ME and my Mental Health

I make no secret of the fact that I have had (and still do suffer) Mental Health issues. Much of this stems from events in my life and also from having a parent that suffered from an array of mental health issues. Sometimes conditions like depression are learnt behaviour, particularly if you are exposed to it at a young age.

I have had plenty of ups and downs in my life. But I don’t dwell on them or live with regrets. Everything I have encountered has made me who I am today. And I am happy with who I am now. Ten years ago I lived in denial and if anyone had asked I would never had said I had a troubled or difficult upbringing. I didn’t want anyone to think I was weak. But now I can look back admit and accept that there were certain people and events in my life that contributed to mental health issues. Mine ranged from low-self esteem, no self-confidence, a need to please, OCD, Depression, Post Natal Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder etc. The list is long. But I am one of life’s “doers” so I just battled on and got on with things.

My reason for writing this post is because a Mindfulness challenge I am taking part in on Instagram led me to think about ME and who I am. What or Who shaped me. So I thought I would put together a post about things that have shaped my mental health. Writing journals like this is good therapy for those of us that have metal health issues. And although my life is calmer and for the most part I am free from the restraints that having this type of illness cause, and it is an illness. It is important to always be aware of your mental state and ensure that you still continue with anything that offers therapy.

This is also by no means a post to facilitate pity from people. That is absolutely the last thing someone like me wants. It is to show that no matter how hard life can be and how low you feel there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I love the life I have now. I am happy and content and even if life does throw me a curve ball I know that I can cope.

So here are ten things that have affected my mental health at some point in my life.

1. I am the product of teenage parents. My Mum was only 16 when I was born and my Dad 17. They had known each almost a year to the day when I arrived in the world. A shotgun wedding took place 10 days after my Mum’s 16th Birthday (yes she was only 15 when I was conceived) and for the first year of my life we all with my Grandparents until a small council flat became our home. Neither my Mum or Dad were ready to be parents. Both were pretty immature for their age and had plenty of emotional baggage from their own difficult childhoods. I have had plenty of conversations with my Dad in the last year about this and he admits they didn’t have a clue when I was born. My two sisters and brother came along in quick succession. My childhood wasn’t all bad but at a very young age I realised that my Mum suffered from pretty severe mood swings. I learnt to be “good” to keep quiet and make sure I helped out as much as possible. I did well at school and by the time I was 12 I was looking after my siblings and cooking the evening meal on a daily basis. I grew up quickly and became a “parent” to my siblings at a very young age.

2. My Mum suffered from mental illness. I didn’t know the full extent of her illness until I was in my 30’s. Growing up I thought my Mum was moody. I also thought she didn’t love me. She favoured my siblings even into my adult life this was noticeable by most people. We did not have a Mother-Daughter bond which meant that I had no real maternal influence in my life. Probably why I always say I am a better Dad than I am a Mum. My Mum would often take to her bed for days on end and sometimes disappear altogether. Leaving us children to be shipped off to various relatives for a couple of days at a time. This was actually my respite. I would stay with my Grandparents, where I had my own room and felt loved. During my teenage years I started to spend more and more time at my Grandparents homes. Sometimes up to a month at a time. I have vivid memories of my Dad turning up to take me home and I would burst into tears at the thought of going back with him. I loved living with my Grandparents and actually was much closer to them than I was my parents. I preferred the company of adults and had very few female friends (even though I went to an all girls school). I didn’t realise until I had children myself how much of an impact this had on my life.

3. I was bullied at school. I was one of a small number of “council estate” girls who went to the all girls Grammar School I attended. The first couple of years were ok. My best friend was a girl from my Primary School and we spent a lot of time together. But sadly she died in a car accident when we were 13 years old. I then had to try and make new friends, which was not easy particulary for someone who did not have a lot of self-confidence. Anyone who has been to an all girls school will know how bitchy it can be. It’s a very competitive environment. I did join a group of girls but as I suffered from low-self esteem I soon became an easy target for being picked on and “being sent to Coventry”. This is the worst kind of bullying. I felt isolated at school and lonely at home. I would shut myself away in my room and cry. I think this is the point where I became insular. I am still like this a little. I revel in my own company and having my own space. I never told anyone about the bullying. Certainly not my Mum. The last thing I wanted would be to cause my Mum any stress or upset. She could not cope with stuff like that so I just got through the last couple of years as best I could. I left school at 16 and got myself a job in London. This was my first sense of Freedom and where I discovered that work was my happy place. I have always excelled at work and since having a Saturday job at 14 I have always worked.

