Is it FOMO, JOMO or just missing out?

There has been this saying bandied around for a while “FOMO” which when I googled it turned out be “Fear Of Missing Out”. This got me thinking, do I ever actually experience this feeling anymore? And in all honesty I think the answer is no. I have definitely become a home body – not that I ever was a massive party animal. But as time has gone along I have found myself just wanting to stay at home, declining invitations or spending night outs thinking about when I can go home. Not all the time I hasten to add but being out out fills me with a considerable amount of anxiety – real physical, palpable anxiety. 

Anyone who has experienced the physical side of anxiety will tell you that it’s an extremely unpleasant feeling and not something you would actively go out of your way to reproduce. Much like banging your head against a wall or shutting your hand in a door. It hurts the first time so you wouldn’t then repeatedly do it again if you could help it.

I am pleased to report that there is now “JOMO” “Joy Of Missing Out” which definitely sits more comfortably with me. But the problem is this idea of Missing Out. For every 10 opportunities I am offered, 9 of them won’t be that big a deal to miss but there is always 1 thing that I will want to do, 1 thing I won’t want to miss. So then I am in a quandary about whether to suck it up and experience the pain or to miss out on something great. 

I don’t want to live like this forever so I push myself out of my comfort zone as much as possible. I believe that in doing this I will start to learn that things aren’t as bad as my mind would have me believe. It’s also essential in preventing me from becoming a hermit!!

Take this very moment for instance, I am currently sat alone on a train travelling to London for the weekend. I have plans to spend the weekend with a group of ladies, only two of which I know, one of which is a family member. We are off to see the Strictly live show tomorrow afternoon and as a dedicated strictly fan and for a variety of other reasons, I couldn’t turn it down. 

But as I sit here on this train, living what many would see as a mother’s dream -(a whole weekend of adult time, no arguing kids, no demands, no bedtimes, pure luxury) I am a huge mess of emotions inside. Hopefully on the outside I look perfectly normal and none of my fellow passenger will notice. But my insides are being churned up by anxiety.

I have walked away from everything that keeps me safe. I am going to somewhere far from home without my family, without my husband even without my dog and not for work purposes. All things that give me an identity and act as my safety blanket. At this very moment I am just me – not a mum, not a wife, not an employee, not a dog owner and to me that is utterly terrifying!! It’s only when they are stripped away that I realise how much I depend on those safety nets to keep me going.

Everyone’s instant reaction when you tell them what you are doing is to rave about how lucky I am to be getting away, to be experiencing something so great and to be having a break from my family and routine. I am not an ungrateful person in anyway and I do realise how privileged I am but that doesn’t unfortunately take away how difficult I find this. That family, that routine, that purpose is literally what keeps me going and whilst it is exhausting in itself and I do often want a break, being away from them is a bit like losing my lifeline. So I smile and nod along when people say it, but inside that’s not really how I feel.

My rational head knows that I need to do this, I need to break away from those safety nets for a short amount of time. My rational head knows that this feeling of discomfort is important. Consequently, I have put on my game face, I have forced myself to do this even though I have wanted to back out so many times. I have suppressed my anxious feelings and I will push forward, and I will do everything in my power to enjoy myself because otherwise this has all been for nothing. But the irrational and anxiety riddled part of my head is waiting to pounce on me at the very moment my facade drops.

It’s going to be a tiring old time and I may well go in to hiding when I get home. Don’t underestimate the physical and mental exertion required to live in a constant anxious state. I may not attend the next 9 things I am offered, but hopefully every time I push my limits it will actually increase my capacity and it may only be 8/10 things I turn down. Maybe that won’t be the case , but I won’t know unless I try and try is all I can do. I am coming to terms with that and that in itself is growth.

If you need me after tomorrow, this is where I will be.

My anxious mind, the battle is real.

Some insight in to the mind of an anxious mind

I realise I spend a lot of time talking about my experiences of having anxiety, my recovery attempts and my setbacks. But they are mainly just headlines, it’s difficult to give real insight in to what those headlines actually mean.

So, in line with the blog name, I am publishing my actual ramblings to give some insight in to what living with anxiety really means to me. This is hand on heart genuinely what was going through my mind in the 30 minutes that the repair man was at my house. I am choosing to view it in a humorous way as it does seem utterly ridiculous, but it could easily be seen as totally crazy. But this is truly what my mind does in seemingly normal situations. Enjoy…

First some context: Imagine the scene, it a Friday morning and I have a fridge repair man in my house. It was a planned visit in terms of knowing he was coming today but no idea what time that would be. When he arrives, I am in the middle of cooking soup, straightening up the house and listening to a “90’s acoustic” playlist on spotify.

Anxious mind: oh god I should have cleaned the fridge out (as the guy hands me a fridge shelf with a dirty mark on it). That’s it, he’s going to think I am some kind of rancid undomesticated useless waste of space. Why didn’t I clean the fridge? I’m an idiot.

