Mental Health

Supporting a loved one with mental health problems (Dean’s Story)

Hello! 👋🏼

So, if you follow my blog regularly you will already know that I’m in the middle of interviewing some beautiful people out there (mainly other parents) who are living with mental health issues at the moment. I am still in the process of doing that and will continue to post a few more over the coming weeks. If you haven’t read any of these yet, I highly recommend scrolling down and reading them, they are a comforting, reassuring read that open your eyes to the world of mental health and the struggles that lay within it. I decided that following on from my previous topic of interviewing people suffering with mental health issues, I wanted my next topic on my blog to be about interviewing people who support people who suffer with mental health issues. The partners, close friends and relatives of those suffering with their mental health and how it can also effect them too. The supporters play the most important role in the life of someone suffering with their mental health, they are so important and their support, empathy, love and effort never goes unnoticed and the tiniest acts of love and kindness mean the world to people suffering. Sometimes simply giving your loved one a hug and saying nothing, just hugging them and letting them cry is more than enough support and love they need. Sometimes just making them a cup of tea in the mornings and asking how they are feeling / taking a genuine interest in how they are feeling goes such a long way. Affection and reassurance is the best remedy and it’s so appreciated. I feel it’s really important to acknowledge the supporters as well here, because after all they are usually the reason we pull through the dark days, they are the reason we want to continue living through the bad times and they give us hope and they are the light at the end of our very dark tunnel. They matter just as much as we do. (When I say “we” I’m acknowledging myself as a fellow sufferer of mental health issues)

I have had the privilege of interviewing some amazing partners, relatives and close friends of those suffering with their mental health and each of them are doing a great job in their own ways.

Below is my first interview with an old childhood friend, Dean, whom I’ve known since we were just 6 years old. Dean is 27 years old and his partner has been suffering with PTSD for 3 years and sporadic night time anxiety attacks for the last 4/5 years. Dean tries his best to support his partner by cuddling her and holding her during the night when she has an anxiety attack, goes to doctors appointments with his partner and also reads books about mental health to better his knowledge and understanding of what his partner is going through. He is doing an amazing job so far.


My interview with Dean:

Me: How long have you known the person close to you who suffers with mental health problems?

D: Nearing on 3 years now.

Me: How long has your partner / friend / relative been suffering with a mental health problem and what do they suffer with?.

D: 4/5years PTSD (3 years) and sporadic night time anxiety attacks (4/5 years).Me: When did you first realise they were suffering with mental health problems?

D: At first it started when the conversation was that my partner wanted to die, this had a huge impact on me because initially I thought that it was my fault, after we worked through it together it was clear she had been suffering in silence, the late night anxiety attacks would only be calmed by me sitting up against the headboard with her sat between my legs in a bear hug type cuddle

Me: What has it been like for you personally being close to someone who suffers with mental health problems?

D: It’s hard, obviously I wouldn’t show the strain on myself, I know from my own experience being close to it that’s it’s easy for the sufferer to try and hide it as to not burden others, I’d rather be tired the next day and they have had some sleep than them dreading work due to no sleep and suffering in silence as I believe it gets exponentially worse as the days go on if it’s not talked about or even confronted even a little bit by the sufferer.

Me: Do you have a clear understanding of mental health problems, what they entail and what causes them? If not, do you intend to learn more about it in order to better support your loved one?

D: Yes, I have read books, been to appointments with the sufferer and even engaged in therapy with the sufferer to show support and learn more.

Me: How have you supported your partner?/What do you try and do to support your partner?.

D: Sounds silly but cuddles, making plans is huge for her, as it helps alleviate the anxiety, even if the plans are small something to look forward to is important, the night time attacks are best dealt with head on, I wake up straight away and make sure I do all I can, a cuddle, hold a hand and reassuring words or even a little joke to try and make her smile.

Me: If you could give any advice to someone else out there who’s close to someone with mental health problems, what would it be?

D: Just try and listen and understand it’s not all your fault, once you understand this it’s easier to help, talk about it as much as possible without putting pressure on them to talk about it if they aren’t ready

Me: Are you aware of the support you can get from different helplines and charities that help support people who care for someone with a mental health problem? If not, would you be interested in knowing more about the help that is out there for you?

D: The doctors has been good for us including counciling! Books are great and autobiographical in particular help you understand the issues some go through! In my opinion it makes the sufferer feel more normal for want of a better phrase as they realise it’s not just them!


