First appointment – all over the place

When I woke up, I was in relatively good spirits. This was until I realised that I couldn’t have my morning ritual of a nice latte, thanks to getting bloods taken. It may seem menial to those of you reading, but my coffee is literally my only vice. It is also something that I like to enjoy in peace and quiet, sitting in the dark, in the kitchen, looking out the window, just relaxing. I’m fully aware of how that sounds, just putting that out there. It’s not as sad as it sounds. It’s the one time of the day I don’t have to moan, repeat myself, shout, argue, or be angry. It is a sacred time.

Given there would be no chilling out with my latte today, I just proceeded to get ready. As I stood in the shower, thinking about the conversation my husband I had just had, about growing up and all our old friends from when we were really young, you know, back when life was totally innocent? I was reminded that today is my old friend, Kelly’s, birthday. Kelly passed away 4 years ago. In the end we weren’t even all that close, however, she was one of my best friends during my darkest times. Since having my kids, we drifted further apart, only speaking on special occasions, or when she was wasted and emotional. In later years, I stopped answering the phone to Kelly as often, and I wouldn’t even feel guilty. I saw it as; I had moved on, she hadn’t, and I didn’t need that in my life! Not when I’d worked so hard to move on.

The day of Kelly’s funeral was a surreal day. I think because I’d not been close with her in the end, so it all didn’t feel real. When I arrived at the crematorium, other than my husband and an old mutual friend, I knew no-one. I looked around at this sea of strangers. A rather haunting, dubious looking bunch. All unsavoury, and I’m not even convinced they weren’t completely off their tits. In middle of this sea of strangers, was her Mum, Grace, who was completely unrecognisable. Aged terrible, and clearly off her face. When Grace saw me and came in for a big hug, telling me how much she’d missed me being around. All I could think was “Please get off me!”, how bad is that?  I didn’t even cry at the funeral. I just sat, scrutinising the song choice. Not a single song was something Kelly would have liked. We then ended up in the most horrific pub, where I had to sit on the edge of the seat because of the grime, there was no fizz in my drink and the glass was dirty. I sat in this pub, just looking around at this scaly bunch and all I could think was “This was very nearly my life”. Needless to say, we didn’t hang around and we were promptly out of there.

I spent the next few days thinking about Kelly, our fun times, our not so fun times, how differently our lives ended up being. Then the thoughts of “Could I have helped her?”, “Should I have tried to influence her more?”, “If I didn’t shut her out, and she had someone more stable to rely on, would she have ended up like this?” Again with the blaming myself. I drove to the crematorium gardens a few weeks after her funeral, and just sat in the garden, and it was at this point it hit me. I cried. I felt really bad for all the times I’d ignored my phone, for not being more constant in her life, for not trying to help her, for not being the friend she clearly needed, for being so incredibly selfish with my own needs, and that I left her behind.

When I was a teenager my Mum would throw my out on a whim. Seriously! Granted I wasn’t a nice kid. If I was my Mum, I’d have likely worn me like a shoe, but the fact is, she didn’t have that approach. My Mum didn’t parent, she just pushed problems away. Resulting in my being homeless, a lot! During these times, my friend was really there for me, making sure I had somewhere to go and that I wasn’t alone. Now, this was also what helped make me worse, don’t get me wrong. It pulled me deeper into a darker lifestyle, and was the root to all my addictions. Without my friend though, I honestly don’t know where I would have been, or how I would have coped.

Every year on her birthday, I get sad. I think of the age she would have been, had someone cared enough to help her. Had someone encouraged her to be more, and to want more from life? It also leads me to think of all the scenarios for my life. All the dark turns it could have taken. Would I have been dead by now? Quite possibly. It’s a dark train of thought to be caught in, and really, it needs to stop. Much like all my other dark thoughts.

By the time I got out of the shower today, I was feeling a bit meh. Although, I knew I had my meeting today, and this was something to be looking forward to, right? I would love to say I was keen, but I was nervous. The thought of having to tell a complete stranger what is going on with me, why do I feel I need to be there. How do you even begin to articulate something short and concise. Can you just blurt out “Because I’m a crazy, scatty bitch that needs to be happy”?

Once in work, I just couldn’t focus. I didn’t care to focus. My mind was on ways to tell this stranger what is going on. When it was time to leave for my appointment, I was so sure I knew how I was going to explain it all. Do you think that went to plan? Hells no. As I sat in the waiting room, on my own, I just scanned around looking anywhere, but the receptionist. The room was almost bare, bar a rack of leaflets for a series of mental health issues. I started to read the titles: Insomnia? Anxiety Disorder? Depression? Anger management?, do I just pick them all up? Fill my pockets for some reading material? I was ticking all of the boxes for these.

My name was called, and my palms started to sweat profusely. My mouth instantly dried up. I’d forgotten all of the words I’d thought up to say. The woman who came to get me, was a petite woman, softly spoken, and very pretty. Straight away I’m thinking she’s probably judging me for my unkempt appearance (jeans, boots, jumper, barely brushed hair, spots out). I’d say she was probably the same age as me, if not a little bit older. This leads me to start thinking that my telling her about my life, she’ll judge me for not having my shit together. All of this is before we’re half way up the corridor. I’m trying to fix my hair by running my fingers through it, and making attempts to catch a reflection in some glass panels on doors we’re walking past. All to no avail, we were walking too fast!

This first appointment was just an assessment. It was a lot of questions about my mood of late, when did I notice my moods changing, rating my happiness/agitation/anxiety etc. Given it was an assessment, I didn’t expect to cry. I did though. Quite a bit. I felt very vulnerable, telling a stranger my insecurities and how sad I’m feeling. Things I’d only been able to admit to my husband, and myself, only the day before. We spoke about my history with mental health, my attempted suicide, how I feel as a parent, my anxiety issues, health anxiety, the time I nearly died (the root of my health anxiety), it was just all over the place. So much to cover, and not enough time. I didn’t feel I explained myself well, although the therapist seemed happy with me, and confident they can help.

This doctor just sat opposite me, smiling when I was talking, making encouraging comments, trying to keep the flow on topic. The whole time my mind is racing as I’m talking, trying to think up the next thing to say.  This caused the conversation to ping pong around. Bouncing between present day, a couple of years ago, and then all the way back to the beginning. I was trying to let her understand where it comes from, or how it could be linked, or where my OCD’s come from. How on earth do you fit that into an 1 hour appointment? I was so nervous with every question asked. Like it was an exam and I could get them wrong. Or that I wasn’t getting what she was trying to get at. I’m shaking my head at myself as I write this, because I know how bonkers it sounds. I figure that her smiling the whole time, and being really encouraging is a good thing though.

I was feeling a bit down after my appointment. I think because it was just a little emotional talking about everything, and because of me thinking about Kelly. I am feeling a bit better now though, as I have my appointment for next week sorted, and I know that in 20 weeks time, I should feel better. That is all I want. I was asked at the end what I wanted from them. If they could wave a magic wand to help me, what would I want? My simple answer was “To be happy, less angry, and more confident”. If they can give me the tools I need to have these, I’d be eternally grateful.

Positives? Well, my first appointment/step is out of the way. I’ve started my journey on figuring out what my issues really are, where they stem from, and how I can work on living with them better, or even, being free of them altogether. I have been enrolled in a 20 week session, and I’ve been offered a group confidence thing, although I think I’ll swerve that. I’m all for having confidence, it is something I lack completely, but I’m not one for group sessions. I just envision some hippy bullshit. Yes, I know, that it incredibly pessimistic and it’s probably nothing like that. I’ll still be swerving it though. Who knows, I may be more open to it in the future.


Imma eat some worms

Not too sure about you, but I constantly think the world hates me. That everyone I talk to is fed up of me, that they just appease me because they’re too nice to tell me to do one. I genuinely do not believe that the people I interact with in a day (close friends aside), actually want anything to do with me. I leave every single conversation, scrutinising everything.

What is the deal? Why? Why must I do this to myself? Why must I care? O.o I’m cool with people not liking me, I get I’m not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. I think what gets me is they might be being nice to my face, but then not nice behind my back, or even just thinking to themselves that they want me to just f*ck off, but are too nice to say so.

As someone who is acutely self-aware, I pick holes in everything I do. It’s actually one of my obsessions. Myself. I am my own obsession. Not even in a good way. You know, not like I sit here thinking I’m da bomb, and marvel at how awesome I am. Instead, I sit and magnify all the negatives about myself. About how I look. How I sound (this is a new one, my voice, I now hate it), how I am as a person, my morals, how I live my life, am I a nice enough person?  I scrutinise it all, and I worry that if I see all these things, and it irritates me, how must I come across to others? What must they think when they see me? Do I repulse them, how I repulse myself? What about my acne? Do they think I’m not clean? It’s exhausting.

So what do I do? That’s right, I talk about myself, and all of my flaws, and short comings, quite publicly….a lot! Why? I think it’s because I want the world to know, I’m aware! I know I’m not good looking, I have skin issues, I’m fat, I’m not that clever, I know all the bad things about myself. More than anyone will ever appreciate, and I think I need the world to know, I know, so they don’t judge me and think I don’t.

Even writing that out, it sounds totally mental, but this is how I am. The very second I fuck up, I’m vocalising it to people. Otherwise I will worry someone will notice it and be all “Oh look, she fucked up again”, so I want to pip them all the post. How self-indulgent does that sound? This is me assuming that people care enough about my fuck ups to even have that reaction. I have convinced myself that everyone cares about all the things I self-obsess about. Then there is my appearance; as soon as I enter a conversation with someone I need to point out how crap my hair is, my new spots, my weight. As, again, I’ve convinced myself they’re judging me. Utterly self-indulgent. It’s so cringy.

Now I worry that I come across as narcissistic. This has been my new worry; “Here she is, talking about herself again”, is what I think they’re all thinking. Does this stop me talking about myself, laying it all bare, no? I need them to know, I know. It will then lead me into an anxious spiral, where I will replay everything I just said about myself, then think things like “Honestly, do you think they care? Get a grip and stop it”, followed by “You should have explained more, maybe they wouldn’t think you’re so self-obsessed … “. This then leads me to self-loath some more.

It is these thoughts, coupled with how a few people have been with me of late, that has lead me to the overall conclusion – No one likes me. That’s it. I have but a few friends. Other than this, the world just puts up with me, because they’re either too nice, or just two face – not made my mind up which yet. I’m sure I’ll overthink the shit out of this later, and categorise everyone into the group I think they best fit. Yes. I’m that sad.

Definitely not in a good place right now. My head is well and truly minced from all the thinking, self-loathing, obsessing, worrying, and stress. I’m feeling down and angry all the time. Taking it out on those closest to me, by being short and unreasonable. I know I’m doing it, but I can’t stop myself. I know I’m an absolute horror of a person. I watch it all play out, I hear myself, I cringe, and I hate it, yet I cannot stop it. The bubble of rage I feel about life in general just overwhelms me. So why rage? Why am I so angry? My life isn’t bad. I’m actually very lucky. I think it’s just certain situations, and some people, that I really let get to me.

I’m back to the whole, life is unfair, why me crap again. Add into that, the fact I’m now convinced that no-one likes me and their being nice is superficial, and my being self-obsessed, I’m absolutely wired with anxiety.

If I could honestly have anything in the world, just one wish, it would be simple. I just want to be happy. I’ve read so many self-help things, and they all say the same thing, that you need to learn to be happy with yourself and what you have. Why do I find this so difficult? Anyone looking at my life, would tell you, I have it pretty good.

So, what’s the plus side here? Where is my PMA? Have to admit, I’m bloody struggling to find any just now. About the only thing I can think of is, I have my psychology appointment next week. I’m both happy and nervous about it. This whole meeting a stranger, who I need to try and explain all the madness that is my thought process and try to make sense of it, so that they can tell me what is wrong with me, and how to make it kindly do one. I’m not naive enough to believe this appointment will be a magic wand, it’s just the first step of many. I just really want this to all go away L I’d even just settle for feeling content. I can forego happy for content. I just can’t deal with being this sad anymore.

Apologies for my PMA not quite being what it should be, but I cannot lie and be all upbeat when I’m really not feeling it. I will write again once I’ve had my appointment, as I’m sure I’ll have something to say – hopefully something more positive!

Anxiety, Acne & Roaccutane!

I have had acne for the better part of 7 years now. Started off as just a few spots, then the pores on my face started to widen, giving me black heads, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, I started to get cystic acne. I am honestly not sure why this started. Stress? Hormonal imbalance? Genetics? Who actually knows?

I have been to the doctor on and off now for the last 5 years. I have been put on the pill, antibiotics, and topical creams. I found the pill worked a bit, but they had to take me off it as it increases your chances of a stroke (quite significantly) and there is history of it in my family (Mum is on stroke 3 and my Gran died from a stroke). The antibiotics I took did help a bit, but being on antibiotics is just not good long term. As soon as I stopped them, my acne would flare up again with a passion. Topical creams are good at stopping a spot in its tracks, but you are then left with red, flaking, sore patches, so I am not really sure what is worse to look at!

For about a year I had been making my own facial soaps, cleansers, masks, face oils etc all in a bit to kill it naturally. Every time I found something that worked, my face would hit back at me tenfold. It was like the acne found a way to fight back.

Last year I was just totally fed up. I was sick to death of standing in front of the mirror every day, trying to conceal and paint my face to feel like I could leave the house with confidence. I tried my G.P once again, and this time, because of the scarring I have, I was referred to dermatology. It was a 6 month wait, that felt like it took forever. In my initial appointment, I was checked over, medical history discussed, and it was decided the best way forward was Roaccutane aka Isotronin. Due to my history of mental health, I was told to take a couple of weeks to think about it, and to read the 6 page, A4 booklet of possible side effects and warnings.

I was shaking as I left the office, just at the thought of this medication. When I got to the car, I phoned my husband sobbing. I was a mess. Just at the thought of it. By the time I got to work, I was completely spaced out. Hello depersonalisation. I found it so hard to concentrate that day, I just had the side effects whirling around in my head. Thinking things like “It would be just my luck to take this and drop down dead”, “Depression, anxiety & suicidal thoughts. Yes, because I need help there”, or “Potential balding, sudden loss of vision and seeping nails? Yup, that would be me. I bet ya!”.

That night I got home and I read umpteen forums online, most of which were on The amount of horror stories out there is crazy! You would have people posting things like:

“OMG don’t do it! It was the worst thing I ever did. I ended up with Crohn’s disease and my hair fell out”

“Don’t do it, people have committed suicide because of this”

“My twin and I took this, I’m fine, but they’ve been left with so many health complications”

Reading these sent my thoughts into overdrive. I was beside myself. What was I going to do? I have exhausted everything. My acne is depressing the life out of me, literally! Here I am, faced with a horrific solution that could either cure or kill me. Is it worth it?

During the 2 week cooling off period, I was up and down like a rollercoaster. Some days I would look in the mirror and be all “I look horrific, I don’t care about the side effects, I’m doing this”, and others were “You know what, I may be ugly and spotty, but it’s better than dead!”. By the time my next appointment came around, I was so nervous. I sat shaking in the waiting room. My mouth was dryer than Ghandi’s sandal. When I was called into the room, I felt myself about to bubble. I knew I had no time left and I just had to make the decision. I talked with my dermatologist about all of my concerns, and he took the time to really listen to me. I was assured, that out of the hundreds of patients he’s seen, and put on Roaccutane, only 2 have come off the treatment, and that was their own choice, due to side effects. He then went on to tell me that he’s even treated someone with schizophrenia, and they had no issues at all. He did tell me that he wouldn’t offer me something, if he didn’t think it was safe to do so, and if he didn’t believe it would work, however, it was completely my choice and we could revisit the possibility of more antibiotics.

