“Mum it’s the wedding day”

“Mum it’s the wedding day” are the words that greeted me yesterday morning at 6:15am when I got up with my two boys (5 and 2). I’d been up since 5am and had little sleep all night due to coughing up my lungs. But I left my husband sleeping in bed (I was feeling guilty for coughing all night and disturbing him).

“Mummy are you excited?” “Yes of course”. Whilst inside I was thinking I feel horrendous, my voice is barely back after laryngitis, my chest hurts and I just want to crawl into bed. Add the anxiety thrown in of all the peopling I will have to do; can’t wait!

So here is my day:

1. A two year old is always right?

Having an early lunch I say to the boys “after lunch we will get ready. In the church we need to be really good and quiet. ”

My 2 year old screams “no mummy, we are not going to church we are going to a wedding”

I try and explain that the wedding is in the church and the dancing he is looking forward to will come later in the evening.

What was the point? Don’t try and reason with a 2 year old. It never works. He just kept shouting:

“No we are not going to church but the wedding. I WANT TO GO TO THE WEDDING!”

2. Getting ready and out of the house.

I ask the boys to play whilst I get my make up on. 5 mins that’s all I wanted. I have perfected the ‘that’ll do’ in my own looks department. Mascara was interrupted by “come see my dance moves.”Eyeshadow was disturbed by screaming as the eldest jumped on the youngest. Lipstick nearly got applied before “mummy I did a poo” (in my pants).

The next half hour took a rather chaotic turn:

  • I got boy boys changed and ready whilst my husband sorted himself. I mostly said “stay still” on repeat.
  • Now ready the oldest decided to put a hanger through my tights.
  • The two boys ran around at my feet whilst I tried to pull my dress over my head.
  • The eldest got threatened “you are not coming to this wedding” probably 10+ times.
  • Me and my husband snapped and shouted at each other over how to parent!
  • I polished the eldest shoes whilst they were on his feet as I noticed they were brown not black seconds before we went out the door.
  • Youngest got snot on the eldest’s trousers.
  • Husband has started the car but I’m still sat on the stairs not being able to do up my own shoes.

3. The wedding at the Church

For the first 20 mins (before the wedding began) the eldest clung to me, hid under my jacket and pulled down the front of my dress (always a great one to show the self harm to the whole world). He is majorly sensitive and anxious in social situations (just like his mum).

Through the ceremony I felt like a broken record, whispering “stop it” “don’t do that” “stand still”. The pew in front of us was pushed and pulled in all directions (lucky no one was on it). The knee rest went flying in all directions. I was hugged, pulled, kissed, asked can I have something to eat and is it over yet, several times.

However during the final hymn there was one of those wow mummy moments. Both boys (stood on the pew) hugged into me and each other and stood their cuddling for the whole of the hymn. Bliss. Moment to treasure.

Whilst the register was being signed I turned to my youngest child’s god mother to have a chat. Obviously not acceptable in the mind of my two year old. I got told off “mummy stop talking”.

4. The wedding reception

“Mummy can I go there?”

“Mummy can I have this?”

“Mummy can I have something to eat?”

“Mummy can I run around?”

Mum mind goes into overdrive. Where are they? What are they doing? Who are they upsetting? Are they safe? Are they being well behaved?

I always struggle with the fine line in parenting between letting your children have fun and hoping they don’t cause chaos or upset anyone else.

Dancing, running, colouring, full on wrestling, chasing each other, hiding behind curtains! A tantrum about not having a colouring book, a tantrum about not wanting to eat, a tantrum about sitting at the table. So much could possibly go wrong.

“They are boys, it’s perfectly normal- it only gets worse” people say! Heaven help me!

5. The disco

My boys are divas! They definitely take after their dad! With their pyjamas on. The lights dimmed. The disco lights circling and the music blaring my two are lording over the dance floor. Complete freedom. Not a care in the world for them. Just expressing themselves however they wish. Watching them, joining with them- such joy!

6. Being a mum

My boys are my world. They may: pull me in every possible way, test my patience and exhaust me but they are the light of my life. My joy. I am so proud of them. I love them both for their special quirks and characteristics. I wouldn’t change a moment.

And boys I do try my best. It’s the hardest job in the world being a mum but also the most rewarding.

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Unexpected positives

Recovery is possible. Life can be good again. Positives really exist.

1. I love my job:

At times it causes me stress. It exhausts me. It challenges me in the most unexpected ways. But I absolutely love it. For those who are new to my blog I teach religious education to children aged 11-18 in a secondary school in England.

