Time: Time is a dimension in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and also the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them. Time has long been a major subject of study in religion, philosophy, and science. Some simple, relatively uncontroversial definitions of time include “time is what clocks measure” and “time is what keeps everything from happening at once” (Wikipedia)
Last night I made the mistake of reading the news, and it got me thinking (and feeling ranty!) I read this article- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-22202694 – about how Michael Gove is proposing longer school days and less school holidays.
The article frustrated me for a number of reasons. Children need time to be children. Childhood is such a magical time and is for such a short period in our lives. Children need time to PLAY and EXPLORE. With what Gove has suggested they’ll be too damn knackered to do any of those things. Too exhausted by endless hours trying to be the best. I’m not saying have no aspirations or aim high, I’m passionate about encouraging children to achieve their full potential, but it frustrates me because some children could be at school 24 hours a day/7 days a week (my daughter is one of them) and they would still never be the best. It doesn’t mean that these children don’t have skills, or talents, or will be amazingly successful in their lives. Encouraging children to DO their best would be a far better route to take. It doesn’t go hand in hand that the more time you spend in school the more academically intelligent you are. Gove has looked at other countries and decided that their education system is better than ours, and proposed that we adopt their rules. But, as I say on MANY occasions, ALL children are different and what works so well for one, could be a compete disaster for another. Why does one concept for education suit all? It couldn’t possibly! It makes me wonder if in coming to this conclusion, Gove has truly thought about the consequences on children, parents or teachers? Has he thought about what’s best for each child or only what they ‘should be’ or ‘ought to be’ doing? Does he think that getting grade As is the only thing that matters? Is that what he values? Is that what success is solely measured by, how well we do academically at school?
This then also made me think of someone I know very well. There are so many things that she does with her children that are very different to the way I parent my children. And whilst I’m a huge advocate for bringing up different children in different ways it got me thinking as to whether she (and me for that matter!) is listening to them and bringing them up how they dictate, or whether she is parenting how she thinks she ought to. Do we do what we think is best for our children, without possibly really finding out what is actually best for them? Do we know our children’s natural talents or their interests, are they allowed to nurture any?
We all have dreams and hopes for our children before they are even born, but do our children always follow our hopes and ideals for them? You might want your son to like football, yet all he talks about is rugby. You might want your daughter to be a ballerina, yet all she craves is hip-hop. And you might want your child to be the cleverest in their class, yet they still struggle at school.
Michael Gove is, in my opinion, naive if he thinks that by placing children in school for longer they will each magically become a genius! Are schools becoming too focused by paperwork and results and grades, too focused on numbers and statistics, when they are said to be more ‘child-centred?’ Is Gove too focused on ‘shoulds,’ ‘musts’ and ‘ought tos?’
When I had my daughter I was young and naive and doing it on my own. I gave her a bottle for an evening feed at four weeks because that is what I was told I ought to do. I never co-slept because I was told she should sleep in her own bed. I became frustrated because she didn’t do what she ought to be doing. She didn’t eat as much as she should. But as she grew up, a strong willed and stubborn red haired child, all of the, shoulds, musts and ought tos went out of the window. And instincts kicked in.
She liked to wear blue, wasn’t the sort of child that liked ballet and liked to graze on food all day instead of having three set meals. And at school, she struggled. She didn’t learn to read when she should have. She couldn’t count to ten when she ought to have. But it didn’t make me want her to go to school more. It didn’t make me want to get her a tutor or drown her in homework. It made me want to take away the stresses of school and the pressure off. It made me want to have as much fun with her as we possibly could at home. She was allowed to be a child. We played, we laughed, we sang, and she relaxed. She can count now, and she can read and write. And she has a wealth of experiences to draw upon when doing these things.
Pushing children, in my opinion, is never going to work. It potentially just gives them more chances to fail to reach what are often unrealistically high expectations. It’s the classic teacher quote of ‘could do better!’ I think they should be encouraged to pursue their talents, play as much as possible and be supported in being confident of who they are.
What do you think?
Read Your Baby
Read your baby, not a book,
Go on give them a good look.
Listen to what they’re telling you,
Then you’ll know just what to do.
