Hardwork is my remedy

Over the past year, the very meaning of depression has become apparent to me. I have previously defined my experience of depression as ‘postnatal’ after all as a Mum of three children under 7, that seems like the less daunting reason for the way I feel. This would be completely justifiable in my circumstances and in the circumstances of many women. Now, I wouldn’t usually accept a male perspective on the intensity of labour, however my Father said something to me that changed my outlook on birth from my second child. The empathic man that he is, he told me as I dwelled on the fear and anticipation of giving birth for a second time “the thing is Beth, labour is called labour because it is laborious. It’s hard work but you can do it” – in that moment, I was so focussed on the pain of labour that his comment completely stunned and rationalised the situation for me. He transformed my approach to labour, he turned my fear of unpredictable pain into something I could hold and control.

Hard work is a constant within motherhood, it builds up resilient, dedicated and selfless individuals. How then, could such an experience cause depression. For many, postnatal depression, anxiety and trauma is a very real part of their ongoing experience. We can however embrace the hard work of motherhood as an experience like no other, one that not only makes us fulfilled Mothers but skillful individuals that have an abundance of maturity and experience to bring to our careers and relationships.

The reasons behind my depression are deep and personal. I do however, feel immensely grateful for the hardwork I have in front of me, from toddler tantrums to university papers; I feel a huge sense if fulfillment in my role of Mum and truly believe it is a constant remedy for the depression I experience.

Thank you Dad for being the rational, caring and bold individual that you are.

Married but Single

Freedom of speech and Equal opportunities – the very definition of the world we live in now. Not quite.

The complexity of these social issues goes beyond the need for change.Within every individual case, there are barriers, different barriers for all. Like the mutation of covid, the fight for freedom of speech and equal opportunities is an up hill battle. You may be thinking, that change is on the horizon, as more people are speaking out and standing up for what they believe is right. However, there are indivduals worldwide who are not aware that there is a fight going on or that what they are experiencing isn’t right or simply they are just numb with fear and unable to put their experience into words.

When we reflect upon the fight to close the gender pay gap, generally we see a rough idea of what we would like to achieve. However, behind many doors there are women who by no fault of their own… or maybe by fault of their own are trapped. There are mothers who fight every day to keep a peaceful home, fight everyday to keep the children well and happy. There is now a great awareness of domestic, sexual absue and even coercive control. Where women who live as Wife, Mum, Daughter and Sister; there you will find untold stories about manipulation and abuse that has occured in different shapes and sizes. The barriers that come up against women are very real but the unique nature of each experience does not simply have the same exit route as society would expect.

At the age of 20, I gave birth to my eldest. 8 years down the line, I am Mum to three wonderful individuals. I have said on many occassions that I have grown up with my children, from a very naive 19 year old to the woman I am today. There is no room here for the blame game, however, there is room for the truth. For the past 8 years, I have been married but single. What this means is that from the birth of my daughter, I have changed ever single nappy, done every bath time, every bedtime, every school concert, every dinner, every…really the list could go on. I’m not here to big myself up (although… Well done Beth, you’re a bloody saint) but I want to share my reality and the reality of many others. From the outside it may look like I am a willing housewife who adores her duties. Well, no. I am a woman who thrives in education, a woman who passionately desires to achieve and a woman who wants to be heard. The psychology behind all of this probably stem from the occassional sting of oppression, a constant reminder that I am just a woman, just a Mum, just a Wife. As I mentioned before, I have grown with my children and like a child I spent many years seeking affirmation from the people around me and it is a habit that has stayed with me. This deep scar is rooted at the centre of me. I fear that the words I say will be wrong, I fear that the wrong person will call my number, I fear that if I leave kitchen in a mess I will be less of a wife or Mum. The reality is, these deeply rooted struggles and scars are present among many. In all honesty most days just look like survival for me, but these kind of days are lessening. I am embracing my opportunity to study, embracing my opportunity to wear makeup, embracing my opportunity to stay up late to watch a series on BBC and finally, the saddest of all, I cling to this blog where I can share my thoughts in the knowledge that no one in my house actually reads it or is remotely interested in it. These opportunities are fulfilled with an underlying fear, however I have realised that I must claim my life back. Life was given by God and belongs to no one else.

To my sisters who do EVERYTHING and more. Power to you, POWER TO YOU! I am with you.

Speak your Mental Health.

Depression feels like a loyal acquaintance. The friction of its presence sands me down gently, sometimes roughly. The gentle whittling of its character, transforms my physical self into sediment rock – unyielding yet fragile. My shoulders hunch forward and my chest draws in, as I protect my heart from the pain in my mind.