Term has only just begun and it’s hard to have full days of teaching back to back. But this week I have thrived in front of a class. When depression was at its worse I couldn’t even walk into the building!

I love inspiring them! I love explaining new things. I love being honest with them. I love talking to them. I love engaging with them. I love making the most difficult topics understandable.

2. Unexpected praise makes me feel great:

This week I had someone link to my blog and my book from their blog post. So I clicked the link and followed to read a lovely blog post they had written about the book I wrote. I published Be there for me on kindle back in November. It hasn’t had much of an audience and over the last few months I have stopped looking to see if anyone had even looked at it.

So it was very unexpected when a complete stranger had taken the time to read my book and even more had written a lovely review on their own blog. I was deeply touched. Thank you.

3. Counselling is still needed.

I have been feeling significantly better for a couple of months now. Many times recently I have considered giving up the counselling. Mainly because it can be hard to go out at 6:30pm on a Friday evening after a long week. Especially when my 2 year old cries and shouts I want to come with you and my 5 yr old asks millions of questions about my “meeting”.

I know I’m not fully recovered. (I truly wonder whether I ever will be). The self harm is ever present. The self esteem and anxiety not great still. But I’m coping.

But this weeks counselling session was a revelation. I have so so so much still to be resolved. Essentially my in ability to express my emotions is still deeply affecting me. In particular my self esteem and confidence. It’s ok though I’m making progress slowly.

4. Running isn’t that bad!

I have now done 11 runs since starting 4 weeks ago. I honestly hate running. I used to be extremely sporty but it was always the competition element I liked. Running is just boring. Relentlessly tiring.

But I’m learning to love it a bit. It’s getting easier. I’m making progress. I’m following the couch to 5k app. The feeling after a run is glorious. I have more energy. I honestly believe exercise is helping keep my mood good. I’m determined to get healthier and lose some weight too.

Please whatever is positive in your life try and grab it. If you are in the thick of depression I have been there. It will get better. It will get better. It will get better.

4 Tips for recovery from Depression

Anyone who knows me or who has been reading my blog will know depression has crippled my life. For me I feel like it is an illness I will now live with for my whole life but it is about how I can manage it to live a full and happy life.

Nearly two years ago now I fell into the second deep depression of my life. Suicidal, self harming daily, I became extremely poorly and withdrawn from my normal life.

Now as I begin to come off my anti-depressants after feeling stable for quite a significant time I wanted to reflect and share on my journey to recovery.

These are my 4 tips:

1. “It will get better” at my depths two of my great friends who I shall call B and M regularly reminded me of this. M would turn up on my doorstep regularly and state this when I was so low I couldn’t even talk. B using her own personal experience of her husband would remind me of this during our long chats.

At the time I couldn’t see it. At the time I wanted to shout back no it’s like this forever. At the time I wanted to commit suicide as I saw that as the only way out of it. Looking back they were right! When I couldn’t see it. When I couldn’t believe it. I needed people to remind me there was an end in sight to how I was feeling. So tip number 1 try and believe it will end sometime.

2. Don’t try to rush the recovery. It’s honestly taken nearly two years for me to feel better on a more regular basis. I still have low points as well. I wish I could wave a magic wand. I wish I could make you immediately better. I wish there was a magic pill. Countless times I have prayed and begged to feel better. I have willed it to be over. I have beaten myself up for it taking so long. I have told myself off. But I have learnt it’s no good trying to rush it. The only way is to accept whatever time it takes. There is no one pattern fits all. For some it maybe a quick journey for others it may go on for years, decades even. Please don’t try to rush a recovery. Please don’t criticise yourself for taking your time. You deserve patience for yourself.

3. Take whatever help you need. If anti-depressants help – take them. If they don’t – don’t take them. If you need time off work – take it. If you need to work to keep busy – do it. If you need to stay in bed all day – rest. If you need to go for a run- get out there. If you need to talk to anyone who will listen- talk. If you need to hide away from people- find somewhere safe. If seeing a counsellor helps – talk as much as it makes you feel more like you. If seeing a counsellor is far from anything you can manage – don’t feel guilty.

Depression is so different for everyone. There is no right way. I have taken anti-depressants (4 different types) to varying degrees of success and I’m still a bit skeptical. I have been seeing a counsellor for 18 months and I will continue to do so because I think it helps me. I have friends who I can chat to when it gets tough. I have things I like doing to get some space from the world. Do what you need to do to survive.

