About Me

Kent, United Kingdom
I have the perfect family but still struggle to find the light in the darkness of post-natal depression.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Terrible twos - or two's company?

So as I mentioned, Miss T has reached that milestone of her second birthday.
And so have we, relatively unscathed. At the moment, at least...
And as well as a turning point in her life, the seemingly random date of December 24, 2008, was earmarked as the time to discuss the next steps in our lives.
Namely, the question of more children.
Life being what it is, we haven't actually had that conversation yet but we both know it's waiting to be had.
So in a bid to be more prepared I thought I would attempt to sort out some of my thoughts - I'm always up for a challenge...
I've said before that we've always seen ourselves as a family of four. And that doesn't include any furry additions!
So the next step for us would of course be another baby.
But is our blueprint for our lives a good enough reason for such an upheaval?
Why do people have more children? Would it be for Miss T, for us, or something else? And is it fair to her, or us?
Some of my friends who are on their second are coming out of those early months of chaos and seem to be reaping the benefits - their children can entertain each other and provide company for each other.
But trips out for coffee and cake are becoming more of a rarity!
It is perhaps testimony to how well they have managed that I have been able to think about having my fantastic contraceptive implant removed without breaking into a cold sweat. But of course that isn't the same as thinking about being the parent of two...
And I can see that my work situation at the moment, which is leaning towards the freelance/self-employed route, is very flexible and so perhaps ideal for adding to our family.
But at the same time the thought of the reality of another baby is frankly terrifying.
If I am completely honest, I am not sure our relationship would survive another bout of PND with the added pressure of a pre-schooler to look after. Or that I would.
Of course, there is no guarantee that it would all happen again. And of course there would be a support network in place already.
So is it fair to deprive Miss t of a sibling, and Mark of another child because I'm scared of something that may not even happen?
I don't know yet. I'll let you know if I work it out!

Friday, 26 December 2008

Festive fun?

So we've almost made it through Christmas.
Which means we've also survived Tasha's second birthday. It's a very strange time for me - I'm another year on from those early days but as things move on I'm struck by how much I haven't.
I was also struck these last few days by how quickly things change. Not just the big things, like having an independent little girl instead of a baby now, but the little things, like how a day can seemingly go from good to bad in the blink of an eye.
A lot of that is down to Miss T, of course, and how she is handled, and whether she's had enough sleep, but some of it is also down to me and my expectations. If things turn out as I planned and hoped then all is fine - but if they don't, all is most definitely not fine.
I know that's something I need to work on, but it's hard after a life time of planning every little detail to let go and just let things be.
Maybe it should be one of my New Year's resolutions....

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Thursday things

Another one of those interesting mixed days....or weeks....or should that be months....
Progress in some areas, and I'm loving spending time with Miss T when I'm not working, but issues in other places.
And, I'm afraid to confess, as usual they are my issues with other people's comments.
I picked her up from the lovely childminder's this afternoon to be told she had been unsettled, which was not unexpected as she reverted to crying when Mark dropped her off this morning.
Of course she was fine, and managed to make two Christmas decorations and play with her two best friends, but it was a bit of a change from the sessions where she waves us off happily.
Wise woman that she is, the childminder suggested the change may be due to the fact that I'm now working quite a lot, and she is now there for longer sessions instead of a two-hour play time to keep the routine going.
I'm sure she is right, and it just means a bit more time for Miss T to adjust to the change. It's by no means a disaster, and wasn't even a big deal for the childminder, who pointed out even though it had been a difficult day it was no way near as bad as the early days with lots of screaming.
But can you guess what's coming?
Massive maternal guilt! I almost went straight home and phoned my new temporary work colleagues to say I wouldn't be in!
Luckily I realised that was ridiculous but still felt quite miserable for a while.
And there was more misery after a festive visit to a friend's yesterday, where there is a small baby in the family.
He was not there but his mum was and was positively glowing with pride and love for him. It was obvious how much she loves being with him and is genuinely amazed by each new thing he does.
It was lovely to see but it did make me feel sad that I missed out on all that - part of me is still astounded that anyone can actually enjoy something I found so hellish.
But let's end on a happier note - more progress to report. I'm working on strategies to deal with those moments where I could happily strangle her (and I know for sure I'm not alone in those!) and they seem to be working. It's early days but no strangulation incidents have occured, even though there has been dog tail pulling, dog leg lifting (don't ask me why!), dog water spilling, dog food throwing....and no, the strategy does not involve getting rid of the dogs!

Monday, 15 December 2008


Lucky people - two posts in two days! Although it took me three days to write the last one, so technically it should be two posts in a week...
I feel the need to record tonight's happenings because I am proud of how I handled it. And who knows, tomorrow I might need something to refer back to!
It was another bedtime which didn't go exactly to plan, although it started very well. Miss T asked to go up for her bath, we had lots of fun, got ready for bed with no problems.
Things began to go awry during story time when instead of listening intently to the tale of a little rabbit who is looking for the moon she began chatting animatedly about her day.
And the situation deteriorated when I tucked her up and went downstairs - the usual 30 second complaint was stretched out more and more and interspersed with plaintive "mummy come up" and "mummy cuddle" requests.
Typically, it just happened to be one of those nights when I have a to-do list that could keep me busy for weeks and Mark is at work till late.
So what did I do? Well option 1 was to hope she would settle by herself, and steel myself for up to half an hour of misery.
I did that for 10 minutes, and became more and more stressed with the thought of all the things I needed to be doing, and the possibility that she might keep this up all evening.
I even sent a few miserable texts out in the hope some magical fairy would come up with a solution.
None was forthcoming, of course so I made a decision. Shocking, I know!
I went upstairs, gave her lots of kisses, resisted her pleas to pick her up, told her it was bedtime and went back down.
And guess what? It worked! By the time I had got back down to my lengthy list, peace had settled on the house (apart from the hungry cats wailing for their tea...but that's a whole other blog!).
It may not sound that significant - after all, parents across the land get their children to sleep every day. And so do I, mostly.
But this incident had the potential to turn into one of those wallowing moments where we both end up in tears and no one is in control.
I am proud I took the decision to take control, and that I was able to go upstairs calmly and confidently - it isn't always so, believe me!
So - there you go. Little steps on the road back to sanity...and further away from the happy pills.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Someone give me a slap!

You never know, it might shake things up a bit!
I've been working this week but don't get too excited, it's basically just temping.
And it's been good to be dealing with the different challenges that office life brings compared to toddler life. But (whisper it!) I wanted to be at home!
Yes, you read that right. I, who have spent the last two months bleating about wanting to work, wanted to be at home.
And not just at home by myself, although that would have been bliss. I wanted to be at home with Miss T, or more specifically out at the dreaded play gym with the painted ladies, out feeding the ducks, out meeting friends or home reading books and baking cakes.
In a way, that's a good thing. It shows that we do have some kind of bond because I wanted to be with her, and it makes me appreciate the time we have spent together during this blip in my career, and the time we will spend together in future.
And it also helps make my future a little clearer - maybe a regimented 9-5, even if it's only for three days a week, just isn't for me any more, at this stage in my life. That doesn't mean I'll be returning to a life of leisure for this week, or indeed for a while - my temporary colleagues want me back and I need the money.
But I will be investigating the freelance/self-employed route with vigour!
Now, that was the good news. The less good news is that despite my new-found, and long-awaited clarity, I have been struggling at home recently.
I'm hoping it's down to my much-documented inner turmoil, which like many other things, will soon pass. Because if it doesn't then I'm afraid I will be taking another vote on the good old happy pills/therapy route. It is something that has been mentioned by others several times lately and as I'm sure you all know, I have so far stubbornly resisted. I can't help feeling it would be a backwards step - nay, giant leap.
But I also can't help feeling that it's not fair on Miss T, or Mark, or others around me, to continue as I am.
Maybe Father Christmas can bring me a sprinkling of perfect parent potion along with a host of freelance opportunities...

Sunday, 7 December 2008

clear as mud!

There are so many posts in my head right now and I'm not sure which one of them is going to come out.
I was going to attempt to be insightful and mindful about the fact that everyone around me seems to be landing dream jobs and I'm still unemployed...but that may be changing...so I don't want to jinx it.
I was going to write about my continuing struggles to accept good news for my friends without feeling massively jealous and angry - bitter, in fact.
Or about my Friday, which started so badly and ended not so badly.
Or the weekend, which started not so badly and ended badly.
But at the moment my overwhelming thoughts are angry ones.
I'm angry at so many things, and a few people as well, myself included after one of those moments when you can see yourself acting in a way you despise but feel powerless to stop it.
I'm most angry at the fact that just as I thought things in one area of my life seemed to be improving, those in another area went spiralling down the pan.
Is this one of those life lessons? You can have some good things but not too many? Or is it just one of those life of Liz lessons - don't think things are good because something will soon prove you wrong.
I do still believe everything happens for a reason - I had PND because I am able to write about it and maybe help others. Maybe I have to go through this period of unemployment to allow me to develop my skills and bond with Miss T. Sometimes I wish the reason were clearer though.
I'm sure you all wish this post were clearer but it can't be at the moment.
Let's all hope next week brings some clarity to all areas.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


