Once Upon a Normal…

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” 

I’ve said these words more than a few times over the past few weeks. Mainly, because I found myself absolutely bricking it over things that ‘once upon a normal’, wouldn’t have taken a fizz out of me. 

I’ve found myself anxious and sweating and with all the fizzy fingers at just the thought of having to go into the town. 

As someone who generally is not in any way worried about going places, or being out in public, this new found worry, worried me.  

I’m the type of person who can happily spend a day wandering around London on my own. I won’t care if someone I’m meeting in a restaurant or coffee shop is 20 minutes late.  I’m more than used to going to events on my own.  It wouldn’t have cost me a thought to go to a new place before lockdown.  

So how come, after going in to do the Big shop (not for the first time) a few weeks ago, I found myself in an absolute tizzy when I got back into the car?  I’m talking palpitations, sweats and a frustration that had my shoulders up at my ears. 

I was engulfed with a rage at myself, at how stupid I felt and how anxious I was over something that only a few weeks earlier, had been one of the banal, ordinary, boring even, activities of my previous normal. 

And so for at least 6 weeks, I refused point blank to do the shopping.  I’m lucky I have someone that could do it instead.  We had been taking turns anyway, so he didn’t mind, but I simply could not face going back in. And because I didn’t have to, I didn’t.

Ridiculous yeah?

Then, when the phases began to move, we went to a local park with the girls.  I looked after the girls. Himself it turns out, had to look after me.  Because I was so terrified of them going too close to people or doing something wrong, that I was on ‘fight or flight’ mode from the second we parked the car until we got back into it.

The following week, my best friend messaged about a coffee date.  Yay and hurrah… 

We were sitting outside a cafe, having a long overdue catch up, but we were at least an hour in before my shoulders lowered to where they’re supposed to be and I actually relaxed. A bit. 

Sitting outside a cafe I’ve frequented for years, with my best friend of almost 20 years, waving and saying hi to people we knew as they passed… I was calm on the outside, but a trainwreck inside.  I wasn’t calm and confident.  I was buzzing on nervous energy and on high alert. 

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me!” I said to my parents a few days later.  

And as usual, they had the answer. 

“You’re afraid. We’re all so afraid.”  They’re wise, and usually right are my parents, but don’t tell them I said that.

So armed with the fact that if my Daddy and Mammy can be afraid of normal stuff too, I decided that if I was in fact afraid, I had to face it. 

I sent a few messages that night and arranged a different coffee date or walk for each day that week.  Having just one thing on my schedule (and yes, I wrote them into my diary which has been lying redundant since March 12th) made me face a different place each day. 

I had coffee with a friend on a bench.  I met a mate for a donut and cuppa on the square. I even had coffee and cake with a friend in the back of her husband’s van which has a table in it… A-TEAM, eat your heart out. 

And as nervous as I was about each of these, making myself do it and speaking to familiar faces who I have missed so much, was the tonic that I needed.  Even better, each and every one of them said that they were feeling the exact same. And my message had made THEM get up and get out of their own comfort zones. 

I’m not a psychologist. I’m not a councillor.  I’m a hot mess and like everyone, I’ve been affected by the changes of the past few months. 

 I am however, able to admit my weakness.  I learned a few years ago that if I’m not feeling “right”, that saying it out loud leads to figuring it out. 

I figured out that I needed to face my fear and make myself get up and go out. And I’m stubborn enough to make myself do it. 

And considering that I have to go back to work in our gym at 6am tomorrow morning, I really had no choice but to get up and out. 

Now, I still haven’t faced the big shop.  And I still have to take a breath and plan where I’m going beforehand.  And I still sigh with huge relief when I’m safe and back in my car. But I’m another step closer to being back to my old self. And we have to keep taking those small steps to get to where we want to go. 

So if you can relate to ANY of this, I hope that you can get out and about.  Go for that coffee.  Meet that friend for lunch. Take the kids to the park. Go to the shop you’ve missed. Go back to the gym.  Book that restaurant. Go get your hair done.

With care and planning and abiding to social distancing guidelines, we can stay safe and keep each other safe.  

And soon, our “Once upon a normals”, will be “Happily Ever After Lockdown.”

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.

anxiety pic

I am Stop Body Shaming -Part 2

If you think that the public ownership of your bump disappears after pregnancy, you’re wrong!

Your post-baby belly and bootay may seem to remain public property LONG after your uterus has finally stopped SCREAMING at you and your ladybits have decided to no longer HATE YOU.

HOW and WHEN you get back to your pre-baby shape, is everybody’s business apparently.
In both of my pregnancies, I put on quite a bit of weight (not bump!).
My post Mini-Me BOOTAY in Pregnancy 1 was mostly a result of very hard work… (eating cream buns and hot chocolate, with cream of course, was hard work alright!)
I’d had a tough pregnancy and was put off work very early. Looking back, I was probably struggling a bit and food made me feel better.

