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Showing posts with the label self care

Fairy, Tickle, and the Monster

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Fairy and I went for a walk to the park this evening. This is my feet, on the swing. We've decided it's going to be our evening ritual; Tickle goes to bed and we go out for a walk, a bit of fresh air, and to get the step count up on our Fitbits (Fairy has managed to snaffle Gran's old one and is now obsessively tracking everything).

As we were walking I asked how she was feeling about things at home at the moment..

"I decided something yesterday." she says. "I've had enough of the Monster."

"OK."

 [For those who don't know, the Monster is the name we have given to Tickle's Trauma.]

"But the quickest way to get rid of the Monster would also get rid of Tickle, and I don't want to do that."

We walked some more. We played at the park. I went on the zip wire, which she thought was hilarious. We walked home the long way; it was about quarter to nine and she brought the subject up again.

"I have had enough of the Monst…

Support: Why I want you to watch Three Girls

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Over the last three nights there's been a drama on BBC1 called 'Three Girls'.



Three Girls tells the story of three of the children involved in the Rochdale paedophile grooming investigation. I wasn't sure whether to watch it, initially. Considering what we're going through at the moment it was quite possible it would set me off crying for a week, or in to deep depression. In the end though I did; I'm not entirely sure why, but mostly I think because it's important to face things head on. The girls were brave enough to tell their stories, and they deserve to be listened to.

I'm glad I watched it. I want you to watch it too. I want all my friends to watch it.

It's taken me a good hour mulling it over to work out why that is. At first I thought perhaps I wanted people to see what it was like to have a different life. If I'm really honest, I'm pretty jealous of most of my friends at the moment. I see my Facebook newsfeed full of everyday problem…

All aboard the self-care shuttle!

My lovely Twitter friend Hannah Meadows wrote a great post about mental health for adoptive parents recently. (And I am *not* just saying that because she linked to a post of mine in it..!)

Mental Health has been right at the top of my list of priorities for the last couple of weeks. It's been odd, and it feels slightly weird to be consciously doing things for myself. Unfamiliar.

However, we have a LAC review on Thursday, and apart from anything else I want to show that we are active participants in the 'supporting Mum and Husband' club. I want Social Services to see that we are not giving up. (We are not. We decided the other night.)

[I know this is utterly the wrong reason to be doing things, and I don't really think it will make a blind bit of difference to Social Services, but I'll take motivation from wherever I can get it at the moment.]

I feel very strongly that self-care is absolutely vital for us to survive this. If we don't keep on top of this, our fa…

Saturday

Saturday started at 5am, as usual.

Husband took the early shift, also as usual. He seems to need less sleep than I do, and is also blessed with one of those brains that will switch off on demand, meaning he drops off within minutes of getting in to bed.

This particular morning we’d agreed the night before that Husband would definitely get up if it was any early one, as I’d been up early quite a lot of the week and was feeling tired to the point of not quite feeling safe to drive. Needless to say, I had then proceeded to wake up at half past four, half past six, and finally at quarter to eight – this time by the absolute racket that was coming from downstairs. Quite apart from the noise Tickle was making, Husband is normally very calm and softly-spoken, so the fact I could even hear his voice from upstairs was an indicator that something wasn’t right. The fact that his voice was saying “Tickle you are not allowed to head butt me” was an even bigger clue.

Thanks to Facebook messenger, I…

Reflections on this week

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It's been a funny old week. (By which I mean I have journeyed through the depths of howling despair and back again.)

Less than a week ago I genuinely thought we might have to disrupt. Weirdly, today I'm feeling more positive about things than I have done in quite some time. This has been achieved, I think, by a few significant shifts in the way I'm thinking.

The first was to do with self care, though actually it's more than that. We all know that we should look after ourselves, do nice things, make sure we get a break now and then. However, this week I realised that what self care actually means is placing my own needs on equal footing with those of my children. Or maybe even above them, sometimes.

For the last 18 months our entire household has been a slave to Tickle's emotions. He has blossomed under this approach, but the rest of us have suffered.  This week we gave ourselves permission to step away from him and focus on ourselves and each other, even at the ti…

The Key

I've had a really crap few days.

My friends reading this will know that I had a big event last weekend; an event I've spent all year working on, which hundreds of people came to, and something of which I am very proud. I honestly don't know how I got through it - the build up, the preparation, the event itself. I've got a team of amazing people working with me, but I'm the big boss, so the buck stops with me.

It's my favourite weekend of the year, usually, but this year I didn't enjoy it. I mean, I did - I smiled, I laughed, I saw my friends, I felt proud of it all... but it was like I was viewing it through a lens. I didn't feel connected. I could see everyone having a great time, but I couldn't get a hold of that deep down in your stomach happiness. I just felt a bit hollow.

