A year in review……

Hey all, how are we?

So I realised this week that I have been writing ‘Tired from Whitstable’ for a whole year. I am struggling to process this fact and can’t help but think about how much has happened in the last year. Life is not unrecognisable but it certainly has changed and then some!

My boys have grown bigger and not just in size! Their characters and personalities grow every day and they are turning into real little people who have likes and dislikes, talents and loves. They also have honed their mess making skills over the last year to the point where I think they can now be awarded ‘expert’ status. 

Karl and I have grown as people and as a couple. We have had great highs and some devastating lows but we still stand together and work on us on a daily basis and isn’t that what relationships are about!

I suppose I should acknowledge some physical changes too, in the last year I have lost a womb, more than half of my hair (by choice), some of the colour of my hair (bloody greys!) and I have gained two tattoos, three new scars on my tummy, some laughter lines, some worry lines, a good stone in weight and HD brows (well not at the minute as I’ve not been in a while so they more resemble hairy caterpillars!)

How about the mental changes? Depression and anxiety have kicked me in the arse over the last year however now I am finally feeling strong enough to kick it back where it belongs. I’ve realised that I need to accept the things I cannot change and deal with the things that I can. I’ve met people who have made me realise so much about this world and its idiosyncrasies that I can see my place in it and I’ve learned some lessons the hardest way possible.

I’ve realised how important it is to embrace the things you love no matter how strange they seem to others because who you are should be celebrated. If I hadn’t have embraced my love for Instagram and gained confidence in taking pictures of all manner of things that many people don’t even notice I wouldn’t have started my blog, started writing a column for the paper or had the nerve to speak to you all about my mental health issues and how I hope to overcome them.

We change, we evolve and we build on our foundations because that’s what human beings do. Who can honestly say with their hand on their heart that they are exactly the same as they were a year ago? The changes in you might not be the way you envisaged them. You may have made mistakes, been alone and had to rebuild or you may have gone from strength to strength in your achievements. No matter how you became the person you are today you should be proud of who you are.

We can all be seen as ‘works in progress’ much of the time and anyone who claims to have it all sorted is either lying or incredibly naive. I have finally in the last year come to realise that to work on me is the most important thing, for my children, my husband, my family and my friends. I can’t be who I need to be for the people I love if I am a depressed, anxious mess and for that reason I refuse to let it define me anymore. 

This next year is going to be a big one, I can feel it and I know that you will be here with me. I can’t wait to see where we all are in a years time and how much we can achieve. 

Here’s to another year of comedy moments with the boys, ramblings about anything and everything, photography, flowers, love, family, friendship, trips out, ice cream and of course the cows at the bottom of the garden.

Thanks for taking the time to be here with me over the last year. I can’t thank you enough for being so amazing and know your thoughts, kindness and love have helped me through one of the hardest years of my life. Much love xxx

Mum on the run, take two……

Last year sometime I wrote a post about my running, this was when I could actually go out and easily run ten miles if I wanted to.

I write this today after having one of the worst experiences in some months this morning having decided that due to being ill kicking my running into touch it was time to get back on the hamster wheel. 

I got up full of determination and dug out my favourite running leggings, I pulled them on promising myself I would be good today (I actually ate two desserts yesterday) and went to fetch a top when Karl made an awkward noise. I turned to see a very odd look on his face, ‘what’s up?’ I asked. ‘I’m not sure you should wear those Luce, pass me your phone’, odd I thought but did as requested. He took a picture of my back and showed it to me. To say I went redder than a tomato would be an understatement.

You could see everything. My running leggings were so stretched across my now very generous rear end that you could see my knickers, my skin and my tattoos on my lower back through the extremely stretched Lycra. I could almost hear them buckling under the strain of trying not to pop off my bum.

I was mortified, how had this happened? I was a size ten, I could fit into my clothes nicely and now when I open the wardrobe they practically hide desperate not to be the ones stretched over my ever expanding frame.

Okay so not running while I’ve been poorly will have without doubt added some pounds, but I think the extra cake, chocolate, ice cream, pizza, waffles, ferrero rocher, nuts and fudge may also have had something to do with it.

I won’t scare you all with the picture (suffice to say it was deleted quicker than you can say ‘I like big butts and I cannot lie’ but it was a wake up call.