A huge thank you to Dean for answering these personal and sensitive questions for all of us to read. ❤️

Mental Health

INTERVIEWING PARENTS WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES (Lauren’s Story)

Happy Sunday evening to you all. 👋🏼

I hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend to relax and unwind with friends & family!

Following on from my previous post — last week I had the privilege of interviewing some amazing parents who open up about their mental health issues as a parent, how it affects them and how they cope with it. My next interview below is with an incredibly inspirational woman called Lauren (great name, by the way 😜) Lauren is 26 years old and suffers with post-natal depression. She has 2 beautiful children who she loves dearly and has inspired me with her complete honesty throughout this interview, being realistic about what a lot of parents think and do in the newborn days when suffering with post-natal depression. I hope her interview helps other parents out there who are feeling similar to her and I hope this interview makes other parents realise that they are not alone and to seek help. ❤️


My interview with Lauren:

Me: How were your pregnancies and deliveries?

L: With Scarlett – the worst pregnancy! I had hyperemesis gravidarum through out the whole pregnancy and up until she was born. In and out of hospital, many overnight stays hooked up to a drip! They stopped labour at 36 weeks and I went on to have her 40+1 weeks. Labour and delivery was good, I had my midwife I had all the way through and she was perfect! I had pethidine and gas&air to see me through it. I think I was in labour for about 6 hours. 

With Fletcher – perfect pregnancy, no sickness.. only tiredness as I was running around after Scarlett. Labour was really quick, only 40 minutes and very intense. Had gas and air to “help” and gave birth in the most awful position! My advice, never give birth on the horse shoe shaped chair!!! 

Me: Have you ever suffered with anxiety, depression or any other mental health issue?

L: Yes, depression.

Me: How long have you had depression for and when did you first realise you were suffering?

L: Before I found out I was pregnant with Fletcher, I had been having counselling for various reasons. One being family; I lost my uncle to suicide, then a few months later my Nan to health problems. That hit me like a rock, not knowing how to grieve for my uncle and then bam, my Nan going.  Whilst I was having counselling, my mum and I fell out big time, the the point she decided she wanted nothing more to do with me and that was that really. Nothing I could have done would have changed her mind! Alex and I were also very rocky when it kicked off with my mum, so that didn’t help!! After fletcher was born, I felt much better; I felt like he helped heal the wounds I’d be trying to hide. That didn’t last long. When fletch was around 8 months old, I realised I needed help. I went to the doctors, cried my eyes out thinking I was a failure and she gave me antidepressants. She also recommended I went to counselling to talk through everything and get some recommendations on how to stay levelled. I was only on a small dose to begin with but I needed a bigger dose 2 weeks later as I still wasn’t coping. Still on them now, 100mg of sertraline a day. I can feel them wearing off around 4/5pm. I don’t plan to be on them forever and hope one day I will be ok mentally to be able to cope!  

Me: When you were suffering with your mental health (or if you still are) is there anything you wish you knew sooner than you did? Any words of advice or tips you wish you had known before.

L: Get out the house! Being outside for me is the best remedy. Also, just get up out of bed. I know that’s hard some days, but even having a shower and getting ready can make a difference. 

Me: What advice would you give other parents living with anxiety or depression?

L: Be kind to yourself, it’s tough taking the first step but when you do it’s like a weight has been lifted. A problem shared is a problem halved. 

Me: How has living with mental health issues affected your parenting life, if it has at all?

L: This is probably going to make me cry writing this out. It affected me badly, to the point I didn’t want to be a parent to Scarlett. The awful things I said to that little girl make my heart break now. I didn’t bond with Scarlett when she was first born as I was quite poorly afterwards. She got passed from person to Person for a good 3 hours before I got to hold her. Scarlett is the most loving, kind and funniest little girl I’ve ever met.. I just wish it took me less time to realise that. 


A huge thank you to Lauren for her honest interview, I hope this has helped other parents to realise they’re not alone and to seek help ❤️

Mental Health

INTERVIEWING PARENTS WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES (Tania’s Story)

Hello everyone 👋🏼

This week I have been focusing on interviewing a few amazing parents who have been kind and brave enough to share their personal experiences with mental health issues. I am so grateful for their support in trying to raise awareness of mental health issues in parenthood and trying to bring comfort, reassurance and confidence to those who are suffering in silence or in shame. I’m hoping that by posting these interviews I’ve had with these incredible parents I will raise more awareness and let other parents out there see for themselves that they’re not alone in feeling the way that they do and it’s ok to feel that way and seek help.

