My story isn’t over yet… #WorldMentalHealthDay 2016

My own design which describes my journey. The butterfly is a symbol of peace and freedom to me. I’d love a Semi-Colon butterfly tattoo (when I’ve found out if I’m allergic to the dye.)

I usually prefer to write about Lou’s journey, not my own.

But on days like today I remember back to 2008/9 when I had, what I now describe as my ‘tricky time.’ I prefer to write all of my memories from this time to my online books. I’ve always carried a feeling of being ashamed of suffering a nervous breakdown, but what I’ve learnt over time is that it happened and I’m here to tell the story and therefore:

“My story isn’t over yet!” 

(Source: Slogan from Semi-Colon project.)

I was homesick, 3 hours from where I grew up, I hadn’t really branched out to make a lot of new friends outside of where I worked as I didn’t feel that many people ‘got’ me. I had a bad reaction to some anti depressants and it all went a bit down hill from there. I remember feeling so very scared because I didn’t feel in control of my own body and I couldn’t trust anyone around me due to the paranoia I was feeling at that time. I have this tremendous pang of guilty because people did get hurt at this time, lives were changed down to me but it’s not like I chose for the black cloud to descend on me 😦 

I could have stayed feeling guilty forever, I could have let it consume me, but I now take the approach that: 

“Everything happens for a reason.” 

And I wouldn’t be on the path I am today if these events hadn’t happened. I had to go through a tremendously rubbish path to enable me to learn about myself and become the strong person that I am today. 

This event in my life sparked some (still mainly) unanswered questions about myself, as a child and also an an adult. I suffered brain trauma at birth, could this have any effects on my mental health? (Another topic for my ongoing research,) although no one is to ‘blame’ all I can do is learn about myself and how I can go about to ensure I can function. I have questions about:

– Depression

– Anxiety – (in particular, social anxiety.) 

– OCD tenancies 

– Undiagnosed Autism? Particularly Asperger’s Syndrome.

– Bi Polar? A huge question mark as I no longer have ‘high’ episodes, more on an even keel.

– Highly Sensitive Person (HSP.) As suggested by a great counsellor I saw. 

– Sensory Processing Difficulties – in particular, a ‘sensory avoider.’ 

I could sit and ponder on these things all day but…

…What I have got are 2 beautiful children and a partner that understands me, for me, like no other person has (except my mum!) Ever! I’m now back, where I feel that I belong, back where I grew up and in familiar terratory. With people close by that would spot straight away if I didn’t seem right. My issues have only meant that I’ve ever had a few weeks away from working, I’ve been able to do a job that I so desperately love, that allows me to forget about my worries, for over 12 years. One of my biggest worries is that my issues would stop my future career prospects as my fear was that people would ‘think’ that I wasn’t suitable to work with children, but it has never stopped me, it’s one of the elements where I tell myself “keep going, your good at it!” When I run my music sessions currently, and I see the children are smiling and enjoying themselves I think to myself “this is what I was born to do.” 

I do worry that I could have future ‘occurance’ but I desperately try not to dwell on it, I worry that my daughter will suffer the same worries as a teenager and throughout stressful times in life. But I can be the one who can spot her troubles and get the appropriate help if needed. 

Mental illness needs to be talked about, for years it felt like my ‘dirty secret’ I was so worried and moulded on other people’s impressions of me. What are people with a mental illness supposed to act like? Do people expect me to have a massive meltdown in the middle of a public place?! Do people expect me to sit and cry all day? In fact I find it very difficult to cry, I have only cried twice in the past month! 

We need to talk to other people who are going through, or have been through the same experiences, I have a few friends and my sister who I could be completely honest with about how I’m feeling and can talk openly about my experiences, I recently chatted to one friend for 3 hours about how we perceive the world and people in public, and realised that it’s not just me who thinks a certain way! Which was a massive relief for me! I’ve only had one experience so far, of sharing my problems, (regarding a view I have on a particularly sensitive subject,) where this person really couldn’t understand me, and later referred to me as “ungrateful” amd “selfish,” (needless-to-say, I no longer associate with this person!) 

This was one of my first original quotes that I produced after starting my Blog in March 2016. Blogging to me is fantastic therapy. There are so many thoughts going around in my head, it’s a relief to get them out and onto the Blog.

For more information and/or help, please contact: 

www.mind.org.uk

www.time-to-change.org.uk

One of my biggest hurdles was plucking up the courage to tell my GP how I was really feeling, the GP’s can only really help if you open up, something that I’ve learnt over time. I was so worried about being dismissed or being told that I was “making it all up.” But thankfully, this has never happened. If I have a problem I write it down and hand it to my GP, for me, I am the sort of person who finds it easier to write things down, rather than to make eye contact on a particular sensitive topic. If you, or anyone you know, are feeling that you need to talk to your GP, my advice would be to write it all down and post or take it in personally.

