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. 

In every end, there is a new beginning. 

Just the two of us

This is officially the full extent of my crazy little family now because…drum roll please…

I am finally, officially, a divorced woman!! 

I know this can be a sad moment for some people but considering I first met my solicitor to get this show on the road on my wedding anniversary in 2014 – 6 months after me and my ex had actually separated – it has been a loooong time coming. 

I have waded through lawyer speak, lawyer bills, my first solicitor going on maternity leave (her little boy is now 18 months old and she’s pregnant again), an ex who insisted on not responding to any sort of correspondence without being chased (more bills from my solicitor), a flat sale that couldn’t go ahead without a financial agreement and a court that decided not to actually let my solicitors know when they’d finally crossed the last t and dotted the last I. 

It’s been a journey and a stressful one at that but it’s done. I am an official single woman again with her official maiden name back. I feel light, happy, elated with a tiny tinge of sadness but we’ll gloss over that bit. 

So now is the time to organise the divorce party or as my best friend called it ‘the Phoenix party’ because I am rising from the ashes and I’ve come back more beautiful (glimmers of happiness can do that to you) and a hell of a lot more strong. 

Round One

IMG_0202.JPGTwo weeks ago I started writing a post about how my positive parenting was going down hill as Charlotte has decided to not go to sleep till 10pm at the latest. But since then, even with sleep deprivation taking its toll, I managed to fill in an application form which involved 7×250 words giving examples of when I could ‘Deliver at Pace’, when I have ‘Collaborated and Partnered’ and all the other hoops you have to jump through to complete the civil service competency application. I managed to complete a 30 minute, 14 question ‘situation’ test whilst Charlotte was wide awake and more interested on playing on her princess games on the iPad than mummy completing a “very important test”. I managed to get these in both on time and even managed to complete the test better than 82% of people who had taken it before. Not bad!

Yesterday I heard I got an interview. I was ecstatic! This is amazing as I have never managed to get this far in the joyful civil service process. Getting through the sift was proving a massive issue for me. This means I can do it and it is a job that would be a promotion in a field I’m interested in and, dare I say…good at? It would be a lot more money which I/we desperately need to stay afloat so why do I also feel a knot in my chest?

…because it would involve relocating.

It is based in Bristol. That is about 90 miles from me or roughly 1.5hours. Not far but definitely not commutable on a daily basis when you add in nursery pick ups and drop offs in anyway.

Whilst applying I justified it by saying lots of my family live down there (true) and it’d be nice to be near them (also true) but as time has gone on I am realising that, although it would mean being closer to my family and my oldest and best friend, it would mean being away from my day to day, ‘on the frontline’ friends. My friends who, over the past couple of years, have kept me going in so many ways. They have been there exactly when and how I have needed them. They have supported me and Charlotte emotionally and physically and I think (and hope) in turn I have supported them through good and bad times. I am not saying I’m the best friend, I forget to reply to text messages, I never invite friends over because my house is always such a mess, I sometimes forget birthdays but I hope, when it comes to the crunch and the hard talks, they know that I am there for them. But if I move to Bristol I won’t be and that leaves a huge lump in my throat.

Yes, I desperately need the money. Yes, sometimes I think a ‘new start’ is exactly what I want to get out of the rut I feel I’m in but…am I bold and brave enough and do I want to leave that massive support system and drive 90 miles away from it? Being a single mum is hard, being a working mum is hard and at the end of the week I live for time with my daughter and time with my friends who empathise, make me laugh hysterically, hug, pour tea (or G&Ts) and cut cake. Although I love my family dearly they can’t or don’t do that.

