An October review…….

October is one of those months where I tend to have a bit of a review. My birthday is this month and I think as it approaches every year it makes me evaluate where I am, where I’ve been and what I’ve achieved over the last year.

When I thought about it quickly I thought that this year hasn’t been one full of great things and huge achievements but then I thought again. This year I have focussed more on me than I have for a long time. I have had the at times uncomfortable realisations of who I am, what I’m about and what I need to let go of. I have dare I say it become more happy. I have allowed myself to be who I am in ways that I would have feared to in the past. Worries about being mocked or treated differently I haven’t allowed to plague my thoughts like I used to and I am for the first time in a long time  in a position where I can say that the people I have around me understand and embrace me for me no matter what. Not you Mum, you’ve been doing that for almost thirty five years now!

No matter what is a big statement. No matter what is in good times or bad, when I have had successes or failures. When I’ve made good decisions or hideously awful ones. There really is a huge amount of truth in the saying ‘find your tribe’ and when you do you need to hold on to those people with all you have.

I have talked about my mental health more this year and I feel with more authority. I am on a journey that evolves on a daily basis and it’s a journey that I am at peace with as opposed to fighting against. I have made the decision to come off my antidepressants and to take more control in other ways over my mental health. I have started small practices to help me on a daily basis that are becoming habits. I write down how I feel, I meditate, I read more and I am more realistic with myself.

I have put on about two stone and I’m currently wearing a size eighteen. This is a big thing for me to tell you but after all the peanut m&m’s and those yummy Ikea biscuits I am hardly surprised but for once in my life I am being kind to myself. I have realised that limiting myself is a way I used to self harm in the past and denying myself nice things as some strange way of punishing myself did nothing other than make me miserable. I have cut down on alcohol and started running again (slowly and with a very interesting style but still) I have realised that I am meant to have big boobs and they need to be comfortable so I’ve started buying my bras at Victoria’s secrets because they don’t only make sexy, tiny underwear but they make the most comfortable bras I have ever worn. They are expensive and I only buy them in the sale because that’s what I can afford to do but it feels good to be looking after myself and taking pride in doing so.

I see the beauty in having no plans, in living simply and taking each day as it comes. I love to see friends and walk around taking pictures even if it is somewhere we have taken a million pictures of before. I have realised I like yoga and just because I am not as bendy as most people doesn’t mean I can’t do a downward facing dog as well as the next person.

We have made a small house into a big house and have taken pride in doing so. It’s been a massive lesson for us as a family and a couple but it has bought us closer together and bought pure joy. I look forward to getting the garden finished and starting my flower garden and the thought of cutting flowers I have grown myself next year to display in my home brings a huge grin to my face.

I have realised that there are so many things in this life that are so much more important that I ever thought. Sitting with my parents over a cup of tea talking about the birds, seeing my boys play with their friends, listening to the boys read, eating cake with Karl, taking my mum out and treating her like she deserves to be treated and laughing with my friends. These things are priceless, these moments to be made memories that I can cherish forever.

I want to continue to write and talk about mental health. I want to help people, to give blood (once and counting) to explore more creative pursuits, to spend more time with the people I love and to see them go from strength to strength. I hope that when  I write this post next year it will be another year of little things that have added up to massive things when I will be meeting another year older as a welcome friend full of excitement and promise.

Thanks as always for reading, for listening, for being here and being you. You have no idea how much each and every one of you that has taken the time to email, comment on my social media, hit the like button and talk to me about my blog and writing have helped me this year. You are amazing and I hope you never forget it.

Lucy xxx

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Yes I’m hard to love but I didn’t choose to be this way…….

When you are someone who suffers from any kind of mental health issue you will be well aware of the stigmas attached and also how difficult it is for someone who doesn’t suffer to understand.

Let’s be honest why we as sufferers do the things we do often doesn’t make sense. It’s not always rational, it’s not simple or following common sense and it doesn’t always make us feel better but we do it anyway. To give some examples things like not going a certain route to avoid seeing people, not wanting to wash, not wanting to get out of bed, feeling like everyone hates you and many more that I could spend all day listing.

