The Faces of Depression. #SmileSelfie

We have been known to suffer with Depression.

We dance, we sing, we play, we laugh, we live and we work very hard every day to survive.

We are depressed.

I guess this must also mean we have ‘Mental Health Issues.’

We have become accustomed to the labelling.

The stigma.

Sometimes in the darkest of our moments, when we are very much alone and isolated in the fog, we may wish for the strength to disappear, to stop the fear, the anxiety, the pain, the voices, the feeling of constantly being misunderstood.

Sometimes the pain is so acute we wish we could cease to exist.

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But that moment doesn’t look like this.

We do not spend our days in darkened rooms holding our heads in our hands wearing nothing but our soiled underwear.

You will never see me wearing a perfectly ironed t-shirt, with perfectly coiffed hair, looking longingly at the palm of my hand resting on a white wall, during a bad week.

I will not shave my beautiful head and walk around pounding my beautiful forehead with my beautiful fist while experiencing suicidal thoughts.

My head is not full of pills as the stigma suggests, because actually, like most, I am so scared of losing myself I refuse to take them.

I am not beautifully ill.

I will not slice my arms in neat little lines, add a lovely sepia filter and post it on Instagram for attention.

I will slice my arms ugly because I hate myself, and will show nobody.

I will scream silently in to the night after spending the day grinning.

Depression is not romantic.

It is gritty, and dirty and scary, it is offensive and obnoxious, overpowering and above all, a bully.

It is the swelling around the cheeks, the dryness around mouth, the hooded eyes, the darkness that swallows the brain, the stoop… the tight smile, the shadows chasing you down, the laughter a little too loud, the slight pause, the retreat, the fear…

And we are living it, fighting it, beating it and most importantly surviving.

We play with toy cars, we go out drinking with our friends, we sit at desks and laugh at stupid jokes, we watch thought provoking films, laugh with our heads thrown back and we have crazy hot sex.

We enjoy ourselves and we fight.

We fight and we fight and we fight and we fight.

And sometimes we lose.

When we lose, we lose badly.

The string of snot falling from a nose, the gasping for breath from behind lungs filled with sadness, the blackened fingertips from the smearing of mascara, the pounding head from a night spent in agonising grief, the avoiding eye contact, the wanting to die, the inability to see the future.

And then?

There is always an And Then.

While you feel uncomfortable and shudder at the thought of ‘depression’, we are forced to pick ourselves back up.

And occasionally, when we do, we are ok again for a while.

We have been known to suffer with depression.

We are not crazy.

We are not selfish.

We are not choosing to live with this illness and We are not making it up ‘when it suits us.’

We are depressed.

We are unable to ‘snap out of it’ at times.

‘Smiling more’ will not fix us.

We are Depressed.

And we live.

We do not live lightly but we do live.

We will not fade behind a stigma.

This is what it looks like. 

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 These are the faces of fighters.

Some of these beautiful people are winners.

We are depressed, and we do not live in black and white, however much we may want to at times.

These are the faces that show you, you are never alone.

These are the faces of family.

These are the smiles of the bravest, most unbelievable fighters who inspire, love and live every day.

This is the real story of depression, the real representation of the fight, the truth.

And I couldn’t give a damn if talking about depression makes you uncomfortable. 

Break the Stigma!

#breakthestigma #smileselfie

http://facebook.com/smilementalhealth

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You can Roll your Eyes now.

I’ve been lurking on a lot of PND blogs recently.

Blogs written by new mums who are finding their PND feet.

Some of the writing is as beautiful as it is harrowing.

It has brought back many memories.

I expected to feel relieved, as I continued to read, relieved I had overcome it.

Instead I began to feel an underlying uneasiness.

A fear.

Because I quite clearly don’t have PND anymore do I?

I mean, how can I?

My son is 4.

And time has moved on way further than ‘post’ baby anything.

I was hospitalised, I fought, I battled, and I soldiered on in cold therapy rooms while somewhere 3 miles away my son was playing outside in the sunshine with his daddy.

I swallowed hard truths, and lay sobbing in a lonely room, on a busy mental ward, while my son took his first steps.

I writhed in emotional pain as I slowly accepted that not everything was my fault.

I relented and with a huge amount of reluctance filled my body and brain with medication.

I emerged from the wreckage stronger than ever, with one goal in mind.

Accept his love.

Everything I was and everything I lived for, was ploughed in to making up for the time I felt I had lost with him.

We became best friends, partners in crime, he was my reason for living.

I learned patience and trust, understanding and forgiveness, I learned what unconditional truly meant, and I didn’t run.

I didn’t emotionally switch off no matter how hard I wanted to.

In return I was gifted with more love and tenderness than I ever thought it was possible to feel.

As long as I was with Addison I would be fine.

I had a purpose.

Yeah I still had dark days, numb days and days when I couldn’t get out of bed.

But they didn’t count really did they?

