Some things you need to know about mental health……

Long time no speak lovely friends. How are you?

I am writing this to you on World Mental Health Day. A day which I hold very dear in my heart. I speak to people most days about mental health in some capacity. Sometimes not the big stuff but just the little things that in the mind of someone who is low become the massive things that stand in the way of getting through the day. Those things that feel like you are carrying around an invisible weight and no matter how many things you put down you just can’t get away from.

It occurred to me only yesterday that more and more often lately I’ve been talking to people who are living with those who are really struggling with poor mental health and are themselves struggling to understand their place in it all and how they can help their loved ones. How hard is that? I’ve often said how much I respect Karl for sticking by me at my darkest times and not giving up on me which I’m sure sometimes would have been the easier thing to do.

So for today a blog about some of the ways in which those who have mental health issues suffer seemed like a good idea. To aid understanding and to add some clarity to why sometimes we do and say the things we do.

I often get the classic ‘but you always seem happy’ and yes I often do. After many years you find a way of smiling through it much of the time. Often of course I am happy. MH sufferers don’t always feel low and anxious all of the time and like anyone else suffering with a medical issue our symptoms come and go. I’ve got a good network around me and there are people who I know I can talk to if I’m getting low or my anxiety starts to take over. This makes me feel safe. If someone with poor MH doesn’t want to confide in you don’t be offended. Sometimes we don’t know why or how we are feeling the way we are so putting it into words can be hard and it’s easier to do that with the people who know us really well.

I have heard many times also that people with poor MH are anti social. This is a very interesting point and actually on reflection I get why people could think this. But it’s not actually true. I am a social person. I like to go out, meet people, see friends and family and all the ‘normal’ things we love in life however I also go through times when I can’t be around people. This is totally about me and usually nothing to do with them. It’s all about my inner voice. I’ve written about it before. Some days crippling anxiety and self esteem issues mean that day to day things are like climbing mountains. I feel worthless, abhorrent and every insecurity I’ve ever had starts shouting at me from inside my own head. To give an example of what this looks like for me the school run is a particularly tough one. If I’m feeling this way and in a low point I don’t want to see people as I worry they will judge how I look, won’t understand why I’m feeling the way I am and will in general think I’m a horrible person. This is I know mostly ridiculous but it’s a genuine fear so I park in obscure places, I avoid the high street where I’m more likely to bump into people, I use the alleyways that weave to the boys school and keep my head down in the play ground. Seems massively antisocial doesn’t it but look closely and you would see me picking my nails, fiddling with my zip and shuffling uncomfortably on my feet. It’s not antisocial it’s self preservation.

Similarly people who suffer often don’t want to do things because they simply don’t feel up to them. It’s really easy to say yes to social events, work engagements and all manner of other things but when that time comes you aren’t in the right frame of mind, you are so low that even getting washed to go out seems too much, you don’t want to face people and you worry that you won’t be wanted or great company when you do get there. You often find that when you cancel plans a couple of times people stop asking you. It’s happened to me. It doesn’t feel great but I guess it’s easier than the worry that comes with feeling you have to cancel and people getting angry with you.

As a blogger I have to walk a very fine line with my mental health and going along to things that put me massively out of my comfort zone. I always feel like I’ve been asked to some of the events I have been by mistake and when I get there they will ask me to leave or that I will be too fat, too ugly and a disappointment to the other people who go. I try and go to these things as often as I feel able though as some of the people I have met through them are the people who get me most and will understand if I’m an anxious mess when I get there.

We as human beings want to fix things, we want to help people and offer solutions to problems which in most things work. However mental health can be so tricky on this score. If one of your loved ones is suffering you want to have that magic wand to wave and to make it all better but sadly you can’t. You can though just be there for them. Ask them what you can do. For me it’s often a hug, a cup of tea and just sitting with me. Allowing me the space to feel what I’m feeling and making sure I am safe. Letting me know I can talk if I want to but that I don’t have to. Not talking at me and telling me how I should feel or making me feel bad for suffering at that time.

