Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Then and now

It has been almost 10 months since i separated from Betsy's dad. It feels like a lot longer if I'm honest. To look back on where i was and who i was all those months ago seems strange, like a totally different person. I feel like so much has happened since then. 

There was so much i was worried about, so much i genuinely didn't think i would be able to deal with on my own. 

I worried i would regret it. 

I worried i wouldn't ever be able to shake off the guilt that is attached to such a life changing decision. 

I worried that Betsy would be affected and struggle with the fact that her mummy and daddy aren't together anymore.

I worried that it would have a negative affect on my ability to be a mum, something that i knew i already found hard. 

I worried that i wouldn't be able to cope financially.

I worried that my mental health issues would go into overdrive.

I had no confidence in myself. I felt worn down. I had become so reliant upon one person that the thought of going it alone utterly terrified me. Terrified me to the point that i found myself truly believing i didn't want to be here anymore.

It scares me how trapped i felt. All through my own doing, letting myself get to a point where i literally believed i couldn't cope without them. 

All of those things i worried about were wasted worries. I have been fine, i am fine, and i will carry on being fine. 

Admittedly Betsy's dad has stepped in a couple times to have Betsy etc when i have been struggling with my depression. What i am fast learning though is that i have the most amazing friends around me. People who know me and know when i am getting bad. People that i am no longer afraid of being honest with, people that i know love me and would never judge me. Ive realised how needlessly i relied on him. 

All those months ago i couldn't see how things would improve. But honestly taking that step has been one of the best decisions of my life. I cannot put into words how totally empowering it is to be in control of me. Silly things, like the fact that i rely on me and only me to pay my bills. I can decide what i want to watch on the tv, or where i want to hang that picture, or what i want to have for tea. Totally ridiculous things, but things all the same. 

For the first time in a long time i don't feel like i am reliant on anyone, i don't need anyone. Everyone i have in my life are people i am genuinely happy to be sharing it with, not people that i feel like i have to have because i won't manage without them. 

Being a single mum is never something i envisioned happening. In this day and age there are so many negative connotations attached to such a title. Granted, there are a minority of people who live up to these stereotypes. But that doesn't mean we all fall under the same umbrella. I'm sure i can speak for a lot of people when i say breaking up my family was by far and wide the hardest thing i have ever done in my life. It is not something i did because i was bored, or because i thought i would be better off, or because i wanted to have every other weekend to myself and go out. 

I started writing this post without any clue of where it was actually going to go, i just felt like i wanted to reflect on things, to remind myself of where i was and where i am now. But i guess maybe i just want to reach out to anyone else who is in the position i was in, or any tough time in their lives, and tell you that it will be ok. Things might be shit at the moment, they might get shittier, but one day i promise you will look back at this time and feel so incredibly proud of yourself. All those silly things people told you, all the negative comments, all the doubts and the opinions and the i know best-ers. The people who are convinced you will regret it, that you won't be happy, that you won't cope. 

You totally will. You will shine like a star my dear. 

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

My belated new year resolutions

I cringe at the cheesy clichedness of this statement, but 2016 is going to be my year. I really totally mean it. I am absolutely determined. Making the adjustment to single parent last year made me realise so so much. Mainly, it made me notice how much i hold myself back. There is so many things i want to do, and so few reasons as to why i have not done them. There is so much i want to change. 

So, this is going to be the year it happens. Or at least begins to anyway. 

I want to address my mental health issues. And keep re addressing them, over and over again, however many times it takes. I want to reach a point where i am not longer controlled by them. Whatever it takes, i need to do it. I have lost so much to depression and anxiety and all of the horribleness that comes with it. I do not want to continue to taint mine and Betsy's days with it. I am on new meds for my anxiety, alongside my regular ones. I am finally biting the bullet and going for CBT, and i am going to stick at it and keep going with it. I have so much that i know i need to deal with in order to move on from this horribleness. And i am so determined to do it.

