Baby’s First Month

The first month has been rough. Today my daughter is a month old and it’s been a tough experience. My partner went back to work on Tuesday and so for the last 3 days I’ve been looking after my daughter on my own.

In all honesty, I spent most of my partners paternity leave secretly pissed off. He took a month off (two weeks paternity and two weeks holiday unlike most dads who just take paternity) to help in case I developed mental health issues. One of the biggest triggers to that is lack of sleep but I found myself with majority of the night shifts and sleeping 1-4 hours a day. My partner in that whole month maybe did 3 night shifts and that includes the first night in the hospital where I was in too much pain to walk or stand. The next was a few days later and there was an odd one during that month. That’s because the night he did it out the hospital (where he was fairly caught up on sleep) in the first week, he got annoyed and told her to shut up and later admitted he had been feeling down about everything and it sounded like he was describing postnatal depression. I could cope with less sleep so I took over.

When she was 8 days old, we took her to see my partner (GC) family. I was working on very little sleep and we spent 1 and a half to 3 hours at 3 different houses with his family. The first house I coped well, actually enjoyed it despite the fact it was his SIL. Second house was his sister who wouldn’t give me the baby back for the time we were there except for a feed. Her kids held the baby which was nice. But there was barely any talking so my partner found it boring. We then went up to his aunties.

Everyone was forewarned we were coming up.

We came up and she had her at least 6 cats in the same room as where myself, her, my daughter and partner had to sit. The cats getting cat hair everywhere and jumping in the pram. Despite the fact she’d promised if we came over, the cats would be out the way. So I was pretty angry and then one of the cats snared my jeans (which doesn’t sound like a big deal but they’re the only ones that fit well so don’t need them ruined). Coupled with the lack of sleep, postpartum pain, lack of food and drink, how angry I was and the fact I hadn’t actually held my daughter in about 4 hours. I just didn’t want to hold her. I feel horrible about that but it’s true. I didn’t want her near me I felt so down and like the bond between us had gone. Whenever my partner handed her to me I passed her off back to him or just held her like Rachel did Ross’ son in FRIENDS.

When we got home, rather than ask how I’d like to feed my child, he went and used one of the bottles of expressed milk. I went upstairs, but angered myself and came back down and told him if he thinks I’m doing such a bad job he can do it all and I’ll move the moses basket to his side of the bed. He told me he didn’t think I was doing a bad job but we should move the basket. So I went upstairs and chucked the basket onto his side. Laid down for a few minutes and then just got up and walked out of the house.

I never told my partner I thought about getting on the bus or the train and just not coming back. I just walked down to the shops with half working headphones and brought a ribena before heading back. I was gone about half an hour and as I was heading back GC met me and I told him off for coming – “arent I allowed to go and get a drink without being hassled”. GC tried to talk to me but I didn’t want to hear it. We came home and I just went to bed, rushing past my daughter. GC followed me up and we talked. I can’t remember what was said. All I remember was ending up crying because I wanted my daughter and ended up cuddling her most of the night.

I had a few wobbles but it was easier with my partner taking over the mornings and getting some sleep without waking, worrying if my kid is okay. I don’t think I truly appreciated it until he went back to work. I also don’t think the added stress of trying to not wake him up helps.

But since he went back to work, the tearful episodes have increased. I’ve felt more overwhelmed and upset, overprotective, sad… I guess depressed. I don’t know if it’s ‘normal’ depression or postnatal depression but I’m really struggling.


Bipolar Disorder: Stress, Cortisol, Prevention

Genetic predispositions to emotional and mental health disorders are the real deal. But a predisposition doesn’t equate to a future diagnosis.

It’s often a matter of side-stepping a disorder by making environmental adjustments.

Here’s an example. An infant may come into this world with a genetic predisposition to alcohol abuse and dependence. However, if she/he never drinks a drop (the environmental adjustment), the disorder won’t present.

It’s no big surprise – genetic predisposition is a factor in the development (I didn’t say diagnosis) of bipolar disorder. A Canadian research team has come up with one such predisposition.

Theirs is the first study to show that elevated cortisol levels are much easier to come by for a child of even just one bipolar parent (vs. a child with neither parent bipolar).

These over-the-top cortisol levels manifested as a result of an environmental factor – exposure to typical childhood life-stressors. So you could say that these children are genetically predisposed to poor stress coping abilities – as well as bipolar disorder.

(Incidentally, research tells us that children who have just one parent with bipolar disorder are four times more likely to develop a mood disorder. That could be bipolar disorder or unipolar depression.)

Interestingly enough, the research team had already determined that cortisol levels of children with a bipolar parent ran higher than non-bipolar-parent children.

They did more work with these very same children – measuring cortisol levels during chronic and one-time stress episodes. And they found reactionary cortisol levels were unusually high, as well.

So it’s a matter of a biological sensitivity to stress, and the subsequent cortisol spike. And that may well explain why these children develop a mood disorder(s).

No matter how you cut it, the stress/cortisol issue is a major indicator of future illness.


According to the study’s senior author Mark Ellenbogen…

“We believe this sensitivity develops during childhood and our suspicion is that if you could teach both parents and their offspring on how to cope with stress, how to deal with problems before they turn into larger significant stressors and difficulties, this would have a profound impact.”

