Friday, 23 November 2012

Flashback Friday

This is a fairly stark and painful post about pre-natal depression. 

It isn't very easy to read, and wasn't very easy to write. You might not want to read on, as it's pretty difficult and distressing. Particularly if you know me in real life, and don't know this story. 

Post natal depression is something people know exists. They talk about it. Everyone has heard the term.

But pre-natal depression - depression DURING pregnancy - is practically unheard of, and rarely discussed. Nobody expects it. Pregnancy is meant to be all glowing happiness and radiant joy. But it isn't like that for everyone.

I saw some kindness and care on twitter this morning from a young woman suffering with pre-natal depression and it made me want to tell my story so that anyone else suffering would know that they weren't alone, that they weren't bad or broken, and that there is help and care available to support them. 

Firstly I will say that my family and friends knew nothing about this at the time. I didn't speak to anyone other than my husband about it, because I thought they wouldn't believe me, or would be angry with me, and so instead I kept it secret and shut them out of what was happening. 

As I'd been a rather dramatic and angsty teen/young adult I didn't think what I was feeling would be taken seriously, and it wasn't until it reached crisis point that I accepted anything could be done. 

So here is the story. 

We had been together just five months when I got pregnant. We were madly, insanely in love. I had found a wonderful man who cared about me and who I cared about, and who I honestly believed I could have a happy future with. 

And I panicked. 

I felt like I was insane. Like there were other people living in my brain. Like his love was a trick, or a joke, that would be revealed when he took this perfect life away and left my dreams to crash down around my ears. 

I found it impossible to believe that this man really loved me, that I was worth it, that I was going to bring him any happiness in return. I felt like I was poisonous, and would sap all his goodness away until he left me. 

I felt like I had been a source of nothing but pain and sadness in the lives of everyone who knew me. 

I knew that I wasn't good enough to be a Mummy to this tiny person inside me, that I would destroy them and ruin them the way I destroyed and ruined everything else. 

I knew I didn't deserve the unconditional love of a child for a parent. 

I pushed my husband (then boyfriend) away constantly, wouldn't talk to him, couldn't hug him or kiss him or show him affection, wouldn't let him offer the same to me. I tried to get him to leave me, to prove to myself that that's what he would have done all along, and tried to create a situation where he would stop loving me so that I could be right that he never had. 

Only he DID love me, does love me, and wouldn't go. I was FURIOUS with him. 

Rather than being excited about the new family we were becoming, or about being a Mummy, I was terrified. I dreaded it. I KNEW I would hurt this baby, I KNEW I would fail him, I KNEW that I wasn't good enough to get it right and that I would fail everyone, everything. 

I KNEW that the only option was to take myself out of the picture and let my husband have the baby - I knew that he would do a good job, and take care of the baby, and raise it well, and that the only negative thing that could ever touch their lives was me. 

I knew that I had to go, that I had to eliminate myself from their story. I also knew that I couldn't just leave once the baby was born because I would want to see him, them, and hug them and kiss them - but that I couldn't do that, because I was poison, so I had to eliminate myself permanently. 

After trying once again to get him to leave me I sat down with my husband, then boyfriend, and explained the truth of the situation very carefully. I was bad. I was poison. I was going to hurt them all and destroy this perfect baby, giving it no chance of happiness, and then he would leave me and be poisoned by me too. I couldn't let this happen, because they're too important, so I had to be out of the picture. 

So I would eat carefully, look after my pregnant body, incubate this baby until it was born, and then kill myself so that he could raise him alone, without me ruining everything.

I would take an overdose and find somewhere where my body would sink away under the water so that nobody had to deal with the hassle of a funeral for me, as I didn't deserve that, and it would just mean people felt like they had to attend and really it would be best all around if I just wasn't part of anyone's life any more, since I was nothing but trouble, pain and hassle. 

Then he could get on with giving the baby a happy future, without my dark influence. 

It all made such perfect sense. He cried, and I was so angry, because it was so obvious that this was the best answer, and I was so rational about it. Here he was getting all emotional and it was just the best solution all around, so being all emo about it was ridiculous. 

