Enough is enough

Despite my greatest efforts, my resistance against embracing motherhood as a full time job has finally imobilised me.

I’ve told myself that I’m young enough to mother three children, have a full time job and a hobby. It’s taken me a good six years to crash and burn. I can sit back, telling my story and pushing the blame onto so many people and so many things. However, it not only enables my determination to burn out, it fills me with a resent that is only eating away at my energy, daily.

There is alot of talk these days about self love, which I thought I understood. Self love is pampering, time off and relaxation right? Wrong. I am now coming to understand and accept that self love is making good choices for your own self. It’s taking time and energy to understand ourselves the way we wish others would. I’ve reached a point in my life where I now realise the only one who can make me happy in this life is myself. Short term, of course we can rely on the happinesses of the every day, however when we primarily rely on that to have a sense of fulfillment we are setting ourselves up to fall down.

In reality, not every day can we full of joy, happiness and fulfillment; we naturally face challenging times on a daily basis too. It’s what gives us balance as human beings in society. Sometimes the balance is not level and our underlying ability to cope with small stresses begins to give way, resulting in physical and mental health issues.

How then, can we establish a strong, underlying foundation of fulfillment despite the everyday circumstances? We can begin by saying “no”. For me this was the only starting point to cease the destructive cycle of opening the door to the relentless pressure from responsibilities and personal expectations. When we can begin to say no, we begin to take control over what we’re allowing to enter our minds and ultimately we are getting to know our needs and wants as individuals.

This journey of self love is at its rawest stage, currently. The small amount of strength I am experiencing so far is maintaining me and keeping me afloat as I discover more about my needs and wants as a woman and Mother.

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.

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.

Listen to your body & mind

Have you ever heard the phrase “sleep when you die”? What do you think of when you hear it?

As a counsellor by trade and an all round sensitive soul; words impact me greatly. I recall being taught in university that every word and phrase is valuable in the process of communication and therapy. I tapped into this as I truly believe that the words we choose or our subconscious chooses to use, expresses more about what’s being said. This effected my practice and relationships in a way that was both a curse and a cure.

If you didn’t already know, I’m Welsh by heritage. In Wales it’s quite common to see individuals speaking with their hands and using phrases that although spoken in English are a bit trivial and sound like a joke. “I’ll be there now, in a minute” as amusing as it sounds, when determining an ETA this makes complete sense to me. Not quite now, not quite in a minute but very soon!

Wherever you come from, we can agree that communication from destination to destination and from one relationship to another. Being understood is the difference between our personal opinions and emotions being valued and undervalued. As I’ve blogged about before, our personal stories are to be treasured and not to be thrown out into the open sea to be caught by any wave passing by. The same goes for the reverse of this. If we catch on to any opinion, trend or emotion that flies our way, we open ourselves up to be deeply affected by things that hold no benefit or positive outcome both ways.

In real time, imagine being a parent in the school yard who socially attracts many individuals! You are unoffcially the friend, the Mum, the teacher assistant, the governor, the mediator and the taxi! How exhausting. Your capacity to offer quality understanding and support to each of these roles fluctuate, people will feel let down and you will burn out emotionally. The same goes for the content we expose ourselves too on a daily basis.

The phrase “sleep when you die” to me is a backwards motivation to get stuff done. It bothered me for a while, with 2 kids at the time and one on the way, all I wanted to do was sleep! Even now with 3 young children, sleep in my constant goal. I had this pressure taunting me though, that people were achieving more with their time, while I was cleaning up after kids and craving sleep.

These type of phrases communicate to a very impressionable generation, that you are going to miss out if you don’t chase that money or promotion! In reality, in order to create a smooth path of wellbeing and professional success you will need more than lack of sleep.

By surrounding yourself with stimulation for your mind, whether this is reading a new book or blog! Creating a daily space to find peace through meditation and prayer, eating well and most importantly listening to your bodies call to rest. We may not be able to control all the trends or communication we come in contact with, but how we react is down to each of us. We may have to feel the pressure of fire phrases before we understand if it’s relevant or not, but the next time we know to do a U turn and seek positivity in our interactions with this world.

Part time work and Motherhood

Part time work and Motherhood seem to go hand in hand in this generation and those part time jobs are not always suited to the skills of the woman in that role. Do we open our eyes a little bit wider to see that actually, many women are being undermined in the workplace because they are seen as the primary carer for their children and require flexibility?


At 27, I have spent many of my years as a Mum being told that I will have plenty of time when the kids grow up to do what I want. In all honesty, now is the time I was to progress, now is the time I want the equal opportunities to earn that better wage and for it to fit around my family. And do you know what, I know I can do it because I worked 32 hours a week walking around a hospital ans then returned home to two children, all while heavily pregnant. I’m now on the sick because the rigid nature of my work place has torn me apart. I questioned family or work? So many times and my answer has not changed, I want both.

