Depression and the Poo Episode

If I thought yesterday was bad with my post entitled Failure all I could muster up, today brought its own challenges. I really don’t feel well right now. Anxiety is coursing through my veins and depression beginning to weigh me down. I’m hoping it will be short lived.

Today I woke with anxiety. I shook with worry. I had two separate visits to the doctor to deal with for my son’s flu vaccine and my smear test. Anxiety is completely irrational but it’s so real. This is why the poo episode was worse than normal!

The poo episode

It’s about 9:15 and the plan was to do a few jobs round the house before leaving for the doctors for my son’s flu vaccine at 10:15.

A five minute sit down I thought before the jobs start. My 2 year old seemed happy playing with his toys. Suddenly “Mummy I need a poo!” I jump off the sofa, pick him up and run up the stairs to our bathroom. Pull down his pants and there is a little poo already there. I sit him on the toilet where he argues “no poo coming mummy”. Change of pants number 1.

Ten minutes later I’m hanging up washing on the airer. It is suspiciously quiet. I shout to him (in another room)

“Thomas are you ok?”

“Yes mummy”

“Thomas do you need a poo”

“no”

About 30 seconds after this conversation. “Mummy I done a poo.” We repeat episode number 1 although this time Thomas has kindly touched his bum with his hands, spreading his poo onto his jumper and his trousers. In the bathroom whilst wrestling a 2 year old to take off his clothes covered him poo, we now have poo everywhere. All over my hands, the bathroom seat, the floor. Change of pants 2 (plus now no jumper or trousers on).

I decide perhaps I need to allocate some time to poo gate. Thomas and I sit in his bedroom. I read The Gruffalo whilst he sits on the potty trying to push out a poo. In reality what this looks like is a 2 year old who keeps jumping up to give me a hug whilst I wrestle him back to the potty as poo is coming out of his bum. No success, tiny, tiny poo- but now poo on his T-shirt, leg, potty, millions of wipes used. No change of pants we hadn’t got any on!

So now Thomas is completely naked (he still has socks on) wandering around upstairs. I am losing the plot knowing that a poo is on its way sooner or later. Also the time seems to be disappearing it’s now 10:05 and we need to go out in ten minutes. So now my patience has completely disappeared. We are having a poo standoff in the bathroom. Thomas is on and off the potty whilst I demand a poo. I threaten taking away toys, offer rewards and even threaten putting nappies on him again to which he shouts “no I’m not a baby” and I shout back “do your poo then”. A 10:10am I give up. I put him in a completely new set of clothes, put on his shoes and coat and make him promise he will be good at the doctors. We then fly out the door.

Nothing unusual here. A normal mummy day. But it’s how I am dealing with these events that doesn’t feel normal. I am in self destruct mode where I’m blaming myself for everything.

I blame myself for the fact my 2 year old isn’t pooing on the toilet yet. I blame myself for putting on the tv after lunch because I’m tired. I blame myself for how I have brought up my children when they are whiny when we have a play date. I blame myself when watching my eldest son at football after school and he is standing not joining in. I blame myself when I snap at my husband for doing nothing other than breathing.

I can’t stand my own company right now. I just want to hide. I’ve been off the antidepressants for about 4 weeks and it’s tough. I don’t want to go back on them even though some people will tell me that’s the right step; I don’t agree, I’m feeling again! I also think it’s not helping that for a complicated reason I don’t have any counselling for 5 weeks. I haven’t got my usual talking outlet.

The cruelty of Alzheimer’s.

I’ve never written a blog post about this before. To be honest my family have always been the don’t share type. We aren’t great at expressing our emotions or talking about deep things. This way of living which has become so engrained is a problem for me now but is the norm. Certainly my mum’s Irish Catholic proud, don’t want any sympathy or help attitude is something I unwillingly share.

So I’m apprehensive about this blog more than any other. This isn’t really my story to tell. This isn’t something my mum would approve of. This isn’t something my mum would want anyone to know. So I do ask for those of you who know me personally or more importantly know my mum please don’t share that I have written this with her. She is broken enough as it is, she doesn’t need anymore.

But as normal with most of my blogs I really feel the need to pour out my emotions tonight. I’m already crying writing this and it’s tough! My dad is 75 and he has Alzheimer’s and it is breaking me right now.

Alzheimer’s is cruel. Sometimes I wonder is it worse than death? Slowly your loved one is taken away from you. They seem to disappear before your eyes. At times the change is small and unnoticeable for a while and other times it’s catastrophic.