I took a moment to think, and I came to realise that I could at least try it. If I don’t like how it’s making me feel I can come off it. He’s already told me this, more than once in fact. What if I walked out of the room, with more antibiotics, finding myself in the same situation a few months later, regretting having not tried? And with that thought, I told him I would take the prescription. I was given a prescription for 20mg, of which is the lowest dose you can be put on to see results. It is also the dose that has shown to give the least side effects. Usually people are put onto 60mg for 4 months, but these are the people who suffer the worst. On the 20mg dose, you take it for up to 10 months, but I don’t mind, assuming it clears my acne and gives me the least side effects.

As I took my prescription to the hospital pharmacy, I was still shaking. I did even debate as I waited for it, just leaving without it and not looking back. As I walked back to the car, I thought about going back to talk with my dermatologist again, to discuss (again) my alternatives. I was driving myself crazy. When I got back to work, I was completely detached. I felt awful, dizzy, sickly. I let all of the negative thoughts surround me like a blanket of doom. I convinced myself that I was going to die that night. That was it. This would be my last day. Dramatic? Fuck yeah!! But, this is how my brain works. I’m sure some of you reading this will get it.

When I got home, I knew I had to take it, as they are best taken at night, with food. I stood making dinner, reading the booklet of warnings once again, and reading all the forums again. I was looking at all the arguments for and against it, trying to be objective. All the while the dark voice in my head was telling me “You know you’re unlucky. You know all the bad things you’re reading about will happen to you. You will die!”. It’s at this moment my Dad walks into the kitchen, looks at the booklet briefly and goes on to plead a case as to why he doesn’t want me to take it. I barked at him. I didn’t need him telling me the concerns. I had read them. I had thought about them for 2 weeks. Constantly. It had quite literally taken over my entire life, affected my sleep, work, mood, etc. It had consumed me. So, hearing my Dad make a negative case, just caused me to take it all out on him. Not my finest hour, and I have since apologised.

I stood in the kitchen, bubbling, again. Trying to read some positive comments, with a glass of water poured and my tablet in my other hand. The level of fear I felt was unreal. I’ve not felt that scared to do something for many years. If I was to liken it to anything; it was a similar level of fear I felt about leaving the house when I was agoraphobic. I put the pill back in the box, and then I thought, “You will regret not even trying”, so I quickly grabbed it back out of the box, and swallowed it without a second thought. I had done it. That was it. No going back now. I started to sob again. What had I done?

My daughter was staying home that night, so I had asked if she would sit with me and watch a movie for a bit. I was too scared to be alone in case something really bad happened. Thankfully, my daughter knew this, and was happy to sit with me and make jokes to help lighten the mood. I was also messaging my sister, who, as always, managed to put things into perspective for me. Before I knew it, the movie was over. I was still alive. I hadn’t gone blind. There was no headache, Abdominal pain, breathlessness, sickness, stomach upset etc. I was absolutely fine.

The other day I was speaking quite openly with a friend about my being worried when I started Roaccutane, and someone else I know approached me and was all “Don’t do it! I’ve been refused it from dermatologists because it’s so bad for you”… essentially putting the absolute fear in me. The whole while they’re offering me this advice, my inner voice is screaming for them to just shut up! Go away!! Take your concern and direct it elsewhere, this lady right here doesn’t need any more fear instilled… I tried to politely explain to this person that more than a little thought had gone into this decision. It wasn’t on a whim. I’ve not bypassed all the good doctors and been given a shit one that wants to kill me. Yet they continued to offer ‘advice’. This sent my anxiety into overdrive once again. I sat at my desk, in bits, frantically messaging my sister and husband, who both managed to peel me off the ceiling. I know that this person didn’t mean to scare me. Their concern came from a good place, and they are a really lovely person. I just wish people wouldn’t offer medical advice so freely, especially when negative and not asked for.

Today I’m exactly 8 days from taking 20mg of Roaccutane nightly with my dinner. Other than dry skin, throat, &  some tightness around the forehead and cheeks, there is absolutely no side effects for me. I do appreciate that it needs to build up in my system, and my side effects may worsen, but for now? I’m all good. I have used my PMA every day to get me through being able to take my next tablet. Every day I recognise that this doctor has been practicing for a number of years, has successfully treated hundreds of happy/healthy patients, and I am but the next on his list. I also take the time to look in the mirror and marvel at how quickly my acne is starting to clear up. I had about 4 cystic lumps on my jawline just as I started treatment. They hadn’t quite surfaced yet, but they were sore, and you could feel them just waiting to appear. These have now gone. Completely. No red marks left behind. Just gone.

To anyone reading this, with anxiety issues, looking to start Roaccutane, I would say this to you:

There will always be scaremongers out there! Always. People love nothing more than to post doom and gloom. Someone on the site quite rightly pointed out, that people who have positive outcomes, tend to not need anymore, therefore their success stories are not there. People who have bad experiences however, need a platform to shout from, and that just so happens to be where we are finding our information.

It is not something to consider lightly. It is serious medication. My advice is this; read the leaflets you are given, talk in length with your dermatologist. Be prepared! You know that dry skin, throat, eyes, and peeling lips etc affect more than 1 in10 people, so keep your fluids up, buy eye drops, and invest in a good moisturiser and lip balm. Start from the moment you take your tablet to prevent, not treat, the side effects. Someone else said they started supplements like Vitamin D & Vitamin B6, and they found it helped. I discussed that with my dermatologist and his simple answer was “there is no evidence to support that supplements will help you when taking Roaccutane, but it cannot hurt if you want to”. So really, it may not help, but it won’t do you any harm.

As with all medication, possible side effects need to be listed. Take a moment to read a paracetamol packet for instance? They have a little list too. It’s not to say you’ll get any of them, they are just precautionary.

Do your own research, but take your findings to your G.P/Dermatologist, who can discuss them with you. Also, remember that you will have bloods taken at the start of treatment, and then again every 30 days.. This medication is not given out on a whim, and you are closely monitored. Just be sure that you’re informed from all the right sources, and try not to trust everything you read on forums. As whilst you can be sure some of the horror stories are true, don’t forget that the internet is full of trolls, and I don’t doubt for a second that some of those responses are just that. People trolling others, because why? Well they can, and unfortunately, there are some weird creatures out there that get off on it. We also need to consider, that whilst some people get terrible side effects, they may have underlying, or even existing, medical conditions that are affected by Roaccutane. We just don’t know. So don’t focus too much on others, focus on your medical history, how you feel, and what your doctors suggest for YOU.

I will look to do another post on this, at the end of my 30 days. I’ll give a full update on my moods, side effects (if any more appear), my skin and my anxiety.

I do hope that this helps you make your decision, whichever one is right for you!



New Year, New Me Bullshit…

So far, this year I’ve used up all of my holidays on moving to a new house (twice!). I’ve moaned about this fact, as I genuinely feel that I never actually get a break. The whole year has been really busy, with home life, work, being unwell, relationships etc it’s both physically and emotionally exhausting. Every day I’m a raging moaning bitch, who’s pissed off at having so much to do and not enough hours in the work week, then not enough time at the weekend to catch up on the house and definitely no time to spend on me, or relaxing.

Currently, I’m on my Christmas holidays and at the start it was full on, with all the shopping, cleaning, prepping, organising, and Christmas drama. Every day I get up, I feel like I must achieve something; cleaning, shopping, going somewhere etc. There always must be something, I can never ever let myself just chill. I know this is because I worry about the anxious thoughts getting time to creep in, and this fills me with enough dread to motivate me to always keep busy.

Now though? Well for the last two days, I’ve chosen to do absolute bare minimum. I woke up yesterday (New Years Eve) and I had an itinerary of the cleaning and prep I was going to do for last night. I quickly scrapped this when I realised that it was the last day of the year and there was no way I was spending it going 100 miles an hour.

I have spent the last day of 2017, doing some basic surface cleaning, some minimal food prep for some munchies to have last night, and then spending some time with the kids playing games. It was a stress-free day, one where I didn’t have to shout or moan. First day of 2017, that was completely stress free, and a little sad that it only happened on the last day. I have now woken up on the first day of 2018, and I have made the decision to have an equally chilled day. Again, today has consisted of some basic cleaning, but for the most part it has been chilled.

I have been very sad and stressed for a long time, I think these feeling start to feel ‘normal’. I’ve become accustom to always being wired, fuelled on little to no sleep, moody, stressed, and sad. It needs to stop. For my health, sanity and for the health and sanity of my children. The last 2 years, I have been so very unhappy. I’ve looked to those in my immediate life to help alleviate this feeling. I’ve looked for comfort, help, appreciation and the need to feel wanted. Like my life actually matters, and I’m not just a glorified housemate, maid, care giver, a friend that will do when you’ve naff all else better etc. This is definitely where I’m going wrong. No-one but me can help me.

My new year new me bullshit for this year, will in fact not be bullshit, for a nice change. I will endeavour to make more time for me! I fully intend to spend more time doing things that make me happy and with people who make me happy, and I them.

So, the negative here is that I neglect myself, I’m always stressed, and I upset myself about people in my life not giving a shit. However, the positive is so much better, because I recognise it all for what it is, I know what is wrong, and I will work on making a change. As with everything I do, I will make a list, or maybe even a spreadsheet? Lol. I will just take each day as it comes. No more spreading myself thin, trying to over achieve, spending longer hours at work, stressing over house work, hell, stuff being stressed period! I’ve had enough of it!!

Happy New Year Guys! Here is to 2018 being the year of moving forward, finding happiness, being less stressed, and surrounding ourselves with people who fill our lives with smiles and happy memories!

Jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse

Christmas is always a funny time of year for me. I love the idea of Christmas, and I love being able to spend some quiet time at home, with my family. What I don’t love? Is the copious amounts of money you need to spend, the amount of time/effort one day sucks out of your life, and the level of Christmas cheer I always feel I need to achieve. Also, it doesn’t help that my husband works away, and is away this Christmas, again!

Christmas is always so much hard work! I assume I’m not the only one who looks at Christmas as being much harder, than it really needs to be. I also hate that my family is sooooo far from what you see in the movies. Even the Griswold’s have their shit together more than us.

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you’ll know that my Dad has been living with us for the last few months, due to ill health. I have always said, even from a young age, that I would look after my parents if they ever took unwell. I would hate to think of them being alone, or not being looked after properly. This has not been as smooth as I would have liked. I knew it would be hard, going back to living with a parent, but when this parent is one you’ve never actually lived with, and who is one of the most difficult people on the planet to get along with, that does pose a bit of a problem. There have been waaaaay more downs, than ups. Most days I wonder if it was a good idea, but then the guilt of telling him it’s not working and he needs his own place tears me up inside. Despite there being many downs, especially of late, it was Christmas. I was determined this was going to go well. Words had been had a few days earlier, where I’d asked if we could just get through Christmas and make it a good one for the kids. It was agreed we could do this.

Friday 22nd December, was my first day off for the holidays. I chose to spend this day cleaning, moving furniture, dancing to some radio station dedicated to Christmas songs, and wrapping presents. When I woke up in the morning I was really excited to get started, but, by the same token dreading the effort it was all going to take. I thought that I needed to just throw myself out of bed and hype myself up for the day ahead. What this really meant, was I went a bit manic for a couple of hours. I was dancing and singing around the house, being a little overzealous. Can’t be bad right? Well, it resulted in my pulling my back, and rendering me in quite a bit of pain. Also, I think my daughters were a little scared of just how ‘happy’ I had become, as they kept asking me if I was ok. I said I was, but I think even the level of manic happy I had reached, was beginning to scare even me. I needed it though, because I felt that if I let the ball drop, and I stopped smiling and singing, I’d lose it, and I’d just sink into myself and not bother. It was 21:45 before I turned the hoover off and that was my cleaning done. No time to wrap, as I was just so tired, so felt I could leave it until Saturday.

Saturday 23rd was my shopping day. This year, in my infinite wisdom, I had decided to leave the Christmas food shopping to last minute and not pre-order our Turkey Crown. Let’s just say, that 3hours of my life were lost in the supermarket, I spent nearly 3 times more than I had anticipated, and I left without a turkey crown. Gutted. Who in their right mind wants to pull giblets out of a turkey? Why do they leave them in? What is their purpose? Answers on a postcard. The whole shopping experience, quite nicely, popped a pin in my rather manic Christmas cheer bubble. I was now tired, drained, skint, and bemused at how food could cost so much? I did check, and double check our receipt to be sure that nothing was double scanned, but nope, it was correct.

My Dad had decided he was going out with friends, to do the rounds and have a few drinks. Fair enough, this was good for me, as it was one less person in the house to worry about. Being so ‘happy’ throughout Friday, and then 3 stressful hours lost in a supermarket, really took its toll in the evening. A good friend of mine popped over to have a drink with me whilst I wrapped the remaining presents, but she ended up leaving early, due to me now nodding off. I had literally exhausted myself, trying to be all happy and full of Christmas Cheer.

Sunday 24th, Christmas Eve, yaaaay. I woke up in the morning, feeling a sense of calm. It was nice. I knew that the last two days had been really busy, and stressful, but I had nothing left to do. My Dad was going to bring the remaining items I needed in with him, when he came back later in the day, the house was still all shiny and clean, and all I had to do was spend time with the kids. Time to set up the RetroPie, and play some retro games with the kids. All was going well. Too well you might say. I hadn’t had to shout at anyone, I wasn’t feeling stressed, we were laughing, having fun. It was great.  Then, my Dad rocks up, still drunk from the night before, none of the important items he was supposed to pick up, and a bit of an attitude. Fabulous.

I will not go into detail, but let’s just say, Christmas eve was completely ruined. I had plans to have friends over for present exchanges, and family, but I ended up having to scrap that due to me not wanting people to see him in this nick. The kids were now not happy, given his actions throughout the afternoon/evening. What had started off as a really good day, was now well and truly ruined. I tried my best to supress my feelings of complete and utter anger. I didn’t want to ruin it any further for the kids. All that was left, was for me to cry. This was tears of utter frustration. How can someone be so incredibly thoughtless and selfish? Is it because they’ve never had to consider life with children? Who actually knows. Either which way, I was furious. And for those of you that know me, or who read this blog, you know I cannot just be furious. Let’s add into the mix, my being completely upset, beside myself, feeling an overwhelming sense of failing my kids. Then the anxiety of worrying what they must think of me. Do they hate me for letting him live with us?

Growing up with alcoholic parents is hard going. To be fair, I didn’t even realise my Mum drank and smoked until I was a teenager. She concealed it well. Probably because she was never around. I guess that helps. My Dad on the other hand, has never been so subtle. My memories of spending time with him growing up always involves him being drunk. He took me to Butlins, we spent our evenings with him propping up the bar. When he took me to Blackpool, I remember us walking along the promenade looking for a pub that was suitable for kids. Even when I would visit him and we’d just stay at his, every evening he was drinking. If he had a girlfriend, I’d be left with them, whilst he went to the pub. When you’re a kid, you just assume that everyone’s parents are like this. It’s only as you get older you realise that this is not the norm. Seeing my Dad in the state he was in on Christmas Eve, just brought back all of the memories and anger I felt growing up. I will NOT have my children subjected to it. I just won’t.

I tried to redeem the day, but failed. I think the mood had gone too far south by this point, so we all resigned ourselves to giving up and going to bed. After all, it would soon be Christmas. When I went to bed, I felt hopeless. Like I’m unable to do this on my own. I started to really miss my husband, because I felt that things wouldn’t be nearly so bad if he were here. I don’t think my Dad would have behaved in this way if he was, as he never does. He’s only ever like this when he’s away. I then became bitter and resentful of the fact my husband chooses to work away. Then I started to think that I’m probably the reason. All the drama that comes with me, he’d probably rather be in the middle of the North Sea for half the year. I know I would. Well, I think we can guess how this mood turned out. It just sank me into a dark hole, of not being good enough, my life being terrible, and my kids probably hating me. What a great way to finish the evening.

