Parenting

Living with chronic conditions (Hannah’s Story)

Hello! 👋🏼

The next few blog posts are going to be solely about other people living with chronic conditions or chronic pain. I recently set out to reach out to people through my Instagram (@secretlifeofananxiousmum) to find people who are, like myself, also living with a chronic condition or chronic pain in the hopes that they would be ok to share their story on my blog. I feel very passionately about this “project” because I truly believe it will help others who read this. It’ll help other people living with a chronic condition/pain by showing them and reassuring them that they are certainly not alone in their suffering, other people out there all over the world are also living with a chronic condition. It’ll also help those people out there who aren’t suffering with a chronic condition or chronic pain because it’ll help to educate them a bit more on the subject so that if they ever need to they can help people living with a chronic condition or pain. 😊

I’m sorry it’s taken so long to start posting these amazing stories onto my blog. I’ve had a hectic few weeks, mentally, emotionally and physically! If you follow my blog or my Instagram you’ll already know that I suffer with depression, anxiety and I live with severe chronic back pain which I have to take prescribed painkillers for on a daily basis. (I talk about this a lot on my Instagram and a blog post explaining my chronic pain will be posted soon)

Sometimes I will go through phases (usually a few weeks at a time) where my back pain will get really bad and my mental health will take a tumble and I just need a few weeks to recover and get myself back on track 😊 if you suffer with depression you’ll completely relate to me on this one – it becomes too damn tricky to concentrate on anything long enough. I haven’t had the mindset whatsoever over the last few weeks to properly sit down and write on my blog, the concentration went out the window and unfortunately that’s a big symptom of depression and a very common one too! I’m feeling a little better now, still not 100% but I’m definitely on my way there, so I decided to kick myself up the butt and get posting this amazing story from a fellow chronic-condition-sufferer.

These next few blog posts I would like to completely dedicate to the heroes who wrote them and shared their stories with me. None of this is my doing, none of this is me, it’s all completely them. If it wasn’t for these amazing people, I wouldn’t have a blog post in the first place. This is all down to the bravery of these people and these people only who share their story hoping to help, reassure, support & educate others.

My first story is written by a woman named Hannah. (Instagram: @reframingbirth) Here is her story:


Exhausted. In agony. Can’t think straight. Constantly anxious. No sleep. Too much sleep. Can’t move. Don’t want to move. That is where it all started.  For as long as I could remember, this was the life I was living. I must have been around 10 years old when I first realised I felt awful. Cue back and forth to the doctors, being told I was just growing and had anxiety. Referral to CAMHS who told me it wasn’t anxiety and back to the drawing board. This must have gone on for 4 years. Shit got real when I was going to the doctors atleast once a week, to try to get some help. The pain was making me bed-bound, I’d sleep for over 12 hours at night and nap during the day, barely doing anything at all and skipping school constantly due to how awful I felt. My first glimmer of hope was upon meeting a nurse practitioner, who did a lot of tests and told me I had very low vitamin D levels. Okay great, I had a course of supplements and that went up to a normal level. Did I feel better? NO. So I went back. She then mentioned the f word. I’d been suspecting it for a while, I’d researched it and it sounded right. She then told me she had it too. Fibromyalgia. The illness with no cure, little medical research and barely any clinical guidelines. Great. So then I waited. Enduring this pain, fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues, anxiety. 31st March, 2015. The day I was diagnosed. Aged 17. 7 years since it all began. It was a no brainer for the rheumatologist. I hit all of the tender points, had all the symptoms and arthritis was ruled out by a blood test. So we had the name. What the hell do I do now? They referred me to the pain clinic, who told me I was too young for this and discharged me. I was told to take co-codamol, but only the strength you can buy over the counter, which I’d been having religiously anyway. I went gluten and dairy free, which did help, I’ll give it that. But I was still in agony, trying to do my A Levels. Barely attending sixth form, thank goodness for supportive tutors. My parents didn’t know what to do. My friends didn’t get it. No one got IT. So, back to the nurse practitioner. She decided to send me for a pelvic ultrasound to rule out anything that could be causing issues there. Surprise surprise, all clear. Back to the drawing board. This backwards and forwards with different tests, scans and no support went on for another year. Until one day.  April 2016. I was still at college and I had a place to study midwifery, starting in the September. I was sitting there in a lesson and my whole body just went numb. I couldn’t move. My pupils were dilated, my heart rate was through the roof. Straight to hospital and that is where I stayed. They ruled out MS, did loads more tests and concluded..migraine. These episodes happened frequently and I have had 4 further hospital admissions due to them since. September 2016. I started uni. How? Living off the strongest codeine, tramadol and a cocktail of various other things. To be honest, things were ok at this point. I mean, the pain was still there and I was tired as hell, but I had a goal. I didn’t want to give it up, so I just carried on. Faking the smile, wanting to cry. Time went by and I was still trying to find answers, but it all came back to ‘you have fibromyalgia – deal with it.’ By the end of the year, my heart was causing me some issues. Symptoms such as palpitations, dizziness, nausea, fainting. It kept happening.  I found an amazing doctor. He was willing to try anything. We started trialling drugs. Gabapentin, amitriptyline, naproxen, pregabalin. Unfortunately, none of them worked very well, but he believed there was something happening. He got me. We did more blood tests and my liver function was not good. I’m guessing due to all the painkillers, but he wanted to investigate that too. Then stuff messed up with the doctors surgery and he left. My one chance, I felt shattered. Wanted to give up and entered a state of depression. I almost left uni,but needed that drive to get through.  We’ll fast forward again to January 2018. This is all still going on. The pain is severe, but my worst symptoms now are with my heart and digestive system. I had 3 more hospital admissions. They were questioning everything. They were taking me seriously. I saw a gastroenterologist who did an endoscopy and colonoscopy. I saw a cardiologist, had an echo, heart monitor for a week and we finally found some ‘proper’ problems.  Firstly, my stomach is severely inflamed. Possible crohns. Waiting for biopsy results to confirm, but for now, medicated to try to reduce it.  Secondly, my heart. Supraventricular tachycardia. It goes too fast for no reason, which is the cause of the episodes of numbness, fainting etc, previously classed as ‘migraine’. The echo also queried a hole in my heart which should have closed when I was a baby, so I’ll be going to a specialist unit next month to have a cardiac MRI. For now, bisoprolol is my friend. The cardiologist said he would never prescribe this for someone my age, but my heart is ‘out of control’. It is nice to see someone who understands.  Me, I’m ok. The drugs are kind of working. I don’t want to be on them, but they let me get out of bed in the morning. I think it is a mindset thing too, I have worked hard with mindfulness and reducing anxiety. I’m still studying and will qualify as a midwife in September 2019. I’m running my own business, teaching hypnobirthing to expectant mothers. I am holding down this job, I have never been able to work before. Don’t get me wrong, it is hard work, doing all of this. But I just can’t sit here doing nothing, in self pity that I’ll never be normal. I know my limits. People around me know my limits and I do what I can. I work from home. I sleep when I want. I work short shifts and no nights. I do what I can and I am happy for the first time in 10 years. I know I still have a long way to go and there will be many bumps in the road, but for the moment, I am able to function and I couldn’t be more grateful. I realise that so many people with fibromyalgia are completely debilitated with no quality of life and trust me, I have been in that place and expect to be at any time, but there is definitely hope.


