I’m sorry

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It’s been about a month since I last blogged and it has been another horrible month.

Two heavy blows in a short space of time and sickness has made it very difficult for me to keep up with madebysteffieb. I think it shows in my work and also in my fundraising achievements over the last couple of months. I feel like yesterday’s newspaper.

I am really struggling and I am questioning everything, I am doubting myself, my business, my strength, my heart. I don’t have any answers.

I still worry about writing about mental health because despite what most people say, there is still a stigma attached to it and given my longing for a child, I wonder if some people may wonder how I would manage if I was lucky enough to have a child.

Well it can’t be worse than it is now but although my infertility is a big part of my depression and anxiety, mental health has been a part of my life for a long time even before all my issues started.

I have put weight on, had the odd cigarette (despite not wanting to but too angry to rationalise with myself) and I’m feeling a bit lost to be honest.

IVF has taken its toll, as well as the pressure I now feel to raise more for another attempt which sadly I think will be my last one. There simply won’t be enough time by the time I get to cycle two and so my hopes for three attempts are over.

I was told by the fertility clinic that I shouldn’t delay much longer and that my chances are five percent. As “desperate” as I am, financially I have to face facts.

We are considering the option of going abroad, but after realising the affects of cycle number one during and especially after, I am having serious doubt about spending three weeks in another country, possibly on my own for most of it.

Of course, I would do anything to have a child, but at what cost? Anyone who’s had fertility treatment will know how exhausting it can be on the mind and the body, try doing it somewhere unknown (I know some people do). It isn’t out of the question, but everything has to be looked at properly.

I also have to consider my mental health and the effect that IVF has had on me.

As much as I always said that I would keep my feet on the ground about this, after starting my treatment, I couldn’t help the way I felt. The treatment made me feel happier than I have felt in a long time, lots of hormones, I had big hopes especially with the way things developed during my treatment, I really built my hopes up, we both did. And now the comedown.

Having spoken to my Lupus specialist last week, she has explained that given the strong dosage of hormones I was taking, my current feelings are normal, as scary as they are. She told me that these feelings are also likely to carry on for a while yet.

After the negative test result and the troll post, I blogged, it was an immediate reaction, still high on hormones. It was how I felt then, I reached out, deep in sadness and looking for support and reassurance. Very hormonal.

I wasn’t prepared for what came next and for the first time in a long time, I became overwhelmed again, suicidal thoughts came back to me, so much so that I couldn’t talk about it, I couldn’t blog, I had to throw myself out of bed in the mornings.

I can’t go to my GP with these thoughts because he has a three weeks waiting list and all he does is give me the 20 questions tests, deducts that I am severely depressed and tells me to take pills. Not the support I want or need.

As difficult as it is, I always try to tell someone, Shaun most of the time, I have to, because it’s the only I can feel secure that nothing will happen to me.

I don’t know about other people but when these thoughts take over me, I can’t control them and the worst part is the fear that something in my head will switch and make me do something “silly” in a momentary lapse of awareness.

I can’t explain how that feels other than to say your mind isn’t your own. I mentioned this to a very dear friend of mine and she said: “your mind is playing tricks on you”. It definitely is.

Losing Billy and being struck with the worst ear infection ever for 4 weeks finally broke me. I almost quit and if it hadn’t been for Shaun and a handful of friends telling me not to, I would have closed-up shop.

I still love my Cuties but I feel like they don’t love me anymore, Dotty in particular.

I always tried to smile when I prepare my online posts for the week ahead and always had a laugh with Dotty and Fluff, sad you may think, but they use to always cheer me up and I guess that’s how I knew that they might also capture people’s imagination and gather more support.

For the last couple of months I haven’t managed to do that very well, especially not without Billy. I feel so very sad about this.

I’m so lucky to have found the Cuties and to be able to do what I do to raise money, I’m lucky of the support I have received and keep being given daily by you all.

It makes it so much more difficult to be honest about things, I feel ungrateful, useless and lazy. How hard can it be to take a photo of Dotty or a Cutie that’s a little bit imaginative?

Very when you feel the way I have been feeling, some days it’s torture, which is why I’ve pulled back a little bit. And then I feel guilty because I should be doing more to raise the funds again, blog more and stop moaning. I’m stuck in a viscous circle.

