Friday, 12 January 2018

Mental Health Guest Post Series #8

Welcome back to my mental health guest post series. After a few weeks off over Christmas and New Year I am back over the next few weeks with some brilliant bloggers sharing their mental health stories. This weeks post is by the lovely Rebecca from All About Hurr.

Being Mentally Aware

I’m very aware of my mental wellbeing having suffered from postnatal depression after having 3 of my 6 children.  Depression affects people in different ways but for me I found myself not wanting to go anywhere and found it almost impossible to find the energy or enthusiasm to be a mum.  I became withdrawn and shut myself away from the world.  

It’s difficult to understand depression because from the outside it seems you have everything.  The rational side told me I had a wonderful new baby, a loving husband and home – what did I have to feel down about? But I couldn’t seem to shake it off.  I struggled to function and became very unhappy with very little patience.  I would find myself making plans, only to cancel them or start to go somewhere only to turn around.  I cannot tell you how many trips I’ve made that should have taken 10 minutes, but with the indecision would take me over an hour.

The only thing that was keeping me going was the fact that I had to, I had to feed a baby, I had to get other children to school and this was in fact my life saver.  Luckily after a trip to the GP I was prescribed some tablets which made a huge difference.  Postnatal depression is extremely common and is due to chemical balances not returning to normal after the birth of a baby, however it’s only now that it’s being talked about more.

Suffering from depression and living with someone with depression are two very different things and I have experienced both.  Mr All About Hurr is a keen runner but due to multiple fractures in his back (that’s a whole other story!) he’s not been able to run over the last few months.  Coupled with not being able to work he’s been driven to an all time low and finally admitting that he needed some help.  

The usual fun, happy and motivated man I knew became withdrawn, angry, frustrated and deeply unhappy.  Simple things like cooking tea, putting the children to bed, engaging in social situations or playing with the children were gone.  Living with someone with depression is extremely difficult and exhausting.  Just as laughter is infectious, so is sadness.  My role within the family had changed, I became Mum and Dad not only due to the depression but also because of the physical restrictions.  Trying to see the positives when you think there are none is a very lonely place to be.

The only advice I could give Mr All About Hurr was that sometimes you had to pretend that you were ok, get up and get on because you have no other choice.  People are relying on you and then one day, you won’t have to pretend anymore, you’ll really be ok.  Depression is an illness, not an excuse.  You need help, support and love, and to find your reason to get up in the morning.

Thankfully Mr All About Hurr has turned a massive corner and I can see him becoming more relaxed and content again.  Cheeky giggles and enjoying the children again.  There are still bad days, but they are just days and not weeks or months.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

It's time to stop playing it safe

Something has been playing on my mind recently so I thought that I would share it. Over the first year of blogging I have found that my mental health posts have been so easy to write and 'put out there' due to it being something that I am so passionate about. But posts about parenting and motherhood seemed to have taken a step back and I believe there is a reason for this. Being judged.

I seem to have allowed myself to get caught up in the worrying of what others may think if I truly open up about being a Mum. At some point in every parents life we all go through similar situations with our kids but some think it should be kept on the down low. We should be ashamed if we admit that being a parent is bloody hard! This could not be more wrong.

But I finally feel after a year of doing this that I need to stick two fingers up to the small percentage that will judge me and fully open up on this blog and share my parental struggles. No more playing it safe, this is my personal space to write about whatever it is that's on my mind.

This blog is called Honest Motherhood after all and I already feel so much better just for getting this off my chest. I need to feel that I am able to share the highs as well as the lows and that's going to start from now on. I spend so much time worrying about what others might think that I forget that this is my life, I need to live it and be 100% true to myself.

Right now I am struggling to know where I now fit in as 'Mummy'. With Isabelle at school and Charlie going off to nursery, I suddenly feel like I need to find myself again. When Isabelle went off to school I always knew that I still had Charlie and as selfish as it sounds I wish he could stay with me for a little longer. But that's me being scared to face the reality and to break from a long standing routine. Anyway I will continue this in a blog post of it's own but I have mentioned it because I think it's part of the reason I now feel like saying stuff it and taking control back of this blog. It's something that is mine and I'm proud of it.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Lush Sale Haul

I'm not sure I have mentioned it before on my blog but if you follow me on Instagram you will know that I love a good bath bomb. Lush is my all time favourite shop to purchase them from and it really is a guilty pleasure of mine. On Boxing Day we popped into town and I had only one place in mind that I wanted to bother trying to see what the sale was like this year. The shop opened at 10.30am and we didn't get there until 10.15am so you can imagine what the queue was like. The hubby and Charlie went off to get a coffee and a cake while myself and Isabelle joined the queue. Isabelle shares my love for Lush, I'm not sure if it's all the bright colours or the smell but she stood in the queue with me like an absolute trooper. 