I am going to start an access course at college. I am going to start hopefully this September, if not definitely next one. I am going to organise myself and my finances to enable this to happen. For so so long i have wanted to be a social worker. I want to work with children and families. Doing an access course will enable me to go on to do my degree, so that i can become one. 

I am going to pass my driving test! Yes, i may have said this every year for the last 5 years, but this year i am definitely going to do it. 

I am going to learn to cook. Obviously i already know how to cook, but i mean really cook. I'm going to start eating healthier, I'm going to stop being so lazy and ignorant to my health. This has been kick started by the fact that i have gone up nearly two dress sizes in recent months! But also because it is simply not good to survive on chocolate and not much else. I am tired all the time and always feel sluggish and i put it largely down to my diet. More water, more veg, more healthy cooking. Less chocolate. We'll see how i get on with that one...

I am going make sure i have 'me time'. I am going to go out more, see friends, do whatever it is that makes me happy. I'm going to be selfish every now and then. I'm going to put more effort into my appearance, and not constantly feel that being a mum is an excuse to look like a state each and every day of my life. I am going to try and stop dwelling on the bad stuff, and getting worked up over the small things, and just be. 

And of course, most importantly, i am going to be the absolute best i can be for Betsy. 

Friday, 29 January 2016

The not-very-obvious

Most of us are judgmental, myself included. We automatically come up with assumptions and opinions of things we are witness to, a lot of the time before we have even thought about it with any sense of rationale. We cannot help it. I cannot help it, despite the fact that i have huge anxiety issues. 

My anxiety focuses a lot on what people think of me. I have massive social anxiety. Whenever i am out in public, i panic. If i am with someone else, this distracts me massively and i am fine. But when i'm on my own it is traumatic to say the least. My mind is constantly going, wondering what people are thinking. 

Anxiety can manifest itself in an infinite number of ways. There is no single type of behaviour that sufferers display. It affects us all differently. To the blind eye, it can conceal itself as anything.

The ignorant mother at the toddler group. The one who never speaks to anyone, never takes any notice of what others are saying, comes across as rude and stand offish, doesn't interact with any child apart from her own. 

The lazy work colleague. The one who never seems to really do anything, who says they are happy to do things but never does them, who constantly frustrates you with their inability to pull their weight. 

The rubbish friend who always backs out of plans at the last minute, despite how enthusiastic they seemed when you were initially making those now cancelled plans. The one who never seems to make an effort, who you know isn't particularly reliable, who you never really hear from, then all of a sudden they are your best friend again.

The weird girl you are stood behind in the que in Costa. The one who is sweating profusely, disgustingly, yet it is the middle of December. The one who trips over her words when she orders. 

The selfish parent who never seems to have anything good to say about their child, who never shows an interest in their child, whose only concern seems to be with themselves.

Things aren't always as black and white as they seem. 
Replace all of the words in bold with anxious, and therein lies the explanation for those behaviours. 

That mother isn't ignorant, she desperately wants to talk to you but she is worried she will say something stupid and embarrass herself. That colleague isn't lazy, she just doesn't believe that she is capable of doing whats being asked of her, she has to use all of her energies to focus on getting through the day without breaking down. That friend isn't rubbish, she hates herself for cancelling on you yet again but she just isn't strong enough right now to go through with it but as soon as she is she will be your best friend again, and the cycle will repeat. That girl isn't weird, she is counting to 10 in her head over and over and desperately trying to stave off the panic attack that is threatening to happen at any moment. That parent isn't selfish, she just has no confidence in her ability to look after her child, she is deeply affected by her traumatic birth and no one has offered her any support, preventing her from bonding with her child properly. 

I don't want to be seen as any of those words written in bold, but i can almost guarantee that i have been, and in some cases i probably still am. These are the kinds of labels we put on people who behave this way. We are just too quick to judge and assume. 

Anxiety has stripped me of almost all of my confidence in every aspect of my life. I, like so many other people in the same situation, have perfected this mask of mine that i wear day in day out. The one that tells me to get through each situation as best as i can. 

