Good advice……

Sometimes I genuinely wonder why we as people are so good at giving advice and helping others and yet we absolutely can’t take on the advice we so freely give to others for ourselves.

We have all been there, a friend or loved one is low and down so we offer help, we do what we can to make them feel better and loved. Yes of course it sometimes doesn’t work but at least we know we have done what we can and if nothing else that person knows they have someone thinking of them or to call if they need to.

So why then are we so awful at doing it ourselves. Why does it feel self indulgent to sit on a Sunday afternoon when there is so much to do around the house watching a film with my little people. Why am I sat here making excuses in my head as to why I’m doing it as opposed to thinking that this time for me is well deserved and actually needed.

Many of you who follow me over on Instagram will have seen my stories over last weekend where I exposed my absolute pit of a house. We don’t always live like this. We have as you know had a massive building project going on and rooms had to be emptied so the builders could move in. So it made sense to make the house a bit like a massive jigsaw puzzle where we moved boxes and furniture around according to where the builder needed to go next.

This resulted in most rooms ending up piled high with possessions which were in desperate need of a sort through and when the builders finished we had to battle the building dust and various other things that come with new buildings such as dust and sand from the screed on the floor and couldn’t comprehend actually getting all the bits moved out. So for now the house is still very much a work in progress. Added to normal work and life in general we just aren’t getting the time we want to get it sorted as quickly as we would like to.

But after an exhausting week and getting up early to get some jobs done (which I did) I still feel bad sitting and chilling for a bit. I think life very much should be about being lived for now and not just focusing on what it will be like or what you want it to be like. I’m not for a second suggesting not to look to your dreams or have ambitions. Goodness no, I have so many dreams and hopes that I’m working towards and I will never lose sight of them BUT I’m conscious that if I get run over by a milk float tonight (yes it could happen) will I be sad about my house not being as tidy as I would like or the fact that I didn’t take the chance to sit and watch Hocus Pocus with my boys when that’s what they want me to do.

We cannot give ourselves a hard time for doing what is good for us. Whether that be downing tools and going for a walk, stopping to eat that bar of chocolate, sitting amongst chaos with people we love or any other thing that makes our souls happy. Life is about balance, we are about balance and we need it in our lives to be happy and at peace. Now I hear you laugh as you know that I am someone who is rarely at peace as I worry so much, criticise myself so much and drive myself a little mad with stress and anxiety however….. I am getting better. It takes massive amounts of time and effort but I am making headway and I know that I need to work on me everyday in order to continue making that progress for myself and my family.

So the next time you go to give help and advice to others I want you to ask yourself ‘have I done this lately for me?’ I would be very interested to know if you have!

Have a fab week, Lucy xxx

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

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

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

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

Analysing Anxiety……

As many of you know and have been bored to tears by me for the majority of this year about I suffer with depression and anxiety. Always have in some way and quite probably always will. This year so far has been the hardest journey for me out of all the previous ones. So much so that this one I feel is the one that will change the way I deal with me forever.

These changes are positive and all I believe what will make me going forward be in control more of how depression and anxiety affects me and not letting it beat me again (yes I know I’ve said this a million times before!) One of my main issues was and I realise now has always been a total lack of self esteem. My inner dialogue has always been negative to the point where I have talked myself out of doing the smallest and simplest things because I have simply felt I’m not able to, would be laughed at or that as usually I am totally and utterly useless so why bother trying.

This anxiety that came out of this inner dialogue meant that I had literally stopped myself from doing things. To give totally honest examples I would plan how I would walk into and out of the school on the school run as I didn’t want to walk a way where that many people would see me and potentially not like me, what I write, how I look or who I am. Even though of course the vast majority of those people don’t know me and even if they did probably not well enough to condemn me and ostracise me and lets be honest if people don’t like me I really can’t do much about that and  hiding myself away won’t change their feelings about me. It even got so bad that earlier this year I would park the car in a road quite away from school and would watch the clock until five to three then need to rush in knowing that the children would be coming out as I got there so I would avoid seeing lots of people. It got that bad! It sounds ridiculous and I’m even laughing at myself a bit writing it but that was what anxiety was doing to me.

I did the same with parking my car at work and even trips to the toilet where I would need to leave the office I worked in I would plan for times I felt would be quiet and I wouldn’t bump into people. I didn’t want to have to explain my issues to people or feel I was being judged so I tried to disappear. Of course no one can actually disappear, unless you have one of three Deathly Hallows and your last name is Potter! But I would have done anything to be able to. I was literally driving myself mad and even the slightest knock would turn me into a wreck and made me feel like I simply couldn’t go on.

I realise now that my anxiety goes hand in hand with my depression and the more down I am the more anxious I become. The issue of course as I have said so many times before was that I simply did not have the option of shutting down, I had to fight it for my children, my husband and the people I love but, most of all for me. I am a human being who has all manner of issues and experiences that have bought me to where I am today but what has gone before me does not take away from the fact that I have a future and that I like everyone else deserve to be happy. My own version of happy of course, it might not be what would make others happy but who cares, happiness is a personal choice and it really has nothing to do with anyone else. As long as those closest to me are okay and we are happy then that will do me.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t strut around with my head held high but I try to smile more (not in a creepy way I hope) and if I feel anxious about walking a certain way or doing a specific thing I have a little word with myself and ask what is the worst that could happen? The honest answer from my more peaceful mind is not a lot and if something did well you know what as a thirty four year old woman I would have to deal with it. I can’t go on over analysing everything and as the very wise Newt Scamander said, ‘worrying only makes you suffer twice’ and I believe lovely people that he is right.

