Riddle Me This… HOW is the ‘Big Shop’ Suddenly Causing Meltdowns?

So if you follow me on Instagranny, you’ll have seen me having a huge rant/meltdown after doing my shopping yesterday.

Not because of anyone else.
Not because of anything negative.
Not because of the shop.

Just about me.

And the realisation that something as simple and “normal” as doing the “big shop” had reduced me to a nervous wreck.

Yip. Me.

The very weirdo who doesn’t mind being in a bar or crowded place alone, who can happily spend a full day wandering around London on my own, and often, whose very joy DEPENDS on wandering around Dunnays ON MY OWN, got into the car after doing the shopping yesterday and freaked the feck out.

My heart was racing.
I was out of breath.
I had the fizzy fingers that I used to get when my anxiety was being a bitch, and I needed to decompress before I could even think about driving.

It was like a tidal wave of relief CRASHED over me once I closed the door.

What used to be one of my favourite things to do, has become something that I dread.

I hate it.

I hate the silence.
I hate the lack of eye contact.
I hate the absence of small talk and polite hellos.
I hate the heightened awareness of EVERY move made by everyone.
I hate the fear of stepping too close to someone by accident.

I hate the apocalyptic soft voice over the intercom reminding me to stay safe… it reminds me of ‘Children of Men’…a movie which I once taught as futuristic dystopian escapism, but which rings far too true these days.

I hate the whole thing.

But mostly, I hate my own weakness and how something so normal can freeze me to my core.

I hate feeling so weak.
I hate wearing the mask.
I hate the fact that so many of my friends and family are working on various frontlines every day, wearing these masks, and I can’t help.

I hate the fact that I melt down after wearing it for 30 feckin minutes.

I felt weak that I was complaining about doing the shopping. I mean Jesus wept, seriously Maria. Aren’t you lucky you having little else to be stressing about? Poor you my arse.

Yip. Absolutely. And I hate feeling so pathetically weak and I hate that I allowed something trivial to upset me so much.

But then, I read the hundreds, and I mean HUNDREDS, of messages from followers last night and this morning.

From women (and men) just as usually confident and capable as me, for whom the big shop has also become a terrible gauntlet run that frightens and stresses them.

And I don’t hate my weakness anymore.

I’m certainly not alone.

And yes, I’ll get on with it, and I’ll continue to do it for as long as it’s deemed essential by the people who are working to keep us all safe.

And I’ll pull up my big girl knickers and keep doing it, (in turns with Himself mind!), because, kids need food and all that jazz.

And I’ll remember that were all in this together, even though we have to stay 2 metres apart.

And I look forward to the day when this is all over, because then, I can promise you, I shall be skipping through the aisles, singing and smiling and hugging EVERYONE.

And there’ll be nothing they can do to stop me!

Reposting – Because Anxiety Doesn’t Go Away

Grab a cuppa Ladybelles… it’s a long one today.

It’s #Worldmentalhealthday so I’m reposting!

💙💙 My little Bitch, Anxiety💙💙

Being a Mammy is hard.

Everything changes.

Your body. Your home. Your routine. Your relationship. Your friendships. Your mind.
Everything.

But it’s worth it. It’s soooooo worth it.

Yes, you’ll experience exhaustion like you’ve never imagined.

Yes, your hormones will be a mess for a few months (I’d argue forever more, but I’m no expert!).

Yes, life will never be the same again, but the love and the joys generally outweigh the negatives.

And while you might feel like you’ve lost “you” on your journey to bring another human into world, YOU WILL return, a better, stronger, more wonderful version of yourself.

Before I had my Mini-Me, I thought I was on top of things.

I’d never really struggled with my thoughts, with my mind. I could sleep when I was tired. When I went to bed at night, my brain generally allowed me to sleep. I lead a ridiculously busy life and I felt invincible.

We were over the moon to find out that she was on her little way, and began painting and shopping and all the rest.

Then, at 16 weeks, my heart decided it was going to misbehave and landed me in hospital. It misbehaved for the duration of my pregnancy. I was put off work for the remainder, I had to give up so many things that I loved: my exercise, the show I was choreographing and (gasp) caffeine. I went from being Everyone’s “reliable somebody”, to sitting on my ever expanding bum at home…

The world carried on around me…
For the first time in my life, I struggled.

It was only 5 years on and another baby later, that I recognised that I was probably, definitely, possibly, certainly dealing with anxiety and I was probably, possibly, definitely, a little bit depressed.

Have I ever been diagnosed with anything? No.
Have I ever told my Doctor I was struggling? No.
(I was afraid they’d take the baby off me. Ridiculous eh?)