The next day I had a check up with my doctor and he asked if he could come. He'd been to a lot of my appointments so I said yes, but that I was sticking to the plan. He agreed. We never slept that night, I just kept carefully explaining the plan and writing notes for things he would need once I was gone to take care of the baby. 

The next day he sat beside me in front of the doctor and told her my plan. I was so angry with him, because it was meant to just happen without anyone else trying to talk me out of it. Why couldn't he SEE it was the best way?

She was great. She was amazing. Her reaction was really calm. She just started writing a letter, and talking to me as though I really WAS rational and sane. She asked me to give her a urine sample so she could make sure my pregnancy was healthy and I left the room with my little pot, giving my husband a glare for bringing it up. 

Whilst I was out of the room I don't know what they said, but think she asked him if I should be sectioned or kept at home. They decided to keep me at home, but by the time I came back in he was trying to look like he wasn't crying and I had an appointment with the immediate access to psychiatric treatment team (IAPT) through the crisis intervention team. 

I was pretty pissed off about that too, but after asking to speak to me alone the doctor explained that if I was determined to stick to my plan I had to go through with this, so that they would let me stay at home which was the only way I could carry out my plan. 

I agreed to go along with it, because I wanted to stick to this plan, and it felt like the doctor had agreed with me that we could do this, together, whilst this treatment would help my husband to prepare everything. 

I honestly believed that they were all working with me to achieve my plan, so that my pregnancy would go well and I could eliminate myself from their happy ever after at the end of it. As soon as he was born, I could go. 

I had two sessions a week with a crisis counsellor called Sandra. Sandra was incredible. She spoke to me for an hour on a tuesday over the phone, and on a friday I went to sit in her office, at the top of six flights of stairs in a tiny, sloping room that looked at a helipad on top of the hospital. She wore amazing boots and had incredible hair. These were the only things I stared at as I avoided her eye and kept explaining the plan, and the reasons for the plan. She didn't argue - just listened, and then very quietly began to tease me about details. 

She managed to make me laugh at some of the things I felt. Made me see that they weren't as significant as I thought they were. She made all the overwhelming, drowning, all enveloping emotions feel small. Silly. 

She managed to help me see how much my husband loves me. 

More importantly, she made me admit how much I love him. And that it's ok to feel it, and that he isn't playing a trick, and isn't going to take it all away and say "Kidding!" and leave me alone. 

Because he loves me. 

So do my family. And guess what - I'm NOT poison. Just a person.

And guess what else? All those people I walk past in the street, they AREN'T judging me, they AREN'T going to hurt me, they AREN'T in cahoots with my husband to create an elaborate trick to destroy me. Actually, they don't give a fig about me, I'm just another stranger walking past them in London. They're thinking about their own life, about what to make for dinner, about whether they should go swimming or shopping. They don't care about me because I'm not that important to them.

I am important to my family, and my friends, and my husband. And my baby. Not just as an incubator. 

I had pages and pages and pages of notes for how I wanted my husband to raise our baby - of the things that were important, of the kind of affection he should be shown, the things he should be protected from. I spoke about my worries that he would lose, or ignore, the instructions. 

"Why not stick around, and make sure he's cared for like that?"

All of a sudden I couldn't think of a good enough reason not to. 

"What if I get it all wrong, what if I hurt him?"

"Who could love him like you already do? You won't get everything right, no parent in the world does, but look how important these things are. You can do your best, right?"

"My best isn't good enough!"

"Who do you think is?"


"Exactly. But you are his Mummy. You are the only one he'll ever have. Look at all the things that matter, that you can make sure he learns, sees, cares about - if you aren't there, who can show him that? If you aren't there, who will be his Mummy?"


I still didn't think I was ever going to be good enough - not even close. I still don't. My children are incredible, and I want so much for their lives, and want them to know nothing but joy and happiness - but want to prepare them for the harder days. 

But I know that nobody can ever give them what I can - the love, the protection, the care, the plans and interaction and support. I am their only Mum. 

I had the therapy for seven months, twice a week. I went up and I went down. I told nobody other than my husband that I had it, I told nobody but him what we discussed there. 

I let my walls down, and gave myself to this relationship, and let him in to love me back, completely. 