As long as I was with Addy I was fine,

So I beat it right?

I won.

In the early days, the numbness, the lack of love, the care, the overwhelming need to give up and the apathy was easily categorised.

I had just had a baby, my brains and emotions were splattered all over the walls.

It was explainable.

‘You have Post Natal Depression.’

I needed help and was lucky enough to receive it.

But what about now?

My son is 4 and my heart hurts.

I’m experiencing a lot of similar emotions to way back then.

I feel selfish again, unnecessary, worthless, numb, not good enough….

And you know what’s caused it?

Ok you can roll your eyes now…

‘What was your favourite moment of 2014?’ my best friend asked me on New Year’s Eve.

I honestly couldn’t think of one.

The year is too foggy with loss.

She reminded me of October half term and I agreed, we had had a great half term.

It was just the two of us again, on adventures.

‘And your worst?’

That was easy.

‘Walking away after dropping Addy off at school for the first time.’

‘Ah but he loves it.’

And this is the stock response I always get, and you know what?

They are right. He does.

And I love that he loves it.

But I could quite honestly describe it as one of the most heart-breaking moments of my post natal life.

Because in that moment I realised what true love was.

And that I had accepted it.

I was so excited for him and yet felt so unbelievably lost.

It hit me on the walk back to the car, alone for the first time in 3 and a half years, how much I had loved, and enjoyed and delighted in every one of those 1274 days.

And as I drove through Starbucks, crying so hard at now not having to buy a lollipop with my coffee, the child seat empty, at not having his hand in mine, I wondered at what point it stops being so hard.

I accepted love, I won – so why do I feel like I’m grieving?

It shouldn’t be this hard.

I’m happy he’s happy in school, I really am.

I want the world for him.

And as he pulls away, my default is creeping back in.

Reject before rejected.

It shouldn’t have been that hard when he first started.

And it still shouldn’t be.

This is more than a broken heart and a bit of sadness at missing him.

Did I never beat PND?

I fought it hard, but did it never really leave?

Is it back?

At what point does it stop being temporary?

Is now the time to accept it probably is clinical depression and there will never be a consistent light at the end of the tunnel?

I was told I could beat it with love.

And love just isn’t enough.

And because of that thought, I need to lie down.

Because I am tired of it being this hard.

And I am tired of feeling this selfish.

Why I don’t do Review’s.

I received an email yesterday, reminding me that as a mum I need extra protection in my knickers. 

(Like I haven’t got enough to think about in-between my son’s unhealthy obsession with the Titanic and a demanding full time job!)

Had I received this email prior to birthing a baby with a MASSIVE head, I would have squealed at the audacity of these no name companies sending me advice about how to care for my vagina, and then I probably would have giggled over it with all my friends.

Unfortunately though, there are no giggles anymore, as since tearing my delicate front bum from here to Transylvania during the magic of childbirth, this type of spamming has become a regular occurrence in my inbox. 

Unlike my husband, who hasn’t been anywhere near my ‘inbox’ since we decided to officially try for another kid – funny that eh Irish One?  If I’d have known sooner that that’s all it took to not be pestered by the infamous ‘boob and fanny grab’ while I’m washing the pots, I would have been a lot more eager to have the 2nd baby conversation!

Anyway, back to the email reminding me on a Tuesday afternoon, mid work related issue, that I’m a lazy whore who needs to do more pelvic floor.

(It’s true though, I do. The child and I went trampolining on Sunday and somewhere between my first jump and a fancy ‘look at me I am a trampolining goddess’ sitting drop, my bladder decided to be a complete twat and release its entire contents. Unfortunately, because of the aforementioned child with the MASSIVE head that arrived 5 years ago, there was sweet FA my vagina could do about it. I think the staff at Jump nation may have thought my waters were breaking. In that, I may have screamed this at them as the floor swallowed me up and I ran off (like john Wayne) in horror.)

SO ok Tena, you are right.

My vagina is pointless in more ways than 1.

But your email pissed me off. (No pun intended.)


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I may need a finely lined panty liner which absorbs faster than ordinary panty-liners and locks in more moisture, controlling odour thanks to the feelfresh technology ™, but I didn’t want my boss to know that. Or a team of 12 people who I was in the middle of presenting to, using a flip screen and projector, connected to my laptop.

It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if I had distracted them from the huge TENA that appeared at the top right hand of my screen advising me of your badly timed email, instead of clicking on it in a panic and opening it for them all to read.

And now they all know.

They all know I inadvertently added myself to your mailing list, and they all think I probably wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t require odour control for my nethers.

And literally, not one of them can now look me in the eye when I laugh.

For the love of god Tena, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

This isn’t a sponsored post, but I do wonder if you should treat it as such and offer me some sort of compensation.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE! It’s as if we as mothers haven’t been through enough…

And don’t get me started on this one.

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You think I need a panel of stangers advising me on how to keep the spark in my marriage alive?