Mental health issues as you all know play a huge part in my life at the moment and I’m keen to get the piece of mind back that I used to have when running. I will keep up my walking too as I like the slower pace but I think a couple of runs a week will help no end.

If anyone sees me in a shop please slap me if I’m in any of the bad food sections. I am of course aware that a little bit of what I fancy helps but I struggle to stop with a little! 

Wish me luck lovely people and if I run past you and you can see my pants, I’m ever so sorry xx

Thankfulness…… 

Do you ever get to that point when you get a bit sick of yourself? When for whatever reason you know you can’t keep thinking the way you do and actually it’s all getting a bit tiresome.

In life we would walk away from something draining us but what happens when that something is you? 

I’m getting to the point where I feel a bit like that about myself, being depressed is all getting a bit boring now! I’m sure this is a recognised phase in most people who are ready for the next step but not quite there yet (still no start date for cbt) but I’m seeing it as a good thing for me. 

This last week I’ve tried to focus so much more on the little things, the things I always try to get others to notice but so rarely pay any attention to myself, the things we see but overlook each and everyday and the small moments that we will never get back and should savour.

I’ve not gone as far as writing these down mostly because when I’ve been seeing and feeling them there hasn’t been the opportunity but I feel like I’ve made progress in acknowledging these small moments of gratitude and thankfulness. 

At the end of this post I will ask you what little things you are thankful for over the last week, I wonder how many you can think of? 

So in no particular order here goes……

Little thing number one: my awfully behaved children, now I know these aren’t little things, in fact they are two of the few most important things in my whole life however they behave appallingly most of the time. They don’t listen to a word I say, they wreck the house on an hourly basis, they go in the sea knowing full well I have no way of changing their clothes afterwards, they help themselves to all manner of food which was not bought for them, they climb into our neighbours gardens to retrieve their balls even though they know they aren’t meant to and they always say exactly what they are thinking even if they come across as rude or offensive. But….. they are two very unique, high spirited individual boys who know their own minds and feel so massively comfortable in our love that they will do all these things knowing full well that they will always be looked after and loved unconditionally. Even if their parents look like they have aged twenty years in the last twenty minutes. This brings me on to…….

Little thing number two: friendship. Those people who are committed to being there for you and will stand with you through thick or thin, awful decisions, sadness, happiness and when you genuinely are the hardest to love or even like much because that is when you need them the most. 

Little thing number three: nature, the thing that just gets on with it no matter what else is going on, the sun sets and rises again, the seasons change, the weather does its thing and we just Potter along around it. But when you stop to really appreciate it you see that it’s the most amazing thing in the world. Nature and all it creates is absolutely breathtaking and a few minutes spent just looking at the nature around you is extremely good for the soul.

Little thing number four: my husband, this week we have been married for twelve years. This isn’t an event which will go with much fanfare this year due to work and other bits and pieces but it’s been such a tough year for so many reasons and lots of those are due to my issues and yet Karl still stands with me, sees me at my very worst and still believes in me and the amount of love and respect I have for him and all he does for me and the boys is immeasurable. Marriage is never easy and I thank him for sticking with us.

Little thing number five: my mum, there is so much I could say here and it would take me hours to write it all down so I will simply say this, ‘you are my sunshine’. 

Little thing number six: Nutella and crumpets, I couldn’t have got through the last week without you! 

Little thing number seven: Instagram, the amazing community where I have made many friends and can lose myself in a world of beauty and flowers.

Little thing number eight: my Dad, often grumpy yet has the biggest heart I know. This man doesn’t understand a lot of the issues I have been going through and yet is there no matter what with a joke that isn’t really funny and amazing dinners. He knows how much of a pain in the arse I am and yet invests so much in my little family. I love you so very much Dad.

So…… how about you? If you fancy let me know what little things you are thankful for this week, you can email, catch me on IG, Facebook or Twitter. Or just write a couple down to look back on next week, I promise you it will be worth it.

Please remember, it’s okay to be a glow stick, sometimes we have to break before we can shine. 

Words from the Wise…..

Hey all, how are we?

I’m very conscious that I have been quite quiet recently. The main reason for this is that since I’ve been struggling with being so down I’ve not wanted to just come across as negative and moaning. I have so many wonderful things to be grateful for and I am trying to work on all the other sides of my appallingly low self esteem which I believe is the root cause of many of the issues I have had over the years.

