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babies and miscarriage

Egg donation

Recently I donated my eggs and I am writing this post in the hope that it will encourage others to do the same.

I have known of a few people who have struggled with fertility for many different reasons and I saw on Facebook an advertisement for egg donars.

At the time of seeing this advertisement I had only recently had my little boy and I had had my tubes tied as I was sure I had finished having children. So I contacted the egg donation centre by email and explained that I was interested in donating my eggs but that I had had my tubes tied and I was currently breastfeeding my son. They replied to say I could still donate but I would have to wait until I had finished breastfeeding.

So as soon as my son stopped breastfeeding at 9 months I contacted them again. They sent me lots of paperwork for me to complete including a family genetic history for three generations.

The next part was to go to the centre for a scan to check my ovaries and also a blood test to check for any genetic problems and to check the quality of my eggs.

All came back good so I had to have counselling to check that I understood the process and what would happen afterwards and how at the age of 18 the children born of the eggs could come and find me if they wished.

I also spoke to my own children and my family about the process and what might happen. My children were abit put out and said they didn’t want another sibling but I explained that it’s just me helping some other people become mummies and that I don’t see them as mine at all.

Then it was time for the recipient to be contacted and check they are happy with me as a donar (they do not know any identifying information). This happened quickly as there are so many people waiting for eggs but not enough people donating.

I then had to start injections and going for scans every 2 days to check whether the eggs are ready for collection.  The injections were fine and I didn’t really have any side effects.

The actual donation day was fine, I was sedated and then had time to recover afterwards and hopefully I have helped someone have a child. They did manage to get 25 eggs from me even though the average is 10 and I did joke as to whether I should get a bonus for the amount they got.

I am hoping to do it again in a few months.

So please if you are able look into donating your eggs to help people have a baby please do! It is a great experience to know you are helping someone and if you are worried about the cost you receive  £750 compenstation to cover petrol and other costs you incur.

 

ANXIETY

My Graduation – I did it!

The day before my graduation I was feeling nervous and as I had won our family sweepstake on the world cup I decided to treat myself to a massage. I don’t think that any of us treat ourselves enough, and a massage is definitely something to have as often as you can afford as it is very relaxing and helps relieve the stresses of life. I had an aromatherapy massage with specific oils good for anxiety. My friend Kath Matthews has her own company ‘Elite Holistic Therapies’ (find her on Facebook) and she came to my house which is brilliant for my anxiety as I can feel very relaxed. The massage was amazing and definitely helped to relax me.

So I slept well the night before but in the morning woke up anxious. I got the girls ready for school and my son ready for his childminders. I got myself ready and me and my husband took everyone to where they needed to be. My stomach was doing somersaults and I ended up stuck on the toilet at my parents house while waiting for my mother-in-law to pick us up. I felt sick with nerves at the thought of not being able to leave the room to go to the toilet (even though I knew I had been ok recently since taking my Sertraline). We got there and my husband kept having to tell me to calm down (I was getting narky with him for nothing because of my nerves).

Then it started – and it was long but my nerves had mainly gone, I was just worried I would trip on the stage as my gown was pretty long. But I did it, and I didn’t fall. I realised that everyone around me was also nervous of falling.

My friends and me had done it – we had completed our foundation degree (me with a distinction) and had graduated. It was photo time and celebration time, and we had been told we got to keep our hats so I wore mine out for lunch.

I am very proud of myself for managing my graduation and I am reminding you all to praise yourself when you make little steps!

ANXIETY

My Graduation nerves

Tomorrow is my graduation from my Foundation Degree. Three years ago when I first started my degree I did not think I would ever attend a graduation. Even the first day of uni was hard. I remember feeling very anxious about starting, especially thinking about whether I will need the toilet during a lesson. I was worried that I would have a panic attack. As soon as I arrived and was sat in the class waiting for the lesson to start, I started panicking. So I got up to leave, but the tutor (the best tutor iv ever had who has supported me so much throughout my degree) stopped me and asked me if I was ok. We went into a private area and I explained about my anxiety and panic attacks and also my IBS. She said I was not to worry and if I needed to leave the classroom at any point then that was fine and to just come back when I was ready. This made me feel so much better and I was able to get through my first day without having to leave the classroom.