Can I say categorically that I have struggled with my mental health, both after and during pregnancy?
Yes.

For the first time ever, I can say it, or rather, I can write it.
In the same way that I now know, The Him knew. My Mum probably knew. My sister has no slows on her.
My closest friends probably knew. But of course, because I pretended that I was fine, no one said anything out loud.
I convinced everyone around me, and myself, that of course I was fine.

I’ve still never said it to a Doctor. I have however said it to my Husband. And the day that I told him that I was struggling and that I didn’t know what exactly was wrong with me, things began to get better.

I still have shit days. Who doesn’t?

And even though I know on certain days that I have NOTHING to be sad about, it doesn’t stop me being sad. There are still days and weeks where, regardless of how wonderful my life is, (and it is mostly!), I can’t see past the great big clouds that seem to be getting in the way of my sunshine a little bit.

I’ve come to realise that that is not just me.
That is life.

But I’m learning how I need to deal with it, for me, as me.

I’m feeling good now. I can honestly say that 18 months after Princess was born, was when I finally started feeling like the old me again.
Physically and emotionally.

But the anxiety is always there.
She lurks.
She fizzes through me, usually when I’m not stressed, ironically enough. It seems that adrenalin and stress keeps her at bay, and then when things are sailing along nicely and I’m physically relaxing, she bubbles from my tummy, right into the tips of my fingers and it stays there until she’s done.

How do I deal with her?

Writing. My blog has been my therapy, even when I didn’t understand that it was. Also, for me, exercise, walking and music … and telling My Him.

Getting outside helps…cliched but true.

Even saying the words “I’m anxious and I don’t know why” makes it OK. Once I know that it’s not just me, in my head, it’s easier to batter that little bitch back into her box.

She’ll never go away. She’ll sit in the box and wait until she senses my weakness again, until life seems quiet and good and this Mammy thinks she’s got her shit together again.

And then she’ll pop up and say “Ahahahahha! Oh no you don’t Madam”…

And if I think back over the years, she’s always been there. Hindsight is 20:20 isn’t it?

I just didn’t recognise who she was. I thought she was low blood sugar, or exhaustion, or stress.

She was actually panic attacks and I was just so ridiculously sure of my own mental health that I didn’t recognise her.

Why do I say “she” and not “it”?

Because how I feel is not an IT.

My feelings are part of ME. But these particular feelings are not only ME, they are a different, unwelcome little PART of me, and so I will refer to her as She, because it makes me feel like I’m in charge.

I’m not afraid of her. I’m just sometimes influenced by her negativity. But I will not give her a name.

She’s not THAT significant. And just like my two minions, I’m in control of her…mostly!

I’m not sure if this makes sense. Maybe it doesn’t.

And I’m very aware that someone who has suffered and been diagnosed properly with such issues, might be tutting at my ramblings, but all I can do is say how I have felt and how I feel sometimes.

I’m not saying that I understand depression or anxiety. I’m simply saying that just because a Doctor has never typed it in someone’s notes, it doesn’t mean they haven’t dealt with it.

Was it becoming a Mum that brought it to light? Yeah, probably.

And a few other things over the last few years made me re-evaluate important parts of, and people in, my life.

Mammies are afraid that admitting weakness makes us weak. One of my most empowering moments, as a Mammy, as a wife, and as a woman, was realising that admitting weakness gives me strength.

“There’s strength in numbers”.
“A problem shared is a problem halved etc”. Clichés yes, But there’s truth in most clichés, isn’t there?

And so there we go.

The post I never thought I would write. Because S-Mum has NEVER suffered from mental health problems. Officially. On the record. I’ve never been diagnosed, but yes I have struggled. Show me someone who hasn’t…

Maybe there is nothing to diagnose now, but in the past, if I had only had the guts, or in my case, the cop on, to realise or admit that things weren’t right, a doctor might have said the words out loud.

Who knows?
She might some day.

And so be it. Because it’s about time that we, mums especially, should be able to admit that sometimes, it’s not all simply a phase.
Sometimes, it’s not just tiredness. Sometimes, it’s not just hormones.
Sometimes, it’s something more and sometimes, we need help.

I’m not qualified to counsel, or diagnose, or treat. I am not a psychologist. I am not a Doctor. I am not a councillor. I’m not going to suggest that just because I’ve come to realise that I have a little Bitch called Anxiety to batter every so often, that I am an expert.
Of course I won’t. That would be ridiculous.

Just because you’ve sat in a Ferarri doesn’t mean you can fix one does it?