4. I settled down early to escape living at home. I met my ex-husband at 17. It wasn’t love at first sight. We worked in the same Nightclub at weekends and were part of a group from work who used to go out socialising. We were friends who became a couple over a period of time. We got on well as friends. But we were both trying to escape from unhappy homes and moved in together after two years together. Over the following eight years we followed the path that was expected of us at that time. Engagement, marriage and a couple of children. We had a very volatile relationship. If I am honest I should have left many years before I did. I wanted to. But by being married with children I was living up to my Mum’s expectations. And all I ever wanted to do was please her. My ex-husband also suffered from self-esteem issues but his way of dealing with it was to belittle me. Mostly in public. I understand now it made him feel better about himself. But when I finally left him after 11 years I was damaged. I had not had a social life for years and had absolutely no self esteem or self worth and I only left the house to go to work or to do the food shopping. Thankfully I had my best friend by my side helping me financially, helping me with the kids and getting me out socialising. I do not know what I would have done if it wasn’t for her. She was my rock. My Mum and Dad were nowhere to be seen. They were going through their own break-up and even while I was trying to get my life together I was supporting both of them too and generally playing piggy in the middle. I was dealing with so many problems at this time I fell ill and spent several weeks in bed. Which again saw me sprial into depression and being on anti-depressants.

5. I suffered with severe Post Natal Depression with my first child. I struggled with motherhood and what was expected of me. I was not ready to be a Mum. I’m not sure I was ever ready but when it happened the first time I was shell-shocked. It was a difficult birth and I did not immediately bond with the baby. This led to feelings of guilt. Surely bonding with your newborn baby is natural. That’s what I thought at the time. I now know different. But I fell into pit of depression. It wasn’t the take to your bed and don’t function type of depression. Quite the opposite. I am what is known as a functioning depressive. I got up everyday, did everything I was meant to do. Fed and looked after my child. I went to work, cooked the meals and kept an immaculate house. But inside I felt empty. I was like a robot. This went on for about seven months until I broke down one day at work, in my bosses office. She called the company doctor in who gave me antidepressants and signed me off work for six weeks. I don’t really remember much about what followed but I know I eventaully felt better and went back to work. I also fell pregnant again with my youngest, when my eldest was 11 months old. I felt better about pregnancy and did not suffer with PND this time around. It was an easy birth and he was an easy baby. I had also managed to repair the bond with my eldest although I don’t think it will ever be as strong as it could have been.

6. I was a single parent for 16 years. And I loved every minute of it. I split from my ex-husband when my children were 2 years old and 6 months old. It was the hardest but best decision I ever made. My children grew up in a much better environment than they would have done had I stayed in my marriage. I am not the maternal type. But I am a good parent. I may not have been the cuddly, get down on the floor and play with the kids type of Mum but I did a good job. It suited me being on my own. The kids and I kids shared a close bond. It was us and the world. I continued to work and was lucky to have a good job that allowed me to pay the bills and have the odd treat. We didn’t have a lot in the material sense but I taught my children the value of money and to work work and be independent. Both left home at 18. This wasn’t a sad moment for me. Because they were both leaving to follow their dreams. I am so proud of them. They are the most amazing people. They have also supported me through some rough times. I have always been open with them about my depression and they knew when I was going through a low time. They helped me by being extra loving and helpful. I know this is not something that is considered the norm for your children but it has given both of them an understanding of mental health issues. They are both luckily free from the illness and are self-confident and well-rounded young adults. But they appreciate that this isn’t the case for everyone and they can recognise it in others and be empathetic to those that do suffer.

