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Labour and other Pains. Friday June 24, 2016

Pain is a very powerful motivator, physical and mental. When it's extremely bad, you'll do anything to stop it. I have suffered mental anguish, but I've never been actively suicidal. So when I try and imagine what that might be like, I think of the time I was in the worst pain ever in my life, when I was in labour.

With my daughter, because she was induced, the pain was sudden and unendurable, so I had strong drugs to stop the pain. With my son, it was slow and bearable, at least at first. As the waves of pain became more intense, I started to get agitated, even though I'd prepared for it. The pain got to a peak and I thought it was never going to end. It did, but because each one got stronger and the pain increased, I was more terrified as each one came.

I try and imagine what it would be like to experience that rolling peak as a mental pain, as a negative voice that drip-fed fear and loathing, building and falling, infecting so much of my life until I'd do anything to shut it up. Or imagine if it was a sudden unbearable pain as with my daughter, that shrieked through the brain and overwhelmed me.

How long would I have been able to survive if I didn't get the right drugs, medical help or ongoing support? If I'd been alone, the feeling would have been magnified. As it was, I had two midwives, my friend and a husband to help me through it, with doctors on hand if things went pear-shaped.

Being alone in your head with dark, depressive thoughts whizzing round is such a hideous place to be, so I think that the more we find common language to coax these into the light, could help on a personal and societal level.

For carers, it can frankly be terrifying when someone you know and love says they feel suicidal or does something extreme like hold a knife to their throat, because that's the only way they know to express their pain. However, looking at it objectively, it is actually a positive thing that the person is confiding in you. The more we can talk about it, the less frightening it is and I think the easier it is to find strategies to deal with it – or am I being completely naïve?

It would be great to get your feedback on this. I don't expect or want people to feel they have to share stuff here; it's an open forum and the last thing I want to do is make Moodscopers feel vulnerable. Perhaps this blog can be the start of a conversation with those whom you feel safe: family, friend, carer or medic, although of course if you want to comment here, that's fine too.

Lastly, remember that awesome things can come out of extreme pain. In labour, after my friend told me to shut up and breathe, I learnt how to surf the waves of pain and eventually my son was born. Meanwhile, in terms of mental pain, look at how Jon Cousins gave birth to Moodscope. Isn't this seven-year old doing well?

A View From the Far Side

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Ian Fri, Jun 24th 2016 @ 10:03am

what a great way to link physical pain with mental anguish, I will use it with my family and friends

A View from the Far Side Mon, Jun 27th 2016 @ 1:21pm

That's great Ian. i hope it helps.

Ian Fri, Jun 24th 2016 @ 10:04am

what a great way to link physical pain with mental anguish, I will use it with my family and friends

Rupert Fri, Jun 24th 2016 @ 11:58am

Very thoughtful blog. I think the description you have given is so true. I read somewhere recently that people generally say they don't know how someone could commit suicide as if they have a choice in the matter when in fact it is the opposite i.e they don't have a choice and it is a means to ending a feeling that has become overwhelming. In very dark times I have mentioned the possibility to good friends and it puts them in an awkward position in some ways as they don't really have the knowledge to deal with it. The nicest and most useful thing one friend said to me was before you do anything like that can you speak to me first. It meant a lot and created an instant safety net which I will never forget. Rupert

A View from the Far Side Mon, Jun 27th 2016 @ 1:23pm

Wow, what a great friend Rupert. I like the way he phrased it. If your friend's not around, do you have someone else to help you through that?

Leah Fri, Jun 24th 2016 @ 12:31pm

There is so much in your blog to think about. When I was younger I was in so much emotional pain that I used to put tight ruber band son my wrist and until I nearly cut off circulation. Never told this before. I am not sure that if helped but it gave me something to focus on as I watched my hand drain of blood.
This is wonderful that you are opening up a discussion on some subjects some may consider taboo or awkward.
PS not sure if it is just my computer but am having trouble accessing this blog- can only do it through the moodscope email.
Thanks again.

A View from the Far Side Mon, Jun 27th 2016 @ 1:25pm

It sounds like you found a way that suited you at the time - I'd be interested to know what strategies you used to help move on from that.

g Fri, Jun 24th 2016 @ 12:55pm

Hi Caroline ! I am in pain - terrible migraine - but still want to raise my plummeting mood through reading the daily blog . what's up ?
is it my computer or is it for real ? this blog about pain does not even appear on the site . daily email delivers it . the date is 25th Saturday .
I am frantically checking that I have not missed a day.I have appointments to go to on Friday still.
Are the comments above from the future?
Oh , I have just noticed that Leah has the same problem as me so it is not me .

shaken g.