NO, so just because someone has experienced something, that doesn’t mean they know what YOU should do to fix YOU.

But if you feel that you can empathise with a little too much of what I’ve written, please ask for help.

Tell someone you’re struggling. Be strong and admit that you feel weak.

Say it out loud. It won’t sound as ridiculous as you think it will.

And you’re allowed to be weak. No one is strong all of the time.

And do you see that little Bitch Anxiety?

She’s only as strong as we let her be.

She’s like a bully. If one person stands up to her, she stands her ground, but when she sees that you have back up, she’ll soon retreat to her box.

So ask for back up.

And put that bitch in her box.

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I am Smile, You ARE Enough Mum

Mammies.

No matter what kind of day you are having right now, remember that You ARE enough.

You have bad days. You have bad mornings. You have a short temper. You have a sore head. You have a sad heart. It’s not what you thought it would be. It’s not easy. You’re exhausted. You don’t know where to start. You can’t understand how that other Mammy seems so together. You feel terrible for shouting. You promised you wouldn’t shout today. You were determined not to scold. You never knew you could love anyone so much. You never knew you could love someone and dislike them at once. You’ve tried everything. Why won’t she listen? HER kids do what she asks them.

We all have the inner Mammy Monologue:

I forgot his coat. I haven’t brushed her hair. Why don’t I have time to do her hair like that Mum? How many times do I have to show him this? Why doesn’t he SEE that that needs done. I may as well chat to the wall. No one LISTENS to me. Nothing seems to work. Maybe I’m doing it all wrong? I can’t remember everything. My head is going to explode. HOW did I forgot about the fecking party? Surely being this stressed is not right? No one else seems this stressed. What am I doing wrong? What’s wrong with me?

Nothing.

You’re doing nothing wrong. Let me tell you a secret… EVERY SINGLE MAMMY thinks one or more of the above statements EVERY SINGLE DAY. Somedays, it seems like we can think ALL of these things at once.

We all have bad mornings, or bad days, or bad bedtimes.

But guess what? A bad morning does not make you a bad Mammy. A screaming bedtime does not mean that you are rubbish at parenting. We can be as determined as we like about not rising to them, or giving in, or shouting, but some days, our minions seem determined to test every strand of our patience. We can’t control or predict how our little rascals are going to behave.

Sometimes, we are not in charge.

Now, I am no parenting expert. I haven’t a clue what I’m doing most of the time. Sometimes I shout so loudly that I think the neighbours are probably running to their cars or finding their shoes incase the crazy lady across the hill actually gets to number 3.

But as well as knowing that daily stresses and meltdowns are part of parenting, because they’re part of growing up, it’s also important to know that there ARE many experts, qualified experts, and professionals in all areas of parenting that can help.

There are many resources available in Donegal. There are Childcare experts who can advise on behaviour, or bedtime routines, on how we should respond to behaviours, on routine, on difficult or challenging behaviours.

There are no quick fixes and no rule fits all. What works for my child, might not work for yours. What I need to change in MY home, might not be happening in yours.

There are some great online support groups and parenting communities (just be aware that often the most vocal on these aren’t actually qualified to be giving advice.)

There are also fabulous counsellors and behavioural experts around who can help with concerns or worries. I’d be wary of those who promise to change your life forever. No matter how brilliant a technique or response is, anyone who tells you they can take away all the stresses of parenting, is lying. So here are a few services and resources that are available to parents in Donegal.

Parent Hub: These guys are amazing. They run courses, provide support and generally know everything about how to get parents the help that they need. Check them out on:

http://parenthubdonegal.ie/

They’re also on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/parenthubdonegal/

New Beginnings is a counselling service provided by Sarah Barr. She runs a wellness programme called Minding Mammy which is dedicated to Mammies (and which is fab!).

Starting on November 6th, she is also beginning a monthly Mammy meet up in Letterkenny which is free. Details of both here:

https://www.facebook.com/NewBeginningsCounsellingService/

Letterkenny Babies is great as a conversation forum to ask advice and get support from other mums on all things Mammy. The admins will always remind you to seek professional or medical advice for more serious queries however.

https://www.facebook.com/letterkennybabies/

If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, or swamped by the negative thoughts I began with; if you get to the point where you know that it’s not JUST a bad day, or a bad week, then ask for help.

I have said it eleventy squillion times… it’s OK to not be OK. What’s important is to know that there is help available and where to go for it.

Your GP or PHN can signpost where to get support of help for your child, or indeed for yourself, if you are genuinely concerned that a behaviour is more than just the terrible twos, or teenage troubles.