Rational mind: you are being ridiculous, it was one dirty mark and I doubt he even noticed. He will have seen far worse. Besides the rest of the house seems clean and tidy as long as he doesn’t look too close 😛

Anxious mind makes this better by cleaning the shelf in front of him, to prove that I do know how to do it!!

Anxious mind: (as the guy takes stuff off the top of the fridge) sh*t sh*t sh*t I definitely haven’t cleaned up there and now he is going to know we make dust and put me forward for how clean is your house (that’s not even still going but I do remember very vividly how disgusting some houses were). He wont understand why there is a cushion up there (it’s the cats bed – she sleeps up there to keep safe from the dog)!! He’ll think I am completely weird. And why did I decide to cook lentils now!! he probably thinks it stinks, he will think I stink!!

Rational mind: everyone has stuff stashed away in places and everyone probably has dust on the top of their fridge and he probably is wondering why you have a cushion up there but I doubt he’s that bothered. As for the lentils, it smells fine. It smells like vegetables cooking and he can see the saucepan and knows its not you.

Anxious mind:  Oh no why did I think it was a good idea to leave the music on, he probably thinks I am complete dork!! I want to turn it off, but I cant turn it off without it being obvious what I’m doing. What is this song? Oh god oh god? I am going to skip, wait I can’t do that because then he will know I am actually listening to it, I am going to skip, no don’t, I am I am (skips the song) WHY DID YOU DO THAT?!? He must think I am such an idiot. I wonder what music he likes? Do you think he has even heard the music? He might like the music! ARGH!!!

Photo courtesy of cynthiaeday.com

Rational mind: he probably hasn’t even noticed the music, it probably isn’t bothering him and you are unlikely to ever see him again so stop panicking!!

  THE PHONE RINGS AND INTERRUPTS THE MUSIC

Anxious mind: phew

Rational mind: phew

                                                                ANSWERS PHONE

Anxious mind: Oh no, now he can hear my conversation. What if he thinks I just sit around all day doing nothing but talking on the phone and obviously not cleaning. I haven’t been at work any of the times he has seen me, he must think I am really lazy. He’s probably thinking all sorts about me now!! What must he be thinking?!?! I need this to be over!! I am going crazy!

Rational mind: you are being crazy!! Of course, you haven’t been at work when he has come otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to come!! He is unlikely to have even noticed anything about the house, he is literally just here to fix the fridge. He is not from social services, he is not filming a secret documentary about slovenly mothers. He is here to fix the fridge!!! You are being crazy!

  THE GUY FINISHES THE FRIDGE AND LEAVES

Anxious mind: Thank god that’s over

Rational mind: Thank god that’s over

So, there you go, a small snippet of the crazy that is my mind. Looking at it on the page now, I can easily see why I end up exhausted after a situation like that and why I have to be more careful now about how much I try to cram in to my life. Those occurrences are more frequent than I would like to admit to and can happen at any time in any place. I am lucky in that more often than not I have the rational mind running alongside the anxious mind to counter its thought patterns. But when I am struggling it is because the rational mind is not there or it can not break through. It is at that point that the panic gets its power and literally attacks. The panic then feeds the anxious mind whilst suppressing the rational mind. The fight to rebalance then becomes that much tougher.

Photo courtesy of pinterest

Anxiety is a constant battle that we are fighting. The battle to keep the panic away and balance the anxious with the rational. I haven’t yet mastered how to fuel the rational to suppress the anxious. But I am always working towards it.

So anyway, that was an insight to my mind. A light hearted but definitely honest account of my battle. And on the plus side I think I can legitimately maintain my title – ramblings of an anxious mumma!

The start of a new year – time for reflection or just another day?

So, the bells have rung, the fireworks have gone off, the champagne has been drunk and we have changed from 2018 to 2019. As usual the world didn’t end, there were no technological epidemics at the point of midnight and the questionable political decisions of 2018 have not vanished in a puff of smoke.

Fundamentally nothing has changed!

Yet we all often fall in to the trap of feeling compelled to make changes or expecting things to be different just because we now have to end our dates with /19 and not /18.

I have fallen foul of this myself year on year, but encouraged by the many postings of Instagram I made the decision to approach this new year a bit differently.

The overall message from Instagram was that I actually didn’t need to change, there was nothing wrong with me and that was a message that started to resonate. I have real issues with myself, valuing who I am and treating myself with compassion. This has been heightened by an unfortunate incident before Christmas which I won’t go in to but did set me back a fair way.

So, the idea that I didn’t need to start thinking about all the bits of me I hated and wanted to change and instead could keep focussed on marrying who I am with who I want to be was enlightening.

I don’t subscribe to the idea that we shouldn’t acknowledge the turn of the year. I know it is basically just another day and in reality it doesn’t feel any different but it’s as good a day as any to start thinking about what you want going forward. There has to be a day one for kick starting a new approach so I think why not the first day of the year.

