Coronavirus Chaos

I couldn’t even have dreamt this happening. That’s coming from someone who once had a highly questionable dream about David Cameron and Nick Clegg. If I could have divorced my own brain after that, I would have. I will never ever be able to look at either the same way again, especially Nick Clegg. (shudders).

It all seemed to happen so fast, I think I’m still in shock. I imagine you are all the same. We’ve gone from thinking “it will all be ok” to “holy sh#t the schools are closing!”. I won’t lie, I had a monumental breakdown once that was announced. Firstly because this is unprecedented and, secondly, because I have zero faith in my own ability to teach Eldest from home. He gets so frustrated even doing his homework each day. If I dare to rub something out, he throws an absolute fit. Once it’s finally done and dusted, the two of us have to socially distance ourselves until he succumbs. Usually when he needs some milk. Guess we were prepared for that part at least.

Middle I am worried about for different reasons. He will be four when he starts P1 in September. So he will already be at a disadvantage. I’m so lucky I had his parent-teacher interview last week and no issues were raised in terms of his capability bar scissor work. Which I’m rather ok with because Middle + scissors sounds like a nightmare combination! But, on the other hand, he is a sociable child and I imagine he will miss that aspect enormously. Even if everyone is an “idiot” and he “hates girls”. He doesn’t seem to act this way when I’m peeping at him through the window however and tells me continually that he has three girlfriends. Contradiction much?

Baby is terrible twoing (as per last post). I took him to the park today only to spend thirty minutes dealing with multiple meltdowns that his hood wouldn’t stay up! We were the only people in the park. Maybe that say’s more about me than anything. But, there is no way I can keep three boys couped up in the house. They will batter the daylights out of each other and I will be locked in the bathroom sobbing or rocking in a corner somewhere. Mental health is so important during all this too.

I don’t know how I will fare, as I’m sure you don’t. But I kind of figure that we’ve given birth and kept them alive up to this point. Is it ideal? No. Is it going to be highly stressful? Yes. Will we require lots of wine? Probably.

The lack of clarity around everything children related, be it with schooling and the effects of the virus itself, has been disastrously managed. They have left a nation of mothers in a state of anxiety and panic. I’m still unsure as to whether my own mother should see the boys. Mainly because of the mixed messages and statistics that are slowly being released. My sister is also a midwife which will add to any decision that has to be made.

It’s a frightening time for all of us in every aspect. I will be making a point of sharing anything I think might help us. Anything that will relieve some pressure. If you have something you think might help someone else, message and I will share. If you run a business that is having to rethink how you are operating, message and I will share too. If you are royally losing the plot, message and I will lose it with you! Disclaimer: I will definitely be losing the plot! #Mumpower

Resolving To Fulfil My Resolutions

As the clock struck twelve last night, I turned immediately to Eldest and embraced him tightly. “Happy new year!” I yelled at him happily. I then found myself bursting into floods of tears, seemingly out of nowhere. Tears that wouldn’t stop flowing at that! I was unsure at the time if this was due to the fact that I had permitted Eldest to stay up for the first time or something else. Upon reflection today, however, I think it was due to 2019 feeling like the worst year of my life.

Earlier that day, as I drove the boys to visit my sister, I raised the subject of resolutions to Eldest. “What do you hope to achieve in the new year then?” I asked. He looked at me entirely nonplussed. I thought for a second. “Ok then, mummy will go first” I said, clutching the steering wheel. “In 2020 mummy would really like to feel happier. Mummy would also like to shout at you all less, do lots of fun things with you all and devote more time to the things she enjoys doing too”. I looked at him expectantly and reposed my earlier question. He turned to me, looking stern and replied, “in the new year, I’d really love Owen to stop being such an idiot!”. I dissolved into giggles. I think that may be more far-reaching than my resolution to devote more time to myself son! One can hope though.

