Here is why I am the worst, and best, mother around.

I haven’t spoken about my daughter too much on this blog. That is mostly to protect her. What I will say about her is that she is a dream child. I am genuinely both a dreadful mother and an amazing mother and I am going to tell you all why.

I am going to start by saying the area around my pregnancy was extremely traumatic, despite being blessed with a wonderful pregnancy. By the time she came into the world, I had buried the trauma as deep as I could. As many of you know, I was already messed up before the pregnancy, after suffering 7 years of abuse that started when I was 6. I tried to be supermum with her. When she was four weeks old, I sat my GCSE’s. Despite breastfeeding her, running in to do an exam and then running out to feed her again, then running back in for another exam all day, and despite VERY little sleep, I managed to get 1 A*, 1 A, 5 B’s, 6C’s and a D in Graphics. So I was pretty damn proud of myself. Then, after the summer holidays I went back to school as an A level student. I would drop her off at nursery at 8.30 in the morning, go to school and then pick her up in the evening. I was completely burnt out by the time she got to 9 months old though, so I ended up in a mental institution for adolescents. After my 2 week respite I went back home but I was still not coping so I had to tell a lie to be able to go back to the ward. I said that I had had thoughts of harming my daughter. It wasn’t true, but they were the words of someone at the end of their tether. So off I went back to the funny farm for 3 months.

By the time I came out of the funny farm, I had realised that living in the house where all that abuse happened was no longer an option. So after many phone calls my parents managed to find me a place in a hostel. From that hostel, I eventually moved to their sister hostel which was even more independent than the first hostel. One month after my 18th birthday I was lucky enough to be given a gorgeous flat from a housing association. If you had read this blog in the past you may remember the posts about my wacky neighbours… which is a shame but the flat itself is gorgeous.

The plan was always to get Mia back. Unfortunately my mental health has deteriorated over the years so it has never been possible.

Here is what makes me a great mother though. Despite the circumstances surrounding her, I have ALWAYS put her first. I looked at what I could give her verses what my parents could and I knew she would be happier with them than she ever could be with me. With my health problems I am often confined to the flat for weeks at a time. I don’t drive and I am terrified of busses so we wouldn’t be able to go to all the places I want her to see. My parents are able to do all those things with her. Just last week she got to ride in a stretch limo to go and see Disney On Ice in London. She adored it!

When I look at the incredible young lady before me, I knew I made the right choice. She is healthy, happy, hilarious, gorgeous, well-mannered, polite, respectful and kind to others. I couldn’t have wished for a better child, we really struck gold with her.

Admitting you can’t be a good parent is extremely difficult. The easiest thing in the world would be to have her here with my like I always wanted. But I had to admit that my parents could offer her more than I ever could, and she deserved her best chance.

If you take a glance at me without knowing the full story, I would be considered a deadbeat mum that doesn’t care about her child. The truth, however, is the complete opposite. I live with the pain of her not being here so that she can be happy.

I am lucky because I still get to see plenty of her and when I am feeling up to it I take her on days out. We have an amazing bond, which I am forever grateful for.

Despite everything, as I said above she is healthy and happy. I couldn’t ask for more! So before anybody calls me a bad mother, I would urge them to take a closer look. Sacrificing what you want so your child has their best chance in life is EXACTLY what a good parent does.  I simply adore my child.

If I have to spend every day for the rest of my life in pain so that she can be happy, I will do so without complaint. More than that though, I have spent every day since she was born trying to better myself for her so that I can be the mother she deserves.

Of course I am not the worlds best mum. But I am certainly not the worst mother on this planet either. I have never introduced her to a string of boyfriends, I have never gotten drunk around her, smoked drugs around her, hit her, called her names (aside from Mia Moo!), swore around her, introduced her to anyone I wasn’t 100% sure about, I have never put her in danger. I have always tried to be the best mother I can be, and in my case that meant letting her go so she could be happy.

