Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Swapping a punch in the face for a pat on the back


Huge day for my girl and I today. It's the end of the Playcentre term, and our co-ordinator is leaving us. She's been at the centre for 9 years, but felt it was time for her to move on. So we had a going away party, with Playcentre families from years gone by, and other members of the community attending too, to say farewell.

I haven't been regularly attending the centre with my daughter for most of this term. I've gone to a couple of meetings, and done a few other things, but really I've pulled back in a major way since going into hospital. So going this morning felt really scary.

I felt anxious being around so many people, especially because I'm not feeling very sociable, and I feel like I don't have much to add to conversation. And because there are so many questions about how we're doing and what we've been doing. Also, I feel ashamed that I'm not helping out as much as others are, at a time when our centre really needs it. It's hard to look people in the eye and talk to them when you know they're going through hard times too, but they're still managing to work hard to keep the centre going.

So this morning was very overwhelming. In fact, I very nearly didn't go. But I did. My daughter had miles of fun playing with the other children, and I was put on parent help duties as soon as I walked in the door. Still have to get some flecks of paint off my new jeans, lol.

We got home about half an hour ago, both of us exhausted. I put my girl to bed for her nap, and proceeded to start berating myself some more for all of the ways I'm letting down Playcentre and our small community. "Blah-blah is going through this and that and still managing to go to every session. Such and such has this problem, but she still bakes beautiful cakes and brings them in. Etc, etc"

But then it hit me. I went today, dammit! I participated. And although I haven't been going regularly of late, I still see myself as a member of that group. I still have people round for coffees and lend an ear to them when they're under the weather. I still made soup for our Winter Lantern Festival. I still collect collect up jars and share them out amongst our members who bottle preserves. All of those little things mean I still participate, and I'm still a part of the centre.

And that actually means something much bigger. It means I've worked hard to change a pretty deeply engrained negative behaviour of mine. Because not so long ago, if I had missed a few sessions of anything I was involved in, I would have been out that door, and they never would have seen me again. I would have avoided phone calls from people, I would have pretended I wasn't home when people knocked on the door, I would have hid from people in public. All because my social phobia creates elaborate reasoning's in my head as to why I should be so ashamed for "failing" at being a member of something, that I can never forgive myself.

So I haven't been going to sessions because I haven't felt up to it- too bad! I'm not a great conversationalist right now- tough! I need to catch up on paper work and other jobs for the centre- oh well! I'm not going to focus on that, or on punishing myself over it. I'm not going to punch myself in the face. I'm going to be proud, I'm going to pat myself on the back. Because, in my life, in my recovery process, I've achieved a great success!

Depression and anxiety. A two-headed beast Mamamia

Depression and anxiety. A two-headed beast Mamamia

Just finished reading this post on Mamamia's site. Thought it was so good, I had to share.

The writer talks about realising they were depressed, and the experience of taking medication. 

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Gripping onto positvity with all my power

I know my last post got pretty dark at the end there. I'm sorry if it was a bit too heavy for some of you, but I've promised myself to always tell the truth here, and those feelings were truthful.

But I refuse to give in to those dark thoughts without a fight.

My daughter is at preschool again today. She went yesterday too, so today is my last day to myself for the week. I got up with her this morning and gave her breakfast, and we watched kid's educational videos on You Tube together. She was in a mood for giving lots of hugs and kisses, and we giggled and played together.  Then I got her dressed. We picked out an adorable outfit together for her to wear. All purples, set off with a purple My Little Pony skirt. She was really excited because the motif on it had a horsey and a ducky and a star. She was full of sweetness and light this morning, and I almost didn't want her to go out the door for the day.

After she left, the house was silent. I thought about all the things I could do, should do, but by 8.40am I'd crawled back into bed for, "just a little more sleep". I didn't wake up again until 12.40pm.

Pangs of guilt. I've wasted so much of a perfectly good, sunny day. But I can't bully myself about it, because I know if I start beating myself up about that one thing, I will not be able to stop. I am merciless when it comes to finding fault with myself. I do not stop until I've scrutinised and reviled every corner of my very essence. Sometimes my body just can't take the mental beating I've given it, and I'll start vomiting. It's not bulimia, I don't want to make myself throw up. It's that I become so distraught and tense that my stomach reacts.

I need to remember that it's just the depression talking. It's like a demon in my head causing me to over-react to every little mistake. The depression fogs me up so badly, I can't see the bigger picture. It makes my world so small, but everything within it is magnified to the extreme.  

