Hello everyone and welcome to my first blog post about pregnancy. I’m currently sat in bed suffering from severe post-cup of tea hot flush and wondering how I’m going to conceptualise 20 weeks of pregnancy into one short blog post. Alas, here goes…

So, I had my 20 week scan yesterday which I’m very pleased to report went totally smoothly. I have to say that on the way down to London I wasn’t feeling quite as laid back as my nerves-of-steel Husband, who was driving along mumbling something about upcoming work events. Now, I’m not saying I’m a “always think the worst” type or an eternal pessimist, but I like to be informed and aware of realistic risks or possible problems. I like to think I’m not the only Mummy-to-be who gets just a little nervous before each scan, especially before the oh-so-important 20-week stage developmental check up. Anyway, I feel very blessed that our little one is healthy and happy and wriggling around like crazy in there! Here I am, post-scan, outside the Fetal Medicine Centre on Harley Street, London.

 

 

When I set up this blog last week, I knew that I wanted to speak honestly and openly about mental health, both from my knowledge as a Psychology student, but more so from my own personal experience with mental health issues. However, I have to admit that sitting here right now with the prospect of sharing some of the innermost details of my life, I’m slightly terrified. Yes, I totally and utterly 100% believe in increasing mental health awareness and encouraging everyone to be able to talk about their own experiences with mental health. I will happily talk to anyone about the fact that I have struggled with mental health issues and that I’m actively engaged in talking therapies; but sharing the day to day details of living with what is classified as “a mental illness”, not only with one person, but on a social media platform, is NEW territory for me. And it’s scary. But hey, it’s ok for me to be a bit frightened. Infact, it would probably be weird if I wasn’t nervous. I’m a human being, just like all of you out there. I am not some mental health guru who always has it together and doesn’t make mistakes. Infact, I can sometimes still struggle with the fact that I have a mental health issue and just wish that I was “normal” like most of the population. Anyway, more on that another time.

So, pregnancy. I want to start off by saying that I have not spent the whole of my pregnancy with a massive smile on my face and wearing activewear as per the picture above. Infact, a lot of the time has been spent rather like the below selfie I took on my phone the other day.

 

 

It can be really hard in todays picture perfect instagrammed world to see a load of photos of pregnant women looking radiant and happy, working out in the gym even when they look like they’re about to pop, and eating all the “right” foods; when you’re feeling bloated and exhausted, haven’t moved much from the sofa in 2 days and have just finished off a tub of Ben and Jerry’s cookie dough. We all know that the key in life is BALANCE, but it’s hard when people often don’t talk about or post on social media about that balance and that it’s ok not to be “perfect” all the time! Yes, we should absolutely be trying to take the best care of ourselves we can when we’re carrying our little babas, but we’re also human and even despite our best efforts, we can fall short and things can be really, really tough. My personal experience so far has been that the first trimester brought about a few weeks of morning sickness nausea, immense tiredness and a skin breakout fit for a teenager. I didn’t go to the gym (at all) in fear of miscarriage and my food cravings lead to total aversion of a balanced diet and one too many dominoes pizzas. I had a few episodes of random crying, but most of the time my mood was pretty stable. All in all, my symptoms were totally manageable and by the second trimester I was feeling pretty much back to my “normal self” apart from still struggling a bit with ongoing tiredness. However, around week 16/ 17, I started to feel some of my symptoms were becoming a bit unmanageable. My emotions and mood became completely unpredictable and when they took a turn for the worse, they were very severe. My Husband saying the “wrong” thing would lead to me throwing something across the room and if I felt the dog ignored me it would send me into full blown hysteria that nobody loved me. Reading that aloud now, it sounds almost comical, but my truth at the time of such occurrences is that they are incredibly, incredibly painful and distressing. The “ridiculousness” of it all made it hard to talk about and lack of friends to talk to who have experienced pregnancy lead to me feeling very isolated and alone.