People are always going to procreate and family costs money, so I will need to work. But it’s not just about the money, its embracing the diversity of our abilities, the skills we have gained from school and from motherhood, we have so much to offer to so many different roles. On many occasions I’ve heard Mothers being described as individuals who pour out love and sacrifice their own wants and needs… Sounds like an angel. In the right context I agree with this statement (I’m not talking about sacrificing nights out for multiple orders of milk and story books), we give up a lot of things we would have done if we didn’t have children and that’s personal to each individual. I challenge the reassurance that “you’ll have plenty of time when your kids have grown up”. Actually I want my sons and daughters to see Mummy sat at the table with a pile of books. I want them to see me balancing life with bags under my eyes. I want them to see me jump up and down when I get that job I’ve worked so hard for. I want them to see the better days when we’ve spent the last month scraping the barrel in order to pay the rent. Why do I have to wait until they have left home to display to them the realities of life. I need them to see what type of person their Mum is because one day they will look back on these every day moments and understand a little bit about who they are and what they are capable of.

Now
I want to ask you, how do we move forward with gender equality?
How do we make it possible for families to care for their loved ones but also have a job that is fulfilling personally and financially?

For as long as our bodies are living, so is our mental health.

According to the NHS, 1 in 10 women in the UK suffer with postnatal depression within the first year of having a baby. The evidence shows that this is an issue impacting many women but I really struggle to put a timescale on postnatal depression. I believe that pregnancy, birth and being Mum presents experiences that can be traumatic on many levels and prompt ongoing feelings of anxiety and depression. We also have to factor in hereditary conditions and personal circumstances external to motherhood.

Postnatal depression is indeed a prevalent condition for this generation but I believe many women feel safe holding on to the diagnosis of ‘postnatal depression’ because it presents the idea that eventually it will come to an end and like any other physical injury it will heal over time. This is the narrative I used to tell myself about my own experience of being a Mum, yet 8 years down the road I have come to the realisation that in fact I do suffer with depression. From a young age, I remember moments where I struggled to understand why people had such a big problem with my shyness and quiet nature. The consistent unintentional attack on my character gave me a complex that was hard to shake off. Every social situation I entered into, I anticipated people to view me as a shy individual who had nothing to say and would have limited opportunities because people would not want to invest time in understanding me.

As sad as this story may sound, today I am a proud quiet natured person who enjoys speaking my mind when I know it is relevant and beneficial for myself or others. Unfortunately I am left with a number of experiences that stay in their place in my memory, reminding me of how I felt when people pointed me out, the embarrassment and the judgement can be recalled.

The same way, when the midwife told me “to get up and take responsibility” as my 20 year old self tried to snooze and understand the dynamics of feeding and caring for my first baby. The judgement and tone of her voice tore through my sensitive, prone to anxiety and sadness type of character. These examples of mine are mild and at times quite amusing, but there are moments that will wipe me out and turn my attempts to sleep a time for distress and tears as I recall the traumas.

When we try to define our mental health, just like in school we are looking for the right group for us to fit in to. The group that sounds most like is, the group that is most welcoming. We have to understand that our time is never up, we do not have to define ourselves by our current circumstances. Look left and right, see how our traumas of the past and hope’s for the future are effecting us today. Our stories are wealthy in education, the past is gone but the emotions very much live on.

Do not be afraid of seeking further help from your support systems, do not be afraid of judgement. Whether you are returning to work or to the playground, it is no ones business to tell you how long you should be suffering with postnatal depression for. The timescale for mental health is non existent, for as long as our bodies are living, so is our mental health.

Take some time to think about mental health and what it means to you. How do you define your mental health, is it by a diagnosis, is it by your personal understanding? Whatever your experience is, start a process of accepting that there will be ups and downs, people may judge and say hurtful things but these things only see you for face value. Your mental health story holds so much richness, so much value and during lifes spinning wheel things will be rough and smooth, we will be small but develop as more substance (experience) is added.

Claiming Joy, Renouncing FOMO

Yes it is nearly Christmas. Whether you celebrate it because of beliefs or tradition, we all seem to hold this sense of anticipation from November onwards. I wonder if this is the excitement of good times ahead, prospects of a fresh new year or just the warmth of childhood memories. Whatever it is, for alot of people this time of year is much anticipated.

As I prepare for Christmas, I seem to be making more and more excuses to do the things that bring me joy. I am a total winter bird, everything about Autumn and Winter brings me gooey feelings of romance and warmth. So, why is it I still find myself asking Google “when to put up Christmas decorations”, seeking confirmation of when I should allow myself joy, from a search engine. I instinctively know that October is too early for our family but the second week of November I get an urge to cozy up and have a tree in my living room.

