West Highland Way Part 1

I haven’t written in quite some time! I did mean to update everyone and post pictures etc but I have been busy. I cringe every time I write that as its like my catch phrase and will be put on my grave stone I think!

So, did I do the WHW? Yes… I started on a rainy Monday morning with apprehension and a bit of fear, I won’t lie. I couldn’t sleep the night before and had been at work until 22:00, where people had been wishing me well but also planting seeds of doubt in my head. No, they weren’t being nasty but they were concerned about my safety as I was doing the walk on my own. I am a feminist.. usually stuff like that doesn’t phase me but it was starting to this time.

I waved the kids, husband and dog off, got my stuff together, had my breakfast and bid farewell to a friend who was good enough to drop me off in Milngavie which is the start of the walk.  I have to say that I started to have doubts.. how was I going to deal with the alone time that I so craved since planning to do this, the time to think and just be on my own for the first time in a long time? Was I ready for such a big and momentous task with minimal training? Would I sleep at night in my tent and not be scared of the noises throughout the night? Only one way to find out…

Off I walked and walked, and walked… you get it… As I walked, my spirits and the weather lifted. I ran into two guys who were over from Israel and I think they took me under their wing. They wanted to give me their number in case I found myself in any trouble and needed someone in an emergency. I started to feel the camaraderie of the “Way” that I had often read about.  I was part of this amazing experience and it really  felt quiet empowering.

As I walked, I noticed that I would pass the two guys and catch up, they offered me food, chat and friendship and it felt like they were making sure that I was ok whilst doing this on my own.  I took pics on their phone for them and I really regret not taking their details. I wonder how they got on and if they completed it as the last place that I saw them was in Rowardennan Youth Hostel.

My first day got me from Milngavie to Drymen where I had the best steak pie in the universe at one of the most friendliest places in Scotland, called “The Clachan Inn“. I go here regularly an I always order the same ting because it is amazing and despite looking like a drowned rat with no reservation, they took me in, gave me warmth and provided fantastic hospitality.  At the end of the first day, I was tired and emotional and my bones were killing me. I had wanted to walk further but I just couldn’t manage it. One of the owners spoke to me as she could see I was full of self doubt and I called her when I came home, to tell her just how much her words meant. Her words made a difference as did two other women I met when finishing up and who were also doing the walk, (more about them later).

That night I decided to stay in one of the hotels, The Drymen Inn and I tried to get to bed early but I got restless legs and was tossing and turning all night. I didn’t mind as the bed was comfy, hotel clean, shower much appreciated and weather turned out nice again. I also decided to get baggage transfer which a lot of folk had told me to do but I wanted to do everything on my own. That’s just  who I am.. I am stubborn and I am strong but I knew that the walk would be much more manageable had I just done all of that in the first place.

I called up Greg from Baggage Freedom and he couldn’t have been more accommodating. He was resourceful, hilarious and his dog Spike, who was in the van with him, really cheered me up. I wish I had known about him before but thankfully I do now and I will be using his baggage transfer services this summer. He also transfers pets too so I can bring Allie , my border collie and she can explore the great outdoors with me.

Getting Through PND

I thought I would write a post about what helped me through both experiences of PND and how different the experiences were but also the similarities.

I have gotten through my experience much quicker this time and I feel that it is down to a few reasons:

1. I recognised that I had prenatal depression and I spoke to my doctor and demanded to be seen at the mother an baby unit.

2. I had CBT throughout my pregnancy and it is amazing how much it helps you change negative thinking patterns. I was feeling more positive that if the PND returned, I was even more equipped to deal with it.

3. The realisation at week 28 of my pregnancy that my anxiety levels were high although depression gone and prompted me to start taking anti depressants. I started on sertraline as it was safe in pregnancy and also in breast feeding.

4. I knew that because I had gotten through it once before, that I could do it again.

5. This time round I didn’t fight it but I spoke to my midwife right away and explained how I was feeling. I made sure that I got help as soon as I felt down. I knew it wasn’t the “baby blues”, I trusted my gut.

6. I accepted that I had it again although devastated. However, I had to let that feeling of devastation happen and feel it in order for me to move on and not feel guilt.

7. Finding out the sex of my baby created a bond immediately when going through PND

8. Creating a plan of exercise as its important for me. I love exercise and its about the feeling u get from it and not the weight loss per say.

9. Telling people how I felt, not feeling ashamed of having it or for feeling that I was a failure. It chooses you, not the other way round. Reaching out and wanting to get help means I will be there for my child later on. They aren’t going to remember any of the tears etc or the not wanting to be with them.

10. Getting out, seeing friends and making plans. The mornings were and still are difficult for me but as a person who needs structure, I try as much as I can to put in at least a few activities a week. Going to the park, walking, rhyme time at libraries, the parent cafe on a Wednesday here where I live etc.

11. Getting time for me to read, see friends, being kind to myself.

12. I have up breast feeding as the lack of sleep was adding to my PND. Again, the guilt could have been there but I needed to make a decision which would benefit both me and my son. When I started feeling better, I was expressing a but to see if my milk would continue to come in and it is still there so I put him to my breast for comfort which is for both of us.

13. Writing has helped me stay connected especially in the days when I Haven’t got anything planned but this provides a distraction.

14. TWITTER! I can’t thank the people on there enough. I have had amazing support and I’m glad I can give that back.

15. Making sure that I ate, and included fruit and veg in my diet. It’s easy to pick convenience food, chocolate etc but it doesn’t do anything for your mind. There are a lot of feel good food’s out there like banana’s, nuts, spinach etc.
dried fruit as well.

16. Showering each morning and getting dressed as first priority because it makes a huge difference to your day. I don’t know why but it does. If you’re worried about your child crying, bring the bouncer in to the bathroom or bring them in. I also feel more relaxed second time round if he cries. As long as he is safe and I’m not gone for a long time, I can handle it if he cries. Not everyone can and that’s perfectly normal and ok, do what YOU feel comfortable with not what some one else may or may not be.

I guess what’s different us that last time I didn’t have twitter, Skype and the first child is more of a shock to the system. I knew what to look out for this time and I was proactive. Not everyone is aware and to those people I say, trust your gut. If you feel that things aren’t quite right, ask for help. Be vocal until someone listens and remember that you aren’t to blame and you will get through it. Use social media, friends,family etc because the quicker you deal with it, the quicker you can get through it.

I had amazing support from friends, one of which always made sure she saw me at least once a week and I can’t thank her enough. A long with my amazing husband, they both added to the recovery in a huge way.

I hope this helps anyone going through PND.
My contact details are on my blog should anyone want to chat. My ear is always available and I want people to know that they aren’t alone and don’t have to go through it alone.

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