Misophonia – What is it?

I am often overwhelmed by noise. It makes my skin prickle. I never used to feel like that. Not really. Then I had a kid who screamed for 15 hours a day every day for 9 months and I forgot what quiet felt like.

But that noise sensitivity did not end when she stopped screaming. I get increasing amounts of rage about noise. It could be listening to someone eat loudly whilst I’m trying to read. Having a husband who snores is a prime example of the rage I experience with repetitive sounds. If you have a husband/wife/partner who snores you will understand.

If Ciara is talking and someone else tries to speak to me, like I will literally tell them all to shut up and speak one at a time because I cannot cope with the pitchy sounds of their voices permeating my brain. Take zoom meetings for example, they boil my piss, because nobody knows when to talk and everyone talks at once. If I’m reading or working I have to do it in silence. If I’m eating and I can hear your chewing over mine I might tell you to stfu too.

It’s no surprise that the level of rage I feel increases during my luteal phase and sometimes I will literally (and ironically) scream for quiet when I’m due on my period. Or when I’m tired. Or when I’m in pain, and sometimes when I’m feeling perfectly ‘normal’ whatever that is.

Today I’ve been working from home and the dog, has been noisily gnawing at shit that isn’t food. My daughter came home from school with 25 tales about her day that she needed to tell me all at once, and she is currently downstairs learning letters and is speaking about 5 octaves too high in triumph of her achievements. I am seeking (unsuccessfully) the quiet my brain is desperate for in my room.

I know it’s a joke really, people with kids should know better than to get uptight about noise right? But I cannot zone out. My neighbours noisily run up and down their stairs every night between 9pm and 11pm I dunno what the fuck they’re up to but as soon as I hear it I cannot focus on anything else.

I know it’s not rational and I know I need help because losing my shit every time someone disrupts my quiet is not practical or productive. Give me silence and the sound of my own heart beating would probably still piss me off. So what is this random condition I seem to have acquired – I know what you’re thinking ‘another condition’ but ‘hear’ me out. This condition is called Misophonia, and it’s way more common than you might think.

The sound sensitivity is a real thing, and it’s most commonly found in females. Not everyone will experience the same reaction, for some it may be mild and for others complete extremes. We’ve established my default setting is extreme, as is my reaction.

It’s unknown what causes Misophonia and it isn’t suggested to be brought on by one specific event but can occur at anytime during our life cycle.

For me personally my go to emotive reaction to noise is always rage. It’s swiftly followed by the need to flee the scene. Sometimes I leave the culprit and take myself outside to gulp for air. No exaggeration. I once stood in a food queue with my husband (then boyfriend) and had to leave because the person in front of us did not stop talking in an animated pitch and I couldn’t for all my reasoning zone out. Sometimes it’s a background noise, sometimes it’s someone speaking and other times it’s a barely noticeable minuscule sound that my brain has sought out.

There isn’t much available in terms of treatment, definitely not in form of medication, but after research I’ve found there are some things I can do that might help. Like expose myself to specific sounds on repeat and try and convince my brain it doesn’t want to smash the house up in response.

I’ve decided to set myself some trials because let’s face it telling a customer to shut the fuck up for talking too loudly or too fast isn’t appropriate. Quieting your family when they have something to tell you, isn’t fair. And smashing the house up isn’t an affordable or constructive escapade. I’ll keep you informed with my findings but for now if you think you have misophonia check out this article on Web.md

