Archive of ‘personal’ category
Running Shoes: slang, related term: give someone his walking papers.
Depression has been in the news a lot over this last weekend and, sadly, for all of the wrong reasons.
It is as though there are two clear camps on either side of the debate; those who have had depression and ‘get it’, and those who have not, and believe it is simply a state of mind and not an illness. Something that going for a quick run can nip in the bud before it gets a little too self-absorbing.
There are many forms of depression, each one individual to the person suffering. Some may recover with counselling, some may also need antidepressants, and others will need a combination of the two. And yes, some may even find that putting on their running shoes and exercising will help them as well.
Depression can occur on its own or with a multitude of other issues. It may last for days, weeks, or years, coming and going out of your life like that unwanted friend you’ve tried to cut from your life several times in the past. It is not the same experience for anyone and each individual will need their own treatment plan.
Before I had depression, I admit (rather ashamedly so) that I thought some people who claimed they were depressed could do with pulling themselves together. I wondered if they liked wallowing in self-pity and playing the victim. However, since suffering from it three times, I know that those beliefs are an utter load of rubbish and I’m horrified that they were ever something I thought were true. It is a very real illness and incapacitates people every day, but it doesn’t mean that when successfully treated they can’t do their jobs, or raise their children,and I don’t for one single minute think it means they may want to harm hundreds of innocent people.
But I don’t know.
What I do know is that whatever is going on in the poorly brain of someone suffering from depression more often than not makes perfect sense to them. Suicide isn’t cowardly. It isn’t selfish. It is a rational decision to the suicidal person. They think it is the best for everyone andseems like the most sensible thing they may ever done in their life. They don’t feel they have a choice.
It is shocking that there is such a lack of understanding surrounding depression nowadays and it is causing so much damage.
I’ve never had a miscarriage, yet am able to support others through it. I have never had to deal with being terminally ill, and yet I have watched both my father and a close friend die and have helped others going through the same thing. Compassion and empathy aren’t difficult concepts and yet when it comes to mental health people seem unable to find it within themselves to imagine, for just one second, what it is like to suffer from depression unless they have experienced it for themselves. They judge. They reduce themselves to petty updates on Facebook and Twitter. They spout dangerous opinions,which harm others. They compound stigma and make people afraid to speak out.
I am not afraid.
I have depression.
I am taking anti-depressants.
I am having counselling.
I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend and an aunt, and having depression does not make me any less of those things.
I am fighting and working every day to beat this illness and I will not let anyone make me feel worthless or pathetic for having it.
And may I kindly suggest, that if you don’t know what you are talking about when it comes to mental health, you keep your mouth closed.
Put your running shoes on and jog as far away from me as you can.
Collapse: verb (used without object) to fall or cave in: crumble suddenly: to sink into extreme weakness: (of lungs) to come into an airless state.
There’s a lot of time to think when you are in hospital for two weeks. Seconds, minutes and hours to get lost in your own imagination…or frustrations…or neuroses.
You see things differently when you have a child who is unwell, at least I have. I don’t care about my weight, or money, or housework, or the little things. So what if someone is rude to me for no reason – it’s their problem and a reflection of how their day is going not mine. Who cares if I’m a bit late, or forget to reply to a text message the same day – true friends understand.
These two weeks have taught me many things.
I already knew that I am very much a person who is both a people pleaser – desperate to be liked – and someone who can be quite intolerant of people. In many respects the latter has intensified during our time in here. Some people really do stress about the most ridiculous of things – which I guess are relevant to them, but still. And yes, that may sound harsh, but I…don’t…care.
I’ve learnt how amazing nurses, physios, doctors and anaesthetists are. They are seriously awesome. They work so bloody hard and go above and beyond the call of duty on a daily basis. There are so many things that happen in children’s hospitals that have blown me away. Right now, my 5yo is sat with Wilf, a bubbly storyteller who is reading him a monster book that he is allowed to keep thanks to a wonderful charity called Readwell. My son isn’t usually a talker, but has opened up and is chatting like he’s known Wilf for years. The people who work here know children, and know how to make them feel safe and important. And of course they are wonderful at supporting us parents too.
