Awareness, Chronic Illness Blogs, Life With A Stoma, Personal Blogs

World IBD Day 2020

Today is #worldibdday! This will be a brief post as I am writing this on my phone (my laptop broke after 3 faithful years!)

Today we celebrate world IBD Day all around the world and raise awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. You will see many posts today of people sharing their story/journey or sharing about their loved ones who suffer from IBD! Share the love, ask any questions you are interested to know the answer to and share!

Many amazing charities now exist to help those with IBD or ostomates! The three charities that have helped me SO much with support over the years is: GetYourBellyOut, The Purple Wings Charity and IBD Superheros – all of which have various social medias and facebook groups.

Today for me, I celebrate the friends/family I have met due to sharing our illnesses in common – including my fiance! There are SO many that I could not live without and life really would not be the same without them. So this is a shout out to all my IBD besties who make life worth living, the bad days better and the littlest of things the funniest even when they have been so unwell and in pain themselves!

Chronic Illness Blogs, Mental Health Blogs

Entertainment At Home (LockDown)

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This past little while has been difficult for many people healthy and chronically ill. Now the next little while is going to be a little bit more tough at home with trying to find things to do to keep you and your family entertained! We won’t talk about the shopping item crisis or anything negatively related to why we have to stay home as those who have to know why.

I was thinking earlier today it would be great to share some great online games you and most teens can play during the lockdown period. These are some games I love (some that are popular) and also many that are free to play through Xbox One, PS4, PC/Laptop and on the Nintendo Switch. I will also share some links on where you can get games straight to download through codes instead of having to wait however long for the game to arrive in the post!

  1. RuneScape – this is a great game to play on your computer or laptop! It does have a monthly fee of £6.99 but with great rewards. You can do a wide variety of things such as quests, scrolls, gaining XP in many skills and the game itself is beautiful. To view a beginners guide, you can watch ProtoxxGaming on youtube.
  2. League of Legends – this game is free to download on your computer, laptop or on your mobile (mobile is Team Fight Tactics only.) This is a PVP game with loads of champions to play! To start, you go through the training and then slowly unlock more champions. To watch some League of Legends game play, you can visit GrossGore who plays this ALOT or you can visit the Twitch website.
  3. Animal Crossing – this game can be played on various nintendo devices and on your mobile, however the mobile app is a slightly different version. You can get this on CDkeys.com for £8 less than it is on sale at anywhere else and the bonus is you don’t have to wait for the game to arrive in the post! Simply purchase through the website and it will send you a download code through to your email address!
  4. World of Warcraft – for this game, it works the same as RuneScape in how you pay monthly to access the game and it’s rewards. The download is free.
  5. Cards Against Humanity (online addition) – everyone has heard of this game and it started out as a board game, however now you can play it online with your friends or family for free by clicking here.
  6. Apex Legends – this is a multiplatform game that can be downloaded for free on Xbox One, PS4 and on you computer/laptop (through Origin.)
  7. Fortnite (similar to the game above) – another game that is free to download on multiple gaming devices.
  8. Neverwinter – again another free game to download on multi game devices which is very much like a mixture between Diablo and Skyrim and is great!
  9. SMITE – this game is also free on multi gaming platforms and I suppose you could say it is like a form of a League of Legends game but much more child friendly.

To view all free games to download for your gaming device, click each one below:

Hoping that one or some of these games are of use for your kids, teens or yourself!

Chronic Illness Blogs, Mental Health Blogs

Covid-19 With Chronic Illnesses

With recent news and articles left, right and centre, those of us who are chronically ill are in a state of panic, anxiety and fear.

The World Health Organisation and the NHS are the two BEST and most RELIABLE sources of information regarding the coronavirus also known as covid-19. There are many newspapers and online articles publishing unreliable information to the public through social media world wide.

So what is the advice given?