Three things

I was having a little rest from socials wasn’t I? But the truth is I often feel so much relief when I express how I feel here, insta or on my blog, that it’s become a compulsion to just get it out of my head. This is me. Straight up. No bullshit. Being my true self.
I know I will never win any prizes for flying under the radar, but what of it?
My latest battle is a cycle of Mum guilt ergo
Wifey guilt. Guilt about work. Guilt about shit I did 15 plus years ago and since. Guilt about guilt. Guilt on guilt.
Currently I have this desperate need for a break from our diva child. It’s like a certified panic button that only she can force me to press, followed by an overwhelming sense of ‘This is her last summer before school take in every second. Finish that scrapbook. Build a fucking tree house and what not.’
I feel like I’m depriving her of valuable time and offering up instead stale days in front of a screen wearing 2 day old pjs.
We fucked off last week, down the coast for a bit of R&R. Our honeymoon holiday in the costa brava with a hot tub clad chalet got cancelled, and we’re still waiting for that refund so we settled for a caravan substitute. Nice caravan too, but of course I ruined it with an obligatory 2 day migraine. Throwing up battered cod into a 2×2 toilet with zero soundproofing and spending the following day with the curtains closed and crying about my uselessness.
It’s so traditional for me to ruin holidays with my health now, that we don’t even consider planning excursions without a day in between for little ole’ me to catch up.
Such is the Spoonie life. Ciara didn’t care less of course. She had Daddy to herself for a day and as always he dutifully complied with her ever growing demands.
So lucky am I to have him as my husband aren’t I? Queue more guilt about how the poor fucker just signed his life away to a woman only capable of frolics approximately 2 days a month – the rest of the month is spent recovering from that thing we take for granted called life.
Anyway whilst I’ve been torturing myself, and it has very felt much like torture in this chubby little head of mine, I got to thinking. So there’s a list as long as Peter Crouch’s leg that consists of why I’m the worst wife and at best, average parent, but I reckon there’s a few things I’m good at. Surely?
I’ve been using this app for a while called Three Things. (Not an ad! It’s a free app too) Every evening you are prompted to write 3 positive things that happened during the day. Somedays though, I just can’t do it. And somedays I’m so trapped in a negative spin cycle that I just don’t want to. So instead I’m doing something a bit different starting today. I’m going to write 3 things I like about myself, every day. It’s a challenge, but I have to get back on the positivity train soon, before I go off the track to no return.
3 good things might not occur on a day spent in bed with a migraine or crying into my pillow cause I can’t find the T-shirt I wanted to wear and I’m due on BUT…..What if I just decide that I have good hair, which I do (if a little grey under the ‘natural colour’ that I now dye it) or that my toes look cute on my tiny feet. Or that I did a good deed and I like myself more because of it? ✔️✔️ ✔️ 3 things. Everyday. I’m no therapist but even I know the key to my happiness isn’t hanging on someone else’s keyring. Whitney said it didn’t she?…. “learning to love yourself…” sing the rest. 🎵
So I’m starting today. I haven’t thought of the 3 things yet, so I can’t share them, but if you think of 3 things you want to share over here, please do. And even if you can’t, start with 1. Start today. And just keep going. Practice makes perfect. Pick something about yourself that’s a quality you’d want in a friend, or don’t. Maybe this is a bit ‘cheese on toast’ but I’m feeling positive about feeling positive, even if it’s just for today because one day at a time, right? Three things. ✅✅✅💗

Acute Anxiety.

I can’t tell you why I’ve been feeling anxious lately, not really. I could guess a few contributing factors but I don’t know why it feels so bad, or why when I’m led in bed at night things I did 15 years ago pop into my head and I can’t get them out. Or the fact that I can be stood in the post office queue and have to walk out leaving my parcels on the counter because my mind is in flight mode. Or why I wake up at 4am crying. Why I feel like I can’t breathe.

I can tell you that intrusive thoughts (like those in the above pic) are fucking awful I can be there one minute planning my next holiday or working on the laptop and the next – bam ‘why did you do____ (insert all and any life mistakes here.)’

Hormones are also the devil when it comes to anxiety. People often underestimate their power to make you feel off kilter seemingly for no reason. Anxiety can manifest into physical symptoms such as stomach upset, fatigue, tension and or cluster headaches, increased flare ups in other conditions eg in my case fibromyalgia.

I’ve spent this week convincing myself why I should keep putting one foot in front of the other. (With a little help from my friends) I’m not exaggerating when I say somedays I can’t see the wood for the trees, and the urge to disappear is overwhelming. I don’t want to feel like this, but it’s exactly the out of control response that is anxiety’s sole purpose.

Fight or flight, our bodies natural response to intensely stressful situations. Some say they also freeze in these situations. When I’m anxious I find it hard to retain even simple information. I can become irritable as the panic overwhelms me and overly sensitive to noise, smells, touch. A literal sensory overload.

Here I’ve included some things that have helped me this week. They are by no means a cure or substitute for medical advice but they have helped me go from ‘I don’t want to be here anymore’ to ‘let’s get through today one step at a time.’

Fresh air is free and highly underrated. My natural response is always to take to my bed when I feel depressed or anxious. To block the world out and keep myself safe in my sanctuary, but this week I’ve fought that urge, it wasn’t without difficulty and I took some convincing from my friends and mum, but I got outside. And the results were almost instantaneous. The blustery air helped calm me in a way that lying in bed shaking just wasn’t doing.

Phone a friend. This one is always really hard for me because I hate talking on the phone and the idea of speaking to people when I feel like this is all consuming. I worry what they will think of me and I know I’ll cry because crying is my autopilot response, but on Monday I dragged myself and my daughter to my friends house and for a few hours I felt completely relieved of the demons in my head. It was a great distraction. Choose friends you know will understand if you need to offload.

Crying is a completely normal reaction to an anxious situation- let the tears come they release oxytocin and the likely hood is you’ll feel a little better afterwards.

Distraction is a great therapy tool and never underestimate its power. Some people say you need to face the problem head on and I’m sure in certain circumstances that’s true but to get through an acute phase of anxiety I find it particularly helpful. I do a lot of reading so choose the kind of things you read based on how you’re feeling. If you’re anxious a chic lit book maybe more suitable than a psychological thriller.