Now three years later and my anxiety is a lot more under control due to my Sertraline and also the tips I have learnt from counselling and making sure I explain to people how I feel, which always makes me feel better as I know if I have to leave they understand why. I am looking forward to my graduation tomorrow. I am still nervous as I do not like being in rooms that are hot and packed full of people and I am also very nervous about walking across the stage. What if I fall? (which is quite likely for me as I am pretty clumsy) What if I laugh at a bad time? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I don’t hear my name being called? What is going to happen?

But I am pretty sure that all these thoughts are normal for anyone about to graduate. Surely no one feels completely calm and happy in these situations. I know I have my uni friends to support me and I will support them and hopefully we will all be able to celebrate our success.

ANXIETY

Tips for calming your anxiety

The counsellor gave me many tips and sheets on how to work through your anxiety and panic attacks which I will get on to. But I have found a few of my own

  • Adult colouring books (these are not rude like my husband thought I meant) they are just colouring books for adults and they really help me distract my mind from my anxiety.
  • Watching the soaps and reading as they take you into a different world that is not your own – again distraction
  • If I am in the car I open the window and listen to music
  • Listening to music
  • Listening to you tube channels with a calming voice specifically to calm you from anxiety
  • write down your worries when they come

Now for the counsellors tips:

  • stop and breathe, think you can do this
  • think I have done this before and I can do it again
  • remember how your feeling won’t last forever, it is only temporary
  • Create a worry period, and when a worry comes postpone it till your worry period
  • Breathing exercises
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Use the worry tree

 

The Worry Tree

Notice the worry

“What am I worrying about?”

“Is this worry about a current problem or a hypothetical situation?” or “can I do something about this?”

If the answer is no then:                                                                       If the answer is yes then:

Let the worry go                                                                                      make an action plan

Change your focus of attention                                                            then let the worry go

Change your focus of attention

ANXIETY

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

I finally started my CBT, I felt very anxious about my first one as I was worried about needing the toilet while waiting for my name to be called and that I would miss my name or being in the appointment and needing the toilet and not having the courage to say I needed to go. But I had nothing to worry about as the counsellor straight away put me at ease, she said if I needed to leave that was absolutely fine. The first session was mainly just me explaining what had happened to make me attend CBT. Then over the next few weeks (I had 6 appointments in total) we worked through my thoughts and feelings and how these affected my actions. We talked about how I was avoiding certain situations and how this was not helping. I had homework to complete each week, where I had to keep notes on the thoughts that went through my head, the physical changes that happened to my body and then my actions to try and deal with these.

Each week we would set a target together for me, one week it was to go to my parent in laws and have Sunday dinner and not to sit at the end of the table where it was easy to get out. This was really hard for me as I always needed to know I could get to the toilet quickly, and this was a situation where there was 8 of us in the house with only one toilet and I was going to be sitting where I felt trapped in. But I tried really hard and managed to do this but I did feel very anxious while doing it. At my next session the counsellor explained that although I had felt anxious, I had managed it and nothing bad had happened. She said I was to congratulate myself every time I did something like this and got through it. To be honest I felt a bit silly saying well done to myself but in time I realised that I really needed it to help me succeed.

As my counselling was coming to an end I didn’t feel like I was ok but I felt like I was working towards it and she gave me the tools to help myself. She also gave me handouts to remind myself what I needed to do. The day after my last session we were due to fly to Disneyland Paris (somewhere I had never been and I was very excited to be taking my two little girls, who were 5 and 3 at the time). I was very nervous about the drive to the airport, the flight and then being there. I took toilet roll and spare clothes in the car, my husband drove and I sat on a bin bag just to make myself feel better in case I needed the toilet. We listened to a YouTube calming channel the whole way to keep me calm. I managed it, and every little step I did my husband would tell me well done for reaching that part. Before the flight I must have gone to the toilet about 15 times just to make myself feel better, on the plane I quickly identified where the toilets were and watched intently when people used it and made sure I went regularly. Iv got to say although I kept putting things in place for my anxiety and IBS we did have an amazing time. I got to see my daughters faces when they met Cinderella (one of the best experiences of my life) and their thrill on all the rides. I was so proud of myself after that I had got to share in their happiness with them and that I hadn’t ruined it for them.

For now my anxiety was under control – I was still avoiding social situations and I was putting things in place when I did do stuff (checking for toilets, taking toilet roll with me) but I was coping.