Forty five minutes later and we were finally a few metres away from the store entrance. The only reason I hadn't given up is because I could see that they still had so much available. This is the point were Isabelle had waited for long enough and she went off with hubby and Charlie but it did mean that when I finally got in, I got round quickly and got what I wanted. That is the longest I have ever waited outside a shop (an hour in total) for a sale and I'm not entirely sure I will do it again. As far as I'm aware the majority of the Christmas range was 50% off, so let's go through what I got.

Above is Thundersnow, this is one that I haven't actually seen before and I picked it up for the hubby. I had never smelt this one before but it's just lovely. It packs a punch with peppermint but also smells of cocoa. According to the Lush website it also contains popping candy which will be a surprise for Phill!

 Next is Snow Angel and one that I haven't actually tried before as I don't normally gravitate to the bath melts. I love anything that Lush does with cocoa butter though so I'm sure I will be a fan.

Who doesn't love the Golden Wonder? I wish I had been able to get one of the huge ones that I have seen but I will settle for the regular one any day. This has to be one of my favourite Christmas products, smells amazing and turns the water a deep blue colour with an amazing golden shimmer.

Next is a favourite of Isabelle's, she loves using this herself and is obsessed with the pink water it creates. The snow fairy scent is one of my all time favourites and because it's a bubble bar it makes the best bubbles. I also love the fact that it's reusable, we normally get 3-4 baths from one magic wand.

The Butter Bear is something I have used in the past when I have been looking for something simple to use, especially when my eczema has been bad and the same goes for using it in the children's baths.

If I could stock up on anything it would be the Candy Mountain bubble bar, I could quite happily use it every day! Again this is something that lasts a few goes and has a sweet, candy scent.

The my two front teeth bubble bar is definitely a new favourite of mine. This is another sweet, candy smelling bar but it also contains lavender oil and for something that really is a bubble bath I've found it to be very moisturising. One that I will be picking up again come Christmas 2018 (yes I just mentioned the C word).

And that's my haul, how long it will last is anyone's guess, especially with the kids around. They no longer want their boring bubble bath and who can blame them! Did you pick up anything amazing in the sales? Are you a Lush addict like me?


Sunday, 31 December 2017

Goodbye 2017

As soon as I start to think about everything involved with 2017 I have to admit I feel so negatively towards it all. It has been so unbelievably hard. This time last year I wrote my post about 2016 and how I hoped it would be better but really 2017 has been the toughest of them all. 

We have struggled as a family in more ways than one and I would like to think it has made us stronger. Financially we are still not in a good place and every month is a worry. Week to week we have been lucky to have had a decent amount of time together as a family with Phill still working two jobs. Not seeing each other has put a huge strain upon us as a couple and on the children and I pray that 2018 is the year this changes, more than anything. 

It's been hard on all of us to see Phill so exhausted. It's hard for the children to understand why Daddy doesn't always want to play or go out on a bile ride but for most of the time Phill has risen above his tiredness so that the children know he is always there for them. It's hard for me as his wife to feel so helpless. I am unable to go back to work until Charlie is in primary school due to not being able to afford the childcare costs, so yes I do feel a lot of guilt. This is the number one priority on my list for 2018, we will be reunited as a family. 

Realising that Isabelle was struggling with over worrying for me has been the worst part of this year and it will carry on for the time being. We have a long wait on our hands to access the help that she needs and every day is still very difficult for her. 

My hopes for 2018 are very basic but they still feel so out of reach.

*To get Isabelle the help that she needs for her anxiety.
*For us to be financially stable.
*For Phill to just have one job, one that he deserves and is happy in.
*To make the effort to embrace the time we do have together as a family more.
*To use our National Trust membership more.
*To finally finish making our house a home.
*To take more pictures of us as a family.
*To really make a go of this blog.
*To continue to only surround myself with positive people.
*To make the best of tough situations that I would normally make myself ill over.
*To continue to learn how to live with anxiety.

I would like to find myself again in 2018 as right now I feel slightly lost. With Charlie starting pre school this week I suddenly find myself feeling anxious as to what I do with myself now. Yes I will always be a Mother but I feel like after nearly 6 years I am about to get some of my own personal life back and I have no idea what to do with it. I am finding losing Charlie to pre school so much harder than Isabelle and I think that is because I just don't no what I want to do with my life. 

All negativity aside looking at the pictures from this year just proves that we did have some amazing times. My children have to continued to remain the best of friends and have grown so much it's actually scary! Their bond is simply something that cannot be broken and for that I am unbelievably proud. Both of their birthday's were so special with Isabelle having her first proper party with all her school friends and Charlie getting to spend it with our family. The time we do have together as a family are even more special because of all the time apart and what I will take away from this year is that we faced so many challenges but we have come out of the other side still fighting.