Finally my last and favourite – Swear!! No I’m not joking. Science somewhere proves that swearing aloud can’t reduce stress levels. So chuck it in the fuck it bucket and call it a prick for good luck. You can read this blog over on House21 also!

When you need a break give yourself one

I know, we all need a break from the relentlessness that is parenting in lockdown. Thanks BoJo for your imminent easing of restrictions (I think) I personally won’t be running to the pub as of next week, (I won’t be running anywhere) but not necessarily for a lack of want, the specifics are more that I am unable to physically recover from such outings anymore, that it’ll probably be some time before I feel like getting shitfaced again, if ever. My days of organised carnage as well as spontaneity are pretty much kaput.

It’s funny when you realise drink just doesn’t do for you the things it used to and your body cannot recover as well from it’s onslaught, is basically your body’s way of telling you to quit without actually telling you, but that’s for another blog. This one is about parenting, and the fact that I am not coping well being the primary carer 24/7. I know it’s ‘my job’ as mum to suck it up and that’s exactly what I’m doing, but that doesn’t mean it’s not heavy. Sucking up is all well and good until you’re full to the brim from all the sucking and your glass is spilling over into some form of depression.

I have battled depression for 20 years. I was 13 when I saw my first shrink and took my first antidepressant. It’s something I’m able to recognise quite quickly and also pull back from with reasonable ease when I recognise its arrival, but when the days become dark in the middle of summer and you find yourself caring less about the things you used to, it’s usually a red flag.

I know the fact I have a chronic illness is one of, if not the main reason for my constant feeling down, and like I’m failing at life and motherhood, because I can’t just do all the things anymore. This can make life seem really shit sometimes. This is not a pity party, it’s the truth. The joy in my life often comes from my family. Specifically my daughter and I love her with all my heart but the truth is I’m running out of structure and patience. 

I need a break.

Ciara is my reason for staying alive. She is my life support and I hers, but sometimes we need a break to recharge, refocus and get off the merry go round. 

I want to not feel stressed 24/7 and desperate for ‘time off’ I want to look forward to picking her up from school again, and spending our days chatting about the bugs we’ve found or hunting for an ice cream van. Sometimes we mums need a break. Sometimes we won’t be able to have one. So what do you do if you can’t have a break? You give yourself one. Meaning, you stop hounding yourself about the fact you’re not baking cupcakes (tried and failed) or building treehouses and homeschooling. You give yourself a break and remind yourself you are doing your best. You’re showing up for the people that need you and you’re sucking up all that heavy shit and nobody might tell you what good a job you’re doing but you are, doing a good job. You’re soldiering on even when it’s hard and your kids love you. Even when they hate you, really, they still love you. Even when you’re disciplining them or enforcing rules they don’t like, they’re grateful, and the truth is they don’t care if you give them too much screen time just to get by, or let them have a few more sweets in a bid to keep them happy. They are happy if you’re happy. So when you need a break, give yourself one.

Tired and Needy – the follow up to Love For Lockdown.

I wrote a post a little over a week ago about my love for lockdown. I still love lots about it, like the family bubble and not having to worry about the outside world. In fact I still love it—full stop! Buuuuuut, I’m also losing my shit a bit. I’m still worrying about stuff that isn’t on the scale of importance to most people.

Like it’s a rollercoaster, right?

Up, down, plateauing and plummeting.

I struggle with life under normal circumstances I don’t ‘cope’ well on a daily basis. Well some might say I do cope well, and others think I’m mad.

— Balance

Writing is my salvation but I have to admit there’s little inspiration flying about my gaff, so I’m losing my creative flow and my anxious mind is finding room to fill up the creative space instead.

If you suffer from anxiety you may relate to some of this. Or you might think I’m a nut job. I am.

I have a brain that understands rationale but doesn’t practice it.

I have a desperate need for reassurance and it’s exhausting to be honest: it’s exhausting for me, it’s exhausting for my friends, my family, and  it’s exhausting for my husband.

Years of therapy and we’re no further forward in killing the bug that is my insecurity.

I know where it comes from – I don’t need a £50 an hour shrink to tell me about it (again).

I know it’s not rational or reasonable but I genuinely can’t help it.

I can’t help how I feel inside my head sometimes. I say sometimes, because it’s not all the time. Sometimes I am content, it can be fleeting, but it does happen.

I am one of the first people to harp on about getting the help you need when you need it for your mental health, but I have had help, lots of it in abundance, and variety.

I’m not fixed, because you can’t ‘fix’ people.

I manage better, better than I did 10 or 15 years ago, but my neediness and insecurity hasn’t dissipated, it probably never will, because it’s part of me.

It’s in my makeup to worry, fret & overthink.

During this lockdown I’ve occupied my days with all sorts of filler. Some of it has been really pleasant and some of it has been unintentionally damaging. The trouble is you don’t always know which is which until it’s too late and even things like reading books and watching TV can play a whole heap of havoc with an anxious mind.