Mental health sufferers don’t want to be a burden, we don’t want to be difficult to live with and we know that on some days we can be that bit harder to love. But we also haven’t chosen to be this way. We are on our own journey and we appreciate all you do for us while we are dealing with it.

I think my main message here is not to make assumptions about people with mental health problems. We don’t all follow a set pattern, we don’t always know how to explain how we are feeling or the things we do and we certainly don’t want to be treated like we are a burden or a pain. You wouldn’t treat someone with a broken leg like they are a burden or a pain so why should we be treated like that because we suffer from depression or another MH issue. Most of us would rather that you ask questions than shy away from us and understand that sometimes we need that extra bit of space.

I hope that this may have helped to give a bit of an insight into how mental health can effect people. There are so many more things I could write and so many examples I could give of how I’ve been treated as a mental health sufferer both good and bad.

If you don’t feel you can talk to someone who is suffering the many online resources can offer insights and help. Particularly if you feel that person may be a risk to themselves or others.

To all my fellow sufferers keep going, you are amazing, you are loved and you are so very important. To all those who are caring for and dealing with loved ones with mental health problems keep going, you are loved and you too are so very important.

Much love,

Lucy xxx

Getting what you want and still being unhappy about it…..

I know what you are thinking…… what an ungrateful title and it’s true. Getting what you want and what you’ve worked hard for is the most amazing feeling in the world and yet for so many of us it is also so hard to deal with and negotiate. The feelings can be overwhelming, all encompassing and actually can have a detrimental effect on our wellbeing. I don’t think this lasts forever but that it is our minds way of adapting to what are often significant changes in our lives.

I imagine many people wouldn’t get that in the mind of someone who suffers with their mental health they can be happy and have nothing but good things going on and yet still feel utterly lost. Life is such a rollercoaster in so many ways and I feel like many of us are just more susceptible than others to be affected by each and every twist and turn.

I am of course mostly talking about my own life, this last year has been full on, stressful and demanding. I’ve had some victories which I have been so happy about and the changes that follow them have been ones that have not always been on my own timeline and that’s something I’ve always found hard.

Coming off my antidepressants is something I have written about here often. We are at the year mark now and as much as I ‘m happy to be medication free I am also disappointed that one of the main reasons I came off them was because of physical side effects which actually haven’t gone away. I have always been someone who in my struggles has been more depressed that anxious though the two are always present however anxiety seems to be my main issue now and to the point where it is having physical side effects which are causing me some considerable issues.

There is of course an argument to go back onto some form of medication and that’s what most people I discuss this with say to me. At the moment it’s not a route I want to take and I am for now managing myself using other methods that I have learned through my years of therapy and the many books I have made myself read on the subject. That doesn’t make it easy though. Medication doesn’t make it easy, there are no magical cures and no quick fixes to help us deal with life and how our brains process it. In fact I have considered maybe I was naïve and thought that coming off my tablets and being chemical free would somehow make everything better. I realise reading back what I wrote at the time and six months tablet free that I wasn’t but I do think that I was happy to blame the tablets for all the physical issues I was having when in fact it seems like they didn’t really have much bearing on it at all.

Lately I have found that lots of things that used to bring me joy I haven’t had time for or haven’t been able to include in life as much as I’d like. Time then moves on and you fill it with the other things that are more ‘important’ and all of a sudden find that those joyful things have taken a backseat and that you are affected by them not being there anymore. I am sure this is one of the reasons why I am not so happy at the moment and finding that things that should be making me smile aren’t. Reading is one of those things, I love to read and find myself in a world that is totally unlike my own, to get lost in the tales of others, in love stories and fantasy worlds and to have some escapism from the real world. Alas, there is a giant pile of books I haven’t got through, my concentration is so lacking and I’m always so tired that I just can’t manage to read. I have recently got through one book, ‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller which took me back to A Level Lucy who studied Classics and lapped up all the history of Greek Mythology. I enjoyed reading it but felt guilty for taking the time to do so.