Things were to change again though…

suicide

Suicide – how can we help?

There has been so many suicides on the news recently, especially the local news (Preston) and that is just the ones that make the news. Suicide is so final, there is no coming back from that. I have considered suicide a few times, but mainly by thoughts of ‘if I fell down these stairs now, or if I crashed my car into a tree would everything I’m feeling go away’. But then I realise how silly I am being. I am not calling suicide silly at all, I am calling my thoughts silly as I don’t think I am really serious.

But some people really can’t see another way out. It is these people we need to be finding and supporting. Today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year things may still be hard but eventually something will change and things will get better. Life is so precious and we need to preserve it.

We are all so busy with our own lives and we all have opinions and views on why someone is smiling, someone is crying, someone is angry – I know I am certainly guilty of judging someone. But actually we never know what is going on in someone’s life, what is going on in their head. Even our friends, our families, our husbands/wives, those people we think we know everything about can have their own battles that they keep hidden.

So what can we do? We can smile at everyone, we can ask if they are ok, we can show that we care, we can share stories of how things get better, we can share stories of how things can be bad – so that they know they are not alone. I am talking about doing this with everyone, even if you think they are very happy as you just don’t know if that is a front they are putting on. We need to show people we have time for them and that we are there for them whenever they need. We need to drop plans sometimes to be there for  people, we need to help people out. Sometimes we need to push our help on someone even when they say they do not need it. But making sure they do have a bit of space.

Mental health services are getting better and there is more help out there now but often people will not ask for help. That is why it is down to everyone to support your friends, families and even strangers.

Let’s try and show people that things can get better and that life is worth living!

ANXIETY

The long wait for CBT

For the next few months while waiting for my CBT to start, I really struggled. I would leave the house for work, but I had to ensure that I got myself and the girls ready in enough time so that I had time to spend on the toilet. Knowing that the ten minute car journey was too far for my anxiety to cope with. I would avoid going to anyone’s house who had only one toilet or where there would be lots of people, this included my parent-in-laws as they only have one toilet and my anxiety would spike every time someone went to the toilet, so I would put off going at all, which would obviously cause problems for all the family, as we would not all be able to be together and it was me that was stopping that. Everyone was brilliant and tried to understand how I felt, but if you have never suffered from any anxiety or depression it is very difficult to understand how that person feels.

I didn’t go out with friends, I didn’t go out with the family. I just lived in the confines of my own house and went to work. I explained to everyone at work my difficulties and they were all really understanding. Knowing I could walk out of class at anytime if I needed the toilet, kept me calm. I also could not go on any trips with the school children.

I had to know everything in advance so I could plan and ensure there were toilets and as soon as I arrived anywhere I would scan for the toilets. My whole life was taken up with finding toilets.

As some people will know it is that thought that you can’t go to the toilet that is often the hardest. So going to watch a show is a definite no for someone with this mindset as you feel you cannot go to the toilet as you will disturb other people and annoy them. Even though a lot of people will think this is silly, it doesn’t feel silly when its you feeling like this.

 

ANXIETY

Time to get help

Having a full on panic attack and feeling like I needed to be sectioned made me seek help from the doctor. Prior to this I had never asked for help as I thought I would be laughed at. But this panic attack had scared me and I realised I was not going to get better without some help. I went to the doctors on my own as I wasn’t sure I wanted anyone else to hear what I had going on in my own head (like the feelings of ‘I need to be sectioned’). The doctor was brilliant and really listened to me (I know they don’t always listen, but normally with mental health they are brilliant). The doctor said that she would refer me for some Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). I was happy to be referred, but she said there would be at least a three month wait. That was a shock, as I needed help then not in three months. I couldn’t imagine how much worse I would be in three months time. So I explained that I could not wait, and she said she would prescribe me some Propranolol. She said I was only to take it if I was going to be doing something where I would get anxious.

I was nervous to take the tablets, as I didn’t know what to expect and I had never expected I would end up on tablets for my mental health.

But that next week we were off to Centre Parcs, and my husband was going to be driving up later as he was working. So me and the girls were going with my Mum. I got up and had some breakfast and took the Propranolol one hour before my Mum was due to pick us up. I felt very nervous about the journey (its only an hour away but a long way for me not knowing where the nearest toilet was). I also felt nervous about taking the tablets. I was on the toilet most of the time waiting for Mum as my anxiety was causing me to need it.