Do you think us mum’s have NO shame?

Send me emails asking me to review wine! Or Spanx!  Remind me there is more to me than broken bits and no mystery!

You wanna know how to keep the spark alive people?

Don’t mention the possibility of a leakier vag, more sleepless nights and another 10 months of morning sickness!

OH WELL, only another 306 to wade through…

Maybe one of those will include something useful.

Like Gin.

*This is not a sponsored post for the baby event or Tena. However if you good people at Tena would like to send me some samples, that would be nice. (Also I realise your advert says 69% (teehee) of new mums or pregnant women need them, but I am here to tell you, mothers with kids who have giant heads who are five, still need them too. Thanks.)

‘This time next week I will be admitted in to the Priory. I need help, and soon.’

That was what she had written on her Facebook Status.

I’ll be honest, at first I was a little shocked.

It is not like people to be so honest on my Facebook timeline.

I was taken aback, and then I was hugely inspired by her strength.

She is quite clearly desperate for help, I thought, and where most people would not admit to a mental health problem, instead preferring to hide behind ‘a bad day’, a happy smiling family photo or an inspirational quote emblazoned onto a picture of a murky lake or some such guff, she is openly and with extreme courage, asking for support.

This kind of thinking and honesty needs celebrating, it is inspirational men and women that talk willingly like this about mental health issues that enables huge steps forward in breaking down the stigma in society.

Personally, I was inspired as I saw a Facebook friend who was not ashamed, had clearly worked hard to see depression wasn’t a choice, but a very real and brutal illness, and therefor deserved all the well wishes and support she could gather, and by accepting time in a mental hospital, was most likely determined to win.

Inspirational.

If she had cancer She might have been updating her status with ‘only 1 more round of chemo!’  And no doubt we would all be celebrating and supporting her without question, so why shouldn’t she let people know she is ill and seeking help from this illness?

In those moments I had huge amounts of respect and concern in equal measures for her.

My heart went out.

‘Just goes to show you never know’ I said to the Irish one as I clicked on the link to offer my support.

And then my heart sank.

‘Oh me too.’  A friend of hers had commented.  ‘I will join you. I am going to sit in archery and art therapy and relax in all of those little groups they do.’

And then I felt nothing but dismay.

‘Ha. Ha. I am going to sit and rock back and forth in a chair, why should I do any work, I need a good rest.’ Was the final reply.

And then I was gutted.

My fingers typed out a few replies.

But I never published them.

I was too ashamed to fight.

I felt a little humiliated.

What if they disagreed with my points of view?

Was I over reacting? It was only a joke. They were clearly only joking.

Why was I so offended? Maybe I needed to ‘get a grip.’

I spoke to the Irish One about it, all worked up and sad.

‘I am so tired, why do people think it is ok to talk about mental health and mental hospitals like they are a joke? No one would ever take the piss so openly out of any other hospital or person suffering from illness? It just re-enforces those feelings of shame, and stops people asking for help! I hate it, and the stigma.’

His calm response floored me. (Smug git.)

‘So what are you going to do? Reply now, emotional and upset, or educate, once you are calmer?’

I didn’t want to do either.

I wanted to forget all about it and move on, I wanted to bury my head in the sand and not remind myself of that awful night in the middle of one hot summer, when I had woken up at 3am in the kitchen, an empty bottle of pills in my hand, and knowingly made the decision to leave my family, a little boy who needed me and everything that made me feel safe, and head in to the Priory hospital. I was not going for a ‘little break.’ I was going because if I didn’t, he would grow up without me.

I didn’t want to dwell on the acute fear and panic I felt as the sun on that first night started to set and I knew I wasn’t allowed to go home. Or the agonising grief that ripped through me as I thought of a little boy crying out for his mummy while his mummy would rather have been dead.  The hours I spent with my head in my hands, the pain in my heart so overwhelming I would rock back and forth in an attempt to focus on something other than that and the voices in my head, that tortured me over and over with what a terribly selfish human being I was. The rocking was comforting. Isn’t that simply hilarious?

I wanted to shy away from the sheer torture of remembering my first ever art therapy experience where I had been so broken, that I felt like the world had literally fallen away and I was stuck in an alternate reality where I couldn’t focus on any one voice. The anxiety and depression mixing together making me shake uncontrollably, my heart pounding constantly. This was my absolute rock bottom, in that ‘little group’ while the art therapist spoke softly to me, trying to provide me comfort, I had had to spend the whole time focusing on keeping the world steady and not fainting. The real pity was however, that I did not see any celebrities.

I didn’t want to remind myself of how lost I had been at that time, how scared, how pointless I felt, and how vulnerable I was, and what a hell of a long journey back it has been.

A road that will most likely always be uphill, but I am fucking making it.

But,

I felt like I had a duty to say something, on behalf of me, and on behalf of all the beautiful people I knew and met, in the summer of that year when I was admitted in to the priory, because I needed help and soon.