So I know that on days like this when I've made a mistake like wasting time sleeping, I need to be extra alert to those negative messages I send myself. I have to spend the rest of the day absolving myself by being as productive as I can. And every time one of those self hating thoughts come to mind, I have to do some pretty advanced mental gymnastics to jump on it before it takes hold. Because the self hatred over small mistakes is an over-reaction.

I started my day feeling so much love and happiness with my daughter. And it's her that I really need to keep those awful thoughts at bay for. She's going to come home from preschool tonight, all excited and  wanting to tell mummy all about it, and needs to find me ready to be focussed on her. So I must recognise what is the small stuff, and forgive myself for it- not for my sake, but because my daughter doesn't deserve her bubble of happiness to be popped by me and my unbalanced self discipline. 

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Feeling flat as a pancake- why, why, why?

Gah! It's happening again today. Nothing terrible has happened - in fact things that could be seen as good have happened- but I feel rotten! I feel on the verge of tears, and I'm so drained.

Had the job interview this morning. I left an hour early to get their on time, but ended up 5 mins late because we got so lost. That set me off kilter a little, but honestly, I didn't get the impression they were overly worried. They had already told me on the phone the place was notoriously hard to find, so I think they were prepared to be slightly lenient.

I think over all I gave a good interview. I think I said all the right things. But now I'm beating myself up. I keep thinking about how much of a loser I am, and how if I get the job I'll just mess it up any way. And about how I won't fit in with all the 'normal' people with 'normal' personalities that work there.

I know- it's a bit self pity trip, right? But that's how I'm feeling. It's the self hating, self- doubting social phobia coming in. Now I've been to the interview the realities of getting out there and being in work environment seem so much more clear and frightening.

If I get this job, I'll be forced out of my safe little cocoon I've made for myself. Don't get me wrong- I hate being at home, alone with my child, with few friends, and too much time to dwell on things. I'm often bored, and feel like a waste of space.

But in saying that, there is a feeling of safety in it. I don't have to challenge myself to be in the company of others, or to be responsible for much other than the needs of my family.

If I go back to the work force, everything about me will be judged. My personality, my skills, my speed and efficiency- everything. What if they don't like me and think I'm weird. What if I'm 'that' person in the workplace, that no-one clicks with? What if I try my hardest, but still can't get the job right? It all seems so real, because I've felt that way in jobs before.

I'm really scared now. What if this job doesn't make things better- what if it makes everything worse? What if I am just a complete failure and waste of air?

Being at home, safe in my cocoon, at least I can deceive myself some of the time that I'm actually a worthwhile person. But paid work shines a light on people and shows them up for what they truly are- valuable, contributing members of society, or valueless scum.

And that brings me to my biggest fear at all. That I don't deserve to be alive. I know that seems like a dramatic leap to make- from not being good in a job to not deserving to live- but that's where my mind goes. Because I feel unemployable and unlike-able and weak, I feel like I don't earn my way in life. I'm lucky enough to live in a country with a welfare system that pays for people like me to have food, clothing and shelter when we are unable to get by on our own. But I feel like such a failure at life that I would never be able to get by on my own without that safety net to catch me each time I fall. I've been on and off government benefits my whole life. So really, if that false safety net wasn't there, I would have not had the money for the essentials of life. And because I feel like I'll never be a capable person, doesn't that mean I'm just draining my community. Wasting money that should go to people who will become productive, contributing members of society. How do I deserve to live?

Wow that got really dark. But that's how I truly feel, and I promised to always be honest on this blog. And I guess writing all this down quickly got me to the source of why I'm feeling so bad today.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Wow- this could be life changing.

I haven't been able to blog the last couple of days. Life came and grabbed me out of my seat, kicked me in the pants, and set me on course for positive change.

Fingers triple crossed I reach the destination.

It's Sunday evening here in New Zealand. Early Friday evening I received a phone call that surprised the snot out of me. It was from a preschool I'd applied for a job at. It had been a couple of weeks since I'd applied, and I'd pretty much given up on hearing back. So I was really taken off guard when they rang. Initially, all I heard was preschool, so I thought it was my daughter's preschool ringing about something or other. Then I realised- they were calling to offer me an interview! I must have sounded daft on the phone- casual, then confused, then scrambling to sound professional and enthusiastic!

An interview! Tomorrow! I can't believe it! The job market here is insane these days- supermarket's will advertise a position and have upwards of 2000 applicants. So to even get considered for a job is amazing. An interview? Something about my application must have stood out.

