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

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Tension headaches, power problems and pesky button holes…….

Hey all, how are things? I am now on day six of what has been diagnosed by the doctor as a tension headache. This is something I feel like I have been suffering with for sometime but have never really been sure of the cause. The doctor asked me what do I have to be stressed or tense about. Now I didn’t cry or list off the things I feel are contributing to my stresses but it has caused me to do some serious reflecting and to think about all the things that I currently have going on. From a serious renovation and extension project to a change of role at work to my normal battles with my anxiety and depression and of course being a mum to two boys who have spent far more time in the local minor injury clinic this last week than I am happy with.

Life is as always fast paced and terribly busy. I am slowly realising that this is my life and I just need to work out ways within it to keep me on an even keel and not suffering from brain splitting headaches. I am going to try and get more into meditation, I am going to make more time for reading as I always find that escapism in some way comforts me, I am going to try and eat right (yes I acknowledge this means I have to stop eating all the peanut M&M’s!), cut down on alcohol and appreciate the tiny things more. I also am going to put more into my journaling and to make a point of writing a little something every morning before I begin my day about what I am worrying about, what I would like to achieve and what I am grateful for.

I realise I need to identify times that are the most likely to cause extra stress and tension and plan better for them. For example this week when the plasterers are in the house and everything is a total whirlwind coupled with Karl being in Ireland I have been in a massive spin. I as always put some of my thoughts and feelings on Instagram and some of my lovely friends there were able to give me some reassurances. A very wise lady who I have met through Instagram Gabrielle Treanor asked me what I could put to one side this week to not add to the additional stress. She also asked me what I could do every day to make time for my own wellbeing and offered to check in on me to see how I am doing. Today being the first day I have done nothing so far but write as I am waiting for delivery of our new wardrobe doors so I’m stuck in a sense. I will of course let you know how I get on with this as I am not keen on just taking pills to get rid of these headaches and would rather try and fight them naturally.

So to start the day as I meant to go on I came to my mums this morning for the boys and I to get ready as the plasterers were arriving early. Now this means even more dust and it was just easier to make use of my parents house. They were out this morning so I started pottering about to get ready. I was upstairs when I could smell toast being cooked downstairs, I smiled as it’s nice that the boys are taking responsibility for themselves but also had a shudder wondering what could go wrong. I sorted the clothes and came downstairs to make some tea. I opened the fridge to get the milk and noticed the fridge light wasn’t on. I thought this odd but that was it and continued to fill the kettle and put the teabag in the cup. It was only when the kettle wouldn’t switch on that it finally twigged that something wasn’t quite right. It was only then also that I heard a loud pitched alarm type sound that continued to beep every minute and a half thereafter. The power was quite clearly out.

I had no idea where the circuit box is in my parents house but assumed it was under the stairs. I couldn’t find it so called Karl as I couldn’t get hold of my mum. He was just getting on a plane and you could tell giddy at the prospect of a child free few days but told me that the circuit box was in my parents garage and that I would need to move a few bits out of the way but should be able to sort it. So I opened the giant garage doors (still in my pyjamas as I planned on showering at mums) only to find what I can describe as a mountain of gardening equipment surrounding the worlds smallest circuit box. I had to move a garden mower thing, a wheel chair, camping equipment, two scooters, a go kart and all manner of other heavy garden type machinery before I could even get near to the circuit board. All the while I was doing this I could hear the boys screaming at each other. I managed to flick the switch and went back inside to check that the power had turned back on. It had and I ignored World War Three raging between the boys to go back outside and try and get all the bits back in the garage.

I have never been much good at jigsaw puzzles so this life size version wasn’t going well. Not helped by the fact that the giant lawn mower leaf blower thing kept wheeling itself off along the driveway every time I let go of it. eventually I managed to get it all in and got back into the house dripping with sweat and looking like stig of the dump. I then had to deal with the broken items that the boys had damaged while waging World War Three and still had both them and I to get ready. I clicked the kettle on and the whole lot shorted again. You can imagine how my stress and tension levels were then!