I felt I had a duty to keep fighting the stigma, on behalf of the ones that lost.

I also realise that prior to being admitted myself, I probably would have said something similar without realising how shame inducing it could be for those who have lived it.

It is not ok to take the piss, refer to in jest, or joke openly about mental illness, no more than it is to take the piss, refer to in jest, or joke openly about cancer. 

But I understand this was not meant with any malicious intent, I am hopeful it is only a lack of thought mixed with a dash of Stigma, and that next time, any one who may read this may now think twice.

Taking the piss out of Mental Health stops people asking for help.

It is an illness.

One person every 7 seconds loses their life from mental health related illness. That is brothers, sisters, mothers, daughters, fathers, cousins and friends.

Do you still feel lighthearted about the whole thing?

So for my beautiful friends and family that died at the hands of depression and ill mental health, even after a stay at the priory.

This post is for you.

Let’s keep challenging that fucking stigma.

 

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Good Old Days.

The air is fresh and clean and wonderful.

It cuts through and fills my (20 day) smoke free lungs with wondrous ease, slicing away my irritable winter blues.

Little poofy white clouds bob on by above me, breaking up the crystal blue sky with their calming and childlike cotton candy shapes.

The sun beats down on my closed eyes and to feel that natural heat on my face after a long cold winter, stopped in a moment, is simply delicious.

‘Mummy!’

I open my eyes and blink a couple of times at the shoddy garden fence that still needs replacing, the old cigarette ends littering the battered crazy paving and the once loved house plant that succumbed to the snow in early January. (I feel so guilty about that bloody house plant. I forgot to bring it back in the house. It’s decaying corpse is testament to how bloody useless I am at being a housekeeper.)

If the weather is a dream, the state of my garden is the reality.

‘Mummy!!! I’ve had a poo! Come and wipe my bum!’

‘OK’ I shout back without moving a muscle.

2 more minutes, just give me 2 more minutes of languishing in this garden chair with my barely warm tea.

Just give me 2 more minutes before the chaos starts.

‘Mummy! Hurry up! I have poo on my knees! I don’t know how but I have poo on my knees, and on my ear…..oh no….. MUMMY!!! Its EVERYWHERE!’

His screams have become panicked.

This is never a good sign.

Resolute, I stand up and plod back in to the kitchen through the back door.

The dirty plates piled in the kitchen sink are illuminated by the bright white sunshine and the dancing dust fairies swerve and swish to avoid me as I scuttle past and head up the stairs… in to what can only be described as a dirty protest.

The house is a tip, my bank account is virtually bare, I am sleep deprived… and now this.

But.

These are the good old days right? 

This is the thought I I try and keep hold of.

These are the good old days.

Because one day he will have moved out, he will be a man, my house will be squeaky clean and he will not want to sit on my knee watching cartoons at 8am. He will not litter my floor with dangerously placed Lego pieces, he will not demand a cuddle at 3am, and he most definitely will not need his bum wiped.

One day, on a summers day, I will be able to spend as long as I want out in the garden without being disturbed, listening to Groove Armada and clinking the ice in my bottle tumbler of gin.

And I will miss this.

I love this.

Poo and everything.

YES!(I also love Diazepam. Blissful stuff. Simply Marvelous.)

Maggie Hitchin. I told you I’d write about you.

‘You are only 25 once.’

Those were the last words she spoke and then she died.

She released my hand, exhaled loudly and her head fell softly on to the pillow.

It was not as romantic as I am making it sound.

I shit myself.

I have never seen anyone die and it was a Tuesday at 5pm.

People aren’t meant to die on Tuesday at 5 pm.

I was only at the hospital to visit a welsh friend who had broken his hip after drinking too much and falling down the stairs at the Chinese karaoke while impersonating Mariah Carey, and now somehow I had ended up with the last dying wisdom of a woman I had never seen before in my life.

And it was 10 years too late!

I had been walking past and she had shouted me.

‘Please talk to me,’ she had said all forlorn ‘I am so lonely.’

And she had looked so old and lonely.

She looked like Bambi right after her mother was shot.

All Dow eyed and pathetic.

I couldn’t keep walking, in the same way I can’t walk past a homeless person.

Her leg was all propped up in hanging basket type contraption, her hair was everywhere, she looked frail, there were no flowers on her nightstand, or grapes, the room just seemed so bare.

‘OK’ I had thought. ‘5 minutes with this old bird won’t kill me.’

No but it’ll kill her.

For GODS SAKE and FML and all those other acronyms the youth of today use.

I picked the wrong week to give up smoking!

I let go of her hand and ran back in to the hallway.

‘Help!’ I shouted at a clearly over tired, over worked and underpaid nurse dragging a huge medical bin behind her with a heave and huff ‘help! The woman in there just died!!!’

