anxiety, birth, depression, general, health, lifestyle, mental health, parenting, post natal depression, pregnancy, wellbeing

July and why and what’s next

So, just briefly, around 8 weeks ago I noticed a post on the Facebook page of a free app, Mush, looking to recruit mums around the UK to market the app in their area.

The app works similar to Tinder (I don’t even know if this is the best comparison) but without the creeps, and the sleeze (no offence if you’re loved up through Tinder and views/opinions my own). But it’s similar in how it connects mums with other mums in the area.

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The reason I wanted to get involved is I know too well how social isolation feels and it ain’t nice. I saw this as an opportunity to help mums sat at home feeling like I did for so many years, with hope of helping them turn their life around.

Over the last 4 weeks I’ve dropped flyers off at local childrens centres, maternity units, handed them to Teachers, Childminders, Midwives. I’ve felt like a super sleuth quickly dropping them in baby change/feeding areas (do you know how weird that looks without a baby?!), changing rooms and even ladies toilets (yes, I know – living the dream). I’ve stuck stickers on park benches, pic-nic tables, bus stops, attached posters to park railings, school gates. I’ve done interviews over the phone for Smooth Radio, The Chronicle and had an exciting morning at Metro Radio, sharing my experiences of how life changes once you have a baby. I wanted to highlight that as expected, you are filled with love, you do feel complete, you do feel blessed, you do feel joy, but you also lose yourself as you put this new little person first. You completely forget who you are and what you like. It takes forever to get ready to go out anywhere, so often don’t bother. You lose contact with friends, or turn down any invites to nights out, to the point your friends stop asking you. The days are long as they start super early, the nights are late and sleep is broken. These are the negative aspects we don’t seem to hear or read about and the devastating affect they can have upon your emotional wellbeing. So basically I progressed from wanting to promote an app, to highlighting issues in parenthood we tend not to talk about. The more taboo subjects if you like. I don’t do taboo. I’ll talk about anything and everything

Moving forward, I knew as part of this role I’d be expected to plan an event. This event would be an opportunity to bring more mums together and to mark the end of the 5 weeks as part of the Mush team. I knew I could organise a coffee morning at a local soft play, or a picnic in the park. But I decided I wanted to do something different. I wanted this event to be all about the mums. I wanted an event where the babies stay at home with Dad (you don’t see dads giving up their social life once baby arrives, right?) and the mums get some much deserved ‘me’ time. And I thought I’d throw an opportunity for a well deserved cocktail or two

So it’s in a pub. Out of the 50 Mush recruits, pretty sure I’m the only one to be hosting a piss up. But in my defence,  we’re not just meeting up for a Saturday night sesh in town. We’re Clubbercising first for an hour. We’re throwing on our gym gear and trainers, grass skirts (Caribbean theme) and coconut bras (not me, but my friend is) painting and glittering our faces and doing a dance work out, with our glow sticks, whistles and whoops to 90s to current day tracks on the lit up dancefloor of Flares. I can not wait and loving the prep I’ve been doing this week. I’m currently sat on the sofa with a blow up dolphin to the left of me, and giant banana and crocodile to the right. And a pile of lilos and rubber rings on the table.

We did this in May in aid of Radio Lollipop where I volunteer and it was such a good night, I could not miss and opportunity to do it all again.

flares

I want music, I want dancing, I want laughter and I want a night to hopefully remember. But most of all, I want a fun night with my friends. The girls who mean more to me than they probably know. It’s only Wednesday and I’ve already seen three of them this week. How awesome is that. I want other women who feel alone to realise that it’s never to late to rediscover yourself. To remember what you like, what makes you laugh, how it feels to have fun. But most of all, how important it is to have friends, as they could be a lifeline.

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And I was about to share some more exciting info, but I’m keeping that for a future blog. I’m keeping this one all about the Mammys, how awesome they are, how hard it can be and how they don’t ever have to do it alone.

For more info about my event click on this link

https://www.facebook.com/events/102859490355781/

And to download the Mush app

https://mushapp.app.link/zeSiqqr4mE

 

 

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anxiety, autism, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, parenting, post natal depression, special needs, wellbeing

My postnatal depression story

I’m no longer ashamed to admit that I have trouble remembering the first two years of my sons life. I can not tell you at what age he got his first tooth, his favourite food as a baby, his first word or when he began to sleep through the night.  I’m not even sure of what age he took his first steps.

My second child, I can tell you all her milestones. I think that’s mainly due to the amount of times I’ve had to go over them with paediatricians, therapists, doctors. She has autism, and was finally diagnosed at age six just last year.

My youngest,  Emily. I know all her firsts. Mainly because I was extra vigilant looking out for any red flags we had with my eldest daughter.

Each pregnancy was different. All had the usual sickness and discomfort.  But my third pregnancy, I just wasn’t feeling those feelings you associate with pregnancy. The excitement,  the happiness, the eagerness. I didn’t really feel anything.

