The Silent Struggle Of Depression

This post is one of the hardest things I will ever write, not because I don’t have the words, but because I am not sure I have the courage. Chances are, if you’re reading this then I braved it!

For years I have struggled with my emotions; up until age 13 I’m not really sure I had any to be quite honest, my heart was locked away. Life had not been ideal to say the least. I was a very broken girl, desperate to feel good enough. (This will be a blog post one day in the future when I’m feeling mightily courageous.)

When I look back now I think the cloud I call depression set in very early on in my childhood. I just didn’t know it. It crept up very slowly, and as more and more baggage got hurled onto my shoulders I let the cloud consume my every breath. I was ashamed of how I felt. I was confused by how I felt. Feeling everything all at once yet being so numb and feeling nothing is a very bizarre, limbo-type state of mind.

As the years went by I learnt how to deal with my cloud in various ways. Self-harm was one of the routes I frequented daily, sometimes it was a quick hello, other times it was more, way more. I won’t go into detail here, as I have already said I’m sure my life will be a blog post one day, but just to give you the jist.

My childhood meant I didn’t know how to deal with emotions or problems. I only knew secrets, shame, and aggression. This has made life so difficult, sometimes unbearable, but I am through the other side now, there is a light, you just got to keep on walking, or crawling!

To cut a very, very long story short, my cloud and it’s friends followed me through my every waking moment all the way into my late twenties, when one day a little miracle awoke my sad, self destructive soul; I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I were over the moon. On that day, 27th February 2010, I vowed to never self harm again. This was over four years ago – I’ve never broken that promise. It’s been four long years but I did it! I am not saying I haven’t been tempted because I have. I can go months without giving it a second thought, then along comes a speed bump and bam, it’s all I can think about for days. I have cried in desperation sometimes for the few seconds of relief it will give me, but I have remained steadfast. Some days are hard, some are not, but ALL are doable!

This post, though, isn’t meant to be about my struggle with destructive behaviours, it’s about the silent struggle so many people face; depression.

When I became pregnant, and instantaneously gave up self harm, ( I’d tried since the age of nine, so it was definitely miraculous 16 years later) I assumed my cloud would be going too, how wrong I was. It’s taken me a long time, 28 years in fact, to admit out loud that I suffer with depression. It’s hard to grasp that depression is a chemistry flaw NOT a character flaw. There is so much stigma attached to mental illness. You’re told to pull your socks up, that it will pass, and made to feel weak, when in fact this is so far from the actual reality of this illness. Depression is an illness, a decaying, nasty, debilitating one, I wouldn’t wish it upon anybody.

Some days are good, some months are good, and then sure enough the big black cloud rears it’s ugly, unwanted head and lands on your shoulders. Sometimes it takes you out, total wipeout, other times you have to just plod on through the cloud and cling on to the hope that it will pass.

Since having my children my cloud has reached new heights, some due to sleep deprivation, some due to a post-natal cloud. I’ve experienced enough, and researched enough over the last 21 years to self-diagnose my cloud. I believe medication for mental illnesses is a marvellous thing, and advise anyone suffering to go and seek medical advice, however I have chosen to take a non-medicinal route at this time. There are lots of reasons for this, both sensible and not so sensible, but I’m a very stubborn girl, ask my husband!

Sometimes the cloud is away for months; life’s peaceful, enjoyable, I savour every moment. Sometimes the cloud arrives for a week; I wake up wishing I hadn’t, I cry, I feel numb, nothing is enjoyable, I hate myself, I feel a terrible mother, I can’t sleep, I don’t want to eat, I push my husband away. When the cloud arrives you feel so alone, ashamed even, but do you know what? – that’s far from the truth! So many people will relate to you. Depression doesn’t make you any less of a person, it’s taken me a long time to grasp this, and I’m all for smashing the stigmas of mental health! Don’t fight your battle alone. People will not think you’re crazy, your children would not be better off somewhere else, and your friends won’t dessert you. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Self-stigma is the worst! Go chat to someone, they won’t have a cure, but the weight of your secret struggle will be lightened. Being a momma is hard enough without a secret battle.

