About Me

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

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!

Friday, 25 July 2008

I'm back!

Wow - four days without a post - that must be some kind of record!
Apologies if you've missed me - it's just been one of those weeks with so much going on.
But I think the lack of blog is a bit of a good sign, as there have been some days when I've felt like I would burst if I don't get it all out on here. Obviously not this week though!
So what's new?
Well, Miss Tasha is at the childminders at the moment and I really hope she's having fun. She screamed when I left but I'm focusing on how much she enjoyed playing with the other children before I went...
And I've been doing more thinking about this whole parent thing. I think I've said it before, but I really don't feel like a proper parent, yet I don't feel like myself either.
There are two things that really brought this home to me. The first was talking to a friend about the word "mum". It's one I hear a lot, but it just doesn't seem to apply to me. When I hear Tash saying it she could just as easily be saying dog or cat. I don't know how to explain this clearly but it just doesn't feel like I'm her mum...she must be talking about some grown-up person who would be better at looking after her.
And the other is hearing about other parents who seem able to enjoy pretty much the same life as their pre-child one. They go to music festivals, beer festivals, nightclubs, pubs - and don't seem to struggle with the same level of guilt that I would feel. Even going to work is problematic for me sometimes - if I see parents and children out together while I'm working I feel that should be me and that Tash is missing out.
Of course I know she's not, and besides I need to work to pay the mortgage and the overdraft, even if nothing else. But that old "should" word keeps rearing it's head. Days off "should" be family time, we chose to have a child so we "should" accept that lifestyle which involves a lot of nights in and family days out. And I like doing that, but should we do more by ourselves as well?
I know what my lovely therapist would say - who says I should, and that word is banned anyway.
And I can keep telling myself that, but it isn't working yet!
What does help sometimes is remembering that everyone has different ways of doing things, and Mark and I are a team so I'm sure together we can get at least some of it right. And if not there's always therapy for Tash later...

Monday, 21 July 2008


I do love when those in authority recognise how clever and right I am!
Of course this report, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7514115.stm,
was published with perfect timing to coincide with my insightful post on Friday...
If you can't be bothered to click on the link, here are the first two paragraphs...
"Nine out of ten people with mental health problems in England say they are frequently stigmatised - often by those closest to them, a survey has found.
Strangers in shops or public transport were likely to be the most accepting, with family and neighbours more likely to treat them differently."
That mirrors my own experience in a way - although my family have been as supportive as they can be it is often strangers who are most accepting.
I am sure that those who do treat me differently do so with the best of intentions - oh, Liz is a bit fragile so we'd better be gentle...that sort of thing.
But that's not always what I want. It's what I was trying to say the other day - I'm still me, just me with a bit of wonky thinking sometimes.
There was a perfect example today - someone asked Mark how I was because I had seemed a bit down.
Which is fine, in itself. But first of all, why not ask me? Maybe because they don't want to face me and discuss my mental health - although that same person would have no qualms asking how my knee was, to refer back to my previous example.
And secondly, what is the poor guy supposed to say? Fine is clearly the wrong answer, worrying about sliding back into the pits of depression is probably wrong too...in the end he went for a bit stressed out and that seemed to suffice.
But I suppose at least the fact that they are asking is a start!

Sunday, 20 July 2008


Well, yesterday got better after my posting - it couldn't have got much worse!
Salvation came in the welcome form of my inlaws and teenage nephew who proved to be fantastic toddler tamers and any problems of the morning were forgotten.
That's another thing we could all learn from our pint-sized relatives - misery is utterly forgotten within minutes of the experience. There is no dwelling on it or lingering bad feelings...unless they come out in therapy as an adult!
The day, which included sunshine and a family outing, helped provide a little perspective - some things may be rubbish but as long as you can smile and have fun then life isn't so bad after all.

