my depressing life

My Depressing Life

Tuesday 14 August 2019

  • No of trips to the toilet alone: 2 (woohoo!)
  • No of accidents by Daisy: 3
  • No of times Daisy escaped the garden: 0 (hence the 3 accidents!)
  • No of times Samuel escaped the garden: 1
  • No of times I burst into tears: 2
  • No of times I wet myself: 2
  • No of times I wanted to run away: 1 (miracle)

So today wasn’t too bad in normal terms.  OH left early for overnight trip to Head Office, so the morning should have been chilled…  Bar the recycling team coming at about 8am and therefore Samuel arrived in outfit 1. ready to ‘help’, it was a pretty chilled day.

A flurry of work emails contributed to Daisy’s ‘accident’ record, as well as the sad affair of dead pigeon chicks that we had ‘rescued’ from the ground the night before.  This also contributed to Samuel’s outfit no. 2 (builders outfit), not sure of the relevance but anyway.

To resume happy holiday affairs Henry (yes he emerged from his room, yes he was still in his pants, yes he did wash his hands!) suggested the baking of cheese straws, who doesn’t love cheese straws.  Outfit no. 3 for Samuel (full Chef’s whites) Shall I just suggest following the recipe precisely…. extra cheese is not always such a good idea!

my depressing life

A visit to Grandma Bling (best name ever!) with Samuel prompted outfit no. 4 (no idea or care by this point, bar the amount of f**king washing this becomes), such fun.  After several hours and much fun, a temper tantrum took the better of a small person and after strong resistance (we are literally like MI5) he cried himself out and fell asleep where he lay.

Sleepover at Grandma’s!!!!!!!!!!!!

This shit ain’t easy folks, and don’t let anyone make you feel like it is (she says skipping home and pouring a large gin!)

How are you all coping?

Fay x


social anxiety triggers

Social Anxiety Triggers & Coping Mechanisms

I watched the BBC documentary by Nadiya Hussain with anticipation. Despite recently realising that my insecurity was actually a little more than just insecurity and actually social anxiety, I hadn’t actually spoken to anyone, or read/watched much about personal experiences with social anxiety.

Nadiya: Anxiety and Me

As Nadiya began explaining how she felt, how her mind worked, it was literally like listening to myself.  As I sat watching her talk to the doctor about the bullying she went through as a child, I was literally screaming at the telly.  It hit such a nerve, in a macabre way it was just so nice to know that someone else had gone through exactly what I went through.

The really interesting part for me was listening to Nadiya talk about her social anxiety, the triggers and her coping mechanisms.  I realised that there were so many things that I did that were clearly coping mechanisms.

So I began to really think about my triggers and my coping strategies, in the hope that I can identify and work on.

Triggers

  • Large group social situations
  • One to one social situations
  • Travel

I’ve been thinking about my anxiety triggers and they pretty much fall into the three categories above.

Large social situations

Large social situations are a pretty obvious one and I think a lot of people will understand this.  I can’t tell you the amount of parties and conferences I haven’t gone to because I built them up so much in my head.  So many people in one room that I either have never met or hardly know. So many people to dislike me.

One to one social situations

One to one situations are a little different. Generally the first time we meet it’s more nerves, but then I begin to build the pressure on myself.  I become anxious about not being good enough, it overwhelms me until the point that it is easier to just not do.

Phone calls are a huge anxiety trigger for me.  Just dialing a number or answering a call is hugely difficult for me.  All family and friends of mine will have called me at some point and I won’t have answered.  It wasn’t because I missed the call, but much more likely that I was frozen to the spot unable to have the courage to answer.

Travel

Travel is a huge trigger for me as so much could go wrong, so much is out of my hands. And having three kids just added to my anxiety, I start packing at least two weeks before we go anywhere.  And I can literally feel the anxiety leave my body as we go through passport control, or the train leaves the station.  God knows what adding Daisy Duke (our 12 week old Dachshund puppy) into the mix will do.

For so long these triggers have affected my life, in fact controlled my life.  And I’ve built coping mechanisms just to ensure that either I can reduce the anxiety as much as possible, or at the very least cover it so that others don’t see  And clearly I am not alone.

Coping Mechanisms

  • Avoidance
  • Organisation
  • Mask
  • Alcohol

Avoidance

This is probably my most common tactics, as it’s the easiest to do.  However the older I get the more I realise just how much I’ve missed out on.  So it may seem easy but I realise now I’ve pissed off friends, lost out on opportunities and missed some great parties.

