Thursday, 23 August 2012

Side Effects

Nothing ever stays the same. Ever.

A sobering thought, yet a hopeful thought.

A thought I hold onto during challenging times.

Recently, I've felt caught in the snare of a rip tide, pulling me away from the certainty of the shore - sandy particles feet could burrow into, containing and stilling physical movement. Instead, I am afloat, rolling in conflicting currents, my limbs paddling aimlessly, searching hopelessly for a foothold, an anchor to safety. But there is nothing - no rope-like seaweed to cling onto, no fishing net to haul me to solid shelter...

...One week I felt fine. The next, I was depressed, again.

So over a week ago, I began a course of anti-depressants, 10 mgs of citalopram, and the side effects transformed me into a pair of old socks. I took the same medication nine weeks into my pregnancy, but because of acute antenatal depression combined with common pregnancy symptoms, it was difficult to decipher any side effects from the tablets the first few weeks of taking them. But I'm not pregnant this time, so the fallout has been clearly visible, and very tangible. I liken the side effects to a really, really bad hangover; tremors, nausea, fatigue, physical weakness, dry mouth, tense jaw, hot flushes, anxiety, loss of appetite and disturbed sleep. Not a pleasant cocktail I assure you.

Last Monday morning, the day after ingesting my first tablet, I sat on the sofa, my limbs trembling, feeling very sick indeed; I regretfully informed Little A that, today, all outdoor pursuits were off - thank heavens she's easily distracted, thank heavens for the indoor tent/den and tunnel I'd recently purchased as a well done for her recent emancipation from nappies.

Shopping, cooking, cleaning have proven almost insurmountable tasks as the citalopram took hold - it was hard to accomplish anything when my body and mind felt so unyielding, so leaden. Needless to say, Little A has been subjected to bowl after bowl of cheesy pesto pasta - fortunately, she hasn't complained.

As one day surely follows the next, I began to accept my fate, allowing my surrendered body to bob about freely in waves of medicinal symptoms lapping around my nervous system. I still feel nauseous and prickly during the morning, and my head feels stuffed to the skull with Younger Dad's boxer shorts.

BUT, something is afoot - I spy a phoenix ascending from the discarded left overs clogging the kitchen sink...

Yesterday I felt calmer, less reactive, more tolerant. Inside, I felt space - an inner relaxing. Even Younger Dad has noticed a change in my energy and bearing. I think I'm turning a corner. The sea is quelling and gently delivering me back to the stable security of land. I think I might be getting better...

The anti-depressants are showing signs of positive effect, flooding my neural pathways with much needed serotonin. Additionally, I've organised some short term counselling - being a therapist myself, and having already had plenty of therapy - I know how helpful this can be, and I've booked further acupuncture treatments.

So, thankfully, nothing ever really stays the same. Ever.

The emotional rapids of the past month or so have taken their toll though, and as you can imagine, I'm feeling rather run down. With this in mind I've decided to take a break from blogging for a couple of weeks - although, I might have a bonus post up my sleeve - to rest, do nothing, and to recuperate. It just so happens that I'm going on holiday to the beautiful Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall the first week of September which should provide the perfect setting to renew and reinvigorate.

Upon my return, the week beginning the 9th September, I will be launching a five-day seasonal linky, One Week. If you would like to join in, for all or part of it, you can read the details here.

I'll promise to send you a postcard! X.

Ps. Apologies if you were hoping to link up to Once Upon a Time this month - the linky will return in September.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Crap Mum - A Spoof

... Inspired by the wonderful Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler.


Crap Mum lives in a two bedroomed flat.
With Younger Dad, Little A, and a pretend grey cat.

One morning she realises the chores must to be done.
Crap mum, oh Crap Mum, this is no fun!

"Mummy come here!" yells Little A.
She's picked up the full potty,
and now wants to play.

"I'll pick it up, put it down,
and pick it up - and then

"Mummy, there is poo and wee
on the floor again!"

