Habits for My Wellbeing

2 days in to reducing my antidepressants and I felt irritable, angry, just generally het-up. I’m not sure if it was the medication change or just other stuff. The news for example. Trump – say no more. Brexit – what a bloody cock-up. Theresa May makes me feel sick. Trump makes me want to hang my head in despair.

Was it other factors? We were all tired and run-down and Mister had a horrible cold. Girl child is not going to bed when we want her to and basically runs rings around us all day long (so it feels sometimes).

Am I missing some other purpose? My voluntary role has been pretty all consuming for the last year, but recently, things seem to have finally fallen into place. I have an enormous sense of satisfaction from this, but now that we don’t have weekly (daily…?) crisis meetings about one thing or another, I feel a bit bereft. I miss my committee buddies, and my messenger app pinging all day long and the sense of camaraderie that brings.



Aside from these more general observations, there are four areas I have decided to prioritise.

Meditation & Mindfulness

I have practised these on and off over the last couple of years, but I know that to get the most from it, I need to practice everyday, so I treated myself to a Headspace subscription while it was on special offer. The mindfulness practice fell by the wayside in a sense, as I wasn’t scheduling, or following a program. Yet, I realised recently, that I do practice it. It’s just more spontaneous, more nuanced than following a set of instructions. I’m quite pleased to think that it has evolved into one of my little coping mechanisms. If I feel myself getting monkey-minded, I’ll focus on my breath for a minute, or watch the birds in the garden, or just close my eyes and listen to the sounds around me. Funnily enough, I’ve spent a lot of time since my mindfullness program, wondering how on earth to incorporate it into my life as a Mum. But the truth is, it’s tiny fragments of mindfulness throughout the day, rather than a big set aside block. And thats actually more beneficial for me.



Really, really, really, trying not to go to sleep during the day. I know lack of sleep (at night) exacerbates my low mood. However I am also guilty of confusing tiredness with low mood and heading for a lie down, thus beginning a vicious circle. My current experiment is to try and stay awake during the day, with gentle pottering and faffing. In CBT terms this is the thin edge of the ‘behaviour activation’ wedge. I think. I’m no pro…


When a friend was having difficulties last year, I suggested we go for a walk, because I knew that the fresh air, the exercise would help her to feel better. In doing this I realised that I NEVER practice what I preach! Its so hard to motivate myself. That is my biggest challenge when I feel down. Several times a year I “resolve” to be more active and really make exercise a habit in my life. If I’m honest with myself though, what have I really done? I haven’t really made an effort. I have not made any sacrifice or overcome any hurdles to make it happen. I allow the barriers to stay just that, and make no attempt to break them down. I know from my CBT that the motivation does not come first in depression. You have to act first, even if the motivation is not there.


Writing it Down

Hello WordPress. Hello lovely notebook. Hello note taking app. By the end of my recent therapy sessions, I came to the conclusion that it was essential for me to get my thoughts and feelings out of my head. Talking therapy is great, but comes at a cost. If I could afford it I would just go once a month and just have a big brain dump on somebody, but I can’t, so I have to re-commit to regularly writing things down. I’m not going to worry about where, or how good it is. I’m just going to do it. I KNOW from past experience that writing it all down, helps me to detangle and see things as they really are.


Wish me luck!

p.s. Sorry for the crap title….

…..and the mixed-up tense’s…..

….and any spelling mistakes…..


Ghosts in the House.

Do all mothers have this feeling when the house is empty? Mister is away and girl-child is at her Grandad’s and I have this empty house and all these hours. I knew it was coming and I’d thought of all the brilliant child-free things I was going to do: knitting, writing, cleaning, baking, studying, crafting, meditating, yoga, Pilates. But now I feel panicked by what to do first. All these things I dream of doing when I don’t have time to do them (well maybe I don’t dream of cleaning ha) and now I have the time, I don’t know where to begin.

Last night when I went to bed, I thought how strange it was not to hear the distant rumble of Mister watching a film downstairs. I went into girl-childs room and closed the curtains, looked at her bed, her things, wondered if she was asleep yet. In the night I awoke a couple of times thinking I could hear her sleepy sighs through the baby monitor.

