We’ve Talked About It, So…….

….why the f**k hasn’t it happened? (Not quite ready to swear yet, too early for online swearing).

This morning has been the usual humdinger of a morning. 6am began with MO winding up LO, getting hurt by him and then sliding down his usual helterskelter of woe and ending up in a proper shite mood. For some reason he doesn’t understand that jumping on our bed at that time of the morning and shouting at the top of his voice isn’t acceptable by anyone’s standards.. certainly not our Very-Quiet-Despite-Also-Having-Children-Neighbours. He then proceeded to slam his bedroom door repeatedly (although we were edging towards 6.30 so police/socialservices/noisenuisance team, slightly less likely to be called). By the time I had got downstairs to iron, yes I did type that correctly – changes are afoot as promised – his clothes for school.. I was then told I didn’t care because he didn’t have the right school trousers to wear. After ironing his clothes – and showcasing my most recent shiny halo – I calmly reminded him that I had on a couple of occasions in the last 24 hours asked him to select the school clothes that didn’t fit and give them to me to dispose of as required. That resulted in more yelling (from him, not me.. new leaf remember?). The school tie became the next joyous issue – he couldn’t remember how to tie it. Would he like help? No. Was there anything I could do to help remind  him? No. He knows how to do it, he isn’t stupid. Then… “OH MY GOD! You just don’t care! I am not wearing this shirt anyway” – takes off freshly ironed shirt, throws it in a heap and when asked to put it back on a hanger, screams and knocks everything off their hangers. Meanwhile YO is crying because he can’t undue his school shorts when he needs to do a wee and his socks are too big. The EO, not one to be left out of a hissyfit orgy,  is getting angry at us because she didn’t do her homework over the weekend (she had an ‘away’ weekend at her dad’s.. he’s homeworkaphobic) and is simply ‘too stressed’ to do it.

So I sit at the kitchen table and with a voice, verging on sounding angelic, balancing aforementioned halo beautifully upon my bedhead, asked them to tell me what would help them in the morning to feel more organised. I (re)suggested getting uniform ready in the evening, doing homework straight after school and having lists put up (again) to remind them. Completely ignored by the youngest two, the EO fully embraced it and lent me her colouring pens to write up lists (please see above).

Forward to half hour later and I trundle upstairs with clean clothes to be put away, ticking off stuff on my very own to-do list and this is what I see:

Now I am no Poirot but to me these look like suspiciously unmade beds. For the past… erm… 12 years.. I have been nagging my children to make their beds. Really simple. No sheets, blankets and eiderdowns in this house, no hospital corners to perform. just a duvet. One duvet. To. Smooth. Out. On. Bed.

To check I was still perfect, I took a little look in my bedroom..

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Yep.. still perfect…

Although… you do see the one thing that is missing on this list below? The one thing that I am doing? That is stopping me from getting on with the rest of the list?…

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Yeah…. (starts looking shifty)… writing this blog post… At no point does it say “stop what you are doing and write a completely meaningless and pointless blog that hardly anyone reads anyway as they have their own LifeShite to deal with”…. Hmm..Ah well.. it costs a lot less than therapy 🙂

Making Friends with the Black Dog

Then too you cannot spend an hour alone;

No company’s more hateful than your own

You dodge and give yourself the slip; you seek

In bed or in your cups from care to sneak:

In vain: the black dog follows you, and hangs

Close on your flying skirts with hungry fangs

“Satire VII” Horace (65 – 8 BC)

Anxiety is very ‘en trend’it would appear. Even the likes of celebrities are afflicted according to a BBC Celebrities with Anxiety report. I am slightly baffled as to why this should come as a surprise. I don’t appear on television, perform on stage or have my life scrutinised on an hourly basis and I am still riddled with the damn thing. I do, however, consider it a necessary evil to highlight how anxiety and depression are taking our societies hostage and for this I am grateful to the media for reporting it. It appears that there is less of a need for a cloak and dagger approach, as the stigma is slowly receding and the public realise that mental health issues aren’t solely for the nutters of the world. I couldn’t tell you the exact number of professionals I know personally, who are either being treated currently for some form of anxiety or depression or have been at some point in their lives but it is a lot. Professionalism, social or financial status aren’t the deciding factors in whether or not you suffer with a mental health issue. There are no boundaries to protect you from ending up on Prozac. From the rich and famous to the destitute and homeless, the effects of the black dog are rife.

The Black Dog

The term ‘black dog’ was first coined by Horace, a Roman satirist and poet and Winston Churchill is known for talking about the black dog visiting. A marvellous book  I Had a Black Dog – by Matthew Johnstone, manages in a serious of beautifully detailed illustrations, to encapsulate fully the effects that depression has on you. A further book by the same author  Living with a Black Dog  was written for people living with those affected by depression and is equally as poignant as the first. If you would like to know why we refer to depression as the black dog there is a detailed historical essay written by Linda Michael and which can be found here.