My mum believes my dad has had Alzheimer’s for a long time, over 10 years, although he has only had an official diagnosis for 2 1/2 years ; the proud thing got in the way there.

Why am I writing this now? Because recently I’m finding it harder to cope. There are two things I’m struggling with:

a) being my mum’s rock. She doesn’t talk to anyone else about how she is feeling. I am her only outlet. The tears are becoming more frequent and the desperation more obvious.

b) before I knew my dad was changing but I was holding onto glimmers-this I’m finding harder to do.

What ultimately makes me cry? What is the hardest thing to bare? I think it’s watching this capable, loving, caring, respected, well liked, man, who used to be a bank manager slowly fade. Seeing him not be able to do the most basic of things.

  • He can’t tell the time on any form of clock.
  • He doesn’t know where things are in the house when he has lived there for 30 years.
  • He can’t work anything like the tv, kettle, or lawnmower. Or do jobs he has always done like go up in the loft.
  • He can’t make even a sandwich.
  • He doesn’t remember what he has done 5 mins ago or what he will be doing in half hour even if he is told over and over.
  • He cries regularly about not being able to do things or mucking things up.
  • He repeats himself often.
  • He isn’t allowed/can’t drive.

This is list is endless.

But what upsets me most and I suppose is more a recent thing is how he is with my children. My dad has always been the best with kids. Endless patience. Playing on the carpet for hours. Great fun to be with.

Now even with his Alzheimer’s he has still shown this. My eldest son who is 5 is besotted by grandad. He is his best mate. But recently I have begun to see my dad even struggle with this. He seems to lack the patience, he struggles when my two boys both want to play with him. He is either overly negative with them or the opposite extreme he is like another excitable child. For the first time I am starting to see him struggle with the thing that makes him my dad the most for me. The other day my youngest who is obsessed with puzzles was desperate for grandad to help him, but got quickly frustrated when grandad couldn’t even help him with his simple child’s puzzle.

I am scared of the changes. I’m clinging the times where the dad I know shines through. I worry that I won’t remember him as he was before. I really don’t want my boys to lose their love of grandad because it would break me and him.

Alzheimer’s has no cure. But it also has no common path. No one knows what is next or how long it will be. It’s cruel because physically my dad is so fit and well but it is like he is being eaten from the inside out.

I hope your loved ones never have to suffer. I hope I can be strong enough to support my mum. I hope my dad is proud of his daughter. I love you dad and always will.

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)

Sun, sand, sea and my mental health.

The last few days we have been away with friends. It has been a treasured time. It has helped myself and my husband relax. It felt like the change of scene was a magic wand.

Firstly the holiday was shared with friends who have boys a similar age to ours. That was so special. Seeing them play their games. Seeing them interact. Watching without always having to come up with the entertainment. Sharing in the pure joy of being away with your best friends.

Secondly being with fellow parents who share your ways with their children. Follow the same type of routines and patterns. New friends that are such good company. I feel relaxed in their presence. Lots of laughter and fun.

Thirdly the bank holiday weather was glorious for us. We spent three days at the beach. The four boys sparkled with complete joy. Playing in the sand. Making up their own games. In the sea pure excitement. The complete bursting fun of a two year old discovering the great time that can be had jumping in the waves. All four of the boys running in and out of the water with such energy.

My mental health really does go up and down like a yo-yo. But right now it’s up on a lovely level page. I feel content. The sun, sea, sand holiday has really settled my brain. It feels like the wind and sea has blown away my worries. It feels like seeing my children’s joy has planted the seed of happiness deep within my being. For now the holiday has lightened my spirits.

Positive things…

I’ve had a good couple of weeks. From the depths of depression I have once again managed to find a way out. The ladder was there. The last week has been a positive one which is nice to share.

It started with my brother in law’s wedding last Saturday. A wedding not normally an event I look forward to because of the anxiety that lots of people causes me. But I had a lovely day. I was in a positive mood going into the day which helped but it was truly relaxing and enjoyable as well.

My boys made a huge difference, they were amazing. They made me smile and laugh. Both were kings of the dance floor! Also my husband’s family are so lovely. I am truly lucky. Thankfully they get me and there is never any pressure and people just make me feel at ease.

The working week then passed without much drama. Friday turned into a bonus day off where I managed to get loads of work done, the joys of motherhood. I was mid teaching period 1 when I received a phone call from my son’s nursery requesting someone pick him up immediately because he had been ill. Hence the day of tv and me managing to mark all my year 10 mock exam papers. I felt productive. I was pleased to have got that job out of the way.