A huge thank you to Hannah for sharing her story on my blog in the hopes to help others suffering with chronic conditions. ❤️

Parenting

Genius lazy parenting hacks everyone needs to know!

Hello fellow parents, or parents-to-be, who have clicked on my blog especially to read this post because, like I was, you’re desperate to find easier and quicker ways of doing things. Just because I’m writing, and you’re reading, a blog post about lazy parenting hacks, that doesn’t make any of us lazy parents. Let’s throw that misjudgement from others, or guilty feeling from ourselves, out the window before we start. No matter how much we love our children and no matter how much time, effort and energy we put into bonding with our little ones and raising them as best we can, we ALL definitely have our moments where we just wish there were easier and quicker ways of doing some things. This is where this blog post will come in handy 😊

Over the last 8 years I have picked up on (and maybe even invented – if anyone else out there hasn’t already beat me to it without realising yet) a ton of genius lazy parenting hacks. I’m not a lazy parent but I have my lazy moments where I think to myself “ugh, how could I make this situation a little bit easier and quicker so that I don’t have to do quite as much work?” 😂 who else admits they do this too? I feel for you! This post is especially for parents like us! (And there’s A LOT of us)

Before I list some of my favourite parenting hacks I would first like to state that some of these hacks I picked up from friends and/or family, and some of these hacks I thought of by myself, however, I am aware that there can of course still be people out there who have also thought of something the same or similar as I have. I’m not taking credit for any of the hacks below 😊 Some of the photos posted below will be from myself and some will be from other websites, those of which I will state underneath which website they are from.


Lazy hack 1: frozen sandwiches

(photo taken by me)

I’m not the kind of person who enjoys getting up that extra 15 minutes early in the morning to pack my son’s lunch box. I used to do it for a couple of years, but being the kind of person who thoroughly appreciates their sleep and needs a good 8 hours sleep every night (when my son was a newborn, I was a walking zombie!) I don’t really do well with early mornings that require a lot of effort and thinking first thing! I was getting a bit tired (although, mostly just lazy) of getting up a bit earlier than usual in the mornings to make time for making the packed lunches for my son and I, so instead I started not only making our lunches the night before and putting them in the fridge ready to take out the next morning seconds before we leave the house, but I started making our sandwiches for the week and putting them in the freezer. I make 5 portions each of sandwiches (enough for both of us from Monday – Friday) wrap them in cling film or pop them into a sandwich bag and I put them in the freezer. When you take them out first thing in the morning (around 6:30am usually) they will be defrosted and completely ready, safe and yummy to eat by lunchtime. This way, the sandwiches are safe to keep in the freezer for up to 4-6 weeks. Granted, I don’t do this every week because sometimes, believe it or not, I don’t mind making them individually the evening before school 😂 but if I’m having a week where I’m feeling extra lazy and sleepy (usually when my anxiety and depression flares up) I will make the sandwiches the week before and put them all in the freezer! 😊

This hack was a self-taught one, but if you also do this or know anyone else who does this, give me a little thumbs up in the comment section so I can meet some fellow sandwich-freezers!