Leo had a Royal Wedding themed day at school today and along with his smart wedding attire we foraged in the garden and made a beautiful button hole for him out of cow parsley, forget me nots and other greenery. I put it in a bowl with some water last night and into the fridge to keep it nice and fresh for this morning. The only trouble was that when it came out of the fridge it had turned into an ice cube and had to spend much of the morning defrosting before I decided that I couldn’t send him to school with a floral ice cube strapped to his shirt so gave up. I did however tell as many people as I could on the school run that we had made a button hole but I’m sure the vast majority thought ‘yeah whatever, what idiot turns a button hole into an ice cube?!’

I hope that my ramblings have in some way made you smile and I admit that because I can’t do anything else other than wait for wardrobe doors I am going to make another cuppa (and hope it doesn’t short the power again!) and just sit and be for a bit. What’s the worst that can happen?

Have a great day lovely people, Lucy xxx

If you want to read more about the work of my lovely friend Gabrielle Treanor click here.

Catching up……

Hello all, well I say all, to anyone who is reading this (it might only be my Mum) in which case Hi Mum!

I’ve been absent of late, I’m not so much having a writers block as a writers inferiority complex and I’m not sure how to get myself out of it.

Life has been going at about 100 Miles per hour and I feel like I’ve been neglecting so much that I’ve lost a bit of who me and the blog is about.

I’ve not written a column for the newspaper in over two months. I’ve not told them I’m having this confidence issue and it’s got to the point now that I’m too scared to contact them so I am in a weird stalemate where I’m not quite sure how to explain my absence but thinking that if no one has noticed perhaps they don’t mind it!

I’ve had to reschedule a lot lately and take stock of lots of things as there simply isn’t enough time to do all the things I was doing. I’m conscious that when I was recovering from my hysterectomy and was able to take the time I was writing like a Trojan. Well not a Trojan, maybe like someone who writes a lot, a writing machine if you like.

Nowadays I’m more likely to lay down than pick up my laptop and again I really don’t know where to start! My last post talked about how grown up I feel with all our building work going on and the responsibility that life brings. I guess this overwhelmed feeling is the one that is keeping me from chilling out and enjoying writing like I used to.

I do love to write, I love to write about life, my experiences and mental health. I love to read what others write and I love to take pictures. This has become a bit of a chore in some ways as I feel like I’m in constant competition with myself. If I lose a follower on Instagram (one of the school mums today, massive anxiety trigger!) I worry about why. I worry about whether my words are too much, I’m oversharing or just posting absolute rubbish. I worry about if people don’t like me and how perhaps taking a massive step back and not being so out there would help.

It occurs to me though it won’t. If people don’t like me (there are quite a few) then they aren’t going to start to like me just because I stop writing and close down my Instagram account. If people don’t like me there isn’t really much I can do about it. So all I can do is get on with my life and do whatever I want in order to keep myself and my family happy.

I’m going to make a conscious effort to blog more, to submit some pieces for the Huff Post and contact my editor at the newspaper. I’m going to continue to take pictures of things I love and share the message of how mental health effects us and how I suffer. Because that’s what I want to do. I want my boys to be able to read what I write one day and smile, to go through some of these feelings with me and to see how much I tried. Even if I do get it wrong (again lots of the time)

I am never going to be the world’s most confident person and I’m certainly never going to be able to get over some of the anxiety I feel walking into a room where I don’t know everyone or not knowing exactly who is there. But what I can do is smile and know that nothing in that room can have any power over me and my confidence unless I let it.

Lots of people in my life are going through absolute crap (you know who you are) and every day life has a way of putting things into perspective for me. Everyone has their demons, everyone goes through hard times and everyone has the opportunity of making you feel bad about yourself. You also have the opportunity to make people smile. It’s all up to you, it’s how you think and what you give power to. I think I need to start giving myself some more power and stop being so led by my fears, doubts and insecurities.

Sorry for the long ramble. I feel a bit better now! Hopefully won’t be so long before I’m posting again and can give you some positive updates.

Life is whatever you make of it, make it good.

