New site.

well a big thanks to everyone who has read the blog on WordPress.Now some big news we have our own website. So from now on blogs won’t be updated on here but you can visit the new site and read the blog there. I have all past blogs as well as new ones and loads of guest blogs please visit the site regularly and maybe even join the mailing list for regular updates.

www.pnddaddies.co.uk.

 

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19 week wait for treatment – just not good enough.

So I have blogged recently that both me and Mel have been struggling since Michael has been born. We have both recognised we are struggling and that we need to get some help before things got worse than they already were. We then both saw a health professional, I saw a nurse at the mental health team and Mel saw her GP we were both then referred to a health service close to where we live and we have both had phone assessment to see if we were eligible to use their service and we were both told we could be offered CBT for PND and PTSD and that we would be put on the waiting list that was around 3 months long. That was 5 weeks ago so we have spent that time trying to figure out how we make ourselves feel better and doing as much self care as possible.

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However things took a turn this week, Mel got her letter to start CBT next week, I decided today to call the service and find out when things would be moving on for me as my wife has an appointment before me when I was assessed before her and we were both offered the same service. The lady asked what we were assessed for. I explained we were both told we had PND and PTSD. The lady very quickly told me my wife had been prioritised because she had PND. Me being me explained that men can get PND and I also suffer from it so couldn’t I get the same priority. It was explained to me that they only prioritise mums with PND so I would still have to wait and the wait was another 14 weeks.

I have to admit this left me with mixed emotions. I was happy that Mel is getting help and glad she would be getting the help to be happier and start to move forward. However I was and still am jealous and a little bit angry Mel is getting help where as I am left struggling for 3 more months that’s June before I get any help. I need to get help to get better so I can be back at work and actually feel like I doing something to support my family. What about me when will I get my help?

Now before I go on I understand why Mel got prioritised and why they can only prioritise mums with PND the service is stretched right now so if they prioritised everyone then no one would get seen quicker and those in crisis would not been seen quickly. And I don’t blame the service either they have so much funding and so many people in need of help.

I blame the NHS and our government. Cut after cut has left their services short of money and short of staff leading to massive waiting lists and patients who have been brave enough to ask for help  waiting 6 months for help this is just not on. You would not have to wait 6 months to have a cancer that was killing you removed from your body. You would start treatment straight away. So why are we waiting 6 months to start treatment for an illness that is destroying the life of hundreds of thousands people? I know mental health is broad term and there is different severity of mental health illness but you wouldn’t even wait 6 month for the most minor of physical illness.

Only last week the Guardian news paper published that 271 highly vulnerable patients died between 2012 and 2017 after 706 failings by health bodies. 

This is just not good enough there are just the failing that are published.

Services are doing the best they can with the little money they have, charities like PANDAS and Tommies as well as private people like me with my facebook support page and websites like This Dad Can are also trying to support people as best we can. But we shouldn’t have to the NHS should be better equipped to support those with mental health illnesses.

Right now someone in government needs to stand up and be the voice of these people and make sure mental health services are funded correctly and that everyone get the help they need a lot quicker before more lives are lost to the horrible debilitating illness is mental illness.

 

Breaking the stigma – Why I refuse to suffer in silence.

So I have been talking about my struggles with PND for over a year and what a whirlwind year it has been. I have been interviewed for Both the BBC and ITV. Had my story written in two magazines and one national paper. Guessed blogged on a number of different blogs and worked along some national organisations as well as be on national and local radio. I know that might sound like I am raising myself up on a pedastool and trying to say look how good I am.  In truth I hate it, I would rather not have done all these interviews and spoke about what happened to me and what I am doing to change things. Every time I stand in front of a camera or sit at a mic I have to relive one of the most painful times of my life. I have to admit how I felt when Elizabeth was born and how I could not cope with being a dad and how it drove me to near destruction. The positive is I also get to talk about how I improved and raise the point that the health system is failing to support the needs of dads. When I do these interviews I open up old wounds. More worrying in this day and age, I open myself up to attack from both men and women who don’t think men can have PND or that we should suffer in silence and not be talking about our feelings. For every 100 good positive messages I get at least 20 negative and abusive messages.

When I tell people all this how each interview is draining and forces me to relive the worst time in my life and how I open my self up to abuse, I get asked why do I do that? Why not put it all in a box and move on?