I used to run and savour exercise but again I just don’t feel like there is time at the moment. Of course there would be if I made time for it but that would have to be at the detriment of something else and the Lucy I am at the moment who finds more joy in a sharing bag of Doritoes than in trying to fit into running gear is scared of being judged for being bigger than I have been in a long time and for not being very good at it anymore. I still love going on my walks but I tend to go at times when it’s very quiet and I feel like I can be myself and not have to see people.

I was talking to a friend who is very similar to me with her mental health. She has recently been able to make some changes in her life which are amazingly positive and make a huge difference to her wellbeing but now that she has done it she is worrying about other things. We both cursed our brains for not allowing us to just be happy for ourselves and instead to revert to the default position of worrying and not letting our minds rest.

I think with me and the position I find myself in now is that the anxiety I am having about all manners of life is something I need to get in control as I can’t be happy and content all the while I am worrying about every tiny detail, not getting any sleep and not saying no to things I can’t sustain because I feel like I will be judged for saying no. This is an ongoing journey and having referred myself back for more CBT (three months on the waiting list and counting) it’s one I hope to deal with and manage in order for my life to be on an even keel again.

I get that this post is probably massively depressing but it really isn’t meant to be. I think it’s me saying you know what its okay to have loads of amazing things going on and still feel like you haven’t quite found your feet, its okay to not feel confident all the time and its definitely okay to start over on a journey even if its one you’ve undertaken before.

I am grateful for all of the huge blessings I have in my life. I am grateful that I’ve become who I am from where I was three years ago when I started this blog and undertook some of the toughest times of my life. I am blessed in so many ways and I just need to get my brain in check to recognise that just because I am blessed doesn’t mean its not okay to always be happy. To recognise that I am who I am and that I will always feel everything and often harder than others do. I am a work in progress every single day and at the moment I need to see that the work on me is what is desperately needing to be done as opposed to prioritising other things that will still be there when I’ve sorted my ever worrying, never switching off brain.

So if you like me are up every night with insomnia, suffering with constant thoughts of not being good enough or not being able to cope, the dizziness and shaking that anxiety brings and the tears that come from no where then please know, you will be okay, you need some help and that’s absolutely fine. You can push pause and you have places you can look for help. You may also benefit from telling someone and reminding yourself of the things that bring you joy. The things your brain may have allowed you to push out you can make time for and the people around you will respect and understand that.

Much love, Lucy xxx

Progress….. schmogress

Progress. It’s a word I hear constantly covering all manner of subjects. In the dictionary it’s defined as ‘moving toward an improved or more developed state or to a forward position’. In short I feel it seems you aren’t anybody anymore unless you are making progress.

We all know the world we live in is so very pressured and that stress levels are through the roof for many people. We are constantly looking to improve everything, to have nicer homes, better jobs, more money, to lose weight, to exercise more, to save the planet, to raise well rounded children and so many more I could list. The trouble is though so many of us are pressured toward progress before we’ve even managed to feel like we’ve mastered the thing we are doing now.

I write and talk about mental health as so many of you know and it feels a bit at times like people are more interested in progress than how they are feeling at that moment in time. I often have conversations with people who will say they are having therapy and instead of saying that it’s helping them they feel the need to say how many sessions in they are and how far away they think they are from no longer needing that kind of therapy. Of course feeling like you can move on from a kind of therapy as you’ve received a benefit and need to put it into practice is an amazing thing but it’s also amazing to be receiving therapy and knowing it’s what you need even if you don’t see an end in sight or feel that you are progressing as quickly as you should.

We are measuring progress using other people’s tape measures and that can be a very dangerous thing. One persons ability to deal with trauma is very different to the next and the constant pursuit of progress means that some are left feeling crappy because they haven’t been able to move away from something as quickly as someone else.