I’ve also learnt about the never-ending resilience of lovely little people. They simply go with how they are feeling at that moment in time and never, ever wallow in self-pity. They get on with it, day after day. No matter what is taken out of them, or injected into them. They may complain at the time, but when it’s done it’s as though it didn’t happen in the first place and their smiles are soon back in place. (Disclaimer: bribery and corruption may, of course, help to inject them with a bit of bravery!)
And of course, although my son is seriously poorly with a collapsed lung that is proving to be very stubborn and reluctant to inflate, and although he is puzzling the doctors as to why this has happened, even though he has a list as long as my arm of other symptoms, he is in himself doing a very good job of appearing to be a perfectly healthy young boy. There are many reasons why a child may be unwell, and varying degrees of how this affects them, I am talking here about my experience with my son.
I knew sleep would be rare, but I’ve learnt that I can survive on less slumber than I thought. I’ve had a hunger that has in no way been satisfied, but have learnt to listen to my body and eat whatever I’ve craved – my figure will still be there under the blubber and waiting to return when I stop stuffing my face through comfort eating.
I didn’t know I could spend so long in one room (my son has been in isolation) and have dealt with my anxieties and stresses in ways I hadn’t considered before. (You all need Omvana in your life!)
I’ve learnt that one of the most painful sounds is that of a sick, young baby crying.
I’ve learnt that noise cancelling earphones and Netflix have been the best way to spend the evenings and distract me from the many noises a hospital emits.
The generosity and love from others has been overwhelming. I don’t like being pitied, and have never been good at asking for help, but I have learnt that everyone wants to help and even if you don’t let them, they often do so anyway. I’ve also learnt that everyone helps in their own individual way – ways as individual as the people offering the help are themselves – and to gratefully accept it all.
I still need to learn to lock myself away from the outside world a little less, but must admit I have found it hard repeating my son’s current condition over and over again to so many different people. I love that they care and I am so humbled by the amount of people whoare thinking about him and need to know how he is, but at times it’s been too hard to talk to them all. What do people expect me to say when they ask how I am? How the hell do they think I am? I’m drained. I’m broken. I’m in a constant sleep deprived, anxiety ridden state. We’ve been here for two weeks. Two intense weeks of general anaesthetics, bronchoscopies, ciliary brushings, blood tests, X-rays, mucus tests, biopsies, physio, antibiotics, nebulisers, tubes up noses and into stomachs and more. There have been no diagnoses, only things we now know it’s not, and the lung is still partially collapsed. Harsh as it sounds it’s been easier to ignore people who ask me how I am than to tell them the truth and for that I am sorry. I’ve cried, I’ve had panic attacks, I’ve shouted, but I’ve done it. And I couldn’t have done it without every single one of those people who care having been behind me all the way.
I’ve learnt how my son is so very much loved. The ‘get well soon’ cards and gifts from his friends have filled his hospital room, meaning he has never been short of things to do. Visits and video messages have put that infectious grin back on his face and given him renewed energy and strength.
I’ve learnt how mature a thirteen year old can be. My daughter has been such an amazing support and has quietly got on and organised herself whilst we’ve been to and fro from the hospital. My two year old has also surprised with me with how aware he is that something isn’t right. He’s needed a lot more cuddles during the last couple of weeks when I have seen him. Mind you, so have I. I miss being at home as a complete family.
I knew my mum was wonderful and amazing and supportive and she has done nothing but cement that knowledge. She is the best.
I knew how bloody brilliant my husband was. He’s stepped in during the night shifts when it all got too much for me and I needed to go home. He’s listened to me rant. He’s wiped away my tears. And he’s not complained (much!) and was always there when we needed him. He has been such a support whilst also dealing with his own emotions. Not to mention the fact that he had to cancel his yearly snowboarding holiday. That did not go down well!
I’ve learnt that some illnesses are hard to diagnose and even though you want your children to be fixed, it’s not always straightforward. Trusting doctors can take a lot of effort at times, amazing though they usually are.
I’ve learnt that I can cope with more than I realised.
And finally…I knew that my five year-old son was awesome…but he has blown me away these last two weeks.
Fingers crossed we get some answers soon – I’m still learning to be patient.
