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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A year in review……

Hey all, how are we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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