Trust your instincts, you know best,
Give the guilt and doubt a rest.
You know your baby inside out,
I know you do, you know, don’t doubt.
But ‘help’ you cry ‘I don’t know how,
I don’t know what to do right now.
I know, I’ll pick up a baby book,
I’ll only have one real quick look.’
‘Hold on, no wait this isn’t true,
What it says my baby doesn’t do,
Now I feel worse than I did before,
I don’t know if I’m a good mum anymore.’
It’s when you doubt and feel like this,
Throw out the books, give them a miss.
Sit down somewhere, think things through,
Hear your instincts speak to you.
They will tell you what to do,
If you trust them to help you through.
Do you need to hold baby tight?
Do your instincts tell you what’s right?
Do you need to ask a friend?
Do you need them wine to send?
Confidence and trust you need,
To use your instincts, sow the seed.
Why don’t you try, give it a go,
And if it works then let me know.
It might be hard first, at the start,
But it soon becomes part of your heart.
Essentials of Life
A short and sweet #wednesdaywords which has been inspired by this….
This hangs in my hallway. It was a gift from my very best friend this Christmas. (Yes, good old Cynthia again!) It sums up me so well, as the writing says everything I believe in. It represents all of the things which I need. I need to be busy, otherwise I can spiral into a pit of pure laziness! I need people to love (as well as needing people to love me!) and I ALWAYS need something to look forward to, even if it’s simply a cup of tea and a piece of cake. It reminds me, when I’m feeling low, of all the lovely people I have around me, and of all the lovely things that are yet to happen and that I have to look forward to.
Quite frankly, I love it! Do you have a quote or motto you like to live by?
Spontaneous: Self generated; happening without any apparent external cause. He made a spontaneous offer of help. Done by one’s own free choice, or without planning, proceeding from natural feeling or native tendency without external constraint arising from a momentary impulse, controlled and directed internally, self-active. Random. Sudden, without warning.
For those of you that follow me on Twitter you’ll know that Thursday night I left my house unexpectedly. (don’t worry I returned, it was never going to be a permanent departure) I wasn’t supposed to be leaving the house, but I felt I wasn’t really given a choice. Stay and be a metaphorical punch bag, or leave and be on my own, but in all likeliness wet and cold because it was raining. Not a difficult decision to make. And so, it is last Thursday night that brings you this post and this week’s #magicmoment (You’re wondering how right now aren’t you?!)
So…there are five of us in this house and generally speaking it’s a lovely house, chaotic, but lovely. However, it is often only lovely because I’ve worked my sodding backside off to make it that way. It’s only lovely because I’ve facilitated everyone’s contentment and happiness. (Yes, yes I know, as a SAHM that’s my job, but it can,as we ALL know, be a bloody tough job) Things are lovely in our house because I know what everyone’s favourite meals are and cook them on a regular basis. I know when PE kits are needed, when teething needs sorting, when floors need vacuuming. The list is endless, but it sometimes seems as if it is invisible to those I live with. Maybe they think magical little fairies do the supermarket shopping, and busy little elves the cleaning. I wonder if they recognise the thought, and effort, and energy that goes into the running of this house. I know being a mum is about putting your babies first, and being a SAHM to me is about putting my family first, but I was beginning to wonder if it was too much to ask for a little something in return? Yes you’re right, my 10 month old is a little bit young be be going out and buying me flowers, but my 4 year old and 11 year old know how to say thank you. And my husband has been told on NUMEROUS occasions that a big bar of chocolate always helps if he can’t find the words.
So on Thursday night when my husband was in a grump because someone had cancelled his golf, The Masters, recording, and my 11 year old was in a grump because well, she’s 11 and that’s what they do, I decided to go out on my own. I didn’t really know where I was going I just knew I was going! I drove to M&S and bought some Colin the Caterpillar sweets and some Maltesers. (No, this was not my magic moment, but it was close!) It was whilst I was paying for these treats that my phone went, and on the line was my best friend, who (as I am still mostly anonymous on here) we shall call Cynthia. She is a woman who gets me, and always knows the right thing to do or say. She understands that I have good days and bad days. That I might not be feeling 100% all of the time. That sometimes I’M the one that needs looking after. She’s the one that my husband is so lucky to have around, because when he can’t sort me out, she does, every time! She suggested a spontaneous dinner out, and well, who was I to refuse?!
