Overwhelm

I like to be busy. It makes me happy.

My mind is busy and I’m constantly thinking of what I could be doing when I’m doing something else. That’s fine. I’m used to that.

It’s not so good when I cross that line. When busy turns into ‘too much’. When the familiar feelings of overwhelm creep in. I know the signs. I start to feel exhausted but unable to sleep. I can’t focus too long. I make silly mistakes at work or I get more clumsy at home. I’m a bit irritable.

Any new information feels like an overload on my already loaded mind. I know where it leads and I’m not going there so I take action.

I stop. Reset. Think about how I can help myself this time. What do I need?

I tell someone. Anyone. Sometimes a few people who I know can help. Always a friend for the support. This time a colleague too so they can enable some space at work. Then I reach for my journal and get writing. Sometimes it’s a list or sometimes a narrative. I just let myself write. Get what’s in my head onto paper.

Then I eat. Nourishing food. And then I try to spend some time outdoors. Maybe a walk. Or just sitting. But outside in nature. I want to be in the world not with it! I try and be by myself.

There lies one of my triggers – the opportunity to be alone in my life is not a common practice. It’s something I really have to work on. Remind myself to do. I love my family and my life but I love myself too and that needs care too.

I trained to be a mental health first aider last week and I loved the course but my god it was intensive! Studying subjects such as depression and suicide does that to you. I realised that my life has been affected so much by poor mental health. Not just my own but my family and friends too.

It’s good to reflect and I feel so grateful I have lived through those experiences so I can move away from my own trauma in order to help others. I feel like I’m on my way but I recognise I need to keep myself firmly on top of my priority list. Without good mental health, there is no health.

Where do you feature on your priority list? And how do you manage your own overwhelm? Let me know.

As always be kind to yourself and each other.

My quiet place

We had a holiday!

A holiday with a adhd child is not really a holiday. It’s more like parenting in a different place. With lots of new challenges thrown in. Sometimes – often when we’re in the middle of it -we wonder why on earth we still do it. Why we keep trying even it’s exhausting and relentless. But we do.

For there are some wonderful times. Some magical moments. Like when Jess is in her element decorating cupcakes, painting pottery or flying around skating! But there’s some tough moments too like when her high expectations aren’t met, or something isn’t perfect, or just too loud. She gets overstimulated very easily, and her mood switches very quickly often without warning.

We find it hard to relax as we have to be on guard! She has a lot of anxiety, fear and anger inside of her. And it can explode at any time.

So yes we’ve had a fabulous time here but it’s exhausting too. This photo taken earlier is proof of that!

It’s all too much for daddy!

This year we went to centre parcs so we booked the same lodge as last time so everything was familiar to Jess. We booked the itinerary with her. We put lots of breaks and down time in. We were flexible on EVERYTHING. She has some 1:1 time with me when things were getting too much. Every day she had creative followed by an activity. We had lots of snacks on hand.

We’re learning!!

Sleep

I love sleep. I can sleep anywhere. I dream of sleep.

I stupidly thought that my children would love sleep too. They don’t.

My son doesn’t like to sleep as he thinks he’s missing out on something fun. But he knows when he’s tired. Knows when he needs to sleep. And after a story or five, is quite happy to drift off to the land or nod.

My daughter on the other hand is the complete opposite. She doesn’t recognise when she is tired. Or when she needs to switch off. Or why she even needs sleep. She finds it hard to go to sleep and she wakes in the night frequently.

I’ve been writing about her inability to sleep for many years. Even as a baby she only ever had 30 minute naps. I heard all about babies who slept for 1/2 hours and wondered where I was going wrong! She has always gone to bed much later than her peers, woke most nights and still got up at dawn. Plus she can’t go to sleep by herself – she gets very scared – so I’ve been siting by her bedside for 10 years now.

We have tried pretty much all of the sleep tips. Lavender pillows, sleep mist, CDs, mediation, massage, yoga, warm baths, Shaun the sheep, no reading at bedtime, late night exercise, no naps, no sweets, no screen time, etc. It takes all my patience to not roll my eyes when a new acquaintance gives me a new tip!

