You may not know this about me, but, I lived in France for six years. I met my hubby over there, we got married over there and I had my Two Tiny Humans over there. It was also the place where I fought some of my earliest and most ferocious of battles with my mental health.
We lived in a beautiful part of France, however, thanks to my illness I suffered with the ugliest of times. The beautiful mountain and lake vistas, the fresh air and the abundance of sunshine should have been my perfect escape, offering me freedom and a respite from it all. However, it instead became my prison. It's fair to say that with two Tiny Humans under the age of two and fighting a second and extremely potent dose of Postnatal Depression and Postnatal Psychosis that my final year spent living in France was the worst of my life.
In total contrast to my experiences, my husband and my children flourished there. They were settled. My husband had made a close network of lovely friends, he enjoyed and appreciated everything the place had to offer and alongside looking after me and the girls, he managed to start to carve a life out for us there. A life, in hindsight, I now see he was creating with the hope and blind belief that once I was well and had returned again it would be a life I could slot straight into and would love as much as he did.
This unfortunately was not to be. After a difficult pregnancy of suffering from early contractions (I have a history of premature babies) and Prenatal Depression, I had our 2nd beautiful little girl and after just three weeks of blissful respite from the illness, it unfortunately returned with a vengeance so strong I thought I was lost forever.
I was now a mum of two Tiny humans under two, getting my head and heart around the new logistics and emotions of our new family dynamic but also with a second battle on my hands with PND and Postnatal psychosis. I was totally devastated. Here I was with what should have been the most amazing life; two beautiful little girls, a wonderful husband and living in a beautiful place and me and my illness were well and truly f@£%ing things up. A resentment for myself and a deep dislike ran through to the very core of me. I was ashamed, heartbroken and so so angry that this illness was yet again robbing me and my family of something that we should have instead all been living and enjoying. Instead my demons had returned and for the survival of my sanity I needed to escape.
Therefore, my husband came home one day to the words:
"I can't do this anymore. We need some support. We need to move back to the UK"
After living in France for 18 years this was more than quite a blow for my hubby, however, within just 6 weeks we had packed up our lives in France and were heading back to the UK. I was so broken by my illness that I just needed to be closer to my family. We needed some much needed support. It was time.
That was nearly two years ago now and I haven't returned or had any desire to return to the place where I had been so ill, so lost and quite frankly more terrified than I have ever been before or since. That is until now.
I am currently writing this article on a family trip back to France. We are here to see two of our lovely friends get married, and en route to here I felt the time was right to re-visit the area we spent the last year of our lives in France living in. It was time to re visit the place that held so many ghosts for me and more importantly it was time to put some demons to bed.
So how did it go?
Well, I can tell you that despite all my anxieties and sick-to-the-stomach fear of returning, we have just spent the happiest and laughter filled few days in the place that once was the home to my darkest of times. It truly has been one of the most wonderful of weekends. Like an over zealous student studying for her exams, I had a tick list of places and things I wanted to re visit. Places that held such deep seated misery and fear I vowed I would never return to as I couldn't ever imagine even having the strength to see it through.
I am incredibly proud and relieved to tell you that not only did I complete my personal mission of putting these demons to bed I actually managed to light the touch paper underneath every single one of them and watch as they want up in smoke and disappeared forever. You see, what I have come to realise in all its beautiful glory is that my illness and this geographical place are two separate entities that exist independently of each other. It is just a place. I am no longer ill.
I am free at last.
Any mum in need of support in relation to suffering with Antenatal Depression, Postnatal Depression or Postnatal Psychosis here are the details of a fantastic support organisation - PND & ME - A resource that joins mums and professionals for peer support and raising awareness through #PNDHour tweet chat every Wednesday 8-9pm.
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