30 going on 60 – The truth about eating disorders – Trigger Warning

I am going to be 30 in a matter of days…I am starting to feel nervous…Mentally I feel like a 20 year old but physically I feel much older. I didn’t listen when professionals and family members told me that one day all the starvation, laxative abuse and purging would take its toll on me.

At the age of 12 I started to notice changes to my body, I was given some clothes off an older cousin and in the pile of clothes were a pair of jeans. I always wore really horrible leggings as a child so I was really excited to get a pair of flared jeans. Only problem was…they were to small. This was the first time I ever thought about weight.

I was a chubby child when I started high school and I would hear school pupils muttering nasty things about my weight under their breath. I was already suffering with mental health problems and acceptance was something I longed for. Having people say nasty things was nothing in comparison to what I already thought about myself and my appearance.

At 15 I was in the full swing of anorexia, I would survive the day eating one apple or sliced cucumber and water…sometimes a calypso drink if I was feeling dizzy. I would take mass amounts of vitamin tablets but none containing oil. I would come home from school and do 4 hours of exercise every night.

At 17 I was very ill, my moods were erratic. I had already taken 4 overdoses and was self harming on a daily basis. I hated myself and my mind. I would drink alcohol to numb the thoughts but this would make me worse. I remember the first time I made myself sick, I had a drink, not ate all day and was at a fireworks display with my family. I remember feeling so hungry and all I could smell was the burgers that everyone was eating…I gave in and ate one. My mum was thrilled that I was eating but  I felt awful…I had to get it out of me…I would rather be dead than be fat. I found a port-a-loo cabin and made myself sick…it was easier than I thought…that was a bad thing.

At 22 I looked awful, I was very thin but my face was puffy from the constant purging I would do on a daily basis. I would binge up to 4 times a day…I would eat piles of food and then make myself sick. I would also take up to 70 laxatives if someone interrupted my binge. I was barely 6st and told by the doctors I would not live to 30 if I kept up this lifestyle.

The pain I would feel was so bad, I had blisters on my hands from the stomach acid, my tummy would ache from the laxative abuse. My throat and chest would burn. I would make myself so sick, I would try to get everything out of me to the point where I would be sick blood. I never had periods and was told I would find it hard to conceive a baby in the future.

At 24 my mindset changed, I was scared I was going to die and I wanted to be a mum. I would faint often and have heart palpitations. I had to go on potassium tablets as the doctor said my organs would fail if I didn’t. The waiting list for ED help was so long that in the end I had to read everything to help myself get well. I stopped making myself sick and started to eat healthy and exercise 3 times a week. In time my periods returned and I was 8st. I felt really good although I will admit that falling pregnant and having children was the thing that really helped to improve my eating disorder.

6 years on I feel healthy, I have two children that I am very blessed to have had. I eat very healthy but I do restrict certain foods…I call them my trigger foods.

Living a life with food restrictions will take its toll eventually. I now have to take pain medication everyday for arthritis in my hip, wrists and shoulder. I have a very sensitive tummy. I have acid re-flux and take medication for this. I have very little enamel on my teeth resulting in me having a very bland diet…even eating an apple can cause pain in my teeth. I have daily heartburn and suffer with tummy problems and pain. I am almost 30 and I feel like a 60 year old. It makes me feel down at times.

I look back and I really wish someone would have given me the honest truth of what a long-term eating disorder can do to you. I probably wouldn’t have listened but I feel sharing with others what it has done to me physically and mentally will perhaps help one person living with an eating disorder.

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Perinatal Mental Health – A Partners Role

Becoming a mother is a beautiful and life changing experience…you go from thinking about one person to thinking about a tiny, new little life. You know things are going to be tough, you think you are ready… you have watched read ‘what to expect when you are expecting’ and even bought and flicked through Conception, Pregnancy and Birth: The Childbirth Bible for Today’s Parents by Miriam Stoppard, yet nothing prepared you for perinatal mental health difficulties.

By perinatal mental health difficulties I mean pregnancy or postnatal depression, anxiety or postpartum psychosis. Although I developed postpartum psychosis after the birth of my first child, for the purposes of this blog I am relating the my experience of postnatal anxiety.

After the birth  of my second child I felt pretty good all things considered. The birth of my child was quick and straight forward, I felt an instant bond and I was not experiencing psychosis…bonus!!

However, I was to experience perinatal mental health difficulties once again…

Postnatal anxiety is crippling, it can take someone who is happy, outgoing and turn them into a nervous wreck…it can makes the simplest of tasks almost impossible to achieve but to those around you, you look fine and capable so all must be good.

For me the anxiety was intense, I had suffered with agoraphobia for sometime as an adolescent so I felt I was back to square one. I could not take a foot outside my front door alone for fear that I would have a panic attack and die. I could not be left alone either as for the same fear that I would have a dizzy spell…faint and my children would be alone in the home.