4.  Try and find some joy again. It maybe something small. Whatever it is look for the spark of joy. Try and find something that makes you smile. Try to find something that makes you happy. Try to find something that gives you something to focus on. It might be a pet. I have heard they are good to stroke and take care of, something to distract the mind. It might be a new project. For me writing helped. It enabled me to pour out my feelings. It might be your family. For me I have learnt to try and hold on to the moments of joy I get from my two boys. When I have been really low it has helped to go back to those times. Whatever it is try to find something that helps give you a bit of love of life again. However small something positive can grow.

Ultimately recovery is a journey for everyone. It is going to be completely different for everyone. I can only offer my thoughts. They have helped me.

I also know I still have a way to go to be exactly where I want to be. There are still issues that I am working on. My self confidence and self esteem is still not where I want it to be. My self doubt and self image are still very low. As a result this makes me question every conversation; I am my biggest critic.

My self harm hasn’t stopped. It has decreased. It isn’t such a crutch but it is still there. Another goal is to remove it. Let’s hope.

Recovery is an unfinished journey. I’m not ever sure I will be fully rid of depression. But it can get more manageable. It can get better.

Feeling emotional.

I haven’t written a blog post for a while now. To be honest I’ve been feeling so well. I’ve been happy and content. I know I should be sharing this as much as the bad but for me my writing only ever seems to flow properly when I feel low.

I’ve been blessed to have a wonderful 6 week summer holiday with my two children and my husband (who is also a teacher). But the last two days I have felt absolutely pushed and pulled in all directions. I feel drained. I feel very teary. I feel uptight.

What’s the cause? I’m getting better at trying to think this through rather than leave it as a jumble in my head which usually disintegrates into depression.

1. My children are driving me crazy! I love them. They are my utter world. I would do anything for them. But right now I am seriously thinking of changing my name to Bob, anything but mummy. The last few days they have been so whiny, demanding, moany and not only that they have been winding each other up as well. For one hour this afternoon my toddler must have screamed at his brother every 5 mins.

I know they both have colds. I know they are both tired as they have been up at night with coughs. I know some days it’s harder to be kind to your brother when you are stuck in the same room of one house. But seriously mummy is struggling.

And the worst thing is they are so loud about it. We went out for dinner tonight for my mum’s birthday and the whole pub would have heard them whine at every little thing.

2. Today is my mum’s birthday. A day I now find quite difficult. So in the weeks before her birthday I usually now buy my mum a present from my dad as his Alzheimer’s means he can’t do that. I then have to somehow give it to him to give to her without making him feel like I’m taking over or him feel like he is useless. I then worry all day about how my mum will feel. Dad used to be great at birthday presents and taking her out on her birthday etc. Now she has none of that from him and I end up feeling bad for her.

It also always hits me hard on occasions like today how much of the dad I used to know I have lost. Sometimes it is easier to forget how things have changed as I like to block it out but today I can’t. It really hits home to me how difficult it is for my mum and how different my dad is.

3. Sometimes my husband drives me mad! I know he will probably read this blog post so it’s a risk writing this here but it’s not meant to be a criticism so I hope he doesn’t take it this way. We have a different way of parenting at times. He is loud and snappy at the kids at times where I prefer the softly approach. I’m not saying either is better or worse, there are probably times when one is better than the other. But today I have struggled with his snapping at the children and his demands on them. He is completely right to expect better behaviour than we have seen today but I just can’t handle anyone else shouting and screaming!

Also he is very short with me at the moment. Sometimes I seem to ask an innocent question and he jumps down my throat with the response. He is super defensive all the time and I feel on edge that I’m going to do something to upset him.

4. Finally work is round the corner. My glorious 6 weeks that I was desperate for and look forward too so much is nearly over. Im feeling sad. I’m gutted. Work isn’t too bad. I like the people I work with. The students are generally amazing. But it’s work. Back to juggling being a mum and a job. Having more to worry about on a daily basis. Having the prospect of the added stresses throwing my depression out again.

I know these aren’t major things. But for me life is feeling a little topsy turvey. I’m very emotional and just need a massive hug (minus the whinging or moaning that can come with it)

Depression: living with self doubt.

Self doubt strikes me everywhere. It plagues my brain, invades my being making life tough. It is almost every other thought I have.

It doesn’t discriminate. Too many times to mention. In meetings, conversations with friends, time to myself and even during the weekly Tesco shop.

I seriously see so little value in myself so often. I am super critical of every word I speak. I beat myself up for acting/not acting in a certain way. I replay so much of my life with a overly critical brain.

I blame myself for everything. I often cannot see anything good in who I am. I fail to realise any positive actions I might take. I only see the negative.

I see the worst of me at all times. Boring, ugly, fat, shy, introverted, self centred, moody…the list could go on and on.