It matters not what we call it but I won’t deny that since reading those lovely illustrated books about this clumsy dog whose tails rests in your usually divine glass of red and ruins it, or who sits on your head while you try and have a conversation, I have felt a more affectionate relationship with my depression. When I am really crap I take my black dog for a walk so that it can get tired and go the fuck to bed when we get home. When I feel like nothing can change and my apathy is reaching dizzying heights, I explain to my dog that no matter how crappy we are feeling, it will pass and we can look forward to life again very soon. I’ll admit, giving my depression a canine persona doesn’t always work and anxiety is especially a fucker to calm.

Living with Anxiety

I live with some form of anxiety on a daily basis now. It never used to be that way, or at least, I don’t think it was. Although as a good friend of mine who also happens to be a forensic psychiatrist explained to me recently, it wasn’t psychotic episodes I had been having 12 years ago, more like OCD. So there you go.. we don’t always self diagnose correctly. I fight intrusive thoughts regularly and fend off the feelings of nausea as they take a stranglehold of my insides. I become breathless and my hearing becomes altered and eyes lack focus. Especially in supermarkets. As I type, my heart rate has quickened and I note I am holding my breath “let it go” I speak to myself.. “let it go.. no emergency here… just typing…it’s all cool…”.

I was at my own leaving do for work this week and unbeknown to me I was feeling anxious that day. I felt fine up until entering the pub. Then I become self-conscious. I started looking at my phone constantly. I forgot how to laugh properly.. I sounded like a sodding hyena. I didn’t want to stand in front of everyone and throw the ball into the skittles. With my quite questionable sporting skills it was a miracle I didn’t behead anyone.  I gulped back a couple of drinks in the hope that they would quieten the voice of discontent. It worked finally but it reminded me of how quickly a situation can change your mental status.

Where now?

For me, now just as important as ever, I need to learn how to manage my anxiety even better. I am starting my nursing degree at Brighton University this year and I know from experience that being on a busy ward is worse than a supermarket. So I have taken a step (pun alert) towards managing my anxiety. I have recommenced running and am due to do my second Parkrun tomorrow. I went out for a run this morning too and have ordered a swanky waist belt so that I can fit all me accessories in it. I have started to look at how to organise my house better so that I don’t get lost in the mindclutter that resides inside. I don’t ever expect to be free from anxiety or depression. It’s part of me. It’s who I am. However, I can have a say in how often or how badly it affects me. I have lived with it since the age of 10 and at least now when I cry, I don’t have to do it alone…Hell no, I got my dawg with me!!

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If you would like to find out more about the Black Dog Campaign which is run by SANE – a charity to help and support sufferers of mental health illnesses – then please contact them by clicking on this link: http://www.sane.org.uk/home. They also have a helpline for you to call them between 6pm and 11pm everyday – 0300 304 7000 – don’t hold back, be kind to yourself. You deserve it.

 

 

Beginnings

It’s a time of new beginnings. the LO starts school on Tuesday and I start university at the end of the month. The acknowledgement that I am in the last throes of being a mother to a preschool child is bittersweet. This is true of most endings and beginnings I imagine. Certainly my history is not so much peppered with them but blasted in an AK-47 sort of way. LO starting school has no regret though, only excitement tinged with a bit of mournfulness. Whereas for a good 25 years of my life I seem to have made promise after promise to end a type of behaviour or endeavour to begin a new way of life. I have a drawer of gym clothes and unused yoga mats that can attest to this.. as can my recycling bin of empty wine bottles.

The reproach can attack at any point during the day, at the roundabout, a flashback of some sleazy scene in my 20’s that provoked days of guilt and promises to be a better person. A TV advert might suddenly devour my insides, chewing my guts up and spitting out gruesome, disfigured moths  – no beautiful butterflies for that scene. I look over my shoulder whilst the demons retract into the shadows with whispers of reprisal and glory. I still shudder and cringe waiting to feel like I can let it all go. Like I can grow up. Finally. When will I stop feeling like that failure of a lost child who blindly kept pushing buttons in the hope that one day she’d push the right one. That one day, acceptance and forgiveness would reign, freeing her from the regret and anger, the self-loathing and self-destruction that still threatens to drag her under the waves.

Slowly I am feeding my child. I am watering her with goodness. I am telling her that life is OK, she will succeed. She does have a right to succeed. As tears flow down my cheeks as I type. As I revel in the amazement that I am writing this on a public forum, that despite not divulging specifics I am still telling my story. I am finally writing it down. For years I have been told to write; to put pen to paper, fingers to keys and to record my life so far. And whilst I can’t ever do this verbatim, I can slowly let some of it out. Bit by bit.

