Self Harm & Self Love

When I initially looked at writing this blog, it was because I had self harmed during my PND/PTSD.  Having listened to Sally from @Mumsback, I realised I wasn’t alone.   However it was something very rarely talked about and I wonder how many more of us there are.  This was only brought home by the struggle to find out any actual facts and figures on self harm in PND.

Self Harm

Types of Self Harm

Before I self harmed I must admit my ignorance felt that it was pretty much people who cut themselves.  However the below list gives an example of just some of the ways that people can self harm:

  • cutting yourself
  • poisoning yourself
  • over-eating or under-eating
  • biting yourself
  • picking or scratching at your skin
  • burning your skin
  • inserting objects into your body
  • hitting yourself or walls
  • overdosing
  • exercising excessively
  • pulling your hair
  • getting into fights where you know you will get hurt.

NB: If you self-harm, it is important that you know how to look after your injuries and that you have access to the first aid equipment you need. Please check out Lifesigns for information that will help.  However I’d also urge you to go seek help if you are self harming and/or feeling the need to self harm.

I was a scratcher…

It started off quite gradually, I guess it does for most.  If I was really down or had got myself particularly stressed or upset then I would scratch at my forehead.  A lot of the time there wouldn’t be any marks or just a bit of a scratch.  However as time went on, as I got worse, so did the scratching…

At it’s worst I had huge scabs on my forehead from where I’d spent hours clawing at my forehead.  Luckily I had a fringe so was able to cover up the evidence.  I’m still not sure if family or friends knew how bad it was.

Self Harm in PND

As I say apart from hearing other mum’s stories, it’s hard to find any specific figures for the exact amount of PND sufferers who self harm.  However studies show that mothers reporting thoughts of self-harm in the postpartum period are at a greater risk of ‘somatic and psychiatric morbidity during a follow-up of 7 years after delivery, and this increased risk may not be fully attributed to depressive symptoms. Results underline the importance of screening for self-harm symptoms postpartum and point to a need for individualized follow-up.’

To read the full report please click here

Let’s be open

So we need to keep pushing the boundaries, we need to keep breaking taboos, we need to keep talking.  For some inspirational and candidly honest stories please visit Mind.org or share your story just like we have.

None of us are perfect, life is tough, parenthood is really frigging tough.  The sooner we are honest, the sooner we go a little easier on ourselves, the better!

Fay x


Right up my street!

As you will no doubt know from my feeds, I love nothing more than a little bit of high street fashion.   Now this comes partly from ease (literally my social life practically revolves around the weekly shop at Sainburys and checking out the Next app on my phone in my lunch ‘1/2’ hour) and partly from a cost perspective (with 3 growing boys, a mahoosive mortgage and a basic ‘after extended maternity leave’ pay packet #rollseyes).  However over the years the main reason I shop high street is because it’s so damn good!

Lipsmackingly Fresh

Blouse – Sainsburys TU

Jeans – New Look (very old, very worn and very comfy!)

Trainers – Adidas

Bracelets – Pandora & Wanderer Bracelets

It’s all about the blouse! So fun, so fresh, can be dressed up or down and always raises a smile.

Animal Attraction

Dress – Next

Jacket – New Look (again very old and very worn!)

Pins – Mek Ah Step, Three Little Pandas, StupidCats

Trainers – Sainsburys 

Earrings – Next

This dress was a must have as soon as I saw.  I was actually looking for a denim jumpsuit (more on that in another post) but got a tad distracted.  I love anything animal print and colour, so the combo of both is just like honey to a bee LOL.

Almond Dreams

Drink – Baileys Almande

Brogues – Sainsburys

Skirt – Sainsburys

Earrings – Next

I’ve always been a sucker for camel (Autumn is my very favourite season for that specific reason) so spotting this ‘New In’ knitted pencil skirt and these wedge brogues I’d had my eye on for a while was a no-brainer.  And is it wrong that I bought this Baileys just for the bottle???? I mean seriously it’s just too pretty.  Looking forward to trying, but part of me doesn’t want to open. Dare I?

