Let’s talk mental health

I felt like I had to complete a post I have been working on for a little while in light of Prince Harry’s interview with the Telegraph today.  In it he talks about his mental health & seeking counseling to help deal with the grief of losing his mother.

I was actually disgusted reading some of the reaction which slated him and comments suggesting that he shouldn’t be commended for speaking publicly about it because of his position of privilege.

While I appreciate not everyone has the ability to seek professional help whenever they need to you can’t diminish anyone else’s right to grieve and seek the help they need.  Surely highlighting that mental health issues can affect everybody regardless of their background or upbringing is a positive thing.  It’s an issue that should be talked about more openly.

I was offered counseling shortly after my daughter was born.  The health visitor had come for our 8 week postpartum check up and while discussing the details of the labour explained to me that since Isla’s birth was not straightforward I would be able to get a full debrief from the hospital and they were happy to arrange for me to seek further professional support.

As much as I’m totally happy to discuss Isla’s birth pretty honestly with anyone who would like to know if I go through it all now we’ll be here all day!  Basically I was induced on a Friday morning, went into active labour in the early hours of Saturday morning and after stalling at 8cm by midnight on Saturday night the midwives and consultant decided on a c-section.  It wasn’t a crash c-section and with my MS I’d always known that this was a likely option so I was pretty calm about the whole process.

Things changed when we got into theatre.

They increased my epidural and did their checks.  Asked if I could feel them pinching… I could.  Apparently that shouldn’t have been the case and it was very quickly decided that I’d have to go under general anesthetic.

At that point the atmosphere in the room quickly changed.  My husband was rushed outside and had to wait in a corridor.  And I went from being pregnant, to being knocked out, to being a mum.  I’m not going to lie this messes with your head a bit!

Ash & I missed out on both being present when our daughter was born.  We didn’t know the gender of our baby so Ash found out via a nurse coming to find him in a corridor.  In fact our parents and siblings knew we’d had a little girl even before I did.

When I came round from the anesthetic I was told I had a beautiful little girl but I’m not sure it really registered.

By the time the health visitor discussed this all with me 8 weeks down the line I felt ok with everything.  I knew that despite everything “not going to plan” what happened is what needed to for both Isla and I to be ok.

But it’s ok to feel a little cheated.

Now nearly two years down the line I think I probably should have had counseling.

Two weeks before Isla was born one of my closet friends was killed in a car crash.

So when this lovely health visitor was talking to me about speaking to a professional about my traumatic birth experience all I kept thinking was that we were alive and happy and finally had the family I felt we’d been waiting for.

How could I fall apart in grief when I had this little miracle?  Our little rainbow baby needed me to keep it together because at that point she couldn’t do anything for herself.  She needed me.  I needed to be present.

I watched my amazing, strong and beautiful friend Katie’s world fall apart when her husband was killed.

I didn’t feel like I had a right to feel even part of what she was going through.

6 months later I lost my uncle and great uncle over the space of a weekend.

My heart hurt but still I didn’t feel like I should be seeking help.  In my mind it wasn’t my husband, father, grandfather so why would I need to talk to someone to help me process my thoughts and feelings?  It all felt a bit selfish.

I kept trying to put things in perspective and appreciate how lucky I was and to focus all my energy on my beautiful little girl.  But I can’t be the best for her if I don’t look after myself.

Truth is I am so lucky.

I’ve said it before I have a better support network than most people I know.

But I feel like I’ll be a better parent, role-model, wife, if I make sure I’m looking after myself mentally and physically so I’m looking into counseling options.

You shouldn’t ever be made to feel bad if life overwhelms you or situations become too tough.  There is always someone better off, there is always someone worse off.  It’s all relative.  You are allowed to fall apart.  And it’s ok to reach out to whoever you need to help pick you back up.

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