Confessions of a chronically ill mum #12

Three months I’ve been writing these, and they are basically just a way for me to brain dump, to offload and overshare. However, when I look back to number one, I can also see personal growth. Those confessions I wrote in the first few chapters of COACIM were so much bigger than the ones I’m bringing to you now, and that’s because things have changed.

So what’s been happening? A lot actually. But before I get into it, I have to admit that having Shaun off over Easter for a week was undeniably helpful. This week, I am feeling done in. My joints hurt, I have brain fog, migraine symptoms and generally feel under par. It’s only two weeks since I last felt like this which is proper shit as it means this menstrual cycle, PMDD and Fibro symptoms are massively overlapping, and ergo exacerbated. The last week of the Easter hols was just me and the kids, and surviving that after a week away and all of us contracting norovirus, along with my normal and new symptoms, was pretty tough going.

You know what though, I’m proud of me. I’ve been relentless with this PMD Awareness month stuff, now having raised over £500. I’ve had so much support, mostly from strangers online as per, and those IRL proper mates that show up for you whatever shit you’re spouting about on the gram. I also participated in two instagram lives, one with IAPMD and one with The PMDD Collective; you can check them out below.

LIVE with Brett from IAPMD
LIVE with Emily and Ally from
The PMDD Collective

I’ve finally got childcare sorted for going back to work. Kaiser has had his settling in sessions, he did really well, especially as it’s at two different settings. We’ve been together for such a long while now that I imagined him to be clingier, turns out if you have snacks and give him lots of attention, he’s anyones’

I have a few things going on health wise. Mentally, I’m trying to prepare for being discharged from the perinatal service, and it’ll come as no surprise that one of my confessions is that, I’m terrified. I’m worried of how I will measure up without a team of people supporting me and fighting my corner. Physically I’m still waiting on test results for a second diabetes check, and appointments for my heart issues as well as physio.

I’m due to return to my job in less than a week, so I’ll have to adjust to life back on the 9-5 for those two days. I’ll confess that I’m not looking forward to it. To say that I am would be a lie. In all honesty, it’s nothing to do with work, they’ve been great and supportive. It’s all to do with me! The reality is I don’t know how I’m going to fair as an increasingly disabled person, and mother of two other persons, back in the working world. With our financial situation as it is at the moment though, there is no other viable option and this makes me very stressed indeed. I feel like I am only just coming through my recovery journey of perinatal mental illness and regaining my mobility, whilst still managing an ever increasing list of health problems, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think work was going to upset the equilibrium I’ve finally established in my everyday life.

I’ve realised since being involved with IAPMD this month how much I love my advocacy work and I’d really love to be able to keep giving back, writing and making a difference but again, I don’t know how achievable that will be once I’m back doing what I have to, to put food on the table. That said I still really want to expand my blog, upload the fiction I’ve been working on and share that with you all. I also have a new interactive feature coming soon!

Dear Steph is a new agony aunt style feature where I’ll be answering your questions about almost anything! Just for fun. My friend Amy keeps on telling me how wise I am, and during my collaborative work with House21 I was often told I should cameo on their Dear Donna feature! So I thought fuck it, and decided to go for it.

I hope you’ll send in your problems or confessions for me to comment on to divamumsteph@hotmail.com adding Dear Steph in the subject line. It can be 100% anonymous if you so wish. Serious and funny/questions/problems welcome.

There are a few restrictions, mainly because I need to protect myself and make sure I’m offering support to anyone who writes in. (Knowing my luck nobody will -LOL)

Important to note, I’m not a professional so if your topic includes any of the following please seek professional support.

  • Sexual assault
  • Illegal activity
  • Health issues that require a medical opinion or further investigation.

I will happily give my advice, personal opinions and share my experience on mental health and or chronic illness, but if you require specific medical advice please seek support from a qualified practitioner.