Lazy parenting hack 2: yoghurt lollies

(photo taken by me)

This one is already a pretty popular one in my family and we’ve been doing this for years! But there are still a lot of parents I talk to who have never thought of doing this when I mention it to them so I just had to share it again because of all this hot weather we’ve been having at the moment. If your children are anything like my son, then they will spring it on you last minute that they fancy an ice lolly because it’s hot. There were many instances when Ben would suddenly come up to me and say “mummy, please can I have an ice lolly because my mouth and throat are hot from the sun?” hmmm nice try, Ben! This kid makes up the strangest excuses for things 😂 but, nonetheless, I would always sympathise because it was usually always boiling hot outside when he would ask me for an ice lolly and me being my typical self I would usually forget to buy ice lollies on my food shop. This is where I would often realise we had no ice lollies in the freezer, BUT, we had tons of yoghurts in the fridge that I could adapt to make into perfectly yummy ice lollies. Me being in my lazy mood, I wouldn’t want to get in the car and drive all the way to the shops and spend a fortune on ice lollies when I had very cheap yoghurts at home that could be frozen in the freezer and eaten as ice lollies. As the picture shows above, simply cut a small hole in the yoghurt lid, insert either a lollipop stick or even a straw, pop them in the freezer for a couple of hours and voila! This hack is perfect for when you’re feeling too lazy to go to the shops OR if you’re a bit skint. In previous summer’s I’ve spent a fortune on ice lollies, quickly becoming skint. “There must be a cheaper way of eating ice lollies?!” I would think to myself, so more recently I’ve been buying super cheap supermarket own-brand yoghurts and freezing them instead. 😊


Lazy parenting hack 3: Measuring feet!

(photo taken by me)

This hack is also something I thought of myself, however, I’m sure others have done it too. Who else HATES taking their children to get their feet measured?! I definitely do! It’s the biggest nightmare, especially when they’re younger. Not only does my son just end up running around the shop knocking stuff off the shelves like a bull in a china shop, but he also used to struggle to sit still for the shop assistant when he was younger. He would cry, he would get angry, he would get impatient and he would get bored. All of which would cause havoc in the shoe shop which wasn’t pleasant or fair for anyone involved. A few years ago I knew I had to buy him a few pairs of new shoes because his feet were growing, and I dreaded taking him to the shoe shop as I knew it would just end up in chaos again. Not only that, but I knew how much my son used to hate it and I didn’t want to ruin his happy mood, so instead I got him to stand bare foot on a piece of paper and I would draw around the outside of his feet (you don’t need to draw around each individual toe) as accurately as I could, left my son at home with relatives and I took that piece of paper to the shop with me, showed it to the shop assistant who then measured the drawn feet 😂 and she was able to tell me not only his shoe size but the width size of his feet too. Perfect! I was in and out in minutes, there was no screaming, everything remained on the correct shelves and I didn’t have a headache by the end of it! The shoes fit him perfectly too when I took them home.


Parenting hack 4: making breakfast

(photo taken by me)

When my son got to about 3-4 years old he became fiercely independent, well he wanted to become fiercely independent. He hated me doing things for him and absolutely insisted on doing things for himself whenever he could, including making his own meals. He asked me one day if he could make his own breakfast and of course I took the opportunity to teach him how to carefully pour the milk into the bowl and how to carefully pour the cereal into the bowl. He nailed it! But he could never reach the bowl from the cupboards high up, and he could never lift the large, heavy carton of milk for himself and this used to really frustrate him that he could make the breakfast himself but just couldn’t get the ingredients himself. So I started putting his dry breakfast in a bowl and popping it on the bottom shelf of the fridge, along with a cup of milk next to it so that every morning he could just go into the fridge, pull out his bowl of cereal and pour the cup of milk into the bowl and viola he has made his own breakfast (in his eyes) this also meant that in the mornings I could leave him to make his own breakfast and eat it, whilst I got other bits and bobs done around the house, saving a lot of time! It’s a winner all around. 😊 which brings me to my next hack…


Parenting hack 5: making a drink

(photo taken from a BuzzFeed post)

As my son’s independence grew, the more he was wanting to do for himself but unfortunately his height wasn’t growing as quickly as his eagerness to do things by himself was. Just like the hack above, my son wanted to make his own drinks but couldn’t reach the cups in the cupboards high up. So instead I put a little magnet on the back of his favourite plastic cup and I stuck it on the bottom half of the fridge, within his reach, so that whenever he wanted to make himself a drink he could simply take the cup from the fridge and pour himself some water from the tap 😊 this meant that I didn’t have to keep going back and forth to the kitchen to make him a drink I knew he could easily make himself. I haven’t got my own photo of this as we don’t do it anymore – my son is now a lot taller and can reach the cups in their cupboards, but I was really glad to have found on another blog that someone else does it too!


