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

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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.


 

 

Sunday ‘fun’ 

Hey all, how are you? 

I am in a typical me fashion feeling low again, I imagine the weather changing, a really busy week and general grown up stresses are to blame. I also genuinely think I might be going through early menopause as having had a hysterectomy even with keeping my ovaries I’m at a greater risk of it coming within five years of the op. 

I am going to the doctor tomorrow who I’m sure will put his head in his hands when he sees me screaming inside his head ‘not her again!’ Anyway, being a bit low I’ve been feeling massively tired, so much so that this afternoon while snuggling with the boys on the sofa watching ‘Percy Jackson the Lightning Thief’ for the seven millionth time (that’s just today) I fell asleep. 

I woke up two hours later (neither boy had moved) to a missed call from one of my best friends so I got up in a slightly dazed and confused state to put the kettle on (who doesn’t need tea when they have just woken up?!) and called her as I walked into the kitchen. Not really aware of what was going on I went to the fridge and heard a noise behind me. This was Alf our black and white cat who is about fifteen and should be acting his age however he still thinks he is a kitten.

The next thing I knew a brown lump fling itself across the kitchen floor. I jumped and almost hit the ceiling and was screaming down the phone to my poor friend who I assume thought I was being murdered or having a serious episode. It was a mouse, a live mouse that Alf was tossing around the kitchen like a juggler. I ran from the room, shut the door and continued to scream down the phone to my friend who by Now was in hysterics. She has been called to help me with spiders before and knows how much of a wuss I am.

So the boys who being boys should have been saying, ‘it’s alright Mum, you may not get to have pretty pink things around the house or the choice of not having bogeys wiped on you but we are boys, we’ve got this’ but they didn’t, they were worse than me and were both river dancing around the living room. 

I called Karl, he is an hour away, he can’t help and being honest was about as sympathetic as if I had just slapped him around the face with a dead fish. So I was on my own. I got a little box in the hope of putting it over the mouse and getting it out in the most humane way possible. I opened the kitchen door a tiny bit and Nate my seven year old pushed me though slamming the door shut behind me. Like when they lock you in the room on the Crystal Maze and Just stand outside the door. These two also barricaded the door so the mouse couldn’t get out. Of course that also meant I couldn’t get out either. 

The poor mouse was wedged between a wooden toy lorry and a box of recycling bits (my home is never tidy) and I spent a number of minutes dancing around too scared to move anything incase it ran under the fridge. Eventually I had the nerve to move the lorry and quickly dropped the box down but not quite over the whole of the poxy thing so it was struggling to escape staring at me. I managed to sort it and then almost collapsed on the kitchen floor. 

I then had to push some card under the box and get the mouse out of the house, around the toy assault course and avoiding Alf who was prowling around unhappy I had screamed at him. I released the mouse (a wood mouse I have identified from google) and then both boys appeared with some cheese. I have no idea what the cheese was meant to do but Nate seemed happy that he could just eat the cheese and they carried on as if nothing had happened. 

I may be making a huge meal out of the whole incident but I don’t do pests, I don’t catch things and I certainly don’t stay calm in situations that involve any of them. You should see me if a wasp flies at me, it’s like watching that episode of Friends where Pheobe likes to run. 

Anyway today I have learned that I can manage totally on my own, the boys need some better training, I may need to pay for my friend to have hearing aids and that wood mice are very cute as long as they aren’t leaping around your kitchen.

Hope you are having a lovely weekend 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

The simple life…….

Hey all, how are we? 

I’ve been thinking today about happiness, gratitude and how I use them in my life. I was thinking this while out on a ‘power walk’ on the Crab and Winkle Way which as most of you know is one of my favourite spots in Whitstable.

Thinking about the little things that keep you happy and grateful is an essential in life and it occurred to me just how much I long for the simple life. I keep seeing and reading things about living a simpler life, the best life you can and getting ‘off grid’ for a while.

My husband wouldn’t be able to be ‘off grid’ for long, he is a gadget man who loves technology but then it occurred to me that he is also at his happiest outside in the garden, doing jobs, enjoying the peace and making things. All of these things are relatively simple and usually involve minimal gadgets (other than his drone!) 

The boys too are usually happy when they are playing outside. I actually find that the more time they spend on tablets (we limit this as much as we can) the more grumpy and irritable they become. They get lots of built up aggression and you can tell that they have been having screen time. 

Earlier this week we visited the Elmley Nature Reserve and had a night of no television or tablets. Karl and I had our phones but mostly for pictures but neither of us used them that much. We walked, talked, played cards and the boys got lost in nature. There was a huge hill at the back of our fishermans hut and they were up and down it constantly, looking out over the fields and playing little games they had made up. 

Of course they did some arguing and some wrestling but they are my children and wouldn’t be if they didn’t! 

I loved the peace, the views and the feeling of being at one with nature. There were pretty butterflies, all manner of birds and rabbits running around which made it all seem quite magical.

So as I was power walking in my maroon shorts and running top which is way too tight because of all the chocolate I was thinking about how much I just want to spend my time simply being. Taking in beautiful views, walking and conversing with the people I love and enjoying where we live. 

In our home we seem to be embracing simpler things, not focussing so much on smart storage solutions from modern shops but loving things with a history and that were made by hand. Things that will still be around and usable when we are old and the boys are able to appreciate them like the table Karl made using the base from my Grandads old Singer sewing machine table. 

Gone are the days where if we had a free weekend I would feel like we needed to fill it with all and sundry, we now take life at a much slower pace and I actually try to plan in time where we can choose what we do whether that be a walk in the woods, on the beach or some time with Nana chatting and drinking tea. I love seeing friends and family but they too have similar feelings to us so it’s nice that we can all enjoy our times together. 