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

A very personal post……

Last Summer I got a semicolon tattooed on my left wrist. This was something that I had considered doing in the past but never quite been brave enough to go through with. Not because of the pain but because I wasn’t sure I wanted to announce permanently my struggles and put out there that I had dealt with such dark times that I considered that my life possibly shouldn’t go on.

I imagine some of you will know what Project Semicolon is and it’s message ‘your story is not over’. We use a semicolon in a sentence where we could have chosen to end it but actually decide to carry on. This is a very simple but incredibly powerful message.

Suicide is something that we all know about, we read about it, we see it on the news, we hear people discussing how it is the biggest cause of death of males under fifty and just how prevalent it is and yet we still don’t understand why people feel pushed to the point where they can no longer continue.

Not every person will suffer with mental health issues. Some people will suffer but to a lesser degree and some will need help for years and possibly the rest of their lives. It is however a fact that one in four of us will at some point suffer with a mental health issue. That’s huge, it essentially means you are never far away from someone who is, has or may in the future suffer. So why then are people’s misconceptions still so bizarre. Why do people who acknowledge they need help get judged for doing so and why do we in a world where mental health is being addressed in every society still refuse to acknowledge it’s just as worthy of recognition as any other medical issue?

You can never know what will happen to you in the future. One day you can be fine and the next crippled by something you don’t understand, not knowing where to turn and needing help for a crisis. This affects the richest people, the poorest people and all those in between. The triggers and causes may not be the same but MH doesn’t discriminate based on race, class, gender or location.

I have met in my journey so many people who have to deal with their mental health issues in all manner of different ways. Highly functioning people in powerful jobs, positions of authority and who are valued members of their community. I have also met people who have lost everything because of the way their mental health issues have affected them. This does not mean that either group of people have suffered anymore than the other just that they are alike in their issues.

Learning about, talking about and maintaining your mental health is not a weakness but an acknowledgement of a basic need. If we are low in a certain kind of vitamin we take supplements, if we have a broken leg we have a plaster cast. In essence we care for ourselves to make ourselves feel better and no one would blink an eye at someone on crutches in fact they would offer them help wherever they needed it. So why then when someone says they are having a mental health crisis do most people look awkward and want to walk away?

I’m not criticising, it’s hard and if you have never had mental health issues you will struggle to understand and comprehend what someone is going through however, we as human beings have the power to be compassionate, kind and to listen to others. You don’t have to understand someone’s journey to listen and offer support nor do you have to agree with their thought processes and needs. You just need to be kind because do you know what one day you might find yourself in a time of crisis and need just that from someone. Never take mental well-being for granted.

It needs to be maintained like any other avenue of health and is important for the world going forward. We want people who are aware of wellbeing and mindfulness and acknowledge their existence and validity not making sufferers feel that they have no where to turn and are being labelled as ‘over sensitive’ or ‘mental’.

In the last year I have considered ending my story. That overwhelming feeling that the world would be a better place without me, that I have nothing to add and that I can’t continue to fight the demons I have been waging war against for so long. I am proud that with help and support I decided that my story needs to continue. I am proud that on my wrist there is a semicolon for the world to see and to show I like millions of others suffer.

It’s a bit of a conversation starter, people want to know about your experiences and why you’ve ended up where you have. It’s also a great way of letting others know about the work being done by mental health organisations world wide.

Don’t dismiss mental health, don’t make those with mental health issues feel like they are weak or not as whole a person as anyone who isn’t suffering. Be kind and don’t be an asshole. You never know when you might need kindness and compassion from someone. It could be next year, in ten years or tomorrow but you may need it and you will be grateful for those who help as oppose to condemn.

You can see the work done by project semicolon here and also the fab people at The Blurt Foundation here who publish regular pieces on how depression especially affects you and where to go for help.

In conclusion mental health is just as important as physical health and we all have an obligation to remember this.

Please get in touch if you need to.

Much love, Lucy xxx

My bullet journal for 2018

Earlier this week I put a post on Instagram about how I had started a bullet journal for next year and whether people would find it useful for me to write a post about how I had put it together, how it helps with mindfulness and my mental health.