So that’s my latest buys, hope you like.  What’s your favourite purchase recently?

Fay x


Who me? Imposter Syndrome...

An invitation

On Sunday morning I was very kindly invited by Kate @Avocado Events to attend the Bump and Baby Expo at York Racecourse. Now before you all call me out, yes I have not got a bump or a baby (and it ain’t gonna happen so don’t be getting excited, I’m 44 you know!). However you all know how much I appreciate supporting small and local businesses.  And in addition to that there were two really quite special ladies, who I really wanted to meet and listen to.

Now I am not denying that listening to Sally (@Mumsback) and Vicki (@Honestmum) was amazing and inspirational.  In fact I’m still buzzing from chatting to them afterwards, and will share more during the week.  But actually something hit me before I’d even got to the event, before I’d even left the drive…

That nagging doubt, the tightening of chest.  Wondering what the hell I’m doing what I’m doing, but something changed that morning.  Something made me get ready, made me get in the car and drive to the racecourse.  Even though my head was screaming at me not to…

So...

I spent the next two hours at the expo.  Talking to local and small businesses, taking pics, meeting other bloggers and listening to Sally & Vicki.  I didn’t self combust, I wasn’t approached by security and asked to leave.  I was there in my own right and I deserved to be there.

Not alone

I remember being secretly so proud of myself for actually attending.  Not making an excuse, not using my kids as an excuse, not using my husband as excuse, anything really…  and then I listened to Sally and Vicki talk about exactly the same feelings!  We are not alone ladies, not matter how successful we are.  No matter what we do, woman generally have this innate default to apologise for getting to where they have in life, or panicking about being there.   When we introduce ourselves as ‘just a blogger’ or ‘just a cleaner’, ‘just a mum’;  just an anything is so wrong!!! We are stronger than we know, look at everything we have overcome and achieved as women, we should be proud not apologetic!

Frauds

Even the famous feel as we do:

‘When I won the Oscar, I thought it was a fluke. I thought everybody would find out, and they’d take it back. They’d come to my house, knocking on the door, “Excuse me, we meant to give that to someone else. That was going to Meryl Streep.”‘  Jodie Foster

And even they think their peers are more warranted…

‘You think, “Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?”‘  Meryl Streep

It’s believed that 70% of people experience imposter syndrome in their working life.  So how do we deal with it, this article from Charlotte Brown and Glug HQ gives some great tips to deal with the day to day.  And Honest Mum Vicki, explains the feelings perfectly here.

Battle of the sexes

Impostor syndrome is not a uniquely female phenomenon.  Research suggests that there is a male/female element in how people are affected it.

This article by Curiosity.com suggests:

…”harsh feedback seemed to especially affect male students with high impostor feelings — they reported higher anxiety, made less effort, and showed a trend towards poorer performance, as compared to others given positive feedback,” reports the British Psychological Society Research Digest blog. “In contrast, female students with high imposter feelings responded to harsh feedback by increasing their effort and showing superior performance.”

Strength

This shows us just how strong we are ladies! We are stronger than we realise.  Let’s start believing in ourselves and not apologising for what we do and what we have achieved.

So basically what I am saying is if I can overcome that crippling anxiety, if I can fight it and not let it win, then you can too! I’m not saying it’ll be easy, it’s one day at a time, but let’s take each day together.

Fay x


10 Top Tips for Good Mental Health

So now that my therapy is over I’m keen to do what I can to keep my mental health as well as it can be.  So I was intrigued as to what exactly is good for my mental health, there are some pretty obvious, but maybe there are some not so…

Searching online, these 10 Top Tips keep cropping up, so here we go:

SLEEP

Sleep is really important for your physical and mental health. If you don’t get enough sleep, you can start to feel depressed or anxious.  The Sleep Foundation provides tips on how to sleep well, and to overcome problems with sleeping.

EAT WELL

Eating well isn’t just important for your body, but it’s also important for your mind. Mineral deficiencies, such as iron and vitamin B12 deficiencies, can give you a low mood.