What I as a sufferer find makes things even harder is when people treat you like being down, anxious or anything else you suffer from is a choice you are making. It’s almost that opinion that you could switch it off but choose not to. I can assure you I do not choose to feel low. I don’t choose to feel meaningless, worthless or anxious and I certainly don’t choose when I do or don’t feel this way.

Even someone who is medicated and well aware of their triggers will have good days and bad. Often the bad days hit you like a train when you don’t see them coming. You can wake up and just feel not right. You can feel like the hardest thing in the world to do would be to pull the covers back and get out of bed. The thought of leaving the house and people looking at you and seeing all your weakness pouring out of you is abhorrent. Even when they probably wouldn’t notice anything at all was awry but you know and to face a world knowing that can be debilitating.

I get completely that to be a friend, partner or family member of someone who suffers with their mental health can be exhausting, miserable and downright confusing however the worst thing that you can do is make that person feel like their issues are their own fault and that they are making a conscious decision to be the way they are. Just as no one would chose to have a broken bone no one would ever make a choice to feel the way many of us do inside our own brains somedays.

We as humans make mistakes. Small ones, big ones, life changing ones, ones that can affect everything around us or put our lives in danger. Many of these mistakes are made at times of crisis when actually we as people are making ourselves the hardest to love. When we are the hardest to love that’s often when we need to be shown love and understanding the most.

You as a friend, partner or family member of a mental health sufferer may get frustrated, angry, hurt and have no idea what to do for the best for your loved one. But the best thing to do is just that, love them. Don’t make them feel bad that they are suffering, don’t add to their pain by treating them like having a mental health problem is a choice and don’t take the love away. These times of crisis really are when they need you most.

I find talking really helps and support is on offer for both sufferers and those who care from them. There are massive resources online and you can search for local support groups in your area. Please ask for help and keep talking to each other.

Lucy xxx

S**t, I am actually a grown up…….

There are moments in all of our lives that cause us to stop and have realisations about who we are as people. I have experienced these moments like many others at key points in my life such as when I got married, bought a house, had the boys etc. These things all made me realise that I am growing up, maturing and becoming an actual adult.

You then seem to forget all that and just get on with it and find the days and weeks flying by before the next realisation hits you. This last couple of weeks I think I have felt the most grown up I ever have. For so long now we have planned on extending our house. We have had no idea what we are doing and yet have slowly managed to get plans, permissions, quotes, surveys and all manner of other building type terms that I can’t recall.

We found our builder and work was scheduled to start in Spring which at the time seemed like a million years away. Fast forward what seems like twelve minutes and all of a sudden Spring was here (well ish, stupid snow) and it was time to begin. You can imagine that we were as usual ill prepared so spent a week clearing out the old, damp conservatory which we filled with essentials such as the tumble dryer, toys, unwanted furniture from my many moves around and of course wine. Trouble is all of that needed to go somewhere so we then had to make space, recycle, condense and move everything out. My best idea was that I would be a great help by drinking all the wine. Karl didn’t seem as enthusiastic about this as I was though. Odd.

Anyway we managed it and Day one arrived. Armed with rolls, 7000 tea bags, bacon, biscuits and our most smiling faces the builders arrived and the conservatory was no more in less than half a day. We then had the start of this week where the actual build bit commenced. The trouble was I was on lates and Karl was on early shifts which meant solo parenting for the one of us who was home and all the ordinary responsibilities as well as dealing with the build.

Now I imagine you are thinking, hold on Luce, you aren’t building the place yourself and the answer is no I’m not. I would be awful at building and we would end up with a big mess. I was however the grown up here to make decisions. Decisions about patios, measurements and to answer questions about topics I know nothing about like coving, mud and trenches. I was in consultation with Karl but I really didn’t like the pressure.