Thanks for reading 🙂 

Advertisements

#WorldSmileDay

I didn’t realise that it was World Smile Day until checking my social media channels this morning. I’ve previously detailed my journey if acceptance with having Facial Palsy from birth. 

Here: Facial Palsy ~ My Story

Today I have lots of reasons to smile, I have 2 beautiful children and a home where I feel stable and I’ve recently become self employed for a role where I feel so much achievement and job satisfaction. We also have some amazing friends and family.
Yes I still have my bad days but I feel that I’ve come a long way from that ‘painfully shy’ child who hated to be told to “smile.” 

If anyone would like to find out more please visit: 

www.facialpalsy.org.uk 
There are also some very good closed support groups online – it’s very reassuring to talk to people who have been through the same experiences. 

Happy world Smile Day 🙂 

(I do use a lot of smiley faces in my Blog posts!) 

Thanks for reading 🙂 

Happy to be featured~ Tracks of my years

I’m happy to be featured by Louise, who Blogs at My Three and Me.
Louise asked fellow Bloggers to send a list of their favourite tracks for a feature called ‘Tracks of my Years’ to see my list please follow the link below: 

Tracks of my Years 

What an interesting mix I have! 

Thanks for reading 🙂 

Happy 6 months! 

I know it’s sad (I don’t get out much!) But Happy 6th months to my Blog 🙂 

6 months ago I was in quite a crazy place and starting my Blog enabled me to find a place where I could share all my thoughts ~ and in the process I’ve met lots of lovely, supportive Bloggers. It’s helped me to understand myself and my daughter more and has opened avenues I’d never have expected. I’ve always been quite down on myself and was forever telling myself I wasn’t any good at anything but in the last 6 months this has happened (all through the platform of my Blog,)

  • I’m a regular Blog post writer for the charity ‘Family Fund.’ 
  • I’ve been able to use my photography in my Blog, which was an interest I’ve had since a child and this has enabled me to pursue my interests once again. I’ve been asked by Family Fund for permission to use a photo of my daughter, Lou, in their marketing materials. 
  • My Blog post regarding local children’s centre cuts enabled me to feature with my family in a local newspaper and I continue to fight to support this cause.
  • I have learnt so much about Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD,) ADHD and ASD and have researched so much on Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA.) And have been able to advise some other parents. All of which has enabled me to learn so much about my own child and how I can best support her. From finding out about a ‘Sensory Diet’ I’ve incorporated my Early Years experience to explore many different sensory (messy) play and craft activities. 
  • I’ve started writing 2 online series via an online publisher and I hope to producce my own book in the near future. 
  • I’ve connected with so many supportive Bloggers via support networks, both local, countrywide and even worldwide.

6 months ago I didn’t even know what a Blog was! I never thought that a platform could open up so many opportunties whilst enabling me to be at home whilst my children are young. 

So very, very greatful 🙂 

Thanks for reading 🙂 

Why I miss my job

IMG_20160513_145355

It has been almost 2 years now since I last worked.
I love being at home whilst my children are young, I can’t ever get this chance with them again, the time goes so fast…
…But I have such a high functioning brain, I miss the company that a class full of children brings and the company of work colleagues.

From the age of about 10 I think I knew that I wanted to work with children, I used to place all my teddies and dolls like they were the children and I’d take a register. As I reached the age to baby sit I used to spend my weekend evenings looking after children in the village. I found it easier to talk to children than I did adults! Children didn’t judge me they just wanted me to listen to them and interact with them and didn’t care about what I looked like.

When working with children it’s a fantastic distraction from worrying about paying certain bills, who’s gossiping about who, endlessly tidying my house, etc.! It’s like to enter a different world where you hand your phone in so nobody can reach you and just concentrate on interacting with the children. When I’m at home it’s lovely to interact with my child but it doesn’t stop my mind going back to a place where I remember things I don’t really want to, especially during nap time whereas there simply isn’t even a moment to think about it whilst at work.

The balance I can see for the not too distant future is finding part time employment to try and get a healthy balance between being at home and being at work. I thrive on those moments when you realise that you’ve taught a child something, when they repeat something that you’ve taught them, when they make progress however big or small, that is what drives me.

I have spent the past 12 years working in mainstream settings, after finding out a great deal of information in terms of Lou’s SPD and other traits I find myself fascinated. I touched on this a few years ago when working with some children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, this was very challenging but also the most rewarding of jobs. I also feel empowered to give something back to help other children and their parents as my own partner went to a Special Needs school due to having what would be described in today’s terms as ‘Global Developmental Delay, fairy complex emotional and behavioural issues and later Dyslexia. This has definitely taught me that it’s never too late to learn as we’re currently working through an Adults with Dyslexia text book.