If you have taken the time to read my blog, liked an Instagram post, sent me a message, followed me on Twitter or liked my Facebook page then just the biggest thank you. Your support in my first full year of blogging has meant so much to me, especially when sometimes this blog has been my only outlet for how I have felt at certain points this year. 

I would like to wish you all the happiest new year possible, full of amazing times, family, friends, laughter and love. See you in 2018!

Friday, 15 December 2017

Mental Health Guest Post Series #7

Today's post in my mental health guest post series is by Kim from Raising a Ragamuffin

Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder isn't easy. Just when you think you've worked out how to manage it, life throws you a curve ball and you have to start all over again.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder and what Causes it?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a severe form of what some people call the 'Winter Blues' caused by shortened daylight hours and a lack of sunlight. In the 6 months between the clocks going back in October and forward in March my mood gets low. I feel tired most of the time, even after a good night's sleep. I lose motivation to do almost anything and there are some days where I can't even face leaving the house. My focus becomes almost non-existent which can make my day job quite difficult.

Methods for Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • Exercise - it's well documented that exercise can help ease the symptoms of depression and other mental health problems.
  • Get outside during the day - get outside during daylight hours and soak up those rays. Make the most of your lunch break and go for a walk to get some exercise too.
  • Light box/ dawn simulator alarm clock - light boxes are very bright lights designed specifically to help those suffering with Seasonal Affective Disorder. A dawn simulator alarm clock gradually gets lighter in the half hour before the time you set it to be at it's brightest. I have both a light box and a dawn simulator alarm clock.
  • Medication - sometimes all of the above doesn't help or circumstances mean that you can't do any or all of them. Sometimes you just need a little something to get you out of that hole. There is no shame in taking medication to help with SAD. In the same way that there is no shame in taking medication for a physical illness.
  • Me-time - this is important all year round but especially during the winter months for SAD sufferers.
  • Ask for help - if you're struggling ask for help. Even if it's just someone to have the kids for a couple of hours or taking a couple of days off work.

My Experiences of Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder

As far back as I can remember I've felt low around Christmas time. Not for any specific reason, I think Christmas just stands out because it's the big event of the winter months.
Over the years I developed several strategies for coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder, the ones mentioned above. I got to a point where I was managing it and it had very little impact on my day to day life. But the last couple of years, my first two as a working mum, have been really difficult. If I'm truly honest, I didn't cope last year. But I couldn't admit it at the time.
In recent years, since the birth of Ragamuffin, I moved towards the alarm clock instead of a light box for two reasons. Firstly time, with the light box I need to sit in front of it for 20 minutes each morning - time that I just don't have anymore. Secondly, it makes getting out of bed easier because the room is already light.

Not Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder in 2016

Last year Ragamuffin broke the bulb in my alarm clock and for a few weeks I thought we had to replace the whole thing. That was £50 that we just didn't have at the time. So I went back to the light box but wasn't getting enough time to sit in front of it. Eventually I realised that, we only needed a replacement bulb. I ordered two (so I had a spare) and was away, so I thought.
We then went through a tough period with ragamuffin where she had a couple of chest infections. For anyone to get any sleep I ended up bed-sharing with her in the spare room, away from my alarm clock. Even between illnesses she didn't sleep well and there were even more nights spent in the spare room without my alarm clock. We moved the alarm clock to the spare room and then she'd sleep through for a couple of nights so I'd still end up away from the clock and it's light.
I'm not sure how I made it through that winter. I honestly can't remember much about it other than the run up to Christmas and Christmas Day.

Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder this Year

I've had similar issues this year. Ragamuffin is going through another period of multiple wakings in the night. Some nights she settles back to sleep quickly and others we end up bed-sharing. There have also been a couple of other contributing factors which I think have made my condition worse this time. My beloved nan died earlier this summer and I'm not sure I'm over it yet. Its also been a tough year at work with morale low on my team. A couple of more senior colleagues noticed that I wasn't quite myself, which has never happened before, and made me realise that I was struggling.
So I took a couple of days off work for some me-time (and to catch up on much needed sleep!). During that time off I saw my GP and was prescribed anti-depressants which have made a huge difference to my day-to-day life. When I sit and think about it I wonder if ragamuffin's poor sleep is linked to my depression. Her worst sleep spells have happened in the winter months when I've been feeling low. It could be coincidental. Waking at night is normal behaviour for a child of her age. I'll probably never know for sure.
So far this year I'm feeling much more like myself. I don't feel anywhere near as tired as I did a few short weeks ago, and I have much more patience with those typical 2 year old moments. I'm not 100% but I'm the best I've felt for a while and that's pretty good right now.