When she was 6 she even went to sleep therapy. Therapy to help her sleep. We learnt about foods to make her sleepy, a routine to help her switch off and lots of tips. I could write a book just on those tips! Firstly we had to starve her of sleep and then we had to gradually move her bedtime forward. It worked. For about 6 weeks. And then it didn’t work. Nothing had changed apart from her adhd brain which had figured out our plan!

80% of all adhd children have trouble sleeping. Sometimes it helps me to think there are other parents sitting with their child gone midnight dreaming they would sleep so they could too. Sometimes this just makes me very sad. Poor children. Poor families.

 What is grief? 

I’m feeling overwhelmed with life at the moment. Losing a parent feels too much. Carrying on with ‘normal’ life feels too much. Parenting is too much. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m exhausted. I’m putting on a brave face. 

This feels like depression. But it’s grief. But what is grief? 

Grief is having an okay day and then bursting into tears in the post office. 

Grief is the non stop flow of tears for hours. 

Grief takes me to the bottom of the garden to find solace and to talk to my dad. 

Grief finds me listening to dads last message on voicemail over and over again. 

Grief makes me feel numb. 

Grief forgets hes not around anymore. Until I reach for the telephone on a Sunday night and remember he can’t answer. 

Grief wakes me in the night with a memory so clear I don’t want to sleep again in case I lose it. 

Grief makes me wonder how I will get over this. How everyone expects me to be ‘moving on’ now that the funeral has happened. 

Grief makes me want to stand at a grave side and lay a Father’s Day card. But there is no grave which I find very hard. 

Grief is rage. A sudden intense rage that fills me up and explodes at a great velocity. Angry that life is unfair. Angry that I wasn’t ready for this. Angry I don’t get to say goodbye. 

Grief is all this and more. Mostly things I can’t find an explanation for. 8 weeks on and I’m finding life very raw and difficult. 

Somebody told me recently they were sorry I was suffering with grief but this is the price we pay for loving someone so deeply. This comforted me and I imagine one day I will feel richer because of it rather than another day red eyed and sad. 

The fog has returned 

A few months ago I tried to come off my antidepressants. I had full support from my doctor, my husband and myself. Unfortunately things didn’t go to plan and I struggled to cope with the feelings that arose from withdrawal. I hesitated for a short time and then started retaking my drugs. 

How glad I did. 

Fast forward to today.  

My dad died three weeks ago. Suddenly. Unexpected. Unwanted. 

Grief is as heavy as depression was. Heavier in some ways. The first and last thing I think about every day. Feel surrounded by a bubble not really in the real world. Don’t want to move most days. Don’t want to parent. Some days I want to cry. Some days I can’t cry. Numb. Body feels heavy. Crawling through that thick fog again. 

The difference is that this time there are others with me. Under the grief. Some are running ahead finding a way out of the fog. Some are giving me food. Some are quite literally holding me up so I can move forward. Sometimes they leave me to rest. Sometimes they carry me onwards. I don’t feel alone. 

I wasn’t ready for this time. I wasn’t ready to lose one of my parents. Half of me. The one I have struggled with the most but the one who I have felt closer to in the last year than the rest of my 39 years. I think I’ve been trying to save him. Bring him physically and mentally closer to me. And he was getting there. He had battled his own mental health. He was winning. His mind getting stronger each day. Little did we know that his body was growing weak, and 3 weeks ago his heart stopped working. Just stopped. And he took his last breath – on the streets of the town he loved – and he died. 

So ironic in some respects. He died of natural causes after battling his own depression for so long. It sounds like one of his bad jokes. He told the worst ones I’ve ever heard. Made his life lighter and brighter. Made me cringe and shake my head. 

I could write forever about my dad. And my grief. And I will continue to. This blog was originally about my depression but appropriately it’s now about my dad who battled so hard with his. 

He has gone. But he will never be forgotten. He lives on in me. 

The Hummingbird has flown 

The other day a good friend bought me a hummingbird figurine to represent how far I had come with my depression. I’ve hung it up in my bedroom so it’s the last thing I see at night and the first thing I see when I wake up (other than my daughter’s head)! As I look at it, it seems to be flying and that’s currently how I’m feeling. 

 I’m recovering from major gynaecological surgery for an issue I’ve had for 2 years. Something which has had a huge impact on me, my quality of life and my relationship. Something which I think has prolonged my post natal depression. Now it’s not an issue I feel amazing. I’m flying. 