Last year, I was heavily pregnant in November and due the week before Christmas, so I had already given myself the go ahead to buy presents and decorate early. This year I find myself exploring a variety of excuses. My top two are: after this year of pandemic, we need a joyful environment and we owe it to the baby who spent last Christmas day onwards in hospital.

Why am I making excuses for accessing joy? Why am I looking to others for confirmation?

Decorations aside, this is a lesson I want to hold on to from now on. When we wait on life to bring us joy, our expectations grow and we miss the precious moments of joy that pass us every day. I find that with a full on routine with family and work, I was missing out on joy in the most basic moments. In my earlier years of motherhood I felt entitled to bonuses and time off (as if paid employment) and if I didn’t access these benefits, I would feel distressed and throw a adult tantrum. It is true, the more children you have; the more of your time is taken up but you become an expert of your own needs and the needs of your family. This, for me is an area where I am gifted with the greatest satisfaction. Just to know that no one has experienced my children and my husband like I have, no one can feel the pain or the joy that has moulded me into the person I am today.

With great happiness, I’m claiming the joy of motherhood and renouncing FOMO (fear of missing out)!

Protect your story, nuture your mental health.

Mental health, it is a subject that is prevalent within motherhood. Whether you’re a Grandmother, Mother, Aunt or just know one, there’s no denying that mental health problems have existed in motherhood for generations.

During my time training in family therapy, I felt extremely drawn to the power of telling a story in a secure setting. Our mental health is so precious and it worries me that people’s mental health is exposed to all the elements of today’s society. Imagine it like this, our hearts are protected by skin, muscle and rib cage. It’s not part of us we see, but when we expose ourselves to stress; that physical core of us often experiences tension and palpitations which are not part of the normal functioning of our hearts. But when we safely understand our own limitations; some stress can motivate us to move onwards.

The same goes for our mental health, when we expose our emotions and story to the elements of social media, work colleagues or even that family member who thinks mental health is just being happy or sad, we expose alot more than we first think. The truth is, some people just don’t care and you will feel this when you pour your heart out, only to get a one word response or respond abusively.

Bringing awareness to mental health is really important for this generation and the next, but do not expose your story to a world who may just disregard your experience because that poses the risk of becoming your narrative.

Your story is your treasure. It is the experience that made you the person you are today and naturally you will be an example to the next generation. Feeling secure in our own mental health, we should find the processes that will work for us individually and this probably will change from time to time, but treat your mental health with care. Patients in hospital do not have a public audience commentating on their illness and recovery; they have nurses, doctors, support staff and family caring and nurturing the physical needs.

Bring awareness to mental health, process it carefully, use time and reliable sources. See that broken bridge in front of you, see the tools at your side and work alone or together to get to the other side. Then you will look back and can say “yes, you can see the new ground I have laid, you can see where the bad and good have joined but I’m here now. If I walk back and forth over this bridge, my experience will stand strong”


Fussy eater or not

When my son was two, he would only eat rice cakes and apples and bananas and grapes and carrots and oranges and mangoes and the list could go on. He was pretty much Peter Rabbit.

From the outside I was proud of his preferences but after a while I had this fear that something was wrong (saying that now makes me giggle). My eldest daughter definitely ate more meals, she definitely had snacks, she definitely drank lots of water…

And there is the problem.

Have you ever tried one of these diets that “will suit your lifestyle”, are easy to follow and accessible for all. Well I certainly have. They really work wonders once you’ve studied the diet, understood the rules and been inspired by other customer experiences. This may be different for individuals but for me, I can only follow a diet for so long and then I become an unruly member who wants to cook fried chicken and rice and peas from scratch. For me, I struggle to pull back from my need to cook creatively or satisfy my craving for certain foods!

This is in no way an anti diet post but it’s a call to analyse and understand our own perspective on eating habits, especially when it comes to our children. It’s taken me seven years to figure out that actually children don’t like rules. They are born as an unique individual who develop their own taste by trial and error… but eventually they become three-nangers who know who they are, what they like and what they want. As a Mum it’s part of our make up to want our children to be nourished – after all that’s how they grow physically and mentally. For us, this stage can be challenging and often cause a phase of anxiety that is unpredictable and can inevitably reflect onto our children.

In hope of releasing some of this anxiety that I know many Mamas deal with. I want to ask, do the recipe books for babies really help or do they create a barrier between your eating and your child’s. It’s essential that we educate ourselves with what babies can and can’t eat and at what age, for safety purposes. But if we step back and recognise the anxieties related to our childrens eating, we begin the process of trusting our own instinct and put the books away for a rainy day. Most importantly we cease trying make our children walk the same path as their siblings.

Preferences are always going to change, so let’s not get too attached to those go-to’s but also let’s maintain a discipline by limiting the amount of options we offer. After all “Mummy’s house is not a restaurant”