Molly on the edge

Molly on the edge

Hello everyone! I am Molly, Lucy’s cousin. I’m a 22 year old young woman who has found herself ‘teetering on the edge’ far too many times. This has sometimes been a good thing as its forced me to think but sometimes it’s completely overwhelming.
When Lucy asked me if I wanted to write something for her blog, I instantly thought how? She has so much life experience and is very relatable. As in her first post, I am taking the plunge in the hope I can reduce the stigma attached to mental health and I will use this as a platform to help others. So here is my story on how I’ve been teetering on the edge.

Growing up I experienced depression and anxiety. However I didn’t completely understand what it was then. Since my adolescent years I just thought it was a part of growing up. I was told I wasn’t depressed and I was just unhappy. Family and friends would put it down to the fact I was scared about the future. I mean there are so many expectations of people these days. I would sit and think to myself, how will I ever buy a house, get a good job, earn lots of money, have a family and travel. It has taken me a good few years to understand that unless you are happy none of that really matters.

 

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Me as a bub without a care in the world

 

This time last year I was teetering on the edge of leaving an environment where I was completely comfortable. It was to make the move to somewhere completely new; Edinburgh. 6 whole hours away from friends, family and a job I was good at, to start all over again.

People would ask me; why Edinburgh? Surely you could move somewhere closer? But you have everything here in Peterborough? This is when I would explain to them that being out of my comfort zone and teetering on the edge is how I grow and I was adamant it was the right thing to do. So I said goodbye to my first love in order to do something I had ALWAYS wanted to.

When I first moved I took everything in my stride, I would meet cool people and have amazing experiences. A few months after moving things started to go downhill. I would constantly think to myself, were they right? Was this the wrong thing to do? This is when I became really depressed. I would sit in the house by myself, even showering, eating and sleeping became impossible. After driving myself insane deciding whether I was going to move back to my comfort zone Peterborough again, I realised I needed to think about and accept a few things.

Firstly, I understood that my depression was making me feel this way and in fact I wasn’t helping myself. After a few tearful facetimes to loved ones and some reckless nights out, I decided I would move back home. Once making the decision it was as if everything just suddenly seemed better. I was socialising more and started to see the positives of the world.

Before, it felt as if the eyes of the world were blind and I was stood right there in front of everyone but only I could see me. Now I feel like the whole fucking world can see me. I was here and I owned it! Reflecting on how I was feeling and how I had been teetering on the edge, I learnt that I wasn’t feeling better because I had decided to move back home, I was feeling better because I accepted that I was not OK. I’d started to embrace everything I was and this forced to communicate so much more about my mental health. I realised that moving back would not solve anything and that no matter where I was in the world I would still have these issues, I decided to tackle them head on. Don’t get me wrong, I have my dark day and it’s taken me a good few years to understand that pleasing others is such hard work and you compromise yourself in doing so. Communication is the best medicine and opportunities like this make your fingers want to write for days.F

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Taking life by the horns and living it.

 

I guess what I am trying to say is by teetering on the edge, it has sometimes enabled me to make the best decisions ever and sometimes the worst. But I am a 22-year-old young woman who will not live by the unrealistic expectations of others. I might not live my life how others would expect or want, but I am happy and I really don’t care. Growing is just about taking the plunge and just thinking to yourself fuck it. Just take each day as it comes and never overlook anything you do. I treat myself sometimes for having a shower each day and eating properly because sometimes that can be truly impossible.

I hope that this post helps others to talk and realise that there are all different types of people that experience mental health issues but all in very different ways. Look after yourselves and just think to yourself fuck it! I tell myself this on a daily basis and it seems to get me through the day.

 

Teetering on the Edge

Teetering on the Edge

Right so here it is, THE post. The post that I have been building up to. The post that will explain exactly why I wanted to start my blog. I always knew I wanted to write this but I haven’t felt ready and there were, and are, other things that I want to write about that relate back to teetering on the edge. The time is right now for some reason. Mental health is ‘trendy’ right now. Bryony Gordon and ‘Mind over Marathon’ are making it all quite normal to talk about mental well-being. I’ve also been inspired by good old Instagram, with people like @thepsychologymum, @mumologist, @drjessamy, @mrshhayward, @thefashioncraver and @luckythingsblog to name but a few, writing openly and honestly in a positive way, inspiring me. So here it is.

So if you know me, I am a pretty bubbly outgoing kinda gal. I love to have fun and am really social. I’m also a real homebody and secretly quite private, so putting this on paper is quite a big deal really. But someone recently said ‘it’s not about being brave, it’s about releasing the truth’ and this has totally stayed with me. Thank you, Emma, if you are reading this.

