Saturday, 10 September 2016

How blogging helped me cope with PTSD- #PNDAW16


Today I wanted to share a piece that I wrote when I first started writing about my PTSD, and our NICU/ CHD story. I didn't know where the blog would take me and in just a few months I am overwhelmed with how far I have come. For the first time in quite some time I feel happy, positive and in control of myself. Something I was the complete opposite of back in March. I was a shell of myself. We are now approaching Elijah's 2nd birthday and for once I am looking forward not backwards. It just goes to show the difference of what you can happen when you begin to talk and start a conversation about something like PTSD. I was very frightened when I was first spoke out, what would people think of me? We need to stop the stigma, stop the fear and let other speak, free from judgement.

Until only a couple of months ago I didn’t even have a Facebook account. I used my partner Greg’s to snoop on other people’s, did not understand Twitter (I still don’t tbh), and thought Instagram was something Kim Kardashian used to help her take over the world. It was on a whim one day when Elijah was at nursery and Greg had moaned at me for uploading MORE baby spam on his profile I decided to join Instagram.

The light in the darkness
My own little place to put my baby spam on where people didn’t really know me. I was then introduced to the wonderful world of mum blogs; dad blogs the whole parent blog shebang. I looked through all of the pictures of toddlers making a mess, picturesque walks on the beach and the many posts on; pregnancy, birth stories and day to day life of being parent. But I noticed something was missing. Where were the stories of babies being admitted to NICU? Of them staying in hospital 7 days after you have given birth? Going home from hospital without your baby? Of babies needing life threatening surgery? Where the honest and funny posts of being diagnosed with PTSD from the events that happened in your son’s first 18 months? To be depressed, rather than celebrating the milestones your son is achieving?

The NHS’ definition of PTSD is; Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.

Greg came home that night, I had an idea. On a whim I typed up an open letter to other NICU parents about how I really felt being a NICU Mum and how they too will get through it. I emailed it to a few of my best friends and they loved it. I don’t think I had really been as truly honest as I had then. Some of them cried, some were shocked at the darkness in the pieces. I began to think maybe I could do something with this. I came across the Selfish Mother site and decided to join and post it on there. It was not my best work, there were errors, it wasn’t edited but it was a true and honest account of how I really felt. People seemed to respond to this, so I wrote another one and began to tell our story.
Strangely once it was out I felt so much better, like a weight had been lifted. I began to process what had really happened to us. Something I had not been able to do for 18 months. I saw how the many parent blogs reached out and helped others. I thought mine could do this. When we were in hospital, and waiting for Elijah’s surgery date I spent so much time reading others surgery stories, success stories and anything that was related to what we were having to go through. What if my story helped other mums and dads who were facing or had been through what we have? What if it provided just one person with comfort?


Before I knew it I had a few pieces that I had written, actually I couldn’t stop and I was writing away each night. I had submitted two pieces to Selfish Mother, but didn’t know what to do with the rest. Then it came to me. I would start my own blog. The honest confessions of a NICU Mum. I would tell our story, about how we really felt at the time as well as sharing other posts about the funny highs and lows of raising a toddler. People seemed to really enjoy the funny side as well when I put the photos on my Instagram feed. There was an underlying fear no would read it and Greg would spend hours refreshing the feed himself but I thought I would give it a go.

I am far from technical, so Greg’s friend who had a blog helped me set one up and I slowly learnt how to upload all of my pieces. To gain more readers, I then started a Facebook and Twitter as well. I am now a fully-fledged Mum Blogger. People did read my blog, and guess what they have carried on!  I have had countless messages from other NICU Mums, or mum’s who have had their child go through surgery and to be able to connect, chat and feel that I can truly understand them and to be really understood feels amazing. No one I knew had been through the extent what we have. It felt like at times I was alone in dealing with this and it had only happened to us. Now I know this is not the case. I feel for the first time since Elijah’s surgery that things are going well, I feel positive. I am no longer in the spiral of self -pity, denial and depression. I feel like I am tackling the PTSD in my own way with the help of the blog and all of the lovely mamas and papas out there that have helped me, made me laugh, allowed me to submit a guest post on their site or have given me blogging tips.

Blogging has inspired me to explore other parenting subjects and have the confidence to provide my opinion publically. It has helped me in ways no amount of counselling or medication had in 18 months. I have begun to help others, provide support and help to them and even consider becoming a parent mentor to other NICU Mums. From that one afternoon of starting an Instagram account I can finally say I am in control of my PTSD for the first time and coming out the other side of it. I am beginning to love what I am doing, and can see a future for us as a family for the first time since Elijah was first diagnosed. Guess social media isn’t really as bad as people make out is it? It helped save this Mama and I hope to use it to save many more.
                                   

If you would like to donate to PANDAS (Pre & Post Natal Depression Advice and Support) to help them support sufferers of perinatal mental illnesses please text PANDAS £3, £5 or £10 to 70660 or visit their website for further information and support. (Texts cost donation amount plus network charge. PANDAS Foundation receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payer's permission. Customer care 01691 664275 Charity No 1149485.)
 

 

 

 

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