It took me 18 months to get back to my pre-bump self.
Pregnancy no 2 was different. I was in better health, eating well, exercised up to 6 months and crammed in pregnancy pilates and reflexology. It was much more enjoyable and much less depressing than first time round, but I still managed to gain a fablis amount of weight.
And both times, it was worth every ounce and I enjoyed every bite!

The LAST thing ANY pregnant lady needs to be worrying about is their weight.
But when Baby is here and you’re getting back into routine, may it be after a few weeks or a few months, or a few years…at some point, we all strive to get back to being US.

For some people, that means getting back to work. For some, it means starting back at a hobby. For some, it means getting back in shape.
Even the fact that as I write this, I am hoping that other Mummies don’t read it and get annoyed because I’m talking about weight, is the perfect example of how bloody sensitive the subject is.

I am writing about me.

Just Me… not you.
It’s all personal.

It’s all about perspective.

Like Mammy, like Mini… stretching with me in Jim

I love to train. I like to hit things with hammers and lift heavy things. I feel good when I’m a certain shape. I keep my mental health in check when I get to train. I find that it falters if I don’t get to train. I’m not particularly vain…I’ll happily go out and about looking like a badger’s nether-regions, (I often do!), but I like to look a certain way so I do my best to do so.

That’s not a reflection on anyone else. It’s just me.

So what has this got to do with Bodyshaming?
Some of the lines I heard after I started training again last May, when Princess was 6 months old.

“What are you doing back at the gym already?” (Look of disapproval.)

I’m sorry, does this offend you? Not that it’s any of your business, but this is my second attempt at starting back because The Him sent me home on my first attempt 2 months earlier, telling me I wasn’t ready yet. ( He was right.)

“Cop yourself on, you’ve just had a BABY!”

Well actually, my Baby is 6 months old and now I feel like I need to get out of the house a few hours a week.

“You’re grand the way you are.”

Thank you. I know you mean well and that is very sweet, but it’s ME who has to feel good about me. Not you.

“You shouldn’t even be THINKING about exercise yet.”

Why exactly? I enjoy it. I miss it. I’m not asking you to do it for me, am I?

“For God’s sake, stop worrying about your weight!”

Maybe, just MAYBE, my weight is NOT the main reason I want to train. People train for exercise, for me-time, for their sanity, for (shock horror) ENJOYMENT!

And WHY the hell does ANYONE think that it’s OK to tell ANYONE to stop worrying about THEIR weight anyway?
You NEVER know who has their own demons to deal with. You have no idea what the person you are talking to sees when they look in the mirror; what they’ve struggled with in the past; what THEY feel is THEIR beautiful. Telling someone to stop worrying about their weight, is akin to telling someone who’s sad to cheer up.

But my favourite one… “Wise up. You should be ENJOYING your Baby.”

Where do I even start with this one? If you dare to leave the baby for an hour to go to the doctor or do the shopping, that’s fine…but the GYM? Well you must not “Enjoy” your Baby…put it back in there why don’t you?

Seriously.

When you’re expecting your baby, you have NO CONTROL over your body. NONE!
AFTER you’ve had your baby, you have even LESS control over your body!
Things are different. Things don’t work. (Other things work WAY too enthusiastically.) Even stepping out of the car too quickly can make you feel like your insides are going to fall out!

It takes time to feel like you’re in charge of YOU again.
So if and when, you decide that you FINALLY feel ready to take a little bit of control back, take it.
Like the Bumps, most of those who comment mean NO HARM WHATSOEVER. In fact, they’re usually trying to make you feel better.

Some comment because they’re uncomfortable that you are training again after a baby and it annoys them for some reason.
But like with the Bumps, the opinion of others is simply that. An opinion and other people’s opinions shouldn’t affect your confidence. They shouldn’t make you doubt yourself. They certainly shouldn’t make you feel the need to explain yourself.
So don’t.

Instead, Love yourself.
Love how you look in all your squishee-belly-ness as your body recovers from cooking that perfect little cupcake.
And if and when you feel like getting back into those jeans, or into that dress, GO FOR IT!

Surround yourself with positive Ladybelles and let the negativity roll off your amazing stretchy skin. (Warwounds, not stretchmarks!)

May it be walking, Slimming World, Exercise classes, Personal Training, pilates… DO WHATEVER YOU ENJOY AND WHATEVER WORKS FOR YOU. (Except the Weight loss…sorry “lifestyle” pills, shakes, teas, diets etc. They are BAD no matter HOW they are pitched or advertised.)

And if you DON’T feel like thinking about exercise yet, or ever, good for you too. That’s no one else’s beeswax but your own.

The S-Mum xxx

 

(Updated post. Always relevant!)

First published 2016.

Last published on http://www.donegalwoman.ie Sept 2017

I am Saying It Out Loud Mum

Grab a cuppa Ladybelles… it’s a long one today. 😂
 💙 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 5 years ago, 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.

How could others know, when I didn’t know?

It’s only now, 5 years on and another baby later, that I can recognise that I was probably, definitely, possibly 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, I’m only recently 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, Rescue remedy, cutting out alcohol, upping the exercise… 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.

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.
 💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