We drove to a lovely restaurant in Bristol and decided on tapas, and wine! We ate, we drank, we talked (well, mostly I talked) and we listened (alright yes, she did most of the listening!) I told her how it just seems that often how my day turns out, isn’t ever controlled by me. It’s controlled by hormones, and teething, and tantrums. It’s controlled but the stresses and demands of my husband’s job. It’s controlled by whether people I come across whilst out and about are having a good/bad day. It’s controlled by so many things other than me. Things that to a certain degree I can’t control. And it was whilst discussing this that she reminded me of my weakness with control. I am, it is fair to say, a bit of a control freak. I like to be in control. I like to know what’s what. Maybe that’s why I go out of my way to ensure everyone is happy, and run the house the way I do? Maybe I needed to let go of a bit of control, which without realising I’d actually done by leaving the house! It was a wake up call, and a taa daa #magicmoment. I needed to let go, not try and be perfect at everything, not try and have the perfect life, be the perfect wife and perfect mother. It doesn’t do anyone any good, least of all me!
The whole evening was magic, having spontaneous time with the woman I love like a sister was magic. The fact that she’d once again sorted me out and stopped me being an irrational, emotional wreck was magic!
And the magic continued when I got home. I think a few people had been shocked that I’d actually gone out and done something for myself. The dishes were done, my daughter told me she loved me and the next day my husband came home and gave me….some chocolate, magic!!
An A to Z of PND.
Alphabet: The modern English alphabet is a Latin alphabet consisting of 26 letters – the same letters that are found in the ISO basic Latin alphabet. The English language was first written in the Anglo-Saxon futhorc runic alphabet, in use from the 5th century. This alphabet was brought to what is now England, along with the proto-form of the language itself, by Anglo-Saxon settlers. Very few examples of this form of written Old English have survived, these being mostly short inscriptions or fragments.
So, a week on from taking my last tablet and I’d just like to start this post by saying that I didn’t start my blog to focus solely on post-natal depression, but recently it seems that this is where my writing has mostly wanted to be, and my blog has been overloaded with PND posts and poems. It has been helping me to voice everything I’ve gone through and have been feeling, and I hope it has also helped those of you who have read it and have also suffered, or know someone else who has. So I’ve been going with it, and writing as honestly about my experiences as I could. For now though, as I have taken my last tablet, I think this might be my last post on the subject for a while, unless there is demand for more honesty! It is an A to Z of my post natal depression (in a not all doom and gloom kind of way, but as always, in a very honest kind of way!)
A is for…let’s start with an obvious one…antidepressants. Where would I have been without those little pills of loveliness. Yes, they take WEEKS to work and they’re a bugger to come off (brain zaps anyone?) but when you’re feeling so low you want to go sleep and never wake up again they are amazing. For me anyway, I appreciate they’re not for everyone.
B is for bastard, bugger, bitch. All delightful words I’ve used regularly to describe this delightful illness.
C is for catastrophising. A phrase I didn’t even know existed until PND took its hold. I’d have a cut on my leg which I was convinced would turn into a septic oozing sore that would eventually lead to blood poisoning and death. Or an ulcer in my mouth that was actually cancer which would lead to death. Or a stomach ache which was appendicitis, which would obviously burst, and lead to death. You get the picture. Not only did I catastrophise about illnesses I’d do the same with the safety of my children. My 3 year old would be at the top of a slide and I’d be screaming inside ‘be careful, hold on, sit down, go slow’ because I thought somehow he’d fall off, break his neck and this would lead to… I’d jump to the worst possible conclusion about everything. Seems silly now, now I’m thinking rationally, but at the time it seemed like a distinct and real possibility. Danger was everywhere. Disaster was always about to strike. (Thankfully it never did, long may that continue!)