The answer is simple 1 in 10 men suffer some sort of mental heath illness following the birth of there children and that figure is only based on those who have spoke out and seek help. So many dads suffer in silence. There is a stigma that needs breaking and someone has to be the one to break that stigma. The NHS is failing to support dads after they have had babies. They are failing to recognise the importance of dads and their mental heath in the life of there children. With so much focus on mum (and rightly so) but no focus on Dad.. how about we focus on the family and both parents as individuals. With up to 21 fathers committing suicide each week leaving 1,092  kids with out dads and in general dads are 5 times more likely to commit suicide than mums.  More needs to be done to get dads talking. And if me doing all these interviews gets people talking then I will happily take the stigma take the abuse and keep opening old wounds. I get people talking, help new dads and men in general realise its OK to not be be OK and encourage them to go the doctors and get help. If my speaking out helps even one dad its worth it and I will keep speaking out until the stigma around mental health is broken and men are getting the help they need.

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That said here is my latest interview on Radio City talk over here in Liverpool. I have to admit I enjoyed doing this one, I always love going up the tower and seeing the views and I have wanted to get in to these studios for years and the views of my city are amazing.

Dad Hair Day

So this past week Mel has been away in Norfolk with Michael leaving me with Elizabeth and Andrew. This meant the school was my responsibility. I have to admit I nailed it this week we were never rushed and were always on time to school.

One thing this week I did realise is I am no good at doing hair.

On the Tuesday Elizabeth was in her world book day costume and she asked for her hair down so I gave it a good brush at sent her to school thinking nothing of it. That was until after school her teacher pulled me to one side and said to me if I took Elizabeth’s brush and bobble in she would be happy to do Elizabeth’s hair so she looked nice. Something Elizabeth reminded me of the next morning when she said “Daddy Please don’t forget to pack my brush and bobble so my teacher can do my hair”

Now I have also made light of the fact I cant do Elizabeth’s hair, after all I am new to hair as a man I just run my fingers through mine and do a quick bit of styling and then I’m done. I have never had to do high ponies, low ponies, pig tails, buns or had to put my hair in a double dutch so why would I be any good at hair. I even used to love sharing this hair hack using a hoover.

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However if truth be told the fact that I struggle with Elizabeth’s hair has always upset me. Friends, family, schools and Elizabeth her self are just a  few people who have made comments on my poor dad hair. No matter what I tried I Just couldn’t get Elizabeth’s hair to look good it was always full of knots and lumps and Elizabeth was always complaining it was never right out and that I cant do her hair. The more people commented the more I got down. I felt like I was missing out on this time with my daughter. Now I know its only a 5 or 10 min task but I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing out on that bond. We did everything together I wanted to be able to do my daughters hair to.

I even Commented on our social media about my frustration and how I felt I was missing out. This video made by 60 Second Docs was sent to me by a friend and its changed how I feel about doing my daughters hair.

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You see this video makes a very good point “Its not about the braid its about the bond” This is something I never thought about before I was so obsessed with getting Elizabeth’s hair perfect that I forgot how just spending 10 mins doing a Bad Dad hair style is time we can spend together talking and developing a bond. After all a bad braid is still a braid right.

Phil and Emma are now even offering classes all over the US for free teaching dads the basics of hair management and giving them the tools to feel more confident in doing their daughter’s hair. Their website has all the info you need to know about the classes and even a shop.

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They are even regularly sharing videos tutorials on how to do some amazing hair styles including the hack above on how to do a high pony that I have now tried and swear by when doing Elizabeth’s hair. I have tried a few more of their hair styles with a mixture of results but I am getting the hang of the basics now.

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But most of all now when I do Elizabeth’s hair as much as I want her to look good and have nice hair. I remember those inspirational words of Phil and Emma:

“IT’S NOT ABOUT
THE BRAID
IT’S ABOUT THE BOND.”

The Importance of Self Care

In all my blogs over the past year I don’t think I have spoke much about the topic of self-care or doing things for yourself that you enjoy and find therapeutic. I talk on my twitter and on our support group a lot about how it is important to do things that make you feel good that give you time to just switch off from the world and relax. Mel likes to go on walks get out of the house and walk down to the end of the run way up a country lane and back home in a big loop. we live on the edge of a city and we have a small village a few miles away so when Mel goes on her walk she gets a chance to be in the countryside and is reminded of home and Norfolk. For me its cooking and baking. I can concentrate on something else and lets my mind switch off. Today me and Elizabeth made scones together and when she got bored I made flapjacks and a real chance to switch off and just relax.

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When I bake I make far too much like I did today. I tend to make one thing then think ooo lets make something else then think who’s going to help me eat all of this.