  • Avoid close contact with people out of your home
  • Wash your hands after touching anything even in your home
  • Using hand sanitizer in between washing your hands
  • If you are to cough or sneeze then please do so in a tissue
  • Wearing a mask doesn’t protect you 100% as these germs live in your nose but you can still wear one
  • If you have a high fever and/or cough with breathing difficulty then you MUST self isolate for 7 days
  • DO NOT go to your GP practice if you are experiencing a high fever and/or cough
  • Stay calm and keep in contact with friends and family through your phone and social media
  • If you are mentally struggling to call someone who can help over the phone.
  • Only go to A and E in the case of an emergency

It is so difficult for all of us who are chronically ill at the moment, more so because of how the media and people are reacting. It’s normal to feel scared and anxious as we do with any virus or bugs.

It is also difficult for all of the NHS staff who also have the fear and anxiety even in situations similar to this with treating patients with TB, HIV, AIDS and other infectious diseases. This is why we MUST follow their advice – they do this day in, day out throughout their training, placements and career to protect themselves from viruses and diseases on a daily basis.

I cannot emphasise just how important it is not to pay attention to click bait articles online. As stated at the start of this blog post – World Health Organisation and the NHS are the most important organisations for advice and updates.

If you are struggling mentally take some time to unfollow news article pages on your social media, if you find people on your social media are posting too much then take a break and some time out away from social media, you can speak to people through facebook messenger as normal or there is also whatsapp, Skype, facetime, discord and various other apps that are free to download onto many mobile devices and computers/tablets/iPads.

I hope anyone that has been affected directly by covid-19 recover and those that have been indirectly affected are OK and know that you are not alone.

Awareness, Chronic Illness Blogs, Life With A Stoma, Mental Health Blogs, Uncategorized

The Blue Badge Scheme

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The Blue Badge scheme is a disabled parking permit but more commonly known as a disabled badge. This is where a blue badge is visible in your vehicle window to allow you or the person transporting you to park in disabled parking spaces.

How to qualify?

I’m asked this question quite frequently, as recent as just last month. It’s difficult to know if you are eligible and how to get one so I gathered my information and will pop it down below (please note that some councils policies on your eligibility can differ so always consult them):

  • If you are under the age of 16 and have a letter confirming your eligibility from your visual impairment team (eye care specialists.)
  • if you are 16 or over and you are registered as visually impaired.
  • if you are receiving the higher rate of mobility component from DLA (Disability Living Allowance.)
  • if you are receiving PIP (Personal Independence Payment) and have scored 8 or more points in the ‘moving around’ in the assessment.
  • if you are receiving PIP (Personal Independence Payment) and have scored 12 points or more for the ‘planning and following a journey’ in the assessment.
  • If you are receiving ‘war pensioners’ mobility supplement.
  • if you have gotten a ‘lump sum payment’ from tariffs 1-8 of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.

If you have any of the above then you automatically qualify for a Blue Badge! If you don’t then click here where you can do an eligibility assessment online. You will need your national insurance number for this if you have one.

How to apply?

You can apply directly through the link up above or you can call your local council and request this to be done on your behalf over the phone and then visit your local council with documents to prove your identity, address and proof of benefits you are currently receiving such as :

  • a utility bill
  • passport
  • drivers license
  •  birth certificate
  • council tax bill or government letter
  • letters from DWP of your current benefits
  • a recent passport sized photograph (for the badge)

Once you have done this, the process time is usually 12 weeks but depending on your local council it could be a little longer, they will email you to let you know! How you pay and how much you pay also depends on who and where is your council for example in Scotland it is £20 and in England it is £10 and for wales its completely free.

What are the benefits of having a Blue Badge?

Having a Blue Badge can be very beneficial if you are disabled such as parking at on street parking meters, parking in pay and displays, parking at disabled parking spaces and on single and double yellow lines if there are no loading restrictions (all of these are completely free!) This does not apply when parking at shopping centre car parks, hospital car parks (if they charge) and super markets (if they charge.) You can also use your badge all over the UK and abroad, in England and Wales you must use a parking clock.

Displaying your Blue Badge

It is important to display your Blue Badge so that when near your vehicle, someone can see it clearly from outside the vehicle and the front of the badge must be facing upwards showing the name of your local council.