I’ve always known that I like to be alone. I need to be. At times, I crave it so much it drives me mad to not just have it. So it’s a bit of a mind-boggler to find that when I am alone, I just miss them.


Coming clean.

I read a post this morning which inspired me to write this. Beth’s honest post on why it’s okay if you don’t enjoy every minute of being a parent mainly focuses on the newborn phase, but I think it’s still relevant in this toddler phase. Every stage of being a parent has it’s challenges, at that moment that I opened the link, it just made me feel like I was not alone.


Mostly on this blog, I write about, and photograph the snippets of life that bring me joy. I sometimes write about parenthood and occasionally about Mum. Lately I’ve mainly being writing up my Happy Things lists and my instagram account reflects the same ethos. Why? Partially because we no longer have nap times and I’m too knackered in the evening to even think about anything else. But also, because I have to. I need to remind myself of those things because right now, I’m depressed. There. I said it*


Looking back on that first year of motherhood I can’t help experience a pang of regret. About all the ways I believe I failed my daughter, all the things I did wrong, the expectations I’d set for myself that were not achieved, the tears, the endless days at home alone, depressed, but unable to put it into words. I feel guilty about not enjoying it more (you *should* enjoy it, right?) I feel guilty about not being able to see the positives so clearly, because when I scan the photo library for evidence, there were some really fun times (albeit with unkempt hair and unwashed clothes). I began writing this blog (and simultaneously wearing red lipstick) as a catharsis, as a way to motivate myself to have things to write about (i.e. get out of the house), and as a way to have something positive to look back on. I wish I had started it much sooner, because, those early posts offer me some concrete evidence that it wasn’t all bad. Indeed, things got much better.


When I’m feeling low, I find it extremely difficult to write about anything apart from how rubbish I feel. So I blanket censor all of that stuff, because I worry about how family or friends might feel. I worry about the girl-child reading it one day and feeling upset or to blame. Frequently (daily), I wonder who my own mother really was – did she have these experiences? Is that why I get like this? Am I going to pass this on to my daughter? When I was about 8 years old, I saw my Mum through a crack in a door, crying. My Grandma was sat beside her, comforting her. I’d never seen my Mum cry before. To my knowledge she was the life and soul of the party, always encouraging me to get involved and make the most of life. As an adult, I miss her in every possible way. I miss her stories and I crave to know more about her. One of the reasons I began to write was to cope with losing my Mum in those early months. One of the reasons I kept writing was in case I died young and left any future children clueless as to what their mother thought, felt and experienced in life. So, I am going to try harder to write more honestly. I think it’s important for myself, my daughter, and for any struggling parent who (like I once did) stumbles across a blog post looking for some hope, some solidarity.

We are not alone.

*It’s like Voldemort. He whose name shall not be mentioned. Only the more I say it, the better I feel. Duh. Obvs, innit.


Writing Unravelled.

I’ve written for as long as I can remember. Diaries started when I was only about 7 years of age, when my Aunty and Uncle included a tiny blue diary in my Christmas stocking. I wrote what I’d had for tea and that I’d played out on my bike. There wasn’t much room in the diary, or my imagination or my vocabulary at that stage, I’m sure you will appreciate.

Fast forward to age 11 and I used my birthday book token to buy The Judy Blume Diary. I loved Judy Blume. (We all loved Judy. She was the Fairy Godmother that got us all through puberty, but that whole thing with the sanitary towel belt in “Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret” had me really confused and concerned. Thank God for the powers of self-adhesion.) I digress. This was a diary that came with illustrations, and suggested ‘fun activities’ such as listing your top five whatevers. In hindsight it was really annoying, but the point is, I was 11 or 12 and god, the whole world is so enticing and terrifying at that age, so I wrote it all down. Alongside my musings about whatever boy I fancied, or other worldly dramas, I coloured in the illustrations. It makes my heart ache to think of my little self – traumatised by the Helter-Skelter that is puberty, but still colouring-in like a little girl. Sadly, I read it back when I was in my (far more mature) early twenties, and it made me cringe so much, I threw it away in a massive declutter spree. I have never ever discarded any personal writing or letters ever since. I would LOVE to read that book again.


