I’ve been having counselling since the beginning for August 2106 to start recovering and picking up the pieces of myself that prematurity broke.
I have suffered from anxiety and depression before over about a decade on and off. This is a new ball game of things I’ve haven’t suffered before Jack’s birth. Anxiety so severe that I have panic attacks and can’t breathe. PTSD that causes me to think back to the worst moments of our NICU journey and beyond. A coupe of my worst anxiety moments have landed us in A&E or the Walk In Centre for things that other people would find trivial.
So a little less than 2 months ago, I started seeing a lovely counsellor called Natalie. We’ve had about 5 meetings now and I’d like to think that things are improving. The first couple of sessions there was just a lot me of going over the what happened with Jack, my background and lifelong issues (e.g. my eating problems and self esteem problems) and the next few I have been doing some exercises and tasks to try and fight these problems.
I have a lot of negative automatic thoughts that I can’t stop from appearing. I need to get to the point where I don’t allow them to spiral out of control. It’s very exhausting because 1 vomit from Jack and my brain will propel forward to images of my boy in hospital on a drip because his weight gain wasn’t good enough. I’m terrified he’ll be classed as “Failure to thrive” which is a phrase I wish I’d never come across on Google.
When he bumped his head, I tok him to A&E because my brain was already panicking that it would cause a brain bleed or blood clot that would kill him. Like I said, these thoughts are exhausting me.
Natalie made me realise that I am no longer able to think that there are such tiny chance of these things happening. Because for this one big even in my life, I was that one person. Prematurity did actually happen to us. So my brain thinks that it could be us again that something happens to. She is helping me get back to a place whereI can be cautious and concerned for Jack’s safety and wellbeing without it completely stifling me. Catastrophising, she called it. That’s what I do.
We have discovered that I have specific rules and beliefs in my brain that have been formed over that last 30 years that have been thrown into disarray by this event. My early experiences such as not doing as well as others at school, being teased over my eating disorder (“psycho”, “weirdo”, “no man will ever want to marry you because he can’t take you out to dinner”) have left me with a belief that I am different and inferior to others. Other experiences have left me with my rule for living which is that hard work will be rewarded. This also translates to “if you’re nice to others they’ll be nice to you”, “if you temp somewhere well they’ll hire you properly” and the big one – “if you do everything right and are as healthy as possible, the baby will be ok”. I have been depressed before because companies I temped for just dropped me even after they said they wanted to keep me. I have lost my confidence before people who I was nice to just ripped me apart because of my eating problem. And now I have severe anxiety because I did everything right for my baby. I lost weight and got really healthy and fit beforehand, I avoided certain cheeses, haven’t drank alcohol since January 2015 (which I’m still doing apart from a glass of champers when Jack came off oxygen full time) and kept as active as I could by walking the dog when I wasn’t too exhausted. I did everything right and it wasn’t enough. This belief has been reinforced over and over throughout my life.
I didn’t even realised I lived by those rules until counselling. Light bulb moment! I can now start to argue these rules. The people that bullied me because of my eating problem, it is their issue and their ignorance. I tried to explain my eating disorder but got rebuffed. This is not my fault but theirs. The companies that I temped for clearly only had a need for an extra pair of hands for a while. I can’t create work where there is none even though the managers liked me. And finally, pre-eclampsia and HELLP are no one’s fault. They just happen. It’s a complete fluke.
And that’s the bottom line I want others to know. There is no one to blame. Prematurity is random and the experts can put together all the “more likely to happen if you do this” list they like but still no one knows the cause. Mums and Dads – do not blame yourselves. I have blamed myself for 10 months now and now I’m done with it. It happened. Nothing caused it. It wasn’t my fault or Jack’s fault. Just take care of yourself as best you can before. during and after pregnancy. Be kind to yourself.
Over that next couple of sessions with my lovely counsellor, I’m hoping to tackle the body image issues I have still got and the general disconnect to my body. I keep trying to take control and start dieting to lose weight but my anxiety and focus have been so consumed by Jack’s health that I fail each time. I’m hoping that now I am starting to conquer my PTSD and Anxiety that I can’t put more time into meal planning and going for walks, just as a starting point.
Thanks for reading, guys. Thanks for sticking with this post even though it’s little less about Jack and how he is and more personal stuff about me. Your support means so much!
Feel free to contact me through my Facebook page if you have any questions!