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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s to 2019!

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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

Things we say to ourselves….. Self Esteem Project part two

I have to say that I was blown away by the response I got to my last blog post. I never thought that talking about self esteem in the way I have been would strike a chord with so many of you. I want to thank everyone who took the time to read, to get in touch and who took part in that first task.

I have been thinking lots about future newsletters and how I can make sure that each one is different and looking at self esteem from other perspectives. This week I have been thinking about small things I do on a regular basis to boost my own self esteem. When I say small I mean tiny. Things that others probably don’t even realise I am doing but I am constantly. These things help me get through every single day and I think they will be able to help you too.

I like to call this process ‘things I say to myself’ and I think on some level I have done it since I was small. I realised quite early on that I wasn’t the same as other people. I didn’t have the self confidence and belief that others seemed to and I had to work that bit harder to see the stars through the darkness. In these early days I realised that it made me feel better to hear and read positive things. I would listen to music that I found uplifting and that had lyrics that resonated with me. Some of this music I would turn to at times of upset and need. It was often different music for different things. I recall a Backstreet Boys song (don’t laugh, I’m old!) where the lyrics went and I still remember them by heart ‘if you ever feel like no one cares, when you try your best but you get no where, don’t give in’ yes this is full of emotional teenage angst but it helped me through hard times.

In times of hardship or need I recall talking to myself and saying things I needed to hear such as ‘you can do this’ ‘just get through it Luce’ and various other words of encouragement. Of course we know that I say some awful and nasty negative things to myself but even though I do this I am able to acknowledge that if I say positive things to myself then I feel brighter and able to carry on.

I’m not for a second saying that this method always works. For me it doesn’t. When I am at my lowest few things can pull me out of it and saying kind things to myself won’t all of a sudden make everything better but they will help. They will offer a glimmer of some light even if at the time it is hard to see it.

Last year when I was at my lowest I listened to Jess Glynne on repeat. I have written before about how much her music helped me and her many mantras about not being too hard on yourself and moving forward became the words I would say to myself just to get through the minutes of the day.

I got to the point where it helped me massively to write down all these positive things I would say to myself as constant reminders that I could refer to when I needed it. I had notebooks all over the place full of doodles with inspirational quotes and positive mantras filling the pages. I have written before about my ‘Quotes to live by’ Pinterest board which I still fill on a daily basis with these positive things I can say to myself that will at any time of need give me a boost.

This concept isn’t a new thing. Daily affirmations are practiced by many, positive quotes adorn the walls of houses across the world and the wartime slogan ‘keep calm and carry on’ is uttered all over the place on a regular basis. There is a reason for this. The things we say to ourselves are important. They can make us feel things. They can help us. It doesn’t cost any money and you can use them at any time day or night.

So….. this weeks task then is to come up with some things to say to yourself that are personal to you to help to boost your self esteem. I would like you to write them down, doodle them, make them pretty, stick them on your wall or keep them on a piece of paper you carry with you. Have them accessible and near so if you need that boost you can always use them. I am going to share some of my favourite ones with you and also some resources that can help you come up with your own or find some that suit you.

I understand that this may seem daft. In a world where suicide is so prevalent and mental health issues are so common surely if it’s as easy as saying some nice things to yourself then we would all be fine. Of course that’s not the case but surely if anything can help even in the tiniest of ways then it’s worth a try?

Here are some of my favourites:

‘Life is tough darling, but so are you’

‘You are enough’

‘You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your way’

‘A woman is unstoppable after she realises she deserves better’

Go to Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and look up motivational and inspirational quotes, create yourself a board, favourite some tweets or save some Instagram posts so you have a bank of motivation whenever you need it and add to it as often as you can. You can do this in a notebook or diary too so you always have something with you that can help.

I would love to hear your ideas of things you will say to yourself to help boost your self esteem. Please share them and I can create a list to share with you all. Even if you are only able to come up with a couple of things that you can use if you incorporate them into your day I assure you they will help.

I hope you have enjoyed this second instalment of my self esteem project. I still haven’t worked out how to set up a newsletter but as soon as I do I will let you know!

I love to hear from you so get in touch if you need to.

Lucy xxx

Depression…. you b*****d

When I speak to people who read my blog (my mum and Auntie Bev…. hello!) they say how they like how honest I am about mental health. That I speak about my struggles openly and that others respect me for that.

Things have been good lately, life has been busy, tiring and there has been lots to organise and remember but I’ve been okay. That is the thing about depression and anxiety, you can be in control, on top of them, managing and smiling then all of a sudden the clouds come over and you start to doubt everything you are doing.

I’ve known it was coming this week and smiled through my working week thinking once I’m home it will be okay. The first day off was fine, the sun was shining and I went shopping for new work clothes with my mum. We had a nice lunch and talked about life and I enjoyed every minute. 

When I started trying on clothes in the shops I knew that it was inevitable I would have a wobble, I’ve gained weight, around three stone since 2014 when I went down to only nine stone which for someone of five foot seven was too small. I do now though feel bigger than I should be and am having all the feelings that go with it such as thoughts of being unattractive, disappointed with myself and in short an elephant in jeggings.

Yesterday was tough, it was pouring down with rain when I woke up and as Karl was on earlies I was on school run duties and Leo as he often does at the worst possible time decided to be the child who calls his mother an idiot and refuses to do anything. I got to school with tears in my eyes and felt like I could manage nothing more than sitting under a blanket and pretending the world outside didn’t exist.