I want to hear your most embarrassing moments and comment on them (no judgement here) I want to hear about your relationships, struggles, motherhood woes and workplace dramas. Is your mother in law driving you up the wall? Have you fallen out with your best friend? Maybe your partner is giving you the ick? Or are your kids’ as feral as mine and you need some reassurance that it gets easier? Basically I’m trying to fulfil one of my younger selfs’ dreams of having my own agony aunt column in the back of That’s Life magazine. So do me a solid and send in your woes and faux! Dear Steph will start as soon as your emails come in, and I’ll respond to one a week, once a week, on a Thursday.

DM To Collab…..

Ok so here’s the thing. You’ve recently started growing your social media following and brands are approaching you with exclusive discounts. You think wow someone wants to work with me and bite their hand off for a freebie. Maybe it’s an umbrella from Amazon that someone is asking you to write a review for. Maybe they want to send you an exclusive discount code for recruiting brand ambassadors, or maybe they’re trying to sell you weight loss products because youd be perfect to represent their brand.

You don’t consider your self an influencer so you feel like you’re lucky to have any kind of opportunity for a freebie and you snap each one up eagerly. Next thing you know you have to write a caption bigging up an umbrella in the middle of a heatwave or promote weight loss shakes that taste like sick and give you a headache for a week.

The moral to this story is – Don’t fake it. If you don’t believe in something don’t try and sell it for a freebie. Because in doing so, you’re committing to work for free for a product you don’t even believe in yourself. The reason I’m writing about this now is because I was that girl who tried and failed to promote an umbrella. I hate umbrellas, they’re awkward, they get in the way and almost always break upon second use. Instead of saying that though, I tried to write a catchy caption about why this plain and badly made umbrella was the highlight of my week. I had a better experience when I stole one from the brolly bin on exiting a Cardiff restaurant during an April downpour.

Also noteworthy, if someone is commenting on your picture dm us to collab I can 99% guarantee that they are doing the exact same on another 1000 posts each week. Maybe even several times a week, thus meaning their collab offer is likely to be no more than an invite to apply. Or maybe it’s a discount code and an expectation on you to produce content for them, for FREE.

After learning the hard way that most people’s ideas of collaborations are in fact expectations, I now strictly only work with brands that work for me! Meaning I only promote products I am interested in, or that represent what I’m about. For example I recently collaborated with Royce Lingerie to promote their blossom bra, a non wired bra available in my mega size of a H cup.

Likewise I’ve promoted menstrual cups and self care products that promote wellbeing for women’s health. Being a chronic illness and mental health blogger as well as a mum means there are not always opportunities in abundance for product reviews or PR posts.

However, even if there were, I will never promote products that make false promises such as shakes that claim to contain all the nutrients you’ll ever need to sustain a healthy lifestyle, or pills and supplements that claim to fix health problems.

Be a grey goose in a pond full of swans

Suffering from chronic illness makes you a less than desirable candidate for some brands, as do my personal and often very sweary captions. I recently got offered a collaboration with a well know sanitary production company. I sent them all my insights and they asked me to be part of their latest campaign. I agreed, but upon them viewing my grid I was not deemed appropriate because of some of the language I use. Eg – I say Fuck, a lot! But that’s fine, because I don’t work for these brands. I created a blog as an outlet and a space to share my experiences, if I get offered payment or freebies of products that I’m interested in, I consider it a bonus. I’m not prepared sacrifice my integrity for a tub of Slimfast or some free tampons. If your purpose in life is to be an influencer then this blog might go against the grain. You may be thinking any work is work and that’s absolutely your choice. I don’t look down on people who have #Ads all over their grids, it’s just not for me. I don’t DM to collaborate with brands because I believe if they really wanted to work with me they would in fact be reaching out to me to offer me a collaboration opportunity.

I’m not suggesting you never do the reaching, I think it’s great to network and let people know you’re interested in their products but what I am saying is these secondary accounts commenting on your photos are not likely to make you the next big thing. And remember huns, that being famous on Instagram is the equivalent to being rich in monopoly….. #justsaying

Example caption from one of my recent grid posts