Monday 25th, Christmas Day! This should be a yaaay to start with, but it wasn’t. Let’s just say my Dad had me and my eldest up from 4am with his antics. My son and I curled up in my bed watching assassins creed trying to dose back off, but we couldn’t. Then my youngest was up at 6am, so we just had to get up. We both knew this was going to make for a long day, but we put smiles on anyway. We did think about wakening my Dad up for him to see the kids opening their presents, but it was thought he’d be better to sleep it all off. Plus, if I’m honest, I could see the man far enough.

Once in the living room, we began opening our presents. The kids cried, laughed and hugged me for the presents they got, so this fair improved the overall mood. I then got to open my presents, and once I got to this painting my daughter did for me, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room:


Receiving this couldn’t have been better timed. It showed me that my kids don’t hate me like I thought. We hugged, had some happy tears, and then we cleared up all the paper and got settled in the living room watching TV and playing games. By the time my Mum popped over for the yearly ritual of a bacon roll and a cuppa after work, the mood in the house was good. We were all laughing, joking and singing. I then asked my Mum to help me with the giblets in the turkey, as they give me the absolute fear, and you know what? I’d actually picked up a prepared turkey, with stuffing, bacon & no giblets! How’s that for a bit of good luck! I get some of you reading this will be like “Settle down, it’s only giblets”, but seriously, I was so close to getting the kids to play Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who was taking them out.

My Dad woke up mid-afternoon, but decided to stay in his room until early evening when food was being dished up. I assume he was embarrassed? Or at least I hope he was. If not, I can safely assume he was feeling awful given the state he had been in.

I am definitely not the best cook. My husband loves to tell the story of the time I managed to burn a frozen pizza, yet keep it frozen in the centre. He tells that story like it’s a bad thing. I, however, see it as a talent! I’m sure that not many people could replicate it. When it came to cooking Christmas dinner, as with every year it’s up to me, I panic that it’s going to be awful. Well, this year? It was awesome. The turkey was perfect, nothing was burnt, everything was ready in time. There was enough food to feed half the street, so we’ve had plenty left overs for other meals. Everyone said they thoroughly enjoyed the meal, and all plates were cleaned. Even my youngest asked for more.

We sat around the table, pulling crackers, telling our awful jokes, laughing and just have a really good time. One of my daughters took it upon themselves to act out all of the charades, and this proved to be the most amusement our family had seen in a long time.

In spite of all the bad stuff, Christmas day for me was far better than expected. It has shown me that I have raised some of the best kids. They are amazing, loving, thoughtful, caring, funny and just all round good kids. They have absolutely made this Christmas what it is, and they have managed to turn my dark thoughts and feelings right around and bring me back to feeling happy and content. This is the PMA I’m taking away from this whole experience. I may not have the best parents, and I may not be the best myself, but I’ve clearly done something right.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas. Thank you for the kind messages I’ve received, and I wish you all the best for the New Year.

Enough of never being enough!

I am my own biggest critic. I’m sure I speak for nearly everyone when I say; nothing I do is good enough. I will always say that I could have done more. I will scrutinise my work/life, and strive for better.  Another thing I’m bad for, is beating myself up for how I am with others. I always scrutinise my social interactions and relationships. Wondering if what I said was offensive, doubting how people see me, not knowing how to deal with people, for fear of just getting it all wrong.

Well, let’s just say I’ve had an epiphany this week. You see, I am very much someone that has a black and white attitude toward people, as in; I either care about you, or I don’t. So, if you’re someone I respect/like, I would like to think you respect/like me back. If you didn’t, this would hurt me, because I like to think I’m a pretty nice person, so would assume it’s my actions that have made you not like me, thus leading me to over scrutinise our every interaction. However, if I don’t like/respect you, then what you think of me is neither here nor there. Does that make sense? I will not lose sleep over someone, I don’t care about. This even goes for work colleagues. I may not consider work colleagues to be friends, but if I like them and I respect them, I would be upset to think it wasn’t mutual. I am also a very firm believer that respect is earned, not commanded. People who insist on talking at people, rather than to them, really annoy me. I do not respond well to these people, and they definitely fall into the black.

I spend a lot of my life doing my best to appease those I like, for fear that my actions will cause them to dislike me somehow. Just another one of my stupid, time consuming, irrational fears. I will scrutinise our every interaction, sometimes even during the interaction, and I will beat myself up for things said, or even things that were unsaid. It’s exhausting. I will even look to message people, or talk to people after the fact and apologise, or say the things I think I should have said. Most of the time I get a rather meh response, because they genuinely didn’t notice, nor care. I often know this will be the response I’m met with, but I have to say something. Otherwise my brain will just continue to race about the situation, and it will drive me around the bend.

Lately I’ve had someone I class as a friend, just completely use me. The shit thing here is, I let them. I could see they were only out for their own selfish gain, and you know what, I let them do it anyway. I was so worried that I would lose them, I just let them treat me how they wanted. They are the kind of friend that is only ever interested in hearing from you when they’ve literally sod all else to do, or they want something. You know the ones? Completely selfish beyond all reason. They think nothing of you dropping what you’re doing to appease them, but would they so much as make a smidgen of effort for you? Would they hell. We all know someone like this. Now why, if I’m aware of how they are, have I even let them in close enough to use me? Well, after much thought (try a weekend of no sleep), I’ve come to the conclusion, that I like to jump through hoops for those that don’t care. I seem to have this deep seeded need to be enough for those, who will NEVER see me as enough. I work harder for these types of people. I do more. I need to be more. I need for them to like me. I need to be there for them, whenever they beckon. It’s sad, and it’s highly pathetic.

I may have had a little frustrated cry to myself on Friday. It wasn’t through being sad, it was 100% anger. The anger comes from me knowing this is completely my fault. I never listen to my inner rational voice, or those around me who see things for what they are. I always try to see good in people, when really the good is not there. I read a quote once, “You can’t stick a flower in an asshole and call it a vase”. I don’t know who said it, but it’s bloody good right? So true in this instance.

Not being good enough for my own standards, is tough going, but knowing that I’m not good enough for people I like/respect, definitely affects me more. I’m not letting toxic people affect me anymore. I am a good person, and I should be investing my time in the good people in my life. This ‘friend’, will definitely miss me before I miss them. I am so far removed from letting people use me. So, what is the positive here? I am reaffirming with myself that I am a good person, and I deserve to be treated with respect. From now on, I will not settle for any less. People will only treat you, how you allow yourself to be treated. Fact. From now on, I will not stand for being made a mug of, or being used. There is enough going on in my day-to-day life, without adding some Dawson Creek teenage drama to it. I’m sad/angry that someone has made me feel this way, but, also happy/relieved that I now see it for what it is, and can move forward.

If you have read this and think it may ring true for you, just get rid of the so-called ‘friend’. Cut them out, and if/when they ever try to weasel their way back in because they have nothing else doing, or they want something, take great pleasure in ignoring them. I would like to think this ‘friend’ is not stupid enough to attempt the latter with me, as they’ve been told directly to bore off. Although, I think I have to admit I clearly don’t know them that well, so you never know right? If/when they do, the pleasure of walking away will be all mine.

Steps in the right direction

If I was to describe the last 18 months as anything, other than the obvious word ‘sh!t’, I’d definitely say it’s been a wakeup call.

As someone who has high functioning anxiety, amongst some other issues, I have liked to pride myself on how I cope. I have my PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) towards almost everything I do, of which helps me greatly, and I have my little quirks/ocds that get me through. Despite having these coping mechanisms, this last bout of heightened anxiety has lasted a long time and has shown me I clearly am not coping as well as I like to think.

I have written many blogs over the last few weeks, many of which I’ve just deleted. Why? Well, mainly because I’ve found them to be a bit ranty, and once it was off my chest I didn’t feel it worth sharing. I’d only have depressed every one of my readers, with my constant negativity. My blog is called ‘PMA Corner’, it’s supposed to be a place where people of similar situations can come, read about my journey, and leave with a positive message. I certainly do not intend for readers to leave feeling worse than when they came.

As most of you know, my life can be described as being like a really badly written EastEnders story line. I’ve been through things that people shouldn’t have to, I’ve seen things people shouldn’t have to, and I’ve done things I’m definitely not proud of. Now, I’ve got two choices; I can choose to be one of those people who wallow in self-pity and make excuses, or, I can woman up, and realise that good has come out of these bad situations. I much prefer the latter, but right now, that feels a little bit ‘easier said than done’. Until recent months, I have liked to think I’ve never been a ‘woe-is-me’ person. I’ve always been quite proud of the person I’ve become, I would have definitely described myself as a strong person, and one who just got up and got on. So, what changed in the last 18 months to make me doubt absolutely everything about myself? What is it that has made me dredge up old, hurtful memories and cause myself to be in a horrible heightened state of anxiety for a long period of time? In all honest, I don’t know. It could be a culmination of different things.

Little over 18 months ago, my Dad was diagnosed with Cancer. A little while after that my marriage started to breakdown and I separated from my husband. These two events were negative, and I didn’t see how my PMA could stop me worrying, or how it could benefit me in either of these situations. The day my Dad told me he had cancer, I just remember feeling so powerless to help. He lived so far away at the time, and between work/kids I had no spare time to spend taking care of him. He lived alone and I couldn’t be there. It was just horrible. I would worry about him all the time. He would tell me not to worry, as the hospital were taking care of him, who put him in touch with McMillan who were going to help etc. This didn’t stop me worrying and it didn’t stop the guilt of feeling like I should have been doing more. Looking back, I think I put myself into a negative place, with my worrying and putting myself down for something that really couldn’t be helped. Separating from my husband was hard, but I don’t regret it. It was what we needed at the time. I know he didn’t see it that way, but I couldn’t go on with the constant bickering over nothing. I had so much bigger things to worry about, that the pointless things we argued about just felt completely menial and I needed it to just stop. I needed quiet.

During all of this I found solace in work. My boss at the time was nothing short of amazing and understanding. He just let me get my headphones on, and plod on with my work. Some days were better than others, and some were really low. I did actually break down in tears at my desk one day, after speaking to my Dad, as he was at home, no way of getting out and about and I couldn’t do anything. I also had the prospect of going home, alone, with no-one to talk to or comfort me. Yes, this was my own doing, by separating with my husband, but it didn’t make it any easier knowing that little fact. For the first time in a very long time, I just wanted a hug and someone to tell me that everything was going to be OK and that I was doing all I could. This was when my best friend stepped in, and was nothing short of my rock. He watched me go through this manic rollercoaster of sobbing, to hysterical laughter. He listened to my incoherent ramblings, erratic thoughts, and the best bit? He just listened. No feedback, no ‘this is what I think you should do’, just listening was all I needed. I know that what I say doesn’t make sense 99% of the time, but sometimes I just need to say it. I need the words to be out in the ether, to lessen the stress I put on myself when they whirl around in my brain like cyclone of anarchy. Sometimes my thoughts get so loud, that even turning my music up as high as I can, cannot drown them out. It can feel like I’m suffocating any trace of positive under a dark blanket of depressed and angry thoughts, and I see no way to break the cycle. It’s like being a spectator in your own mind. You see it happening. You know it’s wrong & irrational, but you’re powerless to do anything to stop it. You must stand there, on the side-lines, watching it all unfold, waiting for the aftermath that you need to live in and deal with. Keeping all of it bottled up in side is tough going. Every day I get up, paint a smile on my face and I go out into the world as if everything is A-OK. I laugh and joke with those around me, I engage with people, when in reality, I’d rather not. If I didn’t make the effort socially though, I’d only worry that people would think I was rude and judge me, so I make myself most of the time.

In recent weeks, things have gone from pretty meh, to very sh!t very quickly. This is all due to my anxiety, and the stupid, irrational thoughts I have, of which lead to impulsive and reckless behaviour. Recently I made a decision, whereby I thought I was doing a good and honest thing. Well, this good/honest deed, only caused upset to all involved. In hindsight, I look back and I shake my head at myself. What on earth was I thinking? How did I possibly conceive that this was going to be a good deed? Or that it was going to end well? This has well and truly been the icing on the cake. I have had to admit to myself; I am not coping. Fact. I cannot do this by myself. I can feel myself, every day, becoming more and more emotional. I am not even finding solace in work anymore. I’m loathed to find/see the positives in anything. I feel so out of control with my own life and emotions, that it scares me. I scare me. How can I be this out of control. This is my life, my mind, I should have full control. Is this the problem? Is it my need to be in complete control of everything, to feel safe?

I realised last year that I wasn’t coping. I told myself that I was just being ‘pathetic’ and ‘weak’. I convinced myself to just woman up and get on. I’ve been trying to put paper stitches over a wound that is too big, and wonder why it keeps opening. I am sad. There, I said it. I’m sad, I’m scared, I feel alone, I cry most days and I don’t know why. I just want it to stop. I just want to be happy. Around a week or so ago, I got up and realised that doing this by myself just wasn’t cutting it. I called my G.P, made an appointment and I’m happy to say I’ve been referred to Psychology. I declined the offer of medication, as I explained that I’ve been on pretty much every single anxiety/depression medication out there, and they all make me a little foggy. With the job I do, I cannot afford to be foggy. The waiting list to be seen is about 6 months, of which I believe to be the national average for the U.K right now. Hearing this did make me a little sad, but, I’ve been like this for 18 months or so. I’m sure I can make it through another 6 months. I’m also not naive enough to believe that going to these appointments will be a magic wand, or they will be easy. It will be a long road, of hard work and change on my part. It’s a challenge I need and that I’m willing to take to feel better.

I am realising that there is no shame in saying I’m not coping. There is no shame in admitting I don’t have my sh!t together and I need help. If you have read this and can identify, then please be sure and get some help. We don’t have to struggle on our own, there is help out there. If you’re unsure about going to your G.P, that’s ok, it takes time/courage to do that. I had to build mine up over a year. If going to the doctors is not something that is right for you just now, then please talk to someone. Talk to a friend, family member, or even someone at Samaritans. Getting your thoughts out really can help. I would also suggest writing things down. Start a blog like me, or even just keep a diary of things that go on in your day, or even just write down some of your thoughts. You’d be surprised how therapeutic it can be.

The positives of this situation for me is the fact I’m taking my first steps toward help. It was by no means a small step, and it is definitely the right step towards better understanding what is wrong and how to feel better. I will document my journey when I start my sessions, keep you all posted on how things go, and hopefully it will help some of you too.

Thank you for reading guys, and thank you all for the messages and kind words. It really does mean a lot.

It’s so unfair

Children are stressful, but Teenagers are whole other ballgame..

To all the fellow parents out there, I’m sure you’ve all heard from your parents “I hope your child ends up half as bad as you were”. I know I have, many times. Well, did my parents get what they wanted or what? In the last 5 years, I’ve put up with so many things from my kids that I question my ability as a parent daily.

So far, my children have managed to have police at my house, more than once, social workers and I’ve nearly gone toe-to-toe with several Mum’s. I will do anything for my children, absolutely anything, to keep them safe, but this is all getting completely ridiculous now. When will it end? When will they realise that their behaviour is completely unacceptable? When they have their own kids and hear my words of “I hope your children are half as bad as you were” echo through their minds? I sincerely hope it doesn’t take that long.

