Walking on the tight rope.

Walking the tight rope

Mental health is a bitch. It is a reactive, sensitive balancing act that, for some, seems like no problem at all and for others can be a precarious tight rope walk, just waiting to fall and hoping there is a net somewhere deep below. 

I was on that tight rope for a long time. I suffered with depression for many months, if not years and I suffered from post natal depression (PND) and anxiety with maybe a bit of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) thrown in there after having my daughter. Every now and again I feel like I’m back on it, wobbling. Not very often thankfully but every now and again. Today is not one of those days but I can completely understand how someone feels up there. 

My blog name is theperfectjuggler, which, for the most part is a ‘tongue in cheek’ name but, sometimes that extra ball can be the difference between having good mental health and it all going down the pan very quickly. 

The government have, this week, said that they will be putting more funding into mental health care. Perfect timing as Monday 16 January is known as ‘Blue Monday’. The most depressing day of the year. 

They want to make workplaces more able to help and support those with mental health issues, they want schools to teach about how to maintain good mental health and for teachers to know how to be aware of children who may be developing mental health issues and how to deal with those who already have them. They are also upping the funding into mental health services for pregnant women and new mothers. All of which have been seriously lacking. I agree with this focus and hope that they actually see this initiative through. 

Ironically I have just had to tell the department I work for that I will no longer be able to lead their Wellbeing group as my own mental health was suffering. This one added responsibility which I was passionate about and enjoyed, was the ball I could no longer juggle, and before I dropped it I had to put it down voluntarily.

I know lots of people that are suffering with ‘bad’ mental health, 1 in 4 of us will suffer with a mental health issue in our life time and I just want to say, I get it. I get feeling so low that you want to hide. I get that you don’t want to talk about it. I get that sometimes, it seems like the best way for everyone would be if you weren’t around anymore. I get that you didn’t think you could cry anymore but you do and I get that some people don’t get it. 

I also get that it can get better by focusing on the good things in your life and removing some of the bad ones, by not letting yourself become insular and selfish, by helping yourself climb back up the ladder to the tightrope, even if it’s just one tiny step at a time. It can get better by seeking help, and support from professionals, from family and from friends. By developing resilience techniques like mindfulness, meditation and exercise, to use when you next have a wobble. And lastly to realise that you can’t necessarily change what happens to you but only you can change how you deal with it when it does. 

Things will get better, I promise, I’m proof that they do. 

The yin and yang of meal planning.

This morning I had the luxury of dropping Charlotte off at school and having a day free. This must be what those mums feel like!

Normally I run home, hop in the car and pelt it to work but I have another couple of days off so thought I would use them wisely by meal planning and doing a mindful big shop, rather than a ‘throw it all in, I probably, maybe need another pineapple for my compost heap anyway’ type way. 

Ok, so let’s get this straight, as I’ve said before I don’t start diets at New Years because life is too crazy for that, but, planning my meals may just make my life easier and anything that does that I need to give a go. So off I trotted, with my new ‘Lean in 15‘ cookbook I got for Christmas, a fresh shiny notebook and pen to…wait for it…McDonalds for a coffee and a cheeky breakfast whilst planning. 

My balanced breakfast.

Yes, I looked like the biggest hypocrite ever staring at Joe Wicks‘ beautiful, ripped body and all the lean meat and veg whilst scoffing a deep fried hash brown but I believe life is all about balance and this, was indeed the yin and yang of culinary goodness. 

And d’ya know what, I did it. I planned my main meals, bought most of the food from Aldi for a lot less that my usual food shop was and I even cooked my own healthy chicken tikka masala this evening. Made my own paste and everything and Charlotte bloody ate it! Yes, she picked out two bits of red onion that hadn’t been whizzed properly but my daughter ate a meal I cooked! Pigs are currently flying around my house! 

It didn’t come from the freezer, it had flavour and maybe even some vitamins and nutrients and the recipe was naturally gluten free so I didn’t have to work out what substitutes would work! That is a massive win in my book! 