Leah Fri, Jun 24th 2016 @ 1:10pm

g, not you, there is some glitch on wesbite- these things happen.I did not even norice it was Saturday date!! You are more observant than me. You have not missed a day!! I am ahead as it is friday night here but a couple of hours off Saturday. g, hope your migraine lessens.

g Fri, Jun 24th 2016 @ 1:17pm

to a view from a far side and the future .
i did not call it pain at the time , both times actually .
what one feels during birth are contractions .
birth is the most beautiful experience for a woman ( qualifier : my personal subjective opinion and because most births are natural and even breach are possible without cesarian i do not count exceptions here ) .

i am even prepared to rate it higher than an orgasm .

I would never ever ever associate feelings of giving life with the debilitating suicidal thoughts of which i have a frequent personal experience where i distance myself wholehartedly from these unnatural sick sick thought processes afterwards hence i would never allow depressed and suicidal decide about their immediate future re. euthanasia and unbearable actually physical pain even though one is being told that it is all in one's mind .

i do appreciate your afford to understand but it is not possible to understand even for those experiencing it first hand. it has its own mad logic perfect at the time and sometimes even afterwards which is scary .
it is chemical , it is a kind of alien invasion . it is like a bad nightmare ..... but never never like a childbirth.

A View from the Far Side Mon, Jun 27th 2016 @ 1:33pm

Hi g, I'm with you on it being the most beautiful experience for women and I can quite see why you wouldn't want to link it. I hadn't thought of it that way - so thanks for your opinions. It is really helpful how you go on to describe your experiences - like an alien invasion. I hope your migraines are better today. AVAFS and the Future :-)

g Fri, Jun 24th 2016 @ 1:19pm

to Leah ,

thank you for being there for me as a reality check.
the date threw me as much as the blog or more ?

Anthony Fri, Jun 24th 2016 @ 1:51pm

It's something I'm challenged by as now matter how uncomfortable my mental state or external circumstances I very it very difficult to motivate change. I'm celebrating little changes and improvements :)

g Fri, Jun 24th 2016 @ 2:24pm

Thank you for saying it Anthony . I have to be reminded every day that each journey starts with a single step , that there is always something positive in a horrible anything and so on and on . Celebrations are perfect and so necessary. When terribly upset I still managed to find three happy events in an overall infuriating day. keep on keeping on

The Gardener Fri, Jun 24th 2016 @ 5:21pm

When I was depressed I got as far as making sure the wherewithal for suicide was hidden away - which shows intent, never got there. We are meeting a lot of people of our age who say (not under my influence) that if they get Alzheimers they will end it straightaway. Trouble is, by the time you are really sure it's Alzheimer's somebody else is in charge of you - then, as I am finding, the real misery starts as you watch and care from somebody who is no longer the same human being. I have found a pain near enough to labour pains - being stung by a sting ray. 'Excruciating' the guide book say, they do not lie. I agree with G about childbirth - no way can it be used in the same way as the blackness of depression. I believe that going through the experience of a stillborn child IS the worst agony in the world. G's 'finding three happy events' is so positive. I am not lying when I say that there are days where I CANNOT say, well that was not too bad. I try to counter this by always thinking of nice things to do the next day. Mr G woke me at 5 a.m, so I put UK TV on - and saw the results of the referendum. Brits are in an understandable panic, yesterday we were European citizens, today we are not. We know the run-down system will take time - but there are so many vital issues at stake and as nobody has been through the process before there is no previous experience to fall back on.

Tutti Frutti Sat, Jun 25th 2016 @ 10:40am

Thanks AVFTFS and Gardener. An interesting post and a lot of what Gardener has said chimes with me. Couldn't get on to comment yesterday. Love TF x

A View from the Far Side Mon, Jun 27th 2016 @ 1:38pm

As with g, it's great to have a different opinion (if I'd broken my leg I'd have used that, but I haven't). I met a fabulous guy at Glastonbury (hence my late responses) who helps families with those who have early onset Alzheimers and dementia. By the way I am still a European citizen and will continue to be even if our political parties separate from the EU body.