If you too are feeling tired and needy I can only reiterate the importance of having a mental clear out! You’ve probably heard this a lot during the span of Coronavirus. I’ll say it again anyway.

Take time to find things that bring you small wins.

—Something that makes you grateful.

—Do something you enjoy like painting your toenails or going for a walk.

—Cook something exciting.

—Phone a friend.

—Be wary of what you’re watching and reading. I love nothing more than crime thrillers to read, but sometimes they get inside my head and it can create a state of heightened anxiety without me even realising it.

—Pick something you love about yourself and focus on it for a little while.

—Cuddle your kids and remind yourself you’re doing your best.

—Most importantly, be kind to yourself. It’s a tough time for all of us.

You’re not wrong for feeling how you feel. You can’t help it, but you can try to do little things that reinforce the positives. I’m trying to take my own advice today. I’m trying to do a few small things that help me feel better about myself and the current situation. Some days are all consuming and it’s ok to fall apart every now and again.

Feeling guilty about it won’t help. Instead try and concentrate on what’s needed to put yourself back together again.

I won’t profess to own the secret to a positive mindset, it’s something I battle with daily, but it’s also something that really does work if you can get the can of it. Positive minds attract positive vibes.

Love For Lockdown

People keep saying things to me like ‘can’t wait to go out when is over’ as if it’s expected that we are all super excited about socialising again. We must surely all be desperate to get to that overcrowded bar with friends we’ve been avoiding for ages?

No, I’m kidding – normalcy is an exciting prospect, but it seems we’re all presumed chomping at the bit to get back out and paint the town red, and the truth is, I’m not.

Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to get my freedom back, buy what I want in shops of my choosing, and get my lashes done, but socially I feel quite content in my little family bubble, for now at least.

Just my husband, daughter and I, plodding through the everlasting days with nothing to rush for. Working to an untimely schedule. The only million dollar question being, what’s for tea?! Mealtimes providing fattening structure to our days.

That’s not to say I don’t like people, or want to see my friends and family, I do desperately. But… and there is a but. Before lockdown, I always got an overriding sense of FOMO. I’ve mentioned before how living with a chronic illness and not being able to do all the things I could do pre diagnosis, can sometimes leave me feeling left out of social events. It’s probably true that it’s a lot to do with me, and less to do with the organisers of said events, but…. lockdown, isolation, quarantine, whatever you want to call it, has actually massively reduced my fear of missing out.

I mean obviously, because we’re all missing out now aren’t we? Or are we?

What’s your perspective?

Let’s skip to the facts, coronavirus is a killer, it imposed on our world as we knew it a few months ago, and it’s definitely nothing to be THANKFUL for. However it is making me appreciate life’s simple pleasures.

It’s making me feel less of a let down about not being socially available. I don’t have the constant conflict of having too much in my diary, or not enough, subsequently playing havoc with my insecurities. It’s awakened me to getting the best use of my time too. I even wrote a schedule last week and felt suitably joyous when ticking it off. A lot of people love a Mrs Hinch style list, and I’m usually not one of them. I’m the people admiring said list slayers from the sidelines whilst winging it and getting much of nothing done. Ticking off the days activities this past week has given me a sense of achievement, one that I don’t get from the daily grind of the 9-5. I think it’s fair to say that I’m coping ok. It’s not easy for any of us, and I won’t pretend being imprisoned in your two up two down semi is a holiday, but we’re making the best of it. My daughter just turned four and she was due to have a party and we were off on a caravan holiday.

When cancelling these I cried for days, I didn’t know how to explain it to her. After a week at home I asked her again what she would like to do for her birthday and she said……Feed the ducks please mummy, we have a local moat at the back of our house and so feeding the ducks is what we did. Along with hunkering down in the Lay-Z Spa for most of the day. Which may I add was a lockdown online impulse buy.

My heart swelled with pride at this almost four year old’s ability to adapt to getting pleasure from the simplest of activities.

It’s my own birthday this week too and I feel uncharacteristically calm about not having any plans. It’s no secret I am a diva and usually I pack in more than I’m up to achieving at this time of year, then get pretty upset when I crash and burn. Lockdown is providing me a safe haven with my family and I don’t have to feel sadness over people not coming out for another birthday booze, or disappointment that I didn’t lose the weight I wanted to for intended booze up, because I’m not having one.

I know this probably sounds ridiculous, maybe even a little sad, but I feel quite the opposite about it. I would love to see my family on my birthday, but I’m also glad I’ll be spending it with my very nearest and dearest, and I didn’t have to consider any other kind of strenuous activity.

I know in the long term, this new found comfort will fizzle and I will be back to climbing the walls – but for now I’m just rolling with it. Whilst keeping me and mine safe.

My only concern left for lockdown apart from the obvious and outright depressing (keeping our jobs/ home schooling etc) is how many snacks my kid is eating. The child is likely to ‘I want a snack’ us to our deaths if she’s not careful. I’ve tried and failed explaining to her we aren’t allowed to panic buy KitKats!