Today I will be posting an interview I had with my lovely friend Tania. What an incredible woman and mother and I’m lucky to have her as my friend. Tania has suffered with panic attacks since she was 14 years old and still has them now. She has 2 beautiful little boys called Rome and Marley.

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My interview with Tania:

Me: How were your pregnancies and deliveries?

T: Rome – admitted into hospital at 39weeks due to pre-eclampsia. Induced at 39+6. Didnt progress through labour and had a c-section on my due date.

Marely – started contracting naturally at 40+4. Progressed through labour and got to 6cms dilated, but heart rate of baby started dropping with every contraction i had, so was taken for a c-section.

Me: Have you ever suffered with anxiety, depression or any other mental health issue?

T: I suffer with random panic attacks. Some can come on due to being over emotional (whether that be good or bad)

Me: How long have you had this for and when did you first realise you were suffering?

T: I had my first panic attack at the age of 14 at school. It was when i had my BCG jab. The nurse told me she had finished and when i looked down at my arm, the needle was still in my arm. I remember walking outside onto the school field and collapsing to my knees because they gave way under me as I couldn’t catch my breath.

I now know when my panic attack will hit because my lips and around my eyes will go numb with pins and needles. My hands will then follow with the same feeling, this will then spread to my chest. By this point, my whole face and hands will be completely numb, and depending on the severity, my hands will seize up making them unmovable. 

If i am unable to calm myself and my breathing down from early on, there is a chance that I will pass out for a few minutes. After this i will go back to how i was before the panic attack.

Me: When you were suffering with your mental health (or if you still are) is there anything you wish you knew sooner than you did? Any words of advice or tips you wish you had known before.

T: To be as calm as i possibly could. A lot of my panic attacks progress because i didnt realise i had to slow my breathing.

Me: What advice would you give other parents living with mental health issues?

T: Don’t be scared to ask for help. You are not alone.

Me: How has living with mental health issues affected your parenting life, if it has at all?

T: It has made me more aware that I am here for them, and im not going to be much help if im not here to guide them throughout their early life 🙂

A big thank you to Tania for sharing her personal experiences with us ❤️😊

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Mental Health

How to stop a panic attack: 4 of the best ways I stop my panic attacks escalating

Hello again 👋🏼

I know I only just posted earlier today – “WTF Wednesday” but this is a topic I was desperate to talk about and with me being the inpatient person that I am, I couldn’t wait until later in the week or even tomorrow to post it because I think it’s such an important topic to talk about and raise awareness for. Also, with me being the paranoid and anxious girl that I am, my thought process today was this: “what if someone has a panic attack tonight and comes across my blog? I’d have helped someone! But if I wait until tomorrow, I won’t have helped that person tonight!” 😂 So the quicker I post this important post, the better, and hopefully the more people I will have helped.

This post is about panic/anxiety attacks. I have suffered with these horrible, nasty reactions to stress many times before and will probably have more in the future. BUT now I know how to calm myself down a hell of a lot quicker during my panic attacks and I know how to stop them from escalating into what feels like full blown heart attacks, so I am no longer afraid of my panic attacks because I feel confident I know how to calm myself down by following the 4 important steps I’m about to share with you.

If, like me, you are unlucky enough to experience panic attacks then reading this post will definitely help you on some level and I can’t wait to share these steps with you in the hopes that I will help you calm yourself down the next time you have an attack 😊

Before I share with you the steps I take to calm my panic attacks, let’s briefly go over what panic attacks actually are and why we have them. Panic and anxiety attacks are a high degree, completely involuntary stress response to very stressful or upsetting situations. It is a rush of intense anxiety, stress and fear and can happen to anyone. No one person’s panic attack is the same as another person’s. Everyone experiences panic attacks in their own ways, some worse than others. Some people will experience some physical symptoms while others will experience a few different physical symptoms. The physical symptoms that we experience during our panic attacks are usually similar to other people’s panic attacks but they are very rarely the same.


