Looking to the year ahead

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas. We decided not to do presents this year except for the children we know. It actually made the build up to Christmas more enjoyable. I wasn’t worrying about what to buy people. Dave and I didn’t buy Daisy anything either. She was just over 9 weeks and oblivious to the fact it was Christmas. We agreed we would rather buy Daisy thing as and when she needs them while she is so little. Daisy did get presents from our family and close friends including a play mat that she adores.

Daisy will be 11 weeks old on Friday. She is so much more alert now and smiles a lot. Daisy makes a lot of different sounds too. She had her first jabs the week before Christmas. We were fortunate that she didn’t seem to have any adverse reaction besides being more sleepy and cuddly than normal. We have got Daisy into a nice routine and for the most part she goes to sleep relatively quickly after her evening bath and bottle.

Yesterday I went back to the gym. Last time I went was 6 weeks before I gave birth. I was highly anxious beforehand. But I was glad I went. I did a Bodycombat class and really enjoyed it. It was hard but not as much as I anticipated. It was nice to catch up with people. I am aching a bit today but I was expecting to.

Dave and I have never done anything big for New Year’s Eve. This year will be no exception especially as we are now parents. We plan on our usual tradition of getting a Chinese takeaway and chilling out in front of the telly.

I am really looking forward to the year ahead. I am taking Daisy to a 6 week sensory class at a local soft play centre. My best friend teaches a sweaty mama class. It is an exercise class that you can take your babies to. I am planning on finding some sort of music based class for Daisy as she loves music and I want to do a baby massage class. I am looking forward to seeing Daisy grow and develop. I love being her Mummy.

I hope everyone enjoys bringing in the New Year. Here’s to a fantastic 2018!!!

Happily proven wrong

If you read my last post, I was struggling. I was utterly convinced that Christmas and everything associated with it would be terrible. 

I was proved wrong. 

Dave and I rushed round like headless chickens wrapping Christmas presents, packing our things to stay at my parents and making sure we had everything we would or might need for Walter. 

Dave drove us to his parents on Christmas Eve morning. The nearer we got there, the more anxious I felt. 

It turns out my nieces think Auntie Gemma is awesome. The day was spent playing duplo and playmobile and decorating a gingerbread house with my 3 year old niece and chasing after my one year old niece who has mastered the art of walking. I don’t really know my nieces. Dave and I haven’t had the chance to spend much time with them as they live hundreds of miles away. It was nice spending time with them. 

Christmas Day was spent with my family. It was a really relaxing day. Dave completely surprised me by giving me an Xbox One! 

Dave and I managed to sort out loads in our new house over the Christmas break. It feels so much more homely. We spent time with some friends and went on a big dog walk with my friends from the gym. 

Tomorrow Dave is back at work. It has been lovely having him home. We have lots of things planned for the house and the future. 

So here’s to 2017. Hope it’s a good one for all of you. 

Everything seems grey

It feels like all the colour around me has zapped away. Like I am in a strange haze. This time of year is always difficult for me. I am struggling to get enough quality sleep. I have been on the verge of crying all day and I don’t know why. 

It probably didn’t help that when I went to Aldi it was stupidly busy. I went at 6.30pm when it is normally really quiet. I could feel my anxiety building the longer I spent in the shop. 

We still have loads of sorting to do at our new house which isn’t helping my mood. Could do without Christmas so we could blitz it really…

It’s (not) the most wonderful time of the year

This blog title is in no means a way of me coming across a scrooge. But living with anxiety and depression, I find Christmas so incredibly stressful and emotionally draining. 

It is nearly two years to the day that I was at such a low that I had to see my GP. He told me that I had anxiety and moderate depression. Maybe this plays a part in my view of Christmas. That Christmas two years ago was truly awful. I spent most of the day crying. I was very close to spending the entire day in bed. It took me hours to even get dressed, let alone leave the house. 

But it is not just that. Christmas brings so many expectations. Some of these are what society deems to be the perfect Christmas; spending lots of money, drinking copious amounts of alcohol are just some that spring to mind. 

But when you have anxiety and depression, social events bring a number of added pressures. For me, there are people I have to spend time with because that is what you do at Christmas. I honestly don’t know why. It all seems so fake and pointless. 

I have to spend Christmas Eve with Dave’s parents, sister, her husband and my nieces. I am totally dreading it. My in laws have always made me feel inadequate, make no time for Dave and I feel like I can’t be myself around them. My nieces are 3 and 1. They live hundreds of miles away. I have met the older one a handful of times. The one year old I have met once which was last Christmas. I love kids. But as I don’t feel comfortable with Dave’s family, I feel like they are judging how I am around the girls. It feels like an act. We pretend that we are this close family and it really gets to me. 

I experience anxiety every single day for a variety of reasons. My anxiety is heightened when things change. I am a creature of habit which is not necessarily a bad thing. It actually helps keep me feeling well. So the unknown of social situations that take place once a year cranks my anxiety to the max. 

The feelings of guilt I have for having anxiety and depression are overwhelming at times. This is even worse during the Christmas period. At times, I have to put on a front during social gatherings. I have no right to spoil other people’s Christmas just because I am really anxious or my mood is really low. 