7. I met my soul mate at the age of 30. Three years after I had split with my ex-husband I felt ready to date again. For the first three years after my marriage break-up I had a lot of problems with my ex-husband. He would not accept the break-up and made life very difficult for me. I also felt guilty for leaving him and taking the children with me so I let him get away with unacceptable behaviour. He would stalk me when I was out and even on one occasion broke into my house and was waiting for me when I came home from a night out. He was verbally, emotionally and physically abusive towards me until one day I stopped feeling guilty, stood up to him and told him that I was going to seek legal advice. He then backed off and started to leave me alone. I felt stronger and more confident after this and when I least expected it I met Alan in a local bar. I felt immediately drawn to him and made the first move to talk to him. From the moment we met we clicked and have now been together for almost 17 years and married for nearly 3 of those . I can’t even put into words the impact Alan has had on my life. I was all over the place when we met. My life was chaos. I was in the process of being made homeless by my private landlord and was placed in the most awful temporary accommodattion by the council. For two months I lived in a cold damp flat on a pretty rough estate. The only person who visited me was Alan. Luckily we were only there for six weeks and on Christmas Eve I moved into a permanant council house which became our home for fifteen years. I handed it back to the Council when I moved out four years ago so that another family in need could have the opportunity of a nice home. Anyway going back to when I met Alan, I was not particurlarly stable emotionally. I was a little unpredictable, unable to relaxand could experience about ten different emotions in one day. In fact I was a nightmare to be in a relationship with but Alan persevered. And thank god he did. Alan bought stability into my life, he is a very calm and solid person and he grounded me. He was the first person to ever really make me feel safe and secure. He has been through many of my up’s and down’s and has been my calming influence. He knows me inside out and understands my mental health issues. He allows me to have the space I need when I am going through a low phase and he goes out of his way to look after me. With him I feel content and complete.

8. I battled early stage cervical cancer. I was 30. I had skipped a previous smear test and when I finally went after 6 years I found out I had abnormal cells. A hospital appointment followed quickly and after a Colposcopy I was told I had early stage cervical cancer. I also found out that I was pregnant at the same time. I had to make the decision to have a termination so that I could go ahead with treatment, which I have never regretted even though there are times I think… What if….. It’s natural to think what an unborn child may have been. They would have been 16 now. I don’t dwell on it. It is a fleeting thought once or twice a year. Anyway after the termination I initially had laser treatment in one specific area of my cervix but at a check-up six months later there was another area of concern so I then had large loop excision of the whole Cervix. No the most pleasant of experiences and quite possibly one of the factors of my early menopause. But I was lucky that the treatment did it’s job and after ten years of six monthly check ups I was officially given the all clear and signed off from the Doctor. This was a frightening time and again I went through this without any support from my family. In fact the day I told my Mum she then went on to have a major drama of her own that saw all the family having to rally round her. This was a regular occurrence in our lives. Birthdays, family celebrations, in fact any event where someone else was the centre of attention would result in my Mum going off the rails and causing a drama so the attention switched to her.

9. My Mum’s death was a turning point in my life. My Mum died 12 1/2 years ago when she was only 52. She committed suicide. I remember the night like it was yesterday. When it happened we had been estranged for a couple of years. Her behaviour had become destructive over the last few years of her life and I had to make a decision to step away from having her in my life because it was having a detrimental affect on my mental health and the lives of my children. When the police called and told us I did not feel sad. In truth I was expecting it. I felt numb at first. I actually felt nothing. We had never had a close relationship. I had managed for 36 years without having a proper Mum in my life and I was very self-sufficient. The turning point came when I came across her diary when we were clearing out her flat. When I read it I found that a lot of what she had written resonated with me. I felt some of the same things. This scared me. I knew that I didn’t want to end up like her. So I sought counselling. I left my job and spent six months as a stay at home Mum. Concentrating on my children and my own well-being. I took a course of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. This was the start of a new life for me. It changed me completely and over a number of years my self-esteem grew and I was able to get my own mental health illness under control. Alan and I often joke about the “old me” and the “new me”. I still seek out self-help books to read and am continually working on managing my mental health. I know that I will always have this illness hanging over me. It will never leave me but I can recognise the symptoms and deal with it so that it doesn’t control me or my life.