The point of this long winded rambling post is just to remind myself and you to try and look beyond the obvious. Don't write off that mother at toddler group who never speaks, or that friend who always cancels last minute. None of us have any idea of what internal battles the next person is dealing with. None of us have been in another persons shoes, none of us know how someone else thinks and feels. 

Monday, 25 January 2016

Anxious mummy monday

It is 5.34am and I am typing this after a very shit night with Betsy. I had another post lined up for today, a positive non moany one, but that will have to wait, simply because i am so worked up and anxious and I'm not quite sure what to do about it.

I have had such an awful night with Betsy. She has alternated between my bed and hers, woken every other hour and taken ages to get to sleep. She demands a bottle every time she wakes up. I usually end up giving her a couple of ounces, which i then fret over because i know I'm just making things worse. She woke up earlier at 4.20am and i refused to give her one, and she screamed and cried for a whole hour. Relentlessly. Until my only options were to give her one or get up. Given that we were both incredibly worked up and probably quite unlikely to go back to sleep, we are up. 

At the age of two, i know that by now she should probably not really be having bottles, at least no where near the amount she has. She has one before her nap in the mornings. She has one at bedtime. She has one a couple of hours later when she wakes up. On a good night thats all she has. But on the bad ones, which are pretty regular at the moment, she will wake up another 2-3 times, sometimes more. Each time she demands a bottle. She will shout and scream for one. Very very occasionally i am able to coax her back in to bed and she will go off to sleep without one, but that is really hardly ever. When i do give in, i only give her a couple of ounces of milk, so its not like she is having full bottles throughout the night.

I wouldn't have such a problem with this if it didn't affect her during the day, but it does. She will not eat. She picks at things but rarely actually eats anything. Maybe there are lots of reasons for this, but i cannot help feeling like it is her nighttime bottles that are the issue. I just do not know what to do. I feel totally lost. I am just so worked up about it all. I cannot believe that she is still such a terrible sleeper. 

I have briefly spoken to her dad about it, who has the same problems. I feel like she is worse for me, although in reality its probably more likely that she's the same for both of us. I don't know what to do. Every single night i dig myself into a deeper hole. I have no control, i let her walk all over me. I genuinely cannot see any of this getting any better, and i feel like I'm not good enough. Being a single parent i feel like i have no one to turn to or deal with this alongside. So unfortunately you will all have to hear about it instead.

I know to lots of people i'll seem like i am over reacting and maybe once I'm a bit calmer i'll think the same. But right now i am so incredibly worked up about it and i just had to get it out. 

It makes it that little bit worse that i have my first counselling/CBT telephone consultation today at 11.30, which i am dreading. Right now i feel like i just want to beg them to cart me off somewhere. Not that i will, nor would they do that. But my anxiety is through the roof.

I am so gutted that this has to follow my last blog post, which was a lot more positive! 

(Us in happier times. Definitely not this morning!!!)

Friday, 22 January 2016

Me and my one

I have been iffing and butting about posting on here. I felt like i lost my blogging mojo for good a long time ago and nobody would be interested in what i had to say. I wasn't sure i would even know what to write on here anymore. I read some of my most popular and favourite posts back. So much has happened these last few months and i feel completely detached to some of my previous posts. It all feels different but the same. 

I started my blog because i wanted somewhere i could go to vent. Somewhere i could just be totally honest and not worry about what people might think or say. Initially it was just something to do, but i quickly saw it a bit like a form of therapy. It helped me so much. I was able to explain things about myself to those closest to me that i would never have had the guts to say otherwise. It helped me to realise that i wasn't alone with how i felt, that i wasn't abnormal. 

I'm in a totally different place now to where i was a year ago, and i cannot believe how much has changed. I never ever would have imagined i would be living by myself with Betsy and actually coping! Enjoying my time with her, no longer counting down the hours till bedtime. Well, at least not as often as i was! I feel more confident in my abilities to look after her. I am happy when she is with me, i miss her when she is not. I am so proud of everything she does. I go out with her, i do things with her that i never used to feel able to do. Things that to other people seem silly and completely insignificant, but to me, with all my 'issues' and anxieties, are huge.

