Self care as a new Mum

Before my beautiful little rainbow girl arrived at the end of July, I took a lot of little things for granted. For instance:

  • A hot shower. I know, mad right! But OMG it is hard to find the time, plus the Mum guilt! I cannot even begin to tell you how bad that is! If I leave her for even five minutes I feel bad, but she’s either with her Daddy or her Grandma, so why do I worry?! Anyway, back to the list.
  • Manicures! Oh I miss my lovely, sparkly nails. They have been replaced by chewed stumps. I’m not over exaggerating. They’re a mess!
  • A lie in. OK, I knew that one would go, and I hadn’t had a proper night’s sleep in months, due to feeling like a beached whale, but the sleep deprivation is probably the hardest one to get used to.
  • A hot drink. Once that beautiful bundle is in your arms, you don’t want to put them down, so if someone does make you a hot drink then chances are it will be lukewarm at best by the time you get around to drinking it.

The above might seem trivial, but the message behind it isn’t. Becoming a parent is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, but it’s also the hardest. I wouldn’t change it for anything, but I have realised the importance of looking after yourself. It is far too easy to keep pushing yourself to keep going and going, but that’s only going to end one way, badly. You have to give yourself a break, even if it’s just ten minutes to have that hot shower. You will feel so much better afterwards.

I think one of the best things you can do for yourself is talk to someone if you’re struggling. I have a few friends who had babies around the same time, and being able to tell them all of my neurotic worries always helps as they’ve usually had the same ones. I still have lots of freak outs about whether I’m doing things right, but when I manage to think logically for more than ten seconds I realise I am.

At times it can feel incredibly lonely as a new parent, but there is such a huge network of people out there willing to listen and help, including me, so remember you are NOT alone, and you CAN do this.

 

 

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Semicolon Slippery Pig

Great title, right?

As you may know if you’ve read any of my posts over the last week or so, I have had a bit of a major flare up with my anxiety and have struggled quite a lot. At the moment I feel OK, but I never take that for granted as unfortunately my anxiety can strike whenever it feels like it.

I saw my therapist yesterday and had a really random, but good chat about things. I told him I feel as though I’m on pause, like I’m waiting for something to happen. I don’t know what or why, but I’ve felt like that for a while now. He was talking about different stages in life and how they can relate to meaningful periods. For instance, 50 is often considered as mid life and people can make rather big decisions about their life as there is still plenty of time to make changes if they feel they are needed. At 80 it can be seen as though acceptance has been reached as it is rare for any big changes to be made at this point. I am apparently at the other phase, the ‘is this it’ time, but I know this isn’t it and there is plenty of time to find out what else life has to offer. We talked about it in terms of punctuation marks, so 80 can be seen as the full stop, 50 is the colon and 25 – 35 is the semicolon.

It was serendipity that he mentioned the semicolon as that is something I had been talking about the day before in relation to mental health, and my potential desire to have a tattoo. As the semicolon has become a worldwide symbol for mental health I was looking at incorporating it into something as a reminder that although anxiety can feel like the worst thing ever, it will pass. Also as a reminder that you can survive it. Just to say that I am the world’s biggest softie and HATE needles. I mean really hate them. I have no pain threshold whatsoever, but for some reason the idea of having a tattoo that holds a real meaning for me feels right. I also think the pain would help make me more aware of what I can tolerate. I don’t mean that to sound big headed or cheesy, it just feels right for me.

So, the slippery pig! Well, because there isn’t one specific trigger for my symptoms, my therapist called my anxiety a slippery pig that couldn’t be contained. Makes perfect sense when you look at it like that, right?

Don’t worry, my tattoo won’t be a semicolon on the back of a pig, promise!

 

Anxiety is definitely Physical

For the past week I’ve felt pretty dreadful: temperature, earache, stiff neck, shaky and tired. I put it down to being a virus as everyone catches them at some point. However, once the crappy feeling passed, the shakiness increased, my sleep pattern became really messed up and my concentration went the same way as my motivation, on a permanent holiday.

I haven’t really felt like me for so long that I’m not sure what’s real and what’s part of my well rehearsed act. I do know that over the last few days I’ve been overwhelmed by anxiety, and am exhausted from the physical symptoms that come with it. I have been shaking pretty much constantly for a week. It feels as though I am shaking internally as well as my hands shaking and legs feeling like jelly. My heart is racing to the point that I can hear the blood pumping in my ears. I’m tired, really tired, but can’t sleep as my mind is racing in conjunction with my heart.