So, here you go! Last year I saw many a YouTube video on setting up a bullet journal and thought it was a fab idea. I loved the idea of a mood tracker, sleep tracker, keeping up with social media followers and many other tables and graphs that I could colour in. The reality was I made the whole thing far too complicated and when I fell behind with the various trackers I had created it made me feel stressed, anxious and like a failure.

This is if course an overreaction but when you are someone suffering with anxiety and depression you really don’t need anymore pressures that could potentially make you feel even more shitty about yourself so I gave up. But as the year has gone on I’ve thought more and more about how much I like to doodle and how a much more simplified version would actually be a very good thing.

I bought a cheap as chips notepad from Home Bargains which had lined pages and dots along the top and bottom for ease of lines.

I have a pot of pens and pencils that I dig out for doodling when I can so felt that I could use those so didn’t need to buy anymore stationary than that. I mostly used Berol felt tips, some thin nibbed black gel pens, pencils and a ruler. I decided to incorporate my favourite parts of the bullet journal I had done last year without all the stress so started with a simple drawing on the front page. This could be anything but I chose to make it displaying the year and my name.

For anyone who knows me or follows my Instagram you will know I love stars so these seemed to be perfect for the front page. I wanted inspirational quotes to play a huge part in this years journal as they do in everyday life but decided that the front page was good as it was. I then went on to a simple Index, I left four pages for this so I can have room to Index the whole book. This is really important for how I’m doing the journal as it will make finding what I’m looking for so much easier throughout the year.

I love lettering so really enjoy this but was amazed by how many lettering tutorials there are on Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram so even if you are someone who isn’t too keen on lettering you can find a font that looks good and that you can master simply. I then added pages for goals and aims, blog ideas and hopes and dreams for the year. I can fill these in as I go and reflect back on them at the end of 2018. As you can see I’ve not quite finished the colouring in but it gives you an idea and is really simple. I’m not tracking anything, giving myself dates to get stuff done by but simply jotting down things as they come into my head.

In the templates I have seen many others use the pages after this for all the various trackers, favourite quotes, meal plans and all manner of other bits and pieces but again I found this hard as I wasn’t sure how many pages to leave before I started my actual diary and if I wanted to add others in it would look odd after so I’ve kept it simple again and just gone straight into the year.

For every new month I’ve used a double page spread for the month with a drawing and a notes section but this could be adapted in anyway which suits you best. That’s the thing, it needs to suit you and help you not confuse you and leave you feeling daft for not doing it in the way everyone else is. Again these aren’t all finished but these give you an idea and I have to say it’s so relaxing doing that monthly page that I am really looking forward to doing all the others.

Again the beauty of this is that you can do it however you want so January is a bit different but as I went on I found what works for me best and what I enjoyed most drawing. Then I went really controversial and used a double page spread for the month so a line for each day of the month, it’s much quicker to do, will still give me the space I need but didn’t need so much effort put into it that I ended up giving up after the 76,000th shout of ‘Mummy!’ From the boys. I managed to get the whole year marked up in less that a day and with opportunities to add on as I wanted which felt like a real achievement.

At the end of every month I put a gratitude page and a reflections page for the month and there is plenty of space to add favourite quotes, doodles and stick things in should I want to.

Then after the year I started to add on the additional pages I wanted to, no trackers as I have neither the time or the pressure of them but a page for meal ideas, a page for house ideas and I’m sure there will be others to come as the year goes on. Here I can doodle my favourite quotes and stick in pictures. All of these can be found easily by the Index and I have loads of room to add on as many pages as I want up to the end of the notebook because I’ve kept the journal so simple.

There are so many different ways for doing these bullet journals and none are right or wrong. I’ve kept it simple, functional and easy to maintain so I can make the most of the mindfulness and organisation while not pressuring myself to keep up with trackers and charts. I can write down as little or as much as I want or I can simply use it as a diary to keep up with all the things going on in my life.