I consider myself to be a strict parent. Things are very black & white in my house, as in, it’s either acceptable or it’s not. I don’t believe in having things be acceptable sometimes and not others, as this gives mixed messages. When I was growing up, I was blessed with a parent who personally did not give a flying hoot what I did, so long as it didn’t affect them in any way. If it did, however, that was a different story and usually resulted in me being thrown out. I swore, that my children would always know where they stand. Now, whilst I say I’m strict, I would also like to think I’m fair. Nothing I do or say should be a shock, as I will say things like “If you’re late home, I will take however long you’ve been late off you for tomorrow night”, or “I’m sick of the dishes either being left, or not being done correctly, so if it happens again, you’ll not be going out tomorrow”. I outline expectations and consequences quite clearly, yet, they still do as they damn well please. Not a single fuck is given in this house. This being said, they would describe as scary because I’m a shouter. Well, clearly, I’m not that scary, if I’m having to shout about the same old things, day in, day out, and they still do as they please.

All teenagers go through a rebellious stage, I know this. I of all people really do know this, but c’mon? 3 teenagers at once? All of them going through a Kevin, fuck you, I’m an adult, I know what the meaning of life is, bore off, phase. Can I just get a break? Completely exasperated over here.

I work full time, and when I’m not working I’m cleaning and spending time with the kids. They think the fact I ask them to do the dishes (we have a dishwasher, just thought I’d add that in), and clean their own bathroom, I’m being ‘unfair’. Then when I go to the cupboard to get something, I will spend the next 5 minutes essentially pulling the contents of it out, to wash it by hand, their excuse is “it’s the dishwashers fault, not mine, I did what I was told”. Shit you not. That is the excuse. Then there is their bathroom. A room you use to become clean, and I fear I’ll get hepatitis from just standing in it. Their excuse then? “Well they didn’t do it when it was their turn, so I didn’t do my turn”. What the actual…? What can you even say to that?  I don’t feel that I ask a lot of them, I just ask that they help me out. I don’t see why I should have to spend my days off cleaning, to then have to go back to work, so they can be lazy. How is that fair?

Totally at my wits end over here. Would be great to hear from other parents, to know If you have issues with your teenagers. What kind of discipline do you use? Do you feel it’s unfair to ask teenagers to do chores around the house? Do you think I give mine too much/little?


Reactions to mental illness

There are a few different reactions to expect when you tell someone about your mental illness, most of them I personally could live without. I have put these in order of what I feel is the most common reactions I face.

  1. Apathetic – I put this to the top of the list, as I find this to be the most common response. Most people I speak to, have no real comprehension. They presume my stories to be just that, ‘stories’, fiction, exaggerated, me being a hypochondriac, looking for attention etc. These people usually like to constantly compare what you’re going through, to their situations, to how they deal with them, or how they believe you should be dealing with them. They also find a way to make your issues appear menial, and yes to them they might be, but to us? Far from.
  2. Patronising – Usually coupled in with the same people above; They will like to talk to you as if you have no real understanding of what is happening to you, often trying to educate you on mental health, and the things you need to do to feel better i.e. “Well, have you ever thought about going to the doctor?”, “Maybe walking or something will make you feel better?”, “Just don’t think about it!”, “Just stop doing it, you know you’re your own worst enemy”, are just a few examples of actual things I’ve heard this past week alone.
  3. Empathetic – Now whilst a lot of my readers don’t have a mental illness themselves, they tell me they have family and friends who do, and that my blog helps. I’m told that they understand what I’m going through, as they witness it in those close to them. Then there are those of you who are like me, and message to say, “I could have written that myself”. It is these messages that make my blog feel worthwhile.
  4. Debater – Some people like to message/comment to debate with me, regarding my own thoughts and feelings. Say what now? Yup, you read right. You cannot tell someone they are not feeling how they’re feeling, or that they’re thoughts/opinions on a topic regarding their mental health is wrong. Everyone’s experience with depression and anxiety is not going to be the exact same, and neither will the road to feeling better. What works for one, will not necessarily work for all. This does not make my views wrong, it makes them different.
  5. Exasperated – Most people close to me are just sick of it all now. You can see it in their face, or hear it in their voice; they just want it to be over now. They’re bored hearing the same stuff from me all the time. I find I say the same things a lot, it’s like being on a really shitty merry-go-round. Just when I think I’m getting over something, it comes right back around. It is no more exasperating for you, than it is me. Believe me!


Doing this blog has allowed me to write about things, I don’t feel I can approach those closest to me with. That is not to say I don’t try, I do, it’s just they don’t understand. Some of them try to understand, but all they end up doing is imparting their wisdom of how to make it all go away and missing the point entirely. I’m not telling you what is wrong with me, so you can play doctor and make it all better. I’m telling you because I need to vent aloud. I need to get what’s in my head out into the ether and try to make sense of it all. Most of the time I’m not looking for any feedback, I’m just looking for a nod, or a friendly smile to assure me that I’m not totally crazy.  Unless you have an anxiety disorder, how could you possibly know what it’s like to live inside my head? You can’t know, and I don’t expect you to.

Recently I’ve divulged a helluva lot about myself. Some of my most personal memories, thoughts and struggles. I have done this for two reasons; The first reason is to vent, and the second reason, was that I hoped others would identify with me and I wouldn’t feel alone. I’m happy to say, I’ve had a great response to my blog. A lot of you who read this, message me to say you do in fact identify, or that you empathise with my situation. These messages really do help me to see that I’m not alone, and that people to get what it is that I’m trying to say, or know what I’m struggling with.

Now, this whole blog could be seen as attention seeking, and I guess in a way it is, but not in the way it can be implied. I do not put statuses on social media prompting PM’s of sympathy. I don’t want, need, nor care for anyone’s sympathy. Ever. Don’t ever pity me or feel bad for me.  A lot of people I know have no idea that I write this blog, or that I have a mental illness at all. I’ve only ever told those immediately close to me, and at that, I don’t tell them everything. Having this blog has allowed me to feel that I can divulge, without feeling too exposed. Every one of these I write makes me apprehensive, as I don’t know how it will be received, but if/when I receive a message from someone who gets it, or gets me, that makes me feel better. I think I speak for most people who suffer with a mental illness when I say; It’s the knowing you’re not alone that gets you through. You would never wish how you feel on anyone, but, it brings comfort to know you’re not in it alone.

As someone who suffers with G.A.D and on/off depression, I don’t want your pity, I just want an ear to bend occasionally. Sometimes just getting out what I’m thinking takes away a lot of the stress I’m causing myself. What I definitely don’t need is your curt comments, or essentially being told to ‘woman up’.

I recently wrote a ‘bare all’ blog about my past relationship. This was a very difficult blog to write, it took me days of debating about it, then I started it a few times, just to delete it, until I finally committed to 6hrs worth of writing. A lot of the blog was removed, and I left only the poignant parts. The response I got from this was overwhelming, and I would just like to say thank you to those of you who took the time to message me. It honestly meant a lot. I carry a lot of baggage from that relationship, and it does hinder me. I wrote that blog thinking if I vented, it would help, and I guess it did a little. My husband read it, and felt it was a good piece. He already knew all of it, especially the early years stuff as he was there, so none of this was a shock to him. I like that he gets it, that he knows what I’ve been through, as I feel it helps him to understand how I am.  Although, I know he gets more than a little exasperated with me at times.

When in Tesco the other night, I bumped into my ex partner’s brother. I was being told how my ex will be coming back home soon, how he’ll want to see me blah blah blah. Needless to say, this sent my anxiety into overdrive. My vision went blurry, my throat felt like it was closing up. My youngest actually took my hand and said “Mum you’re starting to panic, remember to breath, you’ll be ok”. He’s 9! I abandoned the rest of my shopping, and got back to the car. I felt fit to burst with emotion, as I was now scared, panicking, but had my son in the back of the car who was now really worried about me, and then I had to think about driving. I just took a moment to breath, and got home sharp. I needed to speak to someone, I needed to calm down, so I phoned a family member. Guess what the response was? An exasperated, patronising, apathetic one! I don’t even know why I let it upset me, or why I got angry with the response, as it’s always the same. They will compare what I went through, to what they have, and essentially tell me I need to get over it. I was then told that the threats I’ve received over the years, and what I worry about is just nonsense, but then in the same breath, was told that if it was going to happen, there was, and I quote, “no point worrying about the inevitable”. I mean really? Does this person know me at all? All I do is worry, and they think telling me not to is some form of magic wand?

I have worried and stressed myself out of late to the point of a massive breakout on my face, I’m not sleeping, my moods are erratic and I’m very emotional. I have then made the mistake of talking to the wrong people about how I’m feeling, and that has just made me feel worse. For those of you that know me; I do not need you to tell me to woman up, or that my over thinking is the root cause to how I am, or that I need to just get over things. I’m not a stupid woman. I know what is wrong, I also know what would fix it, but if it was that simple, and I could just get over it, I wouldn’t have G.A.D. An actual mental illness that causes anxieties for just about anything, as well as obsessive/compulsive thinking/habits. For just once, can you please just listen, without judgement, without a Dr. Phil response and without sounding like you’re bored? I don’t need to feel like I’m a burden, and you know what? see if I am, then please just tell me that my issues are not something you wish to talk about. I’d sooner just not talk to you at all, than leave the conversation feeling worse than when It started.

For the most part, people I have in my life are great. I’m very lucky to have the friends and support I do. Unfortunately, it’s the select few, the ones who I feel should be the most understanding and want to be there, that are not. All I can say is this; I hope that they never find themselves like me, having conversations telling them it’s all in their head and they need to get over it. Thankfully though, they’d have me for support, so they would actually be quite lucky.

If you’re friends with someone, or a family member to someone, suffering from anxiety/depression, I hope you are not guilty of the examples above. They don’t need you to have an answer to everything, and they don’t want you to fix them. Just listen. That’s it. Just listen and be there. Even if you’ve heard the story, or been in the same situation for the one hundredth time, and you’re getting bored of it, take a moment to think how it is for them. And yes, they probably should break the cycle, but do you think telling them in a matter of fact way will help? No. Most definitely not. If you see an unhealthy cycle happening, help them break it, don’t just tell them to. If they could do it themselves, trust me, they would have. We don’t choose to be this way, contrary to what some narrow-minded people think. We don’t sit at home and think, “oooh, I’ve not been anxious for a while, let’s give it a bash today”.

To those of you like me, dealing with reactions as mentioned, you’re not alone. Try not to let them upset you or make you feel worse. Even if you feel like no-one else in the world gets it, you know what? I do! I may just be one person, but it definitely means you’re not alone.

Always angry!

I feel like I spend my life being frustrated, negative and angry! I honestly need to try and be positive. I work very hard daily to find at least one positive in every situation and you know what? It’s tiring.

Even growing up I was a very negative child. I saw the worst in everything/everyone, and in all honesty, was probably a nightmare to be around. I was angry when I was little because my parents were divorced, I was stuck in the middle, and I was being bullied. I was so frustrated and bitter about the whole thing, that it made me incredibly negative. There was a girl I went to school with, Janine, who was the happiest/bubbliest girl I think I’ve ever met. Just such a lovely, genuinely nice person too. I would look at her sometimes and think “how can someone be this happy all the time? Its not natural!”. In hindsight, Janine probably just wasn’t an angry, bitter girl. Makes sense really. Abraham Lincoln once said “You’re only as happy as you make your mind up to be”, and I believe he’s right. If we start something with negative thoughts, it will only ever be a negative experience.

You would think that as I’ve gotten older, I would have curbed this by now. I have managed to find a way to cope, by using PMA, but it’s so much effort and tiring that sometimes it annoys me and just contributes to my frustrations. Why do I have to find it so hard to be positive? To be happy? To not be angry/frustrated all the time?

I have things and people that make me happy, but it’s like my brain cannot see this as enough. I have had bad things happen, and that’s it. Arse has fallen out of my world, I hate everyone, everyone hates me, it’s all gone to shit and I’m gonna eat some worms. My mind races over the negative comments/situations and blows them all out of proportion. Then I need to sit, and painstakingly go over everything and find the positives. If I don’t do that, one negative thing will just snow ball into the next, and the next, and so on until I have the mood I’m in today.

I am currently sitting in my room, in the world’s worst mood and I’ve been very politely asked to just stay in here and chill. I’m not even mad at that. I get why my husband would rather not deal with it. I don’t want to deal with it either, but I’m stuck with me. I have let things this week get on top of me to the point of not being able to sleep (shock!), and having nightmares when I do sleep. I’ve let life and work just get on top of me, taking no time to do my PMA and this is where it’s gotten me. Grimacing at my phone as I type this blog.

This week I have managed to bark at everyone who has dared to give me a sideways glance, or heaven forbid, disagree. I also do this thing where I look to others to make me feel better, and when they dont, this makes me frustrated. What is that about? It’s not anyone else’s responsibility to make me happy. It’s mine.

So here it is; I’m sat here, after a pretty meh week, feeling frustrated. I’m then feeling angry with myself for letting it get this out if hand and now being sat here in the world’s worst mood. I have spent the week feeling completely detached and it’s been horrible.

What now? I need to get a grip and focus on my PMA. I need to start looking at all the positives that have come out of this week, even if it’s only one. I need to look toward the weekend and week ahead and find the positives, so that I’m not taking this bad mood forward.

To all of you that have had to endure me this week, I’m sorry! Believe it or not, I do try to not be so angry, grumpy, negative, argumentative and just a general pain to be around.

This is why PMA is so important. Without it, I don’t cope. Yes this week is a bit of a write off, but tomorrow is a new day! It’s also Saturday, so a longer lie, no work and hopefully a chance to spend sometime with my family and enjoy the rest of my weekend.

Do any of you find it hard to see the positives? Do you feel angry/frustrated all the time?


Live and let live!


Well the gist of this entire blog can be summarised to this; Don’t be a dick!


World’s smallest violin….


When I was growing up I was bullied for being poor and ugly. I mean being one of them is bad enough, but both? Damn! I grew up in a single parent family, in a dingy wee scheme in Scotland, I’ve got a big nose, nothing special to look at, that is unless you think I’m a bit speshul – but that’s not quite the special you want to be now, is it? My mum couldn’t afford to kit me out like some of the kids I knew, nor did she have any taste, so the stuff I wore was something else to be mocked for. All in all, I’d describe my childhood as shit for the most part. I wasn’t alone through all this though, I did have my big sister, 10 years my senior and clearly the one who got all the genes for good looks. Not too sure what I was left with, perhaps a good sense of humour? My sister and I can tell stories of our childhood that would make most gasp in horror/disbelief, but thankfully we manage to laugh about it now. In fact, half the time when we reminisce we are kinked with laughter. I don’t know if that’s more a nervous thing, or if it’s just the fact the stories are bloody funny. Probably a bit of both.

If there is one thing that bullying teaches you, it’s to laugh at yourself. You have the privilege of letting others point out all the flaws you know about, and, to point out new ones. It’s great. Having this makes you acutely self-aware, meaning that as you grow older, you’re able to crack better jokes about yourself than others, leaving no room for the bullies. For a brief time during my late teens/early 20’s I cared not a single jot what others thought of me. That was a blissful time, as far as self-confidence went. As I’ve gotten older and anxiety/depression has been a part of my life, I’ve become more self-conscious now, than I think I was as a child. I’m over weight, more stripes than a tiger (kids have been worth every one), horrible skin, post teen acne, frizzy hair, still have a big nose, big squint eyes, a top lip that is not symmetrical (who knew that could even be a thing!!), a large forehead (well this was new to me over the last year, but hey, what is one more thing to add to my list right?), lines appearing around my eyes (hello crow’s feet), and horrible man hands. Yup, I have these horrible manly looking hands, but they’re like a midget version, so let’s just call them my ‘Trump hands’.