On day one all went well, I got the kids to school with no massive issues, had a shower and got dressed before the builders arrived so there were no awkward flashing moments, did all the washing up, cleaned the kitchen, made bacon rolls, cups of tea and bought a biscuit tin which I filled with chocolate digestives for their elevenses. I did however do the kitchen jobs dancing to Dua Lipa who was playing loudly on my IPod and it was only when I went outside to deliver said bacon rolls I realised I could be seen dancing in only the way I can. So perhaps not such an accomplished grown up after all! We also shouldn’t mention when the builder turned up and told me that he was pleased the delivery had arrived and I told him we hadn’t had any deliveries and then for him to point at the giant digger that someone had parked on my driveway without me seeing or hearing. As if we do mention it I come across very badly!

Under the floorboards in the old conservatory we found a copy of the News of the World from June 1966 which although discoloured is in perfectly good condition. We also found a message etched into the concrete from the owner of the house before us who moved in with his wife when the house was built in the sixties, raised a family here and then sold the house to us I think to go and live with family who could care for him after his wife died.

I thought for a moment that he would probably be sad with the changes we are making but then it occurred to me that we like him are raising a family. A family that consists of two boys who eat anything and grow it seems at lightening speed.

Today being my first day off this week it has been nice to just watch how the builders are getting on, to take in the new and to let it hit me that I am a grown up. A dancing around the kitchen, awfully organised, do it all by the skin of my teeth grown up. I did get to work yesterday and after about an hour realise that I hadn’t done up the zip on my ankle boots but I’m chalking that down to tiredness!

Being grown up is an incredibly scary thing, it’s pressured, it comes with bumps in the road (or in our case storm drain pipes where the footings should be) and it tests you and your limits. It’s also amazing as you can be in charge of your own destiny, you can provide for the people you love and you can make positive decisions for their benefit. In this case the boys getting their own rooms so they don’t kill each other.

I have often thought that I would love to go back to my teenage years, to start afresh and not make all the mistakes, to learn the lessons sooner and to appreciate it more. I do though like the idea that 34 year old me is making the memories that one day I can write in the concrete about. Even if I am making them with the addition of some wrestling, screaming children and disagreements with Karl about where the log burner should go.

I will probably bore you to tears with the extension but if you are interested keep checking back for progress. You know there will be some comedy gold moments along the way!

Lucy xxx

A little less me than usual……

As any of you who suffer with mental health issues to any extent know sometimes they can rise up and smack you in the face when you are least expecting it. Sometimes life is just life, relatively normal, ticking along and suddenly you feel like you want the world to open up and swallow you just to keep from having to face the day.

Being honest I’ve had a few hints that this was coming, I’ve noticed myself looking in the rear view mirror of the car over the last week and not only using it to drive the car safely (yes sometimes I can manage driving!) but also as a way of criticising myself, comments like ‘look at your wrinkles’ and ‘shit job with your makeup today Luce’ have been creeping back in. I’ve been drawn to my bed to the point where getting up has been getting harder and some of the things I usually find joyful don’t seem to have been giving me the smile they usually would.

The final thing that has tipped me over the edge is the snow. I didn’t realise how much anxiety I had about driving in the snow until this morning. Yesterday karl was off and he has no issues driving in snow so it was something that I didn’t need to worry about. Today with the task of getting the boys to school and me to work I have literally gone to a million pieces. The thought of starting the car and skidding all over the place is all too much and I feel like my chest gets tighter every time I think about it. As it’s turned out Leo’s school is closed and I’ve decided not to risk driving to get Nate in after seeing the carnage on the hills going down into town on Facebook. Yet I’m frozen to the spot worrying. This ridiculous, illogical and quite frankly irrational worry is crippling me.

I have sorted a lift into work but I’m panicking about what will happen later if we can’t get home. I’m worried about karl getting home from work again. I’m worried that I don’t have the energy to get into the shower and that when I do get into work I will be less than useless. I’m worried because my sickness record is appalling thanks to my hysterectomy last year and I have to have my toe nail removed on Monday and I can’t be dealing with a spike in depression and anxiety now.