I think humph is a much under-used word - it perfectly describes how I'm feeling today.
There have been ups and downs and I can't work out which was prevalent, so I'm not sure if I'm angry, excited, jealous, ashamed....
Explain? Of course....
This morning I was pondering the phenomenon of confidence and how flimsy it can be. Personally, mine has never been great but professionally I got by with a cheery facade and managed to convince myself sometimes - it's amazing what simply adopting my "work persona" can do.
But obviously, with no work, the work persona has been fading away. And today I realised I needed it back as I had some calls to make and questions to ask. It was enough to send me into a panic - what was I thinking? I would never be able to do this! I should never have agreed to it, I should scrap the whole thing - you get the picture.
Luckily the shards of the old work me that remained were able to take myself in hand and of course I enjoyed my brief taste of how things were. So I was excited about the days ahead and the work I have to do (unpaid, frustratingly, but there's more to life than money - isn't there?!).
Another down followed when I found out that my friend who was interviewed as the other half of a job share for one of the jobs I had an interview for has accepted another post. Are you still with me?! Of course it's fantastic news for her, and in a way it serves the other organisation right for being so tardy with their recruitment process, but it feels like one strike for me - one of the three interviews I am awaiting outcomes for will now almost definitely be a no. Two left...
And of course I then felt angry with myself for being so selfish. And negative. There's still every chance that one of the other two will snap me up.
I can't stress enough how much I hope they do - Tash and I went to play gym again this morning, and I'm proud we went alone and she had a great time but I just hate the whole 'mummy world' that exists out there. There are people who turn up dressed for a night out, with full make-up, designer clothes and ridiculously high heels and spend the whole time chatting with their friends, equally impressively dressed, and drinking coffee.
I am not a big make-up fan at the best of times and really would rather spend that extra time in the mornings in bed instead of applying it if I have nothing more exciting to do than play gym. And when I think about it rationally, I know I would hate to be one of those people who seem so shallow, and I am pleased that Tash has my full attention instead of having to cry for five minutes after falling off something in the hope I will interrupt my conversation to help her.
But the whole experience does make me feel hopelessly inadequate and out of place and just humphy.
I know there is a school of thought that says you should make an effort every day, for your loved ones if no one else, but at the moment it feels like there is not much to make an effort for.
That isn't meant to sound as bad as it does, but I just feel there should be more to my life than play dates and toddler activities. Hopefully one of the other two interviewing panels will agree soon...

Monday, 1 December 2008

A week of no dramas?

Almost a whole week without a post? What to deduce from that? Well, either I've been inundated with job offers and have been too busy, or there has been a week without dramas.
The answer is the latter, and I was going to add sadly, but that doesn't seem quite right. It is sad that as yet no employer has snapped me up (although I'm waiting on the results of three interviews so all is not lost!) but not sad that I've got through six days without feeling the need to rant/vent/unload.
So what's new? Well, not a whole lot. I'm clinging to the hope that I'll have a job by Christmas, although as it's rushing towards us at a terrifying pace that does seem slightly unrealistic. Each week seems endless when Monday comes round and I struggle to see ways to get through it. But each time Friday arrives we have managed somehow, and with less of those awful days that seemed to haunt me at the beginining of this latest chapter of my life. In fact, I can even look forward to some of that plentiful Tash and mummy time and the activities we do together!
She of course changes almost daily and today came out with something that no matter how hard I try, I can't simply brush off.
We were having a conversation about cats on mats prompted by a picture in a book when she came out with the following: "Patches is sitting on the mat."
I'm sure that's what it was - and the thing that makes it so strange is that Patches is the name of one of our family cats from several years ago.
She has in the past said things like "I'm talking to the lady" when there is no one but us, but I've put that down to her vivid imagination - she frequently takes her dolls on outings to the beach or the park without leaving the house.
But the specific mention of Patches - and I know it sounds awfully like cat, but I'm sure it wasn't that - was strangely comforting to me. As if not only are my real-life friends and virtual supporters rooting for me but figures from the past are also doing their bit.
I'm going to go now before you all thing I've really lost the plot!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The sun'll come out tomorrow....

and I'm going to write about it, even if it jinxes me again.
Thank you very much to everyone who has been in touch with supportive messages, either here, by email or other means. The jury seems to be out on whether I'm going nuts again or just had a bad day so I'm taking a wait-and-see approach for the moment.
And for the moment - at the moment - things are good. Today was one of those rare days when I actually thought I could do this stay-at-home thing long term.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying I want to, far from it - I've got two interviews this week, one of them for a job that caught my eye literally months ago and I thought I had missed out on, so I'm keeping everything crossed for that.
But it did show me that maybe, just maybe, I can get through this job-less, income-less, identity-less void with some parts of me intact.
Again, there was no big secret - in fact, this morning with the whole day stretching in front of us and no plans, it looked like it was going to be another day of doom (we must be on part 6,349 by now...).
But we walked the dogs in gale-force winds and with waves crashing over the prom, which Miss T thought was hilarious, which somehow made it less of an ordeal for me (can't say the same for the dogs!) and after her sleep we made biscuits, which was really, REALLY fun.
Baking is one of those things I've been meaning to do but have always thought would be an ordeal - like painting, which we've only managed once.
But she loved it, I loved it - and we get to eat the results! Could it get any better?!
And Mark and I managed to have one of those elusive chats about bedtimes, and I'm pleased to report improvements on that front too (although he's up there at the moment so my famous jinx may yet take effect).
So today things in the life of Liz are good - hope they are for the rest of you too.

Friday, 21 November 2008

From bad to worse!

Oh lucky people - two helpings of woe in one day!
So I left you pondering the joys of my day up until mid-afternoon, when Miss T finally decided to have her sleep.
And it should have got better from there as reinforcements arrived and I had a peaceful evening to myself to look forward to.
But it didn't. Reinforcements, in the form of a visit to granny and then Mark coming home, did indeed arrive and it was lovely having someone else share the demands, although I did feel that old pressure of needing to look like a perfect parent while feeling on the verge of falling apart the whole time.
I escaped to the shops leaving Mark to do dinner and bed but even that precious me-time was interrupted with a text about a mundane domestic matter. How sad is it that me-time is reduced to wandering round Sainsbury's?!
And bedtime was a complete disaster as the little princess manipulated her daddy as only she can, resulting in a battle lasting more than an hour between them, punctuated with some fantastic tantrums and toddler foot-stamping on her wooden bedroom floor.
I hate interfering when he's dealing with a situation, but I'm afraid it was clear he wasn't dealing with it, and what's worse, was getting stressed out which helps no one (look who's talking!) so I went up and took over. Part of me is pleased to report that after ten minutes and only one return visit she's now happily asleep - and fell asleep by herself - but another part simply feels weary.
I can feel proud I know her so well and can handle her well, but also disheartened that it feels like I am permanently on duty with no respite. This isn't meant as a criticism of Mark, who is fantastic with her, but just a statement that even my precious time off while he puts her to bed seems to be a thing of the past.
I know that sounds selfish, and of course for Tasha it's best that her bedtime is as stress-free as possible, so if that means I do it then so be it. But I'm sure many of you will understand that after a day dealing with everything from negotiations over when she can walk and when she has to go in the pushchair to explanations of why she should not throw balls at the cats, I feel in need of a break.
It is selfish - after all, she's asleep now so I'm getting a break. So I'm going to stop moaning and enjoy it!
But I am left wondering, and almost afraid to write it, when does PND become common and garden depression? Or was today just a bad day? Here's hoping for the latter...

Spoke too soon!

You would think I would have learnt by now. If I'm feeling positive I should keep it to myself, because it's clearly a jinx. Although naturally all the doom and gloom should be shared via this blog - otherwise what would you all do for entertainment? ; )
So yesterday was another good day - so good in fact that I remarked upon the fact to Miss T during bathtime and she agreed it had been fun.
Today has not been. There's not been much difference - we were out this morning, then we fed ducks, but then it all went wrong.
When I think about it honestly, I know it's nothing to do with her - yes, she wouldn't go to sleep when I expected her to, and she pulled the dog's hair, and washed her hands in their water, and had various strops - but that wasn't the cause.
So what was? Partly the fact that I'm stuck at home with no respite - even the work I'm doing at the moment, great though it is, is done from home.
Partly the fact that I was reminded of my atrocious lack of self-esteem - a simple request for a head shot was enough to send me into a spiral of panic and wondering if I could get away with submitting a pic taken four years ago!
Partly frustration that I didn't achieve as much as I wanted in the last two days because of her lack of sleep and trying to help.
And partly - and I know this is bad - a searing jealousy that Mark has been out at work all day and gets to go out tonight as well. It's nothing I haven't done a hundred times, back in the days when I had a job to go to (although mostly my evening excursions were for work as well) but on a day like this the hours are like an endless night and a two hour break just doesn't seem enough.
Of course it will be, and of course tomorrow things will look brighter, but today I'm wondering where I put my lovely therapist's number, and if we could scrape together the money for a rescue-and-restore session with her.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

more thoughts, but some of them are positive!