Article also available to read here https://www.house21.co.uk/news-opinions/love-for-lockdown/

A Decade Of Lessons

The last 10 years

Well, it’s been a testing decade that’s for sure, but it’s also been the most amazing pilgrimage of self discovery I’ve ever been on.

I feel like the last decade is where I really became an adult and anything before was part of my youth.

In 2010 I was glassed in a nightclub in an unprovoked attack whilst out with friends, and it shook me beyond measure and took me to a place I didn’t know existed. I’d been in fights before, been given a slap when I probably deserved it, in my teens, I’d even (believe it or not) been hit with a bottle before, but it hadn’t shattered the first time and this was on another level. This was in response to me just being out having a laugh with friends, and it could have left me blind. Thankfully, physically most of the scars are on my décolletage and not my face (though I do have a dent in my skull) it could have been a lot worse physically.

But despite keeping up appearances, mentally I was scarred beyond recognition. I was scared too just by the weight of the attack, but in being scared I got angry.

I went ‘mad’ for want of a better word. I was wild. Following that night every time I went out I braced myself for a row and alcohol only fuelled that self destruction. I got in more rows and fights than I’d ever had before. I rowed and physically fought with my then partner, and when I ended that relationship I continued down a rabbit hole of hell.

I did some messed up things and 2013 saw the catalyst to that phase of crazy.

I lost my job, almost my house, and I was alone. Friends had given me a wide berth and my nights out were spent with people I didn’t even really like and who only hung out with me for some drama or entertainment.

I’ve always had a need to fill the shoes of the life and soul of the party, but I’ve filled them by acting like a fool. Being the loudest, the craziest and the wildest person in the room.

I met my now partner at the end of that year. I saw the new year in in Ireland with a good friend and it was like something just clicked, an epiphany if you like, and I didn’t want to be that self destructive, unemployed mess, that I had become.

I got a job, a pretty good one, and from there life has progressed at a steady pace. The following year I was shaving my hair off for charity and raising thousands of pounds. I’ve had some backslides, like being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and it’s affect on my both my physical and mental health. Having a baby wasn’t an easy feat for me, and it can be hard work just being ‘normal’ most days, but I’m surviving it, and thriving too.

Last year my mum nearly died from a freak fall and I can say with certainty, I’ve never been as scared as I was then. It puts what’s important into perspective.

Nowadays I don’t feel like I’m falling from Beachy Head every time I wake up. I don’t want to hide for a week after a night out anymore, and I don’t wish I was dead. Even on the bad days, I’m glad to be alive.

I still feel like some days I fight stigmas and a bad reputation, but it took me a long time to make it, so I guess it’s only normal that it will take me a long while to break it, too.

That being said, my future is bright and I’m lucky. All the people in my life are in it because they want to be and contribute in some way to helping me be and feel better. So I’d say, despite all of that drama, this past decade has been pretty spectacular and I’m looking forward to the next one. Taking nothing for granted is my only resolution.

Happy new year 🥳

Save me

I started writing this last week and it’s taken me ages to finish because I have so much to say but also it could probably be more condensed. Bear with….

To anyone feeling like they’re making a mess of their life and unsure which way is up. I have some advice, it may not be the best but it comes from a place of empathy and sadly experience.

Have you ever heard the expression

‘Some people can’t be saved’

Whilst thinking about this I came to the realisation that they can, but they can only really ever save themselves.

I always say that my daughter saved me. Saved me from a depression so deep rooted, so old, it was painted shut, that it’s presence under the surface of my life was always there. If I’m being wholly honest it’s still there sometimes, but it’s not painted shut anymore, it’s not glossed over like a sash window that no longer opens. It breathes. I talk about it, honestly, and the window opens a little more each time.

Shaun helped save me too, save me from another bad decision or a kick off I couldn’t take back. But in the end it was me that picked up the broken pieces and got them ready for gluing back together.

I believe you have to hit rock bottom in order to resurface your new self. Half hearted attempts don’t work. YOU have to work for it. You have to meet your worst case scenario and move up from there, you have to feel like you have no other way to go, and I’ve been there.

I’ve lost friends, loads of them. I’ve lost a job or two inadvertently, because I couldn’t commit. But most of all I’ve felt like I had nothing left to fight for, all the anger and fear I had used previously to power me through another drama was gone. There was no risk of people I loved giving up on me because they already had.

There was no risk of being called names and gossiped about because the worst things had already been said. I had accepted I wasn’t popular because of my behaviour and so came the time I wanted to prove them all wrong. You have to want saving. You have to want to save yourself.