I go back to work after six months off on Monday, this time has incorporated illness, major surgery, recovery and now my issues with me. Am I ready? No! Do I have any confidence? No. Would I rather curl up in a ball? Hell yes! I of course cannot do that, I am a professional, working mother and a huge part of who I am is someone who works. Not just because we need to cover all the bills and the mortgage but also because I like that I have another avenue in my life, a place where I am not just a mum and no one will shout at me because they can’t find the head to the green ninja from Lego Ninjago.

For so many reasons I now realise that I am the reason for a lot of the bad things that have happened in my life because I tell myself I am no good, I can’t manage it and I don’t deserve whatever it is. I spoke in a previous blog about mental health and needing to be okay with me otherwise I wouldn’t be able to manage with anything or anyone else.

So while waiting for my initial counselling assessment I have tried to start my journey on my own and do some small things to help me get through this time. One of the first things I did was look to Pinterest. I have had an account for years but never really used it but have been sent many things from it in relation to my youth mentoring. I set up a number of boards one being, ‘quotes to live by’ and another, ‘things to read’. I began to find inspirational quotes and pieces about mindfulness and stockpiling them to read and to look at to remind myself of all the good and positive things in life.

I started to track my moods and work out what sort of things made me low and the things that made my heart sing. I focussed more on being a happy, healthy me and the mum and wife my family needs. I also spoke to others who have been through similar and have found themselves where I am. I realised that my priorities needed juggling and that not everything I prioritised was making me happy and healthy. I realised I needed to let some things go and work much harder at others. I basically realised that for me I was in a new phase and almost starting from square one.

As we all know the beginning of anything new is hard, leaving your comfort zone and trying something you are not used to doing is like trying to win a gold medal at the winter Olympics in ice skating when you have never skated before. It feels odd, abnormal and very lonely at first but after time it becomes more normal, almost a habit and you start to feel like you can manage.

I challenged myself to do some things I had never before been comfortable with. Since I had been ill I struggled with my running and whilst ill I have put on quite a lot of weight. Running was something I would happily do on my own as it gave me a space to think and to breathe. I couldn’t imagine walking on my own though, in fact I found the thought quite embarrassing, wouldn’t people think it’s odd that I’m out walking on my own and I don’t even have a dog?! As you can imagine when I started actually no one batted an eyelid and I have been enjoying some brisk, long walks out and about in the sunshine which has given me that space to think and breathe again outside in nature.

Things haven’t been perfect and following my assessment I am now on the waiting list for starting sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which I’ve never done before and is described as a more proactive type of therapy. Things are moving in the right direction, going back to work, getting back to my mentoring and being braver with my thoughts and outlook are all going in the right direction, I just need to not muck it all up!

So to sum up, who knows what will happen next week, just walking through the door of the office seems like a marathon to me at the moment. Hopefully it will be much simpler than that but if it’s not I will have to deal with it because as we said earlier I can’t just curl up into that tiny ball!

I wonder if any of these which are some of my favourite quotes that have helped me through recently will resonate with you?

‘You have been criticising yourself for years and it hasn’t helped. Try approving of yourself and see what happens’

‘Bloom where you are planted’

‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent’

‘It takes courage to grow up and be who you really are’

‘You were never created to live depressed, defeated, guilty, condemned, ashamed or unworthy. You were created to be victorious’

‘Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining’

‘She was unstoppable not because she did not have failures or doubts, but because she continued on despite them’

‘Only grow things in your brain that you wouldn’t mind putting in a vase’

‘Some days she has no idea how she’ll do it. But every single day, it still gets done’

‘Don’t let the muggles get you down’ (Wise woman that JK Rowling!)


 

 

Mental Health and Me…..

This post is going to come with a disclaimer…… you might find it tough to read or get extremely bored. Please read on if you are happy with that!

Since I was twenty I have had a very interesting relationship with my mental health. So much so that it has at various points throughout the years since (I’m now thirty three) been something that I have been unable to ignore, that I’ve been able to work around or in general we have worked quite harmoniously together however it has always been something that has been a big part of me.

I have always felt envious of people who never seem to struggle with negative aspects of their mental health, who are able to get that balance right and not to be pulled down by their overwhelming emotions. I salute those people and commend anyone who is able to deal with their own wellbeing in a positive and efficient manner. Of course it will be no big shocker to you that I am not one of those people. I am in fact the polar opposite of this and have been made acutely aware of this again recently.