I wrote this post a couple of months ago, and today, on #timetotalk day where everybody is encouraged to take 5 minutes to talk about mental health, I thought I’d temporarily come out of blogging retirement and publish it.
Backwards: (of an object’s motion) back towards the starting point.
So where am I right now. Well, it’s safe to say I’m not somewhere good. It would seem life is handing me more shit and I’m firmly back at square one. Back where I never wanted to be. Except now it’s not post natal depression, it’s just plain old depression. And it fucking sucks.
It all started with a panic attack that came out of no-where and knocked me for six. A few weeks of trying to convince myself and everyone around me that I was fine only served to allow the depression to fully take hold until I couldn’t do anything anymore except take myself back to the doctors and admit it. And now, four days into a brand new batch of antidepressants, I am feeling worse than ever. It’s so cruel that the one medicine that helps cure this evil illness makes you feel a million times worse before you feel any better, and that it can take weeks and even months before you do feel better.
I forgot how much hard work goes in to simply surviving when you feel like this. A shower can feel like a huge achievement, actually managing to leave the house a fucking miracle. My anxiety is at a level I never knew existed and insomnia has taken hold once more. And we all know sleep deprivation is bloody cruel. My body feels like it is on fire and I am battling minute by minute not to let it overwhelm me.
Oh and the guilt. I feel like such a failure for being here again. I feel like I am letting everyone down. My husband, already not fully recovered from the last time I lost it, my children, all now that little bit older and that little bit more aware, and my friends, who have to deal with phone calls and texts at all hours when I can’t get my fears and emotions under control. I feel like a burden to everyone.
I am angry too. Angry that I’m here again. This year has been one of the most challenging in a long time and I thought I was coping well. Turns out that sitting at your desk on a daily basis crying because your job is so horrendously stressful, then leaving said evil job and embarking on a Masters with three demanding children possibly isn’t the best thing to do for good mental health. If only I spoke up more and asked for help and support instead of putting on the smile, being the joker and hiding behind my, often inappropriate, sense of humour. I knew a long time ago I wasn’t right, but refused to admit it or do anything about it. Powering on through really is a load of bollocks at times.
So what now. Well now I will wait for the side effects to go and the tablets to kick in. Thankfully this is the last week of university before we break up for the holidays so once my assignments are handed in on Thursday some of the pressure is temporarily relieved.
I will not let this beat me. I recovered once and I’ll be damned if I can’t recover again.
Done: no longer happening or existing.
“her hunting days were done”
Social media and I have had a bit of a falling out recently. I’ve not blogged for ages and have taken a bit of a step back from Twitter. I’ve been mulling over this a lot, and whilst I haven’t definitively come to any particularly conclusion as to why this is, I’ve certainly realised a few things.
Social media is a very powerful tool. It influences millions – sometimes positively and sometimes in not such a positive way. When I first joined Twitter I was breastfeeding a newborn baby and enjoyed stalking celebrities at 3 in the morning. Then, as PND took it’s hold for the third time, I frantically used it to find people going through the same thing, either to convince myself I wasn’t ill or to reassure me that you can indeed survive on very little, if not no sleep. I was becoming obsessed with confirming all of the things I thought in my very poorly head and whilst Twitter, blogs and forums provided some comfort and helpful suggestions there were also a lot of dark and dangerous things on there. I read some things I didn’t want to read and saw pictures that once seen, can never be forgotten.
Thankfully I have very wise friends and family who helped me channel my energies and into getting better and starting a blog. Wonderfully cathartic, it felt amazing to be able to write openly and honestly about things I was experiencing. Chats on Twitter were fun, supportive and honest, and some of the people I have met through Twitter and blogging are truly amazing. But recently, I’m beginning to wonder if it all offers a bit of a false sense of security. Some people claim they can only be themselves on Twitter, that they cannot be real in real life and that all of the friends they have are virtual ones. And some say that when they have a problem – sometimes an extremely serious problem – Twitter is the only place they feel they can go for help. Help from people who are not experts. Who do not actually know the person in distress, do not know their triggers or their history – in fact they know nothing about them at all. And I see people offering advice about babies they’ve never seen, giving mental health advice to suicidal people, and becoming outraged for someone they’ve never met, only ever hearing one side of the argument.