I’m feeling so good that I’m coming off my antidepressants. I’m doing this in a controlled way as advised by my GP but I’m happy about that. Slow and steady is my new motto. My magic beans have done their job and I don’t need them anymore. 

I’ve had three months of CBT which has been very helpful and opened my eyes to the issues I needed to work on. Mindfulness is worth every minute I spend on it. Time to myself is not selfish, it’s time well spent. My past still affects my future and that’s fine as long as I am aware that I am in control. Reading is vital to my wellbeing. I am worthy. Always have been and always will be. 

The emails I get from the Blurt Foundation don’t mean so much to me now as I’ve worked through my depression.  I highly recommend them for anyone else who’s suffering though. Please ask for help. Virtually or in person as it all helps. 

I’ve enjoyed blogging about my depression – especially at nighttime when I can’t sleep – and am grateful for everyone who took the time to comment. This will be my last post for this blog. 

This Hummingbird has flown. 

The guest house 

This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. 

I start with a poem by Rumi as it sums up my experience with my mind on this journey so far. I don’t how I’m going to wake up or what path my day will take. However I can control my mind and the thoughts it has. 

I’ve just started having Cognitive Behavoural Therapy to help me manage my more negative thoughts. Each week my therapist sets me homework to help me do this. She recommended a great book on mindfulness which I’m finding very helpful. 

Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture. 

I’ve been looking for mindfulness courses but having found none I turned my attention to a new skill I could learn. Something to focus my mind on and leave those negative thoughts behind. I’ve always loved arts and crafts so enrolled with the local college to do Stained Glass Window making. 

Last Thursday I spent 2.5 hours cutting out glass and making patterns with it. I was very relaxed by the end of the class. And energised. I came home and blitzed the housework. The next morning I willingly got up with my early riser as I had missed seeing him the evening before. It was a special time for me as I realised I was practicing mindfulness in that moment. 

Still, treat each guest honourably. He may be cleaning you out for some new delight. 

Since then I have felt empowered to be the person I want to be. To fight for the things I want. To continue to embrace these feelings and opportunities that come my way. My therapist thinks I’ve changed in one session! 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice. Meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. 

The trick now is for my to sustain this mindfulness. To make it a habit. To practice it regularly. To acknowledge the feelings I have bit to move back to focus. To strengthen both my mind and body. 

Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond. 

A problem shared…

…is a problem halved. 

That certainly seems to be the case for me. Since opening up 2 weeks ago, I have been feeling much better. 

I’ve been talking about my feelings, my worries, my tiredness. I’ve been to the doctor. I’ve taken a blood test. I’ve read an anxiety booklet from Mind. I’m checking in on my mood every day with a new app. I’m going to bed earlier. I’ve deleted the news app from my phone. I’m calling me time, renewal time. I like that – it feels less selfish and vital to my wellbeing. You can often find me at the end of the garden, just breathing. 

It’s not all plain sailing – weekends are still low points for me. I don’t really know why and it’s something I want to explore more with my CBT. I feel very anxious at weekends and then guilty as I want to be relaxed happy mummy for my family. Being at home makes me anxious. Surrounded by a messy house, a messy garden and a long list of chores. I cringe when I tell my kids I’m too busy to play with them. I don’t tell them this in the week when I happily play along. 

I think it’s about acceptance. 

Acceptance is key to my happiness. And I’m looking into ways to teach myself to accept my hand in life. Not necessarily to be ridiculously happy every day but just to accept life is what it is rather than stressing what it isn’t. This will be a long term project I think. 


I went to a big event at work last week with hundreds of people I’ve never met before. I was anxious before it but instead of worrying about it, I shared my thoughts with Facebook. I got some lovely positive messages back including one that said ‘be yourself’. So I went and was myself – friendly, inquisitive and creative – and I had a ball! I came home buzzing, happy to put the kids to bed and do the chores. I wish I could have canned that feeling it was so good. 

Currently sat in the garden watching my eldest play in the paddling pool. In her dress. At 8.30pm. It’s how we roll when it’s 32c inside and I know she won’t sleep until 10 anyway. No anxiety whilst I watch her or indeed write this, as I feel confident in my parenting. Now I’ve got to apply this to the 1000 times I feel inadequate…

No more doing this though 


I will remember that the hardest part of getting better is asking for help and I’ve done that. 

