Why can’t I talk about it?

I have certainly been very up and down over the last month. It is funny how it can switch so quickly, for example this morning I felt positive for getting up and going to church. After that I really enjoyed having friends over for a cuppa and a play date for our children. Then my mood collapsed.

My counsellor has been trying to encourage me to think about the reasons for the low mood rather than being angry for myself for feeling this way. Today a grumpy 2 year old, a very heavy period, anxiety about work (most sundays for me) and my mind thinking through things from filling in the form for the insurance company for our fence someone drove into last week to what new car we are going to get.

In my counselling session on Friday we talked about how much of the lowness comes from the overwhelmed brain. I become so tired because it doesn’t ever stop. I become irritable because I can’t process all the little parts. I become down because I start worrying about things. My counsellor is always encouraging me to talk about things. She says even discussing something from my brain with someone can help lift the fog.

But there it is the crux of the problem. I can’t talk. Obviously I don’t mean literally, but I can’t talk about anything that involves feelings or emotions. So what ends up happening is everything big and small ends up building up in my head, weighting me down and dragging me into depression.

This is why with friends I’m always “fine”. Everything is always ok. This is why i find I end up listening to others most of the time and really enjoy it being that way round. Talking about anything with emotion fills me with dread. Just thinking about it leads to physical symptoms such as a tightness of chest.

The counsellor said that when I am ready we will explore why this is. But right now I’m not ready to go there. I still feel like I’m teetering on the edge of sinking back into the depths of depression and right now I’m too scared to go there again.

Long term I’m going to have to broach this area. Not talking about anything to anyone, including my husband continues to make me ill. Long term if I want to sustain my mental health I need to try to overcome this. Long term I know this is the key to being free of the depression.

In the mean time, writing my blog is my escape. It’s a way of letting out some of what I’m feeling. It is a temporary release of my emotions. It is helping me stay well.

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What I am most proud of in 2017.

It’s been a pretty difficult year in many ways so this is quite hard to write but I want to try and end the year on a positive note. I have been inspired by many people who I follow on twitter who have been doing posts of what they have achieved in 2017, so here I am following suit. So here are the three things I am most proud of this year.

1. Still being alive. At the heart of it this is my major achievement. In 2017 the depression has hit its lowest ever point. Earlier in the year suicidal thoughts became the norm. Planning ways to commit suicide gradually increased. Finally three visits to a location where I could commit suicide occurred. A multi-storey car park was very appealing. I have explained about suicide in previous posts so I won’t go into much detail here. But certainly I have fought a war with mental illness year and my biggest achievement is I am still alive.

2. Holding it together for my two beautiful boys. Of this I reflect and feel so proud. Never have I been so ill as this year. Lucky to be alive. But despite the illness I have managed to still be a mum to my boys. Most of the time they wouldn’t have known anything was wrong and I have fought so hard to get well for them. They are beautiful, intelligent, thoughtful and very loving. I am proud of the role I have played in their life this year.

3. Returning to work and enjoying it. Back in May/June time I was looking for a way out of my current role. I was so poorly I couldn’t consider going back. Unfortunately money wise I needed to look for an alternative, something that perhaps would cause me less stress. My union representative and I discussed getting a settlement with my employer so that I never had to go back. This was so appealing. So what I really needed in many ways.

But come June I returned to work. Come September after the long teaching summer holiday I returned back to my normal hours and responsibilities. There have been some ups and downs but mainly I have coped and I have actually enjoyed my job. I am proud that I have managed to not let the illness completely overcome me. That even though the illness tried to persuade me to quit my job I listened to friends who advised me to take my time when making important decisions.

So what are you most proud of 2017? Please feel free to share.

P.s. I’m also very proud of publishing my first book on kindle. From tomorrow -2nd January it is reduced to 99p. Please take a look buy and share. Becky x

Be there for me-my book on kindle

Excitement overload. Head spinning

So very excited. He can’t contain it. Hyper and full of energy. It is exhausting just to watch him. He cannot settle to anything for long. He is also winding his brother up all the time. Temptation to look at presents is overfilling in him.

I have been so looking forward to this Christmas. Seeing my four year olds face on Christmas Day. And now it is nearly here. I think the build up has been too long. I hope the reality lives up to my high expectations.

What am I looking forward to? Mainly the amazement and joy on the face of both my children when they wake up Christmas morning and see all the presents under the tree.

Christmas Eve today but I feel like I have been on a long Christmas Eve for the last month. Christmas is for children and now I have two that can’t wait.

The depression isn’t coping very well at the moment though. My brain feels foggy. My mind so tired and exhausted. My thoughts very cluttered. My anxiety heightened.

I’m trying to push this all to one side. At times I feel like the dark cloud is going to overcome me. I’m desperate to enjoy this time of year. Perhaps I’m trying to hard. Perhaps I’m wanting to much. Perhaps my hopes are too high. But I’m scared to let go and just be.

I’m an expert now at this illness. I feel like I am learning more and more how it works. At times that puts me at an advantage, whilst at others the battle I’m always geared up for is just too much to cope with.

In half an hour I will get ready to go to church and perhaps it will help to be busy. All this sitting, waiting and building up of emotion is sending my brain into overdrive. Living in the now is tough when you are waiting for tomorrow.

I hope you all have a happy Christmas. This year I will be making a wish for you all that mental illness becomes more respected and the stigma is slowly shattered more each day. I wish you the strength to deal with it and the tools to cope.

Anxiety & self harm.

A= anxiety turns my stomach inside out, my chest tight and my nerves a jangling.

N= not knowing why I feel this way leaves me feeling angry with my self and cross.

X= Xmas time is fast approaching.

I= I am really looking forward to sharing the joy of my children on Christmas Day.