10. Leaving London for a life in the Kent Countryside. When my children left home four years ago I finally moved in with Alan, after 13 years together. A year later we were married. That was one of the best day’s of my life. I can’t look at the photo’s without a big smile spreading across my face. Just before our first Wedding Anniversary we moved from an area of SE London that I had lived all my life to start a new life in a Village in Kent. We bought a run down 1950’s Semi which requires completely renovating. But despite the dated interior it is the first house that I feel completly at home in. It reminds me of my Nan’s house in some ways. It has this really cosy feel to it. It is the place I have felt at peace with myself. A couple of months after we moved in I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to apply for a job as a School Business Manager in a local Primary School. A job that I had never done before and more surprising to my family (who know my lack of maternal instinct) it was in a place surrounded by children. I was offered the job on the same day as my interview and I accepted immediately even though it meant taking a substantial pay cut. I have never worked so hard in my life but I absolutely love my job. I was promoted after the first year onto the Senior Leadership Team and rewarded with an impressive pay increase. The Village has become our home, we socialise in the local pub and have made many friends and I also now have a circle of girlfriends that I also socialise with. I still have some minor incidents of mental health illness. Particularly the odd twinge of low-self esteem and Seasonal Affective Disorder. But I am able to quickly combat these with a little self-care. Life will never be perfect but at the moment it is pretty damn close.

Thank you for taking the time to read my mini life story and I hope that it gives you a little insight into mental health illness.

My next step in life is to look at training as a life coach later in the year, using my own experiences to help others. And I am always happy to lend an ear to anyone who needs someone to talk to about their own struggles.

Meanwhile the sun is shining. Enjoy your weekend.

Love
Melanie xxxx

Self Care Sunday 25th February

This week has been a good week for me. I may not have had the time for my usual beauty treats but I have felt relaxed and content even without spending too much time on myself. On Sunday of last week I decided to start a week long alcohol detox. I don’t drink a huge amount and rarely touch spirits but I had noticed that alcohol had crept into my weekday evenings. I had always been a weekend drinker, it used to be because I had kids to ferry around from clubs and friends most nights during the week, so I only ever had a drink on a Friday and Saturday. But since the kids left home and we moved out from London into a Kent Village, we have found that we have the odd midweek trip to the local pub or have a glass or two in the evenings after a busy day at work. My units have been slowly creeping up and last week, when we were both on holiday from work, we drank alcohol almost every day. Whilst I’m not at the stage where I am concerned for my health (my idea of too much is probably less then most people’s) I do know that I don’t sleep as well when I have had a drink and my skin suffers from the dehydration effects of alcohol.

So I started Sunday and woke on Monday morning feeling very refreshed and started the day with a healthy smoothie which contained spinach, lime, avocado, Greek yoghurt, oats and water. Which, I had with my daily supplements. Even though I eat well I still have to take certain supplements everyday due to going through early menopause.

Each morning I take four supplements. Calcium and Vitamin D along with Omega 3, to maintain good bone density and keep my joints nice and supple. I also take Vitamin B12 as this helps combat tiredness and depression and also helps me concentrate. Since going through the menopause I find that I suffer from brain fog sometimes and my Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms are definitely worse if I don’t take the Vitamin B12 or the Vitamin D. I also occasionally take Magnesium if I am going through a period where I have disturbed sleep, which used to be a lot when in was in the middle of going through the menopause, now I am five years post menopause I find I need to take it less frequently, but I still make sure that I have a supply to hand, just in case.

I buy my supplements online at Amazon, I have been using Solgar supplements for about seven years and I find them to be very good quality. They are not the cheapest, in fact I could probably buy what I need a lot cheaper on the High Street, but I know these work for me so I would rather spend a little more.

Solgar Vitamin B12
Solgar Omega 3
Solgar Magnesium Citrate
Solgar Calcium with Vitamin D

I had a busy few days at work this week, which is nothing unusual for me and I found little time in the evenings to switch off. Even so, I stuck to my detox and ate really well this week which left me feeling a lot more energetic, so I had a very productive week at work. My week was made all the better as after months and months of working my backside off I finally had my promotion and pay rise finalised. I was tempted to celebrate with a glass of something bubbly when I got home from work on Thursday, but instead we avoided the pub and I stuck to water with my dinner. A huge achievement. I also got stuck into some more studying, which meant I actually stayed away from social media Thursday evening and most of Friday. I was so busy I didn’t miss it and it was actually quite nice to have a little digital detox.