So this year instead of making a list of all the things I want to change about me, of which there are endless, I am instead going to focus on the things that I was doing last year and enjoyed. Things that have perhaps slipped from my attention or haven’t been prioritised as they should. Things that I value and that benefit me physically or mentally.

This list will be pretty fluid and I plan to add to it or amend it as the months go on, no one can know what the future holds so I think it is only right that there is no rigid plan.

So here are a few of the things I am planning to continue in 2019:

  • I would like to get back in to running and improve my fitness levels. Three years ago I managed to run a half marathon and whilst I didn’t really enjoy the race itself I did feel enormous satisfaction that I was able to run that distance. I had worked hard to get myself prepared for such an event and I would love to be back to that level again as I felt such a sense of accomplishment. But it is not easy starting again and finding the mental strength to push through the pain. I also need to prioritise running more and make some time for it.
  • I am going to continue with my “read more scroll less” pledge started last year when I gave up facebook and my personal Instagram account in order to make more time to read. I managed 24 books last year which was one short of my 25 target but that still mega for me as I think I averaged about 3 books a year over the previous 5 years. That’s also not including the 4 textbooks I read for my 2 exams which slowed down the reading for pleasure mission. Those textbooks definitely weren’t pleasure!
  • I am going to make a greater effort to write my blog and work really hard on getting some structure and order to my writing. I have so many ideas but I need to make the time to work on them. Otherwise, let’s be honest I am just wasting my time.
  • I am going to be more mindful of what triggers my anxiety because what 2018 taught me was that it wasn’t enough to just leave my job and expect to get better. There has been an ongoing battle with anxiety and I need to continue to work on how to make things a bit easier. I still don’t know if I will overcome anxiety, it feels very far away from achievable at the moment but I know I can take steps to make it easier to deal with and 2019 will be about fine tuning those steps.

And that is that, I think 4 things to continue is more than enough for me. I can’t cope at the best of times with being overwhelmed so there is no reason to actively do it to myself. These are all things that I have been doing in 2018 and would like to continue and improve upon. Not resolutions, not unattainable goals to fail to achieve. Just some structured thinking about what I value in my life. And obviously it goes without saying that I will continue to look after my family etc etc and I will probably on occasion still strive to be a size 6 but small steps and all.

Happy 2019 folks, may it be the best possible year it can be for all!!

Is three really the magic number or just a crowd?

courtesy of bounty.com
beautiful baby feet make my heart skip a beat

This is a question I have been pondering for a while, and if you haven’t guessed what I am referring to – it’s the almighty decision about whether to have a third child or not?

For a long time I was adamantly sticking to two children because, as is so often pointed out to me (in case I hadn’t noticed), I have one of each and now I can stop! Which is true, but having children for me was never about having a daughter or a son in particular so I was never fussed anyway.

To context this, I have a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. They are two wonderful children who are my purpose in life, my inspiration and the greatest thing I have ever done (that and marrying their father). So why wouldn’t I want to do that again? Well..

By the time my youngest child finishes uni I will be about to turn 50, presupposing he a) goes to Uni, b) takes a conventional three-year course and c) doesn’t take a gap year!! But the point being that by the time I am turning 50 my children will not be children anymore and I will have the opportunity to fulfil the dreams and ambitions that are being stunted at the moment because my children are young and need me so much more. All whilst I’m still young enough to enjoy it.

Have another child now and I am adding at least another 5.5 years to that which still makes me young, but suddenly the sacrifices/benefits of having children relatively young are lost because I then had another baby in my thirties.

Thing is, I can see having another baby fitting in to my life. I want another baby – I want to be pregnant again, have scans, feel the baby kick – hell I even want to go through labour again. I want to meet my child for the first time ever, I want to give my son the chance to become a big brother. All those wonderful magical amazing experiences that come from having a baby.

But I am not sure if I want the third child?!? Madness really, because to have another baby means to have another child. But I don’t see a third child fitting in and the dynamics would change significantly. My son idolises my daughter, she in turn protects him and teaches him. They fight like cats and dogs as well but ultimately, they love each other and their bond is wonderful. Put a third child in there and someone is getting left out surely!! The age range would span nearly 9 years and I just don’t know how well that would work.

Also, I can tell you the times I definitely DON’T want a third child – Christmas, holidays and school shoe shopping time!! There is a definite financial implication to having another baby not least because I sold all my baby stuff to stop this very thing from happening.

Image courtesy of someecards.com
There are some days when I am adamant this is a bad idea.

I think this urge is also driven a bit from social media. I follow a number of people on Instagram who have recently had their third child and they have inspired me with advice around hypnobirthing, the fourth trimester and pulling up the drawbridge. I think part of my longing is to do with having a more idealistic birth and taking all the things I have learnt since my last baby and putting them in to practice with a new baby. With both of my children, I have regrets about either their birth or first year, all related to circumstances and nothing to do with them. But I do feel a bit like I want to do it again and do it so much better to repair the damage and to end on a high.