D is for dreams, crazy, vivid, bonkers dreams. I’ve dreamed entire film plots (and even the credits when it was over and time to wake up) I am amazed at the things my subconscious brain can conjure up in the middle of the night. I have two recurring dreams that vary from night to night. One is needing the toilet. Desperately needing the toilet, but for some reason I cannot go. The toilet is blocked, or too high, or someone is watching me. The other recurring dream is about my Grandma’s house. There are secret rooms I didn’t know about, or someone is chasing me there and I need to hide. Last night I dreamt it had been renovated for students to live in. Random, and by far not the weirdest dreams I have had, but undoubtedly the most frequent. Haven’t quite worked it what my subconscious brain is trying to tell me through them! Any dream interpreters out there?
E is for eating. I CAN.NOT.STOP. At first I couldn’t eat a thing (which was great for post pregnancy weight loss, but not so much for breastfeeding) but now I am ravenous, all of the time. Burning acid in the stomach ravenous. I could eat one of my children ravenous. Food has always been my comfort and never more so since I became ill. I have tried dieting, and it did work for a while, but food is just too delicious and life is just too short at the moment for me to worry about it. So there.
F is for f*** you. F*** life. F*** everything. I have never sworn so much at my poor husband. Or just muttered swear words under my breath when out and about and irritated and frustrated by absolutely everyone and everything. Swearing at the television and all of the irritating people on it. Swearing felt like getting all of the crap inside my head out. I’ve always loved a good swear, but it’s definitely upped a notch or two. (Not around the children of course, well not every day anyway ;-))
G is for guilt. Guilt for being a rubbish mum, a rubbish friend, a rubbish wife. Guilt for breathing in oxygen that could clearly go to someone more worthy. Guilt for being ill. We all feel guilty as mums, society (and as I’ve said before social media and manuals) all conspire to make us feel useless, to doubt ourselves, to make us feel guilty for not doing things ‘properly’ or as well as others. Gah, one day I WILL write a book encouraging mums to trust their instincts, ask for support from trusted sources, and hopefully relieve some of the guilt we all are made to feel.
H is for hypnotherapy. Solution focused hypnotherapy to be precise. Absolutely integral to my recovery. Helping my messed up brain get back into the intelligent part and not the primitive cave man part that only operates through fear, anxiety and anger. It has saved me, and given me invaluable techniques and skills I can use in the midst of an overwhelming panic attack. I urge all of you who suffer to seek it out, and I know it can be expensive. I was lucky enough yo have free treatment from someone who was training, so it didn’t break the already broken bank!
I is for isolation. Oh now isolated I felt, even though I was surrounded by people, big and small. Isolated because no-one else was responsible for this little pink person. No-one else could breast feed him, no-one else could settle him like I could. He would only sleep on me, and only stay asleep on me. The minute he was handed over to someone else those little brown eyes would ping open. And then the anxiety would begin. I was convinced that if he didn’t sleep well during the day then he’d be overtired and wouldn’t sleep during the night. I spent my days struggling to get him to sleep and then desperately trying to keep him there. Because if he was awake he would cry, and I wouldn’t know how to stop it. I didn’t have any confidence that I knew what to do. I didn’t recognise what cry meant what. I couldn’t make it stop. When he was asleep he was peaceful and so was I. Isolated because I didn’t want to go anywhere, going out was too much of an effort, it meant having a shower for starters. Isolated because I felt trapped in my own head filled with these voices telling me I was worthless, that I had nothing to look forward to…and I couldn’t find the words to explain that to anyone so I was alone with those feelings and thoughts. Looking back it was probably the least isolated time of my life as I was surrounded by so many wonderful people. Horrible how your brain can make you feel.
J is for journey. Everyone talks about your journey with depression. Your journey to recovery. Your journey as a mum. Journeys in my opinion are meant to be fun, this one was not.
K is for kitchen. I used to hide in mine. Often eating. It was the only place in the house where I couldn’t hear my baby crying. I used to escape there, only for a few minutes, the guilt of leaving him crying would soon kick in and I’d be back upstairs rocking him to sleep once more. But those few minutes of peace and alone time were precious.