Speak your truth, Speak your mental health.

Confrontation

As an individual, I have for a very long time tredded the rocky path of avoiding confrontation. Whether it’s the fear of being hurt or hurting someone else; I have been weighed down on so many occasions. Weighed down by the words of others, weighed down by the fear of letting people down and being weighed down by the future.

Reflecting upon this, I build up a landscape of various stages in my life where this fear of confrontation may be rooted. It is actually hard to say specifically as it is not directly rooted by a physical experience. However, the more I become aware of empathy and what this means within my life, I see strength and weakness. As a child, I was deeply effected by the pain of others. I recall one day in high school, my history teacher who in fact was quite an angry person (or seemed that way) came into class swiftly, in tears, abruptly putting a video tape on and then soon after leaving the class still in tears. To the entertainment of many in the class, this whole experience was quite amusing. Although it’s easy to laugh at the jokes being made, my curiosity bothered me and left me concerned for this teacher. Obviously there was nothing I could do, but the pain she felt, I recognised, I wanted to know that she was okay.

It is definitely hard to explain being an empath, without sounding like a goody two shoes or someone who lacks sense of humour. The truth is though, empathy goes beyond sensing the pain of others, it senses the elation of a fellow, proud parent who has just been told that they’re child has had a good day today (on the back of many bad ones). If we begin to explore aspects of empathy that are non traditional, we begin to understand more about our own values.

Drawing back to confrontation, it could be said that confrontation is the opposite of having empathy. However, we must broaden our understanding that empathy is dynamic and should not be confused for sympathy.

Today, my empathy was drawn in many directions. During a post school run visit to the park with the three children and the puppy, I was faced with an unexpected confrontation. As I attempted to round up the gang, I headed towards the park gate to signal that Mummy means what she says “it is time to go”. With this, my excited four year old boy began one last run across the park, following another group of kids his age. Unfortunately he bumped, tripped or something along those lines into one of the girls. The parent of this child immediately scooped her up and followed my son across the park… to wait for it… to make him apologise for bumping into his daughter. With the parents friend onlooking, my son ran to me with his head hanging in fear, fear that he was in trouble and fear that he had hurt someone.

My hopes for a cup of coffee at this point were nil. I therefore approached the parent who was cradling their child to be welcomed with “it’s okay he apologised”. In the hope that everyone was okay and we would exchange an amusing conversation about kids being kids, I apologised for any upset, to which I received judgemental stares as we exited the park. At this point, I really could have walked away being the passive person I am, but truthfully my heart went out to my son. He was embarrassed and sad. With no signs of blood or any sort of injury, my empathy was not with the child as bad as that may sound. The whole situation had been deranged into an ugly judgement on my children and I. Indeed, I stopped and with a polite yet defensive “Excuse me, I’m sorry she’s upset but…my son is not malicious, he has sisters and would never go out of his way to hurt another person. Also, if you need an apology you come directly to me, the Mother, not him, the child.” I did not speak up to cause pain to this family and I fully weighed up an understanding that I did not know what they were going through as individuals, however neither did they know that my son is one who struggles socially and has taken a long time to come out of his shell. In this moment, the confrontation towards my son and the atmosphere created left me on fire, this was a situation I had to confront for the sake of my children’s understanding that some times you have to stand up and express yourself, despite what is up against you.

To conclude, empathy is dynamic, confrontation is not negative, the two can work together… even if you are left with a need to cry out the emotions that experience brought (#empath)

Quote to sign off: “Well that was embarrassing” – my beautiful seven year old who tells jokes always at the right time!

Recognising Mental Health

When we talk about mental health in a casual or in depth way, are we considering our audience?

If we imagine walking into a meeting in the cabinet office, we’ll see a committee of representatives discussing issues that may or may not impact us directly. In that case, we better sit down and try and make sense of the discussion in hand. We leave with a better grasp about what is going on but do that thing when something has been explained five times and we just nod our head in confusion with the fear of looking silly if we ask for it to be explained one more time.

Recently, you may have noticed that there are more discussions and public posts regarding mental health. You may have also heard the phrase ‘mental health effects all of us’, well sure, having a physical body effects all of us, but what is your point? When we post or discuss mental health, most often we assume people understand what we are talking about or agree with us. The reality is that for many individuals, they will not recognise that they are being effected by mental health issues, instead they may put those feelings down to the current circumstances and expect it will all just pass with time. This may be due to many varying factors, such as culture, generation or gender for example.

