It takes a village to raise a child, says the old African proverb. From the first days of becoming a parent, professionals insist that you use the support structures around you; generally, family and close friends, as it can be a tough adjustment, especially while coping with sleep deprivation. What if your support structure isn‘t around if you don‘t live near family or don‘t have friends who understand what it’s like? This has become increasingly common in modern Ireland, as people move away from family for work or college, friends have emigrated or moved on for work or relationships, and you are left home alone with your newborn, wondering where that village has disappeared to.
I’m really happy with how this series has been going; the ability to share the stories of others who have experience with mental illness and mental health issues to a broad platform. I’m learning a lot along the way, and I guess that’s the point – for all I can say I think I know about mental health, there are a million stories out there containing things I’d never even imagine. Unlike the image thrown out there in the media, mental health is about more than anxiety and depression, it’s about more than going and getting a full nights sleep, eating right and exercising. The amazing Fiona, who writes at Sunny SpellsÂ and Scattered Showers, wrote a fantastic piece this week about her views on how mental illness is represented in the Irish media, which appeared in the Irish Times. Fiona writes on her blog about her experiences with BPD – borderline personality disorder – and the different therapies which she has encountered, the struggles and the triumphs and how it affects her and her family. I was thrilled when she agreed a few weeks back to join this series as I feel her experience is definitely one which we don’t get to hear much about and is so important to add to our understanding.
Since it’s Monday, that means it’s time for the Mental Health Monday series! It’s been going really well so far, with lots of amazing people sending me their stories and sharing them with the world to (hopefully) make anyone reading it feel less alone and less like they can’t cope. It sums up a broad spectrum of mental health issues; with a number of fantastic pieces lined up about depression, BPD, anxiety, panic attacks, and numerous other issues. The conversation does not, and should not, stop at depression and anxiety, it’s important that all mental health stories are spoken about.
I’ve written recently about suffering with chronic pain. I’ve done so for two years, since a few months into my pregnancy, and have experienced many ups and downs with it. There have been many visits to many different doctors, trying different medications, different physical therapies and many mornings waking up and hoping “Today Is The Day” (As of yet, It’s never been the day). Pain is a constant in my life, which I’m working on reducing alongside some incredible medical professionals, but one that I try my hardest not to get me down.
While listening to podcasts while out walking one day recently, I came across an interview which my Dad had recommended I listen to, Sean Moncrieff interviewing the TV Presenter and author Andrea Hayes. She spoke about her life living with chronic pain, the feelings it instilled in her, different things she had done to cope. While her pain is from a different source, listening to her I related so much to the interview and found myself sending it to other friends who have suffered with chronic illness – all of whom reacted the same as me “I’m not cracking up, it’s not just me, she’s telling our story”. So, when I got home I downloaded a copy of the book “Pain Free Life: My Journey To Wellness” and was excited to get stuck in.
I love finding new places to try out for lunch in Cork City, especially places that are good value for money with varied menus to treat my tastebuds. Recently, a cafe I had tried once before in it’s old location in Turners Cross, Lishh, moved to the Dosco Business Park on the South Douglas Road, closer to my house, and I took it as a great excuse to try it out properly. Lishh is a mixture of a deli cafe, food seller and catering company – now located directly across from Cork Meat Company and The Good Fish Company, two excellent fresh food sellers – the perfect combination.
For the second week of this Mental Health Monday series, the lovely Suzy from The Airing Cupboard is sharing her tale of suffering from anxiety. This is a subject which can be very difficult to discuss so I’m happy that she wanted to contribute to this series with it, hopefully to make someone else unable to put into words how they feel a little more able to express it. Suzy is a mother of two beautiful children, who uses great wit and humour to document her parenting journey at her blog, The Airing Cupboard.
Since starting off my Slimming World Journey, I’ve been experimenting with more cooking in the kitchen – getting rid of the processed food and learning to cook from scratch. This is easier said than done with a very active toddler, so I have found some old favourites rejigged to be a happy compromise. Diet Coke Chicken was a favourite dish of mine during my Weight Watchers Days, and now that I’m under a less restrictive diet and feeling more confident, I’ve been making some changes. The result is a delicious dinner which all the family loves (okay, the toddler eats two spoons and then walks away, but he does that with everything).