L is for love. Love of friends. Love of family. Unconditional love from my children whether I am happy or sad or crying or laughing. I am so unbelievably fortunate to have some of the most amazing friends there are, ones who know just the perfect things to do and the perfect things to say. They have helped me more than words can say. And I love them completely.
M is for mum. My mum. We’ve certainly had our ups and downs but there’s not doubting that she has always been there for me, trusting her instincts and encouraging me to do the same. And since I have been ill she has been worth her weight in gold. Couldn’t have got through it without her.
N is for neurotic. I guess I’ve always been neurotic, even before this all started! People have always marvelled at how my thought processes work, and how I reach conclusions they never would have reached in a millions years. My neuroses kind of make me who I am I guess. I just need to learn to control them, and to live with them.
O is for on my own. Which is what I wanted to be most of the time. All of the time in fact. My suitcase was often packed in those dark days, and I knew exactly where I was going and when I’d go. I just wanted to escape as it was all just too hard. Looking back, it was the days when that suitcase wasn’t packed that should have worried me more.
P is for pull yourself together. Oh, is that what I need to do, silly me! I didn’t realise it was that simple, I just need to pull myself together. Actually, do you know what…no I cannot f***ing pull myself together. F*** off.
Q is for questions. Why do I feel like this? Why can’t I feel better? Why am I such a bad mum? Why me? As any inquisitive Toddler would say…why why why? And there are no real answers, not for me anyway. Life’s just a bi*** sometimes.
R is for Rescue Remedy. Oh how I love this stuff. The sweets, the chewing gum, the drops. I had them all. If you’d opened my bag it was like a Rescue Remedy party bag inside. We all have safety behaviours and having Rescue Remedy with me at all times was one of mine. Placebo? Maybe. But who cares, it worked.
S is for well, what else but stigma. Yes I was afraid to be a mum of three on anti-depressants. Scared people would think I’d had one baby too many and couldn’t cope. Scared people would look and me and wonder what on earth I’d got to be depressed about and think I was just looking for attention or feeling sorry for myself. Not realising it’s an ILLNESS, and I had no control over how I felt. Another reason why I’ve chosen to write so honestly, to help smash the stigma.
T is for talking. If you read my blog you’ll know I’m a wear your heart on your sleeve kind of girl. I have no secrets. Everyone knows everything about me (which is a bit embarrassing at times!) and talking my way through this illness to anyone who wanted to (and yes even those who didn’t) listen has helped me to recover. Especially talking to those who have also suffered. It’s so true to say that unless you’ve ever experienced something you can never fully understand what others are going through. And whilst PND is different for everyone, I’ve met many people who have felt the same as me. Talking to them has undoubtedly helped, both myself and hopefully them as well.
U is for understanding. Sometimes I wish people would stop trying to understand. I think if you haven’t suffered you might never be able to understand fully. Just listen and help me, don’t make it about you needing to understand, you don’t need to I promise, you just need to be there.
V is for vile. I felt vile, I looked vile, I thought vile thoughts. I said vile things.
W is for withdrawal. Ah off those little pills of loveliness I mentioned earlier. Having been cushioned from really ‘feeling’ for the last nine months, I am now firmly back in the real world. I think I’m lucky (or ready) because although it’s not been easy, it’s not been half as bad as I expected. I’ve had a few unpleasant withdrawal symptoms but I am able to be rational and know that that is all they are, that I’m not getting ill again and that in time those symptoms will disappear. (they’d bloody better!) And boy am I looking forward to being able to have more than one glass of wine of an evening lol! (An inappropriate reason for wanting to come off them I know!)
X is for X marks the spot. The spot of PND that will always stay with me, but will hopefully never take full hold of me again. (Although if it does, I won’t be too ashamed to admit it, and I will ask for help, and I will take it!)
Y is for yesterday, days of yore, and letting them go. It physically and mentally hurts to think about how I felt after my last baby was born. I never, ever want to go back there ever ever again, and in order to recover fully I need to move on. Let it all go. It happened and I can’t change that, but it doesn’t have to define me. It’s changed me undoubtedly, but it doesn’t have to control me. I can beat it, and I will.