I have had a few people decide to judge me on my parenting skills recently, which is what triggered this post. But the simple truth is that I try my best, and nobody can ask more of me than that. Look at this gorgeous young lady and tell me she is not well looked after.

Mia again

I am not a wall flower!!

It is very easy to treat someone like me (with mental health problems) as fragile and in need of protecting. It is certainly true that my Borderline Personality Disorder means I display emotions very openly and I am prone to crying. A lot. Like all the time. At stupid things like adverts. However, that crying is merely a release. It passes quickly and it helps me cope. I spent so long bottling things up and it did so much damage. So now, I let things go, and I am not ashamed about the way I react to things. It shows I care.

That being said, I am one of the strongest people I know. The things I have been through, the things I have faced would break many people. Hell, it nearly broke me. But I got through. And that makes me the BEST person to lean on. Because I wont buckle.

I don’t need to be protected from bad news. I need to be told it as soon as is reasonable so that I can process it and then do something about it. The later it is left, the longer it will take me to process it and the harder it will be for everyone, including me. I might burst in to tears while my brain spends a couple of minutes sending the news to the right places but after that you wont find a stronger person to lean on.

I have seen some of the worst things life has to offer. It sometimes feels like I have stared at the devil right in the eyes. And I still won. If you want someone who can handle the bad stuff so YOU get a bit of support, talk to the person that has spent their life fighting. Fighting a little harder for a while wont be a problem.

I understand the desire to protect people from the bad bits. I expect some of my friends and family will worry that I am on a knife-edge and one wrong move could knock me down. But the truth is no news has ever broken me, it has only ever been self sabotage that has landed me in serious trouble. The only thing I need to cope with life is the one thing I have always had and always will have, and that is the love of my friends and family.

If you know someone with mental health problems, please understand that it is a constant battle. And a battle like that makes warriors of us all. You would be surprised what I can cope with. In fact, you would be surprised what I HAVE coped with.

What I need isn’t protection. What I need is for someone to tell me that I have done a good job fighting. That they are proud of me for what I have achieved. That I have come so far. It is much better than hearing the disappointment when I do mess up. Trust me I do a better job of beating myself up than anyone else could do. I need recognition for the good things. It seems there hasn’t been too much of that recently. I am not a constant screw up!

My life isn’t easy. It isn’t perfect. And it isn’t what I want for myself and my family. But what it is, and what it has always been, is progress. And the motivation to do better. Ten years ago I was bottling things up, I didn’t trust anyone, I was self harming all the time and self sabotaging even more. I hated myself. I was putting myself at risk. Last year, I had a huge wobble. And guess what? It only made me stronger. If you mix a tornado with a volcano I will still win.

Holding on to the pain.

 

Letting go of something hurtful is really difficult. When we are in pain we need time to process what has happened, and we need time to come to terms with it. However, it is often harder than it looks. Talking does help people process what happens, and bottling things up only leads to more pain.

There is a point when talking about it does more harm than good. It sounds contradictory I know. Talking about it gets you sympathy from your friends and family… but if you refuse to let it go when it is time, the only thing you will get is more pain. We can upset ourselves by constantly bringing it up and thinking of it. By doing that we don’t allow ourselves to move on. Holding on to anger, upset, pain and bad memories leaves you constantly in a highly emotional state.

We have emotions to help us cope with the bad bits, to help us prepare for fight or flight moments, let us know how much we love someone. They are only meant to be temporary, otherwise we couldn’t cope with anything. Holding on to negative emotions has an effect on the whole body. Stress can be very dangerous if you hold on to it for too long. It can even cause heart attacks.  As hard as it is, people that let go of their emotions are able to return to normal. Holding on to them leaves you upsetting yourself  instead of loving and looking after yourself.

Here is list of a few emotions and how they help:

LOVE: Love keeps us from murdering our children when they cry for the 14th time that night and you need to be up early. Love is bearing the worst bits of your partner just so you can see the best bits.

