Another year in review…… how old am I?!

So…….. we are in that in between Christmas and new year bit for another year. I’m not quite sure how we have got here. I’m quite sure I told this year at the beginning that it wasn’t to fly by like 2017 did and that I needed some time to savour it all.

Apparently I am not in charge of the universe and am sat writing this post in a funny Christmas haze where I’m not sure exactly what the day is and I’m quite sure I don’t need to eat anything for another month at the very least.

I wrote an Instagram post about how I get so full of ideas, hopes and inspirations for the new year that I then get overwhelmed and end up just wanting to sleep and push a massive pause button (if anyone sees one please push it for me!) I’m not sure if this happens to others or whether it’s a part of me with my mental health struggles and whether it makes any sense to others at all. To be a person with low self esteem it can be really hard to make positive changes become effective as you manage to talk yourself out of them before you begin. It’s like a bizarre cycle of having great ideas, writing them down, getting excited about them, telling others who get excited for you and then saying ‘actually no, I’m too useless to do that’ and it all being forgotten. I am much better with this than I used to be but some of my inner critic still plays a massive part in my thought processes at this time of year.

2018 as years go was actually quite a good one. There were some big changes and lots of upheaval but all to good ends. We had our extension built and made our home suit us. We lived through and survived the building works without killing each other and have come to appreciate our home so much more. I have written more about mental health which for me has been a big thing. Not just because of the massive stigma that is still attached to having MH issues but also because laying yourself bare is hard. Reflecting on thoughts and feelings that hurt you or are painful is a difficult process however one which I realise for me is key. I often return to previous things I have written and acknowledge that I have made progress, been able to identify triggers have been able to smile on reflection.

This year I had an idea, an idea which started as a tiny thought in the back of my mind which was watered and eventually after my negative thoughts telling me I couldn’t do it ended up with me telling others and organising my first ‘Talking about Mental Health’ session in January. Since making the event public and the numbers of people confirmed to be attending has gone up I’ve spent a fair amount of time telling myself I’m ridiculous, that how dare someone like me think that I could help anyone and who the fuck am I to think that people might want to listen to me talk about mental health and small ways to cope with it. I’ve written emails out asking to cancel it ( and not sent them) and made numerous excuses in my head as to why it will never work. However I’m not doing that. I’m going to go and talk even if it’s just to my Mum (she is definitely coming!) and I’m going to keep talking. I will talk about mental health wherever anyone will have me. I will write about it, I will spread awareness of it and I will help people. Because my voice is worthy of being heard, my experiences real and I think I can offer something to others.

I would say that this year has become one of awareness for me. I took more time to maintain and improve my mental health because it is a necessity for me. I came off my antidepressants because of the side effects they were having. I made a conscious decision here that I needed to make a change and approached it with an open mind as to whether I would go onto others or not. I wasn’t going to give myself a hard time either way as I believe that if you need them antidepressants are amazing. As I type though I am currently not taking any. I have lots of thoughts about this as I have found the whole process very hard. It was physically and mentally exhausting and has meant I now have to increase my small measures to keep my depression and anxiety in check. If I need to go back on a different kind of antidepressant I will but for now I am on a journey with myself and it feels good to be learning more about me and what my mind needs.

My boys have grown in height and personality. They have been massively challenging and this year has been a tough one for Karl and I as parents. I am blessed and I know that to have children is a privilege denied to many and I take my responsibilities as a parent very seriously. This doesn’t mean though that I am very good at it or that I have any of the answers. I am from a family of mostly girls. I don’t get boys and I often feel sad that lots of their interests we don’t share. I go along with them of course but it’s hard to know that they would always rather talk about cars or minecraft than listen to me talk about some of the things I am interested in. I do though when I look at the bigger picture realise that they are patient with me when I stop to take pictures of flowers or they walk in when I’m doing yoga on YouTube (you should see their faces!) they are also very good at helping with my Instagram pictures and show an interest in what I am doing even if they roll their eyes when I ask them to pose holding a candle!

Boys are tough when they are young so people keep telling me, they test boundaries, struggle with surging testosterone and finding their identity. With only a year age gap and both being keen spirited and strong it makes for interesting times and due to shift work and being on my own a lot it adds to some of the parenting fun but I love the boys more everyday and watching them grow is nothing short of an adventure.

As I do every year I learned a lot about myself in 2018 and grew to appreciate the people I love more and more. There are always hardships in any relationship but I honestly believe that if you can rely on the people you love no matter what you do, have done, your mood or how hard work you are then you have it made. Some of the hardest lessons I have learned is that not everyone will stay in the dark times and actually those people never loved you anyway. You become very wary of those kinds of people and you learn a lot from them (it may not feel like it at the time but it will all be good lessons) I hope that the people around me know that they in turn can rely on me in the same way and that I will fight for those I love when I need to. There simply isn’t time in the world for false friendships and toxic relationships and this I’ve learned over the last couple of years is something I am totally allowed to walk away from. We are all entitled to take things out of our lives that cause hurt or upset and we must never forget it.