It’s not easy to rebuild your life when you’ve spent so long bulldozing through your happiness. When you’ve been so insecure you’ve picked apart everyone who provided reassurance. I found substance abuse is usually something that fits comfortably along side being depressed, that false sense of ‘everything will be alright tomorrow, after just one more hit’ it won’t. In fact, it’ll probably look much, much worse and you won’t remember what it is you did or said. You won’t remember who you hurt & if you do remember you’ll justify it by convincing yourself they deserved it. They may well have deserved it, but it’s YOUR mental health that will suffer because of your actions, more so than anyone else’s. It’s you that will have to pick up the pieces of your broken life and convince the auctioneer they’re worth something. You better polish them up good, so they’re shining brightly for the highest bidder because if you let them go for less than their value, they’ll be smashed to smithereens again in no time.

I don’t qualify as a mental health expert and I always feel like I’m being really patronising when I try and give advice because I remember so vividly how fucking infuriating it was when all these lovely people with lovely lives tried to help me.

In the end it was the tough love that really did the trick. It was the realisation that I was losing people I loved from my life because I didn’t know how to behave. Some relationships are still beyond repair and that’s something you have to live with when you make mistakes. Now I won’t pretend that a reputation can be erased or easily saved. It my experience, it cant. There are some people who genuinely want to see you fail and some people you might hurt too deeply to expect their forgiveness so if you’re after a quick fix to sort your life out, you won’t find it in redemption. Redemption is life long. Recovery is life long. Looking after your mental health is a commitment you have to make more eternally than any other vow. You have to pick yourself up from the gutter and swallow any pride you ever possessed. Pride is useless it doesn’t salvage anything. It wont protect you, and it definitely can’t fix you. Swallow it, even if it chokes you. Admit defeat even when you feel you were coerced into behaving like a total cunt, just admit that you fucked up. Say sorry, mean it and move on because waiting for an apology from someone who hurt you can easily end up with a life wasted on bitterness and the hope of revenge. Tell the truth even when it’s painful, because people need all the facts before they hand out forgiveness like sweets on Halloween.

So if you’re reading this and wondering if you can be saved. The answer is you CAN but the only person who can save you is you, and it’ll be so worth it.

How’s this below pic for a comparison and a bit of Monday motivation? 9 years later and with a few less bad habits life looks better, but I’m under no illusions that I’m still digging myself up from the hole I dug myself into and probably always will be. The difference is now I want to get out!

5 things not to say to someone with mental health problems.

1) But why are you depressed? What have you got to be depressed about.

Maybe nothing. Why have you got a cold when it’s warm outside? Getting the message? Things that seem trivial to some are huge for others and maybe there’s not a specific reason. Remember it’s a chemical imbalance, an illness like any other.

2) It could be worse, you need to think yourself lucky.

And you Karen, need to shut the fuck up. We know it could be worse. It could always be worse. But honestly, that’s irrelevant and unhelpful.

3) You just need to ______ (insert unsolicited advice here) go to the gym, eat better, go out more, lighten up. Etc etc.

Again, unhelpful and bordering on offensive. A) We may have already tried what you mention or B) We may not feel able or ready to tackle these ‘small’ things yet.

4) Chin up, cheer up, smile…

Suck a dick, eat shit…. see where I’m going with this?

5) At least you haven’t got____ or you’re lucky to have_____

Don’t state the obvious. This is the reason many people feel unable to speak out, in fear of being ridiculed or not taken seriously.

These things may seem obvious, they may seem a bit pedantic but to be frank, they could save someone’s life. In my experience someone who is really suffering mentally needs the opposite of what these words convey. They need a listening ear and empathy, not an I told you, you should… or a chin up! The age old saying sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me, doesn’t apply to people with depression. All it takes is a little bit of rephrasing on your part. Nobody expects you to walk on egg shells but try to put yourself in that persons shoes and ask yourself if you would find the above 5 things helpful to hear in your time of need. If the answer’s no, stop saying them!

Mindfulness

As a rule I’m not very good at mindfulness. I don’t practise it anywhere near as often as I should. I know it’s proven to work for millions of people and I am trying to warm to it, but I’ve always been a bit skeptical assuming it borders on hippyish and that’s just not me.

However I realise now I’m wrong and actually it can be as simple as getting outside for ten minutes a day and taking stock.

Today I sat by the river working on my novel and applying for yet more jobs. Feeling absolutely exhausted with corporate bollocks and rejection. I’ve been attending interviews like it’s my full time job and I’m starting to take the knock backs personally.

If you know me, you’ll know I take everything to heart and have a real complex around rejection. I decided instead to try and be rational. Give myself some time to take in the beauty of today. I know it sounds über cheesy and it’s not what you think. I don’t chant mantras or meditate (not that there’s anything wrong with those things, it’s just not very me) instead I just sat watching the river, listening to the running water of the weir and gave myself a bit of a pep talk. I always try and be thankful for the big and small things in my life. Like I have a roof over my head, a beautiful family, we don’t live on the bread line (even if we are always skint) and it was important for me to remind myself of these things today. I am a professional, I will find a job that suits me soon, it’s just taking longer than I anticipated but that’s ok.