ANGER: Anger protects us by getting the adrenalin going and helping you with your fight or flight situation. It also keeps our moral compass pointing in the right direction.

FEAR: It might not feel very nice but fear is a very helpful emotion. It helps you keep yourself safe via hyper-vigilance… meaning you make sure you are aware of everything that is going on around you… that way there are no surprises.

GUILT: Guilt is another important emotion. It shows both our conscience and our moral compass are working, and making you feel bad for whatever you did means you wont do it again. It is like a disciplinary emotion that makes you want to do the right thing.

EMPATHY: Empathy is a lovely emotion. It helps create a strong bond and can help lots of people. Being able to understand what someone has been through can drag up some bad memories, but it can also reassure people that it does get better in time and they will be okay. Sometimes that is all they need to hear.

CONTENT: This has got to be the best emotion out there. Feeling content really is a blessing. When you feel good enough to want things to carry on exactly as they are, you are content.

That’s all for now, I will do a more comprehensive list later.

This blog entry is a tribute to my gorgeous sister, who is struggling to let go at the moment. I sincerely hope she is able to let go, move on, and create the life she always wanted. She is stronger than she thinks and moving on will allow her to continue with her wedding plans and focus on that rather than the emotions.

The police just woke me up at 3am by banging on my door!

 

I am annoyed. I am tired. I am scared. I am bloody pissed off. I just had 4 policemen show up at my door. I wake up to hear them literally banging on the door, threatening to ‘break in by force if necessary’. Unfortunately this is now the third time this has happened.

I am not a drug dealer. I am not involved in anything illegal. I was there alone, and asleep. And yet I get  treated like a criminal and they barge in to my HOME to have a look around. Why? Apparently because I was screaming again. That is what happens when you have PTSD. You get flash backs. And apparently my neighbours thought I was being murdered. Again.

It  is absolutely terrifying, and, to be perfectly honest, I really, really need a cuddle. The police didn’t do anything wrong. They settled down when I told them what happened and they made me a cup of tea. They managed to calm me down a little, though I am still in shock. I am an idiot. I didn’t even check for ID, I just let them barge in without so much as a word. Don’t get me wrong, they were legit, but they don’t take into account that people are not as vigilant when they have just been woken up.

I have to put up with these flash backs quite often. My daughter lives with my parents at the moment, and this is partly why. When she is here, I stay awake, all night, because I am terrified I will have an ‘episode’ while she is there. So I just sit there quietly all night.

Apparently, the police have to report this to my landlord and someone else I can’t remember. According to them, if I continue ‘disturbing the peace’ like this my tenancy could be in jeopardy. They said they were sorry they had to tell me that. Now I need someone to tell me what on earth I can do to stop this from happening again. How am I supposed to stop it?

Nightmares are awful. Night terrors are horrific. But flash backs? A flash back is reliving the worst things that ever happened to you over and over again. It is so real you can smell, touch and feel everything that is going on. It is exactly like it is happening again. Those who have never had a flash back can’t understand what it is like, and I hope they never have to find out.

I am shaking, and crying. I feel weak. I feel vulnerable. And if I am being perfectly honest I have a very strong urge to cut. I feel lost, and I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know how to fix me.

Just to kick me when I am way down, my BPD is making me feel everything 100x more than ‘normal’ people do. My depression is consuming me. My anxiety disorder is pushing me on the verge of a panic attack and I am trying to write to calm myself down. I am trying not to go into a dissociative state. I am fighting no less than SIX separate mental health problems at once. You tell me. How am I supposed to win?

Crazy Me!

So this post is to let you into my head a little. It is surprisingly difficult to explain sometimes what I feel like. At the moment, I am going through a ‘odd patch’. I can feel my brain and body wanting to spiral down, and I am fighting them all the way. The result? I am exhausted! It is hard fighting every second of every day. Of course, it helps now  knowing that my coping method of choice will kill me rather than save me… it is a strong motivation not to overdose, after all, I already have cirrhosis of the liver as a result of the overdosing. I am well aware I have a lot to live for, even if it doesn’t feel like it all the time.