But remember 2 things

  1. You are NOT alone and
  2. You ARE enough.

The S-Mum xxx

Thoroughly Modern Mammy – I am Say what? Mum

Rational thinking goes out the window the second a pregnancy test indicates a positive result.  

Logic goes with it.

They are replaced by panic and worry and fear.

 

From the moment the word “Pregnant” appeared on the little screen over 6 years ago, the sensible and calm me has been replaced gradually by what I like to call the “Hormental” Me.

 

And of course, we CAN blame hormones for our newly irrational, illogical and panicked minds…  But we can also blame ANOTHER factor.

 

People.

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When you are pregnant, people and the things that people say, when mixed with the hormones and genuine fears of pregnancy, create an explosive cocktail of mental mayhem.  Generally people mean no harm and their comments are 100% innocent, but what they say and what we HEAR are often two very different things.

 

Person Says:  “Oh my Gosh, you’re so neat!”

Mammy thinks:  “Oh my Gosh, there’s something wrong.  My baby must be too small.  What if he isn’t growing properly? When is my next appointment? I wonder is it too late to ring my midwife? I must order a doppler online right now.  Why am I not bigger? What’s wrong with me? Something’s wrong…”

 

Person Says:  “Oh my Gosh, you’re blooming!”

Mammy thinks:  “Oh my Gosh, there’s something wrong. I’m too big.  I must have extra fluid. What’s wrong with me? What if there’s something wrong with the Baby? Or maybe I’m just fat. I must look like an upturned turtle. I’m huge. When is my next appointment? I wonder is it too late to ring my midwife? I must order a doppler online right now.  Why am I so big? What’s wrong with me? Something’s wrong…”

 

Person Says:  “Oh my Gosh, you’re carrying so low!”

Mammy thinks:  “Oh my Gosh, there’s something wrong. I’m too low.  I must have dropped.  I’m too early to be low. I’m going to go early. There’s something wrong with the Baby? When is my next appointment? I wonder if I should ring Maternity…What’s wrong with me? Something’s wrong…”

 

Person Says:  “Oh my Gosh, you’re carrying so high!”

Mammy thinks:  “Oh my Gosh, there’s something wrong. I’m too high. I must look like I have three boobs. Why am I so high? Should my bump not be lower? There’s something wrong with the Baby? When is my next appointment? I wonder if I should ring Maternity…What’s wrong with me? Something’s wrong…”

 

Person Says:  “Are you feeling lots of kicks?”

Mammy thinks:  “Oh my Gosh, when did I last feel a kick? I can’t remember. It hasn’t kicked today. Did I feel kicks yesterday?  How do I know if it’s kicks or just wind?

There’s something wrong. When is my next appointment? I wonder if I should ring Maternity…What’s wrong with me? Something’s wrong…”

 

Person Says:  “Oh my Gosh, you look wrecked!”

Mammy thinks:  “Oh my Gosh, she’s right.  I look awful. Why am I so tired? I’m too pale.  My iron must be low.  Can I buy an iron level tester online? There’s something wrong with the Baby.  When is my next appointment? I wonder if I should ring Maternity…What’s wrong with me? Something’s wrong…”

 

Person Says:  “Oh my Gosh! You look AMAZING!”

Mammy thinks:  “Oh my Gosh, there’s something wrong. I should be sick.  Should I not be tired by now?  Why do I feel so well? What’s wrong with me? Oh my God, there’s something wrong with the Baby?  I When is my next appointment? I wonder if I should ring Maternity…What’s wrong with me? Something’s wrong…”

 

See the pattern?!

 

No matter WHAT people say, on certain days, your rewired Baby Brain will divert immediately to worst case scenario; to fear, to panic.  And this is completely normal.  It’s our brains preparing for the constant alertness of being a Mammy.  It’s instinct kicking in and it’s one of the ways we ensure that our little beans are as safe as we can possibly keep them, from the second they’re conceived.  

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If I had called Maternity every time I felt the urge to, I’d have been on the phone to the poor midwives 24/7.  Hell, I’d have moved into the labour ward the day I peed on the stick if it had been an option!

 

People say things to us, meaning no harm whatsoever.  We can’t help but over-think things.  It’s normal to overreact, especially when people make silly, albeit innocent, statements like the crackers above.

 

(But joking aside,  if you DO have a niggling worry or concern or you just feel like something isn’t right, DO contact your GP or PHN. Follow your gut… or bump.  You might be irrational and illogical and slightly hormental, but you’re also a Mammy-in-the-making and Mammy knows best.)   

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