But actually, I am possibly mistaking wanting another baby for actually wanting to go back in time and do it all again but knowing what I know now. I would give anything to go back to being a first-time mum and there would be so so so much I would tell that me about what to do, what not to do and how to make the most of everything.

But another child won’t heal those wounds and wipe away those regrets, instead I need to make my peace with them somehow.

What is very true is that I am not the person I was back then in many ways, some positive and some negative. I now live with an anxiety disorder that I didn’t have nearly 8 years ago when I was first pregnant. I struggle with the stress in our lives now with just two children, chuck in a demanding baby and sleepless nights and I may lose the plot altogether. Besides, is it fair to the children to increase the stress in the house and stretch my resources even more thinly. They have been so amazing whilst I have been ill and I’m sure that at times it has impacted negatively on them despite my best intentions. So really do I not owe it to them to just continue to work on being in a place of calm and stability?

So many reasons not to do it, my head says it’s a definite no but my heart can’t quite decide. So perhaps ill just sit here looking at cute baby pictures and ponder some more until I’m too old anyway!! Besides my husband definitely doesn’t want a third so that does cause somewhat of a problem!?!?

It’s About Time I got some perspective

One of the positive effects of having a dog is the time gifted to you when out walking on your own. I personally use this time quite often to catch up on podcasts. The newest addition to my podcast library being @dollyalderton Love Stories and most recently I have listened to her fabulous discussion with Emma Freud about the greatest love stories of her life. In case you didn’t know, Emma Freud has been part of many film masterpieces including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and the perhaps lesser known film About Time alongside Richard Curtis.

About Time (2013)

After listening to this particular episode, and being a lifelong devotee of the Richard Curtis film empire, I was eager to watch a film I had never so much as heard about before. This probably speaks more about me than them, but About Time is not one of the more famous of their films I would argue.

Anyway, that aside I settled down on Friday evening after convincing my reluctant husband that he really did want to watch a romantic movie and not something with more action and gore. He wasn’t so sure but I am a very convincing individual and I got my own way.

Well thank goodness I did, because this film is truly wonderful, inspiring and potentially life changing. If you haven’t watched it, and I strongly suggest that you do, I will provide a brief synopsis. The film centres around Tim (played by Domhnall Gleeson) and the relationships within his life and the impact that his ability to travel back in time plays on those relationships. I am sure there are more eloquent synopses out there but that gives you the gist.

Where this film excels itself over Curtis’ other offerings, and as I have already said I am a huge Richard Curtis fan so that is not a criticism, is that it’s main focus is not just the romantic relationships. But instead it focusses on the everyday relationships, the mundane and ordinary but truly amazing life changing relationships that we hopefully all will encounter at some point.

One of the most touching and inspiring relationships is that between Tim and his father (played by Bill Nighy). It is not big and showy filled with proclamations of love but instead it is deep, subtle and profound. A shared love and respect hinged on simply the time they spent together doing normal stuff.

The relationship between father and son is awe inspiring.

The family itself is aspirational and it is one of the main lessons that we have both said we will take from the film. The importance of having a strong family unit and quality time spent together. Family members who would do anything for each other and who’s bond is infinite and immense without being showy.

The time travel part is not something I would usually warm to, I am not renowned for being a fan of the sci-fi genre. But luckily this doesn’t follow the traditional suit and is actually a beautiful and necessary addition.

Not only is it the crux of the relationship between Tim and his father but it is the area that offers the most insight and the greatest lesson I have taken from the film. Tim and his father are able to travel back to times within their own lives and make changes to the way they do things and correct any mistakes. Although extremely useful for both, Tim actually offers some enlightening words towards the end that make you consider whether the ability to right wrongs is actually as appealing as you might think. He shares the insight after making the decision not to travel back anymore, about the importance of living life everyday as if you had travelled back to change it. The reality is that we can’t travel back in time so instead we must endeavour to not make the mistakes in life before we even could.

In real life this isn’t always going to be possible and actually some of the greatest life lessons can come from the mistakes we make along the way. But currently the ideas of mindfulness and living in the moment are the hot topics and this film added an alternative dimension to those theories. Live in the moment and try to make sure that moment is the one you would live if you had the ability to keep travelling back and change it.

So, we pledged to try and live with that mantra in mind. Yesterday we bundled in to the car and headed off for a fun afternoon of ice skating. We revelled in the quality family time spent together doing something new and fun. The children said it was the best day of their lives (don’t get too excited, this gets bandied around on a fairly regular basis), we laughed and laughed. It could have been a scene from a Christmas movie, definitely a comedy when I fell on my backside. It didn’t however come without the usual side helping of challenge, the kids most amazing day did not continue when mummy wanted to look around the garden centre afterwards. There was a liberal helping of miserable faces and mutterings of “its not fair” for good helping.

Living their best lives on the ice for the first time.

But let’s face it, we can’t realistically live like in the movies, no matter how mundane and real they are trying to be. But I am still going to take the lessons I can from this and adapt it to fit around my reality.