Organisation

This is one strategy that I hadn’t necessarily realised was a coping strategy.  I just thought I was a little anal in regards to organisation.  However actually it’s more about organising what I can be in control of, so that my mind has less to stress about.  So my clothes being in colour order. My shoes being in style and colour order. The humongous whiteboard planner at home. Even my desk at work being in order.  All done to bring a little more calm to the madness.

Mask

Probably my most obvious (to me) but also my subtlest (to others) strategy.  I wear a mask everyday.  My hair, my make up, my style.  Most people will assume that my ever changing hair styles and colours are born out of confidence.  That my make up is always done because I ‘have it together’.  That my style is a passion (it kinda is). But it’s actually the complete opposite.  All these things are done to mask the anxiety.  I give people things to comment on, so that I can deflect from them actually talking about/to me.

Alcohol

I think everyone will recognise this coping mechanism, which i’m pretty sure we’ve all done at times.  The couple of drinks before going out to give you ‘dutch courage’.  However when I look back to my 20’s I realise just how much I fell back on this.  Take attending a boyfriends’ friends wedding. I had several drinks on the way to the hotel.  When I arrived my stress levels grew and grew as I worried about wanting to talk to other people, but literally feeling paralysed to do so.  Assuming rightly or wrongly that they would all hate me.  So I drank. I drank so much I passed out in the toilet, waking hours later when everyone had left.

Moving on

I’ve never ever done anything like that again but I definitely used alcohol throughout my life to cope.  Thankfully it’s less and less now the older I get.  Thought I think that’s probably because I just avoid more situations.  So I’m merely replacing one coping technique with another.  I need to break the cycle.

I can’t sort everything at once so I’m working on a few that I feel really make the biggest impact on my day to day life at the moment.

I spoke to a good friend the other day and admitted my fear about phone calls.  But I did this ON A PHONE CALL! Yep I picked up the phone and I called them, and I don’t think they hate me either LOL.

Next month I’ve booked to go to a workshop in St Albans on my own.  This involves travel, hotel stay and meeting strangers, what could possibly go wrong (it already has in my head)!

Small steps and all that…

And if you’ve got this far, thanks for listening!

Fay x

Disclaimer:  So I just wanna say that I am not writing for sympathy.  I’m writing because it helps me to put things down on paper.  Because I want others to realise they are not alone.  But mainly I think if we all just keep writing then eventually the stigma will be gone…


Credit: http://theconversation.com/surprising-ways-to-beat-anxiety-and-become-mentally-strong-according-to-science-77978

Social Anxiety - The Hidden Curse

Since my PTSD diagnosis and subsequent recovery via EMDR therapy I have been more and more aware of just how it affected my life.  However what has also interested me is just how much anxiety affects us and isn’t spoken about.  And also how much of my own behaviour has and is affected by anxiety.  It’s become very clear that as well as PTSD that I suffer from social anxiety too.

Types of Anxiety

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Social Anxiety

To read more on each please click here

anxiety-girl-able-to-jump-to-the-worst-conclusion-in-a-single-bound

For so long I assumed that my ‘worries’ were down to insecurity, it never occurred to me that it was actual anxiety.  And half of this is because it is rarely talked about.  However more and more of us are willing to talk openly, to break down the barriers. A new BBC series lifts the lid on some of our most well known celebrities and their struggles with mental health.

How does it manifest?

So I’ve noticed in just the last week, three specific incidences where my anxiety has been triggered:

Singing lesson – Anticipatory Anxiety (Panic Disorder)

Some of my followers will know that I decided to do something that I’ve wanted to do for a very long time and take singing lessons.  I love to sing.  My second lesson was last Friday and the negative ninny voices were working a treat.  I let them win and I didn’t go to my lesson.  I convinced myself I was rubbish, that I wasn’t really worthy of the lessons.  However for once I was honest about why and my lovely lovely friend Jo was so understanding, and that makes all the difference.  So I’m resolute that next time, even if I only manage to go for a cup of tea and a natter, I need to go! I will go!

Conference – Post-event Processing (Social Anxiety)

I had a conference in London this time last week.  It was such a great time with friends (new and old).  However by the time I’d got home and as the days passed, I’d convinced myself that I’d made a fool of myself, that my friends would think I was just stupid.  It was all completely unfounded, but it weighed so heavily on my mind.