My daily wake up and get ready for the day routine goes like this:

  • Roll out of bed and marvel at my less than adequate physique in our full-length mirror. Convince myself today is the day I will diet (this has still not happened)
  • Go in the shower, and be grossed out by myself as I get washed and wonder how on earth someone like me can be married. Sometimes, just sometimes, I have a wee blub about this.
  • Whilst in the shower, I think of all the people I know that are pretty, skinny and don’t have stripes and spend a moment hating them and wondering if they even appreciate how lucky they actually are?
  • Get dressed as quickly as I can, but huff and haw about the fact it might be warm outside but I need to remain covered up ALL the time due to my skin, so I’ll just have to sweat like a Glaswegian watching Crime Watch (If you’re from the west coast it’s only a joke!).
  • Once dressed I’ll start to apply my makeup, but not before I scrutinise every square inch of my spots, uneven skin tone, pores and horrible facial features. Namely my nose! I mean this hooter is turning corners before me. I swear if I tilt my head up toward the sun, I’ll eclipse half the city. I wear more makeup now, than I ever have in my life. Why? Well, it helps me to feel better about how I look for one. Plus, I feel that If I was to wear a burka, as lets face it, they hide a multitude of sins, I may actually cause more offence, so makeup applied by catapult is the way to go for me.

By the time I leave the house I’m worried that the outfit I’ve picked isn’t flattering enough, that my makeup will look silly, that my hair is full of fly aways and probably now getting frizzy, do I have more spots? It’s completely exhausting to be this self-aware and indulgent in how you look, and not even for the good reasons. You know, if I looked like a model and I was just concerned with how I looked all the time, I doubt that would be as bad, as being concerned for the negative reasons. You know what I mean?

How do I feel better about myself?

Despite having these negative feelings and thoughts about myself, and a very clear deep self-loathing, I get up and put a smile on daily. I get showered, dressed and put my face on, quite literally. Once I’m out of the house, either for work, shopping, or doing something with the kids, I just get focused on the task in hand and having light hearted conversations with people to completely distract my thoughts, and for the most part, this works.

Until I got post teen acne, I didn’t wear makeup at all. So, the fact I wear it every day now is a chore, and one I definitely wish I didn’t have to do. I’m no makeup artist and with being so pale I struggle to get a foundation that completely matches, something I’m aware of. I do my best to cover my flaws, to not have people be grossed out by me, or to see how ugly I really am underneath all of this slap.

With regards to clothes, usual attire is a pair of skinny jeans, black vest with lumberjack shirt, or a band/movie tshirt and trainers. That’s it. Office attire is a basic dress from H&M with a shirt over the top, or a cardigan. Nothing outlandish or fashionable here. Just basic. Very very very rarely will you see me go out of my comfort zone to wear something different, as I always fear that I’ll look like mutton. So, I stick with what I know works and I’m usually happy.

I love Tattoo’s. If I had enough money I’d be covered head to toe. Why? Well I’ve got really horrible skin, so what better way to get body confidence than to have it coloured in and make it look pretty? My first Tattoo was when I was 16, my sister took me and bluffed that I was 18. My Tattooist was a drunk, who turned up late with a tin of Tennent’s lager in one hand and spliff in the other. I was undeterred as a badass little 16-year-old and I got it anyway. It’s not my nicest Tattoo,*inner voice* “no shit Sherlock!”, and I’ve considered covering it up, but you know what? It’s a memory, and a funny one at that, so it stays. I then have a few more on my lower arm, as I hate my skin there, and having my Tattoo’s makes me not care about having short sleeves.

So, c’mon,what’s the point to this blog?

We all know someone who likes to be sarky all the time, and someone who thinks they’re being discreet with their eye rolls, when really we all know they’re about as discreet as a brick in the face? Yup, we all do. As we know, I have anxiety and I’m a naturally a paranoid person, meaning I do doubt myself, and I doubt everyone and assume everyone is disingenuous until proven otherwise. This does make situations and making friends difficult, and is more than likely why all my close friends are the most honest people you’ll meet. No second guessing and that is just how I like it. Well, today I have been met head on by a situation that has made me doubt myself, and someone I know.

I have decided to wear something that I wouldn’t normally consider. Something that I saw in the shop and loved, but never envisioned myself having the courage to wear. Then a couple of weeks ago, we had gorgeous weather one weekend and I thought to myself “Stuff it, I’m buying it”, and I did. I came home, tried it on, and my husband told me I looked lovely in it. The next day it belted down with rain and I’ve not had a chance to wear it since trying it on. Typical. The past couple of days have been really warm/humid and I’ve been quite uncomfortable in work, done up like nanook of the north, so I thought “aha I have this top I bought, I’m going to wear that”.

When I was getting ready to leave this morning, I asked my husband and kids, “how do I look?”, and they all assured me I looked fine. I actually felt really good, like I had a little bit of confidence. When out, I had one friend lean in and say, “You’re looking really skinny today”, another asked me to walk around for a better look and told me I was looking really good. Ummm excuse me whilst my ego inflates. That really did make me feel good. I did actually start to think my choice was a goodun. This was until, someone I know walked past, and gave what can only be described as a grimace, a look toward someone else, then an eye roll. They must have thought they were being really subtle, OR, they figure they don’t  need to try and be subtle? Who knows, but, regardless that is what happened and I found myself thinking “WTF is your problem?”. I left it though, I kept smiling, figured it was maybe aimed at someone else. Kept telling myself that not everything is about me (I know right? Who knew the world didn’t revolve around me), and that this person could be having a bad day. So, I parked the negative thoughts, continued to feel good about myself, then went about my day. Later on I tried to speak to this person and I was met with a curt response. Again, I put this down to them having a bad day, so walked on and left it.

Thanks to having horrible skin, I also have a really oily T-Zone, meaning I feel compelled to constantly powder my nose. Otherwise it’s shiny, you can see all the pores and let’s face it, it’s my biggest (pun fully intended) complex. As soon as I feel my nose getting oily, I’ll pull out my foundation brush and just give a quick dust over. Nothing major, just enough to make me feel a bit better. Well today, it was a bit cooler and I hadn’t felt compelled to powder my T-Zone, that was until I got a text. As I raised my phone I caught my reflection and I was mortified. Without hesitation I got my brush and promptly powdered my face, thinking things like “OMG how long has it been like that for? Who has seen it?”, when all I hear from the side of me is a dry/sarky comment . Sorry? what? I looked around and this person wasn’t even looking at me when talking to me, just carrying on about their business, of which to me, is more than a little rude. So now I’m thinking, nope, this isn’t a bad day, clearly this is something personal. Why would me powdering my T-Zone warrant any comment? Or was this also a dig at the top I’m wearing? So, I bit back. I know, I know. I shouldn’t have. Why lower myself, but I was miffed. I’m not even sure of their retort, as I couldn’t hear them over my now descending red mist, but what I did see was the smirk at my reaction. Clearly my biting back, had been the reaction they were looking for. Well, colour me pissed.

I then proceed to carry on about my business, and just let myself calm down. I realised, that if this was the kind of reaction they were looking for, they won’t get it from me. They’re not a friend, haven’t been, never will be, and their opinion of me actually stands for nowt.  So, it was time to follow Mum’s advice “Smile and walk away, they hate that”. If they want to be sarky, let them, I will not lower myself to their level. I’m a good person and if I’m not your cup of tea, then you know what, your loss ?


No-one will EVER:

  • Think I’m uglier than I do
  • Hate me as much as I do
  • Doubt my ability as much as I do
  • Find me as annoying as I do myself

I am my own biggest critic, but you know what I am sure of, I’m a bloody good person. Those closest to me know this, and those that don’t take the time to see it, then that is their loss. I’m a very honest, straight talking person. If I don’t like you, I won’t go out of my way to be around you and be overly friendly, but by the same token I won’t be a dick. I would never ever belittle someone, or try to make a mug of them. Why? Well because I’m not an asshole, that’s why. I will never ever presume to think I’m better than anyone, as I’m a firm believer that we’re all equal, we just each have our own things that we excel at, doesn’t make us better than each other.

I have always raised my kids to be kind and see the good in people. I have raised them to be the kids I’d wished I’d known growing up, friends I’d wished I’d had, and I must say I’m damn proud of the young adults they’re becoming. They’re incredibly loving, caring, compassionate, empathetic and just all round good people. I will continue to lead by example, I will not be brought down to negative levels and I definitely won’t let anyone make me feel any worse about me than I already do. Believe it or not, despite everything that has been said, I do believe I’m worth something, and I’m definitely worth more than petty snipes.

If you’re like me, and self-loath, don’t let anyone else add to it. We exhaust ourselves daily overthinking everything as it is, why on earth should we let others steal more of our time/energy? Wear what you want, put makeup on if you want, put your hair how you want and live how you want, you know why? Your anxiety is always going to be there to beat you up anyways, so at least try and have a little fun and enjoy yourself along the way. Despite my snark comment/look today, I did get two compliments, of which totally top trumps the snark one, not just because they were nice, but because they’re from people I care about and whose opinions matter.


I went, I saw, I conquered

Thursday 8th June

The night before leaving for Download Music Festival, I was so tired and anxious beyond belief. I was thinking of all the horrible things that could go wrong; What if I go and it’s overcrowded and I feel claustrophobic? What if the people are horrible? What if the toilets are really bad and I cannot face going and I’m stuck out in a field with no alternative? What if I cannot cope and I want to run, but I’ve got nowhere to go? These thoughts raced and I was thinking up all kinds of scenarios as to how it might be and how I might feel. See the trend, a lot of ‘if’ and ‘might’ going on. I tore myself up really bad that I only got 4 hours sleep, and this only had a knock-on effect with my anxiety for the next day.

Friday 9th June

Today was the day! Even when getting dressed and checking our suitcases, I was worried. Getting in the car, I could feel the dread in my stomach. I couldn’t just get out the car. Think of the money we have spent and the effort we have gone through. I just had to woman up and get on with the drive. It was a long way to Donnington, of which gave me a lot of time to overthink. By the time we got to the hotel, my stomach was in knots. We got checked into our room, quickly changed into something more festival appropriate, and off we went to get our bus. I did the obligatory ‘my life is amazing’ post to facebook, of which was all smiles, but inside I was thinking “Lets just stay in the room. Lets just say we did, and don’t”. I couldn’t do that to my husband, here he was, at a festival he wasn’t all too bothered about, for me. I couldn’t just let him down, and what about the bands I really wanted to see? I would honestly hate myself if I just sat in the room, I had to go.

When we got on the bus and it was packed, I was already regretting leaving the hotel. The journey was only a few minutes, and on the approach, I could see the sheer size of Donnington, it was massive. I started to feel intimidated and scared for how lost I would feel once I was there. I was already anticipating how much I was going to hate it. Getting off the bus we were ushered through the campsite and I couldn’t believe how many tents there were. Seeing this brought home just how many people I was going to have to contend with. I could feel my stomach doing summersaults and my throat getting tight. We then had to stand in queues with security to get our bands checked, and I had to get my bag checked. The queue was quite long and for some reason, despite me having nothing to hide, my palms were now sweaty. I didn’t like this at all. By the time we got into the main arena, I just wanted to run. Why on earth did I not just stay in the hotel? I would at least feel safer there. My husband could see that I was uneasy and was doing everything to reassure me that I’ll be ok, and I was telling him I knew I would be and trying to smile it off.

My husband was getting hungry and offering to get us food, but eating was furthest from my mind. I honestly couldn’t stomach it. I also didn’t want him to go and stand in a queue and leave me, so I went with him, although I wasn’t getting anything. The smell of the food was even making me feel queasy. It was so sunny, noisy, crowded and I wasn’t having any fun at all. Again, why was I not just back in the hotel?

First band up was Five Finger Death Punch, one I really enjoy, but one of my daughters’ favourite. I couldn’t miss them, I’d promised my daughter video’s, pictures and a phone call when they were on. We walked down to the main stage, but not too close, we kept a bit of distance. When the music kicked in, I stood rigid holding my husband’s hand. I just kept telling myself I was going to be OK and to just enjoy the music. I called my daughter, who said that she could barely hear them (probably due to me being quite a bit back), so I focused on taking pictures and video’s. This meant we had to move a little bit closer. Every song they played, I knew, and I started to find myself getting lost in the moment. I was starting to sing along with them and the crowd. By the time they had finished their set, I was smiling, bopping (yes you read right) along with everyone, singing and having fun! I had just seen Five Finger Death Punch! For the whole time they were on stage I hadn’t had one single negative thought, I didn’t feel scared and I’d tuned out to how many people were around me. My anxious feelings hadn’t just magically gone, but I was definitely feeling better.

Next up Prophets of Rage, and my god were they good! My husband and I were chanting along to all their songs, taking a little trip down memory lane with tracks such a ‘Jump Around’ and ‘Insane in the membrane’. By now I was starting to enjoy myself, the music was great, the crowd seemed to be a friendly one and I was now feeling a bit more relaxed.

Finally, the big band of the night was System of a Down. What can I say? They were nothing short of amazing. I knew every song they played, I knew all the words, and I was in my element singing along and moving with the crowd. There were at least 100,000 fellow fans around us, all singing along in unison, and it felt amazing to be a part of it. There was no room for anxious thoughts, no time to be scared, and quite frankly, no f*%^$ given. All I was caring about was watching them absolutely kill it, and having the privilege to be part of it.

On our way back to the bus, I didn’t feel overwhelmed quite like I did when I arrived. The queue to go through security on the way out didn’t seem as bad this time either.

Saturday 10th June

Today’s set list wasn’t as good as Friday’s, and definitely not as awesome as Sunday’s, but I was still happy to go. We got up in the Morning, had breakfast, as I now had an appetite, then headed off for our bus. The queues going in appeared bigger, and the crowd in the main arena too. I could feel my stomach start to flutter, but I was no longer feeling the urge to run. I was happy to let the feeling wash over me and push through. When in the arena we decided to go and see a band we’d never heard before, Raveneye, who were actually really good. Whilst I knew none of their songs, and I couldn’t sing along, I still found myself being completely immersed in the moment. We moved round to the main stage where Alestorm were playing; they’re a good fun folk/pirate/rock band. I’d heard a few of their songs previously, but didn’t know them well enough to sing along, but this didn’t stop me from enjoying them. People in the crowd were dressed as pirates, fists pumping in the air, most chanting along, and everyone was having such a good time. It was just a happy, feel good atmosphere, that I was really thankful to be a part of. During the day I’d not thought about being anxious once. Not even a little bit. I thought nothing of just wandering into the crowds, throwing my hands into the air, cheering, dancing along, I was just really enjoying myself. I had even said before I left, that I wasn’t going to drink when there, as I wanted my wits about me. That got thrown out of the window, and eventually I was sitting with a pint of beer, on my newly purchased camping chair enjoying all of the new/unheard of bands with my husband. It was such a good day, despite not knowing many of the bands playing that well, so surely Sunday was going to kill it?

Sunday 11th June

AEROSMITH!! You never forget your firsts; your first friend, your first kiss, your first love etc. Well my first rock band was Aerosmith and they were Sunday’s main act. I woke up like a kid on Christmas, so excited to see them. I didn’t feel anxious, I didn’t even have the dull ache in the pit of my stomach, I was just thinking about the music. When we got to the site, I didn’t give a hoot about the crowds, the queues, I was too busy smiling and having a good time. We got in, got a pint, and made our way to our first band, Fozzy. We were sat, drinking and head bopping away when my husband points out that the lead singer is Chris Jericho, an ex-wrestler. This would definitely explain his good showmanship and his ability to get the crowd all worked up. Good start to what would be one of the most amazing days of my life, except for the day I become a Mum (obviously).