I think I might start to unplug one night a week now. Especially as I have more studying to do and I want to find time to read some of the books I received at Christmas. I think everyone should try it. Social Media can sometimes become a little all consuming, you feel like you are missing outif you miss a day. I am sure I am not the only one who feels like this. Instagram is both my best friend and my worst enemy. It is an important tool for those of us trying to promote our blogs and I also run a daily photo challenge which means I feel that I need to have a presence each day, which can become very time consuming, but in all honesty it is good to have a break every now and again as it can also be very draining and when I am not feeling my best it also has a tendency to enhance my feelings of inadequacy. Sometimes it is impossible not to compare yourself to other people. It’s easy to forget that not everything you see on Instagram is real life and is actually often a enhanced version of someone’s life. But although I know this I still get sucked in and allow myself to feel self-conscious. Which is why I practice self-care. It is a way to remind myself that I am special regardless of how I feel I compare to other people.

A coupe of years ago I bought a fabulous little book aimed at encouraging you to enjoy the simple things in life. It is one of those coffee table books that you just dip in and out of when you feel the need. As I have been researching a lot about self care for a future blog post I am working on, I decided to pick it up the other day for a little inspiration. On Friday whilst rushing round the supermarket after work, I decided to stop and treat myself to some flowers. But not just any flowers, my favourite flowers in my favourite colour. It was quite a large bunch so I now have them in three rooms in the house, including my dressing table, which is a lovely treat for the mornings when I am getting ready for work. And they remind me to enjoy the small pleasures in life.

If you want to check out the book. You can buy here on Amazon for £8.99

This week seemed to fly by and before I knew it the weekend was here. And after six days of no alcohol I finally caved and enjoyed a couple of glasses of Prosecco on Saturday afternoon. I spent a lovely few hours with my family celebrating my great-niece’s 4th Birthday. It was the first time I had my family since before Christmas. I sometimes have a somewhat fractured relationship with my sisters, it all goes back to events from my childhood, which left me with some major insecurities, but I have been working through some of these issues and I certainly felt more relaxed on Saturday and more comfortable around my family. It was not easy being the eldest of four children and having a mum with mental health problems.

Sunday is my favourite day of the week. I normally try to get all my chores done on a Saturday so that I can just relax on a Sunday. Today was no different.

After a lie in and a lovely cup of tea in bed, my husband cooked brunch while I started trawling through the internet looking for a potential holiday for May. We both work in education and have to take our holidays during the school breaks, which is a bit of a nightmare, especially when you don’t have kids yourself. We are trying to find somewhere that isn’t family orientated as to be honest, now that we holiday without my children we don’t necessarily want to spend our holiday being surrounded by other peoples kids. Plus I spend everyday at work in the company of 400 kids aged between 3 and 10. Adult only holidays are not only hard to find but they are also quite expensive. So I have my work cut out. My search was not helped by the fact that our internet went down for the third time in two days. We were without broadband and phones for 5 hours today and in the end I couldn’t even use the data on my phone as the whole Village were obviously all trying to access the internet via 4G at the same time. So I ended up pottering around the house doing a few odd jobs, it was very frustrating though as I had planned on getting some work and studying done and typing this blog post (which has now had to be posted on a Monday). I felt completely lost without my internet fix. And there wasn’t even anything decent on TV. Which is why we rely on catch or box sets so much.

Anyway it finally came back to life at about 7pm which gave me enough time to jump on and set up a text alert to all our parents ready to send should the snow descend on us over the next few days. We have been issued with an amber weather alert for heavy snow this week. It is certainly freezing cold, but we will wait to see if the weather report is correct. It rarely is.

So that was my week. I’m trying for another week of zero alcohol and I’m in the last two weeks of Cycle 1 of my Bodycoach 90 Day Plan. Next week will be the big reveal in terms of what I have lost. I’m keeping it a secret until then so check back next week for the update.