After visiting my sister, we spent the drive home holding an impromptu 2019 awards ceremony. The winner for the best farter went to Middle (totally deserved), Baby won the biggest demolisher of yoghurts in 2019 (I think I might contact the Guinness Book of Records as I’m pretty certain he could feature in it) and Eldest awarded himself the best at everything trophy (methinks this was a slightly biased vote). “What award should Mummy get?” I asked. “The best shouter in the world award!” Eldest replied whilst laughing into his hands (see, hence my resolution). Having accepted my award, whilst feeling a bit embarrassed and sad, Eldest suddenly turned to me and said, “only joking mum, you get the best mum in the world award, even though you shout sometimes!”. I may have sobbed for the duration of the drive home.

This year has been shit to put it blankly. Utterly shit. It’s been that way due to depression and the mindset I suddenly found myself in. It’s been that way because I finally lost the will to fight against it. What is the point? I tried everything within my power to wage a battle against it this year. It won, I lost. It will always be the victor and I somehow have to try and figure out how I adapt and prosper with this being the case. In 2020 I have faith that I will. If I can’t shout, I have to find another way to channel my energy. I’m ready for the fight depression.

I just wanted to leave you all with the most important thing I learnt over Christmas. You can put yourself into debt buying presents and fulfilling their lists but, the most important thing to them is quality time spent with you. I daren’t look at my bank account and haven’t for weeks now. Eldest got everything he asked for and more yet, when I sat with him colouring one afternoon, he did nothing but talk about it. So impressed was he with my effort, they promptly got stuck on the door to his room (scroll to bottom for pic). This is an accolade usually reserved for posters in magazines alone. Every time I’ve walked past his door today, instead of going mad about the mess (and shouting), I look at those pictures and remember what’s important. He better not take them down anytime soon or the shouting may return………………

To all my readers, I hope you had the best Christmas and have a fantastic new year xx

Pride and place!

My Brain Hath Deserted Me Again

I cannot stand depression. If I could kick it in the face I would (and multiple times). Just when you think you may be turning a corner, even just a little one, it knocks you back down and floors you. It sucks your happiness from you, your motivation and your positivity.

Every day I am struggling to get out of bed as I know I have to face reality. From the second I open my eyes (if I’ve even managed to sleep) I feel so overwhelmed regarding everything I have to do. I was never like this before. I ran a military operation in my house. The second the kids came in, they were organised for the following day. I had set cleaning chores that I would complete on certain days and would have a freak out if, for some reason, I had to neglect them. In hindsight, this is what probably kept me somewhat sane. Now I just don’t care at all.

The more it continues, the more upset I get. Because I feel like I’m doing everything within my power to counteract it. Yesterday I felt so low that I could have cried all day. I have three kids though and that wasn’t an option. So, I got us all dressed and we took their scooters out and went a long walk. Chaos ensued as usual with them all speeding ahead of me and ignoring any kind of road safety rules. Normally I would return home and just laugh about the stress. I had nothing. I walked home with them (scooters under my arm as per) and I felt nada. Devoid of any emotion at all. So I brought them out the front with a frisbee (one of our favourite things to do). I threw it to them, ran back and forth and still, I felt nothing. Even as I watched them have so much fun, I was aware that I was merely going through the motions to placate them. To make them think that mummy is ok. That mummy is not drowning. That mummy may be at the end of her tether. That mummy is quite simply and honestly, burnt out. Because no matter how low I am feeling, they must come first. There is no pause button. You have to just get on with it. This makes the internal battle with the brain signals rage on. With the guilt mainly. The dreaded ‘mum guilt’ on top of all the other guilt. Even the guilt I felt last week about Eldest and his handwriting. When you are in this frame of mind, it is so difficult to think logically. This is what I hate the most. It doesn’t matter how many times people tell me to think otherwise, it will not compute. Because I am so low anyway.

It’s just a vicious cycle that I am entirely at a loss as to what I can do about it. I don’t want my tablets increased again as to me, this is defeat. After counselling, CBT and everything else I have done. Can someone just flick a switch and send me back to me again, please? Not even asking for a friend this time.

Pre School Peeves, Homework Hell and Hair Disasters!