Saturday, 19 July 2008


More thinking today, sorry.
I mentioned a few days ago that I had dodgy kneecaps as well as dodgy mental wiring. I'm wondering what would have happened if I had started a blog about that, and my experiences in dealing with the problem, overcoming it and living with it.
I'm fairly confident no one would have batted an eyelid - and who knows, I might even have got some sympathetic emails on top.
But writing about an unhinged brain instead of unhinged patellae seems to provoke quite different reactions.
Some people are concerned that as this blog becomes more widely read (I won't go so far as to say popular!) it could affect the way people see me.
Would that be the case if it was about kneecaps? And if not, what is the difference?
In case you're wondering, I'll go on...
Mental illness - however extreme - still makes people feel uncomfortable in a way that most physical conditions do not. I'll accept that the subject of bowel problems, for example, may not be one that is discussed in public much - but I would argue that the same principle applies.
I truly am not ashamed of what I have been through since having Tasha, and I'm not bothered who knows about it. That's why I started this blog in the first place.
Yes, some people reading may know me in a professional capacity, or may not even know me at all - but although I am a parent, a daughter, a sister, a niece, a friend and an employee I'm also a person, and what's wrong with admitting that? People have issues and problems and I believe that if you can acknowledge them, and show that you are dealing with them in the best way you can, it makes you a better parent, daughter, sister etc etc.
There's a song that Tash and I learnt at sing and sign that comes to mind - it asks how do you feel today and goes on to say if you're feeling happy then clap your hands, feeling angry then stamp your feet, feeling sad then have a cry.
And it really is that simple in the world of a toddler - if she's happy she's laughing and giggling, and yes, clapping her hands; if she's angry she'll stamp her feet and make it clear and if she's sad she'll cry.
If that song were written for adults it would be very different - perhaps something like if you're feeling happy then carry on, feeling angry then keep it in, feeling sad then pretend all's fine.
I prefer the toddler approach, and think if more people were honest it would make life easier for everyone.
BTW, if anyone has got this far and is still interested in my unhinged life, today has been another difficult day so far.
I'm tired and stressed and feel a bit pants physically and Tasha is also tired and under the weather. So when she pushed her limits this morning and I had to remove her from a situation for the fourth time, for half a second I was almost more physical than I wanted to be. It was a stark reminder of those awful days of pacing the floor with a crying newborn in my arms and just wanting to open them up and let her drop.
Of course the important thing is that I wasn't rough with her, I didn't scream at her and all was fine two seconds later when she was on my lap signing her way through her favourite story. But it reminded me of how close to the edge I still am.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Tired and frustrated

That's what Tash was before bedtime tonight and that's how I feel too.
I wanted to blog about how I made it to an aqua aerobics class this morning after three weeks of trying, and about how bizarre it felt to be going into one of the single cubicles to get changed instead of a family one.
I wanted to blog about how I managed to laugh at the fact that Tash was a nightmare at lunch in a cafe today, because my friend's daughter was the same.
Or about how we had fun in the park just letting them run riot and enjoying the cake we ended up getting as a takeaway.
Or I wanted to tackle one of the many things I have been itching to air my views on, from books to babies.

But instead I feel overwhelmed by such a sense of despair that I just can't focus on any of those issues. I wasn't going to blog at all but then I decided it was all better out than in.
Of course there are reasons for this slip backwards to the abyss, but that doesn't always help. I don't particularly want to analyse why I feel like this, I just want to stop.
And more than anything, I want to enjoy my Tash days and I feel so incredibly angry when things like this get in the way. Yesterday was quite disrupted for a variety of reasons so I had planned for today to be extra special and it wasn't.
Maybe that's half the problem, but I'm not very good at just letting go.

On a slightly lighter note, this is my character analysis based on me telling Facebook my birthday. I know it's all rubbish, but doesn't it sound like someone you know?
"A hip non-conformist who truly stands for his/her beliefs - you are out to make a difference in this world, and you have a realistic chance of success. You have always been self-driven and derive your inspiration from those close to you. Ambitious - and why shouldn't you be - the sky is the limit for you!"
It's just a shame that at the moment the sky seems an awful long way off.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

NHS: No Hope, Sorry?