‘She is not dead’ came the exhausted reply as she carried on dragging her waste up the corridor ‘She does it to everyone who walks in to the ward. If you are looking for B ward it’s down the end on the right. Next time you visit I suggest you ignore her pleas…’

‘No, she is dead I’m sure of it. She literally just died.’

The nurse stopped walking and turned around with a sigh, ‘Margaret?’ she shouted.

‘Sorry!’ came the reply from a most definitely still alive Margaret in the room behind me. ‘Couldn’t resist!’

I am still shaking now.

Mad old bitch.

‘Will you come back and visit me tomorrow?’ she asked with an evil grin, as I stood there clutching my heart, trying to get my breath back and wondering if I had a spare pair of pants in my bag.

‘Definitely.’ I laughed. ‘You just made a friend for life.’

Jack be Nimble.

I forgot Wee Willy Winky.

It was 7 am and we were leaving the house for school.

It was still dark, it was freezing outside, I was holding 3 bags, a toasted cheese sandwich, a water bottle and my house keys.

My tights were falling down, my not quite dry hair was clinging to my sticky forhead, I had no make up on and we were probably going to be late.

Business as usual.

Having asked Addy to put his beanie hat on himself, it was now perched right at the very top of his head (think Brian Harvey East 17) and for some reason instead of pulling it down, he had started helpfully dancing around the driveway instead.

I slammed the front door, turned the key in the lock and spoke to myself out loud.

‘Door Locked.’

This is something I have recently started doing in the hope of jogging my own memory later in the day, when I suddenly panic that I have forgotten to do something monumental.

I have turned in to a Grandma.

Soon I will no doubt be wearing tartan pants, sewing cutesy slogans on to cushions and using words like ‘frock’ and ‘honkers’ instead of dress and knees.

Swinging one of the bags back on to my shoulder and heading for the car I smiled again as I took in my four year old, in all of his glory, now pretending to river dance.

Wouldn’t it be nice if life was still that simple?

It is 7 am.

Someone has packed and prepared my bags and lunch, someone is driving me to school, and someone dressed me and knows I will be warm. I have no responsibility at all because I am 4. I now have 30 seconds to kill while that same somebody locks our house up safe. I choose to spend this time… river dancing!!

Mad.

Anyway, ‘oh Addy you look like…’

Nothing

Gone.

I reached out in to the fog of my brain.

Not the candle bloke, not the bloke in the stripy pyjamas, the guy with the hat…

It is the most frustrating of feelings.

The word I want is right there in front of me, I just can’t grab hold of it.

‘Who mummy? Who do I look like?

I blinked.

‘Never mind, come on Michael Flatly get in the car – let’s get you to school.’

I worry a lot.

I worry about getting cancer and dying, I worry about the occasional suicidal thought that still flashes through my brain, I worry about leaving my hair straightener on sitting next to the wicker basket and the house catching fire, and I worry that very quickly the amount of things I am forgetting on a regular basis is increasing.

I do not have health related anxiety.

I used to.

But being brutally honest, depression kinda whipped the fear of death away from me.

I do not worry about death.

Wherever I was before I was born has not left me scarred so when I die I am sure I will be fine.

No, I worry about Addison in the event of my death.

I worry about Addison a lot.

I worry that one day one of his friends will read this blog and bully him. I worry I am no longer able to be as honest about my depression on here in case one of his friend’s mum’s reads it and thinks I am insane and untrustworthy (that would be a great slogan on a cushion- INSANE AND UNTRUSTWORTHY!) and I worry that when he grows up he will turn in to a mother hater.

I also worry about taking this blog down as it is my only life line, and I worry that if I don’t stop smoking soon I will be unable to walk up the stairs without passing out.

And now, on top of all this, I am now also worrying I am losing my memory.

Did I say that already?

In the past two months I have left the house unlocked twice, have arrived back to my car after the school run to find it leisurely chilling in the middle of the road (no handbrake), have forgotten the name of my god children twice, have arrived at work on days I am supposed to be off, left my car keys hanging out of the car and found them in the exhaust when I’ve returned to my car, and finally, quite frankly the scariest of all, I forgot the name of the manager I was in a meeting with, and spent the whole time calling her Lisa. (Her name is Stephanie.) I have known her for 3 years.

Am I developing early onset Alzheimer’s or is this depression related?

Anyone else experience this?

Either way I am a little scared.

So to pass the time I am now going to River Dance.

This is Parenting.

I hesitated.

999.

I need to dial 999.

I was stood by the front door, away from them.

My heart was hammering out of my chest, the ringing in my ears was becoming unbearable, my eyes were watering, as I seemed unable to even blink, and my brain had just stopped dead, unable to cope with the sheer and utter terror I was experiencing.

Behind me my son was lying face down in his dad’s arms, possibly choking to death.

It had been a good 30 seconds since the initial cough, and so far the sweet was still firmly lodged in his wind pipe.

His lips were turning blue and he was starting to lose consciousness.