In a world where we are trying to encourage individuality and self awareness pressuring people into thinking they have to progress at the same rate as others is I feel damaging and actually could hinder the progress being made. Yet we are still doing it. We allow ourselves to be pressured into thinking that we have to do it in the same way and at the same pace as everyone else and for someone with mental health issues that is a very dangerous thing.

I was having a discussion with someone this week about something that was worrying me and has been worrying me for sometime. The person trying to be supportive said to me that I didn’t need to still be worrying about that and it was time I let it go. That person was totally right. I 100% agreed with them however you try telling the brain of a mental health sufferer that. Not only will their brain do whatever it wants to do (in my case worry) but it will also add additional pressure because then I started to worry about why I was still worrying because I should clearly be over it as other people would have dealt with it by now.

Progress is clearly a wonderful thing which makes people strive for better and improving oneself and your position is something we have all done and will all continue to do. I just wonder if we are missing out on being where we are at for a while. Working out whether we are happy in the position we are in and actually whether we don’t want to push for progress at this time. If you have a small home that you can afford, you adore and makes you happy why should you feel pressured to buy a bigger one? If you are happy in the job role you are in then why should you feel like you need to chase something that pays more if you don’t need to? If you are suffering with your mental health and need some space in that moment to decide what to do next as opposed to embarking on a therapy you might not be sure about well that’s okay and we shouldn’t feel pressured to do otherwise. In times of crisis I agree things may be a little different though.

I think the message I’m trying to get across here is that where you are is where you are and that’s totally okay. You don’t have to be in the throws of improving everything all the time. It’s okay to just be and regroup. Of course there will be times that progress is at the forefront of your mind and that’s totally okay too. Be who you are as after all that is your super power.

Much love, Lucy xxx

Male mental health by me a woman…..

Recently I used Instagram stories to ask the people that follow me what they would like me to write about. I sometimes find myself stuck in a blog type rut and I thought that would be a really good way of giving me some inspiration. Interestingly one of the most suggested topics was male mental health.

Now I’m obviously missing one of the most essential things you need to be a male (I am, promise!) and therefore a male perspective of mental health is not something I can easily give. However I keep coming back to the topic and thought about how it should be one I tackle. I may be a woman but I am raising boys. I would be very naive if I didn’t realise that at some point I would have to tackle how mental health effects men in my role as a wife and mother. On reflection this has already started. As a girl who grew up with a sister, went to an all girls school and whose Dad often worked away for long periods of time I was massively lacking knowledge in the world of all things male. Having had boys and watching them grow I now realise that many of the issues I used to think were female specific are in fact affecting both genders.

My sons who are seven and nine are already dealing with pressures that life and in particularly school throw at them. Not having the right trainers, not being allowed a mobile phone (at this age!) not having the right haircut, not playing the right video games and the list goes on and on. I have seen the anguish in their faces when we discuss these topics and I see clearly that to them these pressures cause considerable worry when trying to please their peers and not be made fun of. The funny thing is of course that most of us as grown ups have learned the lesson that being who we are is how we become the most beautiful version of ourselves and that one persons cool is another persons embarrassment. Take me and my flowers for example. I’ve mentioned before I’m often mocked because I love flowers and would happily spend hours arranging them but to me watching a football match would be an absolute bore.

Trying to get two little people trying to find their way in a fast paced world where everyone seems to grow up faster by the year though is of course tough and we try and toss up what is important to them alongside doing our best to encourage their own unique personalities. I can see from this young age why mental health issues such as anxiety play such a big part in so many male lives. To be so very concerned about all these things from such a young age is a huge burden to bear. I have always been honest with the boys about my own issues and as such I think we are a very aware family about mental health and the many ways it can effect us. The boys are both used to talking about how they feel and they know that if there is an issue it’s really important to find a way to express it as it allows them to look at the problem in a different way and not be consumed by it. We are far from perfect but I’m so very aware that I don’t want the boys to have the crippling issues I’ve had to deal with all my adult life and if I can help in anyway to give them some tools to deal with whatever issues arise I will.