*following information found at http://www.anxietycentre.com*

” Anxiety attacks are often characterized as experiencing:

• A feeling of overwhelming fear

• Feeling of going crazy or losing control

• Feeling you are in grave danger

• Feeling you might pass out

• A surge of doom and gloom

• An urgency to escape

• Dizziness

• Palpitations

• Trembling

• Sweating

• Shortness of breath

• Chest pressure or pain

• Turning pale

• Feeling detached from reality

• Weak in the knees

• Burning skin

• Pins and needles

• Hot and cold flushes

• Numbness and tingling sensations

The above anxiety attack symptoms can be accompanied by:

• Choking sensation, tightening throat, it feels like your throat is closing, it feels like something is stuck in your throat

• Confusion

• Depersonalization (feeling detached from reality, separate from one-self, separate from normal emotions)

• Derealization (feeling unreal, in a dream-like state)

• Dizziness, lightheadedness, unsteadiness

• Emotional distress

• Emotional upset

• Inability to calm yourself down

• Knot in the stomach, tight stomach

• Nausea

• Panicky feeling

• Pounding, racing heart

• Butterflies in the stomach

• Sudden urge to go to the bathroom (urinate, defecate)

• Vomiting

• Feel like crying

You can experience one, many, or all of the symptoms listed above. Just because you aren’t experiencing many or all of the above symptoms doesn’t mean you aren’t having an anxiety attack. Each person can have a unique anxiety attack experience. ”


4 ways to stop a panic attack escalating:

1.) Focus on your breathing – I know this is much easier said than done when you are mid-panic attack but it is so important to focus on your breathing and take long deep breaths. In for 5, out for 5 and repeat for as long as is necessary.

2.) Find a focus object – find something in the room and focus all your attention on it. Lock eyes with this object and don’t look away until you are feeling calmer. Focus on what it looks like, what it’s made out of, what colour it is, what size it is, what it’s used for etc. Ask yourself these questions in your head about this object and answer them either in your head or aloud. This is a really good distraction for me personally and I recommend it.

3.) Chew something – I like to chew on chewing gum if I’m having a panic attack, however, you never know when you’re going to have an attack so you’re not always going to have chewing gum with you, or anything edible for that matter, but if you can get your hands on chewing gum or something edible, definitely give it a try! Chewing on gum is what helps me the MOST during a panic attack. It’s the main thing that calms me down completely because my brain is so focused on what is in my mouth and focused on chewing that I start to calm down. It’s a great distraction and I recommend it.

4.) Read something – this is also easier said than done but it’s something that, if you manage to do it, will help you greatly! You don’t need to read a book, just anything with some writing on it. (E.g. a clothes label, a food wrapper, magazine, leaflet, instructions on a toy, takeaway menu, your diary or address book, anything!) focus your mind on what is written in front of you and either read it in your head or aloud. This is also a brilliant distraction.

These are the 4 steps I refer back to if I have a panic attack and all of them really help calm me down a lot quicker. It’s so important to raise more awareness about panic attacks and I can’t express enough how real they are and how petrifying it can be to suddenly experience them but I’m confident that the 4 steps I shared with you will help you on some level. I hope this post has helped you and even educated you on what to do if you have a panic/anxiety attack. There was a long period of time where I was so uneducated on what to do if I have a panic attack and I wish I had known these things sooner, but I’m hoping that by sharing my personal experiences with people I will help others. If you don’t personally experience panic attacks but you know someone who does, pass this post onto them as it could really help them 😊

L x

Mental Health

WTF WEDNESDAY

It’s that day again! The day I get to talk openly about my WTF parenting moments – some hilarious, some sad and some just plain weird.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you hate Wednesday’s. It’s definitely the worst day of the week for me because it already feels like the week has been dragging on for 5 months but it’s still only Wednesday! 😩😭

Hopefully my WTF Wednesday posts will give you something to look forward to every Wednesday anyway to make this day a little more bearable 😂

My WTF Wednesday post this week is a funny one because I’ve been in a crappy mood this week (you know sometimes you just have one of those weeks where you’re in a low mood for no specific reason?) and I wanted to sprinkle some happiness and laughter on here. 😊

When my son was about 18 months old I took him to a beach in Bournemouth like I do every year. It was a ridiculously hot day (for England anyway) lots of sun cream had been put on both of us so we were slightly sticky and we were both devouring an ice cream each. My son managed to drop his ice cream onto the sand several times and insisted on trying to continue eating it each time — because God forbid if I didn’t let him finish his ice cream, sand covered or not, he would’ve started producing noises only a dog could hear!! I ended up giving him my lovely sand-free ice cream which brought a big smile to his greedy face. But now I was stuck genuinely trying to pick thousands of tiny grains of sand off the ice cream I was now stuck with and I was determined to eat it because I had spent £2 on this thing and I was hungry!!! The ice cream was quickly starting to melt as I was picking the grains of sand off it and there was practically no solid ice cream left on this cone after I was done trying to de-sand it, meanwhile my son was loving his perfect, creamy, delicious, sand-free ice cream with a smug look on his chubby little face and he had nearly finished it in the time it had taken me to attempt to save the other ice cream. It got to a point where I looked at the ice cream melting quickly all over my hands right in front of my eyes and I had to make a snap decision. “Do I just eat it with all this sand on it before it completely melts? Or do I just throw it in the bin because I have more dignity and class than this?”……. I ate the ice cream. And after crunching down the ice cream and sand and being watched by passers-by… I mouthed to myself “what the f**k did I just do? I did not sign up for this!”