I've been feeling this way for a while. Not all the time, certainly, but I have noticed a definite reluctance to connect with my deep down feelings. Sometimes it's bec…

The Walnut under the Mountain

I'm drowning.

I'm in bed, at 10.30 on a Saturday morning, because I can't bring myself to get up and face the day. Face Him.

On Thursday afternoon, Tickle head butted me, full in the face. In the nose, actually. It was incredibly painful, and would have been even worse if I hadn't read his body language and reflexively started to move backwards. I suspect a trip to A&E would have been on the cards.

Since the incident, I haven't really spoken to him. Husband and Gran between them have picked up the slack, and I've not had to do much more than say goodnight.

I'm struggling with the idea of being in the same room as him. I was thinking earlier that he doesn't even feel like my son any more, though when I came to write it down I was relieved to find it didn't feel quite right. I do still have that tiny knot, deep in my stomach that connects me to him, though at the moment it feels like a walnut buried under a mountain.

Mostly at the moment he feels …

Therapy

We've just had our first meeting with our new psychologist - the one who specialises in adoption and trauma. It was just an initial discussion and we only scratched the surface but there are a couple of things she said that left me a bit stunned.

Firstly, I described to her how we manage Tickle when he's disclosing, or goes loopy, or gets violent. I described grounding him, giving him sensory input, bringing him in to the present moment, helping him to find the words to talk about what he's feeling, the gentle but probing questions, the wondering, etc etc.

She looked at me, and said "What you are describing is basically what we do in therapy."

In their big, full on trauma therapy. In safe spaces, with a trained therapist, for a limited amount of time, in a dedicated environment, with supervision and support for the therapist. Husband and I are doing that, all the time, at home. With no support, with no escape, with no limitations on how long we will let these big…

Parking

I need to get myself in to work mode today, but I need to park something first.

I feel awful. I feel like a massive ball of tangled up mess, and it's taking all my energy to keep it together. I know that the only way to feel better is - ironically - to let myself unravel, but I can't do it. I've got that thing, where you need to have a really big cry but it's just not coming. Occasionally something tweaks it and a couple of tears escape over something silly, but I just can't seem to let it all go. I suspect it's because I don't quite feel safe enough myself at the moment. There is no one for me to fall apart on, to pick me up afterwards. I'm doing it daily, hourly sometimes, for my two children but there's no one for me.
That sounds a bit silly, even as I write it, because I've got a fantastic support network including a loving Husband and my mum very close by, but they already have to deal with a lot of the same - Husband is the one getting up …

I went on a course...

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As some of you might know, yesterday I went on a course, which was about some of the Big Stuff that we are having to deal with. Although some people reading this will know more details, I'm not comfortable with being quite so blatant about the Stuff in this post, because really, it's Tickle's Stuff, not mine. So, for the purposes of this blog post, the course was about how children are affected by significant trauma, and what parents can do to help.

I was pretty anxious about it beforehand; I didn't really know what to expect, and was worried that I'd find it difficult and emotional. However, I found the day as a whole to be a really positive experience, and I came away with a lot of stuff whirling around in my head which I'm going to try and sort out in to a post here. Advance warning - it might end up quite long!

We started off talking quite generally about trauma, and what the word means. Apparently it comes from the Greek word literally meaning 'wound&#…

World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day; the irony of this is not lost on me as I am yet to force myself out from under the duvet. I've struggled with my mental health periodically since I was a teenager, but then, I really don't think I know anyone who hasn't. (Though I do know people who haven't admitted it...) For me it's particularly linked to my menstrual cycle. There are certain days of the month where I just don't function properly. I have one very strong memory of being a teenager, curled up in a ball on my bedroom floor, sobbing, knowing that although this would all pass within a few days, it was just going to come back again next month.

I am struggling a bit (a lot) at the moment. I can force myself to do the essentials - get the kids fed and to ballet class on time, any urgent work deadlines, chasing up the latest referrals we are yet to hear from - but until I'm needed to do those things mostly I just stare out of the window, or read mindless novels to…

10 things I wish I had known at the start of the adoption process

I'm in a reflective mood today. I've found myself recently thinking back to what I was like at the start of the adoption process, and mulling over what advice I would give to myself. Here's what I reckon:

1. Be prepared to take AT LEAST a year off work. Seriously. No really. Trust me.

2. Adoption is a hugely emotional journey, and each stage more so than the last. The run up to approval can be harrowing, the wait during matching is unbearable, and then actually having a child placed with you is like living with a small Dementor who feeds off your energy. (Love him, obviously, but still...)