If you have any issues with losing your badge or it has been stolen please contact your local council ASAP to get this resolved. Please also note that giving your Blue Badge to someone who is not entitled to one or is not helping you can be charged with committing a blue badge fraud and fined up to £1000 EVEN if they are family or friends. DO NOT buy your blue badge anywhere online where it states the price is £49 as there are SO many fraud websites scamming people and are fake. If you get a fake blue badge you are also at risk of being fined up to £1000.

I hope you found this useful in answering your questions about the Blue Badge Scheme!

Awareness, Chronic Illness Blogs, Life With A Stoma, ostomy fashion, Stoma Wear Brands

Ostomy Fashion – Best Buys

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Many ostomates dress differently due to two things; fear of the bag showing and losing confidence. I asked some ostomates their favourite pieces of clothing to wear when dressing with a stoma, at an affordable price, as let’s face it – we aren’t made of money! (Picture above, I got my dress from SHEIN for £15!)

I admit, when I first became an ostomate back in 2015, it was summer and I had no clue what to wear (I was just 20 years young at that time.) I was fearful of my bag showing, my scars being visible and I lacked all that confidence I once had before I got severely  unwell. I am here to tell you that you CAN wear whatever you want or feel like wearing – whether you want your bag to be concealed or on show! There are two of my favourite ostomy wear companies that you can get briefs that hold your bag in place such as Vanilla Blush which focuses on being sexy at the same time, and for hernia support there is Comfizz which are more practical than sexy but work excellent!

If you are a new ostomate reading this, welcome! Here you will find some great buys from fellow ostomates and hope that this helps you. Feel free to get in touch should you need any more advice! It is a lot to take in, but take it day by day and relax, cus’ we got you covered in the clothing department <3.

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First up we have the lovely Amy also known as the IBDWarriorPrincess who is also my friend and a blogger for Comfizz! “My Style since getting a stoma has changed, but for the better. Now because I can maintain my weight and actually go out. I look forward to going clothes shopping and dressing in the clothes that I love! I swear by high waisted garments because they don’t restrict my ostomy or stop it from it’s normal functions. My favourite go-to outfit is a tight top and a skater skirt, especially on the days where my stoma is more active!” This Jumpsuit was just £12 from Newlook.

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Nicola also known as Beauty and The Bag, is not afraid to have her own sense of style with her ostomy! As a mum of 7 she looks fantastic! “I get pretty much all of my clothes from boohoo and absolutely love the styles I can create! I don’t dress around my stoma or try to hide it.. I wear whatever I feel good in and I like to look a little unique and stand out.”

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Lisa who has her own ostomy fashion instagram account lisakateostomate, sharing other ostomy fashion and bargain buys! Lisa has really struggled recently due to being on steroids to try and help her Chronic Illnesses with her weight, but doesn’t she look amazing! ” Always have shopped at primark, quiz and new look. My go to shops for my clothes and they’re all true to size. I’m usually a 12-14.” We think you look lovely whatever size you are Lisa.

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Jess is no stranger to an ostomy as this isn’t her first once after a failed J-Pouch! Jess finally got the chance to dress up for new year this year after being in hospital on and off for the past few months. This dress is from I Saw It First retailer at £25. She also has an instagram account that you can follow her – jessgoldstraw.

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Sandie loves her comfy trousers which she bought from TK Maxx at just £19.99! “I have made many purchases but I am so glad (more so) on the purchase of these trousers which got me through the first few weeks after surgery.” And I agree definitely a bargain buy!  You can follow Sandie on twitter – sandicookartist.

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Sophie who is a mother of one and is the face behind the ostomy clothing brand I Am Denim London models her own jeans here. Now these are on the higher range of ostomy wear so these do cost a little bit more. These jeans I would really recommend for those of you have a higher stoma! This includes men too! These are currently on sale at £75. Perfect for keeping you ostomy concealed if you are self conscious too (they have a waistband inside that is adapted so you can still empty your pouch without having to undress!)