Mindfulness is about being present, focusing on your surroundings and calmly accepting your feelings. So that’s what I did and I felt all the better for it! I was only sat there an hour, it gave me just enough time to write a synopsis and edit my copy to 3000 words. It was also enough time to feel like I’d had a break, got outdoors, took in the fresh air and got a bit of ‘me’ time in. The sunshine helps and maybe I wouldn’t of made the effort to be mindful if I’d been stuck indoors, but I plan to, going forward to get in a few minutes of mindfulness everyday.

Hamster Wheel

Do you ever feel like your on a hamster wheel?

Round and round you’re turning but you still can’t seem to heal?

You’re doing what they say, talking and moving, eating drinking.

But you’re still not able to stop your mind from over thinking.

Intrusive thoughts they grow, as if from a planted seed.

They are watered daily by you, even given feed.

You want to stop the cycle but you’re not sure how.

You try to spread awareness but it doesn’t seem to help.

You feel like you are failing, as a mother and in life.

But you’re so not failing, I wish you could see.

How strong you are getting through everyday and going about your routine.

People don’t seem to notice, but don’t do it for them.

Do it for yourself, write a journal, grab a pen.

Whatever makes you feel better is an improvement, an act of self care.

Don’t let other people’s opinions ruin your hard work.

They aren’t you, they’re not there.

You’re doing so amazing, I wish that you could see.

To others, to me, just how strong you seem.

Frank Bruno

On Saturday the 2nd March I had the pleasure of attending an evening with Frank Bruno. Being an avid boxing fan I was excited to hear about his bouts against the greats, such as Mike Tyson and Bone Crusher Smith, and of course his amazing win of the title against Oliver McCall. When these fight’s originally occurred I was very young so didn’t watch them first hand, I do however remember Mike Tyson Vs Frank Bruno 2. Purely because it was strange to have this on in my nan’s house, but there she was up late in all her glory on the date of 16th March 1996 with a Tia Maria in hand, watching this brutal rematch that would see Frank defeated a second time by the animal that is ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson. Hearing Frank speak honestly about these fights often with huge respect for the other fighters was fascinating. Even after the grudge match with Lennox Lewis, Frank regarded him with respect. He also talked about current fighters such as Chris Eubank Jnr and Tyson Fury.

But for me, the most fascinating, heart wrenching and humbling part of the evening was hearing Frank talk about his battle with Mental Health and how he started the Frank Bruno Foundation, in a bid to ‘knock out’ the stigma that still surrounds mental health today. Frank spiralled into a depression after retiring from the great sport and following the break down of his marriage. He was victim to phone tapping and harassment from the media that made him feel as though he was ‘going mad.’ He was eventually sectioned for the first time in 2003. For years following this he suffered a long and debilitating battle with mental illness and described it as his ‘toughest fight.’ When asked how he overcame his demons, Frank’s reply was ‘I haven’t, but I fight very hard, I use fitness and determination to keep me going.’ I think that’s a really important message for anyone who thinks mental illness is some kind of excuse or elaboration, and believe me, sadly those people do exist. I urge those people to read Frank’s latest book Let Me Be Frank and then decide if you still feel this is some glorified publicity stunt. This is a man who has battled with some of the toughest men in history, but found battling with his mind so much tougher. You have to admire his strength and determination as well as his courage to speak out.

After the show on Saturday we had a photo opportunity with Frank so you can imagine my excitement. I patiently awaited my turn, thinking in my head of something to say, it was probably going to be the one and only time I got to speak to him so I wanted to say something memorable. Frank talked during the evening about his battle with antidepressant medication and how he was now 4 years medication free, I wanted to tell him about my own battle trying to withdraw from the same type of drugs, but there wasn’t enough time. All I was able to stutter when my turn came around was ‘Frank, I’m so excited, shit, everything you do for mental health is amazing’ and I truly meant it. For someone in his stature use his voice to promote health and well being for people who suffer mental illness is truly commendable. We all battle demons from time to time but we tend to put celebrities on pedestals or misunderstand their motives. Frank now has his own charity in The Frank Bruno Foundation and that charity works hard to really help sufferers. He makes no excuses for his illness, blames nobody for his failings and refers to his dad as his ‘hero’ it was a truly inspirational evening and I felt privileged to have been there, obviously I paid a premium for that privilege but it was worth it. It’s a night I will probably remember for the rest of my life. I think I may have found a new hero myself.

His parting line after being asked ‘ Who hit you the hardest Frank?’ Was ‘The Taxman.’ What a legend.

10 things people without children should never say to Mothers.

10 things people without kids say to Mum’s that they need to STOP!

1: When I have children I’ll _______ The likelihood is that whatever _______ is, you wont.

2: I’d never co sleep.

When you’ve been up for 15 hours straight with a colicky baby, you’ll do almost anything to make them sleep so you can close your eyes too.

3: I know having kids is hard but everyone does it.

You haven’t done it yet Julie, so why not pipe down.