I knew this because The Irish one had now started to beg him to breathe, while relentlessly hammering on his back in-between bouts of trying and failing with the Heimlich man-oeuvre.

‘999!’ The Irish one screamed, ‘dial 999!!!’

I glanced back and witnessed the desperate look in my son’s eyes disappear, as he lost consciousness completely, his lips now a very dark blue.

I did as I was told.

But they aren’t going to get here in time Irish one.

We both know this.

‘Please Addy, please breathe….’  The Irish one began to shout now, his calming presence in a crisis completely exhausted ‘He’s gone all floppy! Oh Jesus Christ Lexy, C’mon Addy breathe!!’

He ran towards me manically, still carrying him horizontally, still slapping him on the back.

I opened the front door and ran in to the street.

I have no idea why, it just seemed like the right thing to do.

‘I need an ambulance!’ I screamed and shouted down the phone ‘My son is choking, he is blue! Oh my god help us. SOMEBODY HELP US! YOU AREN’T GOING TO GET HERE IN TIME… I NEED…’

‘It’s out. Lexy, it’s out.’

And then it was all over.

‘I put my fingers down his throat… It’s out.’

‘Mummy…’ and his little voice, his little arms outstretched towards me, his little face in shock ‘Mummy…’

I took him in my useless arms, and sank slowly to the floor.

‘I got it out. I got it out.’ The Irish one murmured, sinking down beside us, his head in his hands.

We were a motionless family for a short period of time.

Then together, we all began shaking, all began crying, all began digesting what had happened.

‘Mummy?’

‘Yes baby?’ I kissed his face, wiped his eyes, pulled him tighter towards me, feeling his heartbeat against mine. I put my nose in his hair and breathed him in, making silent apologies and trying not to think of how it may have ended so differently ‘Yes baby?’

‘Can I have another sweet? Cos that one has been on the floor for ages now.’

This is parenting.

40 minutes later we were sat in the circus watching a tight rope walker do the splits 20 feet off the floor, after spending a fiver on candy floss and popcorn.

‘I wasn’t even choking, I just wanted to finish my sweet daddy!’

This is parenting. 

And I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I have however, booked myself on a crisis and CPR course. Knowledge has to be power in this scenario, and I never want to feel that helpless and useless again.

‘That’s twice I’ve saved his life now.’ The Irish one grins at me while throwing popcorn in his gob and shrugging in a faux macho kind of way, as if he wasn’t terrified himself.

Yes it is Irish one, and twice you have saved mine along with it.

Thank you.

If God was a Carrot.

‘Mummy, did you make me out of spare parts?’

I’ve had a few questions like this recently.

He is becoming more inquisitive about where he was made, how he got out of my belly and exactly what God’s role is in everything.

‘Mummy, if taxi drivers think they own the road, but they don’t, is it God who owns it?’

We never spoke about God before he started school.

Not intentionally, I didn’t intentionally not introduce him to the lord almighty, I guess it was just that religion or the greater universe and it’s meaning didn’t play a huge part in our day to day lives, so the subject never came up.

Addison was baptised as a catholic. The Irish one is a catholic and I am, well, I don’t know what I am.

I was brought up a protestant, so on paper it would probably show that is what I am.

But what category I officially sit in?

I just don’t know.

I am a wife, a mother, a shopaholic, a depressive, a frazzled stodge gobbler, a girl, a customer service manager, a dog lover, a sarcastic bitch, a chocoholic, a ginaholic, a good friend, a little sister, a wannabe writer, a flake and a dreamer, to name but a few.

I also know I am not a racist, I can’t abide homelessness, it is the cause that breaks my heart each and every time I see somebody on the street, I know I would give my last pound to somebody in need and I know I would never question other people’s religious beliefs, everyone has the right (god given?) to believe in whatever provides them comfort, in my opinion.

But when it comes to actually believing in God?

I just don’t know.

I would like to believe, but I just don’t know.

(Is he going to strike me down now?)

But Whatever I believe or don’t believe, I am not particularly religious.

I have never read the bible and I don’t know what Moses was doing in the bulrushes.

Addison now attends a catholic school and so now, very much so, God plays a part in our everyday lives.

‘Mummy I don’t want to go to school, assembly is so boring. It’s all about god this and god that and we have to sit really still, and my bum itches.’

He makes me laugh daily.

Do I need to thank God for that? Perhaps I do.

‘Mummy, if I don’t eat my carrots, is it God watching or Father Christmas?’

‘Mummy, do you believe in God?’

Some of the questions I am not ready to answer.

‘Yes Addison I made you out of spare parts.’

‘From a dead guy?’

‘No Addison, brand new parts, would you like a biscuit?’

And between the laughter and the love, some of the questions I answer, I answer not with what I truly believe, but with what he needs to hear.