Unless you've been under a rock this year you've probably noticed that it's the 60th anniversary of the NHS.
And after a conversation with a friend about their experiences battling to get even the most basic of care, I thought perhaps some of my own reflections on the subject might be timely.
You may already have read a bit about it but if you're interested, here's the rest - at least in how it relates to my PND. There was a whole other battle about my frequently dislocating kneecaps but that could be a whole other blog!
So as I mentioned the other day, the birth was fantastic. As good as it could have been, and the care in the birthing centre could not have been better.
But a few weeks on, when I realised there were problems that weren't going away, things started going wrong.
I've thought and thought about this (with the old rational argument at the back of my mind) but I do believe the early stages of this "illness" could have been handled better, and then who knows what would have happened?
So I started with the health visitor who came round after the midwife signed us off. She was lovely, in a motherly kind of way, but that's as far as it went. When I spoke about my feelings of despair, guilt, failure, she nodded and listened and offered to come back for more nodding and listening.
Which maybe is all that some people need - but I needed more.
So then I tried the nurse at my six week check. Who could not have been less interested. She seemed to care more about ticking the boxes on her screen about contraception, which I can assure you was the least of my concerns!
She suggested I saw a GP. So I did. And to give him his due, he didn't question my belief that I had PND or needed help. But his answer was simply medication, and then go away and get on with it.
I tried, I really did, and increased the dose and tried some more. But it wasn't getting better. And every visit to the health visitors' clinic ended the same way - not with a lovely chat about how well Tasha was doing but with me in tears begging for someone to help me. The response? We'll make a note on your file and ask someone to get in touch. No one did.
So I went back to the GP again and asked for something else - it's called "talking therapy" in the magazines.
He was keen for more drugs and more time. I thought that combination could be a lethal one - and that's not an exaggeration.
So I ended up with my own mental health nurse. Who was lovely, and managed to get me a referral to a psychiatrist, who then referred me to a psychotherapist. And I saw both for a bit - until the pyschiatrist discharged me for the sole reason that she was moving jobs and would not be replaced.
Therapy in all its forms is a slow process - some would say a lifelong one. So I wasn't expecting instant results, but some kind of hope of improvement would have been nice. That was dangled over my head, in the form of a group therapy session that was being set up.
Hurrah, I thought - finally people who understand and won't tell me how fantastic motherhood is...
And to some degree, I got that - and I've made at least one good friend who I hope will be a lasting one. But that was the only thing I got out of it. I had to take time out of work - which meant a premature confession to my problems and made things feel uncomfortable - and some weeks we would spend the time discussing holidays or the therapist's family life.
I did speak up - I'm sure you would expect nothing less! - after a particularly distressing session where I literally asked for help in coping with just living and surviving another week, and was told to bring it back to the next session as we were out of time.
That was a catalyst for me - I wanted to get better and it's clear it wasn't going to happen here. So I started looking around and managed to find my lovely therapist. And after just one session I felt a hope I hadn't experienced in the months and months since Tasha was born.
But when I mentioned this at the group session - which I had been persuaded to give another go - I was told it showed a lack of committment to the group. So I decided committment to my recovery was more important and 'quit' group therapy.
I've since heard that another two people have quit and one is only going part time, which perhaps indicates the problems go deeper than my dissatisfaction.
I'm glad I'm angry about this, because it's what helped me survive. But it shouldn't be that way. Not everyone who is depressed has the strength to battle with those who are supposed to be there to help - for some, even plucking up the courage to make that first appointment with a GP can be a struggle.
Of course, some people do just need a low dose of those good old happy pills and that's enough to sort them out, so it's right that they should be the first option. But if they don't work the system seems to fall apart somewhat.
Maybe it's about budgets. Maybe, as I've said before, I'm just difficult. I know many people who would agree with that.
It's great that there is a real awareness now among the medical profession about this, but I'm not sure it extends beyond the relatively mild cases. But there are still mums out there with PND who harm themselves or their families so surely that makes it a priority for training and budgets?
When it's a fight just to get out of bed in the morning, let alone get dressed and leave the house, it's massively unfair that we have to fight for the help we need to get better too.

Good sign?

Important news! Last night my VIC campaign was back at the council and we won a partial victory in forcing the ruling executive committee to look at it again.
Which is obviously fantastic news for Whitstable, the campaign and everyone involved but I have to admit there is a tiny part of me wondering if it is such a good thing for me.
But I think, and hope, I have learned from my experience so far and that is already evident - I did write up my notes last night but waited till this morning to transform them into stories, and I did text Mark and my petitioning friend last night with the good news, but avoided the temptation to text everyone in my address book.
And I did feel bad this morning when Mark took Tasha downstairs so I could write up the stories - she looked at me as if to say "But Thursdays are our days - why aren't you with me?".
Fear not little miss - we will be having lots of fun later, as soon as you wake up from your sleep!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008