Party – Anticipatory Anxiety (Panic Disorder)

We were invited to a friends party on Sunday evening and I was really looking forward to.  However after some comments made to me the night before that were pretty hurtful and unsolicited, my emotional state was not at it’s best.  I spent the day literally just trying to contain myself.  A trip to the cinema with the boys (as promised days earlier) was hoped to help, but actually nearly broke me. I realised quickly that I was in far to fragile a state to be at such a large social occasion.  Again unlike previously I decided to be honest with a friend as to why I couldn’t attend, and it was refreshing to be met with understanding and acceptance.

Let’s be honest

Okay so some people may react with dismissal, with scorn.  But I can honestly say that starting to be honest now about why I fail to make social appointments; or why I go quiet after a great night, has been really refreshing.

We all suffer from ‘anxiety’ at times, just like people say their child has OCD because they line their cars up.  It’s not as simple as that, I really wish it was.  Anxiety disorders affect peoples ability to live a normal life, see the effects here.  It means we cannot function with the balanced reason that most of society do.  It’s bloody hard, and it’s bloody draining…

Being honest helps!

Fay x


Working Mothers - Can we really have it all?

Yesterday’s article in the Daily Mail showing that two thirds of mothers struggling with the to-do list really hit home.  With it being the Easter holidays I felt like I was invisible.  I had three weeks off and lots of chores/tasks to do.  Working five days a week, I must admit it does feel like a never ending to-do list.  The house for me has definitely taken a back step.

Working Mothers

Our generation (Generation X) were brought up to believe that we could have it all.  We could have the career, we could have the beautiful family, and we could have the perfect home.  But I have to say I don’t believe it, I honestly don’t believe that we can ‘have it all’ in the traditional sense.  And I think that research and the younger generation are showing that.

What gives...

And it’s not just working parents, but parents in general.  So what ‘gives’ for us to try and attain it all.  The Mail states that 84% of mothers have battled on with their routine whilst unwell.  We don’t feel like we have time to be ill!

So what needs to change?

Leading Millennial’s career expert Sarah Landrum wrote for Forbes stating:

‘From the period when Gen X babies were small, grew up and raised their own children, the total rate of working mothers nearly doubled. It’s estimated that nearly a million millennial women become mothers annually.

Technology’s evolution allows modern women the empowerment of joining tradition with innovation. Millennial women can raise their babies and work at home.  Proving that women’s purpose does not lie in one or the other. SAHMs are breadwinners, too.’

#FlexAppeal

So maybe we can have it all, but we just need to look at it a little differently.  Anna Whitehouse (aka Mother Pukka) has spent the last four years raising awareness of flexible working conditions for parents.  Her goal is to try and ensure the workplace realises that unless they change then they will lose out.  It has gained her just short of 200k IG followers, TEDX Official talker status,  meetings with parliament and some of the biggest global employers.

It’s up to us!

However like our kids taking control and backing Greta Thunberg with regards to climate change.  Then we need to be the ones backing people like Anna and making all our voices heard.  Just go to her IG feed and click her #flexappeal story highlight to see how many parents have requested flexible working deals.  If we don’t ask from our employers, demand from our government and take the opportunities ourselves, then how will things change.

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking."

― Albert Einstein

So let’s change our thinking, let’s look at things a little differently.  Do what works for you and your family.  Ask your employer if what you have doesn’t work.  Sit down with your partner and look at ways of working together, if it isn’t working right now.  It’s not always about the next big promotion or chasing the dream.

After all, if you and your family are happy with your lot, then you really do ‘have it all’.

Fay x


Self Harm & Self Love

When I initially looked at writing this blog, it was because I had self harmed during my PND/PTSD.  Having listened to Sally from @Mumsback, I realised I wasn’t alone.   However it was something very rarely talked about and I wonder how many more of us there are.  This was only brought home by the struggle to find out any actual facts and figures on self harm in PND.

Self Harm

Types of Self Harm

Before I self harmed I must admit my ignorance felt that it was pretty much people who cut themselves.  However the below list gives an example of just some of the ways that people can self harm:

  • cutting yourself
  • poisoning yourself
  • over-eating or under-eating
  • biting yourself
  • picking or scratching at your skin
  • burning your skin
  • inserting objects into your body
  • hitting yourself or walls
  • overdosing
  • exercising excessively
  • pulling your hair
  • getting into fights where you know you will get hurt.

NB: If you self-harm, it is important that you know how to look after your injuries and that you have access to the first aid equipment you need. Please check out Lifesigns for information that will help.  However I’d also urge you to go seek help if you are self harming and/or feeling the need to self harm.