We got married when our baby was 14 months old. I felt like I was floating on a cloud, I was so happy, had come so far. Our baby was the most incredible child who had ever lived, and I was there every single day to share it. I couldn't believe that I had come so close to missing this, had tried to stop myself feeling these amazing feelings, had tried to stop this love that was shown to me. 

Another surprise baby arrived 8 months after our wedding and our family grew even MORE love - and here was more happiness I had never expected, never planned for, never knew could exist - and here I am, in the middle of it, wiping the noses, holding the hands, being kissed and cuddled, being loved by these amazing people. 

And I DO deserve their love - because I'm not poison. 

Not eliminating myself from their lives is the best thing that ever happened - it gave all of us this family - it gave all of us this life - and it is brilliant. Sometimes it's drudgery, sometimes there's illness or poo, sometimes we're all tired and grumpy and everything irritates us all. But then we hold hands, we kiss, we cuddle - even when it's hard it's amazing. 

It's real life. And I am SO glad I'm here. 

I can never thank my husband enough. Or that doctor. Or Sandra. I can never thank them enough for the gift of real happiness. Or myself, for sticking around. 

Pre-natal depression is an illness. A secret illness. A poisonous, nasty, cruel disease that tries to rip you apart and closes you out of your own life. 

If you have any of those feelings that I had, if you feel disconnected from your baby, your partner, your life, and think you are poison, or that the world would be better without you, it isn't true. It's an illness inside you, that there is help for. 

You are NOT alone. You are NOT bad. You are loved, cared for, you matter. You really matter. You always will. 

Please speak to someone. Please. Because I care about you.

I'm linking this up to the Flashback Friday meme, because it was my life, and something real that happened to someone else brought it to mind today, and soon it will be nothing but a memory for her and everyone involved. Hopefully if enough people talk openly about the effects of pre-natal depression more people who suffer in silence will be able to get the help available and feel better. 

Thursday, 22 November 2012

A conversation

"Oh my god, you're always breaking things, stop being so BLOODY CLUMSY or we will have nothing left at all!"

This was me, tonight, when my husband broke a plate getting it out of the cupboard to serve dinner.

"why do I even bother buying nice things? Every time I get something nice you break it, I have no matching sets of anything in this kitchen because you smash everything - why can't you just concentrate and be more careful!?"

This said as I picked up pieces of he last remaining big plate, leaving us with three out of four just-quite-big plates and some pasta bowls.

"I'll clean that up, you put some coffee on" he replied.

"I can't"


"I broke the coffee maker."

"oh yeah, that's right. Where is the plunger thing for filter coffee?"

"I broke it"

"oh...ok. Well why don't you read something on your kobo while I finish dinner?"

"...I broke it..."

"oh yes, I remember now. Well why don't you put something on the laptop for us to watch?"

"it's reinstalling windows..."


"because I broke it?"

"how many laptops have you had since we got married Lizzie? I can't remember..."


"in two and a half years?"

"in two and a half years"

"and...your iPhone..."

"it's smashed..."

"yeah...and, since I'm cleaning up, where is the base for this blender?"

"in the garden..."


"because I set it on fire trying to blend something too big."

"ok" he said.

"you've made your point."

Stupid husband. Why am I so bad at looking after my nice things!? What the hell chance do our children have!?!?

Home made oven chips

With the colder weather well and truly here I've been tending towards carb loaded meals, and wanted some chips - but I hate oven chips, I didn't want the grease of chip shop chips and I don't have a deep fat fryer - so I decided to make my own oven chips. 

I took one good sized potato for each person eating, plus another because we're greedy. Then I sliced each into thin chips - around 1/2 cm thick. 

I put the sliced potato into a pan of boiling water with a little salt and simmered until just beginning to soften (as you would for good roasties) then drained them, bashing them about in the colander to fluff the edges up a little so they'd crisp up nicely. 

In a big bowl I sprayed some low cal cooking oil over the potatoes as I tossed them about, so each got a thin covering, then I crumbled in a chicken stock cube and tossed it all about some more. 

Then I spread them out on a flat, non stick tray and cooked them at 200 degrees c for about twenty minutes. 

Delicious, crispy, pre-seasoned oven chips - try them yourself, they're properly delicious! (Oh, and yes, I kept the skin on, because it TASTES GOOD.) 