In a deservingly cruel twist of fate, I now read back my twenty-two year old “journals” (diaries are for kids, right?) and still cringe. I cringe at how pretentious I was with my language, and my still adolescent drama’s, drunken scribblings and I laugh at myself. Yes, twenty-two year old me, I am laughing AT you. And it serves you right for throwing away your poor little 11 year old self’s diary. (I’m not even sure about the grammar of that sentence, but twenty-two year old me needs telling.)

After Judy Blume, I think I left the whole thing alone for a few years, and during GCSE English, I wrote some cracking stories that Mr. H loved. There was one about three characters called Vera, Chuck and Dave who were smugglers on a Belgian trawler. They drank too much John Smiths and fell asleep under a tree, dreaming that the Mekons from Dan Dare had come to invade Earth. Then they woke up to discover that it was true. Or something. It was ace. I stole my characters, obviously, and I was heavily influenced by sixties music and the comedy of the nineties: Lee and Herrings fist of fun, The Mary Whitehouse experience. I think Mr H mainly like the part about the beer….


Then Mum died. All I could find was an old exercise book. I ripped out the used pages and just started writing letters to her, telling her how I was feeling, asking her questions. I’d write down all my fears, frustrations, joys. Sometimes I’d write so urgently, and for so long, that my hand cramped up and I struggle now to decipher what I wrote. As long as I could write, I was never alone, and I would never go mad from grief. Writing was and still is catharsis.

Unbeknownst to my conscious brain, writing was happening in other parts of my life too. During my final year at Liverpool University, as part of a communications module, I had to write a piece intended for The New Scientist on a topic of my choice. I submitted 300 words about a new treatment for erectile dysfunction. My professor pulled me into her office and interrogated me – where had I plagiarised it from? This was in 1998, the internet was still in it’s infancy and plagiarism hadn’t even crossed my mind as a tool to aid my frankly, pitiful grades. She awarded me 75% and gave me the very strong impression that she was keeping an eye on me. She did not believe that a borderline 2:2 student was capable of that. Later, in my ‘mature’ studies for Physiotherapy, I enjoyed the part where all my research was done, and I could ‘craft’ the essay.

While travelling, I continued to keep journals, and enjoyed rewriting theses into entertaining emails for family and friends. I had a brief spell attending a night class in creative writing, in the hope that I could challenge my writing a bit more and stretch my personal experiences and imagination into stories. But the poet teacher told me my hard grafted homework poem was archaic, and pulled it apart ruthlessly. I never went back. I later ran into a man who had also been in the class. He remembered a line from my poem, and told me that everyone left after that because she gradually bullied them all away.


In the last few years I have written less frequently. The reason is, because I’m happier now. ‘Happy’ is a big word and the complexity of why a person feels happy is not for this post, but in essence, I have love in my life. So I found whenever I sat down to write, I’d feel a bit stuck. I had no need to offload anymore, because everything is just fine. But I missed writing. I missed the quiet contemplation. I missed the way my racing thoughts would unravel onto the page, forming orderly reasoning. I missed the sense of relaxation and time lost. I missed getting to the end of another notebook and going out to choose a new one. I missed choosing a short poem to write on the first page – a poem that chimed with how I felt at that time in my life. So starting this blog was in part a way to rediscover that.

Lately though, you will have noticed that there are fewer words and more pictures. I just don’t seem to be able to discipline myself enough to write the kind of blog posts that I’d like, despite having so many ideas! I made a semi-conscious decision that I wanted to write more informative posts, rather than every single one being “Here’s what we did today…!” As it happens, those type of posts take longer to construct, because the topics I’d like to write about, I’d also like to make sure they are well researched and with useful links in them. That part takes time, and I’m quite out of the habit of conducting research, so I lose track of all the bitty bits of research I have managed to do! So the drafts are all sitting there with random sentences all over the place, and that makes me feel unsettled and demotivated. I don’t have a plan how to deal with that yet. Should I do another Blog Every Day challenge? Should I try and start a series on a topic that interests me? Should I join in with one of the many linkies out there?

Why did you start writing? Where has it taken you? How do you make the time to write?