Saturday and the normal events of swimming lessons and time in the garden on a gloriously hot day were great. Just the chilling out I needed. Saturday night a date night with some friends. A lovely curry. Great company and even a newly planned holiday for 3 weeks time!

Sunday involved an hours drive to Hemel Hempstead to pick up my 97 year old nan. She has had a bug. My grandad, who is also 97, has been in hospital with it as he has to manage dialysis 3 times a week as well. Bringing her back to Bedford for a few days break staying with my mum and dad. After that job was done my husband and I enjoyed some cinema time watching the new avengers whilst my mother in law babysat. Then an hour planting in the garden with the boys=Bliss.

Bank holiday Monday and once again we have been blessed with a beautifully hot sunny day. A bbq for my mum, dad and Nan. Time in the garden with my husband and the boys. Relaxed and fun.

I wanted to share how life with depression can be positive too. It takes it toll on me a lot of the time. There is no guarantee whether tomorrow will be a low or high day. But this last week has been a good one and sometimes it is about taking the positives when you can. Even trying to hold onto them when the depression curse strikes from no where.

The depression curse: I’m really poorly.

I haven’t written a blog post in over two weeks, the longest period between accounts since I started this blog back in May. Depression is overcoming me. I am isolating myself. I am absolutely exhausted.

To the outside world I’ve been well. Certainly at work I have been thriving. With no time to think. Being constantly challenged. Trying to support a colleague. I’ve managed to take control and shown the best of me. However, perhaps inevitably the stress, pressure and high workload are having an effect on my mental health too.

In other ways I am also being an amazing actress again. I’ve started running again. I’ve been going twice a week with a colleague and friend and at home I’ve tried to do one exercise session at the weekend (usually with two kids jumping on top of me). It would appear to others that I am well, motivated and getting stronger.

Nevertheless this all feels like a show. It is taking enormous amount of effort to keep these areas going. Combined with the image I am trying to portray with friends and family, I feel like I could hibernate for the rest of the winter.

Well it’s time for some heartbreaking honesty. I’m poorly again. I’m struggling so much. I’m feeling very low. It’s so hard to admit this at the moment. This post is almost impossible to write. I feel like I might delete it even before I post it.

I am scared of certain people reading this. Friends and family. I think my husband has already worked out I’m not great at the moment so this probably isn’t a surprise for him. To others there will be disbelief or shock. I’m breaking the illusion.

So what’s going on? I’m not entirely sure. I’m feeling so very low. Completely numb. Devoid of emotions. Almost like I’m sinking into a swamp of confusion. Almost like I’m lost in a dense fog. Almost like I’m being tortured by my own brain.

I hate myself. I hate my body. I hate who I am. My self esteem and self image are not existent. I don’t believe there is anything good about me. I pick at every hole. I pick at every decision. I pick at my own body, the self harm is rife.

Externally I am very snappy at my children. I feel like I have lost all patience. With my husband I am constantly pushing him away, feeling consumed by my own world. With friends I refuse to talk about anything with feelings or emotions. I am there on the surface but underneath my mind is wondering. I have lost enthusiasm for my Facebook group, twitter and communicating with people I have started to know.

Mostly I’m absolutely shattered. I feel so so tired. I have a deep wish to spend a week in bed. I would probably sleep for most of it. I want to hide from the world.

I’m also upset with myself. I’m very angry with myself. I’m cross that this illness is consuming me again. I feel like a complete failure. I feel like I’m worthless. Im sorry I have let you down.

What I gained from taking the biggest risk of my life (so far) part 2 of 3.

Apply for a job at her secondary school?! Head of department?! Did she know I had absolutely no experience of teaching secondary age children? The oldest I had ever taught was one lesson of year 6 on a teaching practice.

She must be mad I thought. But I was desperate to leave my current job. Just come and have a look she said. See what you think. Why not I thought. What could I lose by looking!

I wasn’t much more sure after looking to be honest! Yes there were things that appealed to me. I certainly needed a new challenge and I had never shirked from hard work.

Speaking to my brother who was an assistant head of a secondary school at the time he reassured me. I was worried about behaviour management. He said it was all about developing positive relationships. I could do that I thought.

Preparing for the letter of application and then resulting interview inspired me. There was something about this new role. It was going to be massively different but it was worth a try. I could always go back to primary if it didn’t work out.