Families are difficult, they are tricky, filled with politics and complications no matter how strong the love. But it is my intention to make my family unit the strongest it can possibly be, to forge lasting relationships with my children that will form the backbone of their future relationships and that will be the beacon in their lives. The place of strength and stability that they can return to whilst they weather the inevitable storms that come from growing up. I will provide them with the opportunity to make lasting memories and I will overwhelm them with love. I will be there for them at all times with unwavering support and I will do everything within my power to give them a movie worthy family experience.

Life is difficult, it is tiring, challenging and filled with potential pot holes. Raising children is  both the most amazing experience and equally the hardest of challenges. Balancing that with work and real life is tough and the reality is that we won’t be able to live the movie life. For me, this is all combined with the challenges I face as I learn to live with and battle through anxiety and poor mental health.

But sometimes you need something that will pull you out of the rut that you have inevitably found yourself in. Make you realise that you might be talking the talk but are you actually walking the walk? It’s easy to harp on about self-care, mindfulness, seizing the moment etc but sometimes they are just words and actually if you looked closely you aren’t following those ideals to the extent that you think you are.

Meet my new best friend Mr Penguin.

This film was a bit of a wake up call for both me and my husband. We have both taken valuable lessons from it and I hope that we will be able to cling on to those things as time goes by and we get swept back in to the whirlwind of life. There is every possibility that you might watch the same thing and feel none of the things that we have, in fact if you read some of the reviews online there are some interesting and contradictory responses to the same film. But hopefully there is something out there that will capture your heart to the same extent.

I pledge here, in black and white, to make more effort to live my life as if I had travelled back in time to change it. But maybe with less ice skating, fun as it was you needed a small mortgage to fund just one hour.

Feel free to share any profound and life changing, films, books or podcasts that have had an impact on you to the same extent. I would love to hear them xx

What is this self care you speak of ?!?

I was casually indulging in a spot of kitchen cleaning, specifically the oven of doom!!, and to stop myself from losing the plot entirely I was also indulging in a bit of an Instagram story catch up sesh at the same time. So, there I was elbow deep in the oven pride and listening to the fabulous @Natashabailie talking about self-care.
If you aren’t familiar with Natasha, and I would urge you to change that, then you may not be aware that she is a great voice in the Instagram mental health community and speaks very passionately about the use of self-care in managing mental health difficulties. She can be found on Instagram or at www.mentalmutha.com
During these particular stories, Natasha was talking about the fact that whilst she strongly values self-care not everyone feels the same. She was questioning why this may be the case and this in turn got me thinking about my relationship with self-care and my take on what Natasha was saying.

Self-care hasn’t always come easily to me, in the lead up to my illness my life was completely full with work, kids, family and a never-ending stream if time filling commitments with little value. I viewed taking care of my self as selfish and it wasn’t what good mothers did because good mothers put everything in to raising the family and keeping the home.
(Disclaimer 1: I am not saying this is the case at all, it was simply a warped perception I held for some time. Disclaimer 2: despite what it sounds like, I was not raised in Stepford during the 60’s. I am not sure where this warped perception stems from)

It wasn’t until I broke that I realised I needed to work a bit more on me to be able to look after others. This is the tag line that is so often used and is absolutely right. But I’ll be honest, even now I still struggle with self-care and I don’t think I am alone in that.
So why is this the case? Why do so many people shun what seems like a dream situation – a genuine excuse to make time for yourself and do nice things?

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Self-care doesn’t have to be a mountain, don’t be scared by the idea.

In reality I think that a lot of people either don’t truly understand what self-care means and they have a very tight definition of what counts as self-care. For others it just feels too big, too scary and too time consuming. After all, if your head is full and you are feeling the stretch, the idea of trying to factor something else in to the mix can be overwhelming. Consequently, the things that are easiest to remove are the ones we take out the first. After all it is not that easy to take out work or family commitments so we sacrifice the things that will help us the most.

Even now when I have worked very hard on trying to rebuild myself, and when I have changed so many of the negative things from before, I still struggle with having the time and the headspace to tackle self-care.

Yoga for example – My friend keeps telling me of the virtues of yoga for my physical and mental health. I know this is true and I do really want to get in to it, but I don’t feel like I have the time or the headspace to start it yet. It sounds crazy but I think it is a bit like addicts admitting they have a problem before they will seek help. I need to feel ready to commit the time to yoga before I can contemplate starting it. I had the same thing with counselling. I knew I needed it for a long time, before I was really ill but I didn’t have the headspace to commit to it. Counselling is a long and hard journey. One that is worthwhile no doubt but not something you can jump in to lightly. Obviously, yoga is not the same level of intensity as counselling but the principle is the same and that I think also applies to self-care. You have to be able to commit the time to it before you can start the process. You have to believe in the value and you have to recognise the benefits.

