This extract is taken from my interview with Kerry Thomas – a mental health blogger who writes on her experience with post-natal depression, PTSD and birth trauma:
“I learned to practise self-care when my body was so run down that I was at the point of having a break down. I was told If I didn’t change and rest I would be back in hospital. That’s what did it for me. It was very hard to just stop.
What helped me the most was writing a journal to just get it off my mind onto paper. You don’t have to be a writer to do it. Just write whatever you want. Negative thoughts are not easy to just shut off. I wrote all mine down on paper and shoved it in a drawer. It helped me.
CBT also helped me a lot, with my anxiety but also my PTSD. I found it helpful talking about my experiences. Trying to understand the experience more and look at it in a different way. Trying to put it to the back of my mind in a box and think about it later if I’m anxious. If I’m trying to sleep for example.
A hot bath also helped me as I felt refreshed and clean. Also going for a walk, even with your baby gets you both fresh air and away from staring at four walls or looking at what needed to be done in the house. It’s not easy – I hated going out. I gripped the buggy so tightly my hands were raw when I came back. My anxiety levels were awful. I couldn’t go anywhere busy. But step by step, I did it. With exercise and having someone with me.
Just be kind to yourself and don’t feel like a failure, you will step on many stepping stones, but eventually you will walk in the right direction. There will be ups and downs and it will always be this way. Find what helps you and know you are strong for trying.”
Read more of Kerry’s interview: (coming soon)
How do you cope with post-natal mental illness?