My son and I on the beach – 2011

L x

Mental Health

Fascinating interview with an 8 year old…

Hello! 👋🏼

Last week I was trying to think of interesting content for my blog, things I’ve always wanted to talk about in relation to being a mother and having children. I thought long and hard and made a big list of things I could write about in my blog. I didn’t want to write about something just for the sake of it or just because I thought it was what people wanted to read. I want to write about things I truly want to write about. After some time, I realised that something I’ve always wanted to do is climb into the brain of my 8 year old son to see how he works and thinks in his little world. It disappoints me so much that I can’t physically do that 😂😩 So, the next best thing would be to simply ask him? Ask him questions about every day things to see how he responds to them and how he see’s the world. So, I decided to interview him! I asked all sorts of random questions from his name and age to what he would do if he won the lottery. I hope you enjoy seeing things from my son’s perspective below 😊 This is the secret life of an 8 year old!

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What is your name?:

Ben

How old are you?:

8 and a half

Do you know why mummy is interviewing you today?:

For your cool website

Do you know what a blog is?:

No not really, a website?

What is your favourite thing to do with mummy?:

Oooh that’s hard… lots of things but probably going to the cinema together and when we have a sleepover in your bed.

What is your favourite thing to do with your friends?:

Play fortnite

What is your favourite thing to do by yourself?:

Play fortnite… duh!!

What is one of the funniest things that has ever happened to you or someone you know?:

When Thor (our dog) was on the beach and jumped over what he thought was a little bridge onto more sand but he ended up accidentally jumping over it and falling in the sea and went underwater! That was hilarious! *continues giggling away about it*

What is one of the saddest things that has ever happened to you or someone you know?:

When you and daddy broke up.

 

Who is your favourite politician?:

Jeremy Corbyn because he’s nicer and has better ideas. Theresa May said that people need to pay for school dinners, but what if people can’t afford it? So Jeremy Corbyn said that people should have free school dinners which is really helpful.

What do you think Mummy and her friends played with when we were little?:

Not very much because that was back in the olden days (May I state that this was actually in the early 90’s!!!) so you played with like board games.

If you saw a little child crying on their own in the playground what would you do?:

I would play with them and cheer them up.

If you saw a little child fall over in the playground and hurt themselves what would you do?:

I would probably tell the teacher and give them a plaster and make sure they were ok. *mimics putting a plaster on someone’s leg*

If you and 3 other children were in a room together but there was only 1 slice of cake, what would you do?:

Get a knife and cut it into smaller bits for all of us. So let’s say we had a strawberry cheesecake I would get a knife and go like this.. *demonstrates with hand movements and sound effects cutting a cake into smaller equal pieces*

If your PlayStation broke for the entire day, what would you do?:

Probably cry and then go and watch some movies. *lets out a long sigh at the thought of it*

If all the electricity went for an entire day, what would you do?:

The whole day??? Oh no! Play board games and play in the garden. I like Monopoly and Mouse Trap! ….*kindly asks me to put the interview on hold for a minute so he can focus on Fortnite*

If you won the lottery, what would you buy? Would you share it with anyone?:

I would share it with my friends and family so they could all have some. I would buy loads of vbucks on fortnite and loads of PlayStation games. I would let you buy a big house and let Joe (his stepdad/my partner) buy a sports car. We could also buy loads of orphans so they can live with us in a nice big house.

If you were Prime Minister what would you do?:

Make sure all the bad people were put in prison forever, let people play fortnite at school and make sure people didn’t have to pay for school dinners. I would give doctors and nurses lots of money and people in the army.