But I do think there is a lot of confusion or presumption around what is meant by self-care. It isn’t always about finding time to go to the salon or the spa, although these things count and are very valuable to some. It can be about doing something that makes you feel good, whatever that may be and recognising its value.

For me, and this may well sound lame to some, it is making time to do some life admin or some cleaning admin. I definitely didn’t enjoy cleaning the brown gunk out of my oven but my god did I feel good afterwards. That box of oven pride had been in my house for more than 2 months and sitting beside the oven for at least a month (minus the days when people came round and I didn’t want to highlight the state of my oven) to try and encourage me to do it and simultaneously making me feel guilty for not doing it. So, to have actually had the time to tick that job off my to do list made me feel amazing.
Having a clean house makes me feel like I have my sh** together, it makes me feel like I am top of things and that I’m not completely failing at life. That is important to me but it isn’t necessarily important to others and that’s fine.

Find what is important to you and try to make some time to do it. It doesn’t have to be the glamourous stuff that is so often publicised, it may be stuff that you don’t want to admit to or that isn’t “instagrammable” but that’s ok. You don’t need to justify to anyone else what self-care means to you.
Its really not a case of “go hard or go home” either, it can be small things leading to big things or it can just always be small things.

Self-care is not an insurmountable mountain, it is stepping stones towards making you feel better. Those stepping stones can be as close together or as far apart as you need them at the moment. If you only manage something for you once a month or less frequently than that, its ok. And as ever with the world of social media, don’t be driven by what others are doing or feel bad because others seem to be doing it more or doing it better. People only post what they want you to see. Self-care is just that, something for yourself. Do it to make you feel better and only you. If you want to, please feel free to comment and share what you do or have done. Perhaps it will help others to identify something they could do for themselves to make a positive change.

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You don’t have to go from 0-60 straight away. Take small steps, even tiny ones will make a difference.

I’ll start you off with a few ideas that work for ME:
1) Keeping on top of the cleaning (I used the Organised Mum Method – see Instagram, facebook or this blog if you want to know what I mean www.theorganisedmum.blog)
2) Having lists of all the things I need or want to do. This stops them swimming around in my head and making me feel overwhelmed or forgetful.
3) Painting my nails – I use gel/shellac but do it at home because I can’t afford the time to make an appointment somewhere. For me having nice nails makes me feel a hundred times better.
I would love it if you could share your ideas with me.

There’s just no pleasing some people!!

Over the past few years I have noticed that I am becoming progressively less tolerant of noise. I am becoming the annoying old battleaxe always telling people (namely my kids and dog) to be quiet and calm down.

 
Its important at this point to note that at the time of writing this blog I was sat in a kids dance class listening to the baby shark song!! Never have I wanted silence so badly and I cant think what inspired this particular blog!!

 
I think the need for silence, or just quiet, is a direct result of the anxiety and mental health problems that I have been experiencing for the last few years. My reasoning behind this is that my head feels so full all the time. Full of all the things I have to do, full of all the things that are


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Photo courtesy of whisper.sh

worrying me, full of demands and full of anxiety. Consequently, there isn’t space for anything else so I can’t handle the additional noise and the demands. Continue reading There’s just no pleasing some people!!

5 things I would tell my 21 year old self

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courtesy of notonthehighstreet.com and Google.

You know the saying “you are only as old as you feel?” well if that was true I would be eternally 21. Although not strictly true because after a particularly taxing day with the kids I can end up feeling 81!! However, generally, in my head most of the time I feel I am 21 and its definitely the age I would go back to if I could. It was my favourite age, not necessarily because of the situation I was in then, but because it felt like the perfect age – not too old but old enough to do everything (apart from retire!!)

But now with the benefit of a couple (ahem) more years under my belt, I can look back and think there are a few things I wish I had known then. So, I will share them with you and who knows if you are a bit closer to my ideal age perhaps they will be of use because let’s be honest there isn’t a fat lot I can do unless they eventually invent time travel.

Please note these are in no particular order and no tip is more valuable than another.

1) Take good care of your pre-baby body and value it. It doesn’t matter how much of your baby weight you lose and how few stretch marks you get as a result of pregnancy, your body won’t look the same. That being said, you aren’t currently at your healthiest and whilst in the future you definitely improve that situation, I would do that sooner if I was you because as I have already said it won’t be the same again after kids and you only have 4 more years until you are pregnant!! You could wear denim hot pants at least once if you get your act together!!

2) Get loads better at saying no to people and don’t feel guilty about it. In the long run it will serve you well because eventually you will have no choice but to say no in order to stay sane. It is important that you value your worth more than you currently do because there are some rocky times ahead. You will manage a lot better if you became assertive earlier on and are able to build up a greater resilience now. It will help you to recognise the relationships worth investing in and weed out those who will cause more harm than good. It will be hard and it wont sit comfortably with you but it will be worthwhile in the end.