I brought my feelings (or lack of) up with my midwife whilst getting my bloods done. I was assured it was perfectly normal , due to hormones and it would all settle down probably by my next appointment.

Only it didn’t.  I didn’t take joy in shopping for baby clothes, I was in no rush to pack my hospital bag, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was emotionless.

I booked a 3D scan around the 32 week mark, hoping that would make everything feel more real, I don’t think it did. It was a wonderful experience, of course it was, but the sadness continued.

The years which followed my daughters birth in September 2011 were dark, very dark. I was dealing with the likelihood of my oldest daughter having autism, which was causing stress along with that lingering feeling of worthlessness. But before even falling pregnant with my daughter, I was dealing with body image issues. I hated my appearance to the point it was affecting my everyday life. These feelings got worse. I’d stay home all day unable to face the world, or I’d only leave the house when it was dark. I’d avoid mirrors and my reflection in windows. I’d panic if we had a party or wedding to go to. I hide away in the toilets to avoid any social interaction.  And my heart would pound and my  head spin if I saw anyone with a camera.

I’d apologise to my children, as small as they were and unable to understand, for being a useless mother. I’d tell them I loved them as the tears rolled down my face, and that I was doing my best. I’d ask my husband why he was with me and give him the option to leave, which always left him gobsmacked and confused.

I’d go to bed each night and secretly wish I wouldn’t wake up. I’d have dreams of living a life where I am happy and have friends around me, and wake up devastated when I realised they were just that. A dream

My husband found me a video on Youtube about the ‘Black dog’, and asked me to watch it. I did. I broke down and he told me to get help.

I went to my GP, told her my feelings and filled in a questionnaire. From that she gathered I had depression and extreme anxiety. I was referred to the Mental Health Team. Again. I was already in therapy before falling pregnant with Emily dealing with body image issues. Hence my panic when faced with the prospect of having my photo taken. I was a mess. An absolute broken mess

That was September 2013. From then on I had fortnightly visits from my Health Visitor. She didn’t come to pry or check up on me. She came to lend and ear aswell as advice and support, and I thanked her for that.

October 2013 I began attending well-being courses. I picked up techniques to deal with stress, become assertive and gain confidence.

Summer 2014 I had my first appointment with I think it was a life coach. She pretty much assessed me to see if she could help. She couldn’t. My condition was too extreme.  I was then referred to a clinical psychologist. Again

I met with my therapist every two weeks and I think I had around 10 sessions before I decided I felt ready to face the world alone once again.

I learned through these sessions I was suffering with post-natal depression, and that the depression had even grown DURING pregnancy. I found out through a quick glance at my notes at the doctors surgery as they came up on the computer screen during an appointment, that  I had been suffering with PND after the birth of my second child. I found out through a letter sent to my doctors and a copy to sent to me, that I’d even been suffering with PND after the birth of my first child way back in 1999. I had my son at 21 so I’d spent most of my adult life with depression. I genuinely thought I was just useless, unlikable, disgusting. I was non of those. I was depressed.

PND took away my memories of my first child growing from baby to toddler, it kept me indoors, it filled me with fear, took away my self-esteem and stripped me of my confidence

When the therapy ended, I took up blogging. I decided to chase my dreams and enrolled on a distance learning course. This both occupied my mind and my confidence began to grow. I‘ve taken up exercise, and spend most days either in a gym or an exercise class. I’ve made new friends. I even spend two hours on a Sunday night as part of a team for a local radio station. I’m still building up my confidence to become more involved, but I know I will. I know I can do it. I can do anything if I continue to believe in myself.

Over the months I’ve thrown myself into situations I would usually avoid. I’ve done things I could never imagine doing and I am in a place now where I have never been in before. A very good place and although I am an anxious person by nature, I have my anxiety under control and I will never let depression take over my life or steal my memories again.

general, lifestyle, parenting

A little girl and her Random Act of Kindness

The most beautiful, heartwarming thing happened to me yesterday afternoon, so special that I know I need to share with the world.

I was walking through Whitley Bay town centre with my daughter Jessica yesterday, when I heard someone shout ‘Excuse me’, I turned around expecting someone to tell me I’d dropped something, or ask who my energy supplier is – the norm in my home town
But instead a young girl aged around 8 or 9 handed me a bunch of daffodils, a chocolate bunny and a note and said ‘These are for you’ completely thrown I asked ‘Oh my goodness, why’? and she replied ‘Because you’re special, and people need to be told they’re special. And we all need to be kind to each other. So these are off me and my Grandad’
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Completely gobsmacked and amazed by this kind gesture, I thanked her and told her she’s extremely kind and that makes her special too, and wandered home, abandoning what I had went out to do. I needed to get home and tell my son, and share the story on social media there and then, when full of emotion.
Reading over the note again, I saw the little girls, name is Cassidy. I have since found her parents on Facebook and my post has gone viral and full of compliments Cassidys mum and dad can read to her to let her know what a special little girl she is.
Of course I was not the only person to experience this amazing act of kindness yesterday, I have heard from at least five or six others too.  One my friend Jo who runs local homeless charity Making Winter Warmer and it’s great to see her on the receiving end of kindness for all the good work she does.
This little lady and her Grandad completely made my day, if not my year and I’ll keep the note forever and look at it every single time I feel I’m having a difficult day.
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On the note Cassidy states we need to be kind to others, and she’s right, we absolutely do, and as parents, we need to teach our children to do the same ❤
general, humour, lifestyle

I’m a ‘hot mess mum’ and that’s ok

So today I’ve had yet another morning of dragging my reluctant 5-year-old through the school gates. She’s still going through a particularly clingy phase, and tells me frequently between 7 – 8.50 each morning ‘Mummy, you are my best friend’ in hope they’re the magic words to bag her a day off school.