I am concerned that the people I love are getting fed up with how useless I have been lately, how little I have been myself and how much of a drain I am. Let alone the fact that soon I will be the one with one less toe nail and look like some sort of oddball. I’ve been in flip flops and one shoe on one off for about two months now and am getting a bit sick of it all.

I think reading this back it’s quite obvious why I’m feeling low. I have an exam coming up at work, some out of work commitments, an impending building project, surgery, a mess of a house and a general feeling that I’m absolutely not up to any of the tasks at hand. The snow seems to have been the straw that broke the camels back!

Being honest I’m not sure why I’ve written this post. It helps me to write things down, so I can make sense of how I’m feeling and so I know that anyone reading will understand why I’m not being myself. I also hope that other sufferers will like I often do take stock of the fact that I’m not the only one suffering. I know I have to keep going because I have no other choice but inside I want to curl up in a ball and sleep forever.

Be kind lovely people, look out for others, it may not make sense but many of us are not quite ourselves at the moment. If you managed to read this drivel I applaud you, not only do you deserve a medal but a massive cocktail with a sparkler and umbrella on me!

Sorry for being miserable. Hopefully I will be okay soon.

Lucy xxx

Wisdom and whether it makes any sense……

Hey all, how are we? 

I’ve been thinking a lot about wisdom which is defined as the quality of having, experience, knowledge and good judgement; the quality of being wise. This will have prompted you to think about all the people you deem as wise whether they be friends, family, loved ones or like me iconic heroes who have pioneered new things (my key example would be Ben and Jerry for their work towards ice cream flavours!)

I imagine you will also be asking yourself, am I wise? Do I have wisdom and will people deem me to have these characteristics. The answer for many of us would be no. We are so quick to judge ourselves and not look to the positives. We would also run our minds back over decisions we have made in the past that at the time were made with the best knowledge you had at but that today you would look back on and question. 

I can think of a great number of people I believe have wisdom, from the philosophers of old, playwrights, authors, those who have pioneered technology that makes our world what it is today, leaders, peacekeepers, teachers, colleagues, my mum and of course Albus Dumbledore. But my question is this, I wonder how many times all the people I consider as wise questioned their decisions. Realised they had made a bad one and that they had been  at that time lacking in wisdom. I would guess each and every one of them. 

We are all totally capable of being wise, each and every one of us has wisdom and we do what we do trying to use it in the best way we can. Whether that be moving on from something that is hurting us, choosing to embark on a new adventure, learning something new or making decisions about our day to day life that will better it for those around us. 

That doesn’t mean though that the people around us will necessarily understand our decisions or why we made them, our chosen paths or the ones we choose to stop walking down. Sometimes it will of course be obvious that our wisdom was somewhat lacking (the time I decided to pierce my own ears for a second time aged 12) but at other times people may just have a different opinion than we do. 

Wisdom is not the same for every person, what one considers wise another may consider foolish and vice versa but like each and every living thing on this whole planet we are individuals and our thoughts, decisions and lives are based around our own minds. We care for others, we love and we do all we can for those we love but ultimately what we do is down to us. 

So many are quick to jump to judge, criticise or comment on the acts of others. This is of course human nature however imagine if you had all the information in your possession that made that person make that decision, maybe, just maybe you would decide the same thing they did. Even if you wouldn’t, does that really matter? 

In conclusion I believe we need to own our wisdom and our decisions. Whether they be the right or wrong decision. If it’s a wrong one you live, learn and move on but if it’s a right one you remember all that wisdom you used to make that right decision and do you know what it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or feels on the matter. If some of our worlds greatest minds had let others dull their wisdom we wouldn’t have technology, music, languages, science or mindfulness. Now that is a scary thought. 

In a nod to the wisdom of others here are some of the wisest quotes I love…..

‘Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish on it’s ability to climb a tree it will live it’s whole life believing that it is stupid’ Albert Einstein 

‘Just do what works for you because there will always be somebody who thinks differently’ Michelle Obama 

‘Just because you are right, doesn’t mean I am wrong, you just haven’t seen life from my side’ unknown 

‘Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t’ Bill Nye.