I can’t pretend that depression and therefore anxiety won’t be a part of my life anymore but I have finally made peace with the fact that they are a part of who I am and I am their master not the other way around. I also will do myself no good whatsoever telling myself I am ugly, no good, worthless, stupid or that I need to prove my worth to others just so I feel validated. I can validate me and other than eating far too much cake and having a slightly unhealthy obsession with Keeping Up with the Kardashians I’m okay. My children are happy (albeit appallingly behaved the vast majority of the time) Karl and I are in the best place I think we have been in a long time, our home is messy but full of love and there is cider in the fridge.

This may seem like a strange post to write but I wanted to write it to emphasise how you can come through a crisis and although you will still need to handle the triggers you can give yourself the tools to do so. I was chatting to someone the other day and we talked about it like having an extra handbag. Like the one I always carry that has powder, deodorant, my phone, a notepad, my money, lego figures (mum to boys!) plasters and a variety of other delights I also have the invisible one that contains all the things I have learned in CBT and all the tools that I can use to get me through the day with a smile on my face and feeling okay about me.

As I have mentioned in the past my Pinterest account helps me massively in this respect and I see it as a form of therapy each and every day to scroll through positive and inspirational quotes that lift me and make me feel okay to be who I am.

This has been a hard one to write and I hope not terrible for you to read. I will continue to give updates as I find it helps me to hear about others journeys and if I can help or offer kind words to even one person then it makes it totally worth putting my story out there. Thanks for reading and if you feel the need to get in touch please do so via my contact page.


 

 

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

wellbeing, creativity and violence?

I read a hilariously funny thread on The Motherload Page on Facebook this morning about a mum who had some choice words to say about Kirstie Allsopp and her home made Christmas programme. The thread turned into such  a laugh that I had to stop reading as my post surgery tummy really couldn’t handle it.

This has got me thinking this morning about just how differently we see and think about things as mums. For any of you who haven’t seen it Kirstie has made a series of shows for the last few years about her making and crafting things for Christmas. These have included things such as driftwood trees, garlands, embroidered gifts, homemade chocolates and chutneys and on this weeks show pears dipped in gold leaf and used as place settings. The whole ethos behind it is to lose mass produced expensive gifts for handmade and cheaper unique alternatives.

Now I am a bit of a Kirstie fan and love her ideas of creating things for your home from old peoples junk. I also view this with dreaming eyes as I know I neither have the time or the cash to invest and renovate in old items. However it is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine to watch such shows and come Christmas I do get a real kick out of all the amazing crafts, artisans and ideas that her programme showcases.

In real life I like to do craft, I am a fan of drawing and lettering as you all know and I love a bit of papercraft. This does not mean I am very good at it though and I can recall last Christmas getting very uppity after watching what felt like a million you tube videos on how to fold paper stars and not actually achieving any and making what resembled boomerangs. Karl however tried one and ended up folding a perfect star which I still have on my dressing table now as a reminder of how much I made him laugh pouting as I couldn’t get it right!

I have found this year a way of making cardboard barn stars which not only have I managed but I also really enjoy so now the house resembles the bit in Elf where poor Buddy goes into overdrive making snowflakes. Cooking and baking, I barely get by, crochet and embroidery, I’m more likely to stick a needle in my eye and end up in hospital and things like felt make my teeth go funny when it rubs together and makes that funny noise! Anyway my point is as much as I enjoy watching and looking at such crafts I am no good at them and leave it to the professionals. For me though there is a kind of relaxation or therapeutic element to watching such arts being undertaken.

Some of the comments on the Motherload this morning however spoke of wanting to punch Kirstie, how unrealistic her ideas are and how the money she was spending (gold leaf on a pear for example) would be much better spent on other more important things (like prosecco or chocolate Baileys I thought!) I did note that her own children didn’t take part in the show and she uses other children who do not belong to her and do crafts well and behave impeccably. I imagine this is because she like the rest of us knows that if you try and do anything with your own children they see it as a cue to misbehave, cause merry hell and eat everything in sight. Kirstie is a mum to boys too so she like me will face challenges such as arm wrestles over who gets to eat the most cherries, tears and tantrums over the metallic sharpies and constant games of hide and seek because the scissors have gone missing…… again!

It can be seen as yet another pressure on busy mums at Christmas that not only do you need to buy everything, get it all wrapped and ready and have the kids at home for two weeks you also need to make things yourself and spend countless hours doing so and then delivering them with a smile looking glam and not pissed (because of all the prosecco and Chocolate Baileys!)

Kirstie Allsopp will have at the very least, a team of researchers, a make up artist, a hair stylist, an assistant, a runner, someone who cleans up as she goes, someone who buys the stuff in for her to use and childcare on tap. She is also a famous celebrity who has plenty of cash to spend on gold leaf, artisan chocolate and things that are sold at posh Christmas Fairs. This is clearly not and never will be me, I am just happy if I get a compliment about my cardboard stars and a few likes on Instagram. I don’t think Kirstie wants to pressure us mums into a craft induced anxiety attack she is just doing her thing.

It really doesn’t matter what is under the tree this Christmas but who is sat around it. Whether that be your family, friends, moaning children, sleeping elderly relatives, drunk, sober, on their third bottle of chocolate Baileys or whatever. My point is that we are all bloody amazing and our families and friends are grateful to have us even if they haven’t got a place name marked with gold leaf or nothing but beans on toast for their dinner. Christmas is what we make it, we are who we make ourselves and no amount of gold leaf will do anything about that if we don’t believe it.

I leave you with a quote from Lady Cora from Downton Abbey, ‘You are being tested, and you know what they say my darling, being tested only makes you stronger’.