I am finally enjoying being a mummy. 

I am completely and utterly ashamed to admit that i didn't used to like it very much. Those closest to me as well as regular readers of this blog will know that, and will know how much i have struggled with things. Whilst i have of course always loved and adored every part of my daughter, i didn't really like my new role. I just couldn't ever get to grips with it, with how much of a huge unimaginable responsibility it was. I couldn't cope with all of the doubts and fears i had about myself. I remember at times feeling like she deserved so much more. Feeling like i was failing her incredibly, and i couldn't do anything about it. So many times i came so close to asking her Dad to take her from me. 

The last couple of months i feel like something has been switched on inside of me. Something has changed. I have no idea what, but something has shifted, and i have a slightly different perspective on everything. 

Me and Betsy have a bond unlike anything i ever had nor ever will have with anyone else. It is a complete cliche but she really is my one and only reason to carry on. I have had so many horrible horrible times these last few months, and she has been my constant. It is incredible how much i rely on her, and how much she lifts me without even realising it. How someone so small and stubborn can have such a powerful effect on me. I cannot put it into words. But i suddenly feel like everything is fine. I suddenly realise that as long as i have her, nothing else in the world matters. 

I hate that i have lacked this feeling for so much of her life so far. I hate it. I am ashamed and appalled. I think about all those times i wished her babyhood to go away. All the times i never appreciated those sleepy cuddles at 3am. All the times i just wanted her to be content and play with her toys by herself for once. To just leave me alone, to just stop needing my attention every minute of the day. 

If i could i would go back to day one in a heartbeat, and i would start again. I would cherish every single second of it. I would take none of it for granted. I would be the mummy that she has always deserved. Instead, i just need to be the mummy she has always deserved from now on. 

She is the reason i wanted to continue this blog. To let anyone else who feels the way i used to feel know that it really does get better. So much of this so far has been so negative. And i am sure there will be more to come too. We all know that no matter how lovely everything seems to be, there will always always be horrible days. But for the most part i just want this to be somewhere i can reflect on everything with her, and write down my worries rather than letting them affect me and in turn, her. Somewhere i can continue to vent, but also, for the first time, write about how wonderful it is to be a mummy to my gorgeous, beautiful little lady. 

Who still drives me insane every single day. 

Saturday, 22 August 2015

A slight rant.

 By doing this blog i completely understand that i am opening myself up to peoples thoughts and opinions of me and what i do or say. I get that and i am absolutely fine with that. I know people aren't always going to agree with me on some things. And i totally respect that.

What i am not ok with is it being assumed that i cannot possibly be a decent mum for no reason other than the fact i have a mental illness. That even though my daughter is a thriving, happy little girl, i must be doing a shit job because I'm "mental" or because "i have issues" (Yep, people have used these very words to describe me).

How dare anyone put me, and effectively any other parent with mental illness, in the same category as those who neglect and abuse their children simply because i suffer with depression. An illness. Something i cannot help.

This is exactly why there is such a stigma attached to mental health conditions. Why so many people suffer but won't ask for help for fear of being judged. Why so many new mums struggle every single day with post natal depression, pretending they are ok, but ultimately missing out on so much because they are constantly at war with themselves. Why people find themselves in awful scary situations because they are too afraid to reach out for help. 

And what irritates me so much is it is people who have NEVER experienced any form of mental illness that are so SO quick to judge those of us who have. 

Since when has it been ok to constantly criticise and speak badly on a matter you have no fucking idea about? To label and stereotype a potentially very vulnerable group of people because you are too small minded and ignorant to see the bigger picture? 

I am so completely and utterly sick of hearing it. 