He needs to know that what he is being taught at school as verbatim, I trust in, and I guess as his mum, I want to give him the comfort I felt as a child, that someone was looking out for me from above, even if it isn’t what I might believe now. What I don’t want him to feel is confusion.

‘God is always watching us Addison, looking out for us, keeping us safe (because wouldn’t that be nice?) but it is Father Christmas who is watching you not eating those carrots right now Addison, God is much more high level.’

‘Mummy?’

‘Yes Addison?’

‘Why did God Kill Meanie Fishy, Bex, Great Grandad and Uncle Jakey?’

And some questions don’t make me laugh, some questions test me.

Maybe I shouldn’t have spoken about my brother quite so often, quite so soon, but as much as I wanted to protect my son from death, I also didn’t want to ignore the fact his uncle had existed and was loved.

‘God wanted them back with him in heaven Addison. God needed uncle Jakey and great granddad to be angels and look after other angels, Uncle Jakey and Great Grandad had a very special job to do in heaven.’

‘Mummy?’

‘Yes Addison?’

‘Will god take you?’

How would you answer that question?

I don’t want to say no never, because what if I get flattened by a bus in the morning? (Which reminds me I need to put an underwear wash on) but neither do I want to say maybe, and fill his head with worry. I want to be honest and real, protect him and yet provide him comfort. But if I believe in evolution, or aliens, or the matrix, is any of this honest and relevant to us anyway?

This parenting lark is hard.

‘One day Addison, but hopefully not until I am very old and very wrinkly.’

‘But you are very old and very wrinkly.’

And I am back to the laughter.

‘I am going nowhere Addison. Now eat your carrots.’

Maybe it is because I have faced my own mortality before, or maybe it is because I suffer with clinical depression and am just a horribly morbid idiot, but after that round of questioning I decided to sit down and write Addison a letter, in case I die.

It is in his scrapbook.

Is that horribly morbid?

I wrote about how much I love him, how he could never disappoint me and how if I am ever not here I want him to follow the path that brings him the most happiness. I wrote mostly about how much I love him and will do until the end of time.

‘Mummy?’

‘Yes Addison?’

‘Did your willy fall off? Cos girls don’t have willy’s anymore do they? Did God take all the girls willy’s to heaven to be angels too?’

God give me strength.

And Thank you for the laughter.

Anyone have any ideas on how I can get him to eat his carrots?

Reality Bites.

I was shaking like a shitting dog.

My pupils must have been dilated, I couldn’t stop licking my lips and I know my face was as white as a sheet as I could feel all of the blood that had recently drained from it, sloshing about in my feet as I struggled to place one foot in front of the other, on the road to what was undoubtedly going to be my early demise.

I was probably unintentionally gurning too. It is something I tend to do when I feel overwhelmed.

So basically, had you seen me at that precise moment, shuffling around the supermarket, head firmly facing downwards, hood up and over my ears, looking like Kenny from Southpark, hands seemingly angrily shoved deep in to my parka pockets, you would have been forgiven for assuming I was on my way home from an all-night rave, or maybe ‘stoned off my bongo’s’ and looking to scourge for some munchies.

Hell, you would have been forgiven for choosing to walk down a different aisle at the last minute when you saw me coming.

I didn’t smell though. Just to be clear. I hadn’t been out all night.

I hadn’t slept, but I had showered.

I was ripping off the proverbial plaster.

I was 16 again, my body aimlessly wandering around in circles, immobilised by fear, while my thoughts were otherwise engaged on a merry-go-round of disaster.

I had no idea what I looked like and nor did I have the headspace to care.

I had no idea what I was looking at either as I randomly picked up a huge cereal box, before haphazardly slamming it back down and moving on, moving on to nowhere, with no idea what the hell I was going to do, or how I would handle it, if the inevitable happened.

My body was in Morrison’s while my mind was on a nightmarish sabbatical.

I was paralysed by the fear.

Five days late.

I was five days late.

One thought, running screaming like a banshee, with its hands in the air, through each and every corridor of my mind over and over again, making me relive something, like the exact moment someone jumps out on you in a dark room and scares you half to death, repeatedly.

The blood rushing to your ears, your heart physically hurting as the flight or fight response rips through your blood vessels heading towards your brain.

The Boo moment.

The terrifying fraction of a second before you realise it is only your idiotic husband hiding behind the fridge, not an axe murderer, and lamp him across the forehead with your iPhone 6.

The split seconds before you allow yourself to revel in the delicious relief, the kind of relief that turns your feet to jelly.

You are safe. There is no axe murderer.

But I wasn’t there.

I was immobilised now, stood by the frozen chips, drowning in the quicksand of experiencing that ‘Boo’ moment, over and over again.

I would have to face it though.

I was 5 days late.

I found myself in the clothes section.

Sighing and with a slight internal smile, I picked up a tiny white Babygro and thought about calling Samaritans.

I hovered over tiny socks, nappies, powdered formula, teething gel, wet wipes and blankets, mentally steeling myself for what may be.

