Thursday, 19 July 2018

"Living my best life"

Have you ever questioned what the statement "living my best life" really means. When you post a picture with that caption, does it show a true representation of your life? This is my real personal encounter with postnatal depression and my self love journey.

One night I was laying in the middle of the road consumed by negative thoughts, drowning in my tears, feeling sorry for myself but screaming for help. I felt like I was being chewed up from the inside, everything I was going through felt overwhelming and I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I remember about a year and a half ago I almost died. I was at such a bad place, in such a bad state and I didn't love myself and had hit rock bottom. I devoted all my energy, time and money to my "ships". Friendships, relationships, 'family-ships'. On reflection I  can see they simply didn't care about me at all and were not true "ships".

Don't get me wrong I'm still on my journey to recovery but I'm now at a place where I can openly talk about my "Post-natal Depression". Not because I have passed it, but because I have acknowledged the power of identifying and admitting to myself how I truly felt behind all my posted smiles, instead of pretending everything was fine.

As my counselling comes to an end we are reflecting on where I was and how far I have come. I wasn't eating or sleeping back then and I found it hard to get out of bed. Health professionals would come to me daily because some days I just couldn't move, wasn't attending my appointments and no-one could get through to me. One weekend I went through a traumatic event and I felt alone. I cried out for help on Snapchat and I remember my so called "friends" messaging me these exact words "stop being an attention seeker" and putting in-directs towards me on their stories. Their words pierced through my heart like a double edged sword. At that moment all I needed was a caring ear.

The effects of their words and attitudes towards me pushed me over the edge and without going into too much detail I was admitted into hospital. I say this as a message to anyone that's reading, "be kind to others as it costs you nothing and you never know what they're going through".

I had given away my power and happiness by neglecting my own needs and forgetting how to love myself. As I attended my first counselling session i remember she asked me " How much do you love yourself?" and it dawned on me that I didn't love me! My reply was I'm not sure but I knew the real answer. I actually despised myself for many reasons. I was seeking love from everywhere else and so I had found myself at a place of darkness and pain. I couldn't see why until that very moment!

After a few moments of suffocating silence, I realised it was time to start making a conscious effort to change something in me. I needed to recover. I craved for peace and happiness. This was my first step: Wanting to change! I now had someone looking up to me watching and copying my every move. It was important for me to be everything my parents wasn't for me as I grew up without them, so I know first hand how it feels. I just didn't want that for my son so it became my desire to become better.

4 Key points;

1. Being intentional about our thoughts and self talk, Create a support network. 
  • I started by changing how I spoke to myself. This mindset shift made me aware of what I was saying to myself when I felt like a failure, when I looked a hot  mess, when I didn't want to get up. Changing my thinking from negative to positive was the hardest part of my journey. To prevent me from giving up I realised I needed support, I reached out to my support network (My adoptive Nan, my Counsellor, Auntie L). I watched motivational videos and I began to read empowering books ( I will list a few in my book collection). I attended Anna Garcia's intensive relationship courses and I also changed the type of music I listened to when I was feeling low. Trust me music is powerful.
2. Focus on what we want to achieve now and pray about it, Create peace of mind.
  • When all the above was not possible I started meditation at home. Clearing my mind was needed, overpowering my inner voice with silence. This was the peace of mind I longed for. On my 22nd birthday I stopped calling my self old lol (I know right but I genuinely felt old). Me calling my self old was not because I was old in age but actually because I wasn't achieving my dreams and fulfilling my purpose. I set my goals and targets starting of with small things for example; getting out of bed everyday, cooking my favourite dishes, going for walks etc. It gradually moved on to long term goals as I felt better, for example; going back to work, starting my driving lessons, moving houses etc. I would pray over my goals and dreams whilst being proactive.This helped me to stay busy whilst being connected with God.
3. Do what you love most, Create your happiness.