Liver and onions

I fully understand that this might not be something EVERYONE wants to eat - and I'm sure there's a bunch of you reading the title on this post and saying "Eeewwwwww what is WRONG with her?!"

But, I love it. I was introduced to liver and onions by my glorious husband as one of his cures for my anemia and now we eat it (funnily enough) at least once a month (ahem) and it really is delicious, if it's done properly. 

So that more people can try the wonders of liver and onions I thought I'd give you my recipe and encourage you to go out, spend a couple of pounds on liver (it's very cheap!) and make it for yourself - if you've never had it before I promise you'll be pleasantly surprised! 

Ingredients: (feeds four/six depending on portion size and greed levels)

250g liver (all kinds are available, I like chicken best, pork is nice, beef is a stronger flavour) 
200g cooking bacon (nice big chunky bits are best) 
2 onions
200g mushrooms 
1 chicken stock cube
1 tbsp gravy powder
1 cup boiling water
1 tbsp olive oil

Chop the onions and fry in the olive oil until soft. Add the mushrooms, sliced, and the bacon, chopped into nice sized chunks. Fry until the bacon is cooked through and the mushrooms are nice and soft and the onion is getting some colour. 

Slice your liver whilst the rest is frying into 1-2cm cubes. When ready throw this into the pan and stir in, frying for a few minutes until it takes on a nice brown colour. Don't over cook the liver - you want it reasonably rare/medium cooked rather than well done as that will make it tough and dry. 

Crumble on your chicken stock cube and stir into the juices in the pan, then add your gravy powder and water. You can add more or less water depending in your preference for gravy. 

Stir and simmer for a few minutes to let all the flavours come together. You could throw in a little red wine here if you wished, I don't bother because I prefer to drink my wine! 

And there you have it - liver and onions, ready to go. I served it with home made oven chips last night, we often have it with jacket potatoes or mash. It requires a big helping of potato in some form to be best appreciated. 


Monday, 19 November 2012

A crafty Christmas post

This morning I snipped some greenery from a bush in our garden and popped it in a vase, wanting to create something slightly Christmas feeling to go on our table. 

It looked nice - but it was...lacking something. 

So we decided to do some crafting. One quick google search later I had the information required to make salt dough (half a cup of salt, half a cup of water, one cup of plain flour) and the wonderous information that three minutes in a microwave would harden our creations the way that three days sitting on a surface used to be neccessary to achieve. 

We made some dough, rolled it out and cut some stars and some hearts. 

After three minutes in the microwave the shapes were ready to be decorated - which is just about perfect for the attention span of my preschooler! 

I realised after we'd started that I had no paint in the house - but I DO have a huge collection of nail varnishes, which is perfect for this kind of job - as long as you sit in a well ventilated area and don't mind spending a while picking it off your finger tips later. 

A little time, a needle and thread and lots of fun later this is what we achieved - far more Christmassy, wouldn't you say?

A neurology appointment

Today I had a meeting with my GP about my suspected (but not so much suspected as yet to be confirmed) tourettes. Which was fun. 

Aside from slapping myself in the face whilst I was talking to her (it's worse the more you think and talk about it) the appointment was fine - but to get a solid diagnosis and some tips on how to handle it, I've been referred to see a neurologist. 

The appointment isn't until January, which is nice because it means I get to do Christmas etc first before I have to think too much about it. 

In the meantime I get to keep track more consistently of my tics - which mostly involve slapping myself, shouting "meep" like the roadrunner and clearing my throat in a weird way, far more often than anybody would ever need to even if they were REALLY phlegmy. 

Rather disappointingly I don't have the kind of tourettes (coprolalia) where I can get away with shouting obscenities at people in the street - but I might start doing it just for kicks and blame it on this. That's ok, right?

Magpie Monday

Once again I have sworn to Daddytwo that I will avoid charity shops - and once again it was a spectacular failure to hold up that agreement. 

Walking past one of my favourite charity shops I spotted this item of wonder on the table outside (damn their cunning wiles) and for one whole English pound there was no chance whatsoever I was going to be able to walk past!

Owls are horribly fashionable right now, and I'm into them (as you can see from the owl satchel this little number is perching atop!) and I love cheesy, colourful items to dot around our house to brighten it up - and this suits!