I'm picturing myself in the job. It's an unqualified position in the nursery.  I'd be helping with the under-2's, writing learning stories, hands on. I really think I can do this! I'm actually feeling a little excited about something for the first time in months. I'm thinking about how it will boost my self esteem and confidence. I'll be contributing to society, to our family. We'll have some more money coming in- that will make a huge difference to our problems. I'll have routine in my day. I'll grow some self pride again.

It's a full time position. That will mean big changes. My daughter will have to go into full time care. Right now she does 2 days a week, and she loves it. But five days a week, 8- 5- that's a lot of preschool for a little girl. That's a lot of preschool for me! Even if she copes well with being away from me for that long, will I cope with being away from her? That's why if I get offered the position I'm going to see if I can negotiate some hours for her at the centre I'll be at. I know I'll be there to work, so I couldn't expect to spend a lot of time with my daughter. But even just seeing her for brief periods throughout the day might be good. We might both feel a lot more secure knowing we are both in the same place.

So that all sounds fantastic, right? Well, here are the potential problems I have to be realistic about. Where I'm at right now I feel like I'm capable with coping with the position. My mood is gradually lifting, my new medication is slowly starting to work, and the excitement of something new and positive coming into my life is really giving me a boost. But what happens when my mood inevitably crashes again? When the shine goes out of the world and I lose patience and concentration and become lethargic and tearful again? Will I still be able to maintain a good standard of work? Or will I let them down? Will they resent having someone like me working with them? Will I lose my job?

That's really scary. Really, really scary. Because I hate letting people down, especially those in positions of power. I hate feeling like employers should have employed someone else, because I'm not working well enough for them. I hate feeling like they're stuck with me. I've left jobs before because I've felt I wasn't worthy of the position.

But, I cannot stay frozen in time, not moving forward and striving to do better for myself and my family because of those fears. I have to try, even if I think I won't be worthy somewhere down the track, because if I don't keep cutting out that track in the overgrown jungle of life, I'll get swallowed up and strangled by the weeds of depression.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Funny Confession Ecard: Silence is Golden, except when coming from children... Then you'd better go check to see what's broken.

Funny Confession Ecard: Silence is Golden, except when coming from children... Then you'd better go check to see what's broken.

This obviously isn't mine. I didn't make this. But it's so apt! 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

My 2 year old knows how to express her rights to her body. I'm so proud.

I found a great article on the web today. I don't own my child's body

It got me thinking about my daughter, and something she's become comfortable with telling us and others recently. If she doesn't want to be touched, hugged or kissed, she will say so. Very clearly.

We haven't coached her to do this. Frankly, we thought she was too young to explain the concept to. But somehow, she's learned it all on her own. I'm so proud and relieved.

If someone tries to hug, kiss or touch her in anyway when she doesn't want to be, she will say firmly, "No cuddle!" or "No kiss!" or, most surprisingly, "No! My body!"

Sometimes this means we don't get hugs from her when we want them. And that can sting the feelings a little. But she is right- it is her body, and if she doesn't want to be touched, nobody- including us- has the right to make her.

My wee gem is a really affectionate girl by nature. She loves to hug and kiss everyone that she loves. There is no shortage of hugs in our house!

But it's perfectly natural that sometimes she doesn't want to. And how wonderful is it that she's learned that it's ok to say no to touching already. It makes me feel reassured that if the unthinkable happened, and someone tried to touch her inappropriately, she is already well on her way to learning the confidence to know that's never ok. We will keep encouraging her to stand up for her personal rights, and to know that only she gets to decide what happens to her body.

Dyed my hair crazy colours- had a visit from a social worker...

As part of my plan to change my self- perception for the better, and to have a little fun, I got my hair done today.

It's been over three years since I've had a haircut or colour put through. My hair was really long, really damaged, and really, really drab. I looked like one of those stressed out mothers who never look after themselves, because, well, I am one of those stressed out mothers who never look after themselves. Looking unkempt and boring doesn't do wonders for the old self- esteem.

Recently I've been trying to take better care of my appearance. We don't have a lot of money, but I've squeezed our funds a little bit in my direction for once, and bought a few new clothes. I even did some clothes swapping with friends, getting rid of some of the nice stuff that had been sitting in my wardrobe since I put on weight, and getting back some funkier stuff in my size.

But a good hair-do is pricey, so I've had to wait patiently! It's so hard to wait when you know you're ready for change. Lucky for me Mother's Day and my birthday rolled around recently and I scored a voucher and some cash. Boo-ya! Off to the hair dressers for me!