Parenting hack 6: wetting the bed

(photo taken from BuzzFeed post)

When I was potty training my son through the night, it proved difficult. During the day, he instantly learnt how to use a toilet and how to hold in his wee wee and poo poo until he reached a toilet. It was great! 1 day of potty training and he was there! However, night time was a completely different story and he quite often wet the bed between the ages of 2 and 4. It got to a point where most nights, in the middle of the night feeling exhausted, I would be turning the bedroom light on, getting my son out of bed and changing the bedsheets which is possibly the worst thing you can do in the middle of the night when you’re super tired. I used to think to myself “how can I make changing the bedsheets as quick and easy as possible?” I was desperate for a quicker solution. And that’s when I thought of the idea pictured above (again, I’m glad other people also do this and I was able to find a picture related to it on BuzzFeed, because I don’t have my own photo) simply put 2 layers of bed sheets on your child’s bed, separated by a big puppy pad (or any other big pad you can find) that way if they wet the bed, all you have to do is take the first sheet and pad off and then the sheet underneath will already be there nice and dry for you 😊 this made changing his bed sheets in the night so much quicker and easier and I no longer dreaded this situation!


Parenting hack 7: bath time

(photo taken from Google images)

Sadly, I don’t have a photo of my own son doing this but it’s something I used to do with him all the time in the bath so that he wouldn’t fall back or try and climb over the top of the bath and climb out.

When my son started sitting up at about 6 months, he wanted to sit up in the bath too, but I quickly realised that he struggled to sit up in the bath and would often fall back which would result in me having to catch him every few minutes so that he didn’t bang his head as he landed and go under water! The thought really worried me. I kept wondering how I could get him to safely stay sat up in the bath without spending a fortune on something from Mothercare or Baby’s’R’Us. That’s when I realised I could put our plastic laundry basket to even better use by putting it in the bath and then letting Ben sit up in it, leaning against it to keep him upright. He used to love sitting and splashing away in the laundry basket at bath time and sitting upright all by himself (in his eyes) and it made bath time that little more enjoyable and a little less stressful! 😊


Parenting hack 8: eating messy ice cream

Sadly, I don’t have a photo for this one and couldn’t find one anywhere online, so I can only assume not many other people do this (or at least don’t post about it) This was a self taught hack because I was sick and tired of Ben making such a mess whenever he ate ice cream in a cone. The ice cream would always melt all down his fingers and then onto his clothes, the floor and the furniture. It was a nightmare! It was shortly after his 3rd birthday party and he still had some paper party plates leftover from his birthday party. My son and I were eating ice cream in cones for pudding one evening, the mess was quickly forming around his face, down his arms, hands and on his clothes and I suddenly had an idea. So I poked a hole in the middle of the paper plate and pushed the ice cream cone through it just enough so that the scoop of ice cream was still sticking out the top for him to eat, but anything that dripped would drip onto the plate 😊 super easy!


Parenting hack 9: sandy feet!

A lot of us will be going to a beach this summer, whether that’s in the UK or abroad, and every single parent and child DREAD the moment the sand has to be wiped off their body 😩 it’s sticky, it’s sore and it’s just a nightmare. It seems no matter how much we scrub the sand with a towel, it doesn’t all come off, especially on our legs and feet – the parts of the body you wish it would come off the most. Recently I found out that if you sprinkle a bit of baby talc powder on the sandy legs and feet and then rubs it off, all the sand comes off so much easier and quicker! Give it a try 😊

(it’s all thanks to this little rascal that I was able to think of these lazy parenting hacks, so a big thank you to him!)

I hope you enjoyed reading through these lazy parenting hacks and try some of them out 😊 let me know how you get on or if you already do some of these!

Lots of love,

Lauren x

Parenting

5 unique ways to de-stress…

If you’re ever feeling and looking like my son pictured above 👆🏼 then you definitely need to keep reading this blog post about my favourite 5 ways to de-stress, and I call them unique because they’re not your typical ways to de-stress. It’s none of that “take deep breathes, get into a relaxing bubble bath, go for a walk in the park” etc. These are ways that genuinely really help me to de-stress when I’m feeling very overwhelmed, lost, stuck, suffocated, hopeless, unorganised and a bit all over the place – you know that kind of stress?! Oh god, the worst kind!! I wanted to share these tips with you in case they also really help you the way they’ve helped me over the years. I first started doing these 5 things to de-stress when I was just 14 years old and at first I didn’t realise that they were ways to de-stress, I didn’t look at it in that way, all I knew was I felt much better after I did them so I continued doing them each time I felt very stressed. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I took a step back and realised that I had been doing the same 5 things whenever I was having a really stressful week/month and not only were they quite unique but they genuinely worked and helped me. So, without further ado, I’m looking forward to sharing this with you!