We killed the day by sitting with fellow rock fans, eating good food, drinking, and singing/bopping along to some fab rock bands. Steel Panther & Clutch were definitely a highlight of the day, although, they were virtually on at the same time, so we had to split our time between the two. This involved us having to be rushed, negate our way through the large crowds and try to find a good spot to see the bands. Did I care? Nope. Not a single bit. The crowds were filled with great people and the bands were worth the effort.

When it got to 20:30, we made our way to the main stage as Aerosmith were starting at 20:50. I knew I wanted to be at the front, but I get claustrophobic in crowds. What was I to do? My husband suggested that we at least try and get to the front, as I would be gutted to not be close to them. So, we made our way to the front right of the stage, near the portaloo’s. My rationale for this was; no-one would want to stand too close to them, meaning I would have an out if I was freaking out. When we got there, there was already a good bit of a crowd. We made our way as far forward as we could, meaning I was about 4/5 rows back. The closer it got to 20:50, the bigger the crowd got, and I kept looking over my shoulder for my way out. This was getting more and more packed, and becoming less and less of an out. My husband could see I was starting to get worked up, and that I looked like I wanted to run. He held my hand and told me I was fine, but if I really wanted to go, he’d get me out. I chose to stay, and I waited patiently for them to start. It got to 20:55, and there was no show and I now had a group of girls smoking to my right. So now, here I am, stood in a cloud of their smoke, feeling like I’m starting to get anxious at my lack of an out, and no Aerosmith. I then looked up to my left, and my god. There was just a sea of expectant faces. I reckon that all 300,000 were now there and from the main stage, right back to the Dog Tooth stage was filled. At this moment, I felt incredibly small and I started to feel bigger pangs of anxiety, then BOOM, the lights kicked in and the crowd started cheering. They were here! I’m not even going to lie, I cried. Nope, correction, I sobbed. My anxiety about being in a crowd, had been replaced with feelings of being utterly overwhelmed. Aerosmith went on to play all of their classics, and Joe Perry even did a blues cover, of which he rocked out of the park. I sobbed, sang and cheered with the masses. It was such an amazing feeling, that left no room what so ever for feeling scared. I no longer looked at the crowd as daunting, I looked at them as people who were just like me, who were just excited to be there and chanting along to some of the most iconic rock songs in rock history.

In the lead up to Aerosmith playing, I’d said that they would definitely have to play ‘Dream On’. This is their farewell tour, and Dream On to Aerosmith is like Bohemian Rhapsody (must mosh to this every time I’m in the car and it comes on. Thanks Wayne’s World) to Queen. It’s a must! Well, they finished  ‘Dude Looks Like a Lady’ and just left the stage. Lights were out, and nothing was said. I was gutted. Where did they go? Were we not even going to get a thanks for turning up? I started to feel gutted. The crowd was now chanting ‘Aero-smith’ & ‘one-more-song’, but the lights were still out. Some of the crowd had started to walk away. Just as I was starting to lose hope of them coming back, the lights came back on and my husband leaned in with “He’s got his Piano!”, it was then I just knew it was going to be Dream On. Needless to say, I was a wreck for this song. They finished up with Walk This Way, and the crowd was jumping. I was singing along, fist in the air and not a care in the world. When they finished it was quite late and the crowds going back to the bus were huge. We were completely crammed and bottle knecked at the security gates, and you know what? Not a single f*%£ given once again. I was completely elated from what had been an awesome weekend and an utterly outstanding performance from my favourite band.


I have faced many of my fears this weekend, all in the name of music. As some will know, if you know me in person or have read my earlier blogs, music is my vice. I use it as a coping tool, and it really does work. There is nothing like getting lost in the moment of a song, or being taken back to a happy time/moment with the nostalgia due to a song that you’re listening to. So far this weekend I have:

  • Driven for 6 hours, over 300 miles, away from my comfort zone
  • Stood in multiple queues
  • Felt at ease in large crowds – biggest being 300,000 people. Say what now?
  • Drank beer out of a plastic cup I know wasn’t put through a dishwasher and one I’ve not been able to rinse 3 times. I also got a fly in my drink, used my finger to fish it out, and carried on. Yup, one badass mofo up in here.
  • I have eaten food from a stall, that I’m sure probably wasn’t up to my unrealistic standards, given it was in the middle of a field. Not only this, I tried Ostrich!

Nothing can/will ever top being able to see my favourite band for the first time, on their final tour within an amazing atmosphere. I am so very glad I didn’t give into my initial flight response, and that I stayed. Had I gone back to the hotel, I would hate myself right now. I have achieved so much and I have had the best weekend of my life. We’re now debating taking the kids, not next year as we have a holiday booked, but the year after. I have had such a good time, that I’m dying for my kids to experience it.

If you’re like me, and the thought of doing something like this fills you with dread, I say this; Do it anyway! Just push on through your stomach doing summersaults and keep going until you realise that you’re OK and you can enjoy yourself.


They don’t deserve our attention, and definitely not our fear!

Today is the day after the second London terror attack in less than 3 months. We’re not even 2 weeks from the Manchester attacks. Having this happen makes me realise how utterly trivial my anxiety disorder is, and that there are bigger issues going on the world to be worried about. Knowing this will not stop me from worrying relentlessly about social situations or my health, but it does give a lot of food for thought.

I have watched all the news correspondence and read the articles with regards to last night, and my heart is breaking for those affected by this latest cowardly attack. I also feel very angry to think that there are people out there, so incredibly warped, to think that taking lives is a means to an end. This is a horrible game of tit-for-tat that we, the general population, are paying the price for. The sister of Salman Abedi (Manchester bomber), said he wanted the UK to know what it was like to have innocent children blown up, so we’d know what Syria are going through. This is the level of mentality we’re working with here. The reasoning behind both attacks in London is unclear, although we can be sure that every attack on us, is directly related to our involvement in Syria. Why are we even involved in the war in Syria in the first place? I’m yet to actually hear a conclusive and honest answer to that question. The decisions that are made, with regards to our military and the bombs that are dropped, are not made by us, they are made by our government. Killing us doesn’t make them pay, they don’t care. Do these extremists’ honestly think that Theresa May will lose a single ounce of sleep tonight, as she hangs upside down in her cave? No! Why? Because her security team will always make sure she’s ok. We, the public, do NOT agree with what is happening in Syria. I for one, cannot even bring myself to watch any of the new correspondence from there any more, as it just breaks my heart. I also believe that we should be taking in every single Syrian refugee that comes to our borders, as they wouldn’t be in this situation without our shitty governments help. These extremists’ attempts are in vain, but this will not stop them. They’re out to make a point and instil fear, and really, for someone like me who’s already fearful, it’s working.

So here I am, worried about what might happen. Worried for my children, and the places they go. I’ve already asked them to avoid places that might be crowded, for example, there is a wee music festival taking place just down the road from where I live, and I’ve asked that when they’re out today, can they please avoid this at all costs. Now, even as I type this I feel ridiculous. Am I just instilling the fear into them, am I creating unnecessary worry for them, but then what if I don’t, what if I just let them go and do their thing and something was to happen? Would I ever forgive myself? Definitely not.

This time next week I’ll be at the Download Music Festival . This was something I was already worried about, as it’s putting me into a situation where I’ll be 300miles away from my comfort zone, I’ll be in large crowds, it will be sensory overload, but you know what, I was more than prepared to push through all of these factors, for the love I have for the bands I’m going to see. Now, given what has happened recently, I’m now worried about a potential terrorist attack. I’m worried that because it’s in Leicester and because it’s a particularly large gathering, that it may well be a target.  My eldest asked me today if I was still going, as he was worried because it was in England. Now I’m sure that not just England will be a target, I’m sure these extremists are plotting all over, but given recent events we cannot be blamed for being concerned. My mind already races constantly about all the things that could kill me from day to day, but now I have something more real, more tangible to be concerned about. Even as I type this blog, my palms are sweating and my heart is racing. I have worried myself to the point of actually feeling sick, and even considering selling my tickets. The tickets that have been bought for over 8months, for an event that I’ve been so excited about, more excited than anything else ever in my life, and I was about to just up and sell my chance to see Aerosmith on their farewell tour. This was, until I spoke with friends and my sister, who said:

You really want to willingly give up seeing Steve Tyler for those f******?!? I thought you were made of tougher stuff. Just keep thinking ….Steve Tyler!!
Isis today called for “all out war won the west” asking for attacks on ‘infidels’ in the streets, and in their homes. so to be fair, homes aren’t safe if they keep it up…you have to live your life…live it!

My sister, the voice of reason, as always. If we’re not even safe in our own homes, what is the point? What is the point in staying at home being fearful to live our lives, when they will seek out to do harm just about anywhere?

Also, a friend of mine on Facebook today said something very poignant;

I am a great believer that terrorism, as stated only exists because people believe it does. what is happening is dreadful, but the media make it powerful. I was brought up with the IRA, Badder Meinhof, Red Brigade, ETA, Chinese Red Brigade. [This] was a weekly occurrence, but was inevitably ignored from the news and they all disappeared.  It is a state of fear that I will not have any part of. Sorry, bit of a rant. And I am not afraid.

At first, I found myself thinking, “Well surely not watching it, and not keeping up to date, is just burying our heads in the sand? What good is that?”. Then, I’ve found myself realising that this could just be right. If we don’t feed the fear, and fuel the fire, perhaps they will stop, if the exposure they’re looking for, is not achieved.

So, given all I’ve said, what do I do? Do I give into my fear and stay home, where I think I will be safe? Or, do I choose to not let these cowardly extremists take more from me, than I already take from myself, and go for what will be an awesome weekend? Given everything, I believe it will have to be the latter. I will continue to be scared right up until the point of heading off on my long drive, I will no doubt be a wreck when standing in the large crowd/queue to get in, and even once there I will no doubt be extra vigilant, but you know what? I’ve already missed out on so much, due to being scared, and this festival is everything to me. I love music, as I’m sure all of you reading this can relate, but what is sad for me, is I’ve never seen a band I love live. I usually sit in the comfort of my own home at watch them on Sky Arts.

I’ve concluded that I’m already fearful enough. I already have enough day-to-day worries about everyone and everything, and I refuse to let these terrorists/extremists be added to it. I will look to not tune into the news, I will choose to be someone who will not add fuel to the fire, or give them the exposure they’re looking for. If you suffer from anxiety, and you too have found your anxiety has heightened due to the recent attacks, I hope you join me in not letting this be another matter to consume your daily life. I’m not suggesting it will be easy, I am still feeling the fear in the pit of my stomach. Speaking to my sister and my friends has not just been some magic wand that has made my initial fear of this entire situation go, but it has given me some much needed perspective and a way to tackle moving forward.

PMA Corner – 10 Illustrations that nicely sum up Anxiety!

Sometimes it’s difficult to put into words how the merry-go-round of  Anxiety & Depression can make you feel, so here are a few illustrations I’ve had shared and seen in recent years that I’ve found more than relatable, and even amusing. If you don’t laugh, you cry right?

We all have that one friend who thinks they just know…..

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Ahhh mornings, a time to reflect on the day ahead

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For days when you just feel scared and you don’t know why. Lets face it, they’re the worst! 

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Usually bedtime is a good time to reflect

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OMG my ultimate favourite pass time. Thinking about all the silly things I’ve done, ever! 

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For the days when you just can’t. We’ve all been there, when we’ve had plans with friends and we find any bull excuse to cancel. You want to be social, you want to have friends, but you don’t want to have to leave the house, be seen or have to talk to people. 

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Ahhh Calvin and Hobbs, a comic I read as a kid and loved. It does have a poignant message though. We spend all day every day worrying about what is going to happen, when really, all the planning in the world may not predict/change the destination. Will this stop my overthinking/worrying? Most definitely not…

You can all relate to this one. I will only ever take painkillers if I’m at a point where I cannot cope. The fact I take a multivitamin every day is huge, but for the first 3 hours of taking it I worry that I will keel over. Why specifically 3 hours I hear you say? I reckon if it was going to kill me, 3 hours is a good guestimate. Is that rational? Well, you’re reading a blog of a woman with an anxiety disorder, nothing here is rational.Yes, it’s as sad to type as it is to think, but also very very true. 

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And finally, never feeling good enough. I’m fat, I’m ugly, I’m stupid, I’m not interesting, no-one will like me, or want to be with me/be my friend and those that are around me only pity me. Ahhh good times Anxiety, good times…

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Alcohol is never the answer

My Dad once told me, “This is not a dress rehearsal, this is it! Make the most of it”. I was a teenager at the time, I felt I was infallible, and these words meant nothing to me. I’m now in my 30’s and these words mean everything to me. We only get one life, one chance to actually live, and I spend most of it over analysing the little things, and missing the big things because of it. When I was at my worst, and fearing that everything in this world was going to kill me, my Dad (again, a very wise man), told me this “Look darling, there is only one guarantee in life ‘no-one is getting out alive’”. That very statement shook me to my core, he was so right. No matter what I do, I’m going to die. Now, whilst this was said to be a little reality check and make me feel better, it did the opposite. This statement made me very fearful, that was until recently.

I am still very fearful of things, and sometimes I get worried that today will be my last. In fact, I dare to say that every single day of my life, I have at least one thought of that day being my last. It’s quite a depressing thought, but it’s true. I understand fully that we’re not guaranteed tomorrow, no-one is. I struggle to see my life in 10/20 years’ time, as I’m convinced my time is numbered. Having this feeling of impending doom, is probably one of the worst feelings I get from anxiety. All the other feelings I can just about manage, but this one, is different. My fear of crowds and being claustrophobic is something that can be avoided, but death? I can’t avoid that, it’s coming, and it scares me more than anything else in this world. I’m sure anyone reading this, anxiety disorder or not, can agree. Death is not a happy prospect and it will scare anyone, but to ‘normal’ people, they don’t think/dwell on it quite like we do.

Due to my fear of dying, and my social issues, I was living a very sheltered life for a long time. I was avoiding social situations, being very introvert, and in turn, not really living. I turned to alcohol to help me through. Now, I’m not saying I was an alcoholic, definitely not, but if I had a night out coming up, I would be sure and be half way gone before I left the house. I needed that Dutch courage to be able to get through it. I would then drink to forget, and when I was drunk it was great. I would be the life and soul, outgoing, ‘happy’, able to enjoy myself, no cares, no fear of dying, that was until the next day. Hang overs when you have anxiety, are nothing short of dire. It can bring on all the fears. You have heard of beer fear, right? Well this is beer fear magnified!  I also started to have my weekly bottle of wine at the weekend, as this was sure to let me have a full night’s sleep. It wasn’t a rested sleep though, it never is when you drink, but I’d convinced myself it was helping.

During my ‘mid 20’s crises’, when I was back at college, I was out drinking at least 3 times a week with my college friends. I felt I was doing great, I was out all the time, I had friends, I was ‘enjoying life’. Looking back now though, I wasn’t really. I was masking my fears with alcohol, and it wasn’t helping, even if it felt like it was at the time. All I was doing was masking the problem, and in turn, making it worse in the long run.

When I was at my Sister-in-laws wedding a couple of years ago, I drank a lot. I was really nervous about going, as I knew very little people there. I knew it was going to be busy, loud and no doubt something I couldn’t cope with. What did I do? Yup, I sought out to get drunk. I drank a large wine, to every one of my husband’s pints. I think over the course of 5 hours, I’d had 10 large glasses of wine, of which I think works out to be 3 – 4 bottles. Needless to say, I went home, and I was very very ill. It was at this point I realised I wasn’t coping, and things needed to change.