It was completely by chance, while browsing the internet looking at mental health charities for information for this blog, that I came across Best Beginnings, a UK based charity which specialises in maternal mental health from conception up to a child’s third birthday. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I came across their website; and as I browsed their pages and discovered their Baby Buddy app, I found information that other women also struggle with their mental health during pregnancy and there were videos of women saying they felt exactly how I felt! I was no longer alone.  It’s been about 3 weeks since I started experiencing severe mood swings and I’m so grateful for Best Beginnings and for the ongoing support I receive from my weekly therapy. I should of course also now mention my gratitude for my patient and long suffering Husband who is in the front line when dealing with my emotional outbursts. I do hope and pray that the severity of my mood swings calms down. But I also understand that I have absolutely NO control over what my hormones are doing in my body right now, and there’s the possibility that my mood may remain unpredictable. All I can do is my best, to get the support that I need and to MANAGE my emotions as best I can. That’s all any of us can do.

If you are pregnant and struggling with the hormonal changes and their effect on your mood and emotions, please know you are not alone. There are thousands of women out there who are feeling exactly the same and who are struggling to come to terms with not feeling in control of their emotions. Please reach out for help. Whether that’s to a loved one, a friend, a mental healthy charity or a mental health professional. It’s ok to say you’re finding pregnancy hard.

Thank you so much for reading this blog post. Please let me know if you have found this at all helpful and if there are any particular topics you’d like to hear more on. Below are some pictures of my day yesterday when I went for the scan. I hope you all have a great weekend!

 

Harley Street

My fave thing about going to Harley Street… 2 minute walk away is Lululemon AND Natural Kitchen!

One of my fave dining destinations. Please can they open one in Oxfordshire.

My delicious lunch (please excuse random lady’s head by my lime/mint water)

Good morning everyone and Happy Easter! My name’s Kate and I’ve started this blog partly as procrastination from my dissertation… no, no, in all seriousness… I’ve started it because I feel passionate about challenging attitudes towards mental health and emotional wellbeing. A lot of progress has been made in recent years thanks to the likes of mental health awareness charities such as Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. You’ve probably heard of campaigns such as Time to Change or Heads together, which is next weekends London Marathon Charity of the Year and is supported by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. However, the question arises as to whether CHANGE is actually occurring within our culture and among our society. Do we think its okay to not be okay?

Sadly, it seems we still have a long way to go, with 9 out of 10 people who are going through a mental health problem experiencing stigma and discrimination (Time to Change, 2017). Now, I’m just going to stop right there and highlight the words “mental health problem”. Personally, I find this slightly stigmatising in itself. To me, a problem is something negative which needs to be fixed into a positive solution. I also feel that “mental health problem” gives the image of something that is easily noticeable, such as someone going through severe depression who won’t get out of bed or someone who has schizophrenia and is experiencing hallucinations and hearing voices. It’s for this reason that I like to talk about mental health AND emotional wellbeing, which I pretty much see as the same thing.

I certainly don’t think mental health is a dirty word, however, I feel people may be more open to and find it easier to relate to their emotional wellbeing and how this is something that we can ALL struggle with in our lives. We’re not robots. We’re not made of stone. We are emotional beings who have the ability to feel love, anger, sadness, joy and so much more.

Feeling like a failure cause you didn’t manage to snag that job interview or get into your university of choice? IT’S OKAY. Feeling lonely and hit harder than you expected since your best friend moved away? IT’S OKAY. Feeling insecure about yourself in our current age of instagram perfection and celebrity culture? IT’S OKAY.

It’s okay to not be okay. It doesn’t make you any less of a person. It makes you human. No worse and no better than anyone else. I hope that this blog could reach even just one person who feels different or less than or alone… and give them a glimmer of hope. You are not weak. You are not defective. You can get through this. I believe in you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my first blog post. I’m just going to let you in on a little secret, which is I have absolutely NO idea what I’m doing in regards to having a blog (I honestly didn’t realise how complicated it is; respect to all you bloggers out there). But hey… IT’S OKAY (!) to not be perfect!

 

 

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