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)

Good things.

Yesterday I woke up feeling pretty rubbish. My throat was so sore and it had bothered me all night so my sleep had been disturbed. I had to go to work, which is always hard on Friday after my midweek weekend (I don’t work Wednesday and Thursdays). But actually the day went really well.

1. My line manager showed understanding and compassion. She listened to what I was saying and responded with care.

2. When a job that I planned to do disappeared. I marked year 10 exam papers for two of my colleagues. It’s the way I like to be a head of department, leading by supporting whenever I can. It made me feel useful and valuable.

3. After school was the inaugural staff rounders game. We managed to get 12 members of staff together! To say I was nervous is an understatement. Throughout the day I thought about not doing it so many times. Anxiety of being with people I don’t usually mix socially with…sky high!

But I’m so glad I went. I enjoyed it all. I remembered why I always loved sport. Despite being over weight and lacking practice my sports woman of the year award that I gained when I was year 10 (at the same school where I now work) started to come back into play. Some of the skills were still there!

It was a buzz to play. Great people to be with and I can’t wait for next week.

4. I came home to three boys (one being my husband) very excited to see me. Cuddles and kisses galore-what a welcome. I then sat on the sofa and watched pj masks with each of my two youngest boys nestled into me either side and my big boy at the end of the sofa…Bliss.

5. Finally I went to counselling. I haven’t been for 3 weeks for various reasons and I had started to feel like I don’t need this. How wrong I was! The self harm has been awful in the last 3 weeks. It’s scaled up on so many levels and after talking to my counsellor I felt a great sense of relief when I realised this is probably due to the lack of counselling and talking through how I am feeling.

Ultimately my counsellor is the kindest, warmest person. She always makes me feel valuable, special and not at all ridiculous for how I am feeling. Last night again the trust I have built up here helped so much. I once again talked about things I have never shared with anyone. I started to break down doors that I hadn’t dared to open.

The day left me happy. I managed not to self harm at all last night. Good things really do need to be treasured.

A shout out to good friends!

Yes I’m pretty low again at the moment. It always amazes me how some friends are so good at times like this. My mind tells me I’m worthless, everyone hates me, no one wants to know me so it surprises me when some rally around.

I wanted to do a positive post even though I’m feeling poorly. I want to say thank you to some friends. I won’t mention any names here, but I know my friends will know who they are when they read it. In no particular order:

Friend a: I might not have known you long, but I feel you understand me well. You are very kind and good at listening. Your hugs are amazing and alway lift my spirits. Our boys love to play together and I hope theirs and our friendship lasts for years to come.

Friend b: you have always said you don’t know much about depression. You always claim you don’t know what to say. You took the time to read my book to help you understand. Let me say you are amazing. The little texts show you care. The fact you are another teacher means you understand the pressures schools can be.

Friend c: over the last year you have been there through everything. Your late night chats have saved me from suicidal thoughts. At the moment I know you are struggling too. I wish I could help you like you helped me. I know things are tough in your life right now. I will always be there for you whatever.

Friend d: you sparked this post. Today you made an amazing difference. I always push you away when I’m poorly. But you are relentless (and annoying lol). You never fail to be there for me. You have seen me at my worst, been there at my lowest ever point. You probably understand my depression better than anyone as you suffer the same. I know I have helped you in the past but the friendship feels a little one sided right now. I’m sorry about that. Having worked at the same school at me in the past you have a good understanding of people and issues. It helps to rant to you. But most importantly your advice today was spot on, I just wish I had the courage to do it!

Friend e: finally this isn’t one person in particular but the collective! There are too many to mention them individually. But these are all those who listen, take time to support me, send me words of encouragement. I appreciate it all. It makes a massive difference. From the Facebook message from France to the what’s app message from a colleague to make me laugh.

Sometimes there is a lot of negativity around the support for mental health. I do feel it is lacking in many areas, that is a post for another day. But I want to recognise that many of us do have great support from friends and family and without them we wouldn’t be here, or we wouldn’t be coping half as well as we do. Thank you.

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.

First ever day at school.

So what I’ve been building up to for the last few months finally arrived today. My eldest son’s first day at school.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Mainly due to my son being the youngest in the year, his birthday being the 31st august. Partly due to his sensitivity to new things. Partly due to the ever present campaign in some parts arguing summer born children should be able to start reception aged 5.