Lexi Fri, Jun 24th 2016 @ 6:14pm

Thank you for opening up a very important discussion AVFTOS. When I was suicidal I could only accurately describe what was going on inside me as drowning. For me it was like trying to talk under water: I couldn't form the words and no one could understand me anyway. It's a horrible sensation that there is no relief except to cease to be. But even as wretched as I felt I felt a miracle inside of me - somewhere my inner self/an angel/ the voice of a stranger - not sure exactly what it was but I chose not to give up. I made a promise to my husband and daughter and to myself to keep going. My amazing mother in law sent me a beautiful plaque that says "just keep swimming". I have it on my desk as a daily reminder. And man is it a daily challenge. My brain doesn't work well unless I am in regular contact with my therapist, my husband, the few friends who aren't afraid to watch me go through a rough patch, my moodscope family, and my routine - exercise, proper diet, balance of rest and work. So yes I do think the more discussion and the LESS SHAME (sorry for shouty capitals but that is a big one for me) people feel about their illness the better.

A View from the Far Side Mon, Jun 27th 2016 @ 1:41pm

Drowning eh? A very useful metaphor and I'm glad that it has helped enable conversations with your family. I met someone this week who has borderline personality disorder and is very open to talking about it. He's also set up his own company in the last two years and is inspirational to talk to.

The Gardener Fri, Jun 24th 2016 @ 7:06pm

Lexi, I wish I could define that inner voice and say 'thank you'. I'm not really religious, but from somewhere has always come that ray of hope. Today, two 'bright' ideas and doing church flowers really well have bouyed me up. In the depths of manic/depression I had tried endless medication - all sorts of problems. Then, it was discovered that I only had one good kidney. My marvellous GP searched the pharmacoepia and said 'we've run out, we'll just have to fight it together'. That 'We' was the telling point, and, ever since, there has always been a 'WE'.

Lexi Sat, Jun 25th 2016 @ 12:31pm

The WE is so important. We cannot do this alone. And there is always hope. xo Lexi

Caroline Ashcroft Moodscope Fri, Jun 24th 2016 @ 10:42pm

Hi all, really sorry for the problems with the blog not appearing this morning - my fault, added the wrong date so it didn't appear. Fixed it though!! Sorry for any inconvenience. Kind regards.


Jul Sun, Jun 26th 2016 @ 2:02pm

Hi AVFTFS. I am sorry I didn't comment on Friday. It was the referendum results and general chaos at home which stopped me. I have just re read your powerful blog and I agree that the pain of childbirth for me was horrific. I seem to have had the same experience as you with my eldest (induced) and my second, (natural but no less pain). However I have had no experience except anecdotal with suicide. You have experienced both so I will take it from you that the pain is equally intense. I thought as I was reading your words that the shriek from your daughter happened when your husband committed suicide and I felt tears coming to my eyes. I then realised you meant the shriek she gave after her birth. I would like to discuss my mental pain with someone I could trust but equally I think I will survive and carry on if I never have this opportunity. I suppose I feel for me who is not suicidal that it is a luxury to be able to discuss how I feel. Thank you for your wonderful blog. I am sorry I didn't reply on the day. Hopefully you will read Leah's comment on her blog page yesterday about it and also this, plus anyone who was not able to comment on the day. How are you? Love xxx

Leah Mon, Jun 27th 2016 @ 4:57am

Jul, That is such a compassionate and moving post. I think nothing I can add. Leah xx

A View from the Far Side Mon, Jun 27th 2016 @ 1:45pm

Jul, I was trying to imagine the pain as a shriek, she did nothing. Thank you for your thoughtful response. If you want to discuss your mental pain with someone you trust, then that person will turn up. It is not a luxury, it's a right. I'm fine. i've been to Glastonbury and didn't take a smartphone to get away from the world. Didn't know the blog was going out on Saturday.

A View from the Far Side Mon, Jun 27th 2016 @ 1:48pm

Thanks to everyone who posted. I've been having some mad, happy few days at Glastonbury wallowing around in the mud. Still feeling uplifted by Coldplay's performance last night - have a few muscles aching from all the jumping up and down and holding my hands up.

Jul Tue, Jun 28th 2016 @ 11:58am

Sounds wonderful. I envy you or as Leah would say I am envappy for you!! I hope you can immerse yourself in the memories, Coldplay, mud, pure happiness from live music etc for a few days more. Love Jul xx

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