I know it's shocking, but I'm feeling positive today. Don't get too excited; there has been no fantastic job offer, although some things are bubbling away and I'm really hoping they work out. I can't put my finger on the reason for my good mood this evening, and actually I think that's a fantastic thing - in the same way that one of the worst bits about depression is not being able to explain why things look so bleak, it's wonderful to feel good and know it's not due to a specific external factor.
Of course, there are still things for me to brood on, and I thought I would share one of those with you here. It's another of those dreaded reaction-to-comment type moments and I can't work out how I feel about it.
So here goes.
Miss T has been in her "big girl bed" for a few weeks now and mostly it's okay. But there were a few extra bedtime traumas for a while as she learned to go to sleep on her own in a new environment.
I've always been a bit strict about her sleeping patterns because I've heard and read so much about parents who struggle to change bad habits, like babies who will only go to sleep if they are being held/rocked/driven round the block. Anything for an easy life! So right from the beginning she was put in her cot awake and the result was that bedtime was miraculously easy - we put her in her cot, she went to sleep.
Understandably, that didn't happen with her new bed and she needed some extra reassurance. But I believe it's still important she goes to sleep on her own, without someone sitting on the bed or in the room - the consequence of that happening is that each time she opens her eyes during the night and realises whoever was there has gone she starts screaming and insists they return.
Unfortunately, a consequence of that belief is that she cries when whoever is doing bedtime leaves the room.
Mark finds that incredibly difficult and is desperate to go back in and stay until she is asleep and when we were discussing it he said he just couldn't bear to hear her crying.
I can understand that, sort of, and I recognise a physiological response in myself when she is crying - I feel anxious, increased heartrate, etc - but despite that it doesn't actually bother me that much.
I bet you can guess what's coming next! I'm wondering if that makes me a terrible parent, if I'm too detached, if I'm hard and unfeeling. Shouldn't I be rushing in there too, or sitting downstairs in tears as I've seen parents on Supernanny etc do in similar situations?
I know that's ridiculous - and Shoulds are banned in my new post-therapy life - but it's something to think about. I'm tempted to say - and did - that she's not really crying at those times, she's just expressing her anger, which is different to genuine distress, and of course I hate it when there are real tears. And it's never for more than a few minutes, and it's not constant screaming, just intermittent roaring, which does all suggest to me that she is just trying it on to get her on way.
But maybe all of this means I am an extremely harsh parent and she will grow up feeling unloved.
Does anyone else wish there were clear instructions on the right thing to do, or multiple choice options with the choices being the long-term consequences of the actions?

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Gloves - woolly and kid!

We've had a lovely morning, which surprised me.
After all, on paper it looked like being a disaster. I was out with friends last night and consumed a bottle of wine, topped off with a Baileys, and felt awful when I woke up. Add the fact that Mark is working today and I'm stressing about job interviews and preparing for them and it should have been one of those days best forgotten.
But actually I think we did very well. I managed to get up, showered and dressed before Tasha woke and haven't even resorted to the electronic babysitter so conveniently provided by her favourite DVD. Instead, we've been enjoying the autumn weather in the garden of her granny's house, which is packed with outdoor toys, and in the park. And we've even managed to get some chores done! I didn't manage to convince her to keep her gloves on, so any tips welcome.
Which brings me on to the subject of the other kind of gloves, after the points made on the last post.
Do I think I should be handled with kid/velvet/any other kind of gloves? My immediate response is no. But then why do I bother telling people about PND if I don't want it to make a difference?
Part of the reason is to raise awareness generally and convey the message that it's okay to admit you have had mental health problems. But of course there are more selfish reasons too. Maybe one of those is a sort of safety net - so if I suggest meeting up people are less likely to turn me down because I might go mental?
I certainly don't think people should censor what they say in case their comment happens to be the one that I end up pondering at 3am. I genuinely welcome all comments, whether or not I might perceive them in a negative fashion. And actually when I do it's quite helpful because it teaches me to use my mindfulness, or wise mind, or whatever you want to call it, to work out whether that perception is based on fact or my scheming schemas.
I fear this is turning into a ramble, and I know I should be doing other things, like preparing a presentation for an interview on Monday. But I hope it helps as some starting thoughts - more comments? ; )

Friday, 7 November 2008

comments on comments

The downside of being open and honest with people is that they are often open and honest back.
It's mostly welcome, and it's certainly better than pretending things are fine when they're not, or that everything is fluffy when the sharp edges are showing, but sometimes it's difficult to take.
I've had two conversations with people lately that brought this to mind.
One was with a work-type contact, who when I said I had PND asked why I didn't just "snap out of it".
It's an interesting question, and one I really struggled to answer. He said he had experienced depression, but realised other people were worse off and then found his world a brighter place.
My first reaction was to think he can't have had the same experiences of depression that I did, but who am I to question his perceptions?
It's excellent if that strategy worked for him, but it just didn't for me. And even this week, as I struggle with the realities of life at home with no work to escape to, I can see that others are worse off. But it doesn't make me feel any better. I've never found my black moods something I can just shake off, or snap out of.
Someone once suggested it's better all round, physically and emotionally, just to let them run their course, and I can see the sense in that. I'm not sure those around me would always agree though!
The other comment that's been on my mind came during a conversation with a friend, who remarked on how much more confident and happy Tasha seemed compared to the first time we met.
Of course that's a positive thing, and I personally believe there are many reasons for that, including her time spent with our wonderful childminder.
But my friend suggested at least part of it was down to my improved relationship with her, and my "recovery".
Again, that should be a positive comment, but my good old schemas couldn't help interpreting it as a negative, a criticism of my parenting so far. After all, if Tasha is confident now and that's down to me, then her clinginess and angst before was also down to me.
Of course I know most of it wasn't, and it was just her age or the stage she was going through, but it's not that easy to believe, especially after reading more and more research about the importance of love and loving interactions in those early months.
The thought that Tasha could suffer any long-term ill-effects from all this crap is my worst fear, and it's something I will remember as I continue with my struggle to "snap out of it".

Thursday, 30 October 2008

back to basics

Breathe a sigh of relief, dear readers - no job rants today!
Instead, I thought I would return to the point of this blog and share some more thoughts/experiences/waffle about PND, or my life in mad-world.
This was mostly prompted by an article in The Sun, of all places, yesterday - maybe some of you saw it? Lisa Tanner, who helps to run www.mothersvoice.org.uk, shared her experiences about PND in the wake of a welcome verdict that a woman who threw her baby from a hospital window should not stand trial for attempted murder.
I say welcome, because that's what I think - some of you may disagree.
But I would guess - and I'm willing to be corrected - that those of you who disagree and think she should be locked up for a long time (he survived and is now a healthy 18 month old, btw) have never experienced such severe post-natal illness.
Lisa bravely confessed she wanted to drive a car with her and her baby daughter into a brick wall. I have felt similar urges. I've wanted to drop Miss T from a great height, I've wanted to hurl her across the room. Not recently, thankfully, but back in the dark days when she was about the same age as the baby who was thrown out of the window - and older.
Does that make me an attempted murderer? Okay, I never acted on those urges, but that's because throughout it all I was able to recognise with some small part of my mind that this was all part of the illness and I did believe that I would soon get some help.
I don't know the woman in the court case. I can only remember vague details about it. But I do remember feeling so, so angry when I heard about it at the time. Not because of what she did, but because she was allowed to get to that point.
There are so many treatment options available, which I've ranted about before, that there really is no need for anyone to feel like that. She was in a hospital at the time so I would guess people were aware of her illness. But clearly no one was helping.
Things seem to have changed since then, according to anecdotal evidence I've been given. Friends of mine who have braved having a second child report that they are now given the Edinburgh test for PND twice, when their babies are tiny and at about five months.
And one who was given a PND diagnosis says she was "practically stalked" by her health visitor after that, and still is now even though she is off medication and doing great.
To her, that's a pain - she finds it intrusive to be asked how she is doing every time she visits the clinic with her baby, or to have phone calls from her health visitor just to check how she is.
But it's something I would have loved at the time I was going through it all.
Miss T is calling so here the rant must end (do I hear another sigh of relief?) but I couldn't go without just quickly mentioning the ever-so-helpful (aka patronising) 'fact box' that went with the feature. By The Sun's GP, Dr Carol Cooper, it is headlined "Lowdown on the blues" and proclaims that the cause is unknown and it is amazingly common. That's all fine.
But then she lists some of the factors known to increase the risks - none of which I had. I know I'm special, clearly, but I find that sort of stuff really unhelpful.
And her last comment really annoyed me - "The main hurdle is recognising the symptoms and seeking help...."
I'm sure we all know by now that wasn't my experience - my main hurdle was accessing appropriate help that actually made a different instead of being given a prescription and fobbed off.
I really hope she's right and things have changed though.
That's it, I promise!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Bad things about not working....

1) Days and days stretching in front of me with nothing to do except be a mum.
2) A lack of purpose to the days unless I try so hard it feels fake.
3) Maintaining a positive air in day to day life and in countless job applications despite a deafening silence from employers.
4) Losing contact, or potentially losing contact, with friends at work.
5) How do I answer the inevitable question: "So what do you do?"

Answers, hints or tips on a postcard please!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

five great things about not working!

It was going to be a list of 10, but I thought that was a bit ambitious for me!

1) feeding ducks

2) not setting the alarm (I'm ignoring the fact that it went off at 4.45am today because Mark was working!)

3) No morning rush

4) I have no idea what day it is!

5) more time for meeting up with friends.

See - I can look on the bright side!

Oh - and another one! On a good day, it feels like I'm back being 18 with my whole life ahead of me. I'm no longer stuck on one career path - I could do anything I like! Assuming, that is, I can convince someone to take me on. Or there's always the self-employment route....it's actually quite exciting!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

ups and downs

Today was my last day at work. When I say work, obviously I don't mean ever - I hope.
But it was my last day doing the job I've dreamed of since I was 15, and have loved doing ever since I left university.
I always used to feel smug when people moaned on Sundays that they had to go to work the next day - I never had that feeling. And after a week off I was always itching to get back into things.
There is part of me that wonders if this whole situation is somehow a lesson for that smugness, but I know it's actually just a reflection of the global economic situation. Really, I do.
And everyone else seems confident I will get another job quickly and I'm trying to share their optimism. But patience is not one of my strong points, and at the moment it's frustrating to send applications off into the ether and then hear nothing at all.
But each one I send off is better than the one before as I get more used to the whole process of selling yourself on paper - which after all is something I should be more able to do than most as words are my profession. Or were...
Sorry if this all sounds a bit negative - it's just a low moment which I think is understandable today.
And actually, picking up Tasha this evening was a wonderful tonic and I'm quite looking forward to spending some real time with her with no worries about work. Apart from the obvious one!
I do have plans - I am working on some volunteering opportunities, and have planned "job-hunting" time each day and I hope they will help me keep positive.
And all the lovely comments I get on here help as well - I can't tell you how lovely it is after a day of feeling worthless and useless and, well, redundant, to come on here and know people are reading and care.
So thank you all - and I hope to have some good news to share soon!