Z is for zzzzz, sleep. Lack of it, too much of it. At my worst I was totally and utterly obsessed with sleep. Mainly because thanks to insomnia and a newborn baby I wasn’t getting any. My bedroom (which was the spare room because after those very early weeks I could not sleep with anyone else less than 100ft away from me) smelt like an old lady’s boudoir, with lavender spray, pillows, mists, candles. I would count to the minute the amount of sleep I was (or wasn’t) getting. I would go to bed at 8pm, terrified that if I went any later I would run out of time to get some precious shut eye. I’d also have to nap during the day, and still do regularly. (But to be honest, I’ve always done this!) Sleep comes a bit more easily now, and I am back in bed with the other half (ears plugs in tow!) I’m still up in the night with the baby, but have learnt not to look at the clock, it does me no good!!
So…that completes my A to Z of my post natal depression, and for now my ‘journey’ (haha) with it. I hope that writing this may help others who are suffering or who have suffered to not feel that they are alone PND. You are not alone, and you can and will get better, promise x
Thanks for reading xx
Today’s #Prose4T has been inspired by my three beautiful babies. I’m pretty sure I am not having anymore children, and realising this made me reflect on their births, and how magical and precious those first moments are.
My Favourite Moments
The last push,
The first cry,
My favourite moments.
Skin to skin,
My favourite moments.
Eyes open wide,
They meet mine,
My favourite moments.
A new person,
A new life,
My favourite moments.
A new name,
A new identity,
My favourite moments.
My favourite moments.
My favourite moments.
Spreading the news,
My favourite moments.
My favourite moments.
First night together,
Neither of us sleep,
My favourite moments.
So much hope,
So much to share,
My favourite moments.
Our future together,
A new family created,
My favourite moments.
Lullaby: A lullaby is a soothing song, usually sung to young children before they go to sleep, with the intention of speeding that process. As a result they are often simple and repetitive. Lullabies can be found in every culture and since the ancient period. (Wikipedia)
Today, it is a privilege to be able to join in with the link on @Edspire’s blog to promote the launch of the FSID changing their name to The Lullaby Trust. I know so many of us have been touched by the loss of the beautiful star Matilda Mae, and it is a true testament to her and to her amazing family that her legacy is being extended every minute of every day. I have no doubt she is smiling down on us all and loving our blog posts, written to help raise awareness of FSID’s new name. http://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/
So here is my contribution, a lullaby, sung to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
Rest Now Under Stars and Moon
Precious baby close your eyes,
The day is done, how time flies.
Dreams will come to soothe you soon,
Rest now under stars and moon.
Rock you gently, cuddle tight,
Keep you calm till morning light.
Dream of what we did today,
Dream of all the messy play.
Dream your dreams of love and joy,
Dream of things we both enjoy.
Know I’m here all through the night,
Help to soothe, restore the light.
Sleeping baby peaceful now,
Could gaze at you for hours, wow.
Beautiful baby still and calm,
Nestling in my comfy arm.
Precious baby close your eyes,
The day is done, how time flies.
Dreams will come to soothe you soon,
Rest now under stars and moon.
I wasn’t going to blog today, but this post was inspired by a Twitter conversation I read earlier, and made me wonder why we mums do ourselves a disservice sometimes. Being a mum is a tough, but fantastically rewarding job. We are all amazing and need to big ourselves up! We all need to support each other a little bit more, and respect how others choose to parent their children. It wouldn’t do for us all to be the same, but one thing we do ALL have in common, is that we ALL rock!
What am I?
I am a nurse
I am a friend
I am a confident
I am a party planner
I am a stylist
I am a hairdresser
I am a comforter
I am a support
I am a counsellor
I am a crisis negotiator
I am a chef
I am a cleaner
I am an educator
I am an organiser
I am a comedienne
I am a taxi driver
I am a swimming instructor
I am a secret keeper
I am a personal shopper
I am a helper
I am a carer
I am an artist
I am a writer
I am an IT technician
I am a record keeper
I am a bank
I am a musician
I am a photographer
I am a singer
I am an entertainer
I am a role model
I am a motivator
I am an inspiration
I am more than just a mum.
What are you?