I’m not at all surprised when I lose contact with people. I know it is my fault. I can think of so many reasons why people don’t want to see me anymore.

The self doubt causes me to push people away. I’m so scared of losing contact that I often initiate it unwillingly feeling at least this way I am in control.

I consistently fear my husband will get fed up of me. I worry he will want to walk away.

I even spend time pondering how the unconditional love my two boys have for me will one day change. Perhaps when they are aware of my failings.

This crippling self doubt stops me from being myself. It stops me doing what I want to do in my career. It affects the relationships in all aspects of my day.

Never felt so ill.

This morning was a new low for me. Never before (even when I was off work for 6 months) have I felt as bad mentally as I did this morning. With no reason for the depths it was crippling.

I felt like the black dog was sat on my head. I could barely carry my head on my shoulders. I felt like the storm cloud was pouring down on me. I felt sick with anxiety, which I couldn’t pin point a cause to. I felt lifeless. I felt dead inside.

I got up with my boys as it was my husbands turn for a lie in. I pushed myself so hard to feel better. I even made healthy muffins in an attempt to refocus the brain. It didn’t help.

By 9am I was lying on the bed staring into space. I craved just lying there all day (like I have done before). More than ever before, to a deeper extent, I felt like depression was eating away at my soul. It was like I was truly losing who I was.

I forced myself into the day. With a husband streaming with hay fever and complaining that I am so hard to live with when I am like this (which I am). His concern that I must take some time off work because I can’t go in like this, kicked me into action (I’m desperate not to let work down again).

I forced myself into the shower and started to tackle the smallest of tasks. My youngest and I popped to Tesco whilst the eldest and my husband navigated the tennis lesson.

After lunch I sat in our lean to outside feeling that the dementors from Harry Potter had truly stole every living part of me. I was trying to put on a brave face for my husband and children whilst snapping at them so easily. I finally gave in and went for a nap.

Being woken an hour and a half later by my youngest putting teddies around my head, I felt extremely groggy. My head was that horrible, gritty sleepy that I get if I sleep too long in the day. But thankfully the depression had lifted a bit.

As I told my husband I will take the sleepy grogginess over the depression any day. He commented that I was brighter. I was. I felt i could feel again. I felt like life was there for me again.

Please don’t expect people with depression and anxiety to always explain why they are ill. There isn’t always a reason. I have a poorly head. My brain is sick. I don’t necessarily need to have had something happen in my life to cause that.

Please don’t call people who commit suicide selfish. If you have never experienced depression you can’t possibly understand what it truly feels like. People who commit suicide do not want to die. They are instead desperate to end the pain of depression. It is the worst feeling you can ever encounter.

It isn’t like the pain of childbirth or other extreme physical pain. It is a deep and gut wrenching ache. It’s like someone has cored our your heart and soul as easily as you core an apple.

Please don’t judge.

Please listen.

Please understand.

Please don’t worry.

The last few days have been horrific for my mental health. Primarily a lack of sleep have compounded the fragility caused by recent counselling sessions. It’s still staggering to me how quickly I can spiral into darkness.

The self harm has returned to its worse. Last night I went out with a friend but came back and couldn’t stop. My mind was racing with the conversations and anxiety for today. Self-harm used as my comfort blanket.

The suicidal thoughts are back. I’m honestly not about to go and do anything at this moment. (Husband…take a deep breath and calm down). But the ideas are certainly flying around my mind. Walking past a previous precarious location at the weekend sent my mind wandering where it is not wanted.

The lack of focus is really bad. I haven’t really got back into reading since this episode of depression started 18months ago. But a tell tell sign for me right now is that I can’t even focus on anything to watch. I can’t make a decision even about that.

Another sign I’m doing the pushing people away thing. At work I’m too scared to talk to some people because they will immediately read how unwell I am. Other friends I’m putting off and not wanting to see because I’m just too tired and can’t face company.

And the sleep completely gone to pot. This never helps and makes me feel perhaps much worse than I would if I had some good sleep.

But please don’t worry. I haven’t shared this to get you all running. I haven’t written this because I’m in crisis. I haven’t written this because I want any different treatment.

There is a part of me which is trying to hold onto the message that it will get better. There is a part of me which is trying to hold onto what a good friend said yesterday “the tiredness is making this so much worse”. There is part of me which knows it will hopefully turn a corner again sometime soon.

I can still function. At work today I sat with colleagues as the directors spoke to us and I felt comfortable and at ease. At home this evening I played with my boys like I didn’t have a care in the world.

Let’s hope a good nights sleep helps.

P.s. I went for watching the film nottinghill on Netflix as I can just zone in and out of that I have seen it so many times!