E= excited about that time but still churned up with expectation.

T= talking to my counsellor tonight I finally realised the source of the anxiety.

Y= yet I am still not sure if I can overcome it.

S= self-harm has been really bad in the last week

E= ending the cycle of blame is hard

L= looking for ways to punish myself for the crime of being anxious

F= fighting back the urges to continue

H= hurting myself holds so much power over me.

A= an answer to the pain

R= regretting it as soon as it is over

M= making plans not to do it again. Fingers crossed this works.

Dear Father Christmas

Certainly the words of the picture are so apt. Certainly my Christmas list this year is very very short. I don’t really care for anything material even though my husband will buy me something to open on Christmas Day. The things I really want cannot be bought.

I have one major goal for Christmas and that is for my family to be happy. To be surrounded by the love that we share.

If I’m honest I’m writing this now not knowing how my dad is. About half an hour ago my mum called to say Dad was really poorly and struggling to breath. Me in my pyjamas as I was putting my two boys to bed, shouted to my husband to go to my mum’s now (they are only a 5 min drive away). I’m writing this not really knowing what is happening. I know an ambulance has been called but that is it.

Like always of the recent months I seem to turn to writing when I can’t express my emotions. I’m at home now stuck as my two boys are asleep. Not really knowing what is happening but trusting my husband has it in control and will call me if there is any news.

Nothing feels right. Should I make a drink? Should I put the tv on? Should I tidy up? I actually feel completely frozen with worry. I can’t do anything. So I’m sat on the sofa writing how I feel!

So more than ever right now my wish for Christmas feels so real. Besides tonight my dad’s Alzheimer’s is worsening and who knows whether this is the last Christmas we can really enjoy with him being able to fully participate. Nobody knows what is around the corner and how his illness might deteriorate.

This Christmas is also special for me as I have two young boys. The four year old is beyond excited and fully believes in the magic of Father Christmas. Although my nearly 2 year old doesn’t understand that yet I am still excited to see his face when he sees all the presents on Christmas Day.

It leaves me to feel that Christmas is all about families and friends. Spending time with those you love. If you have young children around there is certainly also a magical element.

But let us not forget two things:

1. Don’t lose Christ from Christmas! Let’s remember why we celebrate Christmas. Certainly one of the family events that has become traditional in our house is sharing of the Christmas crib service. It lets us remember the real meaning of Christmas.

2. For some Christmas is the most difficult time of year. I know from my illness how crippling loneliness can be. Perhaps we could all make an effort this year to welcome or visit someone who we may know is on their own this year. For many reasons Christmas is far from happy for some. Let us try to do our bit to support those who are struggling.

P.s. it’s now the next day. My dad was taken to hospital with a funny ecg. He was let home at 3:30am this morning. It is hard (and a long story) to explain what happened but his Alzheimer’s made it worse as he was very confused.

The events of yesterday make me even more thankful of families. Nothing is easy (today a virus has wiped me out and my youngest has come home from nursery with chicken pox appearing) but all I want for Christmas is my family.

End of term compassion

The marathon has nearly been run,

The Christmas fun is yet to come,

The term has been long and tough

I love my job but right now I’ve had enough.

My mission this week has been to ease the ride

I’ve tried to support my colleagues, taken their side

Covering lessons, setting work, being there

Taken assemblies, lent an ear, trying to show I care.

Tonight it’s taken its toll

I’m feeling exhausted, right now I couldn’t support a soul

It feels good to have made a difference to you

I hope someday you will pass it on too.

Teacher and student stress.

Schools can be full of stress and anxiety. The combination of expectations, pressure and a range of people can make it a hive of tension. Today I witnessed this from many angles.

Students

Many of the students that I teach are in their final GCSE or A level year. At the moment they are tired, stressed and anxious. It has been a very long term. We are coming towards the end of it and now added in to the tiredness they have mock exams coming up.

For some the pressure is from their own high expectations of themselves. They are desperate to do well. They want to get the top grades. For others the pressure is from their parents and the demands they make of them. For others there is a stress because they would love to do well in reality but they know they haven’t put the work in and are therefore worried about how the exams will go.

This stress comes out in a variety of ways. Today I have witnessed teenagers strop over a revision game. Today I have witnessed teenagers argue over exam questions. Today I have witnessed students cry over words between friends. Today I have seen students snap at each other and even me.

Staff

Like the students staff are also extremely tired. It is sometimes hard to muster up the energy and enthusiasm to teach a class of 30 youngsters when you are so exhausted. Add into the mix the tiredness of the students and the combination is tricky.

Instead of winding down for Christmas school life seems to wind up at times. With the mock exams comes marking and report writing for the teachers. When I used to be a primary school teacher I remember winding up for the Christmas productions! Throw into the mix the usual winter illnesses, colds, vomiting bugs etc and wow the end of the Christmas term is tough.

Today I have spent an hour planning and setting cover work for a colleague who is off work. Today I have listened to a colleague who is struggling because they are so tired. Today I have visibly seen how drained some teachers are. Today i have apologised to colleagues for forgetting things, my brain is a little foggy with tiredness.

This is the stress pouring out. I love taking the time to support colleagues or students with times of stress. My message today has been one of compassion. I have tried to listen. I have tried to offer them an ear or place to offload. I have tried to advice. I have tried to encourage. And most of all I have advocated that students and staff rest as much as possible. I more than anyone know the downward spiral that stress can cause. I have recent first hand experience of depression triggered by stress.

So rest when you can. Take time for yourself. Try to balance your work commitments with your you commitments I.e things that give you life.

I am an advocate of you will be more productive and better prepared when you are rested. That’s why I’m always telling my most conscientious students to remember to rest. This is why my message now to colleagues is to encouraging them to rest.

Rest before the stress beats you.