This way of thinking led to the day I made far too many cupcakes, I was off work following my bad turn after Elizabeth was born. I had been in hospital and had done a lot of cooking as part of my therapy and had got in to baking. I was having an extremely low day so had decided to make a few cupcakes and experiment with some flavours this resulted in me making 4 dozen cakes in four different flavours.

mmmWorking from front to back we had Banana and custard that had actual custard in the middle. Next we had peanut butter and chocolate cakes, Coconut and chocolate cakes then came our crowing glory, it was every kids dream our seaside cupcake.

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These were just amazing one bite and you were in sugar heaven, a blue and yellow plain cupcake to represent the colours of the sand and sea (nothing special so far) then came the best topping every incorporating everything that’s special about the sea side.  Candyfloss and popping candy icing topped with Great Yarmouth rock (it was where we were living at the time) and finished off with plenty off Sand (yellow sherbet). We made many more cake flavours including strawberry and cream and a champagne cake but the four above were always our favourites. We also made a few birthday cakes including this Angry Birds Cake.

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All this baking led me and Mel to try our hand at having our own stall in the local market for a few months but it just sucked all the fun out of making cakes and made it so stressful so we gave up the stall and stopped baking for a while until the fun came back and we enjoyed baking again. Now once again we love making cakes. cookies, scones and bread and for me it is my way of switching off.

564569_592304977500229_1631963016_nSo why am a writing this? Its not to tell your get baking, start a business or even deter you from turning a hobby into a business. I am writing this blog to remind you of the importance of self care of finding that thing that you enjoy and that helps you switch off and do it as much as you can. Looking after your kids is so important as is looking after a home and making sure everyone is happy and healthy. However you can’t do any of that if you don’t look after yourself so once a week take some time out and do something for you with just you and if you have a partner let them do the same. It doesn’t have to be anything special and you don’t have to spend hours doing it just find that one thing you enjoy and take the time to do it. Honestly you and your family will feel better for doing this one little thing just for you.

And if you still don’t feel like a cake after all those pictures here is a few more of my creations just to make your mouth water.

A new Chapter why cant I cope?

Its been 9 weeks now since Michael was born and things are not as easy as I thought they would. I thought with all my PND problems with Elizabeth and Andrew that this time I had this in the bag.  I thought this time would be easier but it turns out I have a whole new problem, on that when I was told I was more shocked than when I was told I had PND.

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Before Michael was born I was struggling to sleep and having some bad anxiety, I was scared that something would be wrong with Michael when he was born. I was dreaming that Michael would be born and need to go on  ventilator. This is exactly what happened he was born and he needed to go on a ventilator. All be it not as bad as how I dreamt but still it happened.

When it happened I knew at the time I had to be strong. I had to be the one who stayed positive and stay strong for Mel and the kids so I tried not to think about how I felt at the time and concentrate on making sure everyone else was OK. My family would tell me how proud they were of me for being so strong and dealing with things so well. I thought I was coping but deep down it turns out I wasn’t.

Things finally came to a head a few weeks ago when I broke down at work. In a mix of worrying about Mel and my own problems just took its toll on me and I broke down. I was sent home and when I got home I finally started to talk to people about my worries and how I was feeling. I haven’t slept properly since Michael was born and this wasn’t just baby lack of sleep. It was deeper than that, night terrors that result in Mel waking me up or me waking up in blind panics. I  dream about all sorts, the kids going missing, the kids getting hurt or worse. It results in me doing silly things like sleeping by the front door or in the kids rooms. I am also having problems around Michael as well, I struggle with going out in the rain as his rain cover reminds me of him being in an incubator. I would be at work and see a feeding tube and I would be back in the hospital. Machines beeping and I would be back. All the feelings would flood back I just couldn’t keep it in any longer the flood gates opened.

I got home from work and told Mel how I was feeling, went to my GP and then had a mental health assessment. I was told to self refer to get some help from our local service and see what help I could get. After a 2 hours assessment over the phone I was told it sounds like I have PTSD that is leading to severe anxiety and depression. And I was put on the list for cognitive behaviour therapy. I have had CBT before so that wasn’t a worry for me. What got me more was a PTSD diagnosis isn’t that what soldiers get after years of war and seeing there mates get blown to bit. Not something you get after a seeing a difficult birth. But after some talking and research I found out this is common in people who have witnessed traumatic births. And here we are I’m not sure what to expect with having PTSD or how I am going to cope with this at the moment I am on a waiting list that is 12 weeks long so I am having to find my way through this and keep on going. It can be hard at time this time last year I was writing about an event after it had happened I had PND and I had recovered from it. I was telling you my journey from rock bottom to recovery and a brighter life. Now I am writing whilst still going through this, I am using this writing as my therapy and a way of getting all my thoughts out there and document this new journey in my life. Sharing my highs and lows and the recovery I know will come but feels a long way away. I know I will get there right now though I don’t see what recovery is. I’m sure my next few months of blogs will document what recovery is.

