want to be and where you’re going, about YOU. It helps you feel in control, less stressed and more able to cope at what life throws at you.
    Quite a lot of value and reward for a bit of time for yourself, don’t you think?

Radio interview from 4 years ago

Sorting out my folders from way back, I have come across this interview. It is amazing how I am talking about using photography to help others heal. Very much in the first stages of photo therapy!

I talk about how the question of ‘If you had 6 weeks to live, what would you do?’ My motivation to start on this path and actually start living my life.

Talking about body image and how so many women used to ask me to photo shop them to look ‘better’ but in principal, I never did. I talk about how the first steps to body confidence is to learn to like ourselves and turn all the negative talk from others to positive talk within ourselves.

I talk about gratitude practice and how it can change our perception of our lives and help with our mental health. I used to offer listening sessions but now as a qualified counsellor I feel confident in offering these sessions, knowing I have had the proper training to hold a safe space for others.

I had been offering online courses where others were being helped so much with one participant coming off her antidepressant medication from doing the photo exercises and a woman facing a midlife crisis accepting herself.

And I define what success for me is; seeing clients feel happier in themselves and knowing I have done my part and given back to the wider community at large.

This journey is not an easy one, with lots of ups and downs, learning so much about myself, changing, building my self awareness and being the truest self I can be. The first step, stopping myself standing in my own way.

And my one bit of wisdom I would tell my younger self? Trust your instincts, believe in yourself, ask yourself what your needs are and what you need to do to meet them.

Have a listen and let me know what resonates:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepathtofabulouslysuccessful/2013/09/02/jessy-paston

Healing is an on going process

My son’s birthday is coming up soon and he will be 17.
As I reflect on this time, I find myself looking at old photos from when he was born, when he was little and I am taken back to a NOT so good time.
The memories and feelings of the trauma, the struggles, the depression come back and yeah, it’s not fun.

But let me tell you. This is all part of the process. A broken leg aches well after it is mended and I see these moments like an aching. The majority of the healing has been done but they are complex memories, good combined with bad, happy combined with sad.

Each time we revisit a memory, there is more healing, until, hopefully, one day, we can acknowledge the bad and sad but remember the good and happy fondly.

If you imagine a spiral with a line through it – each time you visit a traumatic memory, you are in a better place, you are stronger and better able to cope and you can heal.

And don’t forget, the stronger, caring you can give yourself love and self compassion, telling yourself what you needed to hear at the time, helping with the healing.

If you need help to talk about your birth trauma, postnatal depression and the struggles that comes with, please do get in touch with me for support. You are not alone in thisย 

Going up a rung

The hardest thing about becoming a mother is the realisation that you have gone up a rung.
What do I mean by that?

Well, we are children first with parents and perhaps grandparents. Then grandparents start to die and we start to have children…so we are now the parents and our parents are the grandparents.

For some of us, this new identity can be quite overwhelming, especially if we start to care for our parents. There is such a mix of emotions and we need to process. Suddenly, we can find ourselves in the middle of everything and everyone, supporting those around us whilst also working and keeping the house.

No wonder we disappear and lose our identity!

We are not children anymore and have this huge responsibility looking after another person
We are not parents yet as we are just starting out and learning
We have to learn to cope with seeing our parents getting older and their mortality coming to the foreground
We become parents to our parents which is very strange and takes a while to get used to
We are still children within but we don’t play anymore because we are drowning with all our new obligations
We try and keep everyone happy
We try and do everything, perhaps the job of 3 or more people
We don’t take time out for ourselves
We are exhausted
We are not who we used to be…

That’s a lot for one person. A hell of a lot.

Be kind to yourself and take it a step at a time. Thank you for looking after everyone else, please make time to look after yourself too x

 

Admitting how you feel

Image result for admitting depression

The first step to any change is awareness. If you don’t know that something is happening in you, then how do you know where to start?

If you are aware that you have postnatal depression, that is the first step. Then comes the most difficult step – admitting it to yourself!

For many of us once we realise we have depression, it can take a while to admit it to ourselves. Admitting it means we are telling the world we are not coping, we have failed, we are not good enough – right?

Not at all! Admitting you have depression is realising that your whole world has changed and that you need support. You haven’t failed and you are good enough.

We get training in everything else we do. What training have you had as a mother? And why is it assumed you will know what to do?

Depression is a signal to yourself that something needs to change somewhere, so by admitting it to yourself, and others, you can then start to receive the correct support you need and hopefully start on the road to recovery.

We don’t hesitate to seek help for cancer or diabetes – depression is no different. You have been through so much with the pregnancy, birth and dealing with a new baby. It is all a lot to take on and process and how are you meant to know how to do it if you’ve never been shown?