So I spent the day in the salon getting my hair cut and coloured- blonde, orange, and purple. It looks completely crazy, very cool, and not in the least bit boring. And I feel great about it.

I can look at myself and feel like I look like the person on the outside that I want to feel like on the inside- fun, confident, fashionable. Someone with self respect. And that brings me that little bit closer to having self respect.

I hadn't been home that long this afternoon when I had an unexpected knock at the door. It was a social worker from CYFS- (New Zealand's version of Child Protection Services). She was coming to check that things were going ok since I cam home from hospital, and that my daughter was safe and well. That's a positive thing. I'm glad that they're making sure my child is ok. But it's still CYFS, and that's still a little unnerving.  Having an official person coming to check that you're being a safe, loving parent is pretty scary.

But I think the visit went well. She said that she can tell from watching Anastasia is a very emotionally secure child, and that lets her know we show her a lot of love and caring. And she told me again that she thinks I'm a great mother. I'm just unwell right now. And I did the right thing by calling them that day a few weeks ago to get help. Yes, I reported myself as a bad parent.

More about that next post.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Baby Squared with Jane Roper

Baby Squared with Jane Roper

I have decided I am in love with this blog. Go have a look. She gets it. 

Monday, 18 June 2012

Wow! People are reading my posts?

This feels a little strange. I mean, I want people to read my posts, of course! But I didn't really think that would happen. It's nice.

I wonder who is reading my posts and why? Do they find them interesting? Helpful? Boring?

If you've been reading, Maybe you could leave me a comment about how you found my blog, or if you relate to it.

I've got lots more ideas for posts, but to be honest I'm feeling a little panicky right now, so I need to go deal with that before writing. Maybe a walk and definitely a cigarette. I know, smoking is terrible, and smoking as a parent is even worse. I'll post about that at some point too.

I have a little energy this morning- just a little.

It's Tuesday morning here, and that means my daughter has just gone with dad in the car to preschool. Preschool is a new thing for us, and it's been working well so far. She goes all day on a Tuesday and Wednesday, and has been since I spent a week in a psychiatric ward about a month ago.

The idea is that I get a break to myself and so does she. I felt so guilty sending her at first. Not because I think there's anything wrong with sending a child to preschool. The guilt came more from why she was going. I knew I needed to get away from her for a while, and that felt wrong. My depression was making me short tempered with her, and resentful that she needed ALL of my attention, ALL of the time. But I felt guilty for feeling that way.

But now, a few weeks in, I'm mostly over that guilt. She LOVES preschool. She comes home so excited to tell me everything she's done. She's still not able to speak in intelligible full sentences at her age, but she gabbles away, and I pick up the key words. "Paint mummy!" "Slide mummy" "Play dough mummy!" It's great to know that she's getting something good out of this separate time as well. 

But back to the slightly increased energy. This happens every week on preschool days for me. I guess it's because I know it's MY time, and I don't want to waste it. There's slightly more spring in my step as I drag myself out of bed at 6am to get her showered and dressed. I get some enjoyment from picking out the prettiest of her preschool clothes for her to wear. I smile and hug her with a bit more love, because I know I will miss her today, but know that I get to have my own space. What a luxury!

It's so quiet now. I can drop my shoulders and release some of that tension I always carry. I'll go and have a shower now. I haven't had one for 3 days.

I'm on my time now.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Hi- I'm a little scared about doing this....

But I want to create a blog about my life, and my family, and how it's affected daily by my mental illness.

I have depression- the kind that will be with me for the rest of my life. That doesn't mean I'm always depressed. It means that I'm sometime well for months or even up to a couple years at a time. But a crash is always around the corner- I'll never truly be rid of depression from my life.

I also have social phobia disorder, AKA social anxiety. This is a commonly misunderstood problem, and I will try to explain more about that in my blog.

And, just for good measure, I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder. In simple terms, this means I carry a higher than normal level of anxiety with me in everyday life.

I have a husband and a gorgeous two year old daughter. And, right now, I'm working hard to recover from a bout of depression. Life's pretty tough right now.

Why did I want to start this blog? Well, there are a few reasons. One is to help me work through this bout of depression, because it's the darkest place I've been in for a long time. I haven't felt this bad for years, and I want to get some of how I'm feeling, "OUT". And maybe to deconstruct it a bit, and try and figure out what's made things so bad this time, and how I can fix it.

Also, I want to share. Because for some months now I've been searching for help, answers, someone to relate to, and I haven't found what I've needed. Maybe in sharing my story I will? And maybe I can help someone else?

So, that's enough of an introduction for now I think. I'll be back to share more soon