Thursday, 16 October 2008


What a lot happens in a week! Sorry for the delay in updating this but I've been a bit busy in the 'real world' after my redundancy was confirmed on Monday.
Obviously now I'm jobhunting with a passion (without my email signature pointing to this blog!) but I must also confess to some panicking.
I am genuinely really excited about the new opportunities that lie ahead but in the back of my mind is the knowledge that I'm not great at being a stay-at-home mum so I need to work for my sanity, as much as for my financial situation.
The weekend provided a bit of a reminder about that as I had one of the worst days I have had for a long time in terms of falling back down the black hole.
I found myself in bed mid-afternoon, listening to Mark and Tasha playing downstairs and just unable to motivate myself to get up and join in.
And that terrifies me - I've worked so hard to get back to the fluff and I fear this whole situation could blow it all away.
Of course, when I think about it all logically, I know things are different now. Tasha is that much older and I enjoy spending time with her. We've had several days with nothing planned where we've just enjoyed each other's company and hung out together so there's no reason to think that more days like that will end in disaster.
But it's been an emotionally difficult time which has also demonstrated how fragile things still are so I need to come up with strategies to help if things do deteriorate.
I only have two so far, so I need a bit of help!
I'm reminding myself to turn off my filters and read/hear what's actually being said. There was a perfect example of this in an email I had in response to a speculative CV I sent off. I read it as "you're rubbish and we don't want you here" but what it actually said was "Your skills and experience would be welcomed in our office but we have no vacancies at the moment".
And I'm planning time each day to focus on job application stuff, even if it's just checking emails or scouring the papers, because it helps me retain a bit of control.
But that's it so far, and if I face a prolonged period of unemployment I'm not sure that will be enough. So all contributions are welcome - as are job offers!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

honesty - or not...

I've been job hunting lately - more of that another time - and it's been another of those experiences that teaches me a lot.
Today I was at a job fair, which is something I had dreaded, but which actually turned out to be quite fun. And I learnt I am quite good at selling myself - and might actually have something that employers want to 'buy'.
Such positivity was unthinkable a year ago, when my self-confidence was low and I couldn't imagine why anyone would want such a useless person as me on their team.
So I also learnt, again, just how far I have come.
But I was faced with an interesting dilemma - I've had to email a few CVs out to people and the usual signature on the bottom of my email is this blog address.
It was a hard decision to make to put it on there in the first place - it's one thing getting all this sort of stuff out in the ether but it's another to actively point people towards it.
But as the title suggests, I am not ashamed, and I don't care who reads this - to a point.
I have to confess that I did delete the signature when I sent out my CVs. And it's hard to explain why.
It's not because I am ashamed - if anything related to PND or depression or mental health came up in an interview I would happily discuss my experiences because I am proud of being here and I think it makes me a more empathetic person.
But it's also not the first impression I want to give people. My CV is a very positive document, as you would expect, and the covering notes that accompany it are also enthusiastic and professional.
And as that electronic version of me is what will decide whether I get as far as an interview or not then I want it to be as appealing as it can be.
There's a part of me that thinks I should leave the link on there and stuff them all but the realistic part of me knows the sort of world we live in, and that I need a job to pay the mortgage.
And while of course if a prospective employer took the time to trawl through these missives they would be suitably impressed with my strength of character and personal achievements, not to mention my wit and intelligence, it is more likely they would just click on the first page.
And if that happened to be a report of a bad day then my CV would be going the way of the world's economy, ie down the pan.
So for now I'm a candidate without mental health issues.
I do feel like I'm letting everyone down by hiding it in this way but the economic reality must take precedence here.
And of course once I get my shiny new well-paid job I will be directing all my new colleagues in this direction.....

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Just a quick one!

Not much to say in the life of Liz but I was interested in a little bit I spotted in a national newspaper.
Apparently LM Montgomery, one of my childhood heroes and the author of Anne of Green Gables, committed suicide after suffering with depression.
Her family let it be reported that the cause of death was heart failure but her granddaughter has now said it was a drug overdose. She is quoted as saying they realise secrecy is not the way to deal with depression and other mental health issues.
Three cheers for them!

Monday, 6 October 2008

Saving the world one small step at a time

So I have this stupid self-sacrifice schema, which I've mentioned before (and which if I had half a brain tonight I could provide a link to but it's not hard to find...)....
Anyway, in very simple terms it means I tend to do things for other people rather than myself and even at the expense of myself, which is when it becomes a problem.
I know I keep going on about it, but it's genuinely something which I still struggle with, despite months of very good therapy-ing.
Plus I do try to keep it at the forefront of my mind so that when I agree to something which is clearly stupid I can question myself and challenge this schema.
Anyway! It's been well and truly challenged over the last few days. I've seen lots of things going on that I feel the need to "fix" or "help with" and sometimes I have even tried to get involved.
Sometimes that works, and it's not too detrimental to me - after all, a counselling and coffee session with a friend is good for me as well (and part payback for the all the counselling and coffee I've had from them in the past!) - but sometimes I just need to accept I can't do it all.
I can't make everyone happy, no matter how unhappy I make myself in the process.
I can't fix everyone's dodgy relationships, no matter how much I jeopardise mine trying to do so.
And I can't take away everyone's problems, no matter how many I create for myself while I try.
So, for today at least, I've decided on a new strategy. I've decided that if I am as happy as I can be, perhaps in turn some of that will rub off on other people.
So tonight after I picked Miss T up from the childminder (where she had one of her best days ever despite a bad cold and being a poorly person) we had the dinner I had cunningly prepared yesterday (and tomorrow's is waiting in the freezer - please be impressed!) and then we sat on the floor together and just talked and played and sang.
I never thought I would say this but I absolutely love spending time with her like this. Her speech is improving all the time so we can have real conversations (okay, a lot of them involve my imagination, as follows: Me: Did you have fun today? Her: Alex. Me: You played with Alex? Fantastic! And you also went to collect the big boys from school, didn't you? Her: Shapes. Me: You are very good at your shape-sorter now, that's right. - I think you get the picture!) and she can tell me what she wants, and it's wonderful when I can provide it.
And that makes me happy. Okay, we could have spent that time working on saving the world somewhere but I think what we did has just as many benefits.
She went to bed happy, after more singing and playing in the bath, and I felt chilled out and relaxed even after washing up, cleaning the kitchen, medicating the dog, feeding the cats, de-Tashing the living room, etc etc etc.
So from that one little step I hope we can take more giant leaps and our good times will spread around.....and all the fluff can also help insulate us from some of the harsher realities of life away from our happy home as well.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Bad day blues

So today was not so good.
But what is good is that I know why, and by identifying that was able to turn it around for the afternoon. That is good, surely?
It was another case of letting those "shoulds" get in the way of everything else. There's so much non-Tasha stuff going on that I felt I should be sorting out that I wasn't giving her my full attention, which is not something that goes down too well with an almost two-year-old.
So she decided to try lots of tactics to get my attention, most of which involved being as troublesome as possible.
Add a bad cold for both of us to the mix and you don't exactly get off to the best start.
So after several attempts at stopping her fiddling with the cooker switches, a few discussions about why we shouldn't pull dogs' hair and a reminder about drawing on the paper rather than the carpet I'm afraid I rather lost the plot.
It was 11.30am and she'd been up since 6.30am and she had been yawning anyway so I put her in bed. But it was entirely for my benefit not hers.
Actually, not entirely, as after 10 minutes of singing she was asleep which gave me the respite I needed to think things through a bit away from the chaos and pressure so I could work out where it had all gone wrong.
And when she woke we started again and it was much better second time around - but then I only had to manage for an hour until Mark got in so I can't take all the credit.
And in fact, when I say I lost the plot, it wasn't as bad as it sounds. I shouted at her, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It didn't work of course, and she just laughed, which is when I decided bed was the next thing to try.
So - a bad day, but we both survived and lessons have been learnt. Tomorrow I'm thinking about braving the health visitor....eek!

Monday, 29 September 2008

I'm back!

...after a busy week and a weekend away without internet access - eek! But I survived both....
And I have a week off work now which is a welcome break from some of the tougher aspects of life right now and a chance to enjoy our little family without any external pressure.
So what's new since last time?
Well, there are still piles of poo to be negotiated and I'm still watching my step.
But there is also quite a lot of fluff going around which is a relief.
The weekend away was a family fest which could have been a nightmare but strangely wasn't too bad.
And I think part of that is down to the changes I have seen in myself and my parenting. If I had been in that situation a year ago it would have ended in tears and possibly tantrums, and not just from Tasha.
Last time I attended a big family gathering like that I felt under constant scrutiny and as though my every decision and action was being judged for discussion by others later.
Which of course was rubbish and just my perception thanks to some of my skewed schemas.
This time, I wasn't that bothered if everyone thought I was doing everything wrong because I know it works for us. And if other people do things differently that's their decision.
And a by-product of that was that I wasn't constantly comparing myself to others. Of course I was a bit - this is me, after all! But my default conclusion wasn't that everyone else was perfect and I was somehow faulty or deficient in every way. In fact, there were a few situations that I think I handled quite well....and others that I know I could have handled better, but that's life.
It was a good break though, and did remind me of some of the more important things in life like laughter, love and other things beginning with L that I can't think of right now!
But it's good to be home - and Mark's off tomorrow so the holiday continues!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Shit happens sometimes

and when it does there's not always much you can do about it but keep going and watch your step!
It would be really easy, after a difficult and demoralising day, to sink backwards down into the gloom but at this stage it's something I have a choice about doing, and I'm choosing to hang on.
Tough times are also an ideal opportunity to reflect on how far I've come. There was a time not that long ago when I thought everything that was not quite right in my life was a direct consequence of having Miss T.
And if you follow that warped logic to its conclusion, as I did, the next step is to believe that if she wasn't here all would be sunny and warm.
It sounds so stupid now, after a lovely fun bath and snuggly bed time, and when each day she amazes me by coming out with new words and phrases ("silly daddy" and "Cat miaow sssshhhh" are my particular favourites!) but that is genuinely what I believed.
But now, when some of my pink fluff gets blown away by life, I only think of Miss T in terms of how to protect her from the blustering. Some decisions would certainly be easier if we didn't have her to consider but that doesn't mean I would want to be making them without her.
So for the moment, I'm gathering up the fluff and hanging on to it as I negotiate the piles of poo.
And in better news, today was another good day at the childminders, and I had the opportunity for a bit of a chat about how she is doing which proved greatly reassuring.
More proof that sometimes even tough decisions pay off...