I am so very happy when I am out walking, it opens my mind and allows me that space to think and be me. To go over what’s been going on and to plan for what’s coming up. To think about all the things I am grateful for and to process things that I’ve not been so good at in recent times and how I can improve next time.

This is a key element of moving forward for me after my CBT has come to an end. Originally I was massively scared and felt like I needed that session each week to be okay but the more I have thought about it the more I realise that I have the tools I need and I need to keep using them, building on the foundation the therapist and I built and making them habit. Walking in the fresh air is a huge part of this for me.

This morning I walked for half an hour, no time at all really when you weigh up what is important or not but the feeling afterwards was immense and is carrying on throughout the day. Of course not all days will life be so simple and some days or even weeks there won’t be time for a long walk but life is after all about balance. We make time for the doctor or dentist when we need to and being mindful is just as key to our health as these visits are.

How do you keep your life simple? What things would you like to improve on or to change? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. If you can take half an hour for yourself this week and do something you love, something that is good for your soul. Walk, run, sing to loud music, catch up with a friend, draw, knit, have a chocolate bar, bake a cake, build Lego with your children, buy some flowers, take some photos, cook a meal from scratch, light a scented candle, have a bath (you get my drift?!) I bet you will feel much better for it. 

Illness, bike riding and lost crocs…….

You know how sometimes you get to the end of a long day and just need a really good giggle? Read on lovely people……..

Today is one of those where I work the day and Karl works the afternoon and night so my parents pick the boys up from school. I go straight to their house and they usually feed both me and the boys before we go home about seven pm for bedtime.

Tonight I got back to find the boys doing clay modelling with Nana, she loves any kind of messy, knife wielding and potentially get paint everywhere crafts so I let her get on with it and watched with a nervousness that I can’t describe while Leo flung around the small knife chopping clay into various shapes. 

The boys ate tea and Nate not even half way through eating declared he felt terribly poorly and took himself off into the living room. Now my Nate is a big boy who loves all the boy things there are in this world. He is also one of the biggest drama queens I know and often goes to extremes when he feels poorly asking questions such as, ‘is it my heart?’, ‘do I need a blood transfusion?’ and ‘is it a deadly disease?’ 

Tonight was no different and within what seemed like minutes he had worked himself up into a huge tizzy and was very concerned he would be sick. He reminded me a bit of a woman in heavy labour, all heavy breathing and uncomfortable movements. It got to the point where not only did he feel sick but his neck was hurting, he couldn’t swallow properly and he was almost delirious. I then went into typical mum mode and thought just incase he had indeed developed some kind of tropical disease that I should get him checked out.

We drove to our Doctors which also has a minor injuries walk in centre attached. Usually they have nurses who can prescribe and often the doctors work late. We went to the lady at reception with Nate leaning on the desk with his heavy breathing and humpback whale type moans. She gave me a perplexed look when I answered the question of whether it was an injury or an illness with ‘I’m not really sure’ and ushered us through to the waiting area where Nate continued to whale loudly.

The kind lady doctor called us in and Nate who had tears steaming down his cheeks went into full flow about how his breathing was strange, he felt sick, his neck and throat hurt and that he blamed the ham from school. She also looked at me perplexed and asked if Nate often got this anxious. I explained that he hates being ill and even the thought of it makes him get into a real tizzy so she was extra patient with him. Turns out his glands were up in his neck so we were prescribed antibiotics and he was told to rest up.

My plan next was to drive to our local Tesco to get his medicine which would take around ten minutes. Nate was having none of this so I delivered him back to Nana’s (by this point it was pouring with rain) and shot to Tesco on my own. The lady at the chemist said I had a few minutes to wait so I found myself by the flowers and picked out some peonies for me and pink roses for my mum. 

I collected the medicine and left the store with handfuls of flowers and the little white bag the medicine comes in, my hair was everywhere and I was soaked. I must have looked very strange. By the time I got back to Nana’s and gave Nate his first dose of medicine I felt exhausted and that we should all be getting home. Nate happily came but Leo refused to put his shoes on and ran off out of the back door into the pouring rain.

I loaded the car with all the things that needed to go home, school bags, shoes, clay models, hats and Nate loaded himself in. Leo then appeared on his bike which he has only just learned to ride without stabilisers cycling round and round the house in the pouring rain. On his second trip round I realised he was wearing a giant pair of adult crocs, Grandads crocs. 

The next thing I knew Grandad himself was running after Leo shouting, ‘he’s got my crocs!’ While I sat in the car windscreen wipers on full pelt wondering if this kind of thing ever happens to anyone else. It took a reasonable amount of time for them both to return for a third loop this time Leo wearing nothing on his feet and Dad telling me as he went past that Leo had thrown the crocs on the lawn. 

On the next rotation Grandad appeared with Leo over his shoulder in a fireman style lift. Leo was placed into the car and as we drove off I looked in my mirror and saw him smiling to himself. He had been having a wonderful time.

We got home and I had to unload the car, I had flowers, two school bags, one handbag, one pair of shoes, half a shepherds pie (leftovers) clay models of Saturn and Neptune, my work bag, two drink bottles and two hats. Nate held his prescription and Leo unlocked the front door. We walked in and everything in my arms dropped to the floor, I managed to catch the Shepherds pie and promptly got the boys into bed. 

They are still awake and I’m eating the rest of the shepherds pie which I planned on having for lunch at work tomorrow. 

Oh well it’s not like it’s only Monday and we still have the rest of the week to go……. oh wait!