Now I’m obviously not saying don’t ever go to social media for support and advice – my goodness no it can be a wonderful place and so many people and organisations on there are doing amazing work for smashing stigma, supporting sufferers of mental health and aiding new and overwhelmed mums, and that’s wonderful when it’s done properly – but sadly social media lets anyone join, and when you’re vulnerable and fragile you can easily take the wrong advice, from the wrong person.
The deeper I have gone onto the world of blogging and social media, the more disillusioned I’ve become. In some parts it’s a hugely supportive and comforting group of people, yet in others it has cliques, comment rings and a whole load of ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ shenanigans I had no idea existed until recently. Some people deliberately provoke, whilst others constantly seek attention. Some blog from the heart, and some do so for ratings and to up their stats. The lives and personalities people project online are often very different from their reality – even mine. It has all increasingly unnerved me over time, and do you know what? I don’t think I can do it anymore.
I’m tired of Twitter arguments. I’m sick of the monthly scoring system which seems to drive everyone bonkers and become totally competitive. It’s exhausting. It’s draining. And it can be extremely upsetting at times.
When I started blogging it saved me and has quite literally turned my life around. I was able to find my voice again after an evil illness. I found new confidence through writing and having people read, comment and enjoy my blog. It has opened doors to me that I never dreamt possible and the future is so unbelievably exciting for me right now. But I do feel I’m done. I’ve reached a point where I’ve no more to give with ‘mummy blogging.’ I don’t want to review endless products; the power of trusting your instincts as a mum has become so wonderfully recognised by so many; and writing about PND is about to happen in a novel. Put simply, my writing and I have moved on.
I will still write, I will always write (and tweet!) and I may even start a new blog all about that. But for now – with heartfelt thanks to all the blogging community has given me and to every single one of you who has read my blog – I’m trusting my instincts, and I’m done.
Resignation: A resignation is the formal act of giving up or quitting one’s office or position.
Resignation. What a word! Resigning yourself to something implies settling and making do. It doesn’t scream happiness or excitement. It’s almost dull. Yet resigning can be powerful, enlightening and utterly brilliant.
For those of you who follow my blog you’ll notice it’s been properly neglected over the last couple of months. A few poems and reviews aside, I’ve not blogged for ages as my focus was firmly elsewhere, and my happiness had once again disappeared on the end of a very long fishing rod waiting for me to work my ass off to reel it back in. Oh but reel it in I have, and what a massive catch of happiness I caught! (ok yes, strange analogy I know, but stick with me!)
You may remember a couple of months ago I wrote a blog post called Crossroads. A blog post in which I boldly declared I was going to do something to change the course of my life and follow a different path. And follow a different path I will because since writing that post, I have amazingly been accepted onto the Creative Writing MA at Bath Spa…and handed in my resignation…and I COULD NOT be happier!!
I have been a primary school teacher for 15 years and have worked at my current school for 11 of those years. And most of them have been brilliant. I have some wonderfully dedicated colleagues and over the years have been offered some great opportunities, ending up on the senior management team. Yes there have been ups and downs, but before I left for maternity leave two years ago I loved it. Teaching can be hugely rewarding and my classes were like an extended family. However, since going back in January it’s been very different. I’m very different – and some of the people I work with are too – but mostly, education is very different and I don’t like it one bit. I won’t go into why now, yet again that’s another blog post, but I’ve had some of the saddest days ever since going back. Deciding whether to resign or not wasn’t easy at all, but once I’d made the decision I knew without doubt it was the right one. And not just because I genuinely do have something so much bigger and better to be moving on to, but because if I can’t give 100% to something it’s not fair on anyone if I continue to do it. Handing my resignation in made me feel lighter, and in control. And I like feeling in control 😉
And the thought of starting on the Masters course still makes me smile uncontrollably. I am unbelievably excited, and a little nervous. It will be an amazing new chapter in my life where I will, in the words of my mother, be ‘living my dream.’
And so hopefully – now my application is complete and I no longer have to edit and re-draft my writing portfolio – my blogging hiatus should now be over…although there’s never any guarantee….maybe I should just resign myself to the fact that as far as blogging goes, I’m always going to be sporadic…
Happiness: Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.