I have been rather emotional recently, a direct result of the BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and PTSD along with Depression no doubt. It is like a huge magnifying glass on every emotion you feel, making it more intense, sometimes overwhelmingly so.

I was lucky enough to be given a fish tank recently. In eagerness, I filled the tank half way, and unfortunately encountered several problems meaning I couldn’t go any further. Because the water was left in the tank for a few weeks I decided today to empty it. But the funny thing was, as I was emptying it, I felt really sad for the water. Knowing it was just going to fall down the drain into goodness knows what horrors upset me. In truth, there was probably something much deeper going on, but I must admit I was a little embarrassed at myself.

When watching programs, I have an emotional roller-coaster! I was watching Call The Midwife on Sunday, and honestly I cried one second and was laughing the next. Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel so deeply… it  is hard work. But it does pay off when you get the positive emotions magnified.

I spend the rest of the day contemplating how to tackle the various tasks that need doing, but I didn’t have the energy to do anything. What is worse, my pain is increasing, which is also draining me. I am fortunate though, I have an amazing Grandma who has said I can come and stay with her for a bit if I need to get away. Just knowing I have that option  has helped me avoid doing it, if that makes sense. It is comforting enough (for now at least) to help me through. I always tend to dip down massively in April, and the dip normally starts in November (I have a fairly regular ‘cycle’ where I dip badly twice a year) so actually I am doing really well.

The key for me has been to recognise quickly when things start to go down hill. It is very easy for it to creep up on you, so knowing yourself and what is ‘normal’ for you is vital. When I start to feel bad, I engage much stronger family support (spending more time with them or on the phone with them), I let the mental health professionals know what is going on, and we move on from there. It is amazing really. I just feel awful for those who have little support, or just need more help. That is why I advocate the crisis box so much… it really can save your life.

Sometimes, I can’t stop the tears from flowing. Sometimes, nothing sets it off and I just cry, silently (just tears rolling down my face) for up to 2 hours. It is very disconcerting. Crying makes me feel weak. Especially when I cry at the little things. But I bottled up so much for so long, I refuse to feel guilty about showing how hard I have had to fight to get here. Every tear is a triumph because I am here, and alive. Sometimes working hard (it isn’t easy) to put a positive spin on things makes a huge improvement in your recovery time and mental well-being.

Be proud of the scars you have, visible or otherwise. Use them as motivation because they are proof of how far you have come and what you have overcome along the way. Ha! I never thought I would say that. I guess  my Mum was right all along… as usual!

The Most Exhausting Job In The World!

Caring for someone who suffers with Mental Health problems is one of the hardest jobs in the world. It can make you want to bang your head against the wall, cry in despair, shake your head in frustration, make you want to give up completely and even cause you to have mental health problems such as depression and anxiety yourself. You will find yourself constantly worried, stressed, and angry at times too.

So why would anyone in their right mind put themselves through it? The simple answer is love. No one would be able to do this without loving the person they are caring for. Whilst speaking to others about this particular blog entry, ‘money’ has been raised as a reason people care for those with mental health problems, particularly in the cases of mental health professionals. After some thought, I have to disagree… the money paid for doing a job could be earned in many other jobs where they wont get attacked, feel responsible if someone takes their own life, wont have to enter homes of patients in a mess you can’t even imagine, wont get shouted at, sworn at and blamed for all life’s problems etc. I believe that it is a job people go into because they care, and, as my mum pointed out, so that they can make a difference to the lives of the people they meet. They don’t get paid enough to do it for the money.  And worse than that, with their budgets being cut time after time after time, they have to live with the knowledge that they are potentially giving a service that cannot put the patient first. They have to live with the knowledge that people have and will continue to die as a result.