3. Read (1) again, and then (2) again, until you believe (1). My biggest regret is pressuring myself to go back to work too soon, even though I am freelance and hardly do any actual work at all. Some days even daytime TV is too demanding for my poor addled brain.

4. Love for birth children and love for adopted children feels pretty much the same. The only difference is that there is a ga…

A post about food

A slightly random blog topic for me, today I want to write about food. I've been trying to take better care of myself and eat better - fewer takeaways for Husband and me, and a bit less on the chicken-nuggets-and-chips thing for the kids - whilst at the same time trying not to run myself in to the ground doing it. I'm quite pleased with myself over one particular bit of cooking, so I thought I'd share, in case there are any frazzled parents out there in need of inspiration!

I absolutely love roast pork, so one weekend when T was very happily playing with husband I roasted up a nice big shoulder of it. Shoulder is my favourite cut to buy - it's a bit cheaper, and you get a nice lot of meat as well as some crackling usually! It's also dead easy to cook and comes out nicely.

HOW TO COOK: (skip this bit if you already know..!) Make sure the skin is scored so you can break the crackling up, and then rub olive oil and salt in to it. Stick it in a roasting tin and then bu…

Managing emotions - mine, this time

I have been inspired to write this post (when I really should be doing other things) by an impending Twitter chat this evening on 'Controlling your emotions'. Here's the blog post providing the background, from Special Needs Teaching Ideas. Personally, I prefer 'managing' when it comes to emotions, as controlling - to me - implies restricting; if I am having to control myself, I feel like I am on the edge of *not* being in control, and I don't like to be that way when dealing with children, particularly traumatised ones. However, if I am managing my emotions, I am proactively taking steps to ensure I protect myself emotionally when dealing with difficult situations. [Edit - I think this post has now changed it's title from controlling to managing..!]

Anyway... I am spectacularly bad at anything that requires me to be sat at my computer at a specific time of the evening, so, given that I am more than likely to miss this Twitter chat, I thought I would get so…

I can sing a rainbow

Little Man and I had a beautiful moment yesterday, on the way back from dropping his sister off at gym. It was a pretty grizzly day round here, wet and soggy most of the day, but by late afternoon the sun was starting to come out, and as we rounded a corner I saw the most enormous rainbow painted right across the sky.

I tried to point it out through the car window, but Tickle had no idea what I was talking about, and kept looking in the wrong direction. We were just about to turn again and lose sight of it, so I made a bit of a flash decision and pulled off the road in to a bus stop, and lifted Tickle out of the car so he could have a good look at it.

At first I wasn't even sure if he could see it - he has vision problems and can't see that well even with his glasses - but as I was pointing out the colours I could see, he suddenly said "Yellow!"

Standing by the side of the road, ignoring the person waiting at the bus stop, we sang the rainbow song. When we got to the…

Daddy is a biscuit

This morning, Tickle and I are standing at the end of the drive, waving Daddy off to work.

"Bye Dad!" he calls. "Bye Dad! Don't be afraid!"

My instinctive response was "Don't worry, Daddy's not afraid" but then I thought about it a bit. I crouched down next to Tickle.

"T, who's afraid?"

"You are."

"What am I afraid of?"

"Afraid of Daddy."

A-ha, I am thinking to myself. Look how clever I am, we're about to have a breakthrough here.

"Why am I afraid of Daddy?"

"Because Daddy is a biscuit! [sings] Da-ddy is a bis-cuit..." And off he dances.

I'm trying to find the word to describe how I feel about all these tiny titbits, like he's letting me inside his head for a second at a time. It's not exactly frustrated, because I feel really honoured that he trusts me enough to let me in at all, and I do know that it's going to take time. It's more like I'm on tenterh…

Today is a difficult day

Today is a difficult day. It is 3pm on a Sunday afternoon, I have gone back to bed, and I'm not moving for love nor money.

Thing #1 that I try to remember today: I chose this, Tickle did not. Thing #2 that I try to remember today: it's ok if I'm not exceptional all the time.
Today I feel about as far from a successful parent as I could possibly be. There are a number of reasons for this - I've been unwell for *ages* and I'm really struggling to bounce back from it; it seems like every time I think I might be getting better the cough comes back, my throat starts to hurt again, and I start going through tissues at a rate of knots. I didn't sleep well at all last night either, and I've been stressing a lot lately about going back to work too soon, particularly as I don't feel 100%.
This morning Husband and I were woken up around 6.30 by a sobbing, screaming Tickle, who climbed in to our bed and cried proper, proper tears, screaming and kicking - because he…