Monday, 11 March 2013

Family Saturday

As part of my new beginnings and plan of all plans I 've had loads of ideas on how to spend more quality time with Aiden and Sienna, so I thought up 'Family Saturday'.
With my insomnia being quite bad recently, it's given me lots of thinking time!
I got thinking back to all the amazing things I did when I was a child - I still have no idea how my parents afforded it!! I would have an activity or club every day of the week, some free, some at school, but I was always busy.
The freebies were playing in the school orchestra and quartet, hockey club and helping at Robins Youth Club.
Then I had weekly dancing lessons (modern and tap). I played the violin and then changed to the viola, which I played in a weekly lesson, then at music school in Cromwell Strings and the Viola Group on Saturdays and finally for Berkshire String Training Orchestra (until in my last year, when I finally made it into Berkshire Youth Orchestra!). I tried the clarinet for a bit too! When I was in Primary school I did judo lessons and had swimming lessons in the summer holidays - all things which cost money that I'm almost certain my parents struggled at times to find, but never said so!

Anyway, it got me thinking about what we do for Aiden in particular, as Sienna's still a bit too little for lots of things ;) and I realised that he doesn't get enough quality time or activities in the week. He goes to gymnastics once a week and pre-school 3 sessions, but the rest of the time it's pretty much at home playing (alone, or with mum, dad, Dean or me) or watching the telly. As I've been struggling so much with my depression, I've found it really hard to find energy to play with Aiden and kept hearing myself saying 'I'm too tired at the moment,' or similar, which I hated!

Now that I'm better, Dean and I have agreed to have Saturdays as 'Family Day' I googled loads of local places we could visit (free and cheap!) and some crafty / baking things to do at home. Each Saturday we are going to choose something to do all together :) Once a month we are going to have one special activity that costs a bit more money, as a treat. I picked out 4 activities for March: baking biscuits and decorating them, going to the local Lakes, painting canvases to decorate Siennas room (we did the same for Aiden's room - we did one and then both sets of grandparents and uncles did one each as well) and our special trip is going to 'Coral Reef' which is a bit of a trek, but will be a great treat!
For our first official 'family Saturday', we got on our wellies and Aiden's waterproofs and took off for a walk round the Lakes. We had a brilliant time! We fed the ducks and swans - some of them got a little too close for my liking ;)

I'm keeping an eye on you swan!!

Typical isn't it, you say 'cheese' and
Aiden pulls a face like this!

 I'm having a go at photography, maybe with the end resulting in some lovely nature cards that I could sell??

Then I taught Aiden how to play 'Pooh Sticks' which I used to love playing with my grannie when I was little!
trying to spot where are sticks had got to!
We (well, Aiden and I!) then splashed in all the puddles we could find on our walk round the lake. I'm not sure who had more fun, Aiden or me, heehee!

Finally we then had a spot of lunch at the gorgeous cafe. Aiden also got to make some flowers in pots for grannie and nanny, as they were running a crafty activity session - only £1 per pot!
This is one of my favourite places to visit, as it can be totally free if you don't stop for lunch! Also, as we are sooo lucky to have such a beautiful nature reserve just down the road, it's almost criminal not to make the most of it ;)

I can't wait for next weeks fun, probably one of the home activites this time :)

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Plan of all plans!

Right, I have had a serious talk with myself - I do that quite a lot ; ) and I have decided that this is the day that everything needs to start!

I have great lists of my plans and never managed to get round to actually doing them (due to illness, depression being pants, being too tired etc etc!) but the time has come for a BIG change in attitude!
This is really important for me at the moment, as I feel that I am lacking focus and purpose in my life, and if I ever want to get back to doing part time work, I need to start getting things started!
It is also prompted by the unfortunate event that happened to Dean and I yesterday!
We decided to pop to Newbury for a few bits, when horror of all horrors, we were stood at the checkout in 'The Works' (I LOVE this shop!!) and Dean's card got refused, then mine did as well!! It was sooo embarrassing! I had to riffle through my wallet - no notes! Dean didn't have any either! Luckily we had just enough coins to cover the payment! When we then checked at the cashpoint (I was sure we had money, as I had checked my mobile for the latest message-update from the bank the previous evening), we were over our overdraft limit!! We then realised that we didn't have enough money to pay for the car parking ticket!! So, stranded in Newbury, with Sienna fast approaching the time for her next feed (which we didn't have) I started to have a mini panic! Luckily I thought to ring mum who transferred some money so we could get home! (I love internet banking even more now!)
When we got home we realised that our bank charges had taken us over our limit : ( so we spent last night sorting through finances (money manager is AMAZING !!) Hopefully we won't be having anymore money dramas next month!

So, today, I am finally going to get myself sorted.
Firstly, I am going to get my whiteboard fixed to the wall (we went and borrowed father-in-law's on way home last night!) so that I can get organising ; )
I am also going to make a page and track my progress, so that if I forget or start slipping back into old bad habits, I can be reminded each time I check my blog!