The interview is Wednesday and so is Charlottes nursery nativity. I hope to be able to do both but if the interview goes well I may be in floods of tears for a different reason when she’s singing away in the manger with her best friend and with her amazing key worker. Could I bring myself to pull her away from somewhere she loves so much and somewhere that helped me through my period of PND by looking after her so well? Who knows…I’m guessing I’ll just have to see what happens. I’ll keep you posted but in the mean time I’ll bear this in mind…


A long weekend

Sorry for the missing post this week (or did you even notice that there’s some vague routine with my posts?). It has been one busy week and I have been feeling a bit rough as well thanks to the wonderful annual lurgy and the fact that Charlotte seems to have given up on the ‘going to bed at a reasonable hour and staying asleep until a reasonable hour’ routine we’d carved out for ourselves. So much for rest and sleep being the best thing for an illness.

This weekend had also been booked in for a trip down to the south west to see my (younger) brother’s and fiancé’s new house. A lovely 1930’s, semi detached house in the suburbs with a drive and manageable garden – Me, Jealous? No way!

Despite the slightly green eyes, it was great to see them and my other (even younger) brother and girlfriend came up to join in the reunion to. However – it just make me realise/remember how f**king easy those without children have it! On a weekend there is no rush to do ANYTHING. Shower, change, sort breakfast, get up in the first place, get out to do something, plan what to do for the next five hours…no rush at all! When you have a three year old in tow this type of nonchalance just doesn’t cut it and so I spent most of my weekend trying to calm a hyper child, keep a tired child going ‘just a few more minutes’ (read another 45 minutes at the earliest!) until the next activity or get a child to sleep when a brother has just relentlessly tickled the child and put an 15 rated film on tv which, of course, looks way more exciting than the Peppa Pig ReadyBed waiting for her in the other room.

Add the most irritating tickly cough and earache, a fruitless shopping trip to a busy city shopping mall and a grumpy, monosyllabic girlfriend of youngest brother and all in all it was quite a hard work weekend.

It was, however, just amazing to see how much my daughter loves her uncle and aunty and how much she has obviously missed them since they’ve moved away (I’m pretty sure it’s a two way thing actually). I am also a very lucky sister to have two brothers who I get on so well with and who are such good, positive male role models to Charlotte.

So, I have now arrived home after a wet and rainy two hour drive home in the dark and now I have to gear up for work and nursery tomorrow which involves ironing and sandwich making. And apparently my forward planning of putting Charlotte in her pyjamas before the drive home so I could pick her sleeping body up out of the car and transfer her to her bed with the least amount of fuss went unnoticed as she decided to wake up as soon as the engine turned off and is now being distracted with a quiet Disney DVD in the hope she’ll go back down as soon as possible. If she doesn’t drop off soon I may get there first!!

Night all. Good luck for the joy that is Monday!

Art attack!

I love art. One of my favourite things is to walk around a quiet gallery taking in all the different interpretations of art and feeling calmed by the beauty someone can create just by putting brush to canvas, or pencil to paper, or fingers to clay etc however…

My daughter goes to nursery three days a week and generally comes home with 3 or 4 papers with scribbles on or painting on or stickers on or sand glued on. I have just worked out this is approximately 567 bits of paper I now have floating around my house! This doesn’t count the painting and sticking we do whilst at home. Add another 100 pieces over time at least!

My fridge is covered in the better pieces. I have put a few in frames, I have some of the ‘sculptures’ in her room and some paintings and cutouts are Blu-tacked to her wall. I have piles in my car from when I haven’t had enough hands to carry them up the stairs, I have piles in the hall that it haven’t sorted yet and I have piles in a box in one of my cupboards. I have felt bad with every A4 bit of paper with a random scribble on that gets put in the recycling because it has been trampled on or adorned with muddy boot prints and I’ve felt bad for every decorated toilet roll that has accidentally got soggy or most of the bits have fallen off on the way home but I also have no idea what the protocol is with children’s artwork?! There is so much stuff that I surely can’t be expected to keep it all but does that make me a bad mummy? What on earth does everyone else do with their little darlings creative outlets?! There must be a good business idea in here somewhere but what on earth it could be I’m not sure.