"Oh help! Oh No! Where's my chamomile tea?
I'm Crap Mum, I'm Crap Mum,
I'M CRAP MUM, that's me,
And social services are coming for me!"

Crap mum grabs a cloth,
and surveys the mess.
But it ends up all over her brand new dress!

She changes her clothes with a grumble and a sigh.
Crap Mum, oh Crap Mum, the clothes basket is piled high.

"Can I help?" asks Little A,
"I want to make my dirty pants clean."
And together they sped to the washing machine.

"Give me more clothes mummy! Lets stuff them in."
But she traps her fingers, then makes a huge din.

"Oh help! Oh No! The plasters I can't see.
I'm Crap Mum, I'm Crap Mum,
I'M CRAP MUM, that's me,
And social services are gunning for me!"

"I can't plan meals.
Or do arts... or do crafts.
I can't find that lost sock! I can't turn Twitter off!
I can't iron a shirt... or darn or sew - no,

Crap Mum, oh Crap Mum, beware of the front door!

A gust of wind, the front door slams shut.
Stuck outside - Little A on one arm - Crap Mum is feeling kicked in the butt.

"Oh help! Oh No! Little A has pee'd on my knee.
I'm Crap Mum, I'm Crap Mum,
I'M CRAP MUM, that's me,
And now the police will be after me!"

Crap Mum feels stupid, Crap mum feels dumb.
Crap Mum feels clueless praying someone will come.
Crap mum feels low and rather stressed.
She scratches her head exclaiming "this must be a test!"

Then suddenly an idea.
"Mummy you have a plan?"
"Yes! To the nursery we must go ...
To phone younger dad, our super hero."

Younger Dad arrives with a smile on his face.
Jangling his keys, now back to our place.
He raises an eyebrow at his wife
and she says...

"Oh Gosh! Oh Thank you! Thanks again for helping me!
But... I'm Crap Mum, I'm Crap Mum,
I'm CRAP MUM, that's me,
And I'm doing my best for our family of three!

If you liked this, you might also like this!

Friday, 10 August 2012

Childhood is .....

... A never ending feast of firsts.

The first rain shower. The first sun flower.
The first spider web.
And...The first proper snow fall.

Swaddled in layers of warmth. A cold button nose.
Daddy on one hand.
Imaginary friend, Bobby-in-a-Mow, on the other.

Tread carefully Little A. It's icy. It's slippery.
Can you hear the snow crunch, crunching under your feet?
Can you feel the chilly chill in the air?

Shall we make a snow ball?
It's so quiet and muffled out here!
Look, Little A, look, it's a snow man.
His nose is a carrot.

Hold Daddy's hand.
Can you see your footprints?

It's snowing again!
Look at that big, fluffy flake.
Drifting, drifting.
Down and down.
Can you catch it in your hand?

It's gotten very cold.
Your finger tips are frozen.
I think it's time for cheese on toast!

... An impromptu picnic in the park accompanied by a game of 'piggy and bunny.'

"Mummy, you be Piggy, and I'll be Bunny."

"Okay, Bunny."

"Piggy, would you like some sandwich?"

"Yes please Bunny."

"Piggy, you have the big sandwich, and I'll have the small one."

"Okay Bunny."

"Piggy, this is delicious."

"Mmm, yes it is."

"Piggy, lets do running around after this."

"Great idea Bunny."

"Piggy and Bunny are friends."

"Best of friends Bunny, best of friends ..."

This is part of a blog-hop organised by Patch of Puddles to highlight the plight of West African children who have been deprived by drought and poverty of such a childhood. The charity Worldvision has until 30th August to raise funds that will be matched £1 for £1 by the British government. Donations will provide food, sanitation, health services and long-term development programmes for destitute families. I tag Mummy Plum and Mother.Wife.Me to choose a photo(s) that they think sums up childhood to help spread the word.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Locked Out

"On no! You complete idiot! You total fool!" were my exasperated words as I stood outside the front door, Little A, clung to my side, watching my befuddled, pained expression.