Through my teens I would get a black cloud every so often, but coming from a family where you don’t really talk about your emotions, I just thought it was PMT and teenage angst. To be honest it probably was both of those. I would lie on the floor of my room and listen to massive attack as loudly as humanly possible or I would draw some deep, dark and meaningful stuff, like you do when you are a teenager. I would read Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood and Ben Okri thinking what a clever twisted soul I was. Then I hit my twenties, and after having a late termination (I was in denial about being pregnant) when I was 20, the black cloud really became part of my life. Lucky for me, I had an AMAZING friendship group (you know who you are, Mel, Lisa, Jess and Kim) and with a year of counselling and getting wasted with my mates, ALOT, I got through it.

True, bestest friends who got me through dark times

Then through my 20’s I suffered horrendous PMT every so often. I just thought it was the aftermath of getting drunk 3 nights in a row, or I was getting my period. So I just cracked on with life. I met my Hubby at 24, and he must have thought I was a total psycho at times, because I was. I would just go into a black hole, usually when alcohol was involved, I would be completely irrational and at times feel suicidal. (For no. god damn. reason).  I would try and level with myself; I had a flippin great job, great mates and great boyfriend, and we had a brilliant life, but sometimes I would fall down a well that had no way out. In hindsight I wish I had seeked help then, but it just wasn’t talked about. In my head you only had depression if something awful had happened to you. I couldn’t justify how I was feeling. I felt like I was being a fake and people would be cross that I felt that way. So I just carried on.

I then became a mum, it was obviously life affirming and completely changed everything. I had a little life to care for. The black clouds still came but I could bat them away, the minute I saw his little face everything was ok. Even after little sleep or horrendous toddler illness, I could fight it. I teetered on the edge so many times as a new mum, but the joy of my baby always pulled me back.

I then got pregnant with Jesse, my second son. After 2 years of trying, a diagnosis of PCOS and a miscarriage later, I was finally pregnant. I then had a rough pregnancy; morning sickness and bouts of real lowness. But again I just carried on. The only person I talked to was my husband. I just felt like my feelings weren’t valid, I was growing a new life. I was soooo happy to be pregnant, but was feeling so black inside at times. I remember my lovely friend who had just had her third saying to me at the end of my pregnancy ‘you know, you will feel like you again, I promise.’ Would I? Once he was born, I did, the joy pulled me back. I was so happy.

Final week of pregnancy with Jesse and baby Jesse

It wasn’t until I went back to work after 11 months that the black cloud came back with a vengeance. What I used to class as PMT was lasting 3 weeks of the month. I was completely hiding it on the outside, good old bubbly Lucy, always smiling, always there for everyone, always with the banter, but inside I was dying. I felt like a bad mum, a bad wife, a bad daughter and a bad friend. (There’s a post coming on ‘The Guilt’)  I was talking to my hubby a bit about it, but it was actually my boss, who I thought had completely dismissed me after having had 2 babies and only working 4 days a week, who took me for a coffee and asked what was wrong. He asked me if I had post natal depression? That I wasn’t myself. Bloody hell! How did he know? I didn’t have PND but I did have the D.

The other turning point for me was my eldest son. I don’t know if anyone else has this with their first born? But there is an invisible channel between us. However I am feeling, no matter how hard I am hiding it, I can see it in him and his behaviour. So could my husband. When I was low, he would be totally out of sorts. When I was on good form, so was he. So, for him and my husband, I decided to see my GP and it was the best decision ever. I am very lucky as my GP is an advocate in caring for your mental health. He was truly amazing. He didn’t make me feel silly or invalid. When you have depression you are so ashamed of it, well I was. I felt like if I told someone they would somehow belittle how I was feeling. He treated me, told me I was brave, and let me cry all over him. I was so relieved. He told me that some people just don’t produce enough serotonin and its nothing to be ashamed of.

My Beautiful big boy – Bobby

I discovered the joy of exercise too. Martin had always said it would help, but I just hadn’t found the right thing. I started to swim and do circuits. It needed to be outdoors, come rain or shine. The combination of the endorphins and citalopram I started to find my balance and keep it.