 


 

I hope you enjoyed delving into the mind of my 8 year old son 😂 I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing him, but most importantly, I enjoyed just making the time to sit and chat to him about random topics. It can be difficult making the time to properly sit and talk to your children sometimes without any other distractions (although half way through this interview he insisted on playing Fortnite because his best friend had finally come online!) but, generally speaking, it’s normal for us to forget to stop and really chat to our children sometimes because our lives are so busy and hectic, so this “interview” has been very enjoyable for both of us so we can just sit and talk and laugh. It allows me to get to know him more and more as he’s growing up, after all, his opinions and beliefs aren’t always going to be the same, he will inevitably outgrow some opinions and beliefs and gain new ones as he grows and learns more every day. If you have children of your own, ask them the same questions, or more, as I have done above and see what their answers are!

Mental Health

The Unexpected Loneliness of Parenthood..

Sadly, very few new parents have accurate expectations of what parenthood is really like and what it’s truly all about. Even those who anticipate the challenges that come with being a parent, they rarely anticipate their intensity, which is why we have as many of these types of problems as we do and why so many of these problems are “taboo” — because it makes us feel ashamed and embarrassed. For some reason, we expected to be constantly filled with joy, happiness and fulfilment 24/7 after having children, but in reality we don’t end up feeling that way all the time. And when a parent comes to realise this, they think they’re not normal and bad parents. False!

Today I really wanted to raise the subject of loneliness when you’re a mother. Or a father. Especially if you’re a single parent too. And I think this is probably even more of a taboo subject than mental health in parenthood in general, because to anyone who doesn’t have children of their own they often question why us parents feel so lonely if we’re never actually alone with a little bundle of joy with us 24/7. How could we possibly feel lonely if we get to spend every second of every day with the human we love more than anyone else? That’s the kind of judgement parents face from non-parents every day and as a result it makes us feel like we’re awful parents for feeling lonely, like we aren’t enjoying parenthood as much as we should be, like there must be something wrong with us! But that couldn’t be any further from the truth and I’ll explain why:

Let me paint a little, all too familiar, picture for you. Usually, you’re home alone all day with your beautiful little babies and they are the only form of human contact and communication you have all day long, every single day. Sometimes even for days on end. You find yourself talking to babies, toddlers and young children all day about toys, kids tv shows, boo-boo’s, singing nursery rhymes, persuading them to eat, comforting them when they cry, playing peekaboo and any other game that will make them smile and keep them occupied and usually you’ll do this all day long and in a voice that isn’t truly you’re own. It always ends up being this slightly higher-pitched, more friendly and upbeat voice than is naturally yours. That can get tiring day in and day out, to the extent that my cheeks actually started to ache by the end of each day when my son was younger where I would constantly have this big smile on my face and high pitched voice all day in front of him because that made him feel happy and comforted. I would curse my aching cheeks every evening before waking up in the morning and doing it all over again 😂

To those who don’t have children – can you imagine not speaking to an adult all day or even days on end? Not speaking in your normal voice? Not being able to express your stress/exhaustion? And that’s what parents mean when they say they sometimes feel lonely being a parent. There is no doubt that all of us love our children more than anything else in this world and we wouldn’t trade any of this for anything, and there are obviously days when we thoroughly enjoy hanging out with our little ones, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to have our bad days too. And that is completely normal and it’s OK! And we are allowed to have those days! I can’t express that enough. We’d be bloody robots if we didn’t have those days where we felt lonely, exhausted and desperate for some adult conversation.

Research published by the Co-Op and the British Red Cross identified having a baby as a main cause of loneliness. This is proof that this is a very real problem. It’s a very real situation to find yourself in as a parent and that it’s normal. So, firstly, please re-read that and remember you are not alone and it’s ok to feel like this sometimes. What we need to do now is to recognise that we are feeling lonely, admit it to ourselves and do something about it 😊

How I personally help myself when I’m feeling lonely:

Firstly, recognise that I am feeling lonely.

Secondly, reach out to family and/or friends. This can easier said than done for the reason I keep expressing above. It’s a very taboo subject and a lot of parents feel ashamed and embarrassed to admit they’re feeling so lonely and don’t want to ask for help and support for the fear of people judging them or calling them a bad parent. This won’t be the case if you have genuinely supportive and caring people around you. Find someone you know you can trust, whether that’s your partner, best friend, parent, sibling, grandparent or even strangers on a parenting forum going through similar problems. (May I recommend Netmums!) Find someone and reach out to them. Tell them you’re feeling lonely, you’ll feel better just by telling someone!