Living with Facial Palsy

20160511_225435.jpg

This is me…

…throughout various stages of my life, at 6 months, 3 years, 14 and today.
Take me as you find me!
I’ve finally reached the age where I’m less bothered about the way I look, or what people think of me, my life is so busy as a mum I hardly think about my Facial Palsy.
Gone are the days when I obsessed about plastering myself with make-up to hide the fact that I had a facial disfigurement,
My facial palsy came about through birth trauma, I was a hefty 9lb 4oz! It bothered me very much as a child, other children would understandably notice and ask questions: “What’s wrong with your mouth?” Or “Why does your mouth drop down?”
I either looked down and carried on walking or replied: “Because it’s poorly, I was born like it.” I hide myself away a lot as a teenager avoiding the other kids that would find it amusing to call me names, as I also had the added delights of a large nose and acne to top it off! I was like “give me a break!” I hid myself behind people that would protect me from the bullies, not necessary the right choice looking back. I wanted to be my own person but found myself acting differently in different friendship groups, so very eager to fit in. I felt like I had 2 completely different personalities. I didn’t know that what disfigurement I had even had a name until I saw a TV programme on ‘Bell’s Palsy’, which can effect any one with no specific cause, and will usually get better by itself. Facial Palsy, however, can occur in congenital conditions, via a Stroke, trauma injury – fracture to the brain, skull or face and via birth trauma – forceps delivery or facial presentation which is what happened in my case. Luckily I have 2 wonderful parents and a wonderful sister who have always accepted me for who I am and have embraced my quirkiness!

I go through stages in life where I don’t think about having a facial palsy, which weakens the facial muscles, and can cause permanent damage. I cant feel a nerve in the left side of my cheek, yet I can in my right cheek. The first thing I asked when my first child was born was: “Is her face ok?” I knew that it isn’t hereditary, but there’s always that fear in your mind. I had recently forgotten about it completely until my dentist asked me about my facial palsy, he asked if I had ever tried to get treatment for it. And I did wonder with the technology advances today if something could be done to improve my facial muscles? I don’t think it would change much honestly, but there is the fear in my mind that as I get older and my skin loses its elasticity could it become more noticeable and my mouth droop down as it did when I was a baby and child of 4 dreading the school photographer, I still am not a great fan of my photo being taken now and rarely will I smile with my teeth showing! My biggest bug bare is when strangers on the street will openly say to me: “Smile!” if I’m looking moody, and I think hang on this is my usual look!
I do have some small issues that I didn’t realise are connected to the palsy, my eyes, especially the left, are constantly watery, especially outside. And I often have a dry mouth and dribble in my sleep (nice!)

I find eye contact difficult, I recently described this to a family member, as it feels like my eyes are on fire and I get a headache if in a full on conversation! As I child I was extremely shy and never spoke out in class, I would say the answers in my head but never out loud, I didn’t want people to look at me, I didn’t want to draw attention to myself, I just wanted to blend into the background. If I did talk I’d often hold up my hand to my face to cover it. When talking to new people or doing presentations, such as those at University I sometimes lost concentration on the topic I was talking about as my brain would kick in and I’d think “can anyone notice my facial palsy?” “Is it obvious?” It has therefore definitely affected me psychologically throughout my life.
I was encouraged to get myself a part time job to help fund my university place, I pushed myself to talk to people in the local garage where I worked at weekends, I also was able to gain employment in larger retail shops in the city centre which was a big step. I found that I could talk to children much easier than adults! They didn’t judge me! In the past 12 years I’ve been in childcare I’ve only been asked twice by a child about my face. I feel at ease when I work with children. I am also sure that one day my own children will ask me about it too, I am strong enough now to accept that ‘this is me’ and via research I’ve been able to understand it more, just like I am currently doing for my daughter’s Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD.)

Who knows if there’s any treatments out there now, I’m actually embarrassed to ask as I worry more about my children than myself, maybe one day I’ll pluck up the courage to ask!

IMG_20160513_145612.jpg

OCD!

Having OCD is really difficult when your a parent I wish it would just disappear as it just doesn’t fit in with family life!
I’ve tried to stop myself picking up every sock, toy or other item that’s lying on the floor, but now find myself doing it without realising!
OCD first made an appearance when I was about 14, I was stressed about school, being picked on daily and just about the only thing I had control over was the way my room was tidied. Everything was ordered, lined up and spacious.
I hate my hands being dirty, I don’t mind getting them dirty with gardening, messy play, etc but I can’t wait to wash them! I like it when objects are ordered and in line, and shock horror! I caught Lou only today lining up bathroom products!
More to come on this topic!

Thanks for reading 🙂