I am excited for 2019, to build on the lessons from this year, to host more mental health talks, to become more aware of my own mental health and to help others to do the same. To spend time with the people I love, to smile more, to visit places I have never been and to have a better relationship with my own body. To be kind to me for once instead of filling myself with negative thoughts and to know it’s okay to not be okay all the time and to acknowledge that no one has a perfect life and if they say they do they are lying!

I’ve met some amazing people this last year and can’t wait to spend more time with new friends and meeting some new ones along the way.

I am so grateful to each and everyone of you who reads my blog, who takes the time to say hi, to click like, to follow me here or on my social media and who accept me for who I am. The glorious mess that I am and to not make me feel bad about it. I hope you continue to read in the coming year and that you know how much I appreciate you listening.

Here’s to 2019!

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Christmas my way…….

I’m quite sure that I’m not the only one feeling the overwhelm and pressure that comes with the season. I’ve read and seen lots of blogs, Instagram posts and tweets about how to have a slow, simple Christmas and I feel a bit like that comes with its own kind of stress.

It sounds mad doesn’t it that someone like me gets anxious at the thought of a ‘normal’ hectic Christmas but then has the same anxieties about trying to keep things slow and simple and actually knackering myself out trying to slow things down.

I feel that the key for me is pressure. Lots of pressure. Pressure from all manner of different places on how I should conduct my Christmas when actually I need to work out what kind of Christmas I want for me and my family and just go with that.

Like many others I’m all for shopping local (in fact this year I have done most of my shopping from small, independent businesses) however I’m also acutely aware that the vast majority of small, independent shops don’t want my children to break their stock if I dragged them shopping with me. I have to prioritise my time and I don’t want them to feel the pressure I am so we don’t tend to shop at weekends and just spend time doing other things (wrestling and discussing minecraft if the boys have their way)

My point is I have massively good intentions but as a mother I have to plan the season in the way that I feel is best for my family. I simply can’t spend as much time as I would like on things such as making presents or elaborate present wrapping. I will do my best but by the time the boys go to bed and I’ve tidied up I want to collapse in a heap. Often that’s all I do!

It feels almost selfish to put it all to one side and go to bed but I am in such a space of knowing if I overload much more all of the bits will come falling down around me (imagine giant Jenga) and I will end up in a mess that will last well into the new year.

I know I cannot have a totally slow and simple Christmas because that’s not my life. We work shifts, we pass like ships in the night and we have to make the most of every minute together as a family. I have to cram some things in otherwise one of us would miss something and I would rather rush around like a loon and know that I will get to see the boys school play as opposed to missing it. I also know that when I can taking the time to be more relaxed is vital. I need that time when I can lay under a blanket and just be for a bit without having to worry about making salt dough decorations or homemade mince pies.

If I were to sum up this blog post it would be like this. Christmas to me is about love. You do it however feels right for you and your family whether that be a family of friends, close relatives or just your own household. If you get to have a slow and simple Christmas that’s bloody amazing, if it’s a bit frantic and frazzling make some time for you where you can and know that the people around you will love you no matter how much you get done. If you have good intentions to be eco friendly or supporting of small business but haven’t been able to get a grip on this or get out to the high street then that’s okay too. A couple of small things will make a big difference. Ensuring you recycle over the festive period and perhaps ordering a couple of bits online from small businesses ticks those boxes.

We aren’t superhumans, we won’t always get it right nor though does that mean we are getting it wrong. We are doing the best we can with the tools we have and if anyone judges you for that then send them my way. You go through a hell of a lot in a year to be judged on how you decide to spend your time over the Christmas period and how you decide it works best for you.

To that end this year we are having lamb for Christmas dinner and on Boxing Day we are having steak and halloumi fries. We aren’t doing the elf on the shelf nor am I partaking in the Christmas advent calendar making competition at the boys school. I’ve lost no weight on the lead up to fit in my Christmas dress and people will have to lump it.

I am doing what’s right for me and that’s all any of us can do. I am excited for you however you decide to spend your festive season and I look forward to seeing pictures and hearing about it here. I realise this year I can be an anxious mess or I can say I can only do what I can do. I also know that my resolve will at some point soften and that I will need to remind myself of this blog post, my coping tools for times of need and the fact that just because I live with mental health issues it doesn’t mean they need to be any worse over Christmas and no one around me would want them to be.

On that note I’m off to pick the monsters up from school. Wishing you a fab week lovely people xxx