If you haven’t seen the series of Lean in 15 books yet, I would thoroughly recommend them. Not only is Joe Wicks easy on the eye but the meals are delicious and usually take hardly any time to prep and cook. Perfect for busy parents and not as pretentious as Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. The portions are massive though which is ideal when cooking for one and a half like me. You can choose to ignore the exercise section at the back if you wish, but don’t tell him I told you that! 

Tomorrow night Smoky Joe burgers with sweet potato wedges…can’t go wrong there can I?!

What are your tried and tested recipes for getting good food in your children? Let me know in the comments! 

I get by with a little help from my friends. 

Sometimes when I’m sat alone on a Saturday night I do question whether I have very many friends. Sad and depressing I know, but being a one parent family can sometimes be a quiet and lonely life. The evenings especially so, as you know that that’s when everyone else is having their family time, or couples time, or some lucky buggers are even free to go out in the evening without having to book a babysitter weeks in advance and you’re stuck at home with a sleeping child upstairs.

However, my perspective changed dramatically this weekend, after Charlotte was admitted to hospital and we had to stay in overnight. I now realise more than ever before that I do have many, many friends.

Poorly girl.
With these friends we may not be able to meet up very often, we may have known each other for ever, we may not have actually known each other that long, we may have met because of babies or toddlers, or work or where we live, we may have met through the powers of Facebook, we may not exactly even remember when or how we came to know each other but, that night I had so many offers of genuine help that I could feel this amazing support system around me and, oh my goodness, did I need it right then.

Those who didn’t live close were messaging straight away, checking on me and Charlotte and giving me strength to cope with the situation. Those who were close were offering practical help like phone chargers (life lesson no 1: never go to out of hours with 9% battery), dog walking, popping to the shops for food and drink or a toothbrush or just desperately needed moral support. 

They all had their own stuff going on that evening and they were willing to stop that stuff, even briefly, and help me and that made me feel very honoured.

Luckily we came out of hospital the next day and, despite more tests that still need to be done, lots of things returned quickly to normal. But those 12 hours of hell really made me appreciate those around me and realise that I am really lucky and that I do have my so called ‘village’. 

So, in this season of gratitude, good will and thanksgiving (a bit late I know), I want to thank all my friends, from the bottom of my heart. Because without them I wouldn’t have made it through half the challenges I’ve faced and I’m sure they’ll help me through the next lot too. 

The gall of it…

Two days ago I had surgery to have my gallbladder removed. It was planned as I’ve been having issues
with it for a few months but up until the very last minute I didn’t think about the fact that I was about to go into hospital to actually have an organ removed, and when I did I started crying. I realised that I had organised for my daughter to be looked after for the first few days but I hadn’t actually thought to make sure that I would be looked after. 

My mum was dropping me off at hospital and would then pick me up after all was done but it dawned on me that I’d be waking up in the recovery room on my own because, stupidly, I didn’t think I’d need anyone there.  My boyfriend would have been there if he could but has been working away and is poorly himself, my mum and dad reacted like it was just another normal day and nothing out of the ordinary was happening, my best friend is out of the country feeling very helpless as she couldn’t be there but it was my own fault.  I’d pretended that I’d be ok, I’d pretended that I can cope with being on my own all the time but as you’re walking towards the anaesthetists room in a backless gown, compression socks and slippers you kind of wish that someone else would be walking with you. 

Nothing sexier than compression socks

I did wake up on my own, in a lot of pain and, after crying because I couldn’t breath without it hurting, the nurse asked if anyone was with me I just started crying all over again.  She then asked if anyone was coming to see me and I had to say that I didn’t know and cried a bit more. I was all alone at one of the most vulnerable times and I’d let that happen. 

I had to stay in over night as me and morphine do not get on well and my blood pressure dropped quite drastically.  I did get a visit from the boyfriend who looked almost as broken and tired as me but it was a lonely few hours waking up expecting to have slept for hours however looking at the clock and realising it was only 45 mins. 

I am now at my parents house because, as Mum had to help me get my shoes on when picking me up, I think they realised I’d probably not survive on my own straight away and they have been looking after me ever since. 

It has taught me something though, that I really should put myself first more often. Or at least a close second after Charlotte because there are times when you just can’t do everything yourself and sometimes you need to accept that and just ask for help.