If you are the friend or family of someone with a mental illness, you will soon understand that it is a pretty thankless task. If you look after someone with a life threatening or long-term illness, the public will praise you. They will tell you how wonderful you are, what a brilliant job you are doing, and inevitably you will gain some sort of satisfaction from doing that. It is completely different when looking after someone with mental health problems. If you are a parent, people may wonder if you did something to cause the problem, people may urge you to walk away, and you live in the knowledge that this could just be a lifelong commitment.

I have been hugely blessed with a family that have not only stood by me, but been my rock, my biggest fans, and have always been actively involved in helping me, in whatever ways they can. They do it because they love me, and they want, more than anything, for me to be happy. My parents have spent countless hours driving me to appointments, and sitting through them with me. As a prime example, when I was undergoing DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy), my dad drove me to the centre, which took two hours each way twice a week, every week, for 12 weeks, and waited while the session was going on. This is despite working nights. He takes my to my medical assessments, medical appointments, he picks me up and drops me back home every time I go to see them (which is usually weekly). They are on the phone when I need to talk. They remind me to take my medicines. They show me the way to go when things go wrong. They even drag themselves to the psych ward when I have been an inpatient there, knowing what nasty, scary places they can be. They don’t get paid to do that. They do it at personal cost, both of money and time, just for me. They were the ones that drove me to the hospital and spent countless hours in the emergency room when I overdosed.

The biggest thing my parents have done to help me, again at huge personal cost (money, time, emotions), is to look after my daughter. They have saved both me and her, by taking her on and saving her from the social system. Due to my illnesses, and especially due to me still not having completely kicked the self harm issues, I am unable to look after her. It was a huge decision for all of us- it is awful, awful, awful to have to admit your own flesh and blood would be safer and more secure without you. And yet, thanks to my parents, I can see her whenever I want, she is healthy, happy and settled. She is doing brilliantly at school, and is genuinely the funniest person I have ever met. We would be lost without her.

When caring for someone with mental health problems, however, the physical side of things… the appointments etc are not the biggest challenge. It is the mental side of things that will determine if this is something you are able to do or not. I know my parents never stop worrying about me, even when I am ‘well’ or on an ‘up’. They know as well as I do that things will eventually go bad again. And at that point they worry they will get a knock on the door from the police one morning to be told I have committed suicide. Against that constant worry and stress, they have to put up with my loosing my temper sometimes. I can say awful things, things that I don’t even mean just because I can’t express it properly. Sometimes I get cross when they try to protect me from something I don’t want to be protected from. Sometimes I will sit there and cry, like I am never going to stop. And a lot of the time, they have to sit there and listen to me talk for England because I live alone and can’t shut up whenever I meet someone.

In some ways, my parents are fortunate.  I do tend to understand things (eventually!!), I am not violent towards them, I don’t get in trouble with the law, I am not an alcoholic and I don’t take drugs (at least not ones that aren’t prescribed). They don’t live in fear that I will be violent to them. And to be honest, the only reason I don’t do those things is because I was brought up well. It could have turned out very differently.

I am very lucky too… because I love to write. It helps me sort out what is running through my head, and helps me make sense of what goes on around me. I find writing helps me when I want to self harm, too. I am also lucky because I have spent a long, long  time finding out as much about my problems as I can. That way, it doesn’t seem so scary. I know what to expect, I know myself, and through that knowledge I am now, finally, mostly able to reach out for help before things slip too much. Something  I was never able to do before. Even now though, my family are so acutely tuned to me and my problems, they still often know when I am going downhill before I do. They know not to tell me though, as I wont believe a word of it!

Getting to know someone is hard enough anyway… but getting to know someone who can change in a million different ways at any given moment is really hard. Nearly impossible, in fact!

So if you know of someone going through this struggle, be supportive to them. Understand that, as carer’s, they have the hardest job in the world. And just because the world may be ignorant about the facts, doesn’t mean you should be. My parents appreciate a ‘Thank you’ and a ‘Well done, you are doing  great’ more than most. If you happen to suffer from mental health problems never forget to say thank you.