1.) Re-decorate / re-arrange a room in the house: so this is the one I’ve been doing the longest. I started doing this when I was 14 years old and it started when I had been going through such a horrible few months at school, I was being profusely bullied & beaten up by the School bullies and I was just completely fed up with coming home and feeling depressed in my bedroom. I wanted to be able to come home and de-stress and be in an environment that made me feel safe and happy. My bedroom, at the time, was filled with bad memories of me coming home and crying on my bed for hours because I was sick of being bullied. So every time I went into my bedroom, the whole room just felt very depressed and sad because of those memories. The bad memories had left a sad feel to the room. So I asked my mum if we could re-decorate my room and, luckily, she said yes. We went to Homebase and bought some paint, and then to ikea to order some new furniture (a new bed and wardrobe specifically) by the end of the week my room looked completely different and I no longer felt sad & depressed when I was in it because it no longer looked or felt like my old bedroom that I cried in every day. It was a completely new room and I loved it! It made me feel happy, safe and hopeful. It was like I was starting a fresh! The actual process of decorating and re-arranging a room is therapeutic too. I tend to re-arrange or re-decorate a room about once a year and it keeps me feeling de-stressed, safe and happy 😊 I can’t recommend this enough!


2.) Adult colouring book/dot-to-dot book: A few years ago I was introduced to adult colouring books and adult dot-to-dot books by friends of mine who just did it for fun. And I don’t blame them, it really is fun. So I jumped on the bandwagon and ended up finding that it helped with my anxiety and stress so much more than a lot of other things I have previously tried. It relaxes me so much, and most importantly, it completely takes my mind off of whatever it is I’m currently worrying about or getting stressed and anxious about, because all my focus and concentration is on the colouring / dot-to-dot book. Next thing I know, 2 hours has flown by, I’m still sat on my sofa colouring in, and I’m feeling as relaxed and peaceful as ever. I really can’t recommend it enough.

(Above: my dot-to-dot book that I spent my Saturday morning doing yesterday. The perfect way to de-stress)

3. Watch oddly satisfying YouTube videos: So this one is a good one! I started doing this most recently, about a year ago. I find that if it’s late at night and it’s too late to start re-decorating or colouring in, I get into bed and I watch YouTube videos on my phone. But not just any video, oddly satisfying videos. My most recent favourite is titled “Most Satisfying Soap Cutting” <— click the link to see for yourself 😂

There’s not much I can say on here that will explain just how oddly satisfying AND relaxing these videos are because not only are you watching and listening to something that is pleasing you, but your full focus and attention is suddenly on these videos and you completely forget what you were worrying and stressing about. So it honestly works wonders for me. I’ll just let the videos do the explaining. I’ll post a few links to my favourite videos below (my favourite is the soap video posted in the paragraph above) :

“Try not to get satisfied” 1.3M views

“Very Satisfying Video Compilation Sand Cutting” 298K views

“Top 100 best shredding moments” 20M views


De-clutter the house:

This one is for when you’re so stressed and fed up you almost just want to start all over again. You want to start a fresh. You want to reset! I personally find that the best way to “reset”, or at least get a similar feeling of resetting, is to completely de-clutter my house. It gives me that sense of getting my shit together, starting a fresh, organising the hell out of my life, not just my day. I get 2 big bin bags for each room in the house. 1 bag is for rubbish and junk that I’ll never want to use again and will be no good at a charity shop or selling online. That pile goes in that bag and then into the bin. The 2nd bag is for bits and bobs that I will never use again, but would be good to sell or send to a charity shop. I go around every room and completely de-clutter so that my house feels like a fresh new home, like I’ve reset the house. It’s such a fulfilling feeling and like a weight has been physically lifted off my shoulders once I’ve finished. I can’t recommend this enough! Little tip: be strict with yourself when de-cluttering. Don’t keep anything that you really don’t need or use anymore! I’m a huge hoarder sometimes (hence why I regularly need to de-clutter)