I was a scratcher…

It started off quite gradually, I guess it does for most.  If I was really down or had got myself particularly stressed or upset then I would scratch at my forehead.  A lot of the time there wouldn’t be any marks or just a bit of a scratch.  However as time went on, as I got worse, so did the scratching…

At it’s worst I had huge scabs on my forehead from where I’d spent hours clawing at my forehead.  Luckily I had a fringe so was able to cover up the evidence.  I’m still not sure if family or friends knew how bad it was.

Self Harm in PND

As I say apart from hearing other mum’s stories, it’s hard to find any specific figures for the exact amount of PND sufferers who self harm.  However studies show that mothers reporting thoughts of self-harm in the postpartum period are at a greater risk of ‘somatic and psychiatric morbidity during a follow-up of 7 years after delivery, and this increased risk may not be fully attributed to depressive symptoms. Results underline the importance of screening for self-harm symptoms postpartum and point to a need for individualized follow-up.’

To read the full report please click here

Let’s be open

So we need to keep pushing the boundaries, we need to keep breaking taboos, we need to keep talking.  For some inspirational and candidly honest stories please visit Mind.org or share your story just like we have.

None of us are perfect, life is tough, parenthood is really frigging tough.  The sooner we are honest, the sooner we go a little easier on ourselves, the better!

Fay x


Right up my street!

As you will no doubt know from my feeds, I love nothing more than a little bit of high street fashion.   Now this comes partly from ease (literally my social life practically revolves around the weekly shop at Sainburys and checking out the Next app on my phone in my lunch ‘1/2’ hour) and partly from a cost perspective (with 3 growing boys, a mahoosive mortgage and a basic ‘after extended maternity leave’ pay packet #rollseyes).  However over the years the main reason I shop high street is because it’s so damn good!

Lipsmackingly Fresh

Blouse – Sainsburys TU

Jeans – New Look (very old, very worn and very comfy!)

Trainers – Adidas

Bracelets – Pandora & Wanderer Bracelets

It’s all about the blouse! So fun, so fresh, can be dressed up or down and always raises a smile.

Animal Attraction

Dress – Next

Jacket – New Look (again very old and very worn!)

Pins – Mek Ah Step, Three Little Pandas, StupidCats

Trainers – Sainsburys 

Earrings – Next

This dress was a must have as soon as I saw.  I was actually looking for a denim jumpsuit (more on that in another post) but got a tad distracted.  I love anything animal print and colour, so the combo of both is just like honey to a bee LOL.

Almond Dreams

Drink – Baileys Almande

Brogues – Sainsburys

Skirt – Sainsburys

Earrings – Next

I’ve always been a sucker for camel (Autumn is my very favourite season for that specific reason) so spotting this ‘New In’ knitted pencil skirt and these wedge brogues I’d had my eye on for a while was a no-brainer.  And is it wrong that I bought this Baileys just for the bottle???? I mean seriously it’s just too pretty.  Looking forward to trying, but part of me doesn’t want to open. Dare I?

So that’s my latest buys, hope you like.  What’s your favourite purchase recently?

Fay x


Who me? Imposter Syndrome...

An invitation

On Sunday morning I was very kindly invited by Kate @Avocado Events to attend the Bump and Baby Expo at York Racecourse. Now before you all call me out, yes I have not got a bump or a baby (and it ain’t gonna happen so don’t be getting excited, I’m 44 you know!). However you all know how much I appreciate supporting small and local businesses.  And in addition to that there were two really quite special ladies, who I really wanted to meet and listen to.

Now I am not denying that listening to Sally (@Mumsback) and Vicki (@Honestmum) was amazing and inspirational.  In fact I’m still buzzing from chatting to them afterwards, and will share more during the week.  But actually something hit me before I’d even got to the event, before I’d even left the drive…

That nagging doubt, the tightening of chest.  Wondering what the hell I’m doing what I’m doing, but something changed that morning.  Something made me get ready, made me get in the car and drive to the racecourse.  Even though my head was screaming at me not to…

So...

I spent the next two hours at the expo.  Talking to local and small businesses, taking pics, meeting other bloggers and listening to Sally & Vicki.  I didn’t self combust, I wasn’t approached by security and asked to leave.  I was there in my own right and I deserved to be there.

Not alone

I remember being secretly so proud of myself for actually attending.  Not making an excuse, not using my kids as an excuse, not using my husband as excuse, anything really…  and then I listened to Sally and Vicki talk about exactly the same feelings!  We are not alone ladies, not matter how successful we are.  No matter what we do, woman generally have this innate default to apologise for getting to where they have in life, or panicking about being there.   When we introduce ourselves as ‘just a blogger’ or ‘just a cleaner’, ‘just a mum’;  just an anything is so wrong!!! We are stronger than we know, look at everything we have overcome and achieved as women, we should be proud not apologetic!