AVOID ALCOHOL, SMOKING AND DRUGS

When you’ve had a few drinks you can feel more depressed and anxious the next day, and it can be harder to concentrate. If you smoke, between cigarettes your body and brain go into withdrawal which makes you irritable and anxious. Other drugs can often cause very low moods and anxiety.

SUNLIGHT

Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is a really important vitamin for our bodies and our brains. It helps your brain to release chemicals which improves your mood, like endorphins.

LIMIT STRESS

Stress is often unavoidable, but knowing what triggers your stress and knowing how to cope is key in maintaining good mental health.

EXERCISE

Exercising can help eliminate low mood, anxiety, stress and feeling tired and lazy.

DO SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

Try to make time for doing things you enjoy. If you don’t spend any time doing things you enjoy, you will very quickly become irritable and unhappy.

BE SOCIAL

Make an effort to maintain good relationships and talk to people whenever you get the chance.

DO THINGS FOR OTHERS

Helping others isn’t just good for the people you’re helping; it’s good for you too. Feeling as though you’re part of a community is a really important part of your mental health.

ASK FOR HELP

One of the most important ways to keep yourself mentally healthy is to recognise when you’re not feeling good, and to know when to ask for help. There’s no shame in asking someone for support if you’re feeling low or stressed.

What’s my plan…

I only have a few more days at work till I break up for the Easter holidays, so I intend to use the holidays wisely and work on a couple of the above points.  Sleeping and eating I tend to be okay with.  I don’t smoke or do drugs (Licking the spoon of Calpol doesn’t count right?), although my downfall is cava.  I have cut down massively since Christmas, but need to cut down some more if I can.

Sunlight is something I can’t really do much about right now, we do live in Britain after all! I can’t even begin to limit stress at the moment LOL, but I do need to start running again now the lighter nights are coming back.

Something that makes me very happy is decorating my boys rooms.  Some of you will remember that I decorated Samuel’s and Henry’s previously (just realised I never shared the after of Hen’s – another post to be done!), but Fred’s was still to do, well Easter time is perfect so watch this space…

Combining being social and doing things for others, then I’m looking to take Henry and Freddie volunteering with me during the holidays at Hoping Street Kitchen 

So what do you guys do to help with good mental health?  I’d love to hear how you look after yourself and what works for you!

Fay x


Communication

Okay so I’ve been trying to write this blog since Friday and actually i’d been trying to write a previous attempt since the week before.

Honestly it’s been a mare of a week and i’m so glad last week is over, but interestingly the weekend brought to a head something that has been bugging me for quite some time…

Communication!

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

George Bernard Shaw

Now when I talk about communication I am talking specifically between partners, like seriously how do adults with kids communicate nowadays so that all their busy schedules work seemlessly?! Surely it is not just my partner and I that seem to fail miserably?!

I have many friends where both partners work shift work, or travel for work regularly and it all just seems to work, is that because they have to communicate because they work shifts/travel?! Or is it because they communicate better?

We both work 9-5, Mon-Fri.  Okay we have 3 boys, who are all very different and do different things, but surely it shouldn’t be that difficult?

To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.

Tony Robbins

So tell me how do you and your partner communicate, how do you organise your diaries between work, social and kids?  Do you sync your calendars on your iPhones? Or maybe you go back to basics and simply write on a calendar that hangs in the kitchen?!

Ever the creative I quite liked the idea of a full blackboard wall in the hall that we could update easily; but unless vast then I guess it would be limited to how many months you could show in advance.  Maybe there is something i haven’t thought of?

So go on hit me, how do you guys communicate?

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What is PTSD

Battling, hard, fighting, struggling, alone… just some of the words that I’ve heard over the last week since my last post.  The reaction has been quite overwhelming to be fair.  Not only with the support from you all about my battle with depression and PTSD, but also with how many of you have reached out to talk to me about your battle with mental health issues.  It’s so good to talk!