Knitting: Last, but definitely not least, is knitting. Simply, knitting. To anyone who doesn’t knit and has never even picked up knitting needles before, this is definitely for you! Starting a new hobby can be daunting, especially to people who have anxiety and/or depression. A million questions start going through your head. “What if I’m no good at it?” “What if people judge me?” “What if I make mistakes?” If these are the type of questions that go through your head, then this is just proof you definitely need to start knitting. Knitting is one of the most relaxing hobbies ever. Actually, it’s the most relaxing hobby ever. Being able to just simply sit in a quiet room, or even a semi-quiet room with the tv on low in the background for a bit of company (c’mon, admit you do that too!!?) is just so calming and tranquil. It’s even better if it’s a nice day outside and you knit outside. And the best part of this is you don’t even need to be good at knitting to do this, you really don’t. You don’t have to knit a jumper or a scarf. Just knit a square. You don’t need to make a masterpiece at the end of it! Not at all! The whole point of this is to de-stress, it’s the actual movement of your hands whilst your knitting, the gentle clicking sound of the knitting needles tapping against each other, and your mind completely focusing on what you’re doing – that’s the calming part of it, not what the masterpiece is going to look like at the end of it. So if you’re sat there reading this biting your nails and worrying you won’t be any good at knitting..please don’t worry any longer. Simply knit a square 😊 it’s the principal behind the knitting that helps you, not what you’re knitting!

Parenting

Supporting a loved one with mental health issues…(Dustin’s Story)

Hello everyone 👋🏼

Today I’m posting the 3rd interview of “supporting a loved one with mental health issues” and this one is a BIG one! It’s probably the one interview that had me close to tears half way through and my heart broke for the man I was interviewing. Dustin is a man in his early 20’s who is talking openly and honestly about his ex-fiancé who suffered with manic depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. I am so grateful for Dustin opening up to me in the hope to help others who may be going through a similar situation with their loved one and I can’t express how much I respect him for not only sharing his story with us all but for everything he did to support his ex-fiancé through such a traumatic time for them both. Please read the interview below with an open mind, but more importantly, empathy.


My interview with Dustin:

Me: How long have you known the person close to you who suffers with mental health problems?

D: I had known her since we were 15 or so. At 18 we started dating, were engaged at 21, and it ended when I was 23.

Me: How long has this person been suffering with a mental health problem and what do they suffer with?

D: She was initially diagnosed at 20, but we had suspected that something may have been amiss a few years earlier, as thyroid issues and depression both ran in her family. She was diagnosed with manic depressive disorder and bipolar disorder.

Me: When did you first realise they were suffering with mental health problems?

D: At first it started slow. A lack of interest in partaking in anything social, a want to stay in bed all day. Zero motivation to go to work.

Initially when I approached her about it she had just said she was tired a lot and that she “just isn’t up to it”.

Having suffered from depression at the hands of medication in my own past, I recognized these symptoms as being a part of something larger than just fatigue.

After a few talks I had her convinced to get checked out.

Me: What has it been like for you personally being close to someone who suffers with mental health problems?

D: It was hard. I was initially unsure of how to handle it. Unsure of how to comfort her. I was determined, but needed to educate myself. I would’ve moved mountains for her, so I learned that some days, no matter how hard I tried, it was going to be a bad day. I had to learn that it wasn’t my fault if I couldn’t cheer her up or comfort her.

I had to learn how to cope with her lack of interest in everything around her, and some days, even a lack of interest in me. It broke my heart, but I hid it well. It wasn’t about how I was feeling, to me at least. It was about making life as comfortable and tolerable for her as possible.

Eventually, nothing was enough. There were three suicide attempts, and she was admitted to a mental health facility by her family. This family also blamed me as being the cause of her depression.

After this, she stopped taking her medication against her doctors wishes, and got violent. On more than one occasion I fell victim to physical abuse at her hands, and after one particularly bad night, I ended it.

I realized that no matter what I did, I couldn’t be her saviour. I realized I had to put myself first for a change. Making her “better” wasn’t in my control, and she wasn’t in control of herself. I called off our wedding, and ended our relationship. That’s, for the most part, the last time I talked to her aside from a brief stint where she was in the mental health facility again and reached out to me to talk to her because she felt I was the only one who could ever get through to her.

Me: If you could give any advice to someone else out there who’s close to someone with mental health problems, what would it be?

D: My advice would be to support them however and whenever you can, but to put your own health first. If a situation becomes too much to handle, or even dangerous as mine was, there is no shame in getting out.


A big thank you to Dustin for telling us his story ❤️

Parenting

FUN and CHEAP places to go with kids this summer..

(My son and I strawberry picking at Boxted Farm)

Hello everyone! 👋🏼

The weather over the last 2 months has been SHOCKING to say the least. Hot, sunny weather every single day, not a drop of rain, England did well in the World Cup, Love Island is on, everyone is happy and in a good mood – what the hell is going on, England?! I thought summers like these were just a myth in England! Weather like this brings great opportunity to take your little ones out to enjoy the weather and have some fun family time together. Today, I wanted to write a post about a few of my favourite things to do with my son in this warm weather, based in England 😊 so, below, I’ll be listing just a few things we enjoy doing.