And generally, when I buy something purely for myself, in the knowledge that I am likely the only person who is going to like it, I try to distract attention from that by buying something for the children or my husband - this time the kids won out when I got a lovely collection of painted wooden blocks for one pound fifty - lots of opportunities for learning, playing and crafting with these!

Want to join in with the Magpie Monday linky? Hop along to Me and My Shadow

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Being ill, the preschooler way

How to be ill like a three year old.

Declare at 2 am that you are too poorly to sleep in your own bed. 

Make your parents wake up to talk to you about the dream you just had.

Do a very smelly trump in their bed and make them cuddle you. 

Talk proudly about your trump.

Do another. 

When you've fallen asleep again snore VERY LOUDLY until your Mummy tries to put you back in your own bed. 

Wake up COMPLETELY and talk loudly about how you can see the sun coming up already. Even though it is 3 am. 

At 3.14 climb back into your parent's bed, asking if it's morning yet. Insist on a song. Remain there for the entire night, snoring loudly and shouting about your odd dreams whenever they try to move. 

At 5.46 make everyone get out of bed to join you on the sofa for toast and cartoons under a blanket, because you are cold, because you are poorly.

Throw your toast on the floor and lie across the laps of both parents, rendering them immobile with the remote just out of reach.

Fall asleep again. Fart some more.

At 9.30am allow your parents to move without you wailing at the top of your lungs so they can finally get to the bathroom. 

Refuse to get dressed, and insist on the all in one pyjamas that are meant to be for your younger brother. 

Go outside in the pyjamas, and cry loudly that you're cold.

Demand complicated meals, and refuse to eat them.

Demand medicine, but spit it down the front of your clothes because you hate it. Demand more as soon as Mummy gives up and puts it away.

Demand a cough sweet. Insist you WILL EAT IT. Spit it onto the carpet when Mummy looks away. 

Wait until Mummy and Daddy try to sit down with a cup of tea before insisting they come with you to the bathroom and hold your hand whilst you poo. 

Watch Mummy cook a large pan of soup and prepare herself a big bowl.

Vomit at her feet and make sure she never wants soup again by comparing the two.

Feed your vomit to the dog whilst Mummy runs to get something to clean it up with. 

Demand more food.

Refuse the food. 

Shout. A lot. Incoherently.

Shout some more. 


Laugh at your trump. 

Shout because Mummy isn't laughing at your trump.

Demand more food.

Refuse the food. 

Insist your Mummy puts you to bed early. 

Finally take some medicine. 


In clean pyjamas insist on more food. 

Refuse to eat the food. 

Climb into bed. 

Wait until Mummy and Daddy have settled your younger brother before wailing as loud as humanly possible that you need a poo.

Maintain eye contact with Mummy, who has to sit with you holding your hand, whilst you have diarrhea. 

Finally go to bed, still trumping. 

Tell Mummy and Daddy you will go to their bed soon.

Mean it. 

Silent Sunday

Winter warmer soup

This recipe is for a great big pan of soup that will feed a large family and freezes well for a quick meal if you're like me and like a freezer full of ready meals, made at home!


One tablespoon of olive oil or chilli oil
Four leaks
Three medium potatoes
Four carrots
One interesting cabbage or spring greens
One tablespoon of mustard seeds
Two teaspoons of tandoor seasoning or garam masala (or just curry powder, depending what you like and have in)
A cup of barley
A cup or red lentils
(or two cups of soup mix stuff)
Two pints of vegetable stock

Slice up the leeks and cube the potatoes and fry in a large pan in the oil.
Once the onion is soft and the potato has some colour throw in the mustard seeds and curry seasoning, and stir on the heat for a few minutes.
Add the carrot, sliced and chopped, and cook for another few minutes, stirring.
Add your stock and heat until simmering then add your barley and lentils.
Slice and add your cabbage
Simmer until the barley is soft and the lentils are cooked into the liquid (this is a long time, simmering on a low heat, a couple of hours - make sure you have a lid on your pan)

When everything is cooked through use a hand held blender to blend half of the soup, leaving it quite chunky.

Serve with crusty bread a proper butter in front of a roaring fire.