21. May, 2016

MH Awareness Week - Relationships

My story - having had pnd and now living with someone with bpd. PND being postnatal depression and BPD being borderline personality disorder.

It's hard to believe how common depression is, and how many people do experience some of the symptoms. We simply don't talk about depression, there is still a feeling of shame around mental health.

Mental Health Awareness Week is this week, 16-22 May and the focus being relationships. 

Relationships matter, those with a partner, family, friends, neighbours or colleagues. Mental Health Foundation says "We believe we urgently need a greater focus on the quality of our relationships. We need to understand just how fundamental relationships are to our health and wellbeing. We cannot flourish as individuals and communities without them."

In 2011, I had my third child, the extra pregnancy time, I found extremely hard and suffered lots with worry and low moods. I repeatedly requested to be induced due to how I was feeling and the support I'd got at that time, my partners leave had started and my mum was on school holiday leave from work. The birth was eventually induced at week 42+1 , my partner only having 1 more day left and my mum having to take leave of absence to care for my other two children whilst I went to the hospital.

No relationships are all Sunshine and Roses, but he sure shared the anguish and we survived through together! I was home with a 3yr old, 2yr old and a 1day old newborn, whilst he went back to full-time. Things to me seemed fine, 6week checkup was fine, I just plodded on glad I got through another day, it wasn't until my partner started saying I wasn't myself, that I thought maybe I wasn't fine. With his support and concern for me, we went to see the health visitor when I was 5months postpartum, I was then diagnosed as having Postnatal Depression.

Together we reached out to my family and that whenever they visited they helped by doing something that was on the kitchen to do list. This list consisted not just of hoover, laundry, dishes etc my partner also added mummy bath time and take kids park.

In 2014 my partner who had had severe depression for a year, the impact of losing a job, then was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. The important thing we learned together was that certain things or situations can trigger certain emotions or responses that heightened his symptoms. Having depression is really like managing, every day, something that is trying to control you! 

It is great that awareness is being spread, the hope being that more people understand what they themselves or someone they know may be going through. Here's some things we would like to share with others:

  • A lot of effort and personal energy is used each day just to hold things together, to achieve day to day tasks. Having depression can be a daily battle against the symptoms experienced and being up dressed needs to be seen as an accomplishment on some days.
  • There are better days and not so good days, an understanding is needed, being happy and having a laugh doesn't mean that the person is fine nor fixed from their depression. It's a good day, enjoy it together.
  • Depression is not anything like a broken leg, it can not be seen or fixed. When as person manages to express how they feel, their feelings need to be listened to and validated.
  • Each of you in the relationship needs to have their own time, a hobby or time out with friends. When you are supporting a partner it is important for your own WellBeing that you look after you too.

 Relationships are important and can help the impact that mental health has.

Natalie