I personally have had a very good five months cloud wise, but only because I’ve learnt the art of plodding on. Of course there’s been bad days, horrendous days in fact (the kind where you hope you don’t wake up tomorrow etc), but I’ve chatted them through with my husband, and the secret shame is lifted, then I’ve put my head down and focussed on getting through the day; plodding on regardless. Yes it’s hard. Life is.

I could go on for days about my own experiences and feelings, but I won’t bore you. I just want people to know they’re not alone. You’re not hopeless, and you’re most definitely not crazy!

Here’s to cloudless days!

Do You Encourage Your Children Enough?

Do you encourage your children enough?

Being a momma can be such a tiring job. Don’t get me wrong, I am besotted with my babies, and I’d sacrifice my life for them, but it is an exhausting role being a momma, and it’s ok to feel like that. It’s ok to mentally pack your suitcase, it’s ok to dream of walking out the door, it’s ok to cry into your pillow every once in a while, and it’s ok to have regrets; you’re only human! What’s not ok is venting our own hang-ups, disappointments, annoyances, tiredness, anger, hurts, and negativity onto our precious babies.

We all have those moments, those outbursts we’d rather forget – the moments we turn into a Momster; you woke late, the kids woke grumpy, the iron blew up, the milk was off, the kids wiped a bogey on your clean clothes, milk got spilt, you have a headache, there’s tears over an unsticky sticker, there’s throwing, kicking, screaming, pushing, Cheerios are all over the sofa, nobody wants to get dressed, poopy nappies, and stress levels rocket. In those moments I try to stay cool and calm, and sometimes I do, but sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I yell, my frustration and tiredness take over, but one thing I never do is belittle my children. I never want to chisel away any of their confidence or self esteem. A good self esteem is one of the most important things you can nurture in your children.

Helping your child understand they’re not a failure, just because something they did failed, will give them a solid foundation to base their future upon. When they cry and yell because they’re frustrated they’ve failed at their favourite game, try offering your help and reassure them in trying again, instead of getting annoyed at the whining and the tears. Show them how to handle difficult emotions.

When your child sees you looking in the mirror, never criticise yourself, affirm who you are, they will then learn to affirm themselves. This is a key ingredient in leading a happy life.

I tell my children countless times a day that I love them, and this will always be the case. I snuggle them, I hold them, I high-five them, I tell them they’re the best things since sliced bread. They love being loved; it melts stubbornness, it heals hurts, it wipes away tears.

I get tired of hearing the way some parents talk to their children, and I have to bite my lip. My biggest peeve is hearing a toddler being scolded with “Who the hell do you think you are?!” I mean what kind of stupidity is this? Who do they think they are? Chances are with comments like this they think they’re a nobody. This corrodes self worth, even that of a toddler.

Our words bring life and death. We even have to discipline with love. Disciplining your child isn’t about making sure they know who’s boss and making them feel like a nobody and unimportant. Discipline is about showing them which behavioural path they need to choose, and the best teacher is Mr Example; they watch everything you do and hear everything you say so be very selective.

Our little rascals need affirmation constantly. They need praise; good listening, tidying, being thoughtful, good manners, artwork, trying something new. Praise goes a long way in raising a child who believes in themselves. It’s much easier to build self worth into a child than it is in an adult. I make a conscious effort all day long to praise my children for both big and little things. They’re little faces beam with pride when they know mummy noticed how particularly good they were. I want them to know they’re good enough just as they are, and always will be.

Take the extra few minutes for that second book they are nagging you to read, let them lick the spoon then dip it proudly back into the cake mixture, let them have a water fight in the garden, let them paint each other then throw them in the bath, just let them be. Live a life full of more yes’ than no’s. Live a life of love, lots and lots of love, it conquers all things.

In the beginning

May 2014…

Once upon a time I had a blog, or two, and then life got in the way.

Almost four years into motherhood, and here’s to a fresh writing start; the highs, the lows, the joys, the tears, the worries, the fun, the happy memories, and the heartaches.

I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with you all.