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Last of all is my bargain buy! These ex Zara jeans I got on ebay for £6.99! I have a low stoma so these cause me no issues on rubbing on the stoma or when my bag fills up. They are super stretchy and soft. I have no issues having my stoma on show or hidden, however when wearing jumpsuits or dresses, I do wear my Vanilla Blush briefs to keep everything in place!  You can follow my instagram – glitterygutsx 

Let me know what your bargain buys are OR your favourite outfit with a stoma! Feel free to tag me on social media so I can share with the rest of my followers!

Thank You to the girls who participated in this blog piece, in hope to help new and old ostomates!

Chronic Illness Blogs

My Top 5 Skincare Products

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Having a chronic illness, looking after your skin or having a skin routine can seem like an impossible task. Some of the medications can cause you to develop acne, dry or oily skin. The list of medications that can affect our skin that we may take daily is a long list that I won’t bore you with and save you worrying over!

So here’s the thing – you DON’T need to spend a fortune on beauty products to get nice skin! If you have skin like me which is dry and oily, it’s hard to find products that compliment both of these skin types in one.

Here are my top 5 skincare products :

  1. The Body Shop Vitamin E Gentle Face Wash – Excellent for keeping your skin hydrated, which cleans gently, so gentle for sensitive skin and suitable for all skin types.
  2. The Body Shop Drops of Brightening Day Cream – If you suffer with combination skin then this is perfect. This helps brighten my skin under my eyes as I suffer from dark circles, it dries non sticky, is so light weight and perfect for using before priming!
  3. NovAge Skin Renewing Peel by Oriflame – this is a gentle cream exfoliator that gets rid of dead skin without causing any irritation or redness, it leaves my skin super soft and plump!
  4. The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Face Mask – this product is FAB for oily skin, spot/acne prone skin and if you suffer from blackheads.  It has tea tree oil in it as well as himalayan charcoal and tea leaves so zaps those spots pronto, leaving my skin with a subtle healthy glow.
  5. The Body Shop Vitamin E Hydrating Toner – a hydrating toner which hydrates and soothes skin and works so well with the face wash.

All these products really aren’t expensive, with the face mask starting as little as £6. They also last a really long time due to only needing to use very little that goes a long way!

Look out for my next blog at my favourite bath bombs and body products!

 

 

 

 

Chronic Illness Blogs, Mental Health Blogs, Personal Blogs

Fabulous Freebies!

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Good evening everyone! This blog post is about/links to some fabulous freebies I  had found whilst scrolling through the hotukdeals app on my phone!

To find the freebies, simply go onto the hotukdeals website or onto the app and click the ‘freebies‘ tab. There you will find loads of freebies such as apps, books, food, items, free games to download on various gaming consoles and PC and more. There were a few that caught my eye more than others because I knew they would be beneficial to people who either have a chronic illness, insomnia or have felt the burn of the recent benefit cuts. Bare in mind that when you read this a week or a month I have posted that the following might not be available anymore or the deal has expired so do keep an eye on the expiry date of the free offer!

So my eye catching freebie favourites!

Of course there isn’t just this website to get good deals, there is alo Groupon and Wowcher. They both do great meal deals and holiday deals MUCH cheaper than what you pay in the restaurant and at travel agents! Keep an eye for helpful apps I managed to get a painting by colour (not painting by colours brand) app where you can paint pictures like mandala on your phone and save them! Great for when insomnia strikes!

I will be doing more research to see what freebies I can get up for next week and will doa another blog post then! If you have any good websites to recommend that are alike – get in touch! Thankyou!

Awareness, Chronic Illness Blogs, People's Stories!

Aberdeenshire Barbers Volunteer at NHS

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Two barbers from Hombre in Aberdeenshire, Liam and and Brandon have been assisting the elderly and ill patients at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary once a week.

Liam Robertson (23) who has been there for 4 years, came up with the idea to assist patients at ARI that are unable to leave the hospital with Brandan Milne (18) who started a year ago. Liam reached out to the hospital about volunteering at the ward, as they are off from the barbers on a Tuesday. They now spend their day off at the hospital giving haircuts to patients at the green zone. Liams main purpose and what strived him to start volunteering was to give back to those in the community who can’t manage to get anywhere especially their barbers shop and felt he was the man for giving back!