So nearly a month has passed since I started this blog, and what have I learned?
Rather more than I expected, actually.
First of all, there are so many more people out there who feel like I do, even if they are not ready to stand up publicly yet and admit to their experiences of depression or other "mental health issues" ( I still hate that phrase!).
Secondly, I could write four blog posts every day and still not get everything out I want to say - for a girl who was frequently told off at school for not contributing and being too quiet this is an interesting experience.
Also, and this has been one of the hardest lessons, although at times this blog feels like a diary it isn't because real people - people I know - are reading and inwardly digesting what I write. Which is of course the point, but it's something I need to remember more in the future because sometimes inadvertently it impacts on them. And there's no need for us all to be miserable just cos I am!
I've learnt a lot about myself as well - when I think I'm fine I'm often not, and in fact it's those times when I protest loudly about being completely in control that I'm usually desperately floundering.
I've also learnt that an awful lot scares me still. Not just things like spiders - including the extra-massive one who decided to join me in the shower this morning - but proper big things like how I will tell Tasha about all of this when she's older.
I always thought it would be great to show her this and let her read it for herself, and I still think it would be, but not without a proper introduction to the subject first.
I'm terrified she will read it and think I didn't try hard enough, or failed her in some important way.
And beyond that is still this fear that I did something wrong in the beginning for all this to happen to me. I've read and heard so many other stories of people with PND and almost all of them have some base or cause they can point to - a traumatic birth, severe health problems, relationship breakdowns, serious life stresses....what do I have? A supportive and long-suffering partner, text-book water birth, and an angel baby from heaven.
Plus of course the crippling guilt that I missed so much of her early life and the numbing terror that it could all come back at any time.
But anyway! What started off as a reflective, vaguely optimistic post has as usual got distracted...so maybe a bit of self-editing would be another useful skill to acquire.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

schemas and scheming

Is it a good sign when your therapist walks into the room with a book about treating borderline personality disorder?!
Probably not - but luckily I think mine was just using it to lean on while she wrote her notes....
So today was another good session - despite acknowledging the "blips" over the past few weeks (her word, not mine!).
And this may not come as a surprise to anyone out there, but the whole VIC campaign was a bit of a blip. In many ways.
Yes, I know it was probably obvious, but it wasn't to me. I got too caught up in my view and my desires and got a bit (or maybe a lot!) obsessed about it....
Unfortunately this is something I'm going to have to watch out for in the future, because, again using her words, I'm always going to be "driven".
The key is to recognise that before it steamrollers into something out of control, like emailing everyone expecting them to spend weekends campaigning with me! And then getting cross when they don't....
I'm not sorry I did the campaign, but I am sorry for how I managed the whole situation. Another one of those life lessons....
We talked more about schemas today (remember this link? http://www.schematherapy.com/id30.htm) and again it was so bizarre to find out that I can be so easily explained by fitting in to a list of schemas. I wish everyone could have this experience - it's been scarily accurate for me.
So as well as the good old self-sacrifice schema, another active one that should not be a surprise to anyone that knows me (and anyone who has read this blog!) is unrelenting standards. If you can't be bothered to find it on the link, here's a bit about it:
"The underlying belief that one must strive to meet very high internalized standards of behavior and performance, usually to avoid criticism. Typically results in feelings of pressure or difficulty slowing down; and in hypercriticalness toward oneself and others. Must involve significant impairment in: pleasure, relaxation, health, self-esteem, sense of accomplishment, or satisfying relationships.
Unrelenting standards typically present as: (a) perfectionism, inordinate attention to detail, or an underestimate of how good one's own performance is relative to the norm; (b) rigid rules and “shoulds” in many areas of life, including unrealistically high moral, ethical, cultural, or religious precepts; or (c) preoccupation with time and efficiency, so that more can be accomplished."
Does that ring bells? VIC campaign anyone? It's wierd - I've never heard the phrase "hyper critical" before this month yet first someone said it to me about my attitude to others during the campaign and then there it is in black and white.
One schema that came as slightly more of a surprise to me was social isolation/alienation. Looking at my life it seems very busy - there's work, friends, mark, family - I'm hardly ever at home.
But scratch below the surface and that actually could be true. The blurb for the schema says: "The feeling that one is isolated from the rest of the world, different from other people, and/or not part of any group or community."
Different from other people is the key. I have great friends - really good people who I know will be there through everything, and vice versa - but I still feel different. As illustration, I know everyone has bad days, but for most people a bad day is just that. I can recognise that a bad day is a bad day now, not the end of the world, but there is still that gut-wrenching fear that maybe it's not, and maybe tomorrow will be the day I can't get out of bed, or that the sound of Tasha's chat in the morning will send me back under the duvet.
I don't think unless you've been there you can appreciate that. And I don't know if it will ever go away.
Which lead us on to the thought of having more children - something to address next time. Eek!
In other news, an advert for a Barry Manilow album has just come on and Mark admitted he liked the three songs they played. Eek again!