One thing I need to keep well is down time; time for myself to fully relax and to do things that destress me. I find it hard to let people down. I am a people pleaser. I think that because I experience a lot of mental anquish I don’t want the people I care about to feel even a fraction of that. If friends want to spend time with me I will do my best to see them. 

Please know that I am so grateful that I have wonderful and supportive friends. I am not for one moment moaning about this. But in the back of my mind, I have a constant fear of having a major relapse if I have to mask how bad my mental state is. The vast majority of people in my life are completely unaware when I am struggling or going through a rough time. I don’t want people to worry. 

The funny thing is, I put on such a good front that I must come across as confident, outgoing and self assured in social situations. But for the most part, it is the complete opposite. 

Christmas stress

I hope you all had a nice Christmas day. I had a lovely time with my family. I am so lucky that I am close to my parents and siblings. But the same cannot be said for Dave’s family. 

I have always struggled with where I stand with Dave’s Mum. Throughout my relationship with Dave, the few times we do actually see her, she spends most of the time bitching and moaning about other family members. Because of this, I worry what she says about me behind my back. She frequently bitches about Dave’s sister’s husband so why wouldn’t she do the same about me?

Dave’s sister has two little girls. Dave’s parents frequently travel hundreds of miles, to the other end of the country, to see Dave’s sister, her husband and the girls. Dave and I have lived in our current house for nearly four and a half years. Do you want to know how many times Dave’s parents have been to out house in that space of time?….Twice!

Things came to a head during August Bank Holiday weekend. Dave’s cousin was over from Brisbane so she came with us to lunch with Dave’s parents, sister, her husband and their little girl for her 2nd birthday. As soon as we arrived, there was a weird atmosphere. It had been my 30th birthday the week earlier and I hadn’t seen any of them since Christmas. No one asked how I was or if I had a nice birthday. I was really upset when we left. So much so I ended up in tears. 

To top it off, Dave’s parents have never met Walter. Dave’s Mum claims to be scared of dogs. Dave has offered countless times to come to ours to meet him so she can see that there is nothing to be scared of. I have witnessed firsthand the impact of a dog phobia. Dominic was terrified of them for years. Yet he has managed to get over his fear and loves dogs now. A fear in a child with autism is more heightened compared to a fear someone who is neurotypical may have. 

On Bank Holiday Monday, Dave and I are spending the day at his parents. As you can imagine, I am extremely anxious and dreading it. My parents are looking after Walter as we are not allowed to take him with us. This means we have to go out of our way to drop Walter off before driving to their house. 

I feel so bad on Dave. He doesn’t understand why things are so strained and hates the fact his parents haven’t even tried to meet Walter. 

Christmas Eve

Dave and I went to see the new Star Wars film this morning. I can’t remember the last time I went to the cinema. It is something that can make me feel highly anxious. Dave bit the bullet and booked us tickets for a 9.30am screening. He made sure to book seats on the side of the screen; meaning that there were only three seats together. I really enjoyed the film and I didn’t experience any anxiety. 

This afternoon I spent with Little Miss. She was great. I bought her a prefilled Christmas stocking. It had loads of little presents stuffed in it. I really wish I had filmed her. She loved every single item in her stocking and thanked me over and over again. I also got lots of hugs!

It is nice to know that I am not working again until Tuesday. I am looking forward to chilling out with Dave and Walter and also possibly spending time with friends. 

I doubt I will post again for a few days. So I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas Day tomorrow. Walter is making sure to get enough sleep before Father Christmas comes:

  
 

Christmas concert and dog playdates

On Tuesday I went to watch Little Miss and Dom’s Christmas concert at school. As they came into their school hall, they both looked round to see where we (their mum’s and Little Miss’ other carer) were sat. It was lovely to see them waving their hands frantically with beaming smiles on their faces. Little Miss was in her element being able to perform. Dom was a bit more reserved and self conscious but got into it eventually. I was so proud of them as they both did amazingly well!

Little Miss has been so well behaved. Her Mum and I agreed that if she carried on I would bring Walter round to hers on Tuesday after school. It went so well! Little Miss has an 8 year old Jack Russell called Bella. Walter and Bella hit it off straight away. Little Miss adores Bella and Walter and she loved having them both at her house. 

  

Little Miss’ Mum said that I can bring Walter with me whenever I am working. This is great all round. I am conscious of leaving Walter on his own at home for too long. So much so that I had passed up on extra work with Little Miss in the past. Now, I can work more and Walter gets to spend time with a dog he gets on with. So a win win situation. 

Dave and I have to get some last minute bits in for Christmas today. We are spending Christmas day with my family. We introduced my lot to our tradition of cheese and biscuits last year and they loved it. So we are going to get the cheese we bought last year. 

Tomorrow I am getting my haircut. I wouldn’t be surprised if my hair ends up even shorter this time. It also gives me an excuse (not that I need one) to spend time with my family as they live near my hairdresser. I am planning on taking Walter to a lovely park near my parents house. 

This time last year things were very different for me. I was in the grip of severe anxiety and depression. Days were spent crying in my pyjamas, unable to leave the house. Christmas Day was awful. I can remember lying in bed crying, telling Dave that I couldn’t face the day. 

It’s easy to forget how far I have come when I am struggling. So here’s to Christmas 2015. I can guarantee that it will be better than Christmas 2014.