Middle is STILL settling in at his preschool. We are coming up to week five and he is only in until 11:30am as opposed to the 1:30pm he should be. It doesn’t seem to be solely him either but, lots of them! I’m finding myself getting envious of other mums whose kids have settled in and all. Not only this but, I think their process is just drawing things out when there is no need. He is used to being in nursery for longer than their standard day (at his private one). In saying that I have no idea how he, as an individual, is getting on each day. The app I check daily never seems to be updated. Is anyone else having the same issues?

Upon picking him up on Monday he bounded into my arms and gave me the biggest cuddle. We then went to change his shoes (they wear pe shoes when in class). Upon getting to his peg, he was enraged that a little girl was sitting under it getting her shoes on. “That girl is at MY peg!” he bellowed. “Aw it’s ok, she is just getting her shoes on then you can sit there” I placated. “No, it’s mine and she is a girl so, she move now!”. What a way to ingratiate yourself to other parents son. The girl having vacated ‘his spot’, off we went to the car. I quickly glanced back at the snack menu to see what he had eaten that day. It informed me that he had had peppers, apple and muffins.

When we got to the car, I enquired as to what he had eaten that morning. He looked positively fuming. “We had some orange thing mum. It was disgusting (yelled). I don’t like it at all” he said whilst gesticulating wildly with his hands. “Aw, well, at least you tried something new. I guess we all like different things. Did anyone else try it and like it?” I ventured. He rolled his eyes then started mimicking his teacher. “Mr T (he is point blank refusing to call any of his teachers Mrs) said ohhhhh it’s sooooo yummy”. With this he mimicked her putting it into her mouth. “But, it so wasn’t mum. She tells lies” he added with annoyance. You can’t win them all I guess ‘Mr T’.

In other news, Eldest is finally receiving homework again. Although I dreaded it starting back up again, I have been impressed with how easy he is finding it. I can totally see a difference between his work in P1 and now. The amount has definately ramped up however and it is hard to get him to sit down and focus on it no matter what time I attempt to do it.  His behaviour the last few weeks, when at home, is also driving me to distraction. I’ve had to introduce strict new rules and be rigidly firm with him. I’ve began to notice that when he is bored, all chaos breaks out. Middle is crying and Baby too. He invades their space and begins to lash out for no discernable reason. This continues until one of them obliges him and stops what they are doing to muck around with him.  Arrgghhh!

Some of you may have saw that I decided to home bleach my hair last week (I know, I shouldn’t have done that). I lasted a grand total of a few months dark! Obviously it went very badly, very badly indeed. I drove to the local chemist and all they had was a silver hair dye so, I reluctantly purchased it. I mean it couldn’t have gotten any worse could it? Well, it actually turned out ok in the end. I am loving it and may now become a professional colourist (just kidding). I find that the level of  depression I am dealing with makes me quite impulsive and do things without thinking them through. Normally I would weigh up the pros and cons whereas now I just go for it. I guess I’ve went from being Eldest to being Middle. In some ways this is a good thing as I’m not worrying as much but, it has it’s downsides. Mainly with hair decisions……..

Chasing Away the Mum Guilt

I have a confession to make. I have been doing CBT for awhile now. No, I haven’t started smoking some kind of new age cannabis oil to relieve my stress (not after a whole day spent in an Amsterdam coffee shop resulted in me mistakenly determining that I was being abducted by ISIS). Actually, I have been attending weekly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions. Because, lets face it, anti depressants are only masking things. They will never fix the negative thoughts that lead to me actually feeling depressed in the first place.