“I felt this time of year it’s important to help those that either don’t have families or can’t see them due to age/illness. The patients were elderly, the smile and extra enjoyment after having a chat with us and feeling normal again felt amazing. Our plan was to try make them feel relaxed and trying. To take their mind off things for a little while.”

The two men take their own supplies and make their own ways to the hospital for 11am, finishing at 4:30pm. Through the day, they see patients who are unable to leave the hospital and struggle to maintain with simple tasks that many of us can do without any problems and take for granted, including keeping up with their hair and facial hair. Nurses care for their patients every day with medicine, clean bedding and assist with washing however they are so stretched with time and funding that it is not possible for them to hire a barber or take patients out to a barber for the patients who are able. Not only are the nurses at the ward very grateful and appreciative of Liam and Brandan’s selfless and passionate work every tuesday, many other social media pages have thanked them!

When I asked Liam what was the best part about the day, he said how the mood and atmosphere changes of the patient’s from when they first arrive to the end of the day – “everyone had that extra kick and they became very warming.”

I think this is absolutely fantastic and patients can have such a confidence boost, as a chronic illness sufferer I know how difficult it can be being stuck in hospital and I know fellow chronic illness sufferers can relate! It’s also fantastic to see the young part of our generation spending their free time helping those in need.

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Friends and family of the two men have also shown their support via social media platforms, as well as family of patients!

To anyone who has thought about doing something similar or are young and haven’t yet thought about volunteering, Liam says the following: 

“I strongly believe we’re all far too caught up in our own lives and it is time that we start giving back, even with something small. Doing something small will make a massive impact in someone else’s life. It’s nice to be nice!” 

Awareness, Chronic Illness Blogs, Life With A Stoma, Personal Blogs

BBC Radio Brain waves

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After talking with the lovely Pennie from BBC Radio Scotland, we had a cuppa at my home and recorded some conversations on topics for the Brainwaves Podcast edition for Series 7 in 2020.

In Pennie’s Brainwaves series, she explores the science behind our everyday experiences and shares this with scientists who work in Scotland. The first series which started in 2014, covers topics such as Edinburgh Science Festival, Obesity Figures in Scotland. Series 2 covers topics such as how sounds affect people, meeting and talking with scientists and professors and meeting Karen Vousden, director of Cancer Research. Series 3 covers topics such as Biometrics, The Psychology of Cheating, Donating your body to science and The Flu virus. Series 4 covers topics such as The Northern Lights, Antimicrobial Resistance and the Anatomy of a stroke. Series 5 covers topics such as The problem with plastic, The Invisible Disease and Child Tissue Donation. Series 6 which covers various topics such as Food For Thought, Street Drugs and Pain.

Series 7 which is set to be released early 2020, is currently being recorded. Subjects include a shocking insight into the prevalence of perinatal PTSD, a real eye opener on what might be the next big environmental pollution issue plus a few good, bad and ugly facts about fat.

I am VERY excited for you all to hear our one which covers many subjects! When it is published, I will make sure to update you all!

 

 

Awareness, Chronic Illness Blogs, Mental Health Blogs, People's Stories!, Personal Blogs

The Mental Health Taboo With Pregnancy

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After watching Loose Women, a celeb dating star Anna Williamson talked about her mental health before pregnancy, during and after the birth of her first child. Anna was extremely brave in talking about something that society has a set perspective on when it comes to pregnancy and having a family which is that pregnancy should be the most exciting and amazing time of your life. But that isn’t how it is for many who suffer from mental health conditions.

In my blog IBD – Pregnancy/Termination I talked about my situation when I became pregnant after being told I would never be able to get pregnant and to help other women in the same situation I was in which was that I was told this information based on opinion and through no fertility testing. However I never talked about the emotional impact this had and STILL has on me. It’s hard, and that’s putting it lightly. Since then I have had another miscarry and I am desperate to be a mum. They say to look at that silver lining and for us, it’s that I know I can get pregnant now!