One recurring question from you all was about PTSD and how it affects you.  I have to be honest and say that before I was diagnosed I would not have thought that PTSD was something I would suffer from.  Now that may sound quite judgmental, but actually what I mean by that statement is that for me PTSD is something that people who have gone through severe trauma would suffer from.  I guess I never allowed myself to see what I went through as severe enough.

However going to therapy has made me allow myself to admit that what I have been through is traumatic.  Some of those trauma’s are easier to talk about than others.  There are things I’ve been through that I didn’t truly comprehend how much they had affected my life.  But also some events which weren’t as traumatic as i’d built them up to be over the years, having been so young when I experienced them.  Therapy has allowed me to view each event, process it individually and deal with it accordingly.  Half way through therapy and I can’t tell you the difference it’s made.

Symptoms

So what are the symptoms of PTSD:

  • Re-experiencing
  • Avoidance and emotional numbing
  • Hyperarousal (feeling ‘on edge’ / fight or flight)
  • Depression, anxiety, phobias
  • Self harm, drug misuse, alcohol misuse
  • Headaches, stomach pains, dizziness, chest pains

When I read these symptoms for the first time it just made sense.

Treatment

About 1 in 3 people who have experienced severe trauma will develop PTSD.

It isn’t fully understood why some people develop the condition while others don’t.

Treatment will firstly be focused around physiological therapies (CBT, EMDR, Group therapy), with medication usually only introduced with severe or persistent PTSD.  Children and young people will usually be advised to have trauma focused CBT, medication is not usually recommended.

How you can help

Try not to judge

If you’ve not experienced PTSD yourself, it can be hard to understand why your friend or family member can’t seem to ‘move on’.

Learn their triggers

Each person will have a different experience of PTSD, so it might help to talk about what sorts of situations or conversations might trigger flashbacks or difficult feelings.

Respect their personal space

People who experience PTSD may often feel jumpy or on edge. It can help if you:

  • avoid crowding the person
  • don’t touch or hug them without permission
  • try not to startle or surprise them.

Look out for warning signs

You might see a change in the behaviour of the person you want to support.

Help them to find support

If they want you to, you could help your friend or family member to find further support.

Mind.org explains this perfectly and with more detail, along with personal accounts from survivors and their families.

Fay x


It's good to talk

So it’s been a while since I last posted, six months to be exact.  A lot has happened in those six months with regards to my well-being, including finally being diagnosed with PTSD, and now undergoing EMDR therapy.

Well-being

As you know I care passionately about mental health awareness. Furthermore I love the fact that more and more of us are now starting to talk openly about our struggles. So I wanted to share a little more of my story.

I was bullied all through Junior School from years 3-6.  I moved from a small village to a new town when I was 7, changing schools.  Being the new girl, I was quiet, I was an easy target.  I can’t actually tell you a lot about those 4 years of school as I have unconsciously blocked it all out.  It’s part of the reason I still can’t spell very well, I struggle with nouns and verbs (don’t even mention a subordinate clause I have no idea what that is) and I have no idea when to properly use a colon or a semi colon.  I’ve very, very few memories of those years.  But what I do know is it has affected my whole life and changed me as a person. 

Therapy anyone?

My depression wasn’t diagnosed till I was in my late teens and found myself in an abusive marriage, since then I have suffered from 3 major episodes.  Similar to a lot of sufferers I didn’t realise how ill I was a lot of the time, I ‘self-medicated’.   

I used:

Alcohol, it didn’t help! 

Drugs, they didn’t help! 

Self-harm, it didn’t help! 

Anti-depressants, they did help! Kinda… 

However the one thing that did and does help is talking, therapy in my opinion is the one thing that can really help.  Understanding yourself and why you feel how you do and how you can change that, is one of the greatest tools you can have.  And just knowing that you are not alone, that someone cares can make a huge difference. 

Now there are lots of therapies out there. But ‘therapy’ doesn’t have to be seeing a ‘therapist’, just speaking to someone you trust can be therapy enough, seeking help from a counsellor can be just what you need. What I’m trying to say is the sooner you can talk to someone, whoever that is, the better.