"What's the matter mummy?"

"We're locked out."

Only two minutes earlier, we'd stood at the gate waving bye bye to H and her toddler. They drove away - at first, slowly, returning our goodbyes, then with applied acceleration once the car had crawled passed. Even then, premonitions danced in my gut - visions of being locked out of house and home. And my imagination wasn't disappointed. Behind me, the wind schemed, and with a Machiavellian gust, I heard something slam, clatch firmly shut. I turned around to find the front door securely closed. Bullet proof. My mouth and stomach joined ranks in shock.

My keys were inside.

My phone was, also, inside.

And this is where we found ourselves last Friday afternoon. Locked outside, me, Little A, in the elements, far from friends. No phone. No Keys. No nothing. How were we going to get back inside? More worryingly, how long were we going to be out here for? Younger Dad was at the Olympics enjoying the badminton, and wasn't due back till late. I had no idea if and when our next door neighbour, who inhabits the ground floor flat, would return. We could be stuck until midnight! Even worse, my newly intrepid potty adventurer only had one pair of pants and leggings to sustain her until we were rescued. No. No. No. This can't be happening. Keep calm. Keep calm. Keep calm.

"Mummy is having a nightmare Little A."

"We're having a nightmare Mummy."

"Little A, you must tell mummy if you you need a wee or a poo."


A thoughtful pause as we both pondered our predicament...

"Mummy, we can't get in."

"I know. I know."

I berated my self for not placing the lock on the latch, for not carrying my keys - I usually carry them, just in case, as a cautionary measure against something like this ever happening. And now I'd gone and done it. Duh. For ten minutes we loitered like two strays under the shade of the porch, the afternoon sun, creeping, chewing its way into the shadow. Oh no, Little A has no sun cream. She's not even wearing socks. I mentally flustered. I mentally panicked.

Then, I breathed. In and out. Long and slow. Calming. Calmer. Calm.

Suddenly, a glimpse of that most resilient of all helpers - 'Survival 101'. So, I prodded the front door. It answered with a sealed silence - "But it's ME, not a burglar!" I tried picking the lock with some discarded plastic. No luck. I attempted a shy kick. What was I thinking? It's a brand new door. "Mummy I need a wee wee," Little A moaned. I lifted her over the recycling bin and she pee'd with abandon - one of my better ideas -"well done Little A!"

Bravely, I mummed-up and started harassing passers-by. "Er, can I have a moment of your time please, we're locked out?" A few nervously glanced in our direction, walking swiftly by. Soon enough, a kind lady let me use her phone to contact Younger Dad, but, oh, the frustration, I couldn't remember his number. "Ooose that," said the voice on the other end of the line, no, that wasn't the warm tones of my betrothed.

The lady, wishing she could assist more, had to make her way home, but was soon followed by another kind soul, who stayed with me for nearly an hour. At first, he wasn't sure - nodding at the door, he asked if this was my home. I was a little offended by his question, but then, I had to agree, the present situation could be construed, by the more suspecting person, as a clever scam. He realised by the pleading look on my face that I was telling the truth. He offered his phone, pen and paper, and off to work I went decoding, unscrambling the mystery that was Younger Dad's number. I tried different combinations but to no avail, all my efforts rewarded by European dialling tones. The kind stranger, who, as it turned out, lived just around the corner, put me in contact with my doctors surgery. Of course! They will give me the number. But the line was persistently engaged.

In the mean time, Little A rolled about on the dusty tiles, chewing mud - which I yanked from her mouth, and battling against her afternoon nap; I could for see a difficult, teary bedtime ahead.

I still couldn't get through to the surgery, but a BURST of inspiration, like a beacon, a light house, illuminated the obvious answer... After almost two hours, the best idea I'd had yet. Why hadn't I thought of this before?

Little A's nursery, a five minute walk away, had all our numbers.

I thanked the sympathetic stranger for his help - we never unearthed our names - I think he was relieved I'd, at last, found a solution.