I hear you say that I could just go and buy a diary but as I said the thought that I have created something totally bespoke to me and suitable for my needs is a great feeling. It also gives me somewhere to be creative and something to share with others (I’ve already had some questions about where I got the idea from) now I don’t have masses of free time and run around like a mad woman (oh the irony) most of the time but one of my biggest moans of the last year was feeling unorganised. This will assist and can always be with me only being in a small notepad.

There are lots of journals and planners already made up for this purpose and some that are fantastically aimed at those with MH issues to all degrees however because I love to draw this option suited me better. So many people have acknowledged that next year they want to live life more simply and this is one of those ways for me, doing something I want to do but in my own way in a simple manner.

I would love to hear what you think, to see if you’ve been inspired to do anything similar and how you are going into 2018. Feel free to get in touch!

Thank you for reading this year, for being there, for taking on board me and all the crap I go on about and for supporting Tired From Whitstable, both here, in the newspaper and across my social media. I am blown away and can honestly say you make a crazy woman very happy!

Happy new year you lovely people xx

The things Mums do…..

I am a mum to boys, anyone who has ever read my blog before will know this and every so often I go a little bit mad.

Today is one of those days, I have just had what I can only describe as a childlike tantrum at having to clear up wee from the floor around the toilet for what feels like the millionth time this week. They have a body part that allows them to aim and yet it’s like they go into the bathroom, stick on a blindfold and just have a laugh pissing fast and loose all over the place all the while thinking ‘it’s alright Mummy will clear it up’

Now as much as I have become an expert in cleaning up other peoples piss from the second the boys were born I have to be honest and say it really isn’t my favourite thing. It smells, it goes literally everywhere and leaves nasty stains. It is my most used sentence of every single day ‘WHO HAS WEED OVER THE SIDE OF THE TOILET AGAIN’ only for every single male (including my husband) to tell me it wasn’t them.

Perhaps I have developed some kind of urinary dementia and in fact it’s me soiling the bathroom floor hundreds of times a day but I actually think the chances of this being the case are about the same as me being elected as the next US president (I guess stranger things have happened!)

When I was getting ready to go out on Friday last week for the first night out in at least six months I needed to have a shower. I explained to both the boys that I would be using the one and only bathroom and if they needed the toilet they should go. No one did of course, in fact I don’t think either of them even answered me. Mid way through my shower as I was shaving my legs which I have to say had required shaving for some time Leo appeared dancing around and had a massive poo on the toilet. He then looked at me and said ‘who is going to wipe my bum?’ Now Leo my youngest is six and should really be able to do this for himself however as with many things when it comes to it he miraculously doesn’t remember how. He tried after I moaned and managed to get shit all over the bathroom floor. So, one leg smooth and silky the other looking like a yeti’s I had to get out of the shower and clear up him, the floor, myself and take a number of deep breaths. I then got back in the shower only for him to say ‘Mummy, why have you got only one hairy leg?’

I literally skipped out of the door when Karl got home but it seems strange that he doesn’t have these issues when he has the boys and I’m pretty sure he would say.

We then have the continuous arguments about doing things, things such as needing to wear pants, needing to change pants, needing to put pants in the washing basket, needing to not wipe bogies over the walls, needing to understand that it’s not appropriate to fart anywhere you fancy and many other basic rules of life and hygiene which both boys refuse to acknowledge or adhere to. Who cares about brushing teeth, being clean or wearing the same pants 21 days in a row anyway?

There is also this bizarre ritual I have to go through on a daily basis (when I’m not wiping up wee) where I have to find things the boys have lost. We do this not just at home but anywhere we go and we can lose literally anything at all. They come out of the doors at school wearing nothing but a shirt, trousers and shoes and daily I ask ‘ where is your bag/jumper/coat/lunch box/drinks bottle’ you get the drift. Only to be met by a vacant look of I have no idea and I then do the annoyed mum route March around the playground, town, school, house, car or any other place we have been.

I know I am moaning, I know I am so very lucky to have beautiful, healthy and happy children but some days I do feel like I’m going ever so slightly insane (well more insane than usual) Anyway must go, Nate needs a poo!