So… to my lovely Mum, Dad, Brothers, Sister, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and my stunning not-so-baby-anymore-girl, THANK YOU. From the very bottom of my heart, thank you.

It’s that time of year again!

As we approach the end of 2013, it is normal for people to reflect on the year they’ve had. It is a time to take stock, promise to be a better person, clear out the junk and start again. Of course, the reality is much different and by January 10th we are back to how things were the year before.

It doesn’t really matter though, because taking stock is definitely something we should be doing anyway. Probably more often, but hey ho!

This has been yet another crazy year for me. My health has been on a roller-coaster ride (my mental health has too for that matter), I have lost people, found people, learned more about myself, and I have worked through some of my smaller issues and become a better person for it. My neighbours have gone completely loopy too!

Despite all the issues and problems I have had this year, and I have had more than my fair share, I have been humbled and inspired by the way I have seen others battle through things I can’t even imagine! As an example, a friend I knew back at school has recently found out her husband has terminal cancer. They got married shortly after his diagnosis, and is thought to have weeks rather than months left. They have two small children (2 and 4 months) as well. Seeing her grace and strength has been an inspiration to the whole world… even Sharon Osbourne herself has donated to the cause! If you wish to donate, details are below. More than that, after a friend died a few weeks ago, I went to possibly the best funeral I have ever been too, teaching me that in the saddest of times laughter can still be found.

My Grandma has also been a bit up and down with her health, something that frightens me greatly because I would be so lost without her!  Me and my mum worked through some issues and have been so much closer for it, another blessing. My sister got engaged to the love of her life in the most beautiful way imaginable, and we now have a wedding to look forward to next year!

And I have also started this blog, which has been more successful than I ever thought possible!

Every year, every single person on this planet has high points and low points. Sometimes more of one than the other. And every year, every single person on this planet becomes a stronger person for the trials they have faced and overcome. It doesn’t matter if we feel broken, if we are trampled on or dealt the WORST hands, we survive.

When you reflect on the year you have had, and the goals you want to set yourself for next year, don’t just dwell on the negatives, it is poisonous and will eat you up. Instead, remember the positives, the times you laughed  so hard you worry you haven’t done enough pelvic floor exercises, the times you triumphed, the times you got back up after a fall, the successes you have had and the friends and family that have carried you through. Remember no matter what bad things life throws at you, you are strong enough to cope, to survive, and eventually to see the good in it.

If you have children, take a moment to really see them, rather than simply looking. See how much they have grown, how funny they are, how much they look up to you, their milestone developments (this year I have been collecting several teeth, they all seem to be wobbly now and the adult ones are coming through fast!) and see how quickly they are developing mentally and emotionally. It only seems like yesterday I had a two-year-old lass who always had a tummy ache when she was upset because she didn’t know how to vocalise it properly. Now, I have a stroppy, happy, funny, clever, gorgeous six-year-old who happens to be very good at telling us all exactly what she thinks! They grow so fast these days!

I  hope everyone reading this is able to find positives in the year just past, had a happy holidays, and is ready to start the New Year as they mean to go on (for all of 10 days, at least).

And just on the very small off-chance your year hasn’t had very many happy memories at all, here is a little something to make everything better. Enjoy!

 

If you want to read Cola & Felix’s story, please click here, or here, or here, or simply search ‘Cola and Felix Glenny’.

If you wish to donate, please visit here.

If you are feeling super generous, I also have a friend whose 5 month old daughter is suffering from a rare form of cancer on her brain. She needs radiotherapy but is far too young at the moment, so is having chemo every two weeks. We are trying to raise money to cover expenses not paid for by the NHS,  including transport so she can see her other daughter too. If you want to read Amelia’s story, or wish to donate, please click here. It is another heart breaking story, and another show of strength and grace, and proof of the lengths parents will go to to help their children.

If that has depressed you a little, go back and look at the cute animals! It helps me, anyway!