Have a lovely week and thanks for reading my post.

Love

Melanie xxxx

Self Care Sunday 18th February

Where did that last week go? Oh of course, it’s half term, I had most of the week off work, so true to form, the week disappeared in a flash. I really am not ready to go back to work tomorrow. I have been having far too much fun this week.

It has been a fabulous week, with plenty of self-care time and quality time with my husband.

I got off to a good start, Monday was one of my days off work so I made the most of being at home and the sunny weather. After my first kettlebell workout in months I took myself outside for a two mile walk around my Village. I am desperate to get back to the gym and circuit classes and weight training but my ankle is still not as strong as it should be. It has taken months for me to feel confident enough to start exercising. Ligament injuries do not heal quickly. I have been trying to follow the Bodycoach 90 Day Plan but illness has made it almost impossible to stick to any fitness routine. I have felt better this week so I am hoping that this virus that I picked up at the beginning of the year has finally moved on.

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in school working. And I am so glad I picked those two days as the weather was awful. Then hey presto the rest of the week was warm and sunny. It doesn’t normally work out that way does it? Someone must have been smiling down on me.

Wednesday was of course Valentines Day. We don’t celebrate it. If I am honest I don.t really agree with it. But that’s just my opinion and I don’t have a problem with other people celebrating. My husband and I work at making sure we do not take each other for granted. My husband is very good at making me feel loved all year round. It’s the everyday little things that matter to us. We don’t need the cards, flowers, presents or overpriced meal out. So as a way to participate in the day we decided to pop down to our local pub for a drink (the first of many this week). They were holding a anti-valentines night. I was expecting it to be quiet. But much to my surprise the pub was packed and full of middle-aged couples like us. We ended up having a great night chatting and drinking beer with friends. I did, however do a little nod to the day of romance, by adding a bit of pink to my outfit. The flowers in the photo below are very special to me. It is my bouquet, which I made myself, from my wedding 2 1/2 years ago. They take pride of place in my dressing room so I see them every morning when I get ready for the day.

On Thursday we decided to venture out for a spot of retail therapy for the house. I did want to go to Ikea but my husband broke his toe last week so cannot walk too much. So opted to stay local and ended up in The Range, one of my favourite stores for homeware. I picked up a few items for the bathroom, which is nearly finished. I can’t wait to get to the styling stage where I can faff with all the lovely accessories I have bought. We also bought new blinds for the whole house. A bargain though. Three 6 ft blinds and six 3 ft blinds for just over £100. Obviously no shopping trip is complete without a spot of lunch. So we popped into Chimichanga for Burger and Cheesecake. They do a really good lunch menu. Two courses for £10.50. You really can’t go wrong with that. And if you are in a Mexican restaurant it would be rude not to have beer with lime. It took me back to the late 1980’s when I worked in London and our favourite night out was beer and tequila in a fabulous restaurant just off Regent Street called “Break for the Border”. Many a hangover was caused by that place.

Friday night was Date Night. Once a month we try to have a proper night out. Not the local pub. Usually we go out for a nice meal or take a trip to London. This month we decided to use a Cineworld Gift we received for Christmas. A trip to the cinema is a rarity for us, much to my husbands disappointment as he is a big film fan. The reason we don’t go is because to the cinema is because I struggle to sit still in one place for too long. It is a real problem for me. About 45 mins into a film I start to get fidgety and then completely lose concentration, sometimes I even fall asleep (and I have been known to snore – very embarrassing). We tend to try and get to the cinema at least once a year though, but we have to pick the film carefully. To be honest musicals tend to feature very heavily. The last three cinema trips have been to see La La Land, Jersey Boys and Sweeny Todd. And this trip was no different. We went to see The Greatest Showman. Which I have to say was a fantastic film. I was transfixed. No fidgeting or heavy sighing. I stayed put until the very end. If you haven’t seen it I can totally recommend it.

After the film we popped over to one of the nearby restaurants for food and cocktails. How pleased was I to find out that they have a late Happy Hour. So of course I took full advantage. The food was amazing and a great night was made even better when the couple at the next table told us that if we downloaded the restaurants app you could get 50% off the food bill immediately. Bloody brilliant. A three course meal, cocktails and a beer for hubby came to less than £30.