Friday, 11 July 2008

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! and more!

So today I am really angry.
But wait - keep reading - it's not about work! (although I am mildly annoyed that my VIC campaign, unsuccessful as it was, didn't make the front page...)
No, this time it's the usually relatively inoffensive Charlotte Church who has riled me.
By chance, for the first time in months, I picked up some trashy magazines this week, including Bella. And while relaxing with a cup of tea and flicking through the pages, I came across an interview with the Welsh songstress/tv presenter/rugby WAG headlined "I thought motherhood would drive me nuts!"
As the strapline was about her return to her TV show I thought she was about to reveal that she felt, as I did, that being at home with her baby was not enough for her.
When she didn't, that was fine - each to their own and all that.
But as I read on, I found out where the headline had come from....."I loved the whole thing," she said. "It came as a surprise to me because nowadays all you hear about is post-natal depression and I thought: 'I'm going to go nuts,' but I was absolutely fine."
Where to start? I'm glad if all she heard about was post-natal depression, because when I was ill all I heard about was mums feeling fulfilled and happy and wanting to do it all again, while that thought seemed totally incomprehensible to me. So if things have changed maybe mums who do have PND feel less alone than I did.
And I'm glad she's fine, really I am - I'm pleased for everyone who doesn't have to go through the hell of PND. But if she hadn't been fine, I doubt she would have liked to have been described as "nuts".
Sure, I joke about being mad, and have done almost since the beginning. In fact I used to call group therapy my mad mums group...
But it's different for someone who hasn't experienced the terrifying fear that you are in fact losing your mind to dismiss it as going nuts. And it doesn't help anyone - those going through it, those who have made it to the other side and those who know no more than they read in magazines.
I realise more than most that sometimes an hour long interview about the difficulties of parenting can end up in print as something else, and of course the headline needs to draw people in.
And I hope that's what's happened this time. Because if Charlotte actually meant to demean a serious and soul-destroying illness in this way then I am very disappointed in her and all those around her.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Good women

You may be relieved to know I have calmed down since earlier, despite getting drowned in the rain on another brilliant day of my week off...
And for a total change of direction - and perhaps a return to the spirit of this blog - I thought I would share this with you.
Before you all start gagging and reaching for the cheese slicer, this one is not as bad as many and it touched a nerve with me....

A good woman is proud of herself. She respects herself and others. She is aware of who she is. She neither seeks definition from the person she is with, or does she expect them to read her mind. She is quite capable of articulating her needs.
A good woman is hopeful. She is strong enough to make all her dreams come true. She knows love, therefore she gives love. She recognizes that her love has great value and must be reciprocated. If her love is taken for granted, it soon disappears.
A good woman has a dash of inspiration, a dabble of endurance. She knows that she will, at times, have to inspire others to reach the potential God gave them. A good woman knows her past, understands her present and moves toward the future.
A good woman knows God. She knows that with God the world is her playground, but without God she will just be played. A good woman does not live in fear of the future because of her past. Instead, she understands that her life experiences are merely lessons, meant to bring her closer to self knowledge and unconditional self love.

Okay, so the beginning of the last paragraph takes it a bit too far and deserves a whole separate blog post, but the rest of it rings true. Am I proud of myself? In the main, and after a lot of soul-searching, yes. Am I hopeful? Always! I like to think I have inspiration and endurance, and again thanks to some wonderful work by other good women I am coming to know my past, understand my present and move towards that elusive self-love.
But I am guilty of expecting others to read my mind - or to share my opinions when I do articulate them. I can now say that my life experiences, good and bad, are indeed lessons towards self-knowledge, which I am slowly attaining. But self-love? That's a whole other issue. Especially unconditional self-love. I do know people who have almost unconditional self-loathing, and they are some of the kindest and most special people I know, and that makes me sad. I don't loath myself, but there are times when I don't like myself very much. Like when I push and push a point at work until everyone is absolutely sick of it, and me. Or when Tash wakes up and I'm resentful because I feel like I haven't had enough time to myself. Or when I spend a day with a friend and realise when I get home that I've hardly asked about their life at all.
But maybe these are just more life lessons...