I spoke to women and men who also felt that mental health had a big role to play prior, during and after pregnancy;

 

Kellie

“It felt like I was going to fail as a mom. When I was pregnant over three years ago, four months before falling pregnant I had my stoma operation. My surgeon was very concerned which made me concerned and panic. There were regular what ifs and what if this baby didn’t make it  as I had had 5 miscarriages. At ten weeks, my whole life was on pause as they didn’t know if I would survive, they diagnosed me with a brain condition and I went blind for three months. I was in such a dark place I didn’t know if I was going to make it, I kept asking myself was my baby going to make it, or if we did pull through how would I cope being a mom with a new illness on top of the illnesses I already have!”

“Pregnancy was no walk in the park for me, and I couldn’t be alone. I was scared to be left alone so my partner would come to the hospital everyday and be with me from 7am that morning till 11pm at night. I had to stay on the phone to him all night just to try and stay as calm as possible. I was also on different types of medication as they didn’t know if the baby would come out addicted to the medications or not. I wasn’t on medication by choice, I was on medications to try and survive and for the baby to survive. I had open brain surgery at 20 weeks pregnant and I honestly thought when I was being put to sleep that it would be the last time I would see my family. I didn’t bond with my son for a few months and unfortunately, it took longer for me to bond with him as all I did was sleep and eat. My partner actually had him the majority of the time after major bowel surgery, being ill, open brain surgery and being a new first time mom. Delivering conor I was all over the place between hormones. I really didn’t know if I was coming or going. When I got better and when I was allowed to go home, I was close to my due date and I kept having panic attacks thinking something was going to happen to the baby or myself. I couldn’t sleep, I was restless, I was alone.”

Laura

“I’ve been on maximum dose antidepressants for depression and anxiety since the age of 14. When I became pregnant in 2010, I was seen at the hospital regarding my medication. They advised me to either come off my medication or to switch to one that would have less effects on the baby. My anxiety told me to stop my medication completely, I couldn’t bare the thought of any medication having a negative impact on this little person I was growing. The first few weeks weren’t too bad, I found myself either feeling on cloud 9 and the happiest person alive or I then felt myself pushing everyone away and isolating myself. I kept blaming it on pregnancy hormones and carried on as I was. My baby was born prematurely in April 2011 via emergency caesarean. Nothing prepared me for that, and especially for what was to follow. I blamed myself entirely. I blamed myself for my tiny baby being in high dependency. I felt like I had failed him, my body had failed him, and for weeks I bottled these feelings up and tried my hardest to embrace my new role as a mother.”

“When I finally brought my baby home, I made sure he was clean, fed, loved and my god did I love him. But there was always this overwhelming feeling inside that I wasn’t good enough. I truly believed that I didn’t deserve this baby and didn’t deserve to feel happy. I told myself I didn’t love him enough. I struggled in silence for 6 months before admitting that I needed help. I openly told my doctor “I can’t do this” and the GP put me back on to antidepressants. It has taken me so long to accept that I need these tablets to function and to stabilise my emotions. It has taken me so long to accept that I was and am worthy of this special boy. I am no longer ashamed of my mental health issues and I need to take these tablets to make life easier for me and keep those intrusive thoughts at bay then I do! I was also so in love with him but I remember those unwanted and intrusive thoughts creeping in, telling me I wasn’t good enough for this and that I didn’t deserve this beautiful baby boy.”

 

Danielle

“Before I fell pregnant, apart from the desperation and obsession with becoming pregnant, my mental health was quite good. I was always able to control it and get on top of it myself. Never felt I needed to seek much help and always dealt with life’s shit pretty well. But it’s like something changed in me when I became pregnant, I was petrified of losing my unborn baby! SO petrified that I was adamant it was going to happen.
I didn’t really enjoy pregnancy much until 20 weeks. I don’t know why but that 20 week scan made me feel like I could breathe a bit and my unborn baby boy was healthy and he was actually going to be OK. But that horrible anxious feeling never fully went away, I think that’s because I didn’t have a lot of trust in my body, seen as though it had thrown a chronic illness at me out of the blue. Despite all my concerns and issues, besides initial worries from labour, he was a healthy baby boy. I don’t know if my pregnancy anxiety is to blame for my mental health declining once I had him. He had Cmpa ( a food allergy caused by the baby’s immune system reacting to proteins in cow’s milk) from birth so we had our issues and battles which was never easy. He wasn’t diagnosed for weeks and I felt like I was losing an uphill battle with medical professionals. I struggled so much from early on because he screamed, a lot, and wasn’t a happy baby. I felt so stressed and angry All. The. Time, A time that I was meant to be enjoying my new baby boy it was awful some days.”

