So, in the aftermath of my postpartum psychosis, I was diagnosed as Bipolar. To be honest I've embraced the diagnosis, as it has explained a lot about my behaviour in the past (see: http://www.sane.org.uk/how_you_can_help/blogging/show_blog/592 ), as well as giving me and my family more insight into my moods now. Focusing on the positives, I have not had a major depressive episode for about two years - a major change from life in my twenties.
It does mean that my family - and husband especially - are on constant guard for any signs of hypo mania. They are anxious I don't take on too much during these high-energy periods and end up crashed-out and stressed. But for me, it's hard not to embrace the mania. I get more done, I am highly sociable and engaging, I am full of ideas and creativity - the exact opposite of the dreaded depressed me, who would struggle to leave the house or speak to anyone.
In the interests of science, then, I am going to declare here everything I want to do over the next few months and everything I have already signed up for. Is it too much? What, if anything, needs to go?
- Continue to help my son develop and grow (this is always my number 1 priority!). Physically, he is changing all the time - he took his first steps 10 days ago, and is getting more mobile every day. Emotionally, he is starting to express his growing frustration at the limits we set him. He wants more independence, but he is also scared of the possibilities and comes back to cling to me. I'd like to help him feel more secure, and find better ways of controlling his temper. We are trying very hard to teach him how to be "gentle, gentle" - especially with the kitten! To this end, I'd like to help him build his words so he can start to express himself verbally as well as physically. He has perhaps 8 or 10 words, but does not use them consistently yet.
- Get fit and healthy. I'd like to drop back from my current size 16 to my optimal pre-baby size 12. I'm not sure what this means in terms of pounds to lose, as I don't "do" scales or weighing. I'd just like to wear my old clothes again, and feel good in them. I've started to go jogging (sometimes with pram, sometimes without!) and I'm going to start going to a local Zumba class. In the last 10 days or so I have really started to eat better too: lots more fresh fruit and veg, and I've cut out the unhealthy snacks. We even had quinoa for dinner one night last week! Early days yet but I am starting to feel better. To me, good physical health is a good protector against mental illness relapse.
- Progress my business from fledgling plan to an actual premises, with an opening date and financing. I'm still not sure in what order I need to do everything, but I'd like to get financing agreed in principle, and ideally get my name down for a property. I have seen several potential premises come and go in the last few months - I need to enter the fray! I have a few small business/ social enterprise networking seminars to go to over the next few weeks, so hopefully I will pick up some tips and move things on to the next stage.
- I've signed up for several charitable things too. Helping other mums and dads recover from postnatal mental illness is a big goal of mine (and one of the motivations behind this blog!). As a SAHM I feel I have some time to devote to this, and I'm very aware of how lucky we have been as a family to get to where we are now. So I have agreed to do some work for my local NCT branch (help with the newsletter, and with their plans for a PND group). I have also registered my interest to volunteer for Action on Postpartum Psychosis, and am looking forward to an APP event to learn more about what I can do for them. Finally, I am planning to set up a South London support group for PANDAS (Pre and Postnatal Deprssion Advice and Support). All of this could end up taking up a lot of time, but I view it as essential work - to raise awareness of PND and other illnesses, and provide much-needed local support.