After the excesses of the previous few days we decided to spend a day at home on Friday. Hubby busied himself putting up the new blinds while I spent a few hours trying to clear my ironing pile and writing a couple of blog posts. I also made the most of the sunshine on both Friday and Saturday by getting out for a four mile walk/gentle run. I extended my route to include the local Marina. And made the most of just sitting for ten minutes watching the little sailing boats. I love being near the water. It always makes me feel so calm. Maybe it has something to do with being a water sign.

Saturday Night was another night out at our local pub. We were showing our support for their first ever Quiz Night. And we also love a good general knowledge quiz. I wasn’t holding out much hope of doing particularly well. We went along with three other couples, who like us enjoy a drink. So imagine my surprise when our team or four won. I think it was only down to the fact that they didn’t ask any sports questions or anything about modern music. We won a cash prize too which was enough for a couple of rounds of drinks. We left before things got too messy though. I really didn’t want to be nursing a hangover on my last day off work.

This morning I had a little lie in and enjoyed a cup of tea in bed. I feel completely shattered. We have had such a busy week. It’s rare that I get more than a day or two off work during half terms and when I do I usually just want to curl up in front of the TV. Especially at this time of year, as I am normally feeling low and suffering from quite bad Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms. This Winter has been one of my better years. We went away to sunnier climes at Christmas and this always helps alleviate my symptoms. Despite having an ongoing illness, I haven’t felt depressed or lethargic or wanted to hide away from the world. I have also been taking better care of my mental health, spending more time practising self-care. This may be helping me in some way. I think it has definitely made me more conscious about the need to be kind to myself and take time to enjoy the little things that make me happy. To help me with my quest for a calmer, healthier life, I started reading this book at the beginning of the week. I am really enjoying it. I’m not going to give away too much now as I will write a review when I have finished it and post it on the blog.

Anyway, back to today. When I eventually got out of bed I spent the rest of the morning busying myself with household chores, food prep and getting everything ready for work tomorrow. And after a little pamper session where I had both a face mask and hair mask I am now sitting down for the rest of the afternoon. I am planning on writing a couple of blog posts, doing a little reading and then one of my favourite tasks….meal planning. Later we will have a roast dinner and find a movie on Netflix that we can watch together, although to be honest this normally results in him watching the movie and me half watching the movie while flicking through a book or social media… I do know better though, not to ask what is happening in the film.

I hope you all have had a fabulous week and are enjoying a restful Sunday. I’m trying not to think of my week ahead. The first week of any term is always a little stressful. And its nearly the end of the financial year so I have a mountain of work approaching plus the next module in my School Business Manager course starts tomorrow with a web tutorial at 6pm. This time I will not procrastinate and leave all the studying until the last minute…. Who am I kidding !!

Thank you for reading.

Love

Melanie xxxx

Self Care Sunday 21st January

This week was one of those hectic weeks that quite often lead to me neglecting myself. Work was extra busy this week with government returns to process, a training day and about a dozen meetings. All on top of my normal workload. I also had to commit some time to my studies this week. My assignments are due to be submitted in a couple of weeks and I have three 5000 word essays to complete. When will I learn not to leave these things until the last minute.

Anyway I promised myself this year I would make self-care a priority, even during the busiest times at work.

I started the week off with an early night. I do love the dark Winter nights, it is the perfect excuse to get into my pjs, pop on a face mask and get into bed to watch TV or read something lighthearted such as this book, which is one of those great little inspirational books that you can dip in and out of. Each page has a different quote to inspire you. The book is available at Amazon. I try to do this at least once a week and get to sleep before 10.30pm. If I’m not feeling particularly sleepy I swear by Sleeptherapy pillow sprays from Avon, I have used them for years.