The problem was that I had booked to go on a photography walk with the very lovely Karen at ‘Love your Camera’. Karen is becoming a friend and I really enjoy hers and other creatives company however I couldn’t deal with the thought of being sociable. There was a question mark over whether the walk would go ahead due to the weather and I emailed Karen and asked if it was okay for me not to go. All the other participants felt that they wanted to brave the rain so I somehow picked myself up and made myself go and of course had a fab time with some amazing people. Still knowing though that the bastard black cloud was hanging over my head.

Today was the start of four days off with Karl and two days off with the boys after their first week back at school and Nates first week at junior school. It started with swimming lessons which involved Leo refusing to get in and then once he had faking sickness so he could get out. 

We then went into town and had breakfast rolls at Champs, one of our favourite bakeries and cafes. The food was yummy but the boys were hard work with Leo managing to spray Ribena all over his face and Nate wiping his greasy bacon fingers over my bright and cheery floral kimono I had worn to lift my mood.

I knew when we got home I would have to embrace it, not everyday is going to be sunshine and happiness and if it’s a down day tomorrow will start afresh. I can’t let a bad day become a bad life. I can’t let myself get into the cycles I was in before where my lack of self esteem made me the saddest and most unrecognisable version of me I have ever been. 

I think being a woman (or a man) with MH issues you need to embrace the fact that you will always be more susceptible to bad times than others. Then add all the shit life can throw at you and it would be foolish to think you will be able to be on top of the world every moment and all sunshine and flowers. Well I suppose my life is more full of flowers than most but you know what I mean! 

Tonight I plan on eating a bar of my favourite chocolate and being okay with me. Okay with being a little bit off my game and embracing the fact that sometimes the clouds get a bit dark. It is just that though, they won’t be like that forever and soon the sun will shine again. Until then I have candles, blankets and the aforementioned chocolate (no you can’t have any!) 

If you are feeling crappy and low tonight know you are not alone. Millions of people all over the world are suffering with their mental health but none of them are you. You have the power over your mental health and only you can understand it and deal with it accordingly. Therapists, family and friends can help us get the skills and tools we need to deal with it but it’s us who has to pick up those tools and go forward. Pick up that axe and smash the fuck out of your anxiety and depression because although it’s a part of you it’s not who you are and never forget it. The people who love you won’t.

Sorry about all the swearing, it seems chocolate makes me aggressive! Get in touch if you need to. Lots of love, Lucy xxx

Catching up, news and parenting failures…..

Hi all, how are you?

Well we are now six weeks post hysterectomy and I am doing okay. I still get exhausted doing nothing at all and have some pain but so much better that I was. I am off to see the consultant tomorrow to plan my return to work and see how the healing has been going.

I am quite nervous about this because I feel like I have only been half of me in recent months and having lost so much confidence to go back to ‘normal’ will be hard, tiring and probably something that will take me a period of adjustment (can I wear pyjamas to work?!) I am also excited to be the old me again and to be more than a recluse who gets tired after an hour out of the house!

I have been able to use my recovery time to focus on some little things such as my Instagram account and how I take pictures. I took a free taster course run by Emily Quinton at Makelight and have enjoyed thinking more about the layout of the pictures I take and the lighting, composition and editing. This has definitely made my Instagram account a better space and I have been gaining some amazing new followers who have kept me from getting depressed in this period of recovery. I plan on writing a blog post soon about my photography (all done on my IPhone 7) and the bits I use to make my pictures that bit better.

As per normal in my home I have had the usual parenting failures that I encounter most days that this week do seem to have come more thick and fast than usual. Last weekend was a low point for me when while Karl was working and I was feeling crappy the boys were being particularly challenging. It started like any other morning in a family home. I was making breakfast, Nate was very specific that he wanted his toast buttered as soon as it came out of the toaster so the butter would melt appropriately so there I was knife in hand and butter open ready to spread when Leo poked his head into the kitchen and asked if I was still doing Nate’s toast to which I said I was. He disappeared off and I thought no more of it. Shortly afterwards (the bloody toast still hadn’t popped up) I heard him shout ‘FINISHED!!’ Realising he must have had a poo and need to be wiped I told him I would be in shortly after I had buttered the toast according to Lord Nate’s specifications.

I walked to the bathroom and Leo shouted not to worry and that he had done it. Being a Mum I didn’t trust this so opened the door and walked in only for my foot to land on something soft and warm. I was wearing new slipper socks (I get very cold) and said in a state of panic, ‘Leo, what have I just stood in?!’ His reply was ‘Eugh who’s pooed on the floor!’. Yes it was poo. I don’t know how he had managed it but he had got some on the floor. I felt like crying, I disinfected him, me, the floor, threw away my socks and we finally made it back to the breakfast table sometime later. When we eventually did sit down with me wishing I was drinking as opposed to eating cold toast Leo said, ‘When you die will I get this house?’ You can imagine what I wanted to say, I wanted to laugh, cry and scream but instead I managed, ‘no Leo everything will be halved equally between yu and your brother.’

We also had the issue of the new Lego Batman figures which the boys saved their pocket money for to purchase from Tesco at the weekend. My dad took them over as a treat and they returned eager to rip open the little yellow packages. Leo was nothing more than disgusted that one of his was a Batman pink fairy. He now refuses to acknowledge it’s existence and can’t quite get his head around why Lego would do this to him. I’m quite happy as I can display it on my vintage printers tray next to my Lego ballerina. What is they say, men are from Mars women are from Venus?

Have an amazing week and don’t forget spring is just around the corner. Come and find me on Instagram if you can (lucy_fisk) as I post daily updates on what has been going on throughout the week. I leave you with a quote from the amazing and sadly fictional Carrie Bradshaw, ‘When real people fall down in life, they get right back up and keep on walking.’