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Cigarettes and Calpol

Attempting to make sense of parenthood, life, love, and my own mind.

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Mental Health

My mental health has a huge influence over my whole life, it has shaped me into the person I am today, in good ways and bad.
I (over)share my experiences as cheap therapy for myself and to hopefully make somebody else feel less alone.

September Sadness.

September. It’s a month of new beginnings. Long after you leave school the feelings of shiny shoes and a brand new pencil case don’t seem to subside. I half expect somebody to hand me a reading list of intimidating books we all know I’ll never read. 

But the reality is that the pressures are different now, you’re a grown-up. Nobody is going to tell you to sit and read for hours every day. No matter how much you wish they would.

Instead we’re all hurtling towards another year, another decade, and right about now is the time I find myself reflecting, and regretting. I’m always harsh on myself in September, I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I’ve done enough but I feel that even stronger this time every year. 

We romanticise September. The comeback of perfectly worn, slightly scuffed leather boots and impossibly thick-knit jumpers, worn on a walk through the colour-changing park to your favourite pub. The pub that always has a little dog, probably called Scruff, sleeping peacefully in front of the dragon-tongued fire that you watch while sipping a glass of Malbec coloured the perfect claret. 

Yeah sure. Sounds wonderful. But this is real life. 

Your boots will rub, or be slightly too tight so they somehow manage to make your feet colder. A thick-knit is possibly the most impractical of all the knits as the wind blows right through and makes you colder, don’t @ me, it’s a conspiracy. There’s dog shit in the piles of leaves. The pub will be heaving, the dog has fleas, you’ll be smelling fire in your hair for days, and your Malbec cost you £9. 

Yes, I’m more than aware of my out of control cynicism. I’m not working on it. 

I love the idea of reflecting, of recognising what I’ve earned and what I’ve learned, of seeing where I was this time last year and how far I’ve come in twelve short months. I love the idea of seeing the rest of the year as a challenge, to do even more, succeed even further, kick arse even harder. I don’t know if it’s a brain block of mine or just the reality that nothing really seems to change year to year, but I can’t find the pleasure in doing this. It just freaks me out. And stresses me out. And makes me go full entitled little princess with a ‘why not meeee?!’ complex.

September also happens to be the month of my birth. Libra. I know. Let’s not. I hate my birthday. Not in a fear of getting older way, getting older is such a privilege I feel eternally grateful to have, but for me birthdays seem to hold a lot of pressure. A pressure to socialise in a certain way, a pressure to have enough friends to socialise that way, a pressure to look incredible in photos, a pressure to look even more amazing in all the social media posts all those friends of yours post. Pressure doesn’t look good on me. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t cry on my birthday, I can’t ever put my finger on just why it does that to me though. 

There are elements of all this I’m working on, mostly the struggles with celebrating myself, but there are also elements of it I won’t be. We live in a world where we’re supposed to see the good in every moment, and if we can’t see the good then the potential to make it good. Sadness is not allowed. Negativity is not allowed. They’re bad emotions that need to be fixed, or medicated, or at least just ignored. 

I’m exhausted by always feeling the need to wrap my crappy feelings up in a pretty bow and rolling it in some glitter. I’m exhausted by being told to keep my chin up or focus on the good stuff. Sometimes we need to focus on the shit, that’s how we avoid stepping in it again. 

September might not be a month of celebration for me, but maybe it can be a month of analysing my shit. A month of recognising my fuck ups. A month of letting myself feel the sadness, and the anger, and that weird feeling in the pit of my stomach I can never really name. It won’t be a month full of sadness, but it will be a month of self-reflection, just in a different way to what the wellness gurus might recommend.

Although I won’t be saying no to the £9 glasses of Malbec any time soon.

Birthday Dread

Tomorrow’s my birthday. Hold off on the confetti and party poppers, I’m not really one for celebrating the day of my birth. In fact I usually find the whole day a bit of a shitter on my mental health.

I never used to be like this. I was fully in the ‘BIRTHDAY MONTH’ team. Throughout September my Facebook memories are an embarrassing reminder of how much I used to demand attention, presents, and multiple celebrations. Now I’d rather people just ignore it (which many will because I haven’t told them it’s coming up and it’s too late to send cards now suckers!).

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The Non-Stop Battle

Mental health is a non-stop battle. For me anyway.

I’m in a much better place right now than where I have been. Thanks in massive part to going back on medication. But that doesn’t mean I’m fixed, or even close to.

The past few weeks have been a huge test on me mentally, emotionally, and personally. For a lot of reasons that I’m not about to go into on here.

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‘Talk About It…’

Talk about it. The responsibility is on you.
Talk about it. So we can shift the blame.
Talk about it. An easy retweet that helps my guilt.
Talk about it. But only if you fit the ‘right’ image.
Talk about it. But only if it won’t make people uncomfortable.
Talk about it. But only if you’re willing to show you’re trying.
Talk about it. Once you’re recovering.
Talk about it. Make sure there’s a catchy hashtag.
Talk about it. As long as you’re white, straight, and middle class.
Talk about it. But not too much, you’re just attention seeking.

Continue reading “‘Talk About It…’”

Fog.

The past couple of months I’ve been in a deep depression. My body and mind have felt completely numb and while I’ve spent hours each day crying it’s been out of frustration, not sadness.

Reality is blurred at the best of times when you’re depressed.
I shut myself away and convince myself that’s for the best anyway, because nobody would want to see me or talk to me. I’m a waste of space. But add to that a forum full of strangers discussing you, debating your relationship, discussing your children, questioning your morals… that’s a reality that a depressed brain doesn’t know what to do with. That it can’t let go of.

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More Than a Writer’s Block

All I want to do is write.
Writing is my outlet, my medicine, my coping mechanism.
Writing is how I make sense of my own head, understand what’s wrong and what I can change.
But I can’t write at the moment.
I’m too scared to.

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Sixteen Million Voices – Mental Health Awareness Week

Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week.

A week I see great importance in, every one of us has mental health, it is not reserved for the people with diagnoses. Everybody needs to find ways to take better care of their own mental health – finding ways to destress, to cope with life experiences that may make them feel anxious or down, and to understand their own mental health.

Today I was supposed to be launching a new part to the blog – Sixteen Million Voices,  unfortunately due to everything that has been going on with Instagram, having to spend more time than I care to admit speaking to PRs to apologise for pulling out of campaigns, and having something of a mental health crisis myself – it just hasn’t happened.

I can only apologise for that.

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Just Block Them

‘Just ignore them.’
‘Block and move on.’
‘They’re just jealous’
‘Chin up.’
‘Name and shame the pricks!’
‘One in a thousand isn’t worth getting upset over.’

Just a snippet of the messages I’ve received over the past 24 hours. Yesterday I nearly cried on Instagram stories because I’d again been on the receiving end of a barrage of abuse relating to my parenting ability. This time it was because I posted a photo of Fox on my lap, mid-breakdown, while I was trying to get my work done (that’s already two weeks overdue). I captioned it that I would kill for a nursery drop-off and an office job. This, of course, makes me a shit mum.

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A Nonsensical Ramble on #AD.

Hashtag Ad.

Two words that seem to have the power to divide the whole of Instagram.

I’ve been having a bit of a crisis of conscious over the whole thing recently, on one hand I don’t want to push away the very people who have given me this platform – my followers, but on the other hand I spend a lot of time creating content and writing and occasionally a few quid for it would be nice.

Continue reading “A Nonsensical Ramble on #AD.”

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