My session yesterday really got me thinking and I knew right away that it would help some of you also. I was explaining how, when I shout at the kids after a very long day, I feel awful. That I go to bed mulling it over and over and regretting why I hadn’t just taken a deep breath and got on with it. How, the next day I will apologise profusely to whichever boy got the yelling at. She stopped me there and then and asked ‘what do you do when you receive a compliment Grace?’. I was slightly taken aback. ‘Huh?’ I responded. ‘Well’ she said, ‘you’ve just told me you run a mum blog. A blog were you show that motherhood isn’t perfect. That it’s difficult, yet here you are beating yourself up. What do you do when a fellow mum let’s say, gives you a compliment?’. I thought of my besties and how they are always bolstering me. Of all the lovely messages I get from you all thanking me. ‘I feel like I don’t deserve compliments and usually list all the reasons why the compliment is wrong’ I honestly replied. ‘How do you think that makes the person who has given you it feel?’ she enquired earnestly. I dissolved into floods of tears. ‘It probably makes them feel shit’ I said, through sobs. ‘I don’t want to make anyone feel that way’ I added. She nodded.

The session continued with her giving me some homework. She asked me to write down every negative thought I have. It’s 10am as I type this and I have written half an A4 page. She also asked me to write down every compliment I receive. From 7pm yesterday, I have a full A4 page. One friend told me I have inspired her as a mother, one told me I’m great at twerking (which I’m not but, god loves a trier!) and one told me I am so good at giving others confidence. Normally I would have argued that these compliments weren’t warranted nor, deserved. Instead, I replied to everyone ‘thank you for the compliment’. Because their compliment made me feel good and I want them to feel good for having given me it.

It really is as simple as changing how you react in your own mind. Instead of thinking ‘I am a bad mum, I shouted so much today’, we should say ‘it was a long day and, we are human’. God knows we all got yelled at and we turned out ok. Well, my mum might disagree! Let’s all try and be more positive. Because, at the end of the day, if we survive each day with everyone still alive- that’s utterly fantastic! You are all doing great. You can reply ‘thank you for the compliment’:)

What I Learnt This Week……

On Monday I may have possibly had a breakdown of some sort. I just thought I was having a wobbly moment at the time but, I realise now, it was possibly more than that.

I’m not even sure how it got to that point. I had been severely sleep deprived with middle and then awoke to a barf fest from baby. But, normally I’ve got it. Deal with it, get ready. Look outwardly like I haven’t been dealing with utter chaos. That’s more for my own sanity.  Instead, the tears just would not stop. I literally couldn’t stop them! My body threw up a year’s worth of tears it had stored up for so long. What did I think? Well, I was embarrassed mainly. Get over it and get on. But, this time I found I couldn’t. I had to call my mum who was utterly panicked. This is her strong daughter who always has it together. Her strong daughter that is a great mum but has broken. My mum placed me in the shower and all I could think was ‘ my mum has seen me naked for the first time since I give birth to eldest and she randomly showed up in the delivery suite’. This resulted in me crying more.

That was a bad day right? The next day, for the very first time, I actually started having panic attacks. I didn’t even know these existed. I literally felt, at that stage, that my brain was deserting me. But, how could I let that happen? My mum, sister and dad worked together to look after my kids that day. I felt utterly useless. Whilst having a sob and, thinking about how many things I’d neglected the previous day, I decided f@ck the cleaning, f@ck the washing, self care is the way forward. Why was I even contemplating those things? Well, because it doesn’t ever stop! But, I took myself to bed and slept for hours. I woke up in a panic messaging every family member that had the boys. Where they ok? Had they behaved? When can they come back? Because, I missed them. I worried they would know that their routine had been disrupted.

When my sister returned with eldest in tow, she told me he had said to her ‘mummy is really sad right now’. My amazing sister told him ‘everyone gets sad sometimes, it’s okay’. And, it is! I had to royally lose it to even think to ask for help. The main thing is, the help was there when I actually asked. Eldest hugged me so much when he came back and told me he loved me. He knew something was up.