For anyone who has ever suffered with depression and anxiety issues you will know that there are good times and bad. There are times when doing anything other than laying under a blanket and pretending that the world outside the front door doesn’t exist is impossible and other times when you feel you could climb a mountain and do a pretty good ‘Sound of Music’ rendition when you get to the top. There are also times in between in which you cope relatively well and are aware of any triggers to your issues and can deal with them accordingly.

I bounce around between these and every couple of years or so end up at a real low and some of you may have noticed here I am now! I’ve been grumpy, miserable, made bad decisions, upset people and generally been a pain in the arse to anyone that knows me (except Alf the Cat, thank the lord for him!) I now find myself in one of those phases where I could literally shut the whole world out and really wouldn’t mind doing so.

Of course we can’t do this, when it was just Karl and I this wasn’t an option and now I have the boys they need me to be the best mum I can be (yes I know, middling at best!) so the only option is to deal with it. Sounds so simple doesn’t it, pick up the pieces, move on, grin and bear it, keep calm and carry on (insert a million more inspirational quotes!) But how do you actually do that?!

Well I took the first step and referred myself back for counselling. Something I haven’t done for two years when in the middle of my last down phase I decided it would be a fantastic idea to stop eating. This consisted of a phone call to one of the suggested local practitioners and answering some questions trying to ascertain how urgent my need for help was and how long I could wait. The nearest available appointment for an initial telephone conversation was in a months time. I of course took the appointment and as I jotted this down in my diary tears streamed down my face. Its such a horrible thing to feel like you have made no progress at all and you are back to square one.

I acknowledge of course that this isn’t square one, in fact I’m not sure the squares even have numbers. They are just slightly different colours to the ones I have been on in the past and I need to work my way out of each and every shade. I cannot do this on my own hence my asking for help. I hope that this time I will be able to enter into a new, brighter period in my life where I can acknowledge that its okay to need help and to ask for it when you need it.

It is massively hard just being a grown up in our world and the amount of pressure on each and every individual is vast. When you add work, home, family life, parenting, friendships, money, politics, education, confidence, self esteem and just managing to all of this I think it is understandable why so many of us can at times struggle with our mental health. Women are particularly bad at allowing themselves to feel things for worrying that they will look weak, lose respect of others or be judged negatively because of their actions.

I wonder how many other mums like me today walked into the school to pick up their children feeling inadequate, like they aren’t good enough and embarrassed to hold their head high. I feel like that more often than not at the moment and it can be debilitating. I know deep down of course that people probably aren’t thinking all the negative things about me that I am and that they are just going on with their day and probably struggling with or through something themselves.

I wonder if you would notice should a friend or family member be displaying these behaviours, would you be worried? Would you question their welfare and see that they were not quite themselves? I imagine many of us wouldn’t as we get so wrapped up in our own lives that it’s easy to see past what appear to be tiny things. I ask you to have a look around you, if you think someone is low say hi, crack a joke, ask them how they are. You never know that might be the only time that person smiles that day. If that person is like me running after a small child up the High Street the best thing you can do is offer cake (its one of the few instant mood elevators in my book!)

I enter this new phase with uncertainty, I am determined to pull myself out of this current lull but I’m not quite sure how to do it yet and how long it will take. All I ask of you is patience, love and understanding and I promise I will give the same back.

When someone who struggles with depression is at their lowest they can often be tough to love, it’s hard work with little or no reward. I assure you though this is the time that a person who is suffering needs the most love and understanding from you.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. It has been hard to write and believe me I would love to just be writing about the number of parenting faux pas I’ve made this week (27,000 and counting) how I managed to spend fifteen minutes trying to put my jeans on backwards, how I poured milk in the kettle and the worlds worst bit of parallel parking you have ever seen witnessed by open mouthed members of the public who almost laughed and pointed but I needed to let you all know that I’m not okay and for now that’s fine.

I as you know love a quote and am a huge fan of Sex and the City, one of Carrie Bradshaw’s most profound moments was this…. ‘ As we drive along this road called life, occasionally a gal will find herself a little lost and when that happens I guess she has to let go of the coulda, shoulda, woulda buckle up and just keep going’.