Any of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter will know that a few weeks ago I started having CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy.) I had already had many talking therapy sessions over the phone and this was the next step for me. I found the talking therapy useful in helping to address the balance of everyday life and remembering to make time for myself. Once this course of treatment had finished I still felt there were unresolved issues regarding the cause of my post-natal depression that I needed to discover and deal with.
I was relieved to be referred for CBT as I had heard how useful others had found it. I really felt that this was going to be turning point for me. I was ready to tackle whatever issues and emotions that the CBT brought up. I think if I had been offered this form of treatment any earlier I wouldn’t have had the energy or clarity of mind for it to work. I put this down to being physically and mentally exhausted as well as not having found the right antidepressants to suit me and my condition. Now on different medication and getting a little more sleep I was ready for the next step in my journey of recovery.
The sessions so far have been pretty full on and I’ve found them really tiring. We have explored all the different areas of ‘my story’ whilst trying to pin point what triggered the PND and PTSD. The man leading my CBT sessions has a really great way of putting me at ease and getting me to open up fully about what’s been happening so far. I think this is one of the reasons we are making such great progress already.
Last week was a real ‘eureka’ moment for me. Having being sent away with my homework for the week ahead I thought I knew what he was trying to get out of me. How wrong I was. We had established in a previous session that I was using up a lot of time and energy ‘ruminating.’ In this case it meant going over the same scenario in my head once, twice sometimes more, each day. It was my brains way of trying to heal itself and deal with the situation by looking for a solution. What was this scenario? It was the day of Mr A’s birth. From start to finish I would run through every tiny detail of that day searching for answers.
The reason I was doing this was that the Doctor who diagnosed my post-natal depression thought it was probably down to the traumatic nature of Mr A’s birth. Therefore, I was searching the day to find the trigger, the exact moment that had started the uncontrollable ball of depression rolling in my mind. As I remember, I didn’t find Mr A’s birth particularly traumatic. In my mind, I remember that initial feeling of panic being very short lived, closely followed by a strange sense of calm washing over me. There was nothing I could do now. We were in the hands of the numerous Doctors, Midwifes and health care professionals that were swarming round my bed. What will be will be.
No matter how many times I ran through this day in my head I couldn’t find what I was looking for. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack, but I wasn’t just looking in the wrong haystack, I was in totally the wrong field!!!
So back to this ‘eureka’ moment we had. Somehow my therapist steered the conversation round to my health during this pregnancy (something we’d already discussed in our first session.) The bit we focused on in particular was 27 weeks pregnant. The night of my first substantial bleed that landed me a trip in an ambulance and a short stay in hospital to be monitored. Talking about this really touched a nerve with me. It all came flashing back and I remembered everything so vividly, most of all the emotions I felt at the time.
I woke up about midnight having suffered a significant bleed, I woke up Mr M and we decided between us that rather than dial 111 we should go straight for 999 due to the amount of blood. Were we just being a bit over dramatic here? No way, this was pretty serious. Again, after the initial panic, I felt strangely cool, calm and collected. What was I feeling or thinking inside whilst I seemed so outwardly calm? I’m not going to lie, I was absolutely bloody terrified. The most scared I’d ever been in all my life, mainly down to the fact that I had absolutely no control over the situation or its outcome. During the journey in the ambulance there was no way of knowing what was going on with the baby. The journey took what felt like hours. A long time of not knowing. I took comfort from the fact that I could feel the baby moving slightly, this was the one glimmer of hope I had to cling to in that moment.
The reason I was so calm is this…. In my head I thought, ‘If my body can no longer support this baby and it needs to be born, I want it to be born feeling as calm as possible and not pick up on the stress I was feeling.’ I even thought of the worst case scenario of, ‘If I’m losing this baby, I want it to slip away peacefully and calmly and not be stressed out.’ Luckily, once at the hospital, they could monitor the baby and discovered it was showing no signs of distress and was actually doing really well considering the circumstances. As you can imagine, this came as a massive relief to myself and Mr M.
So that was the break through moment we had during my CBT session. Between us, we rummaged around in the depths of my brain and managed to pin point the trigger of my post-natal depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. This was a particularly exhausting and emotional session, as the therapist said it would be, but I feel energised. All the energy I was wasting going over and over Mr A’s day of birth can now be used elsewhere. Since this CBT session, I feel as though a massive weight has been lifted from my shoulders. We now finally have a point at which to work from.
The start point in my journey is further back than I first imagined but the journey now seems a lot shorter as I can actually see the end.