We had always wanted 3 children and decided to go for number 3, my husband was worried about my mental well being, but I just thought I can be strong and get through 9 months. Golly gosh I was wrong! It was a very tough 9 months for us all. If you have read my piece for the Mama Tribe you will know I suffered from perinatal depression. I didn’t even know that this existed. I just thought you had to be happy as you were pregnant. I felt naughty as I wanted my baby so badly, and was so pleased to be having him, but that doesn’t make the black cloud go away. Without the medication and the exercise I seriously struggled. It was a trainee midwife, who I had met before, who noticed me drowning and referred me to a maternity support worker (I used to call her the mental midwife). She was lovely and supportive but didn’t make the black cloud go away. I wish I had known of PANDAS then, it would have made such a difference. But her noticing me and how I was feeling really made a huge difference.

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6 months pregnant – having had a chest infection for 3 weeks. One of my lowest points. I hoped the pink sheets and matching pjs might have helped me. They didn’t!

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36 weeks pregnant with Charlie, days before he was born – even my chin was pregnant

When Charlie was born – I was so happy to have him and get on the road back to being myself again.

Charlie was born and for various reasons, after 3 days, I chose not to breast feed him. I had fed both of my other boys, but with Charlie it just wasn’t right, and one of the main reasons was so that I could get back on the citalopram and get back to being me again. Finding the balance and the consistency. I have it now, a year on. I still teeter on the edge all the time, but I rarely fall. So many things can make me teeter, confidence in my appearance (I’m not vain, I’m human), parenting decisions. Making the right choices for my boys with school, friendships, behaviour etc. Relationship worries, not spending enough ‘nice’ time together. Not getting me time, alone. To read, write or stare at the wall. But I’m in a place now where I can recognise these things. I’m also in a place where I can recognise it in others too. We have to talk about how we are feeling. We cannot be afraid of judgement or criticism. So far on my ‘teetering on the edge’ journey all I’ve encountered is love, support and empathy.

The Mumologist and The Psychology Mum’s campaign called #howcanihelp is a positive way to share how you get through each day as a mum. Whether you have suffered with mental illness or not. Everyone has different ways of getting through each day and it can be the little things that keep you a float. Being aware of them and also reading others is truly inspirational. It can be anything from Pilates to eating a cheeseburger. So if you know anyone who feels like they are teetering on the edge, please share this. And to all the critical Instagram haters, it can be a positive, supportive virtual place if you want it to be.

Its ok to be a Grumpalo

Its ok to be a Grumpalo

 

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Me and my 8am Boot camp crew

I go to boot camp every Saturday morning with two of my very lovely friends. It starts at 8am, yes 8am on a Saturday. But honestly it is the best way to start the weekend. Its hard and most of the time I think I might be sick, even without a hangover. I always have a coffee before I go otherwise my legs feel like lead. Is that actually a thing? Legs that are addicted to caffeine? Anyway although the coffee helps my legs, it also makes me need a poo second lap of the warm up run. I then laugh through the rest of the bootcamp with my friends about the fact I drank that coffee and that it gave me a turtlehead for the rest of the class. I get home and its barely 9 am and the endorphins are flowing. The endorphins scare the demons away and make me a better parent and a nicer wife.

 

Anyway the inspiration for this post came from a chat we had in the car to and from Bootcamp. Can I just point out that its about a 4 minute drive to bootcamp, probably 8 with pick ups and drop offs. Somehow in that short time the three of us manage to put the world to rights and have some good deep and meaningfuls. I think its because the collective 8 kids between us aren’t actually there.

The journey there is always picking apart the week we just had and one particular Saturday morning my friend Sarah was feeling low about not enjoying her daughters 4th birthday. She had a made loads of effort, decorations, thoughtful pressies, an all important cake, but it all went wrong and she found herself screaming silently to herself in the ladies loos later that day. Her little girl hadn’t even noticed the negative stuff but Sarah was being really hard on herself. She then started to talk about a calm parenting course she was considering doing. Now to me, my friend is a brilliant mum to her 2 beautiful girls. She is calm, kind, funny and she would move heaven and earth for them. I am also a firm believer that as an individual we make our own choices and I will always support and respect anything anyone wants to do or spend their money on (unless its illegal of course) Chatting to my friend about this made me question my own parenting and moods and feelings and how they affect my kids. It also made me wonder why Sarah felt she needed to do this course.

Everyone is different but since I have become a freelance mama I have found that I’m a much more patient parent. Don’t get me wrong I can be seriously grumpy at times. There are other times where I have been asked for stuff so much that I flip my lid. I mean seriously flip it, where it bounces off the ceiling. But I don’t think this is going to give my kids any lasting damage. I said to my lovely friend to do the course if she felt it was going to make her feel calmer and confident but I also wanted her to not be so hard on herself. I told her this. I think so many of us parents these days are really bloody tough on ourselves. Especially us mamas. From our life affirming boot camp drives I know that these two particular friends are really hard on themselves, as am I. We are expected to be great mums, wives, friends, sisters and colleagues. Its not just that we are expected to be, we want to be and quite frankly sometimes its just too fucking much.

