After a lot of thought, I have decided to do an extremely personal post. This one is not for sympathy, it is because I realised just the other day how damn proud of myself I am - and I cant share that without sharing a bit of MY story.
I have always been a very shy person, with not a lot of confidence. I dislike photos of myself with a passion because I just simply do not like the way I look in them. They are a reminder of all of my flaws which I so often try to escape from. As a result, I have very few photographs of me with my children. Which is sad for me....but especially for them. They should have a collection to look through and smile at, and to treasure when I am gone.
I've always been a very cautious person, I like to have routine and stick to the rules. It makes me nervous if I am with someone and they are doing something they shouldn't (my sister always laughs at this, as I am the only one out of us 5 kids that has ever been arrested! Only by naïve association though - definitely not by intent!).
When I was pregnant with Olive, I started having breathing issues. I was just 8 weeks pregnant when I started getting puffed and out of breath just walking upstairs in our house. I had heart palpitations and my heart would thump fast and loud in my chest. I had many a shopping trips where I had to sit in the car afterwards for fear of passing out. I saw the doctor numerous times but there was never anything out of order - we all thought it was another silly symptom of pregnancy that I'd adopted.
Around the same time, I also started having these vivid 'movies' play in my mind. The kids would go running down a hill and in my mind's eye, I would see them falling and bloodying up their face. |Or if we crossed a bridge, I could see in my head, one of them falling and drowning. It wasn't normal, I knew that but I just didn't know how to talk about it. It was generally to do with the kids and I thought perhaps I was just getting nervous about having three of them.
After Olive was born I had her to focus on. I had this tiny vulnerable person to protect and shower with love. I had these bigger two children that I needed to put powerful positive energy into so that they could feel loved and supported, to in turn do the same for their sister.
My issues were stashed away at the back of my mind.
Soon after Olive's first birthday in 2013, everything came to a head. For the previous year I'd had a lot to focus on - our new baby, the older kids, planning a wedding, planning a first birthday...there had been no time for my things!
But now, everything calmed down and I was forced to look at what was going on. The doctor diagnosed me with hyperventilation syndrome and anxiety. For anyone who hasn't been through this, it is where you retrain your body to over breathe. You take short sharp breaths from your chest rather than deep tummy breaths. In doing this, you open a whole new can of new symptoms - chest pains, headaches, dizziness, extreme fatigue, nausea, irritability and achy muscles to name just a few. I had all of these and more, and it was taking it's toll on my body.
With the amazing support of my Mum, I tried breathing exercises, diet changes, kinesiology, naturopathy....all of which would work for a short period and then my symptoms would come back worse than ever.
By this stage, I'd become very withdrawn and isolated myself a lot. Olive and I stayed home most days because it was easier to try to control my anxiety and breathing when I was at home and calm. But it was really wearing me down. Another visit to the GP saw me on antidepressants for the first time in my life. The first ones were hideous and gave me horrible, horrible dreams, insomnia and crushing headaches so I was put on another.
This one, along with cognitive behaviour therapy started my road to recovery. For the first time in about 2 years I could take proper breaths. My head and chest didn't hurt every day and I started smiling again.
I started taking them last September and in doing so have gotten on track with small things that make me happy - gardening, reading, cooking, eating good foods...and surrounding myself with positive people. I have all of them to thank, for being there for me and LISTENING to me.
I have just managed to wean myself off them, which is a big feat in itself (as anyone who has been there knows!!) and for that, albeit a bit silly to some people, I am proud of myself. I really feel like I'm coming out the other side.
And you know what? My confidence is getting better. I take lots of photos with the kids now and even 'posed' for a photo shoot to be printed in a national women's magazine in the next few weeks (we have a story running about our Olive).
These are huge steps for me, and today? Today I'm feeling pretty damn proud of myself.
Here is me and my beautiful big girl, Meisha xx