By the time my Mum came I was not feeling good at all. My heart was beating so fast. I believed the tablets were causing me to get worse. I felt like my heart was going to come out of my chest it was beating so fast. The journey was horrendous and we had to keep stopping so my Mum could calm me down. The tablets had made me so much worse.

I never took the Propranolol again!

ANXIETY

A family wedding – my first panic attack

In August 2013 we had a family wedding to attend two hours from our home and as the girls were bridesmaids we were going to be staying the night before the wedding in a travelodge and the night of the wedding at the wedding hotel. I was very anxious before setting off and I planned ahead, taking spare underwear, toilet roll and diarrhoea tablets (i had found i felt sick after taking Imodium, so i now took the shops own ones). I made it to the travelodge, we did stop at every services down the motorway for me to go to the toilet and to try and keep me calm. I also drove to keep my mind off it. The stay in the travelodge was fine as I knew we had our own toilet. On the day of the wedding the girls had gone to get ready with the bride (their Grandma had gone with them as i was too anxious). We met them at the hotel, I managed to stay mainly calm during the wedding as I knew there was plenty of toilets and we also had our own room with a toilet if i needed to disappear there.
I had a few drinks that night (I don’t often drink but we decided as we had a hotel and to try and keep me calm that i would drink abit). The next day, my stomach was a mess, I kept having stomach pains and having to run to the toilet. But luckily we were still at the hotel and we had our own toilet. But at 12pm we had to check out and i could not get off the toilet as i was anxious about where there was going to be another toilet.
The family had said we would all go to my husbands Grandads flat (where there was only one toilet and about 12 of us in the flat). As we arrived there I needed the toilet straight away. But once on it, I did not want to get off as I knew that someone else might use it and then I wouldn’t have a toilet to use. I did have to get off it in the end, and soon someone else needed the toilet. While they were in the toilet my stomach flipped again. I felt really hot, i was sweating and shaking and I quickly decided I could not wait and I asked my husbands auntie for key to her house (she lived a few roads away). I ran off to the house and shut myself in her toilet. The problem was even though I know had a toilet to use I was worrying about what would happen when everyone came home and also how I was going to make it home down the motorway for two hours. My heart started beating really fast, i thought it was going to break out of my chest, i was shaking, my teeth were chattering and i was sweating. My breathing started to get erratic. I rang my husband and said he needed to come, that i thought i was dying. This was my first proper panic attack – it was horrendous!!
My husband came and tried to calm me down but it wasn’t helping. He ended up asking everyone at his Grandads to leave and he took me back there, just me and him and we led down and he tried to get me to sleep so I would calm down. He kept telling me to breathe and would occasionally shout at me to calm down as he could feel my heartbeat getting faster again. After about three hours, I had calmed down quite abit but I was still anxious and I was still shaking.
We decided we needed to try to drive home, but as it was my husbands birthday (yes I had completly ruined his birthday and made it all about me – even though I did not want that) he had been drinking and therefore I had to drive us home. We set off but I soon missed the turning for the motorway as my mind was not on the road but on my anxiety and where there was a toilet. Missing the motorway turning freaked me out even more as atleast on the motorway i knew there would be service stations with toilets. My husband shouted me, and my attention came back to the road and i realised I was driving on the wrong side of the road. At this point my husband made me pull over to calm me down again. Once i had partially calmed we set off again. I kept my attention on getting to the next service station. I remember stopping at one of the services (we stopped at them all) and after i had been to the toilet i was walking back to the car chewing gum and I didn’t feel like me at all. I felt crazy, and even thought that I was going to be sectioned as thats where I should be.

It was an awful awful day – and that was the start of my panic attacks!

ANXIETY

The anxious me

Those occasions had made me so anxious about going anywhere where there wouldn’t be a toilet. I could not even make a ten minute journey in the car without assessing where the nearest toilet was and even stopping to use it. Even if I did not need the toilet I would stop to use it as I would worry that if I didn’t then I would need it when there wasn’t a toilet.
Obviously it was not just me that was being affected by this. My husband and my children were affected too. We could not go on days out anymore as I would worry about needing the toilet if we went away from home. My husband was constantly having to try to calm me down. Knowing I was ruining things for my children and husband made me feel very low about myself, but no matter what I thought I could not pull myself out of the anxiety over my IBS.