I didn’t think it possible,
A dream I’d always chased.
Wishing, hoping, yearning.
Not wanting life to be a waste.
Courage came from deep within.
Forced myself to try.
Worked harder than I ever have before,
Not once questioning why.
Supported by so many people,
All believing I could succeed.
Encouraging, listening, inspiring.
Giving me everything I could need.
I chased my dream and caught it,
I’m so excited I could cry.
Like a dragonfly emerging from a pond,
I’m spreading my wings preparing to fly.
Life is for the taking,
Grab it with both hands.
Don’t stay in stagnant water,
Fly away to different lands.
Spread your wings and gather speed,
Do what you were born to do.
For the only person responsible for
Your happiness is you.
Crossroads: 1. an intersection of two or more roads.
2. a point at which a crucial decision must be made which will have far-reaching consequences.
Ever feel like you don’t quite fit? Like what used to work no longer does and now it feels plain awkward, unpleasant almost?
I very much feel like I’ve reached a set of crossroads in my life and that I need to make a decision which could take me in any number of directions. Fundamentally I know that direction will not be the one from where I’ve come – for at the moment at least, my current path is one I no longer wish to walk upon.
I’ve always been very aware of my mortality and of making every second in life count. For example, I’m ridiculously bad at saving; often enjoying spending sprees if I can, not seeing the point in being the richest person in the graveyard. I like things to be immediate, present. I am impatient and hate waiting with a passion. Why wait to enjoy life when I can theoretically do it now? And it’s this constant thought that has led me to where I currently stand, at these crossroads.
Deciding your own fate is quite a powerful tool. The possibilities – even with three children in tow – are pretty much endless. It’s having the courage and determination to make those decisions that’s the problem. It’s easy to get comfortable, muddle on by vaguely satisfied with your lot. However familiarity often breeds contempt, and we can begin to resent what once held enjoyment. The everyday groundhogness of life (I talk about his often) can undoubtedly be wearing and tiresome.
I think for me I’ve had a sudden realisation that no one else is responsible for my happiness – and I am fed up of my mood being solely dependent on the moods of others. I’d like to be in control of my own emotions and I’m sure that if I was doing something with my life that made me happy, I may have more of a grip on them instead of finding everything so sodding overwhelming.
So I’ve made a big decision. It may never actually come to fruition and I might be kidding myself that it’s even possible, but you know what, if I don’t try I’ll never know and will spend forever regretting it, slowly becoming more miserable by the day.
And so, my decision is…
To apply to go back to university and do a Creative Writing Masters.
I love writing, and I always have. It’s saved me from PND, it’s cathartic, exciting, rewarding. I fizz with ideas and physically feel like I am going to explode if I don’t write them down. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, but have never dreamed possible.
This week has been spent drafting and redrafting (a stupid number of times) personal statements and short stories for submission. The thought of doing the course excites me more than I ever thought possible and yes…I am well aware that I might not even get on it (I often doubt my writing and think it sounds like something a ten year old would’ve written!) but at least I’ll have tried. Done something positive to realise that ever hopeful dream of living to work!
So for now the decision about which direction to take at these crossroads is an easy and amazingly exciting one. My happiness is very much my responsibility – and I’m going to do everything I can to make myself ecstatic.
Tears: Lacrimation, or lachrymation, (from Latin lacrima, meaning “tear”) is the secretion of tears. Tears formed through crying are associated with strong internal emotions.
Tears bubble under the surface,
I will not set them free.
They won’t escape, just bubble there;
Always a part of me.
Sadness washes over at times;
Overwhelming, sudden, shock.
Instead of listening, addressing, dealing,
It’s in a box, shut tight, no lock.
Not wanting to admit the pain,
Not seeing the honest truths.
Smile and say I am ok,
Believe it, as if smiling is proof.
Please don’t ask too many questions,
Please don’t delve too deep.
I will not cry, I won’t go there,
I cannot bear to weep.
Just know I take cover, hide away,
Say I’m ok, that I’m fine.
Tears will always bubble inside,
But that’s where they’ll stay for some time.
Hope: Hope is the state which promotes the desire of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or in the world at large.