We recently elected a new government, not that you could tell it in looking at our currently defunct parliament. In the 36 days since our votes were counted and those who were chosen by the people were officially elected, we have sat around watching them squabble like children, unable to pick their teams in a way that made anyone happy. They’ve racked up a whopping 1.75 million (and growing) wages bill – and that’s just the TDs – for their playground politics. Keep that figure in mind when you see the next one I give you – a proposed cut of 12 million from the 35 million budget ring fenced for mental health services. In our already fractured mental health system, the government is prioritising other things and taking funds away from helping some of the most vulnerable people in our society. I’m angry.
To kick off this blog series all about mental health experiences by parents, I’ve got a blogger whose telling of her experiences was not only inspiring to me during my darker days of PND, but also to many others, resulting in her win of Best Blog Post in the Blog Awards Ireland 2014. Karen, who writes at Beating Myself Into A Dress, describes her experience with depression in such a relatable way, and is a fantastic advocate for mental illness in Ireland today.
I’ve written before a few times on this blog about my struggles with mental health, and in particular with postnatal depression. It’s a topic which is very close to my heart and something which I am passionate about. It’s something I feel is coming a long way in our little country, and in the world as a whole – certainly in contrast with ten years ago it seems that the stigma is certainly decreasing – but there is still a long way to go.
I’ve written before on here about my C-Section, about being a caesarean section mother and about the opinions others may have on the topic. However, looking over my C-Section story which I’d put up here the other night I realised that I’d left a lot of the details up. That piece was initially published as an interview for a different website and so it wasn’t fully fleshed out. So, I got to thinking, and now have the full 35 hour long ordeal of fun which ended one era and started another. Since April is Caesarean Awareness month in the UK, I thought it was a good time to share my experience.
I’ve been down this road before, I know. This is not my first rodeo with battling with my weight. I’ve documented on this blog my previous foray into Weight Watchers after the birth of E, but after a few months where I had lost weight, I was bored, I fell off the wagon, I vowed to never eat slimbo breads again. In the mean time, medication changes and increased pain causing less ability to exercise. With my back injury, I’m not really able to do much workout things at the moment – and classes like Zumba are a long way down the road. To be fair, the chocolate biscuit addiction was of my own accord, as was the disaster that was mixing the child’s birthday (multiple cakes) and Easter weekend. Weight piled back on. However, I had an epiphany in the last two weeks where I decided that this was it, I was setting myself a goal of not being this way by the time I turn 25 in September. So off I headed to my local Slimming World, and here’s how I got on.
So, here we are again, mid-week, trying to get to the weekend in one piece. That is until we remember that we’re parents now, so the weekend really isn’t a chance to relax, more to manage the chaos around us in a slightly more relaxed setting. In order to get over the midweek hump, I’m putting together a look at what I’ve been loving lately to boost some positivity around here. I’ve used the format of My Little Loves from CoffeeWorkSleepRepeat a few times and it’s worked quite well, so time to join in that bandwagon again and add to the fun!
By now, you’ll have heard that Donald Trump is running for President of the United States of America. Unless you’ve been living under a rock (in which case, lucky you), you’ll have observed that his campaign has been brash, offensive, and discriminatory in just about every way possible – racism, sexism, and a whole pack of incitement to hatred thrown in for good measure. Recently, he made a statement which caught my eye more than the others – and given the dramatics he’s come out with, that is really saying something. Upon being interviewed in Wisconsin lately, he statedÂ that women who seek abortion should be subject to â€œsome form of punishment.â€ Media uproar ensued. Women’s rights activists lamented and shouted. Here in Ireland, we looked on at the potential new leader of a world superpower condemning his country to our current state: where women’s choice in their reproductive rights is limited and intrinsically linked with the opinions of people whose lives it will never affect.
This month, on the 24th of April, every household in Ireland will be filling out the census form. They’ll document every little detail about every person in the house that night – details of education, employment, religion, earnings, practically everything except for what they have for breakfast. This happens once every five years and gives the government information which they can then use to develop policies and allocate funds for development of things like schools, community amenities and various other schemes to improve society. It gives the state an honest picture of what it’s citizens look like. That is why I am finding it important to ensure my census form has the “No Religion” box ticked.
I’ve never been very good at this hair and beauty thing, it’s not something which came naturally to me as a teenager, or through my college years. After having my son, I felt it became more important to appear to the outside world that I had it all together, and so I started to focus on my appearance more. As any mother knows, a baby/toddler can wreak havoc on the amount of solo time you’ve got – going to the bathroom alone is considered a luxury so spending an hour on hair and beautyÂ isn’t exactly an option. However, I’ve discovered a few products in the last while which have been game changers – quick, easy and effective – what more could you want?