I grimaced over huge sanitary towels, huge beige bra’s, oversized knickers and nipple rash cream, mentally steeling myself for the possible reality.

And then I did it.

I took a deep breath, and I studiously walked back to the pregnancy test aisle.

They come in plastic boxes round here, you know, like cd’s.

I didn’t know that.

And there are so many.

Why does it feel like so long ago since I did this before?

Because it was in another lifetime, last time.

My hand shot out of my pocket before I could change my mind and I grabbed a digital one.

With my hands shaking beyond what anyone at my age would consider normal, I paid and left the store, mumbling an incoherent thanks at the cashier who wished me good luck.

Could this really be happening?

I drove home.

I thought I had wanted this.

Even felt a modicum of excitement at the possibility of it all.

At the possibility of it being different this time, of loving, wanting, nurturing, enjoying.

Enjoying little feet and little hands from day one, from conception.

What the hell was I thinking?

The panic smacked me hard across the face again as a tidal wave of fear took over and I turned the car in to a street that wasn’t mine and switched off the ignition.

With my head on the steering wheel I sobbed.

I cried for my little boy who right at the beginning I wanted to but couldn’t love more because I was too ill, I wailed and grieved again for the loss of his first year, I sobbed for myself, I allowed myself 2 minutes of understanding and care.

And then I fell silent.

With terror.

I need more time. I need more time to think this through. I am not ready. I am scared. Too many what if’s, what if this time it isn’t different? What if I want to die again, what if the voices come back? What if my world changes again and once again I find I am all alone in the darkness? What if I hate myself and my baby, what if I don’t feel the love? What if I get fat again and rip my undercarriage from here to Brighton and can’t poo for a month? What if nobody wants me anymore and Addison grows apart from me? What if I am rejected? Why I am so despicable? Why am I not Normal? Why aren’t I excited? Why did I think I could do this? 

I cannot do this.

In that moment, I had never been so certain of anything in my entire life.

I could not do this again.

That was last week.

I sat on the side of the bath with my understatedly (trying to hide it for my benefit) excited husband grasping my hand, gurning like a techno freak and chomping on the acute fear, for the longest 3 minutes of my life.

I saw black dots, stars and reality as I knew it slipping away. Again.

Not Pregnant.

‘Oh well,’ the Irish one mumbled, standing up and throwing the test in the bin, his shoulders hunched as he headed back downstairs ‘at least now we know how you really feel.’

I didn’t respond.

Because what could I say?

I stayed sat on the side of that bath for a very long time after he had walked out.

Processing.

If I cannot do this again, and I am so sure of it, why do I feel so utterly disappointed?

I could wish for a million things for myself, but if I only had one wish, I would wish for good mental health.

Pout now or Forever hold Your Peace.

‘Twenty Seven Pounds fifty pence?’

The way he enunciates the pronunciation alerts me immediately to the fact I have made an honest and grave mistake.

I stand there.

I have nothing to say, no reply, and no excuse.

I am in the wrong.

‘Twenty Seven Pounds and fifty pence?’

I skulk out of the room much like Doodle does after weeing against the kitchen table, my tail very firmly between my legs, almost wishing I had only cocked my leg against the terracotta.

He follows me.

I half expect him to order me in to bed or perhaps rub my nose in it.

‘Do I need to go in the naughty corner?’

A badly timed joke.

He ignores me for the next hour.

I re-apply my lipstick.

‘It is fabulous though isn’t it?’ I sit down next to him and flex my pout in his direction.

‘It had better be for Twenty Seven Pounds Fifty.’

I wanted a treat.

My First mistake was not asking immediately for the prices.

My second mistake was allowing the Dior Dolly Bird to apply the fabulous colour to my lips and then encouraging me to do a hair swish, therefor leaving me with little choice in the matter.

My third mistake was not, at that point, enquiring about the price, making an excuse, and promising to come back later.

My fourth mistake was telling my husband the truth.

‘I didn’t realise they were that expensive until she rang it up on the till, and by that point Irish One, it was too late. I would have looked like a right idiot! I had to buy it!!’

‘Could you not take it back?’

I gasp internally in shock and horror.

‘No.’

I wanted a treat.

I adjust my pout in his direction and mix in a little doe eyes for affect.

He doesn’t budge, and I can’t say I blame him.

Ironically, the very next day after writing my last post on how I would see the silver lining in everything, and how this year would be different, a bombshell capable of destroying my bank account and most of our savings was dropped, hence the outrage at my ‘inappropriate’ and ‘incredibly thoughtless’ spending off the Irish One.

I am not in a position to talk about it, as that would potentially leave me in an even more vulnerable position, HOWEVER I do have a silver lining.

It’s my Twenty Seven Pound Fifty Dior lipstick.

lippy

 

Isn’t it fabulous? And it really does take my pout from average to Stratospheric.

If only this was a sponsored post.

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