Thirdly, I arrange to meet up with some friends whenever I can. Whether that be without children or with children. That’s what I always do when I’m feeling very lonely. I message my friends and family and arrange a play date with other parents so that the kids can play and then I also get that adult conversation I’ve been craving for so long! I will usually also ask if a relative or friend can babysit my son one evening once a month so that I can go out by myself with some friends or my partner and have some adult alone time. Sometimes a parent needs that, it doesn’t make you a bad parent in the slightest. How can you expect to be a good parent if you don’t also look after yourself? Just because you’re now a parent it doesn’t mean you and your happiness aren’t important anymore.

I will also Skype/Face-Time friends one evening once in a while once my son has gone to bed so that I can have some adult conversation whilst also seeing their face as if I’m actually there with them.

All of these things make me feel a lot better when I’m going through a phase of feeling lonely and I hope they help you too the next time you’re feeling lonely.

Just remember it’s ok to feel lonely, but it’s not ok to suffer in silence. Recognise it and then do something about it. Reach out to people. You are important too and your happiness matters too. ❤️

My son and I – London Underground – 2012

Mental Health

WTF Wednesday

Hello 👋🏼

Every Wednesday I’m going to try and write a post about some of the biggest WTF moments in my parenting experiences over the past 8 and a half years whilst suffering with anxiety. You know those moments where you actually stop for a second and mouth to yourself “what the f**k?!” before either bending over with laughter or running to another room, closing the door and having a few minutes to cry alone?

Writing about this sort of thing and raising a bit more awareness about it, not only do I get everything off my chest and get to share it with you, something that’s super important for me to be able to cope better with my anxiety, but anyone reading this can also find comfort and reassurance in knowing that every parent who lives with anxiety have bad days and good days and that is ok!!

My first WTF Wednesday blog post I wanted to write about actually involves 2 WTF moments. The first was the very first day I brought my son home from the hospital after giving birth to him, back in 2010 and feeling completely lost. I spent a couple of days there in the hospital after having the most traumatic labour imaginable. And the 2nd was when I was actually giving birth to my son when everything seemed to be going wrong and my birth plan had gone down the drain. (Note to self: don’t make a birth plan again)

So, it was very late on a Tuesday evening, 23rd February 2010 and my waters had broken the day before. I had been given an appointment to come back 2 days later to be induced as I hadn’t started contracting yet. However, 24 hours later, I started going into labour naturally. Fast forward about 8 hours and I was now 10cm dilated and in absolute agony. My epidural hadn’t worked in the slightest and the doctors had spent hours trying to re-administer the epidural multiple times, called out different doctors on call from their cozy beds at home at 3am, and as a last resort they actually duct taped the epidural to my back! They really tried hard. (Can I just add that later that day when they took the epidural out and ripped the duct tape off my back I felt like I was getting my back waxed!) so that was a little WTF moment in itself and even though I was in a lot of pain, I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that no doctor had managed to make my epidural work even in the slightest and I had duct tape all over my back!! That is completely my luck (I’m a very unlucky person! I’m cursed.) I had to laugh about it otherwise I would’ve cried!

Somehow I managed to get to 10cm dilated and pushing my son out without screaming the whole ward down, although I was very close to! But my son’s heart beat started to slow right down and his shoulder had become lodged and stuck. I was sick of pushing with all my might, pooing myself and losing all my dignity in the process and getting absolutely nowhere! Suddenly all the emergency alarm bells starting ringing and that’s when I actually said the words aloud “what the f**k?!” but before I knew it (and when I say this all happened within 30 seconds I’m really not over exaggerating) a doctor came running in, put my legs up on the stirrups, pulled my body right down the end of the bed so that my bum was hanging off the edge, gave me an episiotomy (in other words, cut my vagina) got the forceps out and yanked him out. It all happened so quickly and dramatically I’m pretty sure I also said the words “what the fuck?!” As he came out too. I vowed to never ever have another baby again after that because the labour was too traumatic and too painful for me to bear again if the epidural wasn’t going to ever work for me. (I can now clarify that I do in fact want another baby!) For the next 2 weeks I had to sit on a donut ring cushion, wee leaning over/squatting over the toilet and bathing 3 times a day in salt, tea tree oil and lavender oil. It was just wonderful!