Advice for Anyone not Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Ask for help and support if you need it. There is no shame in admitting you are struggling. I wish I'd had the courage to do it last year when I was feeling very low. Most of all, look after yourself. Make sure you put time aside to look after yourself to have a soak in the bath or even half an hour to read a book. You can't be the best version of yourself if you're running on empty.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Mental Health Guest Post Series #6

Today's post is by Sarah from Family Home Project

Dealing with Mental Health as a New Mum

Dealing with mental health is difficult for everyone and it affects people in many different ways. For example, I found things particularly hard after I had first baby, Oscar.

I had a pretty awful labour. I was already a week late and after starting my labour at one hospital I had to be rushed to another 40mins away, as Oscar had gotten himself stuck bad and his blood pressure was dropping. In total I was in labour for 18 hours and Oscar was finally delivered by emergency C-section.

As awful as it was though, it hasn’t put me off!

My healthcare worker would visit and ask how I was doing and if I felt down, and I would always say fine (which wasn't a complete lie) but I also used to say it for fear of being judged or an unfit mother!

In reality, some days I just couldn’t even face leaving the house!

I remember once finally getting out the door and going for a walk to the shops. After seeing a friend of mine while out on the walk, we was chatting away when all of a sudden a wave of anxiety just came over me and I just knew I had to get home. I managed to excuse myself without sounding rude, got home and cried. I couldn’t explain it and sadly as amazing as Jason is, he just didn’t understand.

Oscar dropped 14% of his birth weight in his first week, going from 7 pounds 6 ounces to 6 pounds 10 ounces and had a little Jaundice. I think this all mounted up and started to put doubt in my head.

To be a new mother, it’s scary your being left with this tiny little person who is completely dependent on you and you're never ready for it.

I was 100% sure I wanted to do breastfeeding but sadly it didn’t go as well as I had hoped. Again I wasn't sure what to expect but with Oscar's weight loss and added visits from the
midwives and healthcare workers I would stress about how much food he was getting and if he would lose more weight. That's when the doubt of being an unfit mother would sweep over me again.

After a couple of weeks I switched to bottle feeding which I felt helped me a lot (even if I did feel guilty about it). However, it was lovely to see my parents and Jason helping to feed him. They also got to form their own bond with him, and for my parents Oscar is the first grandchild, so my mum loved it.

Thankfully I had my cousin Jessica I felt I could really talk to about things. We have very similar personalities and she had had a little girl about a year before I had Oscar. So when I was explaining how I was feeling it was nice to know I wasn't alone. She knew how I was
feeling and had experienced many of the same feelings I had been having, so it gave me hope that they were only temporary and they would soon pass, which they quickly did.

Oscar has now just turned 2, which is such a fun age and I’m definitely in a much better place. There are days when Oscar is having a tantrum and I might not have had much sleep that I question having another one! But as down and alone you can feel, it’s the most rewarding thing I have ever done.

Anxiety isn’t anything to be ashamed off and I’d definitely recommend talking to someone, maybe even another mum, because they are probably going through the same thing.

Keep going mummies, you are doing an amazing job!

Sarah x Family Home Project x

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

One year of blogging & turning thirty!

I can't believe it, one year of blogging! Some how, apart from a few occasions, I have managed to write a minimum of one post a week for a year. This blog has helped me to get my feeling out into the world at some pretty difficult times. I have been able to vent about how hard being a Mother is sometimes, I have shared my mental health battle and I am so proud of myself for staying committed to this.

Today I also turn thirty. The big 30, I'm still not sure how I feel about it. Up until the weekend I had been so OK with it and then as I write this (the day before my birthday) I feel so anxious. Am I where I want to be, have I done everything I wanted to by the the time I reached this age? The answer honestly, is no but I'm OK with that. You cannot plan the way life is going to pan out and even though there are some regrets you just can't live like that.

The past ten years have brought so many up's and down but life would be very boring if it had been completely straight forward. I got married, had two beautiful children, bought my first home and finally learnt that it's more important to surround yourself with positive, uplifting people than trying to please everyone. If people want to be in your life they will, you just can't force it. This has meant saying goodbye to a few people that I never thought I would ever have too but I feel so much better for it. I have learnt to appreciate the simple things and my family will always come before anything.

What would I like the next ten years to bring is what I have been finding myself thinking, more so than thinking of the past. Now that both children will soon be in school, I would like to focus on me. Not in a selfish way but to find out what I want to do with the rest of my life as right now I have no idea.

I want to carry on with this blog, especially spreading awareness about mental health and sharing the highs and lows of being a Mummy. I can confidently say that right now I feel content with my life and tonight and also this weekend I'm going to celebrate me and the fact that I have made it this far.

Thank you so much if you have followed my journey over the past year and for your ongoing support, it means a great deal to me. So here's to turning the dirty thirty!