My response is the same each morning. I give her a hug, tell her I love her, then hand her over to staff and give her a wave as she looks back and throws me evils across the yard as she’s led into school by her teacher.

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Part of me feels I should go home feeling incredibly guilty, and ring in half an hour to check she’s settled ok. But the other part, like 90% of me part knows that this is life, she’ll be fine and I have nothing to gain in sitting around worrying. Then I feel incredible guilt for not feeling any guilt and wonder if this makes me a bad parent.

Infact I often find myself doing, or not doing things which make me question if I’m a bad parent.

As I type this, my house is slightly messy. Nothing serious, but I’m aware one of the kids left a half eaten lollipop stuck to the sofa as we were about to leave thismoring. Possibly Emily. She’ll have had it for breakfast along with the chocolate eyeballs and jelly fingers from Trick or Treating last night. Jessica had a slice or the godawful Halloween cake I made, with Angel delight, and I did too. You see some mornings I’ll get up extra early to make them berry topped ‘Brain Booster Pancakes’ for breakfast (oats, flaxseed, banana, coconut oil. That sort of Pinteresty shiz), others I’ll take the extra 20 minutes in bed and serve up a packet of chocolate digestives.

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Sometimes I’ll spend an hour or two preping and peeling veg, another hour cooking and dish up a particularly healthy and colourful tea. Others I keep it real and know most of it will end up in the bin so processed food it is. Like chips. Fishfingers and chips. They always go down well with about half a bottle of ketchup for the youngest.

Sometimes we’ll take them to McDonalds. Sometimes once a week (dead cert on a Saturday), sometimes even twice a week. But definitely 4 times a month, at least.

Sometimes when it’s a rainy day, we’ll do arts and crafts, or I’ll try and suppress my inner ‘would you like mummy to mix in the crispies/cut the cookies and you just eat them. Please’?  control freak, and let them do some baking

Okay, not necessarily rainy, but the ones where I just can not be bothered with the drama that is putting on coats and shoes. But the times we do go to the park, I’m often the parent sat on the bench Facebooking. Telling them to go on the slide as mummy is too tired to push a swing for half an hour. Yes, I sometimes use it as ‘me time’.

And others I’ll give them the Ipad and let them watch Dora the Explorer. It’s educational. They’ve both picked up some Spanish

girls

Sometimes we’re super prepared in the morning and we take a stroll to school stretching the one minute walk down the road to 5. We’ll go the more ‘scenic’ route looking in neighboring gardens and Emily likes to point at and name the flowers each time we do.

Others I’m running around looking for something. Usually my phone, or my sanity if it’s a Friday. Then I’ll realise as we’re about to leave the house my daughter hasn’t yet washed her beautiful little face. And I’ll take her to school anyway.

Sometimes I’ll hear one of them complain ‘I can’t find any clean socks’, and I’ll offer the solution of ‘wear yesterdays’.

Sometimes we’ll go out to eat and I’ll give them a little behavioral prep talk and that ‘pleeeeease just. behave’ glare when I can see they haven’t quite listened. Others I’ll think sod it, get it out of your system and lie on the floor under the table if you must.

Sometimes when we tackle the dreaded task of food shopping, I’ll quietly hurry behind them every time they run off in opposite directions, then get down to their level and explain why it’s not acceptable behavior. Others I’ll lose my shit and shout both there names followed by ‘get back here. NOW’!!

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Sometimes I have a run of taking the kids to every single party they’re invited to. But sometimes I forget one, or we arrive late. By a week. That’s happened before.

Sometimes I’m on a roll with the kids homework and ‘Weekend Diaries’. But others I’ll spend 15 minutes on a monday morning  searching through the kitchen drawers for a pen, then I’ll scribble away and knock up a story making their weekends sound so much more adventurous than they actually were.

And after I’ve finished typing this I’m off on a hunt for twigs, leaves and conkers to put into Emilys ‘Half-Term Autum Treasure bag’ I found inside her book bag. Thismorning

Sometimes I’ll yell at my kids. Sometimes I’ll laugh at them. But I always laugh with them

There’s some parents who appear to have it all together. Then there are the rest of us. We aren’t lazy. We aren’t incompetent. We aren’t bad parents. We’re still kick-ass awesome, loving caring mums.

We’re just, for lack of a better term, a hot mess.