When I got the job there were a lot of shocked people. Friends thought I was crazy going to secondary. Their doubts filled my own head but I was determined to make it a success. I had read an article from the TES which said children loved school until they got to secondary school where it lost its fun. I believed i could change this and take my primary ways with me to make learning enjoyable.

It was one hell of a learning curve. It was like being thrown in the deep end and being told to swim without ever having any swimming lessons before. But I gained a massive amount of confidence from the fact I did it. Not only that I seemed to be ok at it.

The additional responsibility meant additional money. This ensured I could buy my first house on my own. I was finishing my masters. Teaching gcse and a level for the first time. But I could do it I had overcome the biggest change ever.

I spent the first year saying in my head I’ll do one year maybe two and then go back to primary. I couldn’t see me doing this long term. I didn’t feel confident enough . At primary I had always felt sure of myself, clear on what to do in every situation. Now i mostly didn’t know what to do and could often feel overwhelmed.

But i wasn’t aware that this risk would lead to more changes than a new career path. The second year into the role I discovered I had depression. In reality I believe I had it through my teenage years and on but I was always so goal centred I kind of ploughed over it.

Until this point I never even knew what depression was. I would have denied its existence as something people can just pick themselves up from and get on with life. How wrong I was! It hit me like a tonne of bricks.

But luckily the biggest risk I had ever taken insured that when it did take over I was surrounded by two colleagues and friends who knew better than most the true nature of depression and were able to support me through it.

Third year into my new job and my personal life would take another turn. This time the biggest risk of my life meant I was in the right place at the right time. I found love.

What I gained from taking the biggest risk of my life (so far). Part 1 of 3

So by nature I’m not a risk taker! I hate the unknown. It scares me. I hate being out of control. I am very much one for planning for everything. Therefore I can only think of one really big risk I have taken in life so far.

I can remember at the time everyone thought I was crazy. Colleagues were shocked. Many people were worried for me. Family and friends questioned my decision. To be honest so did I! And this questioning went on for many years!

I had always wanted to be a secondary PE teacher until in sixth form I complete a catechetics course and did some work with year 1’s at a local school. This changed the direction of my focus. I trained as a primary school teacher and spent 3 years teaching year 2 children.

I absolutely loved it. I have always seemed to be able to connect with children and going to work every day surrounded by 6 and 7 year olds inspired by the world was special.

I have so many happy memories of this time I don’t know where to start. Reading stories outside in the garden, doing art work, creating Christmas plays, coming up with assemblies, designing displays, leading swimming lessons, playing football with them at lunchtimes, leading the football team to county triumph. These just a few that come to mind.

I loved the school I worked in. My colleagues and friends were an amazing bunch. Supportive, creative, fun, it was a good atmosphere. I felt valued and believed I could work there forever.

So what changed? Several things. It wasn’t one huge event but a build up which made me feel like I was desperate to leave. After two years there my third was to be not quite as happy.

The headteacher retired. The head that had given me my start, had always completely trusted and believed in me and now is one of my closest and valued friends even though she is nearly as old as my Mum!

I broke up with my boyfriend. We had been going out for four years. It wasn’t what I wanted. I was devastated. It rocked my confidence and my morale.

The school changed. I struggled to get on with the head who took over the job. I found myself internally questioning his decisions and hating the way the school was going. It made me sad to see it change.

A colleague of mine who was also a friend was relying on me for advice and support with a personal matter. At the time I was happy to try and help but I realise now it had a very negative impact on how I was feeling. I worried about the consequences for those involved if what I had been told was ever revealed. I was only 24 and this was a complex issue for someone double my age.

Lastly the final straw. When I found out my friend and colleague who always supported me was looking to leave I knew it was time. I had just started thinking about other primary jobs when I got this weird message one day.

The receptionist thrust a post it in my hand. She said this lady called, this is her home number can you call her back. What was weird was this was my ex teacher. Why on earth did she want me to call her? Why give me her home number.

I hate phones so this and the not knowing what message I was going to receive when I called, meant it took several days to pluck up the courage to call. That phone call changed my life.

A letter about mental health for my children

Dear my gorgeous boys,

When you are older I will explain to you what depression is. I will tell you how it affects me and that it is an illness. I will encourage you to show empathy, understanding and kindness to others when they need you.

What do I want you to know about depression? What do I want you to know about your mum? What do I want you to know about yourselves?