There are people close to me who drink a lot, pretty much every night. I could see that I wasn’t far from them, and did I really want to end up like them? Did I want to become reliant on something like alcohol to get me through a week? It was at the point where I was using a Friday as an excuse to ‘celebrate’, so would buy wine on my way home from work. Even typing that, it just sounds so ridiculous. I don’t want to be that person, I don’t want to rely on anything but myself to get through these difficult situations, and I certainly don’t want to end up like those close me either.

Since my sister-in-laws wedding, I have never really looked at alcohol the same. I barely drink at all now. I’ve even been called boring, and been told I’ve changed, by some of my friends. I’m ok with this, I’m glad to be boring and to have changed. I don’t go out as much socially anymore, this is a choice I’ve made, as I don’t want to feel like I must drink to get me through the night. I can, and have, been out for a little bit, where I’ve had maybe one or two drinks that I’ve nursed over the evening. It’s enough to make me feel like I’m being social when in a pub, but little enough for me to feel completely in control and to avoid the beer fear the next day.

Do you drink to forget? Have you been guilty of using alcohol or other substances to help you with your mental illness? I found an interesting article about the effects of alcohol on your moods and mental health that I think would be of benefit to some, it will help you see that whilst it may feel like it’s helping you in the moment, you’re actually doing more harm than good in the long run.

If you have a story similar to mine, would be good to hear from you and how you have dealt/dealing with it.


What not to say to someone like me

  1. Stop overthinking

If it were that simple, I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in. Please just try to understand that I am the way I am. You know it’s not rational, I know it’s not rational, but it’s going to happen anyway. So please just let me do my thing. If my overthinking is bothering you, try and take a moment to think about how it affects me. You only get to hear about it, I get to live it.

  1. You know it’s just silly to be scared of that, right?

Yes. Yes I do. Thanks for enlightening me on the fact that my fears are silly. I feel so much better now. Try to know that, again, it’s irrational, we all know it is, no more so than myself. If it could be helped it would. So if you see me wash my cup twice, then rinse it 3 times, just roll with it. I’m not harming anyone, and it makes me feel better.

  1. Why don’t you just forget about it?

Why didn’t I consider not obsessing over things? Seriously, where have you been all my life with your words of wisdom? Obsessing over things is what we do best, as it ties in neatly with overthinking. It’s irrational (again this word will pop up a lot), it’s exhausting, and it’s no more frustrating to anyone than myself. If my obsessing over something is bothering you in some way, help me distract my thoughts, change the subject to something of a mutual interest and help me forget. Probably will only work momentarily but that is more helpful than asking me to ‘just forget’.

  1. Should you not go to a doctor?

Yes, I’ve been to see many doctors over the years thank you, including counsellors. There is no cure for an anxiety disorder, as if there was I would have had it by now. 

  1. Do you not think it’s just all in your head?

No way! Do you think?! Of course, it’s all in my head, hence the term ‘Mental illness’. No fooling you Sherlock. If by asking this you’re implying that we’re causing this and can we please just stop it, ummm, no. Just no.

  1. I get like that and I’m not anxious.

Understanding goes a long way, and I often find I’m met by narrow minded people, even in my own family. Unfortunately, I don’t always get the best support or understanding, as I get met with things like this. As explained in a previous blog, there are different levels of anxiety, everyone feels it, but those of us who have an anxiety disorder, we have no control and it is far more intense.

  1. Why are you so moody?

Being like this is exhausting. I’m always tired, regardless of how much sleep I get. I’d say the best sleep I’ve had of late was a full 7 hours, although, it was an incredibly restless sleep, as it always is. Now whilst 7 hours is good, in the lead up to this I was sleeping for maybe 3-4 hours a night. So the lack of sleep, over thinking and self-doubt, often causes me to be grumpy and moody. This will then make me nippy and short with the people closest to me. I’m aware I’m like that, but for the most part I cannot help it.

I often feel like my anxiety is a burden to those around me, and when I’m asked questions like this, it reinforces that feeling. Being there for someone like me is no doubt tiring and really draining at times, especially having to listen to the same stuff on repeat. I get that it must make you just want to shake me and ask me to man up, but let’s face facts, it’s not that easy.

What I want to say to people at times is; I am not my anxiety! Anxiety is just a part of who I am. I am so much more than my weird quirks, and if you took the time to not be frustrated by me, you’d maybe get to see that.

If you are like me, you will no doubt identify with this or perhaps even have your own to add. If you are not like me, but know someone who is, just try to be a little bit more mindful with your ‘helpful’ words of wisdom. They may be coming from a good place, or you may just be frustrated with having to deal with us, but remember who you’re dealing with. We already overthink everything and we already feel like we’re not good enough, and that the world thinks we’re hypochondriacs or that we’re disliked, so making it out to us like we can just go out and fix it, like it’s easy, is not helping.

I cannot speak for everyone, but I know that all I need is a sympathetic ear at times, and someone who just lets me get on with my quirks/ocds. Some days I just need to vent what has been over playing in my head, so that helps me release and feel better. This may be something you’ve heard many times before, but please, bear with me, I’m trying. I’m definitely prickly around the edges, and often wonder how on earth I managed to find someone to marry me, and who still sticks around, but I like to think it’s because they know I’m more than just my anxiety disorder, and of course, because I’m hilarious. This just goes without saying. Yup, you are in fact, reading the blog of a woman who is so funny, that most of the things she has to say that are funny, cannot be said for laughing. As they say, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry! And I know which I prefer.

To everyone out there like me; don’t be phased by these questions/comments. Just focus on what you need to, to get through a day, and don’t forget to celebrate all the successes, even the little ones. My success today is I went out Tesco, feeling terrible, with a light dusting of powder on my face, and my hair wasn’t sitting. To me, this is huge, not because I’m vain, or conceited, but because I have skin problems and always worry about being ugly and having people stare. There is also the small fact of me hating shopping, crowds, queues and being around people when feeling down. I did worry that people were looking & judging that perhaps I looked a little unkempt but you know what, I did it! Look at me and my bad self.



I am a living breathing contradiction

As the title states, I am a living breathing contradiction. Making me the root cause to most, if not all, of my ‘issues’. Having anxiety makes me overthink situations to the point of not sleeping, YET, I am impulsive. I know, right? How is this possible? I honestly have no idea.

I spend my life thinking and discussing pending events/situations to the point of actually boring myself, but I have to. I need to be prepared, with my lists and 101 thought up scenarios. My husband laughs at my many spreadsheets that I use to help organise and keep things on track, but I know he’d be lost without me and my uber organisational skills. Being prepared and organised rules! It means there are no nasty surprises and (hopefully) nothing to be anxious about prior/during/after an event. Now, all of this being said, I’m also incredibly impulsive on occasion. I am someone who see’s something she likes, gets really excited, and just goes for it. It’s almost like I’m blinded by whatever has sparked my interest, that the consequences just don’t even matter. I’m like Wylie Coyte chasing after Roadrunner; I have my eye on the prize and if I fall off a cliff, meh? I’ll deal with it.

Wait? What now? How is this possible? Absolutely no clue. All I do know is, this happens from time to time. Not a lot, but enough. This has got to be a good thing though? Clearly this means I’m having a lucid moment whereby anxiety is not taking hold? No, this is not good. This is reckless. How can I be on one side of the scale, then flip to the polar opposite? It’s madness. Having these impulsive moments just result in excessive anxious moments in the end. As once the high of being impulsive wears off, I get the dread of “OMG what have I done?”, then all the prerequisite overthinking and lists that would normally have been done, still need to be done! But now it’s all in hindsight, and isn’t guaranteed to be ‘anxious free’ in the end, actually now, it’s very much far from that.

Some examples of my impulsiveness of late come in the form of moving home & buying a car. You know, two really small things to take on. I hated the home we lived in previously, it depressed me to even say I lived there. I came to realise that my husband and I worked too damn hard to be going back to a house like that, so one day I saw a house online that I fell in love with and we were moved in within 4 weeks.  I would like to add that this was rented, not bought, as that could have sounded incredibly pretentious ‘oooh check me just buying a house on a whim’. Then today, I’ve just traded in my current car on impulse, and bought another car I’ve not even seen in person. Why? Because I’ve seen it, I’ve fallen in love with it, and I could. Definite trend here, I’m like a magpie with silver! See something new/shiny, fall in love, and I must have it.

After my impulse purchase today, I’ve sat and compared numerous insurance companies, created yet another spreadsheet and I’m now thinking of all the scenarios. Here is to a sleepless night, all of my own doing, in the bid of owning an awesome car (I hope).

I do hope that at least one person reading this can relate, and if that is you, please comment at the bottom so I know I’m not alone. I like to think that I cannot be the only living breathing contradictions with an anxiety disorder.

Keeping up with the Joneses is not helping!

Keeping up with the joneses! We are all guilty of it. We see other people ‘succeeding’ and we feel inadequate. Facebook is one of the worst for making us feel this way. People only ever share what they want you to see, it’s so incredibly fake, we know this, yet we buy into it.

I got myself quite upset one night; I was sitting with a glass of wine, scrolling through my news feed and I see posts like:

“I just came home to no kids, hubby has booked us into a hotel for the weekend. Totally made up. #BestHusbandEver #SoLucky #LoveHimLots #MyLifeIsAmazingAndYoursSucks”

“My Child is only two but can recite the alphabet backwards, whilst playing the piano, and standing on their head. #BestKidsEver #MyKidsAreBetterThanYours #ImABetterMumThanAllOfYou”

“OMG I’ve lived on air for 3 weeks, and been to the gym daily, I’m like so skinny. Please look at my 10000000001 gym selfies. If you’re in doubt which ones they are, I’m in lycra, and look completely self indulgent. #ImSkinnyYoureFat #ImFitAndYoureLazy #ILookAmazingInLycra #YoudLookLikeABurstSausage”

“Another promotion at work. I just come in, do nothing, and ta-da, better job title and more money. Oh and look at the new car I bought myself. Holiday next. #ImSoSuccessful #YoureTotallyLame #RollingInMoney #YoureSkint”

Ok ,Ok, these may be ever so slightly exaggerated, but this is how I read my news feed. So what did I do? Yup, you guessed it! I over thought it, and I compared my life with others. I sat and thought things like

“My husband doesn’t do that for me? Why? Where is my trip away for the weekend? Pffft, I don’t even get taken for a meal, let alone taken away”

“why don’t my kids join all of these clubs? Why do their kids seem to have more friends? Why do their kids seem to be more adjusted than mine?”

“I eat too much and I’m lazy. I need to work out. I’ll never look as good as them Lycra. Is this what the gym bunnies look like? Do I want to subject myself to in person comparisons? Hell no!”

“Wait! Have they not just been on holiday? I could swear they were. Oh that was last year. Hmmm, when did we last have a holiday? Oh right, 3 years ago. Fantastic”

And so, it begins, the vicious cycle of me thinking the whole world has it better than me, based on a few selective glimpses into people’s lives on social media. It’s madness.  Last year was a particularly tough year for me, in many ways, but doing this to myself on Facebook was making it a helluva lot worse. I would sit, feeling very low, on my phone just scrolling and scrolling, becoming even lower with every upbeat ‘my life is amazing’ post.

We are all guilty of showing the side to ourselves we want people to see on social media. It’s like a sort of ‘social media etiquette’, like our regular social etiquette; When I say “Hey, how are you?” I don’t expect to hear “Well, you know, my cat died. I lost my job. I think I may have a UTI, as well as gout…or maybe it’s a fungal nail infection…dunno…you wanna see?”. No. Just no. I want to hear “Yeah good thanks, you?”. We don’t actually ask “Hey, how are you?” to sit and have a Dr.Phil session, we do it because of social etiquette. The same logic applies to Facebook; We put up filtered pictures of ourselves, ones where we’ve done our hair, makeup, got the right lighting, tilted the camera at the right angle and probably taken 101 attempts to the get the one we deem as ok to post. Once it’s uploaded we eagerly await the likes for recognition that our efforts have not gone unnoticed. Then there is our Bio, this is usually something cheesy about how amazing our life is. Finally, it’s our daily posts; We don’t want to post that our cat has died and we have fungal nail infection, why? Well because it’s gross and deeply unnecessary for one. So, what we do instead is we wait for funny little anecdotes or something good to happen, and we exaggerate. We all do it, every single one of us, just some are better at it than others. Some people spend their entire existence giving off the pretence of a perfect existence on social media to get all of the likes, so they can feel validated. Have I been guilty of being this way? More than likely, although, this doesn’t stop it from frustrating me.

By the end of my wine and reading my news feed, I felt inadequate. I felt incredibly down for such a long time, continually asking myself all these questions of “Why am I not good enough? Why don’t I have what everyone else seems to have?”. Everything in my life appeared to be crap and I saw no way of me being able to make it any better. Hello depression and anxiety, it had been a while since I’d felt this low. I cried pretty much every day, just feeling so useless, and like I would never measure up. Well you know what? No more!

I don’t own my own house, it’s rented. My car is nearly 10 years old and has a broken parking sensor (don’t ask!), so it beeps continuously when in reverse. The only radio station I can get in my car clearly is Classical, of which makes me really thankful for my AUX port, that I plug my phone into and sit on the passenger seat as my phone holder broke.  I’m not skinny, or particularly healthy and I have post teen acne. My kids are far from perfect, drive me insane and fight most days. My husband isn’t the brightest bulb in the box, and will need prompting to do nice/thoughtful things. My family are like something out of a comedy, only, it’s not terribly funny when you live through the drama’s, but definitely makes for funny stories to tell later down the line. I live in a house where I feel that the washing basket will never be empty, no matter how many loads I put on. What do my kids do? Graze clothing in search for an outfit and chuck it to the wash?? I have no idea. Then there is the fact my kids are all completely fussy, no two kids like the same thing. What are the chances? 4 kids and they’re so incredibly different, so finding things to eat and do is a nightmare. Everyone in the house bickers and fights over the most pointless things continuously, I often feel like just getting the car, and driving. No destination in mind and no plan on coming back, just driving. I live in a permanent state of exhaustion and there is always something else to be done. The house is never fully clean, the kids are never fully happy, and somewhere in between I fit in a full-time job.

All this being said; What I do have is a roof over my head, my home is lovely, it’s big enough for this big crazy family. We’re dry and warm and want for nothing we need. My children may drive me nuts, but they are my reason to get up every day, they make me laugh more than they make me cry. My husband may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but he makes effort in the ways he knows how and he loves me. I have a fantastic job, that I wouldn’t change for anything. My friends are nothing short of amazing, and if you’re reading this, thank you for being there for me though my whirlwind year, I would not have done it without you.

My end goal is to be free of ‘social media envy’, once and for all. I believe that cutting down my time on Facebook will help, but getting rid of it altogether may be best. I need to keep reinforcing the good that is in my life and not comparing myself everyone else. I may not have the best, and yes there are many things I don’t have that would be nice to have, but I’m sure there will be someone out there that has less than even me and would like to be where I am. I need to not be envious of these social media post, but open minded to the fact it will be embellished, and if it’s not? Then I can be happy for them, not jealous.

I’m pretty sure that everyone will suffer from ‘social media envy’, but when you’re already someone who’s prone to depression and/or anxiety, of which already leaves you feeling inadequate, this can have a huge impact. Moral of the blog? Make a list of all the positives you have, however small, and be thankful for them. Don’t compare yourself to those fake, glammed up, posts on Facebook, nobody’s lives are perfect.



Anxious, or Anxiety Disorder? Sad, or Depressed?

I swithered with regards to writing this blog. I have sat and worried about offending people, or in case it contradicts my blog ‘You don’t look anxious to me’, but I’ve come to realise that it’s important that people know the difference between depression and just being a bit down, and having an anxiety disorder and just being a little bit anxious.