The last few days I’ve worked hard to be my normal self. Middle has made me laugh profusely with the zero f@cks he gives with any kind of decorum ‘mummy, can you wipe my bottom, biggest poo ever- yes!’. He also makes noises that I didn’t even make in labour whilst doing so! Eldest, being as sensitive as he is, has done nothing but bestow kisses upon me and cuddle me (yes) and, baby is still trialling my kitchen cabinets apart and getting ready to walk. Even he has given me lots of impromptu kisses. I’ve realised that they all sense this. Obviously it hasn’t stopped the battering hours between 6-8pm. But, I guess kids have empathy in the moment purely. I’ve got this though, let’s get back to normal! Falling apart for me, has made things fall together. Please ask for help if you are drowning, don’t be ashamed. Sometimes people need it spelt out. These days we are relying on grandparents to cover childcare during working days and therefore feel like we can’t ask for a break come the weekend. Who want’s to start a childcare party night were we all converge, drink wine and leave them with the men?

 

Why It’s Time To Talk And End The Stigma Surrounding Mental Health!

Today is ‘time to talk day’ ladies. A day in which we should all be talking about mental health openly and honestly. After all, one in four of us will suffer from some kind of mental health problem and yet, there is still a shame attached to having these sorts of problems. Some of you may know and, others may not but, I have been quite honest about my own struggles with regards to mental health: https://youandmeplusthree.uk/2018/05/03/why-its-ok-not-to-be-ok/ I wrote this about my struggles with postnatal depression not so long ago. At first, I just put it down to the kid’s sending me absolutely batty but, it turns out it was much more than that.

After eldest, I suffered from postnatal depression. I didn’t realise this at the time however and just thought I was being overly emotional what with the lack of sleep and constant crying (him and me). I tried to let it slide for months, ignoring how I felt and making excuses for why I felt that way. I was tired, I was so busy, making bottles and changing nappies was so monotonous and, finally, I was just feeling this way now but it would eventually pass. Alas, it didn’t and I found myself on antidepressants for over six months. I told very few people. I was embarrassed and almost frightened that they would consider me a failure as a new mum.

With middle, I was wobbly afterwards. Not as bad as before but, also not great. His birth had been quite traumatising for me and he suffered badly from reflux and colic. There were days he would cry for four hours straight. My mum came to stay to help me one week as hubby was away in America with work. She left after two nights it was so bad! I found it very hard to bond with him, I’m not going to sugar coat it. I felt awful that I couldn’t make it better for him and viewed myself as a useless mother. The guilt I felt surrounding the lack of bond, made me extremely down and anxious. But, I got through it and came out the other end once he was on solids. Now he is a walking terror but, one that makes me laugh daily with his huge, gregarious personality. I still feel guilty to this day for feeling how I did when he was a baby. There’s the mum guilt again!

This time, with baby, was entirely different. I actually developed full-blown depression whilst pregnant with him. There were many reasons for this looking back. Mainly wondering how I would cope with three and the stress of looking after two other children whilst carrying what felt like a rhino in my tummy. When I gave birth, things got much worse. I didn’t even want to get out of bed most days. Which, is not an option at all when you have kids. Meeting friends filled me with dread and I retreated into myself. Motivation was not to be found and I didn’t even recognise myself any more. The feelings I had felt throughout his pregnancy came back to haunt me. How could I have thought those things? He was perfect and I was so in love! This quickly manifested itself in me becoming obsessed with every little thing that could be wrong. His weight, his eyes, oh my god- cradle cap! Basically, my anxiety was through the roof. I was placed on anti-depressants once again. These then had to be doubled as there was no change. Now I find myself having to wean myself off the ones I am on currently so they can be changed to another type. I’ve also attended counselling sessions and enrolled on a course that promises to boost my self-esteem and confidence. I am fighting against it with every part of me yet it still defeats me most days.

It’s time that we talk about our mental health to others and, especially, those who don’t understand it. How will they ever learn if we hide away from sharing how it affects us? No one wants to wake up each day feeling sad and hopeless. I’m also a firm believer that today’s society is causing more and more people to feel this way. We are expected, as women especially, to be all things to everyone. Wife, mother, cleaner, cook and worker. There are not enough hours in the day and it’s no wonder we are all feeling so overwhelmed. If you feel this way please talk to someone and don’t suffer alone. Even if you don’t suffer from mental health problems, make a point of speaking to someone who does. Ask them if they are ok over a cup of tea. Sometimes all we need is to feel supported and understood.