McLauchlan’s of Boxted Farm, Essex:

My son is getting to an age now where I sometimes have to bribe him to leave the house 😂 but once he’s out of the house and doing things, he absolutely loves it! Last weekend, for example, I took my son berry picking at a local farm called “McLauchlan’s of Boxted Farm” in Essex. The weather was beautiful and the berries were so juicy and yummy!! It’s not too expensive either, very reasonable. Upon arriving at the berry farm, you grab a box or two and make your way around the farm picking a variety of summer fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants and even broad beans!

The farm is open from 9am – 6pm seven days a week and there’s no fee for picking the fruit, you just simply pay for the fruit you’ve picked at the end when you weigh it at the Farm Shop 😊 the Farm Shop also sells other fruit that isn’t currently growing on their farm along with jam and cream. Below is a link to the website if you’re interested! I definitely recommend.

McLauchlan’s of Boxted Farm


Frinton-on-sea:

This wide, sandy beach and seaside town is one of my new favourites! It’s located in Essex and it’s not too touristy or commercialised either and prides itself in being a quiet, family resort. The seaside town is a few minutes walk away from the seafront and has lots of lovely little shops and cafe’s/restaurants. The BEST thing about this beach (from a parent’s perspective) is the fact that there’s nothing on the beach/sea front that children can ask for and nothing that will distract children. I hate it when I take my son to a beach and right on the sea front there is sweet shop after sweet shop, arcades galore and ice cream vans everywhere! Don’t get me wrong, I love a seaside town to have all of those things, but not right on the seafront, mainly because otherwise all it does is distract the children all day. Frinton-on-sea has a lovely quiet and empty seafront so that the kids can play and swim on the beach for hours undistracted and my son’s full attention will be on building sandcastles and paddling in the sea instead of seeing the flashing lights and music from the arcades from the corner of his eye every few seconds and the smell of sweets and ice cream 😊 all in all, this promises a great family day out.


St Nectans Glen:

(photos taken on my trip to St Nectans Glen, 2016)

Based in Cornwall, this is nature at its finest. There isn’t much I can say about St Nectans Glen that will do it justice or truly explain how beautiful it all is. It’s truly magical. I’ll let the website do the talking and persuading (although it won’t take much persuading) it really gives you that fairy feeling, as if fairies could totally live in St Nectans Glen for real!! It’s really THAT magical. This would be great to take your little ones to if they enjoy nature.

I visited St Nectans Glen at the end of 2016 and have been desperate to go back ever since. Below is a screen shot of a page from the website describing exactly what St Glens is and what you will see and experience there, along with the link to the main website. Please check this out, I highly recommend 😊

St Nectans Glen website <– click here ❤️


Black Park:

(Above, photos of one of my many trips to Black Park with my family)

Black Park has long been a favourite place of mine to go when the weather is nice since I was a small child myself. Black Park is located in South Bucks and covers 500 acres of woodland. With free admission, and only a small fee to pay for parking, it’s the perfect place to take your kids and the dogs too. It has family friendly attractions such as a big adventure playground and Go Ape! It has a huge lake where you can feed the ducks or even take a little remote controlled boat for a spin! There are often people fishing by the lake too. With miles of woodland tracks and trails, it brings plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting. 😊 Black Park is also situated right next to Pinewood Studios and is great for celebrity-spotting due to the park often being used for movie sets such as the Harry Potter films. I can’t count on both my hands, or on the hands of all my relatives and friends, the amount of times I’ve gone to Black Park and I’ve had my fair share of picnics there as well. It’s perfect for a family day out in the warm weather. If you forget to bring a picnic or would prefer a cooked meal, that’s completely fine because there’s a lovely cafe in the park serving hot and cold food and drink. 😊

(A photo I recently took of an area in Black Park where some scenes in Harry Potter were filmed)

I hope you liked the look of a few of my favourite cheap and fun places to take my son in the warm weather. Where are your favourite places to take your kids in the summer? Comment below or head over to my Instagram (@secretlifeofananxiousmum) and tell me there! ❤️

Lots of love,

Lauren x

Parenting

WTF WEDNESDAY

Hello 👋🏼

As you’ll already know if you’ve been following my blog, most Wednesday’s I try and write a “WTF Wednesday” post on the blog about my most WTF moments so far as a parent 😂 we all have them, sometimes they’re hilarious and sometimes they’re infuriating but we all have them! When we had a baby we automatically signed up for this for the rest of our lives! There’s no avoiding them. My WTF moment today is something that literally just happened and I’m still giggling away about it.

This WTF moment involves a very annoying little game called Fortnite! FYI, before I carry on with this post, I would just like to salute any other parent out there who has also lost a child to this bloody game!! My 8 year old son has become addicted to the extent I now have to regularly monitor him on it and limit his time on it!