My Battle with a Bicycle
Bicycle: A bicycle, often called a bike (and sometimes referred to as a “pushbike”, “pedal bike”, “pedal cycle”, or “cycle”), is a human-powered, pedal-driven, single-track vehicle, having two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. A person who rides a bicycle is called a cyclist, or bicyclist.
Wow, Monday again already! The weeks at the moment seem to be flying past so quickly. Not that this has been a bad thing with regards to the cold weather recently…bring on summer and some long need warmth and sunshine I say!! (Optimistic much!?)
So today’s #magicmoments is a tale of personal achievement. But not so much in the overcoming PND kind of way which I’ve been blogging about so much recently. No, this is a very different kind of achievement!! Of being forced to step out of my comfort zone and succeeding!
Last week I bought a bike. (If anyone reading this knows me, then yes, you are allowed to laugh out loud at this!) I haven’t owned a bike since I was a child and I haven’t ridden one for several years. But looking ahead to this hot and sunny summer (there’s that optimism again, is it getting annoying yet?!) I had the idea that we would be a family who embark on numerous cycle rides. And picnics. And time together. And loveliness. So, we went and bought me a bike, with a seat on the back for the baby, and one of those fancy seats for me with a hole in it for my special lady parts. Not entirely sure why they do that, but was I willing to go with it. The idea was that over the next few weeks I would go out on short journeys and practise, regain my cycling legs as it were.
I was excited to go and pick it up on Wednesday and have a little ride once we’d got it home. Except…we hadn’t bloody thought it through very carefully had we. For an accountant and a teacher we were pretty thick. The bike obviously wouldn’t fit in the car would it, and with five of us in the family we do actually have quite a big car! Home was four miles away and there was only one option, I had to ride the damn thing back. All four miles back. Sh**. My husband at this point was laughing at me, stood there in my helmet literally sh***ing myself at what I had to do. Ride a bike…on roads…uphill…on my own!!!! His mirth soon turned to concern and then he, ‘Mr Pro Cylclist I taught Sir Chris Hoy everything he knows’ proceeded to give me a lecture on how to ride home safely. Then he got in the car with the children and drove home. Leaving me there with my bike, alone. It was about half past six and I figured I had an hour before it got dark. My bike had no lights, so I needed to get moving. And move I did. I WALKED alongside my bike up the first hill feeling (and looking I might add) like a total twonk. After about 5 minutes I thought, ‘sod this, I can’t walk the entire 4 miles home’ so I tentatively got on the bike, and then promptly fell off. Then I got back on again, and actually cycled, swearing under my breath the entire time. It was bloody freezing. I swear there is no colder place on this earth than on top of a bike, cycling into a bitingly cold wind. My eyes were streaming, my nose was running, my hands were turning blue. And I still had 3.9 miles to go.
The next part went ok, all downhill which helped. But after a downhill comes an uphill, and I though ‘right you bugger, I will cycle up you, I can do this.’ And do it I did, but when I got to the top I had to stop to cross a road and my legs turned to jelly and I fell over again. In front of lots of people, bike landing on top of me. At this point, as you can image, I hated my f***ing bike. Would quite happily have thrown it in the nearest bin. Cycle rides this summer were a stupid idea, who was I kidding, I’m a lazy cow at the best of times and it was probably going to rain the whole sodding time anyway. Anyone who saw me at this point must’ve wondered what the hell I was doing. I had on the wrong clothes, my nose and eyes were still streaming in an extremely attractive fashion, and I was swearing as I walked, actually make that hobbled, alongside my bike. What a picture!
The next part was downhill again and although there was space in the road for bikes I chose the pavement. What a mistake. Not only was I nearly decapitated by a rogue sign, but I was also bashed and scratched by bushes and twigs sticking out over the pavement. This only added to my gorgeous appearance. Still in a foul mood I vowed to ring the council as soon as I got home and tell them, in no uncertain terms to cut the damn things back. So, I was nearly home by this point, one last bugger of a hill to get up, which I of course walked, and bashed the pedal on my left shin causing me to cry out in pain and making me hate my bike even more now that it had physically hurt me.