Also on Monday I started the new Bodycoach 90 Day Plan after being offered it for free. Joe Wickes has kindly offered all of those people who competed and graduated from his first plan the opportunity to do his second personalised plan free of charge. Of course I jumped at the chance. I had great success on the first plan back in 2916, losing one and half stone and dropping two dress sizes. I have since put on half a stone and am back to a size 10/12 due to not being able to exercise for the last 5 months following an injury to my foot. I started the workouts on Tuesday morning and really felt the pain later in the day. It’s been a bit of a struggle getting up and down the stairs all week but it has been a while since I did this level of exercise.

The first half of the week was a little challenging at work. I had to deal with a couple of staff issues which saw me having to reprimand a couple of members of staff. Not something that comes easily to me but it’s part and parcel of being a senior manager. I was pretty stressed out and feeling very low when I got home from work Tuesday and Wednesday. I’m lucky that my husband is great at looking after me when I feel down and he took over cooking dinner while I treated myself to a luxurious shower with another product from my monthly Birchbox.

I have to say I don’t think I have ever used such a lush shower gel. It is so creamy and smells divine. My skin felt so silky afterwards. One word of advice if you go and get this product is you only need a tiny amount. It comes out of the pump as a clear gel but as soon as you rub it in it turns to a gorgeous creamy foam. You can purchase this Shower Foam at www.rituals.com

Thursday was a long day at work. It was Spring Census Day. It is the day that all schools have to produce various governments returns and each school has a specific time to run their report and there are always errors and queries to resolve before it can be submitted to the Department of Education. The return is used to formulate some of our funding so it is really important that the data is correct. After such a busy day I didn’t feel like cooking so my husband took me to one of our local pubs for dinner. It was freezing cold so I took the opportunity to wear my favourite big cosy jumper from Next. This really is a fabulous knit at a very reasonable price. Unfortunately it is no longer available online but I have seen it in store in other colours.

Because I had been really good with my diet all week and I had stuck to the no sugar, reduced caffeine rule of the 90 Day Plan all week I decided to have a little Friday night treat. I used the Black Forest Hot Chocolate powder that was in my Christmas stocking, for the first time. It was an interesting flavour and if you are looking for a hot drink which is a little different then it might be worth a try. I can’t find the powder available to buy at the moment, it may a Christmas product but you can purchase Black Forest syrup at Amazon.

My Friday night treat set me up nicely for the weekend. Saturday morning was taken up with normal weekly chores of cleaning and ironing. Normally on a Saturday evening we would either pop to our local pub for a drink or have a Netflix and takeaway night. This week we had arranged to drive across Kent to meet up with my husband’s Sister and Brother-in-Law. We hadn’t seen them since last Summer. We both have busy lives, full time jobs, kids and houses that we are renovating, so we only ever seem to catch up at family gatherings. This time we met up at a lovely country pub in Westerham It was the first time the four of us had been out without kids in tow and we had a really great time. If you are ever in this area check out the Aperfield Inn. Very cosy, amazing food and fantastic customer service. We all enjoyed ourselves so much we are planning to do it again soon.

Sunday is my favourite day of the week. It always has been. When my husband and I were first dating, we would have every other Sunday to ourselves because my children would be at their dads for the weekend. We used to make the most of it by having a lazy day. We would stay in bed all morning, reading the newspapers, eating bacon sandwiches and drinking coffee. The afternoons would have been spent on the sofa watching a movie while a roast dinner cooked.

Today we did much the same, minus the newspapers as they just make me angry now. But we stayed in bed late drinking coffee. Then instead of cooking bacon sandwiches at home we wrapped up warm and walked to the Marina in the sleety snow, stopping at the old fashioned river side cafe for a cooked breakfast.

On the walk home we stopped at the Co-op in our Village square for roast dinner ingredients. The rest of the day will be spent on the sofa under the blanket. Hubby watching movies while I catch up with social media, write a couple of blog posts and indulge in some online shopping, I wont be buying anything exciting… just food and toiletries.

So there goes another hectic week. The week ahead should be a little calmer at work, but I have a lot of studying to catch up on so I’m still going to be busy. I will still make sure that I fit in a little self-care though as I am finding that I really look forward to it now. It is slowly becoming part of my daily routine.

I hope you have had a good week and don’t forget to make some time for the things that bring you joy.

Thank you for reading.

Melanie xxxx