If this is the case, we must begin talking about mental health in a less general and intimidating way. If we are going nurture and care for our dynamic communities, we must first understand who we are talking to. This doesn’t mean we should generalise as a result about our assumptions about others, but what we should be doing is enable ’empathy’ and ‘accommodating’ mode in our communication.

An example of this (emphasis on example), we may encounter a friend or work colleague who may be acting energetically, excitedly and perhaps erratically towards their work or daily tasks. We may respond by saying something witty like “someone’s in a good mood today”. Okay let’s pause here and understand the concept that excitement and anxiety cause almost identical physical reactions. I’m not suggesting a few energetic days in work or home mean there’s an underlying issue, but it is responsible to recognise those changes that continue over a longer period of time or reoccur.

There are a wealth of resources available to us now regarding mental health, including blogs. By reading, hearing the stories and reflections of others, we can educate the judgements of our subconscious to see that mental health is more than depression and anxiety. Mental health is as dynamic as our physical bodies are. You know that intense pain that occurs when you stub your little toe on the coffee table, well we wouldn’t say days later “I’ve got this really bad pain in my arm… it must be from when I stubbed my toe”. We need to approach our own mental health and the mental health of others creatively and dynamically. As a result, we cease trying to fit into societies understanding of mental health and begin to accept that areas within our health existed before the pandemic and we can react accordingly.

Read a blog, visit the NHS website, write a journal, speak to a counsellor… wherever you are at there is no harm in expanding our perspective about mental health. If not for ourselves but for our families and communities.

What weakness is blending into your everyday?

When we think about weaknesses, do we ever delve deep enough to truly make a fair and productive reflection?.
When I reflect upon my own weaknesses, I find myself contemplating outside opinions mostly and what the world has narrated to me from school, work to motherhood. Majority of the time we allow our understanding of ourselves to be defined by outward influences. Although this is a very common, human thing to do, we have to find a careful balance when processing opinions and feelings to the final output understanding.
This is easier said than done, mind you.

As much as I love the processing systems of a computer, we as humans hold far more responsibility to come up with opinions which consider many emotional complexities and factors. Very recently, I came to the conclusion that for majority of my life, I have actively defined myself as a tired person. There is part of me that feels silly even saying this, but as I mentioned earlier… We are only human.

When I say I actively defined myself as a tired person, this came in many forms. Being a Mum of three, I fully immersed myself in the coffee for survival generation. As much as I love a good cup of coffee, this small perk throughout the day only gave me minor mental energy… “Oh, time for a cuppa now!”. I don’t know why it took me so many years to realise that coffee was a mere comfort throughout the day and not this magic potion that would pull me through am to pm.
That’s the thing with the age we live in, we are surrounded with an array of tips, tricks and lifestyles that should make us everyday super heroes.The reality is though that as we lean on such comforts or tips, we mask over our own reality and strengths. Often, we are left with a fancy coffee pot and a wardrobe full of gym wear.
I mean these things do work to a certain extent, but eventually we do have to step back and do a bit of self analysis.
Being described by many family members as “a girl who needs herWe are only human. When I say I actively defined myself as a tired person, this came in many forms. Being a Mum of three, I fully immersed myself in the coffee for survival generation. As much as I love a good cup of coffee, this small perk throughout the day only gave me minor mental energy… “Oh, time for a cuppa now!”. I don’t know why it took me so many years to realise that coffee was a mere comfort throughout the day and not this magic potion that would pull me through am to pm.
That’s the thing with the age we live in, we are surrounded with an array of tips, tricks and lifestyles that should make us everyday super heroes.The reality is though that as we lean on such comforts or tips, we mask over our own reality and strengths. Often, we are left with a fancy coffee pot and a wardrobe full of gym wear.

I mean these things do work to a certain extent, but eventually we do have to step back and do a bit of self analysis.
Being described by many family members as “a girl who needs her sleep” left me feeling pretty lacking in self confidence and if they see it too, the it must be true. By allowing this to define me, I began to fear late nights and built up so much frustration with being a tired person. But for me, it isn’t enough to just accept something that has been hindering me slyly for many years.This was when I accepted that tiredness is my weakness and held a lot of unentitled control over me.
Now I’m in a position where I’m working on building up my resistance against tirerdness and the fear of fatigue. By actively altering my mindset in small ways, I’m now able to recognise the difference between physical tierdness and mental fatigue. Both things that previously defined me, no longer have control over my everyday life. I motivate myself by accepting my responsibilities with a target of having time to write and be creative when the children are asleep at the end of the day. By having that I begin to strengthen myself mentally and physically.