The anxiety had its hold of me from the day I arrived home from hospital and within two weeks of giving birth I weighed less in body weight than I did before I fell pregnant! This rapid weight loss from extreme anxiety was so bad that the doctors were concerned and sent me for all kinds of tests…this only added to my anxiety and then I found I was now scared and anxious that I was seriously ill and I wouldn’t be around for my boys.

In all this was my husband…my rock and my voice of reason.

Dads/partners play a vital role in a mothers recovery from perinatal mental health difficulties. When feeling lost, alone and anxious a partner can be the calm that is needed to help a mother see things differently. A partners role in a mums recovery is top of the agenda, they can be more beneficial to mum than professionals at times.

My husband had to stop working when I had postnatal anxiety, I was so nervous that even something simple like him going to our local shop would start me off.  I would hang around our front door or by our living room window waiting for him. I would pace back and fourth from window to door waiting anxiously. If he was taking a little longer than usual I would start to cry…my head would start spinning and I would hyperventilate, I would then be violently sick.

This behaviour of mine was awful and I would feel guilty that I was making him stay home with me, he never made me feel bad for it. My partner would try to help in anyway he could. He would take the bus with me to meet my friend in a coffee shop and then hang around the local shops just so I would feel a little independence. i would feel safe knowing that he was close enough if I needed him. Some might say I depended on him to much but when you are feeling this anxious who else but a partner are you to lean upon.

Although my husband had to give up his work he still continued with his university night course and we would get family members to babysit keep an eye on me when he was not home.

When I felt this way my husband would remind me daily that it would pass, that I was a good mum, wife and that we had been though worse. He didn’t once make me feel guilty that he had to stop work to take care of me and that it was impossible for him to have any sort of social life. He was there to care for me and even when our finances become strained he didn’t want to worry me further so took it upon himself to deal with it all. I feel this affected his mood and although he would disagree with me I believe he became depressed for a while.

I look back now and I know that my recovery would not have been possible without the support of my caring partner, the way he would rationalise every crazy thought I’d have or be there when I felt like giving up.

I often think back to our appointments and home visits from professionals and I think once someone asked how my husband was coping. Now that’s crazy when you consider everything my partner had to give up to support a nervous wreck of a wife and with no professional training either. I believe partners are key to a mums recovery and they need support just as much as mothers do. When will people see that…food for thought eh…

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The Bipolar Ride

Over the last few years I have learnt to identify when I am about to experience mood fluctuations. My episodes used to last so long but with time they have become less frequent and less severe…when they start it’s like a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. They can play out like this…

I don’t mind when it starts in fact it can be quite enjoyable…the feeling of amazing energy and thoughts and ideas that come flying out of my head at 100mph can be thrilling and exciting.

I get so much housework done it is quite mad, I talk for hours about how the world will look in the future or anything for that matter. I become artistic and become very organised…I feel almost alien like…my senses tingle and my reaction speed is increased. My work speed and focus becomes mind-blowing that if someone could bottle it and sell it they would be millionaires!

 

But with all this amazement and thoughts and ideas also come the bad. I usually require treatment (medication) to bring me out of my manic state and then I start to experience low moods

I start to feel anxious, I think about what I have started… but now I can’t finish…this gets me down. I start to worry that my mental state is not strong enough to succeed if I’m not hypomanic. I worry that I don’t have enough energy…I feel down. I get thoughts of dread and think lots of negative thoughts.

The low moods are horrible.

With self management I have become quite good at recognising when one of my rides is about to start and I know most of the ups and downs I’m about to take. I usually feel excitement, agitation, restlessness, panic, worry, no sleep, too much sleep, racing thoughts, mad ideas, no patience…the list goes on…

If you don’t identify the fluctuations in moods it could possibly get worse and become an episode that requires treatment.

If you think you may be experiencing any of the symptoms I have mentioned please seek help…there are many organisations out there that can offer so much…take the care and advice offered.

For more advice and information about bipolar please visit –

https://www.bipolaruk.org/

 

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My wales online article response & my work with BDRN

An article about my struggle and recovery from postpartum psychosis was published by Wales Online last night. Article can be found here – http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/postpartum-psychosis-cardiff-mum-opens-10776288

I was asked to consider the article after I had been having a chat with someone from BDRN (Bipolar research network) and NCMH (National centre for mental health) and they had read my Blog post about postpartum psychosis.

Firstly I would like to thank everyone for there support and kind words. I was nervous when the article was put online but the article is true to what I have said and I think the response it is getting will really help raise awareness of addiction, mental illness and postpartum psychosis.

I was diagnosed with bipolar at 20 and I didn’t admit it to anyone for a while, however I did start having contact with BDRN and I wanted to help with research. At 20 years old I had a research assistant come to my home, take a blood sample and then give me questionnaires. At the time I think I wanted to see if they could help with my condition as I was calling it. I was considered quite young at the time to have been diagnosed with bipolar.