Saturday, 20 September 2008

notes to self...

....or things I have learned in the last few days.
1) A night out is a good thing, but it's best to get home before 3am if Mark is working at 6am the next day. Yawn!
2) Staying generally sober during a night out helps with an early morning the day after - but not with drunken conversations with friends, which work better if all parties are drunk!
3) Managing a dog walk and a morning of fun with Miss T despite late night and early start and with no grumpiness from either party is an achievement to be celebrated.
4) Managing the above and completing several housework-related chores (but not cleaning curtain poles!) instead of retreating back to bed with Miss T is another achievement. Although I'm still not convinced that retreating back to bed wasn't the better option...
5) I can't save the world and everyone in it - but I'm still going to keep on trying!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A small diversion...

Can you believe it's Wednesday already? Lots to report including some progress with the childminder - she didn't want to go home on Monday which is a fantastic sign. I still hated leaving her crying though....
But anyway - a diversion!
Yesterday two home shopping catalogues arrived at my house - you know the sort of thing, filled with bakeware and cleaning products and stuff.
But they do provide a useful source of income for who ever delivers them so I always try to look through them in case there is something in there I just can't live without....I have actually bought things in the past, I'll have you know and the banana cases are a fantastic invention!
Anyway! There were some real gems in there this time but my favourite was a very long duster, with a picture showing a very efficient woman using it to clean her curtain poles. Seriously.
I have never cleaned my curtain poles. And I can't imagine a time when I would have nothing else to do so I would think, gosh, my curtain poles are looking dusty...
In fact, I'm looking at them now and they don't look dusty so clearly don't need cleaning!
Is it just me? Has anyone ever cleaned their curtain poles? Am I just a filthy person? There's still time to order one - the catalogue doesn't have to be out until tomorrow....

Sunday, 14 September 2008

In praise of praise

Something lovely happened to me yesterday.
But typically, I couldn't fully appreciate it.
Tash and I were out with the dogs when a woman who lives along our regular route and has followed our progress with reformed devil dog Mully was on her way out.
I already know her to be a lovely, kind person because she has previously taken the time to come out of her house to say how well she thinks we have done with the aforementioned devil dog - clearly she watched our early dog-owning days which mostly involved running after him as he sped off after a dog/bike/skateboard or anything that moved and ignored everything we said.
Anyway, yesterday she said we had done a great job with our dogs and were now doing a great job with our daughter as well. As Miss T was walking Megan beautifully at the time I did have to admit she looked very cute.
Unfortunately, a few minutes later it went a bit wrong when she stepped into the road and I had to shout at her.
And it went a bit wrong in my head as well, as I couldn't accept what she was saying.
It's so odd - if anyone says anything that could be construed as criticism I'm immediately accepting of it. But anything vaguely positive gets immediately dismissed by my internal filters. If it's from someone who knows me, I assume they are just saying it to be nice. If it's someone who doesn't, well, clearly, they don't know me and if they did they wouldn't say it.
On a more positive note, we've had a good few days with lots of fun, variously involving sand, babies, drawing and even shopping, and for once I'm not looking forward to work in the morning - I could actually imagine doing this mothering thing full time at the moment.
But Tash is asleep so that could all change as soon as she wakes!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

More bumpiness

Oh dear. Today started so well - and continued in the same fashion, with a trip to the park and lots of fun - but ended rather badly, complete with blood and tears.
Fear not, I did not flip out and set about my child, but she did fall over in a very dramatic fashion, flat on her face on her plastic shape sorter, and the result was a huge lump, lots of blood and even more tears. Oh dear.
Luckily this time the tears were confined to toddler ones - last time she hurt herself I ended up sobbing with her about my failings as a parent and guilt at not having protected her.
Anyway! Back to the world of a PND-er....
This week's rant is another website one, and yet again I've lost the link - one of these days I will get organised. It was on askamum and was a discussion about PND where one of the clearly less-enlightened members suggested that the reason more people are diagnosed with PND now is because they like the attention.
Yes, you read that right. She believed that people faked the symptoms of this hellish condition so they would have something to talk about at their coffee mornings - 'jumping on the bandwagon' was her exact phrase.
At the risk of sounding as dramatic as my daughter (I do wonder where she gets that from!) I was so angry after reading the whole discussion that I couldn't think of anything else for a good half an hour.
It's akin to those comments like 'I know she says she has depression but I saw her the other day and she was laughing so she must be fine'...not that laughing was something I did much of in the dark times.
It's easy to see now how far I've come, and today was a great example as most of our fun involved just Tasha and I, but that doesn't mean for a second I don't remember exactly how I felt back then.
I remember not feeling able to get out of bed, let alone the house, and spending hours just crying and crying.
I remember dreading Tasha waking up because I would have to deal with her and I just didn't know where to start, and thinking I had made a horrible mistake.
And I remember how liberating it felt to realise others had been through the same thing - had also wished they could give their child away - but were now enjoying the challenges and crises of parenthood.
I can honestly say I've never met a single person who can fake those sort of symptoms, or who would even want to (although I have just watched the 9/11 faker so am not so sure.....)
And luckily I've never met anyone who has been anything but supportive when I have revealed my struggles/issues/demons - to my face at least. Some people have unwittingly made comments which perhaps reveal hidden prejudices; a good one this week was 'She was threatening violence but I know most mental people do that...' but I like to think that I can present them with a human face of mental illness to challenge those views.
Right - that's enough for now - just time to sort out the kitchen before Mark gets home...or maybe I should conjure up some trauma for a bit of attention... ; )

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Quality time, and questioning

Apologies for the lack of updates - it's all busy busy busy here, you know!
So where were we? Well, Friday night was night out time again which was fantastic.
Saturday was....challenging....but we made it through (mostly by going out!).
And yesterday I was really proud of myself after having some great fun just playing with Tasha. I had an hour before I had to go out to an evening meeting and I had loads to do to get things ready, but I decided to ignore it all and we just played. And it was fantastic - we both loved it!
It also sort of made up for a difficult day with more childminder traumas. Although Tasha is fine when she's there, mostly, it is still proving very stressful. I mentioned it to her in the morning, that she would be having fun at the childminder later, and the immediate reaction was tears (her, not me!) and "no no no" which wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear.
I got a bit of a telling off from the childminder for "prolonging the agony" by staying a bit when I drop her off so the plan for next week is to dump her and run. It goes totally against whatever parenting instincts I have to deliberately do something which is making her unhappy, and every time I (or Mark) drop her off it is making her unhappy.
I know all the theory and we've talked it through and we both feel she needs the extra interaction, and to develop more independence to avoid even more traumas when she goes to preschool, but it doesn't make it any easier. Especially not when she is so happy to be dropped off at Granny's or left with Mark when I'm working.
When does this get easier?

Friday, 5 September 2008

A rocky road has ups and downs...

....and so does my life. Here are a few.
Down: Last night, when I wrote out a very honest - and mindful, as my therapist would say - post which then got lost. Grrr.
Up: Yesterday playing on the beach with Tasha (although this followed a bit of a down when she refused to sleep at home or in the car - after a mini-tour of Thanet I gave up and we spent the half hour before meeting a friend playing instead)
Down: Completely failing in my very important mission to buy new shoes and ending up in a pub completely failing to convince Miss T to eat any lunch. Although she did make a very creative mess.
Up: Playing finger puppets with her this morning.
Down: Standing in the shower for 20 minutes just so I couldn't hear her refusing to sleep again. Before you all start hunting for social services' number, I would have heard if she had cried, and she wasn't. She just wasn't sleeping.
That all sounds a bit bleak, doesn't it? And to be honest, this morning it all felt a bit bleak. I couldn't get anything to go the way I had planned and was thinking about investigating boarding schools for toddlers - surely if someone else did all the hard stuff and sent her back when she was about six, I would be able to cope then?
But then I realised that it was my obsession with planning, which I know is nothing new to most of you, that causes a lot of the traumas. Which is my problem. In all senses of the phrase.
It's not Tasha's fault - she doesn't know that I needed her to sleep yesterday morning so that we could go out in the afternoon - she just knows that she isn't tired. She doesn't know that our health visitor is threatening us with a dietician - she just knows she isn't hungry.
So for today I've tried to abandon plans. It hasn't worked entirely - there are some things I agreed to do before I started my new chaotic (oops, I mean care-free) regime. But without the pressure of needing to get x and y done by a certain time I hope life will be a bit easier.
I've used an eyelash wish on that thought in a bid to help things along, so if any of you see a shooting star please think of us!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

I need to think of more imaginative titles!