The staff at the nursery were brilliant. Little A used the potty, ate baked beans and played with the other children. Miraculously, I made contact with Younger Dad on the first call ....

"Younger Dad, it's me."

"What phone number are you calling from?"

"Er, the nursery, we're in a pickle, I locked us both out of the flat."

"Don't worry, the badminton has finished, I'm coming back now."

After an hour or so, Younger Dad arrived, and finally, finally, on arriving home, after four hours of waiting and wondering, after all the stress, I watched with utter relief as the keys were inserted into the lock and the wretched front door, at last, opened.

Needless to say, Younger Dad's mobile number has since been emblazoned on my forehead.

Even though it's Thursday, I'm linking this post up with Hello Wall's, Wednesday Witter.

Wednesday Witter

Saturday, 4 August 2012

The Bubble

Post natal illness is a little like being trapped in a spectral bubble. You know it's there. But you can't see it or touch it. Yet it claims you, holds you prisoner, within its numbing veil. Some days, when the membrane is thin, I can touch, connect, with the outside world; with friends, family, with inviting smells, mouth watering tastes, with outstretched leaves, vivid petals, and with the grassy, sunkissed air. But on other days the membrane is a thick treacly wall; I'm unable to see anything, anyone or myself - my thoughts, my feelings, my passions - clearly.

Some times the bubble begins to roll, gathering speed, and I have no way of stopping the momentum. I am tumbling, lost, curled in on myself. I drag myself through washing, making beds, emptying potties, lunch, dinner, saving the scraps of myself that remain intact for Little A. She holds the monopoly on my smiles, enthusiasm, animation. When Younger Dad returns, I am muted, whining, hostile. I am everything I never was, or wanted to be.

And this has been the emotional landscape of my week so far.

How did this happen? Why has the bubble with the treacle layer claimed me AGAIN?

In the thick of it, about a year after Little A's birth, I just couldn't see how much I'd changed, the extent of the illness. I was so focused on Little A that the anxiety, the aggression, the intrusive thoughts all felt a part of normality, the everyday. My perspective was stuffed down the sofa along with the biscuit crumbs and two pence pieces. Like a fractured ice sheet, I'd lost the link with the much healthier, balanced version of myself before I fell pregnant. And I did fall, first with severe depression during the first trimester, an acute reaction to raised hormones, and then, after a traumatic birth, I fell foul to post traumatic stress and depression - that's why I call it post natal illness, as it was neither one or the other.

Gradually, as the months passed, and Little A grew from a crawling, babbling baby into a walking, chattering toddler, I began to unwrap my limbs and lift myself from the choking swamp. I had therapy, first on the telephone, then face to face, and then last Autumn EMDR had a profoundly healing effect on the birth trauma.

Through the lens of my ever increasing health I could view how unstable I'd been.

Earlier this year, February to be exact, I stopped breast feeding, and, again, this had a very palpable effect on my well being, one that was energising and life affirming.

A couple of months ago I started taking St Johns Wort, I wasn't feeling that bad, it was more of a pick-me-up, and it worked, I felt calmer, happier, but it did nothing to assuage my ongoing battles with PMS. A week ago, I finished the course, and within a few days, I felt much worse than I had before I'd taken the tablets. With this reaction - the tears, the anger, the lethargy, the ruminating thoughts - I've had to concede that I'm still not fully myself, that I've been running on an albeit now low-grade depression for over two years. I can't remember the last time I actually felt hungry, I can't remember the last time I really laughed. I've been on autopilot for so long I'd failed to notice the subtlety of the symptoms.

Anyway today I'm taking a stand. I'm so over feeling this way. I'm going to try a short course of acupuncture to help reset myself, and I've made an appointment for my first treatment this afternoon. Depending on the outcome, I'm now giving serious consideration to a course of low dose anti-depressant.

I'm looking forward to bursting the bubble, and rejoining the living ... re-discovering my appetites, enthusing, smiling, indulging in feelings other than soul sapping sadness and irritation ...

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