3) Invest in better storage so that you don’t have to keep giving your clothes to the charity shop and then regretting it. If you worked on improving storage in all of your houses and also got over your issues with clutter you would have a much better wardrobe collection to chose from now. Vacuum bags and the loft are the way forward, invest in them before 2018 because they will change your life.

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courtesy of shutterstock.com

4) The guy you are with now, he is the one for you. He always has been and he always will be. It will be tough at times and you will need to work hard so be prepared for that. Don’t make any changes to your timeline but if possible throw caution to the wind and holiday more because once the grown-up stuff like mortgages, weddings and kids happen it becomes much trickier. You have the potential to have an amazing life together and he is the best person to ride out the rocky times with so don’t lose sight of that. You will both be big picture people so try not to get too hung up on the small here and now stuff.

5) Overall life would be easier if you could make some sort of tangible plan for your career rather than this sort of see how it goes approach you are working on. It may seem difficult at the moment because all the avenues you are pursuing are dead ends. But although you don’t realise it now, this is the easiest time to make changes and try new things. The path you are on will see you ok but it is not the most direct route and you won’t end up where you hope you will. That degree you have just achieved, you can ride on its glory for about another 3 years but then it will wear off so you might want a backup. Again, this is the best time to do it, because its difficult to study and renovate a house or raise these babies you are adamant about having at 25. Finally, don’t forget the reasons you picked a degree in Psychology and Criminology, these are areas that you are deeply interested in and that truly fascinate you. In 12 years’ time you will regret not pursuing them and you will be actively seeking ways to break back in to that field. I mean I guess you will because I definitely haven’t got to that age yet (cough cough).

Its easy to look back now and think I wish I knew then what I know now, but there are many experiences that I have lived that have shaped who I am now and my life. I cant change things and honestly I probably don’t want to change things (not the big stuff anyway – there are probably a few questionable outfit choices I would like to remove from my history) because the impact would be too great on my current. But I will do my future self a favour and tell them now to try and be happier and more present in their life. Things are tough and it can be a real battle to get through some days, but these challenges are shaping you and your future. Use this learning to make the next 12 years the best ones yet so that the “5 things I would tell my 33-year-old self” blog will be even harder to write.

And finally, I have one last final bonus life tip, possibly the most useful piece of information I can share to anyone reading this, particularly anyone nearer to 21 than I am – DO NOT EVER mix wine, vodka and tequila, it does not go well. Most importantly, DO NOT EVER EVER do this the night before your wedding. You will still have the most amazing day, but you will be paler and more jaded than you hoped. Plus everyone buys you drinks on your wedding day and if you are hungover you will not take full advantage of this!!!

Maybe it’s the quality of your wardrobe that’s the problem – flat pack just aint gonna cut it!!

One of the things that has stuck with me the most since I accepted I was ill (different from when I became ill) came from a great friend who simply said “your wardrobe is just too full”.
So, after the initial panic that she had indeed seen the complete and utter state of my dishevelled wardrobe with the back panel hanging off, I realised what she actually meant. She simply meant that I had taken on too much to cope with. I had been metaphorically cramming stuff in to my “wardrobe” and shutting the doors until eventually those poor doors had enough and came flying off and hit me hard.
The most frustrating part of it all was that my “wardrobe” was filled with loads of other people’s things that I was storing for them and consequently I had less room for my stuff.
But after about 3 months of counselling, I was able to manage some of the stuff. Chuck some of it out, refold some other stuff and generally get a better idea of what was actually in there. Suddenly things felt a bit better and less pressured. There was a small amount of space now in which to carefully place a few things that wasn’t going to cause another massive wardrobe explosion.
But as time has been going on, and since the counselling has stopped, I have been trying to manage the wardrobe on my own and the time has come to admit that it is starting to feel a bit bulgy again. Only this time it isn’t because of any major things, its just a series of life’s little niggles that are building and building and I don’t have the right level of resilience to fight them all the time.
So is that it then? Am I now so broken that I can’t even deal with normal life? That’s a very scary and sobering thought that I am trying to process. I mean surely everyone has to deal with the same everyday stresses – working, being a parent, running a home, trying to have a social life, maintain a relationship etc etc etc? so why is it that I am finding it so difficult to deal with all these things when I have already invested heavily in trying to make space in my wardrobe.
But the thing that makes it different now is that I am much better at self-reflection. I am not caught up in a whirlwind and I have time to stop and take stock of the situation. I am more rational than before. All of these things combined have led me to the realisation that actually the issue is the quality of my “wardrobe”. I need to work on making myself more bespoke fitted wardrobe and less Ikea flat pack special with the flimsy plastic door inserts!!
So that is my project for the next few weeks and months. Watch this space because there is a shiny, sparkly and sturdy new wardrobe in the making. In the mean time if you could refrain from putting your stuff in my wardrobe that would be great.