“A problem shared, is a problem halved.”

  • 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year.
  • 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.
  • 10% of children and young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental problem, yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics/mental-health-statistics-children-and-young-people

Time to get real!

We need to be open and honest, we need to be there for ourselves and each other.

I don’t want anyone to ever get to the stage I did 10 years ago. I don’t want anyone to feel their friends, their family, their kids are better off without them.  To write that note that says goodbye.  To swallow as many tablets as they can and lie down in bed, close their eyes and wish to never wake up.

So, let’s be open.  Let’s admit when we aren’t okay, let’s admit we sometimes need help. 

‘It’s okay to not be okay’ 

It’s good to talk, in fact you need to talk!  Therefore the sooner we talk, the sooner we realise we are not alone, the sooner we can start on the road to recovery.  Talk to a friend, talk to a family member, talk to a teacher, talk to the Samaritans, just talk to someone! And if you hear ‘snap out of it’, ‘you’ll be fine, don’t worry’, ‘stop being silly’ then walk away and find someone else to talk to.  Because there is always someone out there willing to listen, willing to care and willing to take that journey with you, by your side. 

It’s okay to talk! 

The strongest people were once the broken ones, they learned how to fix themselves with or without help from anyone.

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Easy No Bake Recipes

5 Easy No Bake Recipes

The weather has become so changeable this weekend.  And the boys, so used to being able to go outside and play have become quite irritable shall we say (okay okay I mean down right argumentative and annoying LOL).  So what to do on a rainy day…  What better than baking (it’s messy, it’s fun and the kids have something to eat at the end of it!), so here are 5 easy no bake recipes to try out over the holidays.

Chocolate Fridge Cake

This is a firm favourite in our household and quite a regular no-bake for us.  We take it in turns to suggest and change up the fillings.

  • 8oz digestive biscuits
  • 5oz milk chocolate
  • 5oz dark chocolate
  • 3½oz unsalted butter
  • 5oz golden syrup
  • 3½oz dried apricots, chopped
  • 2½oz raisins
  • 2oz pecans, chopped (optional)

Instructions
No bake cookies and cream bars

Cookies & Cream Bars

Who doesn’t love Cookies & Cream?  It’s a firm favourite in this household and these went down an absolute treat.  They look great at parties!

  • ¼ cup salted butter, melted
  • 2½ cups finely crushed cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (about 25 cookies)
  • 16 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 7 oz marshmallow creme (such as Fluff or Jet-Puffed)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (about 7 cookies), plus more for garnish

Instructions

White Chocolate & Raspberry Cookies

These healthy no bake white chocolate and raspberry cookies refined sugar free, gluten free, vegan (optional) and high in protein! The perfect snack between meals and only requires one bowl and five minutes!

  • 3 1/2 cups gluten free flour
  • 2 tblsp granulated sweetener of choice (Optional)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tblsp nut butter of choice
  • 3/4 cup brown rice syrup (can sub for honey if not strict vegan)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • White chocolate chunks (vegan recipe available, click below)
  • Dried raspberries and cranberries

Instructions
Easy No Bake Recipes

Classic No Bake Cookies

These Classic No-Bake Cookies only require a few simple ingredients and are incredibly easy to make. Loaded with peanut butter, oats, and cocoa powder, these cookies are perfect for an easy dessert!

  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats

Instructions

Gooey Chewies

Originally a Northern Irish speciality called fifteens, but Blue Peter aptly name them Gooey Chewies! They’re delicious, they’re easy to make, and the best part is there’s no baking required.

  • 30 Digestive Biscuits
  • 15 Glace Cherries
  • Large handful of mini marshmallows
  • Handful of desiccated coconut
  • 2 tins condensed milk

Instructions

So there we go, 5 easy no bake recipes for you to try with the kids this summer, can’t wait to see your bakes (or should I say ‘no-bakes’) remember to tag #howfelicityfinds when you share.

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