Plain sailing from here on in. Please. 

Passing me by 

Sitting on a train looking out the window and watching the world passing me by. I feel like it’s a good way to describe how I’m feeling at the moment. 

I’ve been quiet recently. On Facebook. On this blog. Avoiding social situations with more than one person. Avoiding family days out. In other people’s worlds this may be good news. In mine, it means the opposite. I’m struggling. 

Depression has returned to my world. Or anxiety has. Or a mixture of both maybe. My mental health is not healthy. It needs attention. 


I’ve been struggling since March. Since I hurt my back and have been unable to exercise. No happy endorphins running around anymore. 

It’s not just that. There’s been some other issues too. Personal issues. Child behaviour related issues. Child health issues. Family health issues. 

A combination of a lot of things.

And what does this look like? 

Well I’m dreading weekends again. Worrying about everything. Overthinking everything else. Irritable. Tired all the time. Can’t look forward to anything. Feeling useless. Eating badly. Etc etc. 

And guess who I’ve told? About two people maybe. Another sign I’m struggling. So here I am. Making myself visible again. Pulling myself out of the dark pit hand by hand. 

Last Friday, I pulled myself together to pick up the phone and ask for help. I spoke to a lovely lady who I opened up to about my struggles. Why was I suffering with PND still when my baby was almost two? When does it just become depression? Will it ever go? 

I cried. I cried a lot. I was exhausted afterwards. But I felt a relief. A relief to be opening up again. To be asking for help. I’m hoping to start CBT shortly. To help me combat my anxious thoughts. To help create a brighter better future for me and my family. 

Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.  Again. 

I need books! 

Major achievement today – I’ve read a book from cover to cover! Woo hoo. Go me. 

What’s she going on about I hear you say. 

Let me try to explain. When depression strikes, I find it hard to focus. To concentrate. To spend time on just doing one thing without my mind wandering. Worrying. Thinking what could happen. Will happen. What am I doing wrong? How are my kids suffering? Will it ever get better? 

Due to this, I avoid activities where this could happen. Reading is the main one. 

This is hard as I love books. My family loves books. They help me connect with my Aspergers dad. Share with my mum. Recommend by my brother. Read to and by my daughter. 

Dramas. Thrillers. Crime detective series. Chick lit.  Biographies. Self help guides. Best sellers. Independent authors. Travel guides. Facts. Poems. Quotations. Children’s books. 

You name it I love it and I’ll read it. My house is filled with books. Every room has some nook filled with books. They stack, pack and pile in. 

  Since September they’ve been really piling up though. Towering in some rooms. Teasing me. Some days I would pick one up, read the back cover, get excited and start reading. Never to pick it up again. 
Too much concentration needed. Too much time. Too much. 

So you see? Mega achievement. 

So what’s different you now want to know. 

The book. The circumstance. The desire to read. The time to read. 

 
Bought whilst shopping for my mum’s Mother’s Day present. 

The title got my attention. The back cover even more so. Shortish chapters. I read one whilst standing at the book store. Knew I wanted to read more. 

Moving, funny and joyous. A true story…triumphed over a mental illness. It’s a book about making the most of your time on earth. 

The first section was hard going – reading about the depths of depression. Took it slowly. Put it down. Wasn’t sure I was going to pick it up again. Left it on my bedside table (along with THE tidying book) as I wanted to read it. Waiting for the best time. 

Then that time came. I injured my back. Putting on my boots of all things. Bent over and tore something.  Collapsed with the pain. 999 diagnosed sciatica. GP said ruptured disc. Osteopath said torn ligament. Everybody said bed rest so it could heal. 

Lying in bed trying not to let the fog roll over me. Vulnerable. In pain. Immobile. All I could see were my books. And one in particular. Picked it back up and didn’t put it down. 

Short chapters. Easy to read. Lots of white space. An illness I identified with. A personality I aspire to be. Honest. Funny. Inspiring. 

I’ve folded the corners down on this book. I’m recommending it to all I know who I think will get comfort from it. I tweeted it. I’m blogging about it. I’m finding the positive despite being in pain physically.  

And I’m thinking about the next book I can read. Recommendations welcome. 

Thank you Matt Haig you just saved a life. 

An insight into my world as a working mother of SEN children