In other news, still no rows with top level people at work - or anyone else! And I can't even remember the last time I took a happy pill (yes, I know I could go back on this blog and check but at the moment it feels like weeks and I'd like to keep thinking it is!) so for the moment I consider myself off them for good. Although I have to confess all to my therapist on Saturday (I know I said it was last week but I got confused!) so that all may change...


local democracy sucks!

So guess what? Despite two petitions, hundreds of letters, dozens of response forms and 10 passionate public speakers (as well as 74 members of my facebook group!) - totalling more than 7,000 people - members of Canterbury council's ruling executive committee voted unanimously in favour of closing Whitstable's visitor information centre.
It was one of the most frustrating evenings of my life - everyone who spoke, including yours truly, made relevant and helpful suggestions about how to make money and save money, which has been the council's argument all along, and avoided the temptation of insulting the councillors.
But they just didn't seem to be listening and if they did they completely missed the point. They didn't even go for a compromise of deferring a decision for six months while holding a public consultation - which is something they should have done right at the beginning!
The decision has been called in, which means it goes back to another committee and the executive has to explain itself, but judging by experience with this council so far that will just be a technicality.
Whatever happened to councillors representing the people who elected them? I know for a fact that each and every member of the executive has had representations from countless people - including the four members from Whit and HB - but that seemed to count for nothing.
I'm not sorry we did this campaign because it was and is an important issue and I think it's right that as a local paper we should get involved, but given the result and everything that has happened during the process, I will have to think hard about repeating the experience.
Which is perhaps the saddest thing about this whole process. If I'm so disillusioned after just one experience of battling with the council (and others!) how do those seasoned campaigners keep going? I am truly in awe of their energies.
Bah humbug!
That will have to be it for now as my helpful daughter has just returned and is trying to add her own comments to this blog.
But before I go - I managed to write the story up, send it over and have two conversations with work without any arguments with bosses! So at least that's one good thing...

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Work...or not?

Hmmm. What to blog about today? Work, Tash, work, families, work, VIC campaign, work, new friends, work?
I'm guessing you are all as bored as I am about work traumas so will just reveal have managed to have two arguments with high-level boss type people despite being technically on holiday! But have been thinking about that Orange advert (I am my sister, my friends, the teacher who failed me.....know the one?) and pondering my impact on others so am trying very hard to be calmer....but it's difficult! Still, tonight is crunch time for VIC campaign so should all be over soon.
Anyway! I was quite proud of myself yesterday for embodying the title of this blog. I met up with a friend and a friend of hers, plus kids, and very soon the subject got onto having more children. And I confessed (not sure that's the right word but that's still how it feels) about having PND after Tash, which makes me hesitant about doing it all again. I can't even remember her name but I refused to be ashamed or make up some excuse about wanting Tash to have our undivided attention so I was honest. And she did not appear horrified or aghast so in all it went well!
That was definitely a highlight - only slightly marred when she later commented that Tash seemed like a "mummy's girl". It was in the context of a soft play centre where her daughter and my friend's son were off doing their own thing, at times out of sight, while Tash preferred to stay close to me and if she went off to the ball pool etc I went with her. So if that makes her a mummy's girl I don't mind too much - I'd rather know I was there to make sure she isn't stealing someone else's toys or getting shoved or falling over. I'm sure that sounds like I'm hideously over-protective but it's just another of those parenting-style differences. I can't imagine ever being one of those mothers who turns up with a magazine and sits there reading it while their child is left to get on with it.
In other news, I read that Nicole Kidman has called her daughter Sunday Rose. I completely understand why - born in the early hours of a sunday etc, but doesn't it sound a bit too much like Sunday Roast? Tash's middle name is of course Rose, but that's for her godmother/supporting adult - and of course she isn't called Sunday!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Girls v boys?