Let’s start with anxiety; This is something we all have and deal with probably every day. Everyone in the world has their anxious moments, so what is the difference between feeling a bit anxious and having an anxiety disorder? Well, to put it in the simplest way; one is mild and one is intense. But, wait, how do we know the difference? How do we know that what we’re feeling is the mild version of anxiety or the intense? I think we first need to understand what anxiety is.

Anxiety is an emotional response to the anticipation of something bad happening, so really, it’s the prerequisite to fear. There is a very fine line between anxiety and fear, which is why both feelings can have similar responses i.e. sweating, feeling nauseous, and quickened heart rate. The feeling of being anxious is what gives us a surge of adrenaline in preparation for the ‘fight or flight’ response, in a bid to help us if the bad scenario we’re anticipating happens. During a bout of feeling anxious you will feel a little scared, but when dealing with an anxious situation when you have an anxiety disorder, you feel intense fear, like something catastrophic is going to happen and you have no control to help yourself.

Some situations that will spike anxious feelings in anyone:

  • Driving test – Everyone in the world is nervous for this. It is one of the most nerve wracking things we will ever do, and it can cause us to be sleepless the night before, give us a dry mouth, even tremble slightly behind the wheel.
  • Operations – Whether it be for ourselves or a loved one. This type of scenario will definitely spike our anxious feelings.
  • Exams – We all want to do well and succeed, so being in an exam can cause us to doubt our abilities, and worry that our best will not be good enough.
  • Children – Our Children make us anxious every day. From the minute they are born we worry if they cry too much, don’t cry enough, eat too much, don’t eat enough, temperature spikes, temperature drops etc. Then as they get older we worry about them going out to play, will they make friends, will other kids be horrible to them, are they happy, how well will they do in school etc. It’s a constant worry for a parent.
  • Work projects – We will all have some sort of task in work that makes us anxious, one that means we’re striving to excel but worry we won’t.
  • Flying – Now this won’t affect everyone, but it does affect most. Again, perfectly normal response to the fact you’re sitting in a metal flying object, couple that with the fact humans were never meant to fly! Totally normal to be apprehensive here.

Some situation that will spike intense feelings of anxiety, associated with an anxiety disorder:

  • Health – “My left hand is slightly colder than my right. Blood flow must be being supressed somewhere. Could it be I’m having a stroke?”, “I’ve had acid indigestion for a while now, could it be an ulcer? Perhaps even stomach cancer?”, “This headache won’t go away, I think I have a blood clot on the brain”, “My right leg has gone numb and feels funny, I think I’ve got DVT”, “I’m sure my heart just skipped a beat then, it felt kinda funny. What if I have heart disease?”. These thoughts will not stop there, they will spiral out of control, to the point where you cannot contain how you’re feeling.
  • Socially – “They’re looking at me. Do they hate how I look? Is what I’m wearing silly? Is my hair sticking up? Is it the way I’m walking? They think I’m ugly.”, “The way they said ‘hello’ was weird. Was it grudged? They don’t like me. What have I done? Did the conversation we have the other day upset them? What could I have said to make them hate me?”, “They didn’t smile as they walked passed. Why? Did they not see me smiling? Maybe I didn’t smile. They will think I’m rude now. Or maybe they did see me smile, but don’t like me so didn’t smile back? Why don’t they like me?”, “I sent that text to them over an hour ago, why haven’t they text back? Have I upset them? Do they not like me?”. You can see the definite pattern here.
  • OCD’s – “That glass looks dirty, I can’t drink from that, what if I get ill?” You will then proceed to wash the glass and then rinse it 3 times for good measure. When you go to bed at night, you check the doors are locked, but then you get up to check again as you doubt you did it right the first time. In fact, you may even repeat the process a few more times, just to be sure, as you don’t want someone coming in and killing you in your sleep. Washing your hands twice, as you need to be sure that all the germs are gone, because you don’t want to die! You will also overly wash your hands as you’re too scared of the surfaces you’ve touched, that others have touched, as hey, you might die.
  • Overthinking & not feeling good enough – “They didn’t seem very happy with me today, I don’t think what I did was good enough. Maybe I could have tried harder? Perhaps I should have done it another way? What if it’s me they just don’t like and whatever I do isn’t good enough? Or maybe it’s just that I’m no good, I’m not up to it?” These thoughts can spiral out of control and have you debating 101 different scenarios of how you could have done things.
  • Insomnia – Because we’re thinking about thinking, then overthinking the thinking about thinking, we tend not to sleep much. Our minds are racing all the time and there are just not enough hours in the day for the level of over analysing that we do.

As you can see we have a rational sense of anxiousness in the first list, where everyone in the world may experience these feelings from time to time. When it’s mild, it’s something that someone can bounce back from easily and something that they will not dwell on or over analyse. Someone with an anxiety disorder, will also be anxious about these things, but they will let it tear them up inside, they will not just bounce back from it, and they will over analyse every situation. Usually to the point where they feel crippling fear and end up sweating, trembling, feeling sick, or actually being sick, getting short of breath, unable to focus, becoming depersonalised, and it may well lead onto a full-blown panic attack. We then have the second list to contend with, one where it’s completely not rational, yet we will let it consume us every single day, again to the point of feeling fear, and this can completely inhibit us from leading what is deemed a ‘normal’ life. We can look perfectly normal on the outside, but on the inside, we’re screaming. You can read more about ‘High functioning anxiety’ in my recent blog, where I explain more about what it is to try and live a ‘normal’ life, whilst contending with the above.


There are a lot of people out there that will throw around the statement “I’m feeling depressed”, without actually understanding what it means to be depressed. The feeling of being depressed, is a feeling of intense sadness, loneliness and hopelessness. You feel like you’re in the worst possible position in your life, and it will never change. You are incapable of seeing the positives in your life, or the light at the end of the tunnel.

Everyone in life has days or periods where they feel sad, down, and even like they can’t be bothered, but this is not depression. This is just a normal response to things in life not going as you hoped or planned. Perhaps you didn’t get the job you wanted, you’ve recently broken up with someone you love, you’ve had big changes in your life out with your control, these are all things that we get sad about. Whilst you feel sad in these situations, you’re still able to enjoy your life and see a light at the end of the tunnel. You know and understand that these feelings won’t last forever and over time, you will get over it.

Depression is like the feeling of sadness magnified. You are not just sad, you are beside yourself with grief. You lose all sense of what is positive in life, you don’t look forward to anything, you cannot have ‘fun’, you lose motivation to do anything for yourself, often losing the want/ability to take good care of yourself, you don’t care for your own well being, tired all the time, sleeping too much, you don’t get excited about things, watching movies that you used to love is just dull now. It is literally like someone has just sucked all the happiness and colour from your life. All you are left with is a bleak, grey, cold and loveless world, that you inhabit all by yourself and that no-one else understands. You may be depressed if you have the following:

  • Intense sadness
  • Frustrated and irritable mood all the time. Complete lack of tolerance of others.
  • Significant changes in weight – either weight loss due to being unable to eat, or weight gain through comfort eating.
  • Decrease/no interest in activities you may have been interested in before i.e. playing sports, watching movies, hanging out with friends etc.
  • Complete tasks at a slow pace – Due to lack of motivation, tasks that would usually be done quickly, will now take you some time.
  • Feeling tired and low on energy – You just feel like you’re in a permanent state of exhaustion, despite how much or how little sleep you get.
  • Unable to focus – You are so overwhelmed by how you’re feeling you can find it difficult to concentrate on the task in hand.
  • Feeling worthless – You never feel good enough. You have every possible negative thought about yourself and the more you think it, the more you reinforce it.
  • Suicide – You can feel so low, to the point of wanting to not be here. You cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel (and there is one, there is always one!), that you believe ending your own life is the only way to be free.

Now this list is not a conclusive list and should not be used for self-diagnosis. I’m not a doctor or a psychiatrist, I am just someone who has suffered with both Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression for 10+ years. The lists I have given above are from my own personal experience. I am in a position now where I don’t need medication and I am able to manage my mental illness much better than just a few years ago, however, this doesn’t mean I don’t struggle most days to appear ‘normal’. If you believe that you may be able to relate to more than a few of my examples, then I implore you to seek advice from you G.P, If you read my blog ‘My story of when Anxiety took hold’ you will see that seeking help was the best thing I ever did.


There are many helpful links online these days, here are just a few I have sourced. Again, please do not take these as conclusive, you are always better to seek professional help & advice.

NHS Depression Self-Assessment

NHS – Check your mood – Anxiety/depression assessment

NHS – Do I have an anxiety disorder

NHS – Generalised Anxiety Disorder

NHS – Suicide awareness & help

Samaritans – Someone to talk to when you’re feeling Anxious/depressed/suicidal


Remember who’s watching

No one is born with a sense of fear, it is a learned behaviour. Babies and toddlers are fearless little creatures, that often have us with our hearts in our throats. For all you parents out there reading this, you can totally relate to times where your child had climbed onto something and attempted to jump off with no concept of the height they were jumping from, or the possibility of hurting themselves. Or the fact that every toddler likes to play with bugs. What is that even about? My daughter once ate a spider. True story. She was about 8 months old, crawled into the kitchen, and ate a spider off the floor. Needless to say, I let her father change her nappy for the next two days. I still get goose-bumps and shiver when I think of it.  My Dad often likes to tell the story of when I would play with bugs in the garden as a toddler. Supposedly, one day when he came home from work, I was sitting on the wall outside our house squishing red spiders for fun, with my finger. That can’t be true surely? If so, where did my fear of spiders come from? If you ask my Dad, he’ll say it is my Mum, as she is someone who would have screamed irrationally if one was around and would get someone to kill it. So, did I learn to be fearful of spiders due to witnessing my parent have a meltdown when they were around? Sounds plausible.

Now I’m a parent I’m aware that I could be passing on my issues onto my children. They are incredibly impressionable and whether they like to admit it or not, I’m exceptionally cool and they totally want to be just like me. This just goes without saying really. My daughters, Rachel & Rebecca, and I are close, and we do a lot together, meaning they spend a lot of time around me and hiding my quirks/ticks/OCD’s isn’t always easy.  I’ve come to notice in the past couple of years that they had developed some issues of their own. Rebecca was starting to develop a bit of a stutter, cries at the drop of a hat, and was incredibly nervous in social situations. Rachel is incredibly socially awkward, doesn’t like people, has hygiene issues and little OCD’s. I could see that my issues were transpiring with them, and this is not the life I want them to have. I don’t want them to worry about every little thing and spend their life over analysing and being sad. All parents want the best for their Children, and ending up like me, even just a fraction of me, is not an option here.

Rebecca was showing signs of a stutter when she was worried about something. She worries incisively about not being good enough or failing, or worse, being wrong! To the point where she would stutter when trying to explain something, then cry. The amount of conversations we’ve had where I never actually hear the end due to sobs, is a lot. I could see that she was lacking in confidence, and I hated seeing her this way. To me, and yes, I may be slightly biased here, she is one of the most beautiful, thoughtful, caring, funny, talented girls in the world, and the fact she couldn’t see this was upsetting. Rachel had started to become very introverted, lost a lot of friends, started sleeping a lot, developed my OCD for hygiene etc. it was like looking at mini-me and I’ve hated it. She too is such a beautiful, loving, very funny, talented girl, who genuinely cannot see how fantastic she really is. Why can’t they just be like their peers, and their only concerns be with their Facebook profile picture and how many likes it’s gotten? Well, the reason for this is me. They have spent so much time with me, that they’ve picked up on my bad anxious habits.

Noticing these traits was hard, as I knew it had to be my fault. So how do I change them? How do I make them see how great they are and that the world is not that scary a place, when I don’t even have this faith in myself or the world? I spend every day telling them how great they are, I praise their small successes as if they’re a toddler who’s just used the potty for the first time, I tell them every day I love them and how lucky I am to have them. I tell them things I wish people would say to me, the things I’d like to believe in myself.

Assuring them constantly that things are ok, and will be ok, just isn’t enough. I see that they doubt me, and they will continue to be anxious. So, what now? Well, I now make them do things they say scare them, or that they’re not keen on doing. For example, Rachel hated going into shops, as she hated the crowds, queues and speaking to strangers, for fear of something happening or looking stupid. I started making her go to the shops with me every time I went, and I would make her talk to the cashier. I would always prep her with what to say, and I believe having me there made it easier. That’s not to say that she didn’t hate me for it, or leave the cashier with tears in her eyes because to her this was incredibly daunting. Now though? Well, she chooses to go to the shops with me all the time, and she now speaks to strangers with ease. This is a success. Rebecca will often get upset at small things e.g. She once got an email where the person had gotten her name wrong, she opened it, then worried it might have had a virus, so came down the stairs in a bit of state. Rebecca had believed that her laptop was now going to break, and realising I wouldn’t have money to fix it or get her another one, thought that I would have been angry/upset and now was besides herself. Thankfully it was just a case of an incorrect name, there was no virus, and the laptop is still going strong. Seeing her so upset, over something so small, was hard. I had to sit her down and explain that even if it was a virus, it wasn’t a big deal. It is fixable. And again, even if it wasn’t fixable, it’s not worth getting so upset over. Even as I wrote that sentence, I realise that is just the height of cheek. Here I am explaining to my daughter that there are things to get upset about, and things to not be caring about, yet I cannot do this for myself. Rebecca can now see the funny side of this, and we will often bring it up and laugh about it. I feel that is very important, to be able to see the funny side of these situations, as it helps to lighten the mood and in turn it doesn’t feel quite so serious.

I’m very open with all my children, about everything and anything. If my children ask me a question about sex, drugs, life etc. I will answer it as openly and honestly as possible. I don’t believe in lying to them, as this will only peak their curiosity and in turn they will make bad decisions. This is me talking from experience; When I was younger I learned about sex in the playground, so, as you can imagine it was incredibly helpful and accurate to the facts. My Mum didn’t even discuss a woman’s menstrual cycle, so imagine my horror when I got mine at the young age of 11 and thought I was dying. Just as well I had one of my close friends with me, who had started hers not long before and was able to help me out. I was shocked, embarrassed and upset. There are many other examples where my parents didn’t help or prepare me for life, so I’ve made the conscious decision to always be open and honest with my kids. I don’t want them to be sheltered or unprepared, and in turn I believe this has helped them to be the amazingly wise and mature kids they are. I have people who disagree with how open I am with them, as they believe ‘kids should just be kids’, but in this day and age, where they have the internet and a lot of misinformation, I believe it’s more important than ever to have these awkward discussions. I also feel it makes them more comfortable to be able to speak to me about anything. I have also been very open with my older children with regards to my mental illness. I need them to understand that I have these little quirks, and explain why. This helps them to better understand that how I am, is not ‘normal’, and these ticks/quirks/OCD’s are definitely not normal. We have discussed Anxiety/Depression, the symptoms, the differences between having Depression and just being sad, then the difference between being anxious and having a disorder. I believe this is extremely important, as I don’t want them thinking because they’re sad, they’re depressed, or because they’ve had a flutter in their stomach they’ve got an anxiety disorder.

Managing how my daughters are, and trying to help them be happier and more settled, is teaching me a lot about myself. A lot of what I tell them, is something I could be doing for me. Also, a lot of what I make them do, like making Rachel go into shops, has pushed me to do things I don’t like, as I know she is watching me for guidance and I need to help her learn by example. They still have their issues and their little quirks, but I’ve noticed a lot of improvement in recent months. Both Rachel and Rebecca are becoming more outgoing, they appear happier, and they don’t seem to worry quite as much. I have many days where I feel like I just can’t deal with the day, or where I just want to stay in bed and let life pass me by, but I can’t do that. I can’t let my kids see me quit, or not even try, as what kind of example is that?  We still have some way to go, but who knows, in my bid to help them be happier, I might just help myself.