Post natal depression – when you are living it, or watching someone live it – is hell on earth. It’s dark, isolating, terrifying. Intrusive thoughts are your daily companion and the world can pass by in a blur of tears and panic attacks. It is a part of my life I’ve worked damn hard to come out the other side of (three sodding times) and is something I’m terrified of returning. I didn’t realise, until this week, how good I have become at boxing up those hideous times in my mind, and moving those negative dark thoughts and feelings into a part of my brain that I never want to access. I’ve blocked it out, hidden it away and got on with life.
But ignoring something is never wise is it? Ignoring something never means it’s going to go away, and magically disappear. Generally I find that if I ignore something it can come back twice as hard to bite me firmly and painfully on the ass.
Life keeps me very busy and keeps my mind active and full of a multitude of different things…so it doesn’t have room for the past. It doesn’t like to share space with anything other than the present or the future. My mind likes thoughts about what I need to put in a packed lunch, or what I need to buy at the supermarket, or teach my year 5s that afternoon. I’ve become an expert at living in the moment and ignoring anything that stands in the way of that – even a panic attack. And I honestly didn’t realise how good at this I’d become, even almost convincing myself that I’d never really been that ill. That yes, I’d cried a bit and had been sleep deprived, but other than that I’d been ok. Just a bit down and desperate. A sleep deprived mum. It’s not like I was looking back through rose tinted spectacles…I just wasn’t looking back.
Today I met with some truly inspirational people. People who’ve suffered with pre and post natal depression, post traumatic stress disorder, post natal anxiety and puerperal psychosis, or who’ve supported a loved one through it. People affected by perinatal mental health problems and have lived to tell the tale an are now working hard to support others. And today we talked about the illness, discussed how we can raise awareness and start a national week or month dedicated to perinatal mental health awareness and support. Today I remembered what it was like, revisited a time in my life I’d give anything to be able to forget. It was exciting and draining all at the same time and tonight I am at a loss for words as to how best describe how I am feeling. The thought of others suffering what I did makes me want to cry, but it also puts a fire in my belly that is so strong and powerful it makes me determined to do everything I can to support them, and help them, and let them know that this isn’t the end, that they can get better – that there is hope.
Here is a link to the blog post I wrote in January that got the ball rolling 🙂
Time Out: Noun: a pause from doing something (as work); “we took a 10-minute break”; “he took time out to recuperate,” respite, break, recess; pause – temporary inactivity.
If you follow me on Twitter you may or may not have noticed my unusual silence of late. I needed some time out, and from life not just Twitter.
I had recently read an article in Psychologies magazine about pleasure that got me thinking – and in it there was the following quote:
‘Our culture teaches a woman to over-give and she ends up depleted, lonely, cranky and victimised. Pleasure is something every woman requires.’
Now this article very much focused on sexual pleasure (don’t worry, we won’t be going there in this post) but it also mentions how pleasure also comes from discovering what brings you fun and joy in your spare time, and that if you do nothing and always wait for others to make you happy, chances are you’ll lead a miserable life.
Now I know that sounds a bit dramatic – and maybe it is – but recently, even though I think myself happier than I’ve ever been before, I am almost certainly not finding many things pleasurable, and have become increasingly downtrodden with the groundhogdayness of life that comes with looking after three small people. Clearing food repeatedly off the floor was becoming beyond boring; doing the laundry, endless loads of laundry, was almost unbearable to the point that there were piles and piles of clothes in my house and I had no idea if they were clean or not; my husband walking in after a hard day at work and casually asking me what was for dinner was increasingly making me want to rip of his man bits, fry them in a little oil and then ram them down his throat. Life had become so repetitive and familiar that I was locked in my own sweet hell, where everything was beginning to irritate me and I was morphing into a spiky ball of built up resentment and frustration.
We all know how hard parenting can be, we all support and listen to each other, yet when really faced with the really of its relentlessness are we truly honest? I know I’m terrible for plastering on my make-up (never seen without it, God forbid!) and casually throwing the phrase ‘I’m fine’ into everyday conversations, when inside I’m screaming ‘no, I’m bloody well not fine, I’ve just had to change the biggest, smelliest nappy with one hand whilst simultaneously emptying the dishwasher with the other and watching my umpteenth cup of coffee go cold. I’ve already had three people burst in on me whilst I’m trying to have a poo and have yet again been faced with the constant ‘why have you got a beard down there mummy?’ question whilst dipping under the shower for five minutes whilst hoping my youngest doesn’t flush himself, or my mobile phone down the toilet.’