I almost called this one another variation on thinking or thoughts but decided to spare you all!
So, today's update - no tearful moments (well, a tiny one when I said goodbye to my lovely colleagues in preparation for an office move) and no friends squeezed in - but it's a work day so what do you expect?
And, as my original title would have told you, I have been doing more thinking. And there's been a bit of a shift - a bit like the weather today.
That doesn't mean that all the sun has gone and the rain is swamping me - that really is just the weather.
In terms of thinking, I've had an attitude change to second babies. In general, I must stress, so don't go getting excited.
In the same way as I was able to enjoy other people's weddings while thinking about ours and using them to work out what I would like, and not like, I'm seeing other people's experiences with more offspring and learning what seems to work and what doesn't.
Luckily, people have been fantastically honest so far about what they would do differently if they could do it all again which is really helpful for someone like me, who lives by lists and evaluates everything ten times over.
And in return I'm trying to be honest with them, without making it seem like I think they're more mental than me for doing it all again.
One positive point I have noted so far is that Tash loves babies and is very gentle with them - all that time playing with her dolls is clearly paying off.
Of course I'm not stupid enough to think that she would accept a sibling without any problems but it is reassuring that her first instinct might not be to jump on its head.
That might still be my reaction though!

Monday, 1 September 2008

Friday fun....

Apologies for the delay in updating you on plan B, C or whichever version we got to - I'm sure you were all on the edge of your seats.
So I did manage a night out on Friday - and it was fun! It was lovely to be out among people who appear to have no cares in the world (note my careful choice of words there - I'm only too aware that all is not always what it seems!), and to relax and just enjoy chatting without a toddler interrupting all the time.
And there was also a sign of progress in other areas too. I got in at about 1am (shock horror!) and Miss T decided that she wanted to get up to play at 2am. And 3.30am. And 4.30am. And I gave up at 5.30am - Mark was already on his way to work.
Old, pre-therapy me, would have seen that as a punishment for my night out having fun without my daughter. And I'll be honest - there was a split second when I thought she was doing it on purpose because she resented me having a social life. But it was the tiniest of moments and I realised quite how ridiculous it was. So implied punishment or not, I will be out on the town again soon - plans are already afoot for the next two Fridays!
It hasn't all been fluff and fun though - it wouldn't be my life if it was! But the lows have been short-lived and I can recognise them as that.
I also read something interesting today - if I find the link I'll post it - on a blog about parenting and other issues. The author, who has many views I don't agree with, has a little girl a bit older than Tasha and boasts that she has almost reached the end of the "terrible twos" without incident.
One of her theories for this is that her child is better-behaved because of a prolonged period of breast-feeding, which I would dispute having seen no convincing research about that, but that's a whole other blog, let alone another post!
Another, more credible one, is that she treats her daughter with the respect she would another adult living in her home and makes time for activities she wants to do as well as the boring adult stuff.
It's something I have been doing with Miss T, albeit mostly unconciously. If we have to do something for me, like going to the bank or the shops, we follow it with something for her, like a trip to the park or the beach. I organise coffee and a chat with friends for me, and we then go to the swings so she can run around after being cooped up and reined in by a sea of "don't touch" and "come back" commands.
So far it does seem to have worked, although it may be coincidence rather than any great parental skill on my part. But I think there is some sense to that argument - I'm more likely to sit through something dull if there's a promise of something nice at the end of it. And if there isn't then I think a lot of people would find themselves getting frustrated with whoever has dragged them to Dullsville!
That's it for today - but I did manage to find the link if you're interested...

Thursday, 28 August 2008


So I'm still working on planning that night out - nothing definite so far but it's definitely coming along!
And Mark and I are also planning a night out together soon (shock horror), particularly as we won cinema tickets in a raffle.
But I've noticed something that may be PND related or just parenting related. I used to watch all manner of films and enjoyed horror with the best of them - Mark and I had a memorable Halloween watching a midnight showing of the Exorcist.
But now I just don't want to watch anything that isn't pink and fluffy. Maybe it's cos I've had enough horror in real life and I want a bit of escapism when I go out.
Maybe I'm just getting old! Any thoughts welcome - polite ones though!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Time for plan b?

So I tried a relaxing dog walk yesterday, as I promised.
But it didn't quite go to plan. It all started well - Mark was home with Tasha and I escaped into the fresh air with just two hairy hounds for company. Well, actually there were three as we had a visiting dog too.
And for the first 10 minutes all was good - until my most challenging canine decided to have a senior (or senile!) moment. About half way along our regular walk I turned to check on him as he was trailing behind as usual and instead of seeing him sniffing a fence as he had been just two minutes earlier, I saw him racing into the distance in the direction we had just come from.
For whatever reason (and I think he became disorientated with all his sniffing, forgot which way we were going, looked up and panicked because I wasn't in front of him - not bothering to check whether I was behind!) he had decided his walk was over and he was on his way home.
So that was the end of the relaxing time and the start of a mad sprint after him, being tripped up by two other rather confused dogs who wanted to point out that we were nowhere near our usual turning point, and besides, couldn't I just throw their balls?!
Luckily I caught up with him just after he had reached the car and, realising I wasn't there, decided to head for home along the road instead. Bless...
So it's on to plan B - I'm trying to arrange a night out for Friday and I have several options to consider so one of them is sure to work out. And there will be no clueless canines in sight!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Return of the wobbles!

Quick update - tearful moments 2, friends squeezed in - 3

It all started so well on Friday! But it didn't take long to go wrong....
There were too many niggling little moments to list - you'd all be reaching for the happy pills before I got half way through!
The important thing is that I managed to survive them and actually I've realised something important as well.
It's easy to get annoyed with Tasha when she's moaning and whining about something - but it's more effective to distract her with something fun to do.
It's easy to feel sorry for myself when I am stuck at home with a slightly off-colour toddler - but it's better to devise a treat for me for when it's over (preferably one that doesn't involve chocolate biscuits!).
I love seeing my friends with Tasha and watching her enjoy playing with their children, but I also need some time away from her. And that doesn't mean when she's in bed, like now, and I've spent an hour frantically clearing up and cleaning and doing mountains more washing as well as preparing lunch.
It means time away from the house. Pre-Tash I didn't exactly live in a social whirl but I did go for drinks after work sometimes, or drop in to see friends, or go out for a meal with Mark.
And I also had time to go for leisurely walks with the dogs without trying to keep an eye on a lively toddler who refuses to stay in her pushchair, and to go to pilates/swimming/the gym (rarely, I admit, but that's not the point!).
Now those things are practically non-existent. And actually, that's mostly my fault. I've been so obsessed with being a perfect parent that I've felt it would be wrong to go out and have fun without Tash.
I do love having fun with her, and I genuinely would not want to leave her for a whole weekend or anything like that, but I would like an afternoon to myself. Or a morning - I'm not fussy! I don't even have to go out, if she does - there are loads of things I would like to do at home that I can't when she's here, even if she's asleep - like sorting out the photos and hanging them upstairs.
So rather than spending this time reliving the problems of the last few days I'm spending it making a promise to myself - and you can all be witnesses - that I will do something just for me in the next week. It will be a challenge as Mark's on lates, but surely that's what grandparents are for?!
I'll let you know how I get on. And thanks for all the comments - it's lovely to know someone is actually reading this and taking the time to get in touch.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Good morning!

Now if we all started life in a good mood like this, wouldn't life be better? All you need is a big bowl of porridge, two spoons, and some birds in the garden for entertainment. We're off to a fun day thing later so let's hope that friday feeling persists!

And now I'm sad.

But it's nothing to do with Tash or PND or my life.
Yesterday, the legend that is Adrian Sudbury, of Baldy's Blog (see the link to the right of this page) died. I never met him and only knew him through his blog but from that it was easy to see what an inspirational and truly great person he was.
So I'll confess to a tearful moment about that.
He had a lot of important things to say and continued saying them even though he knew he had only weeks left to live.
And his legacy will live on in his campaign to educate more people about joining the bone marrow register, even though his own transplant was unsuccessful. So please, think about signing up to save a life. And if you are in any doubt about why it matters a quick click through to his blog should be enough to convince you.
My other tearful moment was at that picture of the chimp and her dead baby. Horrible stuff.
But I suppose on the plus side I've coped with my own mini crises and traumas for the last few days with no wobbles about them.
And I've aquired a reader from New Zealand, according to my statistics thingy - so welcome!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Now I'm cross!