So here’s to an educated and more content Chloe, a better and calmer mother and a more understanding and accepting wife. Here’s to the future.Baby Chloe

 

 

 

 

Student Nurse

So today I returned to my ex-work base to do two things, well three; sign my new contract as a sponsored HCA (healthcare assistant), unpack my carboot and clear out my work tray and say a proper goodbye to the few colleagues who remained in the late afternoon.

Along with excitement about the impending 3 years ahead of me, I feel somewhat mournful at the end of the last 2 years spent with the most amazing team. Not in a long time have I felt such comradeship in an environment that is fraught with government imposed cutbacks affecting staffing levels  amongst other budget related issues. As the NHS frantically try to stop the tsunami of patients flooding the acute hospitals, the community nursing teams are the flood barriers, desperately trying to stem the flow. And my god what a good job they do. I shall desperately miss the banter that helps you keep you atop the lifeshite that threatens to drag you down and I hope that I can find similar inspiration in future teams that I work with.

Two years ago I came to the Trust to work as a therapy technician and within a few weeks after listening to the nurses speak passionately about their patients at a multidisciplinary team meeting (MDT – basically a meeting where different health professionals discuss their patient’s needs), I soon realised that I wanted a piece o’ that cake.. I felt inspired by their enthusiasm and knowledge and here I am after 2 years of hard work and dedication to finally begin the last hurdle. Three years of degree level study. And don’t be fooled. We are not talking about the usual uni shennanigans. This is no picnic.. no three month summers with fart-arsing around and missing lectures willynilly. This is proper head down, work your arse off shit. We’re talking only 3 weeks off in the summer. Off sick? Well there had better be a darn good explanation why. Placements that follow the shift patterns of the ward you are training with, be it 12 hours or over the weekend. And I am one of the lucky ones. I have managed to get sponsored. I will actually receive a wage to do this course and won’t have to rely on the bursary that is in it’s final year of circulation, thanks to the good ol’ Conservatives who are determined to drive the NHS deep, deep into the ground.

I begin in three and a half weeks. I get to settle my youngest in to school and to savour some time off before I get thrown into the lion’s den of bureaucracy, protocol and breaching deadlines, offset with the tangible rewards of knowledge, passion and patient (de)appreciation.

I won’t deny it, this journey on the Nursing Train feels like it could become an untamed rollercoaster as I struggle to deal with my anxiety demons that threaten to get a stranglehold and wrestle me to the ground but I know I am capable, I know I encompass the qualities needed in a good nurse and I just need to have faith that I will surface at the end of the third year, victorious, graduating with the biggest, fuck off smile on my face.. ready to greet the world as a qualified nurse.

And where should this newly qualified nurse tread? Well I have an interest in women’s health. I currently treat clients with maternity and fertility reflexology and I love the idea of integrating this with orthodox medicine. So folks, stay with me for the next few years and share the stories that you have as you pad down your own path – I am just as eager to share my own stories as read yours  xx

 

The Towel Issue

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So I don’t know what it’s like in your house but one of our current issues revolves around towels. Not sanitary towels. Not trowels. Towels. The fluffy/crispy variety that you dry yourself off with. Sounds simple doesn’t it? You shower or bath and you use a towel. The towel dries and you reuse it again until you deem it dirty enough to wash.

Nah, not in in our house. The towels revolve around in a hedonistic fashion like they have a mind of their own. “But I was using the green one!!” shouts one person to the other, “No you weren’t” they hysterically retort, “I used it to dry my hair!”… not only do we have cross person usage going on, we have cross person/body parts usage happening… god forbid any of us had any athlete’s foot.. oops too late.. one of us does. Can you get athlete’s head?

And the anger that results is almost funny – if it weren’t for nigh on violent – ” I TOLD you, it’s MY towel!”… and sooooo many towels… sometimes the cupboard is bare and the banister is buckling under the sheer weight of the towel situation. There are the smaller white ones which I personally prefer to dry my hair with. Unfortunately the boys like to dry their bodies (nether regions) with these too..Then there is the turquoise one that the EO has claimed for herself but occasionally Mr P uses it, cue apocalyptic disaster. The big red and green ones that are about a million years old but you can barely tell because they cost more than a fiver in Primark, are usually claimed by myself and Mr Petit… apart from when the MO decides he now deserves a larger towel. To Use Once. Plus I nearly break my neck because he leaves said large towel draped around his bedroom furniture in the sort of booby trap worthy of a Goonie accolade.

I sit there in the middle of the night fantasising about the years ahead when the children will have left home and there will be just a few beautiful towels, perhaps colour coded for Mr and Mrs Petit.. hell we could even have our names embroidered on them. Rotating blissfully without any emotional trauma involved. In the meantime I shall scour Pinterest for ideas on how to store them when in use so that no cross-infection occurs and a life isn’t lost in the Towel Wars.