The last mile was down the back lanes behind out house, sheltered from the wind and away from the view of so many people. I could see my house in the distance and it was then when I began to feel quite chuffed with myself. I’d nearly done it. (I still hated the bike though) It was getting dark and I could hear my phone ringing, which was probably my expert cyclist husband checking I was still alive, wondering why I wasn’t home yet as it would’ve only taken him five minutes. But it was here, when I finally felt that I could do it, not that I had much of a choice. So I stood up, (I know, stood up on a bike, get me!) and cycled hard. And I made it! Huffing and puffing and looking minging (bright red cheeks had now added into the mix) I’d made it! After arriving home all the horrors of the last hour were forgotten, I’d done it! I felt like I had cycled from Lands End to John o’ Groats! I felt I could teach Sir Chris Hoy a thing or two myself!
I had been forced to go out of my comfort zone, something that hadn’t happened much recently as I’ve been playing it very safe, and I’d done it. I’d cycled four miles. (Okay, probably only three and a half, hobbling for the rest!) And yes, I’d winged and moaned and hated every blasted second of it, but I’d done it…and that to me, for so many many reasons…is magic!
Tablet: Tablet (pharmacy), a mixture of pharmacological substances pressed into a small cake or bar, colloquially called a “pill” (Wikipedia)
So, it’s Sunday…and today is the day I take my last anti-depressant. Today is the day I am meant to be officially cured. No longer trapped and isolated and broken from PND. And although I feel ok, I don’t think I’ll ever be the same person I was before this vile illness took hold. A little bit of my confidence will never come back, an edge of anxiety will always be there in the distance, and the unbearable threat of the illness returning will always surround me.
But, for now I’m lucky enough to be ok, and to celebrate this last tablet (yes, for me it is definitely a celebration!) I am going to share with you a letter I wrote to myself several months ago. I was very very lucky to be put forward to go to a local art therapy group for mums suffering with PND. It was, as we all in the group felt, a lifeline. We all lived for Friday mornings, where our children were in the crèche and we were given time, and space, to talk, and be listened to. To not be judged. To not be made to feel like we were terrible parents. Where we drank tea, ate cake and got creative, each of us finding our own favourite creative tools. It was during the first of these sessions that we were asked to write a letter to ourselves, a wish list of everything we wanted, needed. And when the sessions ended it would be posted, for us to read.
My letter arrived in the post last week, and I haven’t opened it yet. It was so many weeks and emotions ago when I wrote it that it’s contents will be as fresh to me now as they are for you reading it for the first time.
So, today, after I have just taken my last tablet….here goes….
I wish these things for you…
*child free clothes shopping
*the gift of acceptance (to not try and control everything)
*the gift of reading a book, uninterrupted
*some quality time with each of my children, independently
*8 hours of uninterrupted sleep
*the gift of just being, without analysing and criticising myself
*some quality time with my husband
*waking up when I am ready, not be woken up!
*confidence to go back to work
*quality ‘child-free’ time with friends
*an uninterrupted bubble bath
*time to exercise; for hobbies
*to wake up looking forward to the day ahead, even if I’ve nothing planned
*to feel good about the way I look
*to feel positive
Okay…wow…that was actually rather lovely, but also very eye opening to me. It was like reading a letter from a completely different person, and it’s so hard to believe that I wrote it. What first strikes me as I read this through is how trapped I must’ve felt, and how I felt I couldn’t do some of the things on the wish list, things which now I actually take for-granted. And as I read I notice how such trivial things are written next to some really quite serious things, but at the time there was perhaps no differentiation, all of these things seemed like desperate needs to me. Amazingly, I have been lucky enough to have been granted many of the wishes I wished for myself all of those weeks ago. I have done so many of the things I wanted to do. And I don’t feel trapped or isolated anymore, I don’t feel like everyday I am trudging through treacle in a midst of panic and desperation for it to be bedtime again so I could sleep and not feel anything, not have to struggle through.
Reading this letter has shown me how far I’ve come. And has granted me one last wish, the knowledge that I really am recovered, it has shown me I am one of the lucky ones, and that those little tablets which held me together for so long are now gone. And now I know…that last tablet…really was my last.