But fret not - you're not in for another whinge about people daring to get on with their lives!
I received today courtesy of my doctor sister an interesting review from the British Medical Journal about the treatment of PND.
And it was interesting - there was a bit about a study which stimulated the hormonal changes of pregnancy and birth in women with and without a history of depression and which resulted in depressive symptoms only in women with a history of PND, suggesting perhaps an abnormal sensitivity to "the normal physiological changes of childbirth".
It talked about ways to prevent it, particularly in future pregnancies, which was of course of great interest to me.
But when I got to guidance about how to treat PND I started to get cross.
Apparently, NICE guidelines recommend a stepped care approach, starting with self-help strategies and non-directive counselling. Which would be where the "listening visits" from the health visitor came in.
Then the next step is CBT - cognitive behavioural therapy. That comes BEFORE any form of medication.
Which was totally not my experience. After the listening visits and self-help strategies ("Why don't you meet up with a friend for coffee? Or have a nice bath?" - that sort of thing) didn't work I was immediately sent away with a prescription from my GP - on my first visit to him!
And when I returned to report I wasn't feeling better, still therapy wasn't mentioned and instead I was given a higher dose of happy pills.
It was only after returning again with no improvement despite the higher dose that I was referred to the mental health team and then finally things started moving.
The review could not be any clearer - it says: "Antidepressants are recommended only if the patient declines psychological therapy, if it does not work or if the woman has a history of severe depression." So why did it not happen in my case? Half my degree is in psychology, and I was totally aware that CBT or something similar was what I needed yet it was only months down the line that I was offered any kind of psychological treatment, and even further that I actually managed to access anything remotely helpful.
I know I sound cross, and that's because I am. Not just for me, because bizarrely the act of having to battle with the medical profession to access the help I needed - and deserved - actually helped me focus on getting through everything, but for the legions of women out there who may not have the strength to fight.
I've said it before, I'm sure, but pretty much everything I read about PND rammed home the message that it was treatable and all you had to do was to ask for help and you would get better.
Yet what happens when you ask and the help is not forthcoming? If you're me, you start fighting (this may sound familiar to some of my colleagues...), but if just the physical act of getting out of bed, getting dressed and making it down to the surgery is almost too much to bear then there may not be any energy left to fight.
And when it can take all the courage you have to make the appointment and confess to "failing" as a mother you may not be in a frame of mind to start arguing.
And then there is a very real risk of serious harm to either the mother or her child. The report itself says: "PND needs to be identified and treated promptly and adequately because it can result in a range of lasting adverse outcomes for mother and child."
Unfortunately that was not my experience. I now have to rely on my Wise Mind - identified from the therapy I PAID to access after almost a year of battling - to convince myself that Tasha is not at risk of "lasting adverse affects". But that's another post.
Rant over, btw...

Monday, 18 August 2008

A new day, a new challenge.

Today I learnt that another of my baby friends is leaving the single child life behind and will soon be a mother of two.
And while I'm pleased for her I'm sad for me.
I know what I said yesterday - hell, I only managed to post it about five minutes ago! - and that's all still true but it doesn't help the way I feel.
I feel left behind.
I feel like the great train of life is chugging along and I'm stuck on a platform somewhere.
I feel jealous that pretty much everyone else is managing to live their life the way they planned.
I feel guilty that Tash is missing out on a sibling when everyone else is getting one.
I feel bad for Mark who I know would have another baby tomorrow if I just gave the go ahead (and the biological stuff didn't take a little longer!)
But hey! I'm doing great. I'm off medication, out of therapy and surviving.
And even though Mark kindly pointed out to me that as of yesterday I'm closer to 30 than I am 29 we still have plenty of time for more children.
And maybe when we have our second everyone else will be on their third and we can still go through it all together.
And I managed to get through today with no tearful moments!

technological problems and traumas

Fear not, I have not disappeared into the ether. I tried to post over the weekend but the stupid computer was having none of it.
Luckily, after the second time I managed to save it and have reproduced it below.
And today's post will follow, with a bit of a change of tone. Such is the life of Liz at the moment...

Grrrr! I just typed out another fantastic insightful post and then my computer died and lost it all!
But first of all, I hope you are all impressed with my latest technological milestone - the post below is from my phone! How cool is that?! Probably not very to all you geeks out there but it is for me...
Anyway, as I was saying before the computer let me down...this weekend has been full of milestones - Miss Tash came with us to buy her first big girl duvet and pillow and picked out the pinkest bedding set she could find.
It's quite wierd to see her in her cot with them - she's no longer a baby and I'm no longer in those hellish early days, and can look forward to the challenges and fun that her childhood will bring.
I'm also now drug free and no longer in therapy, so I guess I'm as sane as I can hope to be at the moment.
We had a really good session yesterday, with talk of how far we'd come, as well as talk of the future.
The statistic that terrifies me at the moment is that after having PND once there's a 50 per cent chance of having it again. That's a big risk to take if we decide to expand our family (with two-legged children rather than four-legged furry ones!).
At the moment I just can't contemplate that, for all sorts of reasons. I'm so not ready, for one. And I'm not ready to put Tash through something that could jeopardise our fledgling relationship - having a sibling would be stressful enough for her, without risking losing mummy to a big black hole as well.
If I'm honest, I'm not prepared to risk losing myself to that hole either. I've worked so hard to climb out of it and I feel like I need to get further away from the abyss before starting any dangerous manoeuvres. That's a really confused metaphor but I hope you understand what I mean.
Of course, that's not to say that we'll never have another child. I sincerely hope that in another year or so, when Tash is old enough for us to discuss her frustrations and attempt an explanation of how I am feeling, we might be brave enough to try.
But for now, I plan to work on enjoying the child I have before she's all grown up and it's passed me by.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Sleeping beauty

Progress all round today as miss Tash sleeps with her big girl pillow and duvet we chose together. Naturally she picked the pinkest one!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

More parenting thoughts...

I came across this today and for half a second I almost signed up.
Then I realised Tash was far too young for us to need anything like it yet, plus I have better things to do with my time at the moment.
But it was quite reassuring to read a bit about the work they do and their general ehtos. Most of it seems to be about teenagers and trying to understand why they feel like they do and working out how to help them communicate.
A lot of what they recommend is the sort of thing I would hope to do when Tash is older. I've always thought it made me slightly too fluffy or loony lefty to remember how traumatic the teenage years can be and to think that should colour parenting (think more hugs and support and less pressure and shouting!) but here is a reasonably well-respected person saying the same thing.
So I can't be doing all that much wrong - not yet, anyway! Feel free to remind me of this post in 15 years time...

Monday, 11 August 2008

supermums and how to survive them...

Apologies for those wanting one of my quick updates - I keep forgetting to do them!
So for the last entry, it was tearful moments 1; friends squeezed in 3.
And since then, tearful moments 1, friends squeezed in 1 - plus assorted relatives! Quite a lot of relatives, in fact...and I managed to avoid catering for them all again which makes it even more enjoyable!
Writing down the amount of tearful moments like that can look a bit bleak, which is how I felt a few days ago. But actually, it's still a huge improvement and that's what I want to focus on. Even a year ago they would have been in double figures...
So...those supermums! Well, over the weekend I decided there were two strategies to deal with them. One was to avoid all parents of children around Tasha's age for quite some time, and the other is just to learn from them and let Tash do the same.
Option one did look quite appealing for a while but is clearly unworkable - or would lead to more problems than the exposure to supermums would. So instead I've opted for option two.
Thanks to those readers who made helpful points about them after my last post - I've taken those on board. The next encounter is scheduled for Thursday so I'll let you know how it goes!
The other big date in the diary this week is my last therapy session on Saturday. That's quite a daunting thought, and there have been a few moments this week when I've thought I should scrap that plan and book in a few more appointments.
But when I think about that rationally I can see it's just the thought of being on my own that is worrying me. And actually, I'm not. Okay, so after Saturday I may not have a monthly unloading session with a trained expert, but I will still have some great friends who often make the same points as she does.
And I will be £70 a month better off, and I will be able to access her if I feel the need to.
This is of course not a sudden, out of the blue decision - we've been talking about it since Christmas and we've worked up to Saturday by looking at more coping mechanisms and plans for the future.
But it is still worrying because I do feel there will be extra pressure on me from people thinking, 'Oh dear, perhaps she is still a bit too nuts and should go back to therapy...'. However, as I have learnt in therapy, that pressure actually comes from me and I need to use Wise Mind (which I always think of like Wise Owl...) to find the truth in a situation.
Anyway - enough deep stuff! For today's other news, did anyone else catch that programme with Vanessa Mae? It was about her considerable musical talent and whether it was down to nature or nurture. There was a lot of interesting scientific stuff in there but for me the main point came in a revealing quote from the violinist. She said: "I was always aware my mother's love was conditional..." and went on to say that although her mother said she loved her because she was her daughter, she was special because she could play the violin well and if she couldn't then she wouldn't be special.
They are now estranged, somewhat unsurprisingly. At least that's one mistake I hope not to make...

Friday, 8 August 2008


They are a dangerous breed, and they are spreading!
Not just the mums who can have it all and make it look easy, but those who do all that and have lovely children who are well adjusted and confident.
For probably obvious reasons I try to keep those out of my "inner circle" and in an ideal world I would like to surround myself only with people who are as wonky as me.
But it doesn't always work like that, as I discovered yesterday when I met up with two friends and their children.
I thought we could bond over the general pants-ness of parenting at times, while our children could play happily together (or stop one step short of killing each other...).
I thought Tash would enjoy the company and we could enjoy a chat.
I ended up wrong on most counts!
Tash found it all a bit overwhelming (am trying to remind myself that this is why she has started at the childminder's) and in truth, so did I, as my glamerous and organised friends discussed everything from potty-training to education.
That sounds bitter, I know, and it's not meant to but I just felt completely inadequate as my daughter clung to my legs while their children played confidently.
Mine threw balls around - theirs understood the word gentle and complied immediately.
To be fair, some of them were older than Tash but even the younger one was displaying skills Tash has not yet mastered.
I did not see this as a reflection on her, but on me and my parenting skills, which must surely be lacking if she is uncomfortable in such a situation.
And the fact that they both had more children than me and more to deal with than me, PND aside, made me feel completely useless.
I did discuss it with one of them afterwards who pointed out that behind closed doors she too has meltdown moments and feels like the worst mother ever. But in public she can put on a brave face - even among friends.
That's something I still need to master - or do I? Maybe that would be another way of pretending mental illness doesn't exist and at least by carrying on as I am I'm being true to myself.
In other news, was anyone else as depressed as me by the Cambridge study that showed most people think working mums (albeit full timers) damage family life? No one bothers to ask what we think of working dads!
And my dates with my husband were lovely - hurrah!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

A return!