Most days, most days I can laugh about all of the above, even when I’ve stupidly given the toddler a packet of Cheerios that he takes great pleasure on firing across the lounge. Or when I run to catch vomit in my hands for the gazillionth time, knowing damn well that it still manages to go absolutely everywhere and then makes my hands stink of sick for days. But last week it had all completely and utterly got on top of me and I was properly fed up. Fed up with feeling like dogsbody that was solely there to make everyone’s life easier, when no-one was making mine simple in any way shape or form – and so I quickly arranged for some time out. Four days in fact of total time out where I went away with my mum somewhere special…somewhere that we disappear to once a year…somewhere that is child and husband free.
I remember as a child how important time out had been for my parents – my dad would regularly go on fishing holidays (he was a keen fly fisherman, often having meetings with a Mr B. R. Owntrout on Friday afternoons!) and my mum would often go away with ‘the girls’ on Butlins fitness weekends. I clearly remember a time that my dad was left with us on one such weekend. He served up dinner, and it was stew…and it was grey…and yes, my brother and I refused to touch it. For years we teased and taunted him unbeknown to us that mum had actually cooked it (mushroom stew, hence the greyness!) and had left it for him to reheat! So I’ve grown up knowing time out is important and maybe that is why I am a firm believer in doing it myself, without any guilt whatsoever…honestly! And when I was away I fully indulged in activities I categorically can’t do with children. It was uplifting, refreshing and so very indulgent. Someone else cooked for me, another did the dishes for me and conversations with my mum were uninterrupted and always complete. I only got up when I needed something and chose to, my sleep was uninterrupted, my coffee was hot, and oh joy of joys I got to pee and shower on my own.
The time away gave me time to think. Having recently turned 37 I’ve been feeling a little uneasy…not a young ‘un anymore my life is very much set on its path, and yet I’ve not been ready for middle age-ness at all. I have very much been feeling feel torn in between two lives, unsure of which step to take next. When young your life is always segmented by different events – you work towards GCSEs, then A-Levels before further education if you so choose. Marriage and babies give you life-changing things to look forward to and your life is broken into different stages; however now I’m settled. My life doesn’t have a next stage as I am having no more children, which in turn means no more maternity leave, just unbroken work for the next few decades. It’s a strange time and one that honestly, hadn’t been sitting well with me. I’ve always been someone who gets bored relatively easily. I feel I need to achieve more than I have. I feel like I need to make every day count, every experience a memorable one and I’ve recently not been very good at living in the moment and being grateful for all I’ve got.
I know I’m so very lucky, several years ago as a young single mother I’d never have dreamt of having a career, a husband and a wonderful family. I’m so blessed to have everything I do, I’ve just been totally determined for it to be perfect. Maybe my need for perfection stems from losing my father when he was just 48, and then a dear friend at the age of just 40 – I don’t take a single minute for granted, but in turn that means my aspirations are often unrealistically high and I strive to meet them, failing often.
However over the last few days I’ve been able to take a step back from my life…and am so much more appreciative for it. I’ve been able to look at things in more perspective and have relished the opportunity to regain my momentum and zest for life. I’ve recognised that bringing up three children is a huge achievement, as is maintaining a successful marriage – which is so very hard at times. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve written a book to support families living with post natal depression and am involved in some wonderfully exciting charity work in this area at the moment. I have an amazing group of friends who are so brilliantly supportive. I may not be going out as much as I used to and I may (definitely) have several more wrinkles than I did ten years ago, but these things now seem so unimportant.
These four days away have been magical, powerful and I feel revitalised. I came home to smiles and cuddles and a husband so exhausted from looking after the children that he fell asleep at half past seven last night. And today? Today I’m back in the swing of being a mum and a housewife. I’m no longer irritable and have an infectious grin across my face. Never has the phrase happy mum = happy family been more true – without doubt everyone is more settled and grounded because of it.
Now where did I leave that cup of coffee….
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