It's another grrrr moment today.
It shouldn't be, as we've had a great day so far and Tash has been impeccably behaved. But that sparked another Tash v Jake discussion with the inlaws.
As I mentioned last time, Mark and I are thinking about going away for a weekend - two nights - for our 10th anniversary. We've not got much further than thinking, and it's not just me who is hesitant.
But weekends away without Jake are a regular occurence in his household. When I expressed our feelings about leaving Tash, they seemed to fall on deaf ears and that old chestnut of Jake being "difficult" was raised again.
Apparently one of the reasons they like time away is to get a break from him because he is such hard work, whereas Tash is apparently an angel 24/7 so we have no need of it.
I tried to point out that while she is good a lot of the time she is also a normal 18 month old, who gets frustrated, angry and mischevious.
She likes to run around creating havoc and has a knack of picking those days when I need to get something done to be at her most troublesome.
I'm sure Jake is the same. And I'm sure his parents feel the same pressure we do to do things well and to be happy.
But these sort of comments really add to the pressure, for me at least.
Last time I mentioned this issue it was suggested that the differing opinions are not so much a reflection on my parenting, or theirs, or Tash or Jake's temperament, but a simple gender issue.
Boys are assumed to be difficult, while girls are assumed to be angels. So if boys play up the usual reaction is sympathy and understanding, while for girls' it's surprise.
If this is your reaction, please think again next time. All toddlers are hard work and just because Tash is a sociable, happy little thing (as is Jake), doesn't mean I don't struggle sometimes.
I'm not sure if any of this makes sense but getting it out here saved an argument with the inlaws so that's one good thing!

On the subject of differing opinions, did anyone else watch Britain's missing top model on BBC3? I thought it was really interesting and hopefully inspiring but it seems I may in a minority after reading several scathing reviews.You can find out about it here if you're interested and let me know what you think: http://www.bbc.co.uk/missingmodel/

Friday, 4 July 2008

Now this one is serious!

Hands up if you remember Meg and Mog...http://www.janpienkowski.com/books/meg-and-mog/index.htm have a look if you don't!
For me they were true childhood favourites, and I loved reading about the hopeless witch and her long-suffering cat.
So when my mother announced she had bought one of the series for Tash I was delighted - until I found out what it was about.
Called Goodbye Mog, it's about Mog dying!!! How can that be right? Surely as a classic of children's literature, Mog is immortal - like Jess from Postman Pat and Timmy the dog from Famous Five? I'm afraid I haven't read it yet - and don't intend to cos just the thought of it is too upsetting!
As for the little lady herself, we had sing and sign today and she surpassed herself. Not content with running around showing off her where sign, plus listen and dog and countless others, this week she decided to put on a little performance for the class.
We were singing the nappy song, (to the tune of Frere Jacques: Change your nappy, change your nappy, carefully, carefully, put it in the dustbin, put it in the dustbin, now you're clean, nice and clean) which is one of her favourites, so she started joining in with the signs as usual, then she went to my bag, got out a nappy, lay on the floor and tried to put it on.
The class was being videod this week for an assessment of the teacher so it was her first on-camera performance - and I suspect certainly not the last!

Thursday, 3 July 2008


So guess what? I lost the argument about what was going on the front! And my lovely VIC campaign ended up as a strap along the bottom.
But today is not a work day, so no more work moaning! Instead, Tash and I spent a lovely day, mostly outside.
We were at the park this morning, where I had a heart-to-heart with the friend who is always right, then over to Ramsgate this afternoon and the beach, for another honest chat with another top baby friend.
Sometimes I get bored of talking about the same things but I hope that it doesn't only help me but them as well. This afternoon we were both discussing things we find hard and it's nice to find that others get as frustrated as I do with whining toddlers permanently attached to them!
But it was also lovely to share a fun afternoon of giggles and play and plenty of sand - a perfect of example of how life has its ups and downs.
I'm hoping this weekend will be another up - we're planning to be out tomorrow night and have a wedding to go to on Saturday (good luck Mez!) so lots of adult time. But the flipside of that is that I feel guilty for leaving Tasha twice in one weekend - three times if you count the petitioning on sat daytime. I know that's ridiculous, and she'll be more than fine as both grannies are taking their turn at babysitting, but it's still the default emotion when I think about having adult time to myself. The only reassuring thing is that I'm sure most other mums, whether they have had PND or not, feel the same to some extent.
We did manage an actual whole night away - overnight - for Mark's birthday which was surprisingly lovely. And he wants to go away for a weekend for our 10th anniversary in November (of getting together, not being married if anyone is confused!). Part of me would love to but the over-riding emotion at the moment is panic. But there's a a while to work on that yet so hopefully we'll be able to make it.
BTW I think I've managed to do something technical which means you can now leave anonymous comments so if that was putting anyone off please feel free to speak your mind! As long as it's pink and fluffy...