4: I would never let my kid do that! If we’re talking about eating a happy meal or an ice cream before dinner or even staying up past their bedtime, sometimes Diane, you will.

5: If my kid doesn’t eat their dinner they won’t get offered anything else.

I didn’t believe in giving your kids coco pops for tea or letting them eat off of the floor either, but when they’ve turned their nose up at 5 different meals and found a wotsit behind the sofa that they actually WANT to eat, trust me Wendy, you’ll believe in the power of orange corn puffs.

6: I’m going to establish a routine from day one. NEWS FLASH babies are human beings, that means they have their own brain, and do pretty much what the hell they like. But good luck with setting those ground rules by day 3 Keisha.

7: My kid would never get away with that!!

Ok darling. Keep me posted when they draw all over the walls in pen, punch another child for no reason or eat a tampon, feel free to give your advice on a suitable punishment.

8: All kids are the same.

NO, No they’re not.

9: I wouldn’t do that if I was you. Great thanks for that Rebecca.

Please feel free NOT to give me advice on what you wouldn’t do.

10: You look tired. YES, Yes Stacey, I am so fucking tired, my tired is tired, thanks for pointing that out.

Motherhood is hard. Mums are tired, and hormonal, and sensitive and everything in between. Please be mindful of this when giving out unwanted and it most cases unnecessary, advice.

Try saying ‘How are you feeling?’ in place of you look tired.

Or ‘Can I do anything to help?’ In place of I wouldn’t do that if I were you.

Lastly, you could just keep quiet and provide an ear to listen.

Snoring is ruining my life

It’s 2am and the drilling has started. You wake with a start and want to wake your fiancé up to tell him he’s going to have to go next door and talk to them about the noise! And that’s when you realise, it’s not the neighbours drilling again at all, it’s coming from him, he’s snoring.

So you punch him in the shoulder, probably harder than intended but you know, snoring! He then wakes with a start of his own, moans and rolls over. For all of 30 seconds it’s quiet again. 30 seconds isn’t very long. Repeat above steps until you can cope no more, so you go downstairs and join the cat on the sofa instead.

What am I complaining about? For the love of God woman, everyone snores sometimes! Yes, that’s true, but this isn’t sometimes, darling, this is Every. Single. Night!

For us, snoring has come close a number of times, to destroying our relationship. I have a chronic illness and sleep is crucial for my body to repair nightly and reduce symptoms. I cant function on less than 8 hours. Minimum. Gone are the days I can stay out until 4am and get up at 9. No, I NEED sleep. I have a child, I can’t afford to be faced with the daily fatigue that follows around Fibromyalgia sufferers after a sleepless night.

So what can I do about it you ask? Well, I do a lot of punching, and a lot of sofa sleeping. We don’t have the luxury of a third bedroom in our house, so fortunately or unfortunately, we don’t have the option not to share a room. I know, that sounds an extremity, but I know a lot of couples that have their own bedrooms based on the fact that one of them incessantly snores. In my Fiancé’s defence, he’s been to see his GP about our little but loud problem. More than once, and do you know their advice? To go on a website and read the tips. Like we haven’t read every fucking tip there is to read about snoring, online already!! Sure, thanks Doc, why didn’t I think of that? He’s already tried, nasal strips, throat spray, throat foam, even a fucking chin strap to keep his mouth closed, didn’t work. The only thing that sometimes allows me sleep is if I go to bed an hour before him and get to sleep before him, so that when he starts, I’m already asleep. Sometimes it works and sometimes he STILL wakes me up. Not to mention the fact going to bed an hour before him makes our sex life impractical and irregular, but also you lose a closeness between you. You lose the cuddle that comes before you roll over to sleep. You lose the leg over that cocoons you during the night, and although annoying makes you feel safe.

It sounds like a real first world problem, and is I guess, but it’s one that really does test our relationship. I wake up some days so resentful that his snoring has kept me from the sleep my body so desperately demands that I don’t want to talk to him. Other days he wakes up resentful that I’ve banished him to the sofa for something that’s not his fault. Out of his control. To be honest I can still hear him from the sofa, but it’s a welcome dulled down version when he’s not sharing a bed with me. I don’t know what the answer is, maybe surgery? But sleep therapy isn’t well funded by the nhs and it’s another expense we can’t afford to invest in at the moment. What’s the cost to our relationship if we don’t though? I know it’s not his fault but it makes no odds to the despair I feel nightly. Buy a bigger house? Wear ear plugs? (Tried them, can’t hear toddler in the night then though) put a pillow over his face? Maybe! The irony is apparently that I also snore pretty loudly, but I don’t keep him awake so if we’re competing then he’s still in the lead for the loudest and most annoying!

It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to live with, but I also don’t think I’ll ever be able to live without him. So here I am preparing for another shit nights sleep, and getting the pre bedtime cuddle in, just in case I have to abort the master bedroom before sleep hits, again!