Coffee no longer gets the pat on the back… but I do. My self understanding is my control and power bank.
This is my personal experience of battling with a weakness and it all began with recognising it. Your Situation may be similar or polar opposite, I do however encourage delving deeper into understanding yourself more. It may seem a bit nit-picky to begin with, but that silly old thing that blends into your every day, could be impacting you more than you know.

Create, Educate, Encourage and Inspire

Have you ever been in the countryside as evening is drawing in, minimal artificial light and that kind of peace that makes you feel like you’re breathing for the first time.

While on a camping holiday in Pembrokeshire as a child, I distinctly remember waking in the middle of the night needing to use the bathroom, which was on the other side of the site. Quietly walking through the field with my Dad, avoiding bumping into tents. We gazed upwards to the midnight sky, which was like nothing I had seen before. Twenty years later the vision replays in my mind.

That night, the sky was weighing down over us like a vast canopy with layers upon layers of stars. I felt dizzy as I attempted to walk and permanently gaze. It took my breath away then and it takes my breath away now as I describe it. A natural phenomenon that prompts stories and inspiration.

When I contemplate how the light of a star reaches our tiny visual perspective here on Earth, it’s hard not to be impacted. It is said that the stars we see most probably still exist but what we are seeing is the state of the stars a few years ago. If this is true, the stars further away but still visible within our universe could potentially be billions of years old. Unfortunately or fortunately for us, there is no way of proving this. We may continue to bask in the great beauty of our solar system, as the light blasts through generations.

My friends in the sky, how can you be so many but so individually significant? Wherever my eyes choose to rest on your beautiful canvas, I will feel as tiny as you look to me. Your light is powerful, your community is vast. You’ve created stories, educated us, changed perspective and encouraged belief. Can we as humans, grains of sand over generations transform our story into one that will create, educate, encourage and inspire thousands of years later.

Our responsibility is clear, create testimonies where we are, love others who surround us, maintain our roaring identities that pave a way for the future to join. Because whether you like it or not, today will be visible 50 years from now.

“You’re a star, baby!”

I couldn’t resist…

Empathy is essential to us, as a human race.

It’s that time of year, when anticipation and joy is in the air. We enjoy the comfort of our cozy, festive homes and the tempting abundance of treats in every shop we visit. I honestly love Christmas and all the memories I have of Christmas are warm and happy. As a follower of Christ, I have always had this sense of celebration; not just for the gifts or prospect of a new year.

Jesus is my new beginning every day, He is the one that keeps me above water when the world is pulling me under.

Reflecting on the actual story of Christmas, I have thought about the journey Mary and Joseph made. For an expectant Mother and anxious Father, it would have been intense to say the least. They travelled strong by their faith in Gods plan and purpose. It’s the story we hear about in the Nativity plays and on the TV. But when we read further, we are reminded that the long journeys didn’t end there. After the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt to seek refuge from the threat and persecution stemming from King Herod.

Matthew 2:13

Reflecting on this part of the story with deeper thought and realism, I have feelings of despair of the unknown, pain for the those families whose sons were killed and an overwhelming sense of confusion. I believe the only way Mary, Joseph and the mourning families could see tomorrow after experiencing the murderous corruption, physically and mentally is by accepting that life is more than what is happening here, now.

In comparison, I think of the millions of individuals and families that flee from their homes, seeking refuge and the warmth of knowing their children are safe from the danger they faced. I want to speak carefully as I write this, as my understanding of the experiences people seeking refuge is so on the surface. All I know is that the level of pain and distress is in a category of its own. We hear stories of refugees in the news, always painted with a political stance. Politics has this dangerous way of minimizing the real experiences, it launches a load of questions and information our way that leaves us feeling overwhelmed by what is right and wrong.

This is where empathy is essential to us as a human race. If we first listen to story with empathy, we begin to find ourselves on the freezing cold journey, approaching a foreign land. We begin to think in a way which questions “what next?”, we stand in a pair of shoes that can only go forward.

Reading the story of Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt with baby Jesus, we know the details, we see the bigger picture. In that moment though, the reassurance Mary and Joseph had was their faith in God and the plans that had gone before them. They would have had very human experiences, very human pains and very human fears, but this was the only way forward for them as a family, a scorching fire was chasing them and they had to flee.

Having a faith is a bridge that opens a path into tomorrow, into a tomorrow better than today. Even if we don’t see that straight away, one day we will reflect and see the resilience, wisdom and character that our experiences has gifted us with. Faith varies all around, however you see yours just know that it is as essential as the blood flowing around our bodies. It is what breathes us into our future.