Makes sense to me. So what can you do to keep your child’s (and your) stress – cortisol – levels under management? Here’s a short list…

  • Consider Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Maintain a healthy diet, to include sufficient protein intake
  • Minimize the ingestion of sugars
  • Minimize (avoid) caffeine intake
  • Consider anti-stress supplements (B vitamins, Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, etc.)
  • Exercise
  • Get enough sleep
  • Grab a massage
  • Meditate
  • Laugh
  • Okay, for adults only – safe and responsible sexual intercourse is really helpful

That’s All Folks!

Last night and vividness. Do bipolars have more chance of vivid nightmares?

As for my list:

  1. Biology six marker.  This is now off my list because I can’t find the sheet.
  2. Biology quiz  What quiz I am supposed to do is on said sheet and I can’t find it.
  3. Organsing RE folder.    3 and 4 are next on my list of things to do.
  4. Writing up notes.  Done both.
  5. Catch up on emails, texts and messages.  Done.
  6. Watch Ghost Whisper Season 2      Half crossed off because I only watched a few episodes.
  7. Have an hour calming down from the crying I do when watching Ghost Whisper.
  8. Read Saint Jude.       Didn’t have the time to read. But I read the first page.
  9. If it’s not morning by now then I am seriously questioning time.
  10. Whilst doing all of that try to keep a grip on reality and not let depersonalisation take you.    Only half crossed because I have no idea what happened.

Let me spell it out like it happened. I had watched several episodes of The Ghost Whisperer and thought i should attempt sleep. So I lay down. But it’s not happening for me. Around 11am, I find myself unbearably comfortable and depressed so I don’t want to move. I think I must of fallen asleep though no part of me feels rested. Somewhere along the way I have a nightmare. Which, is obviously par for the course. Not long after my dad comes in with a package for me and I remember that being real and he throws it on my bed and I bring it to my face. I feel it. I know it’s my Zydrate necklace. It’s a film thing and essentially it’s a glass vial with blue liquid in with words hanging from it. I go into another night mare but I can’t remember exactly what happens, when I wake from that one. I open my package and feel it and I want to turn on the light to look at it but something is stopping me from doing so. This time I have a nightmare but the only detail I actually remember about it is that the vial was wrong instead of blue liquid it was orange powder and the wrong type of vial.

When I woke up I thought that dream was real. So on my mental to-do list I added ‘complain about necklace’ on it. Which may not sound bad but it just creates a lot of stress for me. I then snap out of it and then fall back into it and I’m not sure how exactly I got to this point but JLS just punched me in the face and we yelled and I cried and said I wanted to go home and so my dad picked me up and I told him I needed to go to hospital (meaning a psychiatric one) and then I awoke from that one geniunely thinking that it was real. There was actually a sort of trigger. When I woke up from the last one, I checked the time on my phone and saw a text from JLS. But they feel so unbelievably real.

So I took to the internet to do research.
All I honestly googled was:
googleAnd it actually just found vivid night terrors related to bipolar.

Did you know that people with Bipolar Disorder tend to have more nightmares?

It’s true. Nightmares occur frequently in people with Bipolar Disorder. In The Reinterpretation of Dreams, the authors write:

Bipolar patients report bizarre dreams with death and injury themes before their shift to mania (Beauchemin and Hays, 1995). Beauchemin and Hays (1996) found that dreams of bipolar depressed patients have more anxiety than those of unipolar patients. Dreams of bipolar patients, particularly those with rapid cycling, may show evidence of the subsequent shift prior to noticeable affective and behavioral changes (Frayn, 1991).

Having Nightmares is one thing, but that’s not the end of it. Those of us with Bipolar Disorder also tend to have more Night Terrors.

According to some studies, Night Terrors are rare in adults, yet Papolos and Papolos cited a 1999 study by Dr. Maurice Ohayon  that found that bipolar disorders and depression with anxiety were the most common factors associated with adults who reported night terrors.

Also another quote from a website, which is a diagnostic for bipolar 2 but that doesn’t exclude it from happening in bipolar 1:

[T]here are people with depression whose most noticeable symptom is severe insomnia. These people can go for days with 2-3 hours of sleep per night. Usually they fall asleep without much delay, but wake up 2-4 hours later and the rest of the night, if they get any more sleep at all, is broken into 15-60 minute segments of very restless, almost “waking” sleep. Dreams can be vivid, almost real. They finally get up feeling completely unrested. Note that this is not “decreased need for sleep” (the Bipolar I pattern). These people want desperately to sleep better and are very frustrated.

Bipolar children particularly suffer from nightmares. The July 2000 issue of “The Bipolar Child Newsletter” notes that for these children, dreams of explicit violence, gore and death are a common symptom. In the January 2000 issue of the same newsletter, authors Papolos and Papolos wrote, “Many of these children suffer night terrors and fears of abandonment and annihilation. Whereas most children sleep and dream and have a nightmare or bad dream once in a while, many children with bipolar disorder are trapped through the night in hour after hour of night terrors (parents may not even realize it because often the children do not truly wake up but seem in anesthetized states).

Night terrors do not occur during REM sleep and are not dreams, although they have nightmarish elements. They occur instead either during deep sleep or in a transitional state between deep and dreaming sleep and are a form of confusional arousal disorder.When a child is experiencing a night terror and actually remembers it, he or she later reports dreams that are extremely threatening. The content has to do with some predatory person or animal chasing them, or terrible fears of abandonment such as their parents being killed. Some adults who suffer them and seem to have greater recall speak of ceilings and walls pushing down on them, and others report snakes and spiders slithering and crawling all over the bed or room” (Bipolar Child Newsletter, January 2000).