Scream if you wanna go faster!! Parenting with anxiety

My current assessment of my mental health would see me taking on the role of tightrope walker!! Getting more proficient I must say but very conscious that one false move and I’ll be falling on my face in seconds.
Last week saw me wobble massively, the rope was swaying and the arms were waving trying to regain my balance before a fall. It was a struggle and I did definitely expect the fall to happen but I am pleased to report that my mental health core was strong enough to keep me upright.
Now the rope has stopped swaying, I am reflecting back on the week and trying to get an understanding of where I am at and how I managed to recover so quickly from what was the equivalent of being kicked aggressively in the stomach.
To quickly overview the situation, I unexpectedly came across an individual who played a significant role in my spiral in to the anxiety pit and that really knocked me. I found myself back where I was a year ago and I wasn’t prepared for that. All of a sudden, I was faced with emotions and feelings I hadn’t experienced for a while and I plummeted back to a dark place of overwhelming panic.
Compounding all of that was an overwhelming anger, one that I had clearly been suppressing for some time even though I thought it had moved on. I was angry for a very long time after my anxiety started – angry at myself, angry at the person who had triggered the whole thing, angry at the way it had been handled at work and generally angry at life!! Through counselling I battled that anger and although I didn’t mange to destroy it, I definitely maimed it so it was no longer a threat.
Turns out the anger wasn’t that badly injured, and all I needed was to be faced with the original anxiety trigger and it came flooding back.
BUT, and this is critical, I didn’t have weeks and months of extremely painful counselling to fall back in to that pit of anxiety again. That particular person has had more than enough of me, they have taken all they are going to get from me. Regrettably I let that person affect me far more than they had the right to do, and as a result they robbed my children of the mother I should have been to them last year. AND there in lies the reason that I didn’t fall as hard as I expected. One simple answer – my children.
Parenting with anxiety is beyond difficult at times. In my instance, I didn’t want to go out of the house and function. I didn’t want to speak to people yet I simultaneously didn’t want to be alone. I couldn’t cope with noise, pressure and demands on me – all things you have to deal with daily when you are a parent. I was snappy and irritable, it took everything I had to maintain a basic standard of living and that was utterly exhausting. Their physical needs were always always met but sometimes I fell short on meeting their emotional needs.

There is no mum guilt that I have experienced that is worse than the guilt I have felt over that time. See if you know my children, you will know that they are truly amazing, wonderful, loving, caring individuals who deserve the absolute best from life. I did the best I could given the situation, but it was not the best that they deserved. I have vowed to put my everything in to making up for that time, which is in itself immensely difficult when I still have very present anxiety issues.
So, last week I had to make a choice. By the time I was alone and able to process my response to the situation, I had approximately 33 minutes until the school run. So, I allowed myself 33 minutes to cry, freak out and then pull myself back together. Then I left for the school run and put my everything in to being normal (whatever the hell that is!!), I suppressed the panic, the tears and the urge to collapse in a heap on the floor. I functioned as a mother, inside I was still breaking and once they were in bed and asleep I did allow the release of that but I promised myself it would last for one day only. It didn’t, but my recovery was much quicker than I anticipated and I was able to function normally albeit more subdued than usual.
So, what have I learned in my year of parenting with anxiety? Well it’s a rollercoaster and a half that’s for sure. It’s not the kind of rollercoaster you want to go on either. It’s the kind where you spend the whole time with your eyes closed, slowly climbing up only to plummet down at speed fairly certain you are about to crash but then at the last minute it loses speed and you are on the flat again.
Being a parent whilst I have been suffering with anxiety has been both a blessing and a curse. My two wonderful children are what has kept me going all this time, I couldn’t get signed off sick from being their mother so I had to continue to function. I had to get up every day and leave the house, I had to socialise with people and participate in daily life when all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball. There were days when I had zero motivation and energy to move but I had to find some from somewhere. Not was just not an option. But in having to continue as normal with the kids, it actually kept me mobile and upright. I could have easily succumbed to the clutches of anxiety, never leaving the house and shutting down all lines of communication and there is a chance my recovery would have been much slower and more painful. But that being said, there is a definite value in being able to curl up in a ball and recuperate. After all, if I had broken my leg, I wouldn’t have kept walking on it to get the kids to school, I would have asked for help. It really is a very fine line that we have to walk between allowing yourself time to heal and keeping mobile so you don’t seize up!
The hardest part of parenting with anxiety for me has been the intense feelings of guilt. I haven’t been the mother I wanted to be, the chances are that mother image I had was unachievable anyway but I feel I have fallen far short. They don’t always get the best version of me, and do they definitely get the brunt of my stresses  sometimes. Occasionally it is actually completely justified when they are in fact the cause of my stress, but often they have just been caught up in my anxiety whirlwind. I hope that the version of me I am now is better for them, I hope they don’t look back at me as the mean, shouty, crying mummy that I have been and instead see a better, calmer, more fun-loving mummy. That is the mummy I will aspire to be going forward. That may not always be achievable but I will remind myself of the wise words of my counsellor, just do the best you can in the situation and as I only ever ask my children to do their best, I shouldn’t ask more of myself than that.