When you look at the statistics surrounding men and mental health it’s quite staggering. Male suicide figures show that many more men commit suicide than women and it’s the same across the whole world. There are news stories often about young men in particular who have taken their own lives for many different reasons. I can’t describe the sadness I feel when read about and think about this. Why is it seen as more acceptable for a woman to seek help, to talk about her issues or to say openly ‘I suffer with my mental health’? I don’t know the answer to the question, whatever it is it’s wrong. Men and women who are so equal in so many ways now (I appreciate there are still some differences but I’m not here to discuss gender pay gaps etc) should both be able to seek help for their mental health in the same way for whatever reason they need to without fear of judgement or being seen as any less manly.

The idea that boys have to be tough and not have feelings is something that has been turned on it’s head in many societies however I understand and see that there is still a huge pressure in this area. It must be a huge conflict for a man who is suffering if he feels he always has to be strong and can’t show weakness. I can only look at my own journey here and mention my own experiences which is that by admitting and dealing with my demons not only am I stronger but I realise how just how brave I can be. You have to start though and as so many of us know that very first step is often the hardest and loneliest one we will ever take.

The boys have always loved the music of Avicii, as have I and this is where they get it from. I remember them singing along in the car as toddlers to his song ‘wake me up’ and there aren’t many days that go by where we don’t listen to his music. For those who don’t know who he is Avicii was a Swedish musician who mostly made dance music. His real name was Tim Bergling and he was born in 1989 six years after me. He had phenomenal success with his music which although is based on dance covered many genres making it all the more popular. I remember years ago reading a piece about his extreme social anxiety and how he found it so hard performing at concerts as he focussed on how it could all go wrong and couldn’t cope. He self medicated with alcohol and got to a point where he had made himself so ill he was hospitalised. In 2016 he stopped touring after an addiction to prescription painkillers and him realising he needed to make changes in his life.

It’s hard to imagine someone at the peak of a successful career suffering so massively with their mental health. Being rich, famous and successful are things that many ‘normal’ people can only wish for. But this is what I have often said here mental health doesn’t discriminate. It touches on the lives of everyone from everywhere and no one can be safe in the knowledge that they will never experience in some way because most of us do. Two years after quitting touring Avicii took his own life. Clearly still in great anguish and unable to escape his demons. The first anniversary of his death is tomorrow the 20th of April, he was 28. I was so very sad when I heard he had died and although they didn’t release the cause of his death straight away I knew what it would be.

The boys and I have had many conversation over the last year about his death. At first I wasn’t sure whether to be honest with them as it’s such a hard hitting subject for a small person but Karl and I discussed it and decided it would be okay to tell them about this huge issue. We have been delicate but the boys know that their favourite pop star felt that he couldn’t continue. We discuss how sad it was that he felt he had no where else to go and places that can help you if you feel that you have no where else to turn. They have asked me questions about whether I have had such thoughts before and what kinds of places where we live can help. They have both spoken numerous times about how hard it is to understand as Avicii was so cool and made ‘the best’ music. It’s been a learning curve for them that sometimes you can have all the cool stuff, be popular and liked but still not be happy. It’s opened dialogue about being who you are and that life is hard no matter what but an awful lot harder if you are trying to please everyone else the whole time. We have also had to cover that some people no matter what aren’t kind and no matter what you do you will never please them!

I have no idea if this is what the people who suggested I write about male mental health had in mind and I’m worried I’ve come no where near doing the job justice but I hope that if you’ve got this far you’ve taken something away from this blog post. If nothing else please listen to some of Avicii’s music and the beautiful words he wrote. There are some amazing places you can look to for help if you are suffering now. You don’t have to feel alone or that there is no where else to turn. You can contact The Samaritans here and the Rethink Mental Illness site here has lots of resources also.