Frauds

Even the famous feel as we do:

‘When I won the Oscar, I thought it was a fluke. I thought everybody would find out, and they’d take it back. They’d come to my house, knocking on the door, “Excuse me, we meant to give that to someone else. That was going to Meryl Streep.”‘  Jodie Foster

And even they think their peers are more warranted…

‘You think, “Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?”‘  Meryl Streep

It’s believed that 70% of people experience imposter syndrome in their working life.  So how do we deal with it, this article from Charlotte Brown and Glug HQ gives some great tips to deal with the day to day.  And Honest Mum Vicki, explains the feelings perfectly here.

Battle of the sexes

Impostor syndrome is not a uniquely female phenomenon.  Research suggests that there is a male/female element in how people are affected it.

This article by Curiosity.com suggests:

…”harsh feedback seemed to especially affect male students with high impostor feelings — they reported higher anxiety, made less effort, and showed a trend towards poorer performance, as compared to others given positive feedback,” reports the British Psychological Society Research Digest blog. “In contrast, female students with high imposter feelings responded to harsh feedback by increasing their effort and showing superior performance.”

Strength

This shows us just how strong we are ladies! We are stronger than we realise.  Let’s start believing in ourselves and not apologising for what we do and what we have achieved.

So basically what I am saying is if I can overcome that crippling anxiety, if I can fight it and not let it win, then you can too! I’m not saying it’ll be easy, it’s one day at a time, but let’s take each day together.

Fay x


10 Top Tips for Good Mental Health

So now that my therapy is over I’m keen to do what I can to keep my mental health as well as it can be.  So I was intrigued as to what exactly is good for my mental health, there are some pretty obvious, but maybe there are some not so…

Searching online, these 10 Top Tips keep cropping up, so here we go:

SLEEP

Sleep is really important for your physical and mental health. If you don’t get enough sleep, you can start to feel depressed or anxious.  The Sleep Foundation provides tips on how to sleep well, and to overcome problems with sleeping.

EAT WELL

Eating well isn’t just important for your body, but it’s also important for your mind. Mineral deficiencies, such as iron and vitamin B12 deficiencies, can give you a low mood.

AVOID ALCOHOL, SMOKING AND DRUGS

When you’ve had a few drinks you can feel more depressed and anxious the next day, and it can be harder to concentrate. If you smoke, between cigarettes your body and brain go into withdrawal which makes you irritable and anxious. Other drugs can often cause very low moods and anxiety.

SUNLIGHT

Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is a really important vitamin for our bodies and our brains. It helps your brain to release chemicals which improves your mood, like endorphins.

LIMIT STRESS

Stress is often unavoidable, but knowing what triggers your stress and knowing how to cope is key in maintaining good mental health.

EXERCISE

Exercising can help eliminate low mood, anxiety, stress and feeling tired and lazy.

DO SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

Try to make time for doing things you enjoy. If you don’t spend any time doing things you enjoy, you will very quickly become irritable and unhappy.

BE SOCIAL

Make an effort to maintain good relationships and talk to people whenever you get the chance.

DO THINGS FOR OTHERS

Helping others isn’t just good for the people you’re helping; it’s good for you too. Feeling as though you’re part of a community is a really important part of your mental health.

ASK FOR HELP

One of the most important ways to keep yourself mentally healthy is to recognise when you’re not feeling good, and to know when to ask for help. There’s no shame in asking someone for support if you’re feeling low or stressed.

What’s my plan…

I only have a few more days at work till I break up for the Easter holidays, so I intend to use the holidays wisely and work on a couple of the above points.  Sleeping and eating I tend to be okay with.  I don’t smoke or do drugs (Licking the spoon of Calpol doesn’t count right?), although my downfall is cava.  I have cut down massively since Christmas, but need to cut down some more if I can.

Sunlight is something I can’t really do much about right now, we do live in Britain after all! I can’t even begin to limit stress at the moment LOL, but I do need to start running again now the lighter nights are coming back.

Something that makes me very happy is decorating my boys rooms.  Some of you will remember that I decorated Samuel’s and Henry’s previously (just realised I never shared the after of Hen’s – another post to be done!), but Fred’s was still to do, well Easter time is perfect so watch this space…

Combining being social and doing things for others, then I’m looking to take Henry and Freddie volunteering with me during the holidays at Hoping Street Kitchen 

So what do you guys do to help with good mental health?  I’d love to hear how you look after yourself and what works for you!

Fay x