Earlier today, my son approached me and politely asked if he could have some money to buy some vbucks. (Vbucks is like fortnite currency for money you spend on Fortnite in order to buy things on there such as new characters etc. E.g. 800 vbucks is roughly around £8) I told him no because I don’t have enough money. I explained to him that if he did really well at school for the rest of the term and did his chores around the house then he could have some money for vbucks in the summer holidays. He accepted this answer (or so I thought) and went back to his bedroom. Now, before I talk about the next bit, which is the funny bit, I’ll explain that on my son’s 8th birthday my partner and I gave him a phone. Mainly so that he could play on it instead of always playing on ours and also so that he could FaceTime his family who he doesn’t get to see often and his old friends from where we used to live who he always rarely gets to see anymore. So far, he’s only ever used his phone for those purposes 😂 until today! (His phone is closely monitored by me.)

My son then secretly text my mum from his phone asking if he could have some money for vbucks, probably knowing that she would never say no to him, and inevitably she said yes! He then came running to me all excited and said “yay!! Nanny just said she would give me some money for vbucks! She is transferring £8 to you now and I’ve just bought some vbucks!” A big part of me was angry at the cheek of him for doing this without telling me. But a small part of me was trying so hard not to laugh. It was one of those moments where I had to pretend I needed the toilet so I could go and giggle in the bathroom without him seeing me 😂 that was when I whispered to myself “wtf!?”. Like I said, most of me was angry at him, but a small part was impressed with his thinking skills to ask his grandparents instead of me because he knew they’d never say no! 😂 Kid is going places.

It’s safe to say, my son won’t be going on Fortnite for a little while so he learns his lesson. I explained to him that what he did was naughty and he mustn’t ever do it again. He told me he was sorry and explained he didn’t realise it was naughty. 😂 let’s hope he learns his lesson!

If you’ve got any WTF parenting moments with your little ones please feel free to leave them in the comments below or head over to my instagram (@secretlifeofananxiousmum) and share them with me on there. I would love to read them 😊

Lots of love to you all,

Lauren ❤️

Mental Health

Supporting a loved one with mental health issues (Alex’s Story)

Hello everyone 👋🏼

I hope everyone had a lovely, stress-free weekend. If you’ve been following my blog then you’ll remember my previous posts about interviewing people who suffer with mental health issues AND interviewing partners of people with mental health issues so that we can get a really true, honest and accurate idea of what it’s really like to be in the world of bad mental health. I have had the privilege of interviewing some absolutely wonderful and beautiful people who have been brave enough to confide in me and let me interview them about the struggles of either suffering with mental health issues themselves or being the partner of someone suffering. I can’t thank these people enough for their bravery and honesty. I hope to raise more awareness about mental health issues. Mental health is so important and it DOES matter – even more so than physical health. Suffering with a mental illness is a disease of the brain, it is not your fault (or your partners fault) the brain can malfunction just as much as any other organ in the body and mental health really needs to be taken more seriously in my opinion. I hope you enjoy reading the interview below. This interview is with a man called Alex who talks openly and honestly about his partner suffering with postnatal depression and how they deal with it as a family – they have 2 young children.


My interview with Alex:

Me: How long have you and your partner been together?

A: 6 years

Me: When did you first realise your partner was suffering with mental health problems?

A: I first thought there was something  wrong when she had Scarlett and struggled to connect with her, I always new that Lauren was still struggling with deaths in her family but I didn’t know much about mental health so just always thought she was in a bad mood or just had a bad attitude, but when she couldn’t connect with Scarlett between the two of us we did a lot more research and realised she may be depressed and have symptoms of post natal illness.

Me: What has it been like for you personally being with someone who suffers with mental health problems?

A: it was really hard, I could see the woman I loved behind this angry, possessive person that was just always in a mood for what seemed like no reason, I felt like I was constantly on egg shells and at any moment anything I said or did would make her cry or lose her temper and that would result in a fall blown argument, I didn’t understand depression, I couldn’t see what was going on inside her head so I would just push and push for answers which made things worse.

Me: How have you supported your partner?/what do you try and do to support your partner?

A: when Lauren was finally diagnosed  with depression I spent a lot more time trying to understand it, and what I realised is that some days it didn’t matter what I said or did – if the black cloud was over her head nothing would make it go away, so rather than trying to cheer her up or get angry at her I would leave her to it and go find something to do around the house, I started to help out a lot more with day to day jobs and just try and take a bit of stress away from her, I’ve never been the best at house work but I try. I was just there for her and would listen rather than speak. 

Me: If you could give any advice to someone else out there who’s in a relationship with someone with mental health problems, what would it be?

A: I think the advice I could give is just do everything you can to make their day easier, if you can take the kids out for the day and give them time to themselves it may mean that week is just better, if you can cook dinner or do the chores it means they can have time to themselves. And most importantly don’t push them or get angry if they don’t tell you what the matter is and why they’re so sad or angry or really hyper on some occasions because what I have found with Lauren is most of the time she has no idea why, a black cloud hit her and that’s it she’s out for the day so me in her face asking “what have I done?” just make it ten times worse.


A huge thank you to Alex for being honest in his answers during this interview. ❤️