After losing Billy I was so desperate to think of something else that I started to paint the flat with very loud music on, it needed doing but I’d been putting it off, too busy doing madebysteffieb, inflamed joint pains etc. Hormones may have helped and so I started, room by room, for hours and hours, moving furniture around, clearing cupboards out (I am a hoarder) trying to make the flat look different, trying to hide signs of Billy yet surrounded by his photos.

I have heard that some people with depression can’t get out of bed. I often wake up crying or start crying when I wake up, so I have to get out of bed, even if it’s to sit in the lounge, I can’t stay in bed with the thoughts and anxieties, it’s too much for me to handle in my head.

I’m a very bad sleeper, if you’ve read me since the start you’ll know that, I have nightmares and I suffer with insomnia, as tired as I get, as soon as my head hits the pillow, my mind awakens and so it begins.

Decorating helped a bit because it made my body really tired, it gave me a break in the evenings, I even managed to get to bed before Shaun once or twice which is a rare occurrence in our house.

I have sleeping pills, lots of them, they are on my repeat prescriptions thanks to my attentive GP. Giving someone who can sometimes have suicidal tendencies unlimited access to sleeping pills is a great way of looking after their mental health. I don’t get assessed for them anymore, they are just available to me. I barely take one or two a month because I don’t want to get addicted to them, so taking one is a very last resort. I somehow have to find a way of not going for the easy fix, to preserve myself. In my case, mental health support isn’t just stigmatised, it’s a complete shambles, Prince and Princesses speaking up or not it’s changed nothing for me and I know it will never change. I will forever have to manage this on my own. Survive another day, cope, manage, great way to live, add the prospect of never managing to have a child…

I have been awful at going out on my own again so my friend has made a point of taking me out once a week, we go to the local charity shop or food shopping or to her house to sit with her cats and chat, Shaun has taken me out as well. Things I can’t manage on my own right now.

I’ve managed to pick up a couple of pieces of old furniture to do up as well, more physical stuff for me to do, tire my body and my mind.

I realise that to some people I probably sound a bit crazy… Well this is my mental heath story.

I also realise that some people have other priorities, perhaps if I did have a child, I could finally focus my energy somewhere else, there is nothing like being left with your mind on a daily basis. I’m much better at looking after people than I am looking after myself. And although I realise that a child wouldn’t stop my depression completely, I know that the emptiness inside me and the uselessness I feel is aggravating my thoughts and feelings.

I don’t even have Billy to get up for in the morning anymore. Shaun is a grown up and he doesn’t need me, he is an independent man. I am not dismissing Shaun’s feelings or his love for me and mine for him when I talk about emptiness and him not needing me. Shaun is the one person I stay alive for when the going gets tough, he is the one I reach out to and he always saves me. His love is my shield.

However, Shaun is not my child, just like Billy wasn’t, I make a point of clearly distinguishing between the two and this is why I can’t just compensate.

I hope that in time we can adopt another pet or two but now is not the time, I’m not ready to “replace” Billy and I know there won’t be another Billy.

Just like if there isn’t a child in my life, there won’t be anything else to replace the void or “make me feel better” about it. As much as remaining childless won’t make me less of a person (apparently), I will never quite fit in, I’ll be one of these people who “has no idea what it’s like to me a mum” as I get reminded on social media everyday with the terrible quotes about the hardship of motherhood or the kind of person it takes to be a mum… Still, it is what is it, nothing will ever make up for not “being someone’s mum”.

I’m not sure how I will cope with that and I have to be honest, I am very scared.

So, a moment of clarity to explain my current poor performance with madebysteffieb, I’m sorry.

I would like to thank everyone out there who is still adopting Cuties, everyone sharing their Cuties, that really helps me in down times, you’re amazing.

As much as I have been hoping that I would keep madebysteffieb going beyond IVF, the last month has given me doubts, including the loss of Billy. Madebysteffieb is based around me having hope and IVF, how will I feel if and when the hope has gone? I don’t know.

I am so desperate to find my spark again and find my smile.

Thank you for reading and for all your support as always, please don’t give up on us just yet.