“I’m probably just like you: I’m your average Jo Blogger! I’m a full-time Blogger at The Yorkshire Pudding, Author and Virtual Assistant. I wasn’t always doing this though and it’s thanks to my mental health that I’m now doing the job I love and enjoying life to the fullest – all because a little girl came along and called me Mommy.
Three years ago, I was prepared to have a beautiful little lady placed into my arms and start a new chapter of my life.
It was all planned; my husband and I had been married for five years, were both in good jobs with a stable income and had just bought our “forever home”. Life was literally the epitome of your traditional young family, we even had a Volvo and dogs! What more could we want?
A baby! So, we went for it and nine months later I was in the hospital doing what us amazing women do! But things were about to take a real and unexpected turn. Nine months after my daughter was born, my husband packed his bags and left our family home. He’d finally decided that he could no longer live with the monster that was once his wife.
During the lead-up to that fateful March day, I had gone from happy-go-lucky and successful, to a shadow of my former self. I don’t recall smiling, laughing or feeling relaxed. I was constantly paranoid, worried and mostly, I was angry. And I was angry with him. The poor man couldn’t even breathe correctly! Everything he said or did was wrong; his mere existence had become a burden to me; and his life had become a walk on the thinnest of ice and the sharpest of eggshells. I yelled at him for everything, even things that weren’t even things!
When he left, I did not blame him one little bit. I didn’t know I was ill; I just thought I had fallen out of love with him. When a friend finally said that she thought I had Postnatal Depression, the world suddenly came back into focus for the first time in 36 long weeks. I made the trip to the GP, was formally diagnosed and chose to attack the issue head on with medication and counselling. It was a tough road and I can’t even remember the sessions with the counsellor; I just remember walking out feeling a little better each time.
They suggested that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy might be suitable for me, and in conjunction with the newly prescribed medication, the monster started to die.
Hubby came back (god bless him!) when he knew that it wasn’t really me that had been doing all the yelling – it was this ugly monster that had attached itself to me. As the monster lost its grip, I slowly returned to the woman I once was, whilst sobbing inconsolably on my strong husbands’ shoulder for treating him so badly for the previous nine months. I did love him, but the monster had made me see him as the enemy; and my poor, broken brain had attacked him for it.
I had continued to work throughout my illness, but had decided that perhaps a change of job to something less stressful might help me to recover and get a balance back into my life that could have accounted for some of the stress. I applied for jobs and was rejected time and time again for being over-qualified for the roles that I thought I could do well. Employers just couldn’t understand why someone of my calibre (blush!) wanted to drop the salary and the “title” to be another minion. But I knew in my heart that becoming a mother and wife was more important to me now and that I could not continue on the career path I had previously been venturing down. When my daughter was born something had to give, and my career was what I chose to axe.
I eventually managed to get a role as an advisor for a charity, and although dubious, they were willing to give me the
opportunity of the job. Sadly, within three months of starting, my brain hit the wall again and began to throw up some very unpleasant symptoms. I began to see things that weren’t there; little insects scurrying in the corners of my
eyes. I lost the ability to speak as eloquently as I once had and my emotions were a roller coaster from ecstatically happy to extremely sad in a matter of hours. It was awful! I also become to experience what I now know to be tactile
hallucinations – the feeling of things crawling on your skin that aren’t really there.
I had finished my sessions of counselling and was feeling so much better, so to start experiencing symptoms like this was scary and so disappointing. But, because of my previous experience, I had learned that speaking out about it was the best way to fix the problem. I confided in my husband and GP, and was referred to a specialist team. The team
was known as the Early Intervention in Psychosis Team (EIP – how frightening is that title!) and it gave be the heebie-jeebies knowing that I was potentially really losing the plot! After a full psychological assessment and physical scans (to make sure there wasn’t something dodgy going on in my brain!) I was diagnosed with Stress Induced Psychosis.
As a mum this was petrifying! I had managed to keep most of this from my wonderfully oblivious two year old; and
all she saw was Mummy and Daddy just being together. I was treated with a change of medication and further counselling with a specialist mental health nurse who came to see me at home, and my husband and I talked about what we could do to manage the situation. My daughter was doing well, so no worries there, and the decision we made would change all of our lives for the better.
We agreed that changing jobs again was not going to be an option for me, and I was in a critical position at my new
job because I was off sick within a matter of months of starting. I knew, as a manager in my previous job-life that my work would not support this situation for long. We decided that rather than have a dismissal on my work record that
it would be best all round if I stopped work for a while and concentrated on getting myself better. And boy; was it the best decision we ever made!
My daughter continued in full-time childcare with our parents and at nursery school. We agreed that the routine
was good for her and that all parties were happy with this. It would give me time to concentrate on myself and allow me to experience the bad days when they came, without having to shield my daughter from them all the time. During this downtime, I turned to my creative side and started writing again. I had always been a secret writer; journals, poetry, short stories and the like and it felt like a natural thing to do as part of my recovery.
That was November 2016. Since then I have built a successful blog and all that goes with it and written my story in the hopes of helping other people who may have Postnatal Illness. The thing about it is that it doesn’t present in the same way and some women will simply never know they have it. Since writing my book I have been approached by women from all over the world speaking freely about their experiences and thanking me for being so frank about motherhood, adulting and losing the plot!
I could not be happier that my experience has helped other people.
I did worry about approaching “professionals” when I first realised I was ill, but the worry associated with speaking out was far outweighed by the amazing support I received from every team and individual that I deal with. I hope that my professional position didn’t give any weight to the way I was treated, after all I’d like to think that women who are ill will all be treat the same way. But I have found that people were less dismissive when they found out what I did for a living before all this happened. It’s a tragic shame if the amazing service I received is not the same for anyone who needs help.
When it comes to looking back over the last two and a half years (I know I sound like I’m still bonkers!) but I’m glad
for every minute of it. It was the hardest and greatest thing and has changed my family from the ground up. There was nothing left; we literally had to start-over, reassess and decide what it was we all really wanted. I’m happier
now than ever and have been medication free for about four months now. I was even brought on board as a volunteer by the EIP Team to recreate their leaflets and brochures about the service! My message for anyone who is experiencing anything remotely like this is to speak out because it’s okay to talk. For those around someone who they think might be ill; be there, be present and listen.”
Joelle is a full-time writer, blogger and, in her own words, an (un-certified) crazy person. She’s a wife, mum, ex public servant and charity worker with a tendency to hoard paperbacks. She is also a complete planner addict, organising fiend and general tidy-obsessive! The Yorkshire Pudding, was
born out of a life-long desire to write and help people. It adds a comedic twist to family safety & personal wellness. She has a published book entitled “WTF– The Real Story” that speaks frankly about mental health, and has received excellent reviews.
You can follow Joelle on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, StumbleUpon
*If you want to take part in this series, please contact me at mumconventional.gmail.com*