I actually remember many saying it was rare to be diagnosed so early on and that I must of had an understanding doctor to refer me to relevant services so young. As it goes my doctor at this time had a family member with Bipolar and do feel this helped me to get help early.

I took part in a Bipolar Education Programme in Cardiff back in 2011 the course facilitators John Hyde and John Tredget were really good at delivering this course. I met with some lovely people and I kept in touch for a while or until I was to suffer another episode then I stopped the research and didn’t talk with the friends I had just made and grown to really appreciate.

After years of rapid cycling bipolar and years of self hate I become pregnant and felt amazing. After I had my first born I became ill with postpartum psychosis here is that blog post link – https://recoverymummycardiff.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/1044/

I recovered from this and then began my research with BDRN again. Christine Fraser came to my home and we discussed what I had been up to for the last few years, postpartum psychosis and then how I can help now.

I have started True Colours mood monitoring system with BDRN they send me an email weekly with a questionnaire to see how my moods are affected week to week. This is confidential. It is  also quite good to monitor my moods at home.

I will be continuing research with BDRN for as long as I need to. At present I am training constantly to become the best support worker I can be, my specialist subjects are substance misuse, pregnancy and mental health. I love to study so who knows what I will be studying in the near future 🙂

Right now Recovery Mummy has started working with Recovery Cymru on a project that we hope will be up and running really soon. I am at present conducting research for a parents in recovery self management course and will be running a mother and baby group from Canton within the next few weeks…this group is only suitable for bump to 18 months as we don’t have the space for happy toddlers running about just yet, however this wont be for long.

I will be emailing relevant organisations with the research questionnaires this week coming.

Recovery Mummy Raffle Event will be at Café Junior on 5th March from 1pm, all money raised will go to funding the research and starting the baby group. Café Junior has supported me right from the start when I was jotting my ideas down in my butterfly journal. Gareth at Café junior was the one to mention having a mums meet up at the venue so I will always be very grateful to them for boosting the start of Recovery Mummy.

Here is the link for Café Junior event – http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/myevent?eid=20985999690

Lots more plans and events are in the pipeline but you will have to keep watching 🙂

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Café Junior website – http://www.cafejunior.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Strictly No Crocs… My sons book review

Wow mummy a book about crocodiles! Crocodiles are naughty, will the crocodiles in this book be naughty like in Peter Pan??

I was really excited to read my new book Strictly No Crocs by Heather Pindar, my favourite DVD at the moment is Peter Pan so anything to do with pirates and crocodiles gets my attention.

This book is about a zebra having a birthday party and inviting everyone to the party but not the crocodiles.

The crocodiles decide to sneak into the party so they can eat everyone! The crocodile dress in disguise so no one will notice them.

At the party the crocodiles start to have lots of fun, they play on the bouncy castle and play pass-the-parcel. They sing happy birthday to zebra and then go home. They have fireworks and then the party is over. The crocodiles are sad to go home, I get sad when I have to leave parties too.

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On the way home the crocdiles say what a great time they had and then they realise they didn’t eat everyone!

Don’t worry crocodiles you have Giraffes party next week!

I loved the pictures in this book and I liked the funny clothes the crocodiles dressed up in to go to the party. This book really kept me interested and I enjoyed reading it with my mummy.

Book written by Helen Pindar and illustrated by Susan Batori.

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This review was done on behalf of primary times.

Read my reviews here http://www.primarytimes.net/reviews/ethans-reviews

 

 

Vincent Van Tots (Cardiff)

Today my 15 month old son and I attended Vincent Van Tots Sensory Arts and Crafts at Canton community hall in Canton, Cardiff. I had been looking for something fun for Mummy and Harrison time so started searching on Facebook.  I was instantly drawn to  Vincent Van Tots .

Sensory art class was just what I was looking for. My little one has already shown he has an artistic flare so I started to follow Vincent Van Tots on twitter and booked Harrison for the next class.

Vincent Van Tots is owned and run by Laurie. Laurie set it up as she was looking for something for her own children other than messy play.

At the start of the class we all sat down and Laurie read The very hungry caterpillar  we then went on to do art and crafts that were themed to the book.

Harrison had a lovely time and we both got really messy, I do think my three year old son would have enjoyed it more simply because he is older and understands more.

Harrison really did enjoy the sensory parachute at the end and the balloons filled with things to make noises. We took home some lovely artwork to show Daddy and Ethan, Ethan said he wants to go next time!

Vincent Van Tots takes place every Thursday 1.30pm – 2.15pm at Canton Community Centre.

Vincent Van Tots website – http://www.vincentvantots.co.uk/

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Harrison had a free session for this review