“Even though I wasn’t alone I felt very alone, very scared, both judged and a very bad mum! I was petrified to talk to anyone about how I really felt incase I was judged! I was so scared someone would take my baby off me and think he would be better off with someone else. I did go to the Drs a few times, trying to explain how I felt but I kept getting dismissed and I lost faith in them. Eventually, nearly 2 years after having him! 2 whole years, I felt like I was losing my mind and I wasn’t a very nice person to be around. I couldn’t control my anger or my emotions. I felt so lost and so far from myself it was unreal! I took my sister to the Drs with me who thankfully listened. I self referred from there advice to try CBT. I give it a good go, I tried a few appointments and stuck to it, but still felt myself sinking. My son was well over 2 now and he deserved so much more than what I was giving him! So I went against everything I once believed in, and asked for antidepressants. I was scared of those because I didn’t want to feel numb, I didn’t want to be emotionless towards my son or partner, but I NEEDED something and fast. So 11 months I have been on them now, and my God what a difference!! I’m quite saddened to think I lost myself for so long and got such an important chunk of my little boys life, and I know, which is also proven, that my mental health WOULD of had an effect on him because I left it too long. But I pray and I hope with everything in me, I have time to reverse any damage and soon enough, before the years out, I’ll be medication free and coping OK. Nobody tells you about this part of pregnancy and being a parent, not peppery. You never expect it to happen to you. But it can happen to anyone. And please don’t do what I did, don’t try cope and don’t ignore it. Ask for help, no-one is there to judge you, only to help you.”

Zoe

“My experiences with a newborn – I went into it expecting it to be the most amazing and wonderful experience in the whole world: especially after all the ivf and how longed for our baby was, I thought it would be magical. And don’t get me wrong, it was wonderful, but wow it was so hard too! The physical exhaustion of having a newborn affected me more than anything. I was breastfeeding for the first 2 and a half weeks, and he would feed constantly. And I mean constantly. There was no physical time left in the day for me to sleep. I was beyond exhausted. I was losing control of my mind, I felt like I was ghosting my body, like I wasn’t there. I felt like looking after my baby was a chore. I didn’t feel like I could enjoy even the cuddles. It wasn’t until I started bottle feeding, where Harry actually enjoyed being put down, I could actually sleep, and I got my sanity back. When he was breastfeeding, he would only settle on me, he would only sleep on me. It was relentless. I didn’t want to tell anyone, I felt like I was failing and I had to keep my front.”

Debbie

“I have recently had 3 miscarriages, and during my pregnancies with both my daughters in 2007 and 2008, I had strep B with severe sickness. Due to severe depression which I was diagnosed with in 2009, my two girls were taken away and have been adopted. I found it hard to manage simple things like cooking, couldn’t eat without being sick so ended up being anemic for a while, I couldn’t get much sleep as I was always lay awake worrying. Due to this awful experiences, I have ended up not trusting professionals and I still don’t. I was always worrying something bad was going happen and this has affected my mental health long term.”

(this gentleman is being kept anonymous) 

“I find men don’t know what to expect during pregnancy, and I personally found that when going into the hospital with my partner, I was ignored by the staff. They don’t tell you what to expect or how it’s going to be. When we had my youngest, my partner was on gas and air and I sat there doing nothing until she went into labour, nobody talked to me or said what to do or helped me cope with it all. I think because we aren’t the patient, we are left to it which I think is unfair as it’s an experience to go through together as a couple.”