The only advice i can give to these kinds of people is the following:

1. Educate yourself - 

2. Stop reading my blog. 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Rock Bottom

This is a post i have had in my drafts for a long time, but i haven't had the courage to publish. Only a few close friends and family know what you are about to read. I have spent a very long time being ashamed and embarrassed about it. Feeling weak and pathetic and undeserving. I have finally accepted that this happened because i wasn't in my right frame of mind, i wasn't 'me'. It feels totally alien to read it now. I should also warn some you that there are some potential triggers within this post. 

If I'm honest suicide is something that i haven't ever really fully understood. Ive never been able to get my head around how someone can feel like death is the only way out of a situation, no matter how bad a situation they were in. Particularly people who have family and friends around them. I have found myself in awful places in my life where i have felt like i will never get to the other side, but never suicidal. 

And yet this is exactly where i found myself when i finally decided i couldn't continue with my relationship with Betsy's dad.  

I couldn't carry on being in a relationship with someone i didn't love. Someone who deserved so much better than me. 

I couldn't live with the guilt of admitting this to him and breaking his heart. My heart. Ripping our family apart.

I couldn't even begin to comprehend how i could continue to live my life on my own, when i struggled so much with things already despite knowing i have someone by my side to help me. 

I couldn't bear the thought of Betsy having to be stuck with me and only me when i am having bad bad days and the thought of leaving the house makes me want to cry. With no one to walk through the door in the evening and sort everything out.

I just couldn't do any of it. All that stood before me was the longest blackest tunnel, with not even the faintest hint of a light at the end of it. 

And so, on that day, i very calmly decided i would simply remove myself from the situation.

I had the loveliest morning with my girl. I arranged for her Nanny to pick her up for the afternoon. 

I wrote my notes. One for Ashley. One for Betsy. I begged them to forgive me, to not forget about me. I tried to explain why this had to happen. I cannot remember exactly what i put. I was numb. I was emotionless. 

And i went upstairs. I went into Betsy's room, picked up her pillow and took it into my bedroom. I sat on the bed and clung to it, staring into space. I thought about what i was going to do. And i panicked.

I called for an ambulance. I told them i was not safe to be left on my own, i told them exactly what i planned to do to myself. I cried, begging them to help me. The rest of the day is a blur. 

I was taken to hospital. I was met there by Ashley, who had rushed straight from work. My notes had been found and read, he knew why i wanted to do it. He knew i didn't love him. He told me he didn't care, that he will always be there for me. That it wasn't my fault i didn't love him. He continued to be amazing. 

He reminded me that i was a mother to a beautiful girl, a girl who adored me and loved me. 

I hated myself more then i had ever thought was possible. For the many hours i was in that hospital, i wished desperately i hadn't of been such a coward, that i had gone through with it.  

 I was broken. 

I was spoken to by a doctor and nurse. They weren't sure whether it was safe for me to be allowed to go home. They spoke about sending me somewhere, I've no idea where. Ashley left me briefly to go home and get some things for me. Eventually i saw a member of the mental health crisis team within the hospital. I will forever be grateful to this lovely lady and the things she said to me. I was terrified they were going to take Betsy away from me, that was all i could think about. How could i be allowed to be a mother to her after all of this? She reassured me that this wouldn't happen. And of course it didn't. After a long chat we agreed that it would be ok for me to go home, provided i wasn't left on my own. 

I'd had a complete breakdown. I was tearful, i shut myself off. I struggled to be around Betsy. I hated her seeing me in this way. I just needed time away. I needed to get myself sorted out. Ashley rang my best friend and told her everything, and she drove down to collect me and i spent the weekend with her. And gradually i started to feel better. 

And now i understand. I understand how it feels to be so desperately out of control of everything that suicide seems like the only way out. To have so much to live for, yet be so blind to all of it. 

When i think back to how i was that day, it doesn't seem real. Huge parts of the day are blurred. I feel ashamed to know that i was prepared to leave my daughter without a mother. I feel sad to think of all that i would have missed out on. But most of all i feel absolutely determined to never ever allow myself to get to such an unbelievable point ever again. Nothing is ever that bad.