I'm back!
Apologies for lack of posting but I was in a foul mood on Monday and simply too busy on Tuesday.
Today, however, things are looking up.
And to save you all trawling through hundreds of words to try to find out how things are I have decided to introduce another simple update system.
Remember the old one? Happy pills taken and rows with top level people at work? Well that is no longer relevant as happy pills are a thing of the past and I have managed at least two weeks without arguments so instead I will be reporting on tearful moments and friends to cram in.
So for this week so far: Tearful moments 1, friends to cram in during two days off 5, plus assorted relatives.
I'd say the first result is an improvement, especially as it was only a brief one and partly triggered by a particularly good book (which is mostly funny but also very very honest about the pitfalls of motherhood), but the second relates back to my waffle about being overstretched from a few days ago.
However, I am not one to be beaten, as I'm sure you will all have realised by now. So I've decided on a new tactic of combining friends. I figure that if I can get everyone to get on with each other then all I have to do is get them in the same place at the same time and I can kill two birds with one stone - or five friends with a few pieces of cake, in this case!
Tomorrow is the first day of the new tactic and I'm hoping to combine at least two sets, leaving me with three sets to squeeze in over two days, plus relatives...at least it's more manageable than five!
And in other news - I have a date with my husband tonight! And another one tomorrow! And hopefully this will be a recurring feature from now on. Although not every night....and maybe not two nights in a row usually. But I absolutely will not mention it in the same breath as abandoning my child or palming her off or shirking my duties.....I'm thinking of adopting that familiar yummy mummy phrase "A happy mum is a good mum" as my new mantra...do I sound convincing yet?

Sunday, 3 August 2008

one step forwards, one step back....or going nowhere fast!

It's been a mixed couple of days here in mad-land...
And it's hard to tell what the overriding feeling is.
Yesterday I was proud and pleased after having a frank and open discussion with someone I had just met about my experiences of PND - and yet again finding that they didn't run screaming from the room.
But she is pregnant with her first baby and confided that she is worried about developing PND once it's born. She's not the first to have expressed such fears to me, which makes part of me wonder if actually my almost defiant honesty is proving to be more of a catalyst for panic than anything else.
After all, it's a bit like birth stories - most people gloss over any icky bits unless they are talking to someone who has already gone through it. I'm lucky there - Tash's actual birth was all I wanted and I am happy to be positive about it to anyone who cares to listen.
But it's what happened after that caused the problems, when the reality of becoming "mum of Tash" instead of me kicked in.
There's maybe another side to that - I can talk about it now because I've come through it. So hopefully I can be a positive sort of role model as well as inspiring panic.
But all of this deep thinking has been making me feel overwhelmingly sad that there has to be such horrible stuff in the world. Experiencing what I have - and coming out the other side, or at least being on my way towards the light at the end of the tunnel - means I have even more empathy than before for people who are suffering, in whatever way.
And I really hate it. I hate knowing what someone newly diagnosed with PND could face, and that the latest unfortunate recipient of my soapbox speech could see what should be one of the best times of her life turn into the worst.
I desperately want to scoop them all up, feed them cake and keep them safe until the darkness has passed but that's just not possible.
So in the spirit of my post-therapy self I'm trying instead to focus on keeping myself as sane as possible and allowing that to help others where possible.
But if anyone does want hugs and cake, you know where I am!

Friday, 1 August 2008


It's a word I read in a book I have just finished, and it describes my life perfectly at the moment.
It's the kind of word I would previously have used to describe my knee - as in, it hurts because I overextended it - but in this case it means overcommitted or spread too thin, to use another great phrase.
I think half the problem here is that I'm no good at doing things in a half-hearted way. So work gets 100 per cent dedication (except perhaps when it's 100 degrees in the office and too hot to think!), and on days off so does everything else.
But with two days, not including weekends which are generally 100 per cent family time, it's hard to fit everything in.
I want to do fun things with Tash, I want to see my friends and I want to be a good friend. And I really shouldn't complain, but I have quite a few great friends which makes it a bit more complicated - if I had just two it would be fine!
One solution would be a monthly rota but that would all fall apart if someone had a crisis outside of their alloted time.
So instead I'm opting for the text and forward option. It's a real 21st century one - if I'm thinking about a friend I'll send them a forwarded email joke, or if they are very lucky a text. Luckily most of my friends are 21st century friends so they know this is code for saying I'm thinking about you and I'm here if you need me.
I hope they do, anyway!
Of course, with my good old self sacrifice schema it's hard to restrain myself from swooping in at times of crisis with casseroles and cakes but I'm relying on people to tell me if that what's they would like.
Which is actually quite a big step forward for me - and another solution to being overextended. So maybe there is still hope!
In other news, I noticed today that I feel most at ease with Tash when she does something clever, eg today she sat on her potty and read a whole book. Nothing ended up in the potty, and of course when I say read I mean looked at pictures, but it earned her lots of praise and me a fuzzy warm feeling of contentment. But when she was putting her feet on the table during dinner that rapidly evaporates.
I'm hoping that doesn't mean I'm going to end up giving her conditional love based on her achievements instead of for who she is.
Another thing to worry about!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

tests and triumphs

A friend of mine is due to take the Edinburgh post natal depression test soon and is worried she might "fail" for being tired and emotional.
That's a whole other issue - I would say you can't fail it, instead you can identify if there is a potential problem and hopefully access support to tackle it.
But it got me thinking and I decided to revisit the test myself - with surprising results. Well, they were surprising to me, anyway.
When I dutifully considered my emotions and mental well-being and ticked the relevant boxes it came out with a score of 14 out of 30. Which doesn't sound too bad at all.
But according to the blurb you get with your score, that means I am quite likely to be depressed.
Apparently between 10 and 12 shows a possibility of depression, and 13 or over is quite likely.
It may be quite obvious to other people that I still have problems, but it was a bit of a blow for me, as I had started to consider myself almost recovered, if that makes sense. Indeed, my next therapy session is scheduled to be my last which is a massive step forwards, and I've shown lately that i can handle difficult situations without having a meltdown moment.
I did redo the test remembering how I felt at the time I first did it for real, and my score was then 26 out of 30, which was about what it was at the time. So I can see progress has been made.
But if I'm feeling positive and I still come out as depressed what do I have to do to be normal?
There's perhaps an interesting comparison there with something I have mentioned before - Britain's Missing Top Model, which had its final last night. In case you missed it, here's some info http://www.bbc.co.uk/missingmodel/ but basically it's about disabled girls vying for a chance to be a mainstream model.
The girl who I - and she - had considered the favourite did not win although I can see why the judges made their choice.
But what did strike me was some of the things she was saying about her experiences during the competition, which included a nude photoshoot featuring her wheelchair, which she uses after a car accident left her paralysed.
Of course I'm not saying that having PND, however severe, is the same as using the lose of your legs and the massive impact that would have on your whole life.
But she said she had finally accepted the wheelchair as part of her instead of trying to battle against it, and no longer felt she wanted it as far away from her as possible when she wasn't using it.
Perhaps I need to do the same with my wonky thinking....life would be a lot easier if I just accepted it was part of me that was going to be there forever. After all, for obvious reasons I did not do the test before I had Tash so there's no real way of telling how unhinged I was before!
Maybe some of you could try and let me know how you get on - remember, it's nothing to be ashamed of!

Monday, 28 July 2008

i am proud of me!

Oh dear it's been one of those days!
But fear not, dear reader - I have neither cracked open the happy pills nor had rows with top level boss type people.
Today was Miss Tasha's first day with the childminder and actually, it didn't go too badly. Sure, she screamed when Mark dropped her off, and at various intervals throughout the day, but she managed a sleep and was playing happily when I picked her up.
But then it all went wrong....
All the excitement had clearly worn her out and after her dinner she quickly became grumpy so I decided on an early bath.
But while I was running it she got her beloved bunny out of her cot and was wandering around cuddling him.
And when I pointed out that it would not be a good idea to take him into the bath with her, all hell broke loose.
Gone was my lovely happy toddler, replaced by a screaming, sobbing, red-faced and angry strop machine.
Removing bunny from her sight did not help, nor did vigorous splashing, pointing out lovely coloured fish and ducks or producing her toothbrush.
I think I would have been forgiven, after a busy day at work in a sweltering office, for joining her in the sobbing or at least becoming frustrated and snapping.
But instead I did the necessary washing as quickly as possible, with plenty of cuddles and calm reassurance, and then removed the aforementioned screaming, sobbing red-faced....you get the picture - to get into her night clothes.
By this point she was in quite a state and the easiest thing to do would have been to bundle her up and dump her in bed and leave her to it.
But instead I employed the baby massage skills I learnt when she was tiny (thank you health visitor and yoga teacher!) to rub in her baby lotion, while still using my calm reassuring voice and plenty of those lovely therapy phrases like "I understand you are feeling tired and frustrated...you feel cross that mummy took bunny away" etc etc (thank you lovely therapist!).
And do you know what? It worked! So after a calming massage and another cuddle we were able to share a story, and she even joined in by pointing out the cat and dog (almost all our stories involve cats and dogs!) and giggling in the right places.
Yes, she screamed when I put her in her cot but only for a minute, and my evening has been salvaged.
And hopefully next childminder session will be better...but I know I can cope if it isn't. So I think I'm allowed to be proud of myself. Because it isn't that long ago that this evening's experiences would have sent me running for the hills...

In other news, according to a statistics thingy I have somehow managed to instal, this blog has been read by people in Italy and Spain as well as good old Blighty.
Now own up - is it really continental visitors interested in my life and woes?
Or are you all so keen you are keeping up to date while on holiday?
Answers on a postcard again, this time from exotic climes - or better still, leave a comment to confess!