Amy

I have never been very maternal, yes I wanted children, I wanted one each a boy and girl, but for me I had to be a lot older, successful and married. Obviously fate had a different idea. I fell pregnant 3 months after dating my boyfriend, it was mid Jan 2015 when I found out. I had just landed a full time permanent job and this really put a spanner in the works. It was a shock, this wasn’t planned and I didn’t know my boyfriend that well enough either. Even though my pregnancy was a shock, I knew then and there I was sticking with this pregnancy. My boyfriend however wasn’t so keen on the idea. I broke the news to my parents and apart from an initial shock the next day they both supported me with whatever I decided. My boyfriend took a whole week to tell his parents and they weren’t thrilled either. Back then I think I should of left him as the warning signs were all there.

My pregnancy wasn’t easy at the slightest, I’m 4ft9, I was about 5 and a half stone then, so growing a baby left me in a lot of pain. I was sick constantly and was back and forth in A&E as I was so dehydrated and had constant drips to help with that. I had sickness throughout until I actually went into labour. My boyfriend came to terms with things but wasn’t at all in the slightest encouraging. He came to most of the scans, as did my family but he wasn’t overwhelmed with emotion like we were. Anyway we got prepared and minus the sickness and needing constant growth scans, (as for a while baby was growing quite small) things were fine and dandy. My due date was 4th October 2015. I got told I wouldn’t be on time and would be late, however on the 14th September, I was getting a lot of pain and started bleeding. On the 15th pain was worse and my mum decided to time them and low and behold I was actually starting labour. The labour ward got me in when my contractions were about a minute apart and after a quick sweep and realising I was already 4cm dilated, I had a birth pool running and we were in hospital. 16th September 2015 at 7:56am my daughter was born at a beautiful 6lb4oz. Apart from being a bit blue and mucusy she was fine and after 24 hours we went home. This was when things went bad. My partner moved in with me in my parents house, but they just couldn’t get on. He hardly helped with our daughter and at this point I became quite poorly myself as was having a lot of stomach pain. It got so bad at one point I had to get an ambulance round. No-one could work out what was wrong so was put on some painkillers. Day 5 of my daughter’s life and after a few days of her being jaundice my midwife and health visitor told me to get her to hospital and myself as well as I was running a fever and not being well. So we did. We both got admitted in.

My daughter was poked and prodded with numerous tests and she was rushed straight to NICU as her bilirubin levels were dangerously high. We were told if they continue to rise that she may have brain or organ failure. We were told to expect the worst if things didn’t improve in 24 hours. She was put in all uv lighting. She had tubes going everywhere and the tiniest cannula ever. This was when my mental health went bad. My heart was breaking in so many ways. How can this happen? I’ve only had her in my life for 5 days, you can’t take her away from me now. Will she live? Will she have permanent problems? How am I going to cope? Why the hell has this gotten so bad? I was distraught and worse I was admitted in and until they can figure out what was wrong with me, I wasn’t allowed to be in nicu. I was breastfeeding so I needed to be there so I could do that. They allowed me for that reason but after 2 days my bloods came back saying I had an infection and while that was going on I no longer could be there. So I expressed. But I wasn’t making much sense, which then made me cry my eyes out as I couldn’t even do one simple thing for my daughter. The hospital was amazing. They made sure I was being checked on and keeping me updated constantly about my daughter. I had the mental health team round as my scoring was very bad so they sent the support, but I refused, I just wanted to be with my daughter. Her father hardly went to see her, he was more interested in playing his game or sleep. At one point he saw her for about 10 minutes and then went off with his family to get a pizza, not once asking if I needed anything.

My parents, especially my mum, were there being my support group that they always are, they made sure I was coping and being there with my girl while I couldn’t. They gave me things so I had her smell and she had mine. Regardless though, I still felt alone, so lonely, so lost, so hopeless, so frustrated and so very angry. I just want my baby home and well. Somehow a miracle did happen and after 2 and a half weeks we were home. We had another month of tests to make sure nothing creeped back but she was safe. But even being home my low mood didn’t budge. I instead worried every time she was asleep.

It is incredibly brave for these people to share their stories over the past few months and to share via this blog post. The main aim in sharing these stories is for those who are in similar situations with mental health whilst being a parent’s or parent’s to be to not feel so alone. It’s OK not to be OK at any time in your life! Just make sure to reach out and get the help and support that you need, whether that be in a friend, family member or medical professional.