Most importantly I want you to know it’s ok to share your emotions. It’s also ok to not be ok. I want to encourage you to talk about how you feel. I want you to know I will always listen without judgement if you need to let it out.

It is important to know that mental health is important for everyone. Physical health and mental health both need consideration and looking after. I hope you live in a world that becomes kinder and fairer to those who have a mental health.

I believe that you will grow up to be people who will understand mental illness better than me. I’m hoping my openness will ensure it is something that is not kept secret but brought out in the open. I believe you will help others.

I am sorry my dear boys for all the times my depression has got in the way of our family time. I’m sorry for the times I have been so low for no reason I have gone to bed. I’m sorry when my mood has been so bad I have snapped at the slightest thing. I’m sorry I haven’t felt like doing much some days. I’m sorry some days I have been distant and vacant, physically but not mentally present.

But I hope you know mental illness doesn’t make you any less of a person. It is not something to hide. It is not something to be ashamed of. I hope you know that you can still have an amazing career and a lovely family life if you get the right support.

Boys I hope you won’t suffer like I do. I hope this illness is not something you have to learn to cope with like me. But boys if it is I’m trying to educate more people so that you may have a smoother ride. So that more people may understand. So that more people may help.

Boys if you’re lucky enough to have great mental health I will help educate you on how to support others. I hope you will be there for the ones you love, friends or colleagues. I hope you will listen.

Love your

Mummy

8 things that inspire me.

This post has once again been inspired by something I saw on another blog I recently read. On the road to recovery from depression this list is helpful to keep going in the right direction.

1. My children.

This one is pretty obvious. Each day my two boys give me energy, life and strength.

They make me laugh. Tonight it was My four year olds declaration “he doesn’t need teaching anything” when talking about learning Italian at school. His pronunciation of volcano as tolcano. Thomas’ constant mischief at the moment, dragging the plastic table and chairs in from outside because he can!

They inspire me to keep going even when I’m so low I can’t manage to do anything else. I carried them for 9 months and everyday since they have been born I have loved them with my whole soul. They are everything. They inspire me to be a better person so I can be a good example to them. They inspire me to do things out of my comfort zone because it is good for them.

2. Parents

They have given everything to me and my brothers. They are always there for us in every way. They have provided for us emotionally and financially. Even now they demonstrate such strength and

determination.

My dad has Alzheimer’s which has completely changed their lives. For my mum she has taken on everything at home. She is his carer. From being in control of all the money and bills to having to sort everything practical round the house, life has changed. Emotionally it is tough seeing the man you love fade before your eyes.

My dad despite his illness shows a determination to keep going. With my two boys you see the spark which made him the best dad and his grandchildren adore him.

3. Grandparents

My dad’s mum and dad are 96. They have been married 76 years! They have lost a son and a grandson. They married in World War Two. My grandad fought in WWII and my Nan gave birth to two children and was evacuated in the middle of the war. Today they are happy, determined and

stubborn!

My grandad is the cat with nine lives. He has dialysis for kidney failure which should have kept him going for five years (he is still here 11 years later). He is blind in one eye. He has cancer. He has had a heart attack. Recently pneumonia. Every time this is the end and then before you know it he recovers again.

My nan is as sharp as they come. She knows everything that is happening in the world. She loves her sport.

4. Husband

My rock. He inspires me to be a better person. I owe it to him to be the best I can be because he does so much for me. He works so hard for our family so we can have things we love. Or as Jacob says when you ask him why does daddy work…for trains and centre parcs.

5. Walking in nature

I get so much rest and recharge from this. It can inspire my creativity at times. Others it inspires my mind to rest or calm.

6. Music

So I grew up surrounded by music. My dad collected records and friends would constantly ask him questions about music. He knew everything and was definitely the person you wanted on your music quiz team. Sadly his illness has meant much of that is gone but it is still in me. I’m the opposite to him in the sense I have no idea who sings a certain song or what is the title but I do find music helps me. Motivation. Guidance. Support.

7. Children I teach

They inspire me in two ways. A) to be a better teacher so I can help them learn b) be a better person so I can show them the way we should treat others.

8. Sunshine

Just a bright sunny day. Whether in the crisp chill of winter, the green of spring, the warmth of summer, or the crunch of leaves in autumn. Sun makes such a difference to my mood. It gives me life. It gives me energy.

Maybe have a think about what inspires you. What gives you energy and life? What makes you strive to be a better person? It might help you look for the positives.