Happy April, it’s the first of the month, and the Internet is filled with April Fools jokes. Some better than others, admittedly, but this is not one of those posts. Instead, I’m sitting looking out at the horrible rain outside and planning all of the lovely television I can catch up on with Netflix this month. Who needs to head outside in this weather when there’s so much to catch up on?
It isn’t something I write about often, my pain. Mostly because I don’t want to make this blog about my parenting journey into an eternal journal of whinging, but also in a slight denial aspect that if I don’t say it exists then it might go away any day now. That’s not been a successful venture yet, so I’m led to wonder what can be the harm of being honest in this, my little spot of the Internet. For the past two years, I have been parenting with chronic pain.
I officially have a two year old. I’m in a little bit of shock how quickly it’s come around – he’s no longer my teeny tiny baby, dependent on me for absolutely everything. Still a short arse, just one with a big personality and an independent mind. It doesn’t feel like a whole two years have passed since the day he was born.
Last month I got an email which excited me greatly – I was being asked to be part of Irish Country Magazine’s Women of Ireland 2016 series, in a piece about motherhood and parenting in modern Ireland. Never mind that, there was mention of hair and makeup and getting dolled up for a glam photoshoot – I was sold! It’s now hit the shelves and I’m really happy with how it turned out.
There’s been a lot in the media in the last few days about Jamie Oliver. Having struck a victory over the addictive substance infiltrating young people worldwide (sugar) with the incoming sugar tax in the UK, he wasn’t one to rest on his laurels. While announcing another new addition to the Oliver clan (this will be their fifth child), Jamie Oliver stated in a radio interview that he would look to campaign about the benefits of breastfeeding babies as to hopefully increase the numbers of breastfeeding mothers in the UK. His comments, in particular his description of the task as “easy”, have seen him slated around the various social media outlets and certain publications – he is being demonised for “mansplaining” breastfeeding to women who know better.
But you know, I think he has a point, and his use of the word “easy” isn’t what you should be getting angry about. (more…)
The child will be two on Thursday, full on toddler mode, though on any given day he’s going on 15. He’s become a lot more vocal in the last few weeks, definitely a lot more assertive about what he does and doesn’t want, and knows how to communicate these needs to you. Loudly. Repeatedly. Alongside a chorus of “Mam. Mam. Mam”. Family have been asking for ideas for birthday gifts for him, to which I’ve really been drawing a blank (what do you give the toddler who has a tonne of toys he likely forgets he owns?), but then I started thinking about all the things he’s made sure I know he wants over the last week…
Are you familiar with Paw Patrol? Chances are, if you’ve got a child under the age of five who has been introduced to a television or Netflix account, you’ll at least be familiar with the theme tune. By familiar, I mean it’s stuck on a loop in a part of your brain that nothing else can quite reach to get it out of there (I’ve contemplated bleaching it out. Surely that will work?). For those of you who haven’t become familiar with the show that has taken over our lives as we know them, Paw Patrol is a Canadian animation broadcast in 126 countries, based on the premise of a pack of dogs who, under orders of the questionably aged boy with lots of technology at his disposal, go about saving the rather questionable townspeople from themselves. In our house, the combination of dogs plus fire engines (that would be the aptly named Marshall) was fated to be a winner.
I, like the rest of the Nation, was heartbroken to find out that the series of Room to Improve ended last Sunday night after just four new builds. I’d grown used to watching unsuspecting couples see their homes turn from ordinary, unsuitable for their needs houses to complete money pits with problems up to their ears, and then into magnificent mansions with ALL of the light. He loves a good window, does Dermot Bannon.
The show has gotten me inspired though, as to what kind of things I’d like to have in my dream house. Much as I love our apartment, as modern and insulated as it is, the dream is to have a house with more than two bedrooms, with space to fit everything we own into that doesn’t look like a mess of clutter. Not much to ask for, right? I may have resorted to Pinterest of late, inspired by the huge amounts of light, beautiful mezzanines and kitchens to die for (maybe not the concrete wall though. That’s a step too far). Here’s what I’ve had in mind. (This may have taken up a lot of hours of dreaming about the house that could be. Oh yes, that’s why it’s not exactly gone up on Friday…)