Wish me luck - I am going to need it! ; )

Friday, 1 March 2013

Self Injury Awareness Day

image from google images
Today, 1st March is SIAD - Self Injury Awareness Day (self harming)
I feel that like depression and many mental illnesses, self harming really isn't understood or talked about enough, so I thought I would be brave and share my story with you.
Only my mum, dean and a couple of close friends know that I struggle with self harming.
I think that for me it started when I was back in Secondary school, year 8 (I would have been about 12).
I have always been shy and an 'oddball' (never one of those pretty, popular girls!) and making friends was something that I found really hard to do. By the end of year 7, I was relieved to have a group of close friends in my tutor group, one of whom I had been friends with since I was about 5! That changed very quickly the following year, when one of the girls didn't like it when I chose to be different from the rest of them. Looking back it's now clear that she was the 'trend setter / leader' of our little group, as whatever she liked, we all liked. This was all fine until crime of all crimes, I didn't like her latest obsession - Take That! (funnily enough, now that they have re-formed, I quite like their newer music!! heehee!) Anyway, it seems such a stupid thing to start bullying someone about, but that's how it began! It was all they talked about and I got pretty bored of it - I was more into alternative music, heavily influenced by my older brother ; ) I also felt that it was really childish and just didn't understand why they went round talking non-stop Take That - they even started mimicking words like 'ickle' one of the band members said instead of 'little'. I became the outsider, and started to feel really miserable and alone - if they saw any of this, it didn't seem to worry them, or encourage any of them to try and include me more by varying the subject ; ) What made it worse was that the 'leader' (I'll call her 'S') didn't seem to like the fact that I refused to be a little sheep and follow her in this latest craze. She turned really nasty and started to pick on me terribly. My other friends just stood by and watched. Being at school became unbearable, she was in all my lessons, only at break times could I escape from her. I don't know how long it went on for, but I got to the stage where I didn't want to go to school any more. I was miserable.
Outside of school was fine though, I was always busy with different clubs every night. On Mondays, I was a helper at a youth club for Primary aged kids and had some really good friends, who were all adult helpers. I was always treated as an adult, and found it easy to get on with all of them. Of all of them, Steve was my good friend and I talked to him loads about my horrible situation.
Night times became bad as well, as I would dwell on everything. I started to attack my skin to ease the pain I felt inside. I would use my fingernails and pick at the skin on my breasts, often until I bled. I would then cry myself to sleep.
My mum knew something was wrong, but it took ages before I told her I was being bullied. She went and talked to my form tutors, who couldn't believe it. You see S was the 'perfect' person, everyone thought she was so lovely - she was quiet, hard working and looking at her, you wouldn't think she could bully someone either! However, they spoke to her and she left me alone. My mum explained (and my tutors agreed), that I had 'outgrown' my friends. It actually made sense, as I found them really juvenile and could relate better to my adult friends at youth club. I think I've always been 'old' for my age! I had the big school girl crushes at Primary school (I also started my period aged 10, which could account for a lot too! ; ) )
Eventually, I made some new friends and only had to ignore my old friends during lessons, which was a lot better. The ironic thing is that eventually, the original group of friends merged with my new friends one by one - they must have decided that they wanted to be different too!! Things were not the same as before, it wasn't mentioned, but I never forgot what they did to me.
The skin picking became a nightly ritual, but I didn't tell anyone about it. If times got more stressful, I did it even more. I would start picking at the top of my left arm as well. It became a kind of release, which I needed to escape the emotional scars S had left, that I couldn't deal with.
I think no one realised, as I only did it at night time in my room, and I only picked places that no one would see. My mum noticed eventually and used to try and tell me not to do it, but I couldn't stop. My now husband was the same.
A couple of years ago, after a really bad patch with my depression, I decided that as I was getting therapy, I would try and address my self harming. I told the doctor and showed him my scarred breasts. I had never, ever shown anyone but mum and dean (still haven't!) so it was a huge deal. He thought that my self harming was dermatitis artefacta (I had to look it up!) He explained that as I have been doing it for so long, I infect the skin where I picked and then hate what I see, so do it again and again - thus creating a vicious circle.  For a while I tried to stop, but I couldn't. Each time my babies were born I would try again as I was breast feeding, but the minute they went to bottles, I couldn't stop myself from starting again.
So now, I still have this need to pick at my skin at the end of every day. If I get really upset, or stressed, I do it even more. I hate the scars I have caused and the fact that it's become routine.
Now, you might wonder why I decided to share this? Well, I am no longer ashamed to talk about the fact that I have severe depression, so I figured that this was the next step. Having this SIA day to make others more aware and less judgemental, also spurred me onto actually writing about my experience.
I hope that some people will learn not to be so judgemental about people who self harm. We don't all do it for attention - it took me about 12 years before I could admit I had a problem, and tried to get help from my doctor! The only other people who know is my best friend and a friend with the same problem.

If anyone else out there suffers with SI, please know I feel your pain and am sending you loads of hugs, you're not alone xxx