Thanks for reading xxx

Reflections from an antidepressant free woman

It occurs to me that I’ve hardly written anything here for months. I think a big part of that is life and it going at 150mph as usual and me struggling to keep up. It also and this is the hard bit for me to write is because I’ve been trying to get to know myself again.

Sounds ridiculous I know. As a thirty five year old woman you would think i should have a pretty good idea of who I am but I think that coming off my tablets and having to take on board all that entailed has made me realise quite a few things about me.

In lots of ways it’s heightened my sensitivity to everything and I mean everything. That’s a good thing in some ways but really hard in others. Coming off my tablets didn’t mean I was cured and no longer suffered with the MH issues I do it simply meant I wasn’t happy to deal with the physical side effects anymore. That’s a massively personal decision and one I stand by and would respect anyone in their decisions with regards to being on meds or not. They are amazing things and help so many people, I’m definitely a fan I just felt they were not for me anymore.

I’ve definitely come into a bit of a slump, feeling everything can be exhausting and beautiful all at the same time. I find I process things now in a very different way to how I did before and have taken a much more logical approach to myself and my struggles. In my head now I play out what is worrying, bothering or making me down. I ask myself questions about it, I write down the answers and I try to talk about them to people I know have my best interests at heart. These are things I did sometimes do when I was taking my tablets but I almost thought that because I was taking them they helped to deal with all that and I was with hindsight lazy in how I dealt with my thoughts and feelings.

When I have bad days now I tend to go to being angry with myself for not being able to just snap out of it and guilty for those around me who might get frustrated and pissed off with me (I don’t think they do, it’s just my mind) then I remember even when I was medicated my default position throughout my whole adult life has been one of hating myself. I’ve always been cruel to myself and so far it’s never helped once in fact it’s made my life harder and I’ve suffered ridiculously because of it. So I’ve learned on days like today to take it as just that, a day like today. Maybe tomorrow I will feel like this and if it goes on too long I need to take responsibility for those feelings and seek to get some help with them. Or maybe tomorrow I will feel okay and realise today was just one of those days.

It’s not easy, in fact dealing with these issues on a daily basis is hard and exhausting. It really is fighting a battle no one knows anything about and all that before you do anything else like be a parent, go to work and do all the other things that are expected of grown ups. Sometimes as well I now realise that I blame my mental health issues for things when actually they have nothing to do with it. To give the most common example with the boys. Two boys, a year apart in age with totally different interests, who both feel they are entitled to everything now, who don’t understand that their parents get tired and have to work exceptionally hard to give them all the things they do and who try to kill each other at least seven times a day would I think give any human being a headache from time to time. They are good boys, I don’t mean to make them sound like they aren’t but they like lots of other children don’t realise how lucky they are and often take it for granted. When the boys are being shits I feel down and disrespected. When my friends children are being shits they feel down and disrespected. These feelings aren’t exclusive to those with mental health issues but are probably present in all parents at some point in the children raising adventures of life.

Also I realise that sometimes people make me feel crap. Things they say, things they do and how they treat people. Again this isn’t all about me having mental health issues and a lot more about the fact that some people are arseholes and it says more about them. Once you accept this fact and don’t blame mental health it’s quite an empowering feeling. The fact I have the issues I do may of course mean that my reaction to these people is a bit more severe or it bothers me for longer but any person would be bothered by such behaviour whether they were a MH sufferer or not and if I remember that I can draw strength from it. Feeling crap because of people’s actions whether it be Donald Trump or a rude staff member at a supermarket is not exclusive to me and sadly occurs the world over again because some people are just not nice.