Then We Had Three,All Be It After A Scary Week.

Its been a few months now since our Son was Born on Saturday 16th December 2017 at 7:42 weighing an amazing 7lb 11oz.

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Mel was induced on the Friday and 24 hours later our son was here in this world. Mel’s labour was one of the easiest I had seen her go through she coped amazing. The labour itself was about 2 hours from what Mel told me afterwards, the birth was very rapid two pushes and he was here. I got to cut cord and me and and Mel got to hold our son, we laughed and cried, took photos and phoned around to tell people that our son had been born this time was amazing. I wish I could end this blog there, throw a picture in and tell you how this week has been the best week at home getting to know our son. However things were not as simple as that.

When our son was born he was really fighting for breath, struggling to breath and becoming increasingly unwell and unsettled. He was going from a nice pink new baby colour to a horrible dusky grey colour, his lips were turning blue and the midwife was becoming increasingly worried to the point she called in the specialist nurses from the neonatal unit at the hospital, they came across and examined our son and suddenly rushed him away and asked me to follow. when I had caught up with the team, there were doctors and nurses surrounding my son who was now on a resus trolley with oxygen on, they informed me that they were concerned with how his breathing was as he was struggling to breathe and his oxygen levels had dropped to 26%, having spent the best part of the last 2 years spending my nights looking at peoples SATS monitors i knew oxygen levels of 26% was bad. I could feel the anxiety levels building, the nurses informed me they were going to to take him for observation for a little while on the neonatal unit that there was nothing to worry about they knew what they were doing and that I should go and check on Mel and update her on what was happening. I knew from experience that I was being given the talk that all health professionals give to reassure worried relatives but still I went back to Mel and gave her the same talk, it was bad enough she hadn’t had much time with Michael and she was exhausted I didn’t need her worrying when we didn’t even know what was wrong, we spent the next few hours going between out room and on the ward that Michael was on, each time he was getting progressively worse, the doctors and nurses were amazing in keeping us calm even when we thought we might lose our son. Eventually we were told they need to put him on a ventilator to give him a rest so they could give him the meds he needed and give him a rest so he could get better. I knew this was the right call he was struggling and I knew where things would have ended up if they had not done it but still it was hard seeing my son with a tube in his mouth breathing for him and a tube down his nose giving him all his food, we could only touch him by holding his hand, all his needs met by nurses, wires all over his body monitoring all his vital signs. I felt helpless I can only imagine how Mel felt. Luckily he was on the ventilator for only 10 hours in total just enough time to give him his med and the rest he needed. The next few days were a mixed bag, he had an infection so was on oxygen whilst he fought the infection. He had a few touch and go days but by the end of the 5th day things were starting to look up a bit. we had spent 5 stressful days constantly back and forth to help with his cares and do his feeds through the tube. We had had a scare were we thought we might have to go home and leave Andrew… Michael I mean Michael (8 weeks on and I still call him Andrew, I call Andrew Michael to…They look similar that’s my defence) but eventually Michael was able to come out of the incubator and in to a cot, fed off Mel and spend the first night in a cot next to mum. I had to go home that night but the hospital were amazing and had let me stay for the days before that. But if Mel’s first night was anything like I felt the day he fell asleep at home next to us it must have been amazing. Looking at Michael now no one would think there was anything wrong with him, hes just a normal baby hitting all his milestones and growing quickly, he will never remember this time in his life it will never effect him. I wish the same could be said for me. Eight weeks on I am struggling to move on, struggling to forget, Beeping on work monitors remind me of hospital, I see a feeding tube and my mind goes back, I put the rain cover on Michael and I see a baby in an incubator and now i’m having night terrors. Mel struggling to but they are her struggles to share not mine. I honestly thought I was done with PND, I thought I had recovered, I thought from now on my blog would be funny parenting stories or how stressful 3 kids would be. But this story has one more chapter and this is just the beginning this is something new PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) leading to a whole new kind of depression still PND in so much as the PTSD leads to a depression after becoming a father and still centres around my children but this is new even to me. This is new to me and I don’t know what to expect, Its not like with Elizabeth were the love wasn’t there this is something new, the one thing I know is this blog is going to be my way of processing the whole thing, sharing how I felt and documenting my whole journey. The good, the bad, the ugly and the scary.  This blog helped me before it will help me again.