I have been to see the doctor, one I haven’t seen before, and he was wonderful. He didn’t rush me. He let me fall apart without judging. He was straightforward and empathetic, exactly what I needed. As someone who is always happy to listen to others, I often forget how much talking to someone about how I feel helps me. I bottle it all up and keep going as I’m terrified that if I stop it will all come out and I won’t know how to deal with it. However, that then causes all of these awful physical symptoms I’ve been experiencing. For someone who has been dealing with anxiety for years I can be a right dumbass sometimes!Β 

Right now I feel calm. Yes, I have a raging headache. Yes, my neck and shoulders are so tight that it hurts to move. Yes, I feel like I could sleep for a week. But, the shakiness is subsiding, and the overwhelming urge to run away is lessening, and that is such a bonus that I’ll take that as a mini win. For now I won’t worry (as much) about tomorrow, I won’t even worry about whether I’ll sleep tonight. I’ll just concentrate on breathing and being grateful for what I have.Β 

Reasons To Be Thankful

We’re all feeling pretty rubbish right now, aren’t we.

2016 has not been kind to us, in so many ways. I had really high hopes following the worst year of my life in 2015, but someone else (the Universe, the masses, God, an evil fairy?!) had other plans. I’m currently feeling very unwell and pretty sorry for myself, something I’m pretty good at. I also usually tend to feel extra emotional and nostalgic when I’m forced to rest, so be prepared for some properly cheesy writing…

For a very, very long time I kept things bottled up as I didn’t want to burden someone else with my issues. I probably also thought that my problems weren’t that important, so was too embarrassed to ask for help. I realise now (here’s the nostalgia) that looking back at all of that pretending to be OK and holding in how I really felt led to a lot of unhappy times, and illness, emotionally and physically. It has only been in the last couple of years that I have learned that asking for help is a good thing, and that I am not on my own with how I feel. Realising this was a huge turning point for me. It is not easy, and there are plenty of bumps in the road (even now), but putting the effort in certainly has made a positive impact on me.

Knowing that everyone out there is feeling a little/lot sore and bruised right now, and that I can’t do anything to make that better isn’t great. However, if we all do just one thing that might make a positive change to someone else, isn’t it the perfect time to try? It can be as little as smiling at someone who looks upset. I feel like I repeat myself a lot in my posts, but I also feel like I really cannot express the importance of kindness. None of us know what someone else is dealing with, yet we apparently judge someone within 90 seconds of meeting them. Pretty harsh when you think about it.

While I’m sat here on enforced rest, I’ve been thinking about the things I am grateful for, and one of the big ones is all of the wonderful people I know, some of whom are the furthest away from me yet it feels as though there is no distance. When I first started writing this blog, I never thought I would meet so many amazing people who had been through good and bad times and were prepared to share these experiences with me. I didn’t know I’d be pushed to my limits by heartbreak and loss, or that I’d make it out the other side. But in order to make it I needed help and support, and I received it without even asking from you lovely people out there, some of whom I probably will never meet.

So, at this really turbulent time where so much is up in the air I want to say thank you.

Thank you to the people who take the time to send kind words. Thank you to those of you who picked me up when I thought I couldn’t get back on my feet. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. Thank you for being you.

With kindness and just a little bit of time, we can help each other through.

The Recurring Nightmare in Day Time

My struggle with anxiety was something I thought I had under control, or at least I had learned to understand and deal with. It had fallen in to a pattern of sorts, so I knew what to expect and eventually how to cope with it. For some unknown reason however, it has decided to up its hold on me over the last week, with a horrible increase in physical symptoms. It’s not all the time, but when it hits I really know about it.

My main symptoms are:

  • racing heart
  • fluttering feeling in my stomach (more intense than butterflies)
  • nausea
  • shaking
  • extreme tiredness
  • urge to cry
  • overwhelming desire to run away

 

If you saw me when I’m having an attack you probably wouldn’t be able to tell. I’m pretty good at hiding it. I think the only obvious sign that something isn’t quite right is that I become very quiet. Anyone who knows me will tell you I talk, a lot!

My coping mechanisms:

  • focus on regulating my breathing
  • sit if I can and stay still
  • tell someone I trust what is happening
  • wait for it to settle

 

Not exactly scientific or mind blowing, but I think you have to find what works for you.

If I could get one message across to people reading this it would be: never assume someone is OK. You have no idea what they are dealing with. Be kind, always.

If you are suffering with anxiety then please know you are not alone. It is much more common than you think. It is also not a sign of weakness. If you would like to talk to someone then feel free to send me a message: hellofaireyclarey@gmail.com

It will get better.