Fast forward a few days and I brought my son home for the first time and it was the first time I was on my own with him after having the midwives help me and advise me for the past few days but now I was completely on my own with him!! W…T…F!!!?? What do I do with this little fleshy lump?!?! A very WTF moment for me. It took a few weeks to adjust to it and build up my confidence as a new and young mother but I got there in the end. I went to baby groups each week (even on the days when I felt like I couldn’t even get out of bed because I had about 1 hour sleep that night), I met up with other women with newborn babies and I read a lot of baby books. But I was surprised and disappointed that there wasn’t enough awareness and support out there for parents with ongoing mental health issues, I read what little information I did manage to find about mental health when becoming a parent but it was never really enough and I really struggled to find baby groups out there in my area especially for mum’s with anxiety or depression and I struggled to find blogs online like this too.

Fast forward 8 and a half years and I’ve come on in leaps and bounds. I’ve had ups and downs and I’ve enjoyed the most part of it. But we all have our down days when struggling with our mental health and we all have days when we just want to give up or feel we can’t cope anymore and we are a failure. But I always try and remind myself that I’m not a failure, I can cope because I have done every day so far and I don’t want to give up on my beautiful little boy. But it is ok to feel that way sometimes, it’s only natural. Whenever I start feeling that way, I look through all the old photos of my son from newborn to now, reminisce about all our memories together as he’s grown up and it makes me remember how well I’ve raised him, how lucky I am to have him and how happy he does make me.

L x

My son and I, August 2017.

Mental Health

An anxious welcome

Hello 👋🏼

If you’ve come across this blog and suffer from mental health issues as a parent (or even if you’re not a parent!) or maybe you don’t personally suffer from this but people close to you do and you want to learn how to help them and understand them more? Then this blog is aimed to help, support and inspire you.

Before I start rambling on (and trust me, as a stereotypical anxiety-ridden person, I do ramble on about things) let me rewind a little bit and introduce myself. You’ll feel a lot more comfortable reading my blog posts and telling me about your own experiences if you know a little bit about me first.

My name is Lauren, I’m from the south of England and I’m a 27 year old mum to an 8 year old son — yep that’s right, I gave birth to my son at the young age of 18 (just before my 19th birthday, with some of these past 8 years being a single mother) I have suffered with anxiety from the age of 8 and have never truly gotten over it and I don’t think I ever will, I just learn to manage it as best I can so that it doesn’t take over my whole life (much easier said than done, am I right??)

I am a very normal, real, down to Earth mum who wants to share my high’s and low’s of being a mum suffering with anxiety which is still, surprisingly, a bit of a taboo subject. There is nothing I haven’t been through when it comes to anxiety and panic attacks and over the years I have found ways to cope with it whilst being the best mum I can be to my son. I have made mistakes, some hilarious, some not so hilarious — all of which I will share with you over the next few months! But I am here to open up about this taboo subject of parents suffering with mental health issues and I am here to share my weird and wonderful life with you.

The whole reason I started this blog is because I’m sick and tired of parents with anxiety, depression or any mental health issue being a taboo subject, still, in 2018! I’m sick of it being something that’s frowned upon, something that makes some people judge you and assume you’re not fit to be a parent if you have mental health issues. Something that people think you’re weak for or a bad person if you are a parent and suffer with your mental health and I’m sick and tired of not seeing enough support out there for parents who suffer with this. A lot of people assume, and even believe, that the second you become a parent you should no longer feel anxious or depressed because why should you feel that way when you’ve just been blessed with the greatest gift of all? A baby. But that’s not the case. Ideally, it would be. And my God don’t we all wish that was the case??? But it’s not. Let’s be realistic here. Some people go their whole lives not suffering with any mental health issues and then suddenly once baby pops out they experience all the symptoms for post-natal depression and they feel like their world has come crashing down in front of them, they’ve failed as a parent and they feel like a bad parent. Some people, like myself, have suffered with mental health issues their whole lives and expect it to go away once baby arrives but then to your disappointed, it doesn’t. It actually hurts me seeing so many people out there suffering with post-natal depression who are either too afraid to ever speak out about it and they keep it to themselves and vow to take it to their grave for fear of being judged and branded a bad parent, or even worse, have their child taken away from them because they’re not fit to be a parent. When in reality that’s absolute bollocks and it’s the minority of judgemental assholes out there who are the reason we believe we might be judged, branded a bad parent and/or have our children taken away from us.

I could go on and on about this and go into great detail and rant for hours, but I won’t (just yet!) this is simply a welcome blog post, an introductory.

I will share my bad moments and my funny moments each week whilst living with anxiety as a mum in the hopes it helps and inspires you. This is the secret life of an anxious mum!

L x