Its not going to do our precious kids any harm to see some light and shade. Its also not going to break their tiny ears or mean they will be a serial offender if they hear the occasional F bomb. What it means is that we are human. It teaches them that actually mummy can get sad and can quite rightly get really cross and shout if they don’t pick up their fucking dressing gown after having been asked 22 times. It teaches them that sometimes the consequences don’t just affect them.

Occasionally when I wake up there is a black cloud, I just cant seem to shake it and on these days I’m going to be a moody wotsit. I give my kids warning, it doesn’t necessarily make any difference to them but I feel a bit better about being a grumpalo if I’ve given them some notice. Kids push us, my kids spend the whole day gently nudging me to the edge of snapping. They are never quite satisfied and will always push for a bit more… an extra biscuit, another story, 5 more minutes at the park and I test myself to see if I can say yes more times in a day than I say no. But I always get to the NO in the end and there is nothing wrong with this. We can be kind, gentle and fun parents and still get irrationally cross, still drop the occasional F bomb. Our kids wont be damaged, they will still be happy (and occasionally annoying of course) and be a bit more rounded. So to my lovely friend, you do that course if it will make you feel happier and calmer but I bet everything they tell you is what you already know and do. But that in itself is worth it. Sometimes we just need a bit of affirmation.

A Great Responsibility

A Great Responsibility

It’s International Women’s day today and what a great day it is. I’m definitely a feminist, I believe that women can be whatever they want to be and everything they want to be. A modern feminist, an Emma Watson feminist. I am girly, I wear makeup, lipstick the whole shabang. I LOVE clothes and shoes, I have a high voice. I love pink, especially the orangey coral variety…. I am definitely a feminist. Girls can grow up to be a mother/wife/entrepreneur/business woman/employee/athlete/footballer etc etc. All of these or just a selection. I also believe that anyone can be anything they want to be with enough drive, heart and positivity.

As a mum of 3 boys I have a great responsibility to raise them as feminists. They need to know that girls are just as good at everything, and sometimes better, and not at the things that they are conditioned to believe.

I have 3 boys who are sporty (two eldest and my hubby, there is hope for Charlie yet, I feel like he might inherit my love of colour, design etc instead but I doubt it).  They live and breathe football and sport. Unfortunately I’m not really sporty. I like exercise and I’m ok at skiing, but I just don’t have that thing in me that drives you in sport. So any way, I feel a pressure to prove to them that girls are just as good. Thank God for footy pups on Ceebeebies…. Rachel Yankey, massive high five. Rocky Clarke and Kat Merchant, the most capped England ladies rugby players ever live in my little town, and I have attended many of their boot camp classes. They are seriously cool. My beautiful strong friend Nikitta who is glamourous and feminine and a super well hard rugby player. My boys are always VERY impressed with her collection of bruises after a game.

My sons football team is all inclusive and there are two girls who are phenomenal and one who plays for Arsenal junior ladies already, aged just 8. Bobby is furious when I’m cheering louder for Abbie and Katie than him. I just cant help it. GO ON THE GIRLS. I make sure that they are fully aware of all these females. Obviously its not just about sports women, but these are the ones who impress their four and seven year old minds. The women on Ninja warrior….. the girls on Bear Grylls survivor show on CITV. If they were old enough I would have made them watch the last two series of SAS survivor on BBC2… those girls were mentally and physically tough. So you get my point? As they get older they will realise its not just about sport, its about politics, education, music, the arts etc etc.

This post could go on and on I could talk about making sure they see me naked (my 3 babies, 3 C sections ravaged body is definitely keepin it real). I teeter on the edge of my insecurities about becoming a stay at home mum, who does still work, but doesn’t get on a train every day. The fact my role has changed and I now do all the washing, ironing etc, but this is just circumstance and daddy would do it too if our circumstances

changed. My seven year old who keeps telling me I look sooooooooo different before I’ve had a shower in the morning. The other day he told me I looked all shiny after I had put on my make up and done my hair. (which is EVERY. DAMN. DAY – post coming about that)

 

Anyway you get my point…. feminism isn’t just about women. And I’m taking my role very seriously. My boys will grow up to be bad ass feminists and VERY good boyfriends if it kills me.

 

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me and my crew of hardcore mamas who have just run the Chiltern warrior race. My boys came to watch and saw me commando crawl through mud tunnels.

 

 

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Me and my crew of feminists on international women’s day