So he has just turned 4. He looks about 6 as he is so tall! He is very young in every way. What makes it all worse is the fact given the option by the consultant four years ago I choose to be induced on 30th August when I could have chosen the 2nd September. It’s my fault he can’t spend another year at home with his mummy.

So the day came. I certainly woke up with butterflies in my stomach this morning. My husband too was anxious, pacing the house. My son seemed oblivious. He got on with the morning like any other. Thankfully his uniform is yellow (his favourite colour).

I was expecting tears. He has always cried at firsts before. He had kept saying he was scared and don’t leave me alone. But when it came to it he made me so proud.

He strolled in with his friend. He was welcomed at the door by his teachers and assistants who all knew his name. He put his stuff up and found his friend playing with the trains.

He beamed as he found a “streamline” Thomas the tank and we took the opportunity to leave. Not a tear in sight. (From mummy or son). No looking back.

I couldn’t stop thinking about him all day. I showed his picture to anyone who would give me the chance. I felt a little crazy to be so obsessed by it. But as my husband and counsellor had stressed it is a big day. The start of the school adventure.

My mum went to pick him up this afternoon. Apparently he came out smiling. He loved it. He told her all the things he did.

When I got back from work he was playing on the trampoline in our garden with his younger brother. He was happy with school. He was pleased with himself. Talking about it he said “I love school but I still love you mummy”.

At bedtime he said “can I go to school now?” I was like what??? He must have enjoyed it. I replied “no not now but tomorrow”. That seemed to appease him. Tomorrow seemed to be ok.

Let’s hope the smiles last. I’m sure we’re in for some ups and downs. I’m sure when the reality of five days kicks in we might have a bit of a struggle. I’m sure the tiredness will make him grouchy. But I’m hopeful after a good start we will ride the roughs with the smooth. Let’s hope he ends up loving school as much as I did.

10 Things about Me

I recently read a blog post written by someone who’s journey with mental health inspires me (Ten things about me).

So following on from her lead I have decided to do a light hearted post about me for all, there is perhaps something for everyone; from those on twitter who know nothing about me to some of my closest friends who might not know all of these. It is just a bit of fun!

1. I absolutely love football. Having two older brothers who used to play it with me and talk about it all the time had a big impact here. I don’t admit it much to many men because I always think they are laughing inside and believe I really know nothing. But I check sky sports news on my phone at least 6 times a day and certainly before and more often than I check the news. I always read the sport pages of the newspaper first. I follow deadline day, football focus and match of the day religiously. If football is on tv I watch it and my husband goes upstairs (he hates football). I also love football computer games. Football manager is my favourite but I don’t have time for it now.

2. I was born in Reading. We lived in Newbury. We moved to Bedford just after my fourth birthday.

3. My favourite colour is blue! The sky and the sea are often blue how could I not like this best when I love looking at them.

4. My favourite food is hands down chocolate. My favourite meal is very hard! I love Indian, Chinese and dominos pizza is a takeaway favourite here. But more than anything I love my husbands freshly cooked carbonara with no cream in sight!

5. My least favourite body part are my breasts. People have often told me they would do anything for some my size. But they hurt my back, effect my exercise and make clothes very difficult to buy. If I could afford a reduction I would have one immediately

6. My husband and I met aged 13. We both went to the same school. We were friends. He said he first fancied me at the year 11 prom! In sixth form he asked me out 3 times and I turned him down each time. We were friends through uni but lost touch for a while after that. Aged 27 he started at the school I was working at (which happens to be the school we went to and first met aged 13). After 4 months of working together I asked him out this time. He said yes. 6 months later he proposed to me on the way to the year 11 prom we were attending as teachers. A year later we were married. A true love story.

7. My favourite place I have visited. Two places tied. I did them on the same holiday in 2010. Niagra falls. Just a stunning part of God’s creation. Washington DC for me I was most struck my the war memorials and famous sites.

8. I used to want to be a sports presenter on TV. Seemed the best job in the world. Visiting sports events that I love would be amazing.

9. My most treasured possession. My teddy Bromous. He was brought for me by my auntie pat for my second birthday. Until alan I used to sleep with him every night. He has shared everything with me and been cried on many a time.

10. My biggest achievement to date. There are many education things I am proud of. My gcse’s staggered me at the time: 6a*’s and 5a’s. My first class degree and distinction for my masters are great. But for me my biggest achievement is my two boys. They will always be what I am most proud of.