So as much as staying on my meds would have been easier I’m pleased I decided to take that leap. For someone like me processing these thoughts and feelings no matter how hard or painful is something I realise now that I need to do. I need to be aware and mindful of my own thoughts and how I deal with them. Then I can in turn realise how they effect me and learn to deal with them in a way that is healthy, beneficial and kind to me and those around me. It takes more time to live in this way and I sometimes wonder if it’s worth it when I could just go back on my meds but then and this is one of the most profound things I have said in ages surely time when spent on you and your health is worth spending. Doing what you want to do and in a way you want to do it isn’t selfish it’s essential. Caring for yourself is key and however you do this is valid, important and worth it even if others wouldn’t deal with the same issue in the same way or don’t understand your path.

As many of you know last year I became a Champion for the Time to Change Campaign in my area. Champions are mental health sufferers who want to help others by talking about their own struggles with mental health issues. This Thursday the 7th of Feb is their ‘Time to Talk’ day. A day encouraging people to have a conversation about mental health. This is a huge thing and really every day should be one. I am going to be working on Thursday but will be equipped with some resources and will be encouraging people to talk about their MH or to learn about others. I am honest about my struggles probably to the point of oversharing but I believe it’s important. It needs talking about and by talking about it we can spread awareness and even help those around us (listening is a massive part of this too!) So do me a favour if you can please and have a chat with someone on Thursday, in person, via text, email, social media, over a fence, at the checkout or wherever. Let me know if you do and how it went. You can find out more about the Time to Change Campaign here.

As always thanks for reading and if you need to need to get in touch please do.

Lucy xxx

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

A massive announcement…….

Hey lovely people, how are you?

For some time now I have had a little voice in the back of my mind that keeps getting louder. It has been telling me I need to talk more about mental health. Thoughts of all the places I feel I could help and how what I have to say might matter to people who are suffering have begun to fill my brain and its now got to a Jumanji like drumming that won’t leave me alone.

For sometime I have thought who am I to stand up and ask people to listen to me? Why would anyone want to and what have I got to offer that countless other people out there aren’t already offering. The answer I now realise is me. I can offer me. I can offer someone who deals with depression, anxiety and self esteem issues. I can offer someone who has tried pretty much every therapy both traditional and complimentary and can give honest and frank opinions about how each one has helped me and I am also someone who has over many years written down every nugget of information or skill that I have taken from each and every one of those therapies to help me maintain and improve my mental wellbeing on a daily basis.

I want people to talk and hear more about mental health and feel like they have a safe space to do so. I want to promote the fact that if you are suffering it’s not just the GP you can got to for help and sometimes you may not feel like you need the GP just yet. You just need some time to listen and some ideas of how things can work better for you.

So with a little help from some friends I’m setting up ‘Talking about Mental Health’ regular sessions where we can do just that. A space where it’s safe, you can listen, you can share (but only if you want to) and you can come away with tools to help YOU on a daily basis. I am not a therapist and can not offer any kind of medical advice but I am a Time to Change Campaign Champion and will offer signposting at every session.

I can’t wave a magic wand, I really wish I could (would have been so helpful in my own life) but I want to help. I want this to be Weight-watchers for well-being which is ironic as knowing me there will be cake! A regular session you can attend when you need to that can help you. Somewhere where there will always be a smiling face and someone who knows what utter crap mental health issues can cause in a persons life.

The incredibly lovely Vanessa and Jo from Farm Work Play on Monkshill Farm have offered me their amazing space on a Saturday once a month to do just this. Starting on the 19th of January 2019 in the middle of what is often the hardest most bleak month for many of us. I would love for this to grow as I feel it is my calling so this first step is to me a massive thing and I have been desperate to share my vision with you.

You can book tickets here (to give me an idea of numbers) but if you haven’t booked and feel on the day you need to be there then please don’t worry. I won’t turn anyone away. All I ask is that you bring yourselves, a notebook and some coins towards the cost of tea, coffee and cake.

You can also find out more on the new Facebook page called @talkingaboutmh I have created an event here that also links to the ticket site if that’s easier for you.

There is free parking onsite and the farm is so lovely it’s the perfect space to talk about our mental health.

Please share and support this new venture. It would mean the world to me.

Lucy xxx