  • Oh my oh my, this right hear is gold to my ears! Taking time out of life just to recharge, refocus and appreciate your self is vital. I was a fairly new mother but for my own sanity and well being I started having 'Me time' daily. After giving birth my body changed and I hated how I looked. This was a huge factor in my postnatal depression so I signed up to the gym. I went 5 days a week with out fail, no more neglecting my body. I loved working out this was my pamper time. I worked out because I wanted to become stronger on the out side and feel good on the inside. When we exercise our body releases a hormone called endorphins. This interacts with our brain and reduces our perception of pain. No wonder! I found this out a bit later but after each work out I was full of energy. In addition to this I adjusted my diet adding more fresh fruit and vegetables ( this was expensive but worth it). I begun to see a drastic change in my mood I was real happy, this was the happiness I was longing.
4. Be selfish with your time , Create the best you.

  • Evaluating became an important part of my life because I realised that the people I had around me was having an impact on my mentality. We should be careful of who and what we give emotional access to because who we open up to ultimately can have power over us and power in the wrong hands can be destructive. People don't always show you there true intentions and sometimes its people we love the most, that are jealous and unsupporting.  As the scripture says "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." Proverbs 4:23
Someone once told me self love is not the destination but its the practice so lets practice loving thy self more each day. Its a journey that has no ending. Back to my title "Living my best life" is loving my self for who I am and appreciating the good and the bad, finding my purpose and achieving my dreams. Putting me first as you can't pour from an empty cup.  If you ever feel like how I felt, your not alone and it does and will get better, keep pushing. I am always here and I love you, most importantly God loves you.


Thursday, 5 July 2018

Lets get creative!


I love when I get the opportunity to get creative, do you ?
Being an adult can get boring, repetitive, full of routine and lots of busy days. So I look forward to the times when me and my son get creative and messy. We have lots of fun and I get to engage and play with him with no distractions. Giving us the opportunity to strengthen our bond.

 I've been attending this 14 weeks parenting course where I have learnt so much and I feel the need to share. I have begun to see why it is so important that I give my son my full attention a couple hours a day. YES! I said it full attention. Undivided attention. No phones! No TV! Just me and him and our imagination. Since doing this I have seen a big improvement in my sons overall behaviour and tantrums (early terrible two's I call it ha ha).

On days when me and my son are home he tends to be full of so much energy and so I get creative and start pulling stuff out. I have selected 5 activities that I will be sharing in this blog. These five activities I've selected, I would say, Jerry and I both really enjoy. They're simple, cheap and cheerful, don't  necessarily require you to go out and buy things but instead are normally things from around the house, in draws or kitchen cupboards.

Activity number one: Making your own coloured play dough!

  • What you will need;
  • 2 cups of flour 
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 4 teaspoons of cream of tartar (optional)
  • food colouring
  • mixing bowl
  • wooden spoon
How to make your dough.

Pour the dry ingredients ( flour, salt, cream tartar) into mixing bowl. Mix together with wooden spoon, then add the oil. Gradually add the warm water to the mixture and continue to stir. It will begin to thicken this is normal. Finally add your food colouring and knead your dough till it is a smooth/ firm texture ( It is similar to making dumplings or bread).

What can my child learn from it?
Playing with play dough allows your child to develop their motor skills as they strengthen their muscles in their hands. They also learn new language as you explore words such as "rolling" and "streching" "kneading". children always have real fun with play dough. 

Activity number two: Bottle shakers !

  • What you will need;
  • Clean empty plastic bottles with lids x3
  • Water
  • Rice
  • Glitter
  • Foil
  • Food colouring
  • Beads or hair beads
How to make your shaker.

For bottle number one fill it half way with water and add your rice, glitter and food colouring. Place lid
on and shake all the ingredients together so its mixed well. Finally apply sellotape around the ring to ensure it is secure. For bottle number two get the tin foil and rip into square chunks or long strips , place into the bottle and apply the lid. Finally add your sellotape around the ring. For your third bottle fill it up with beads or hair beads and place the lid on and make sure its secure with applying tape around ring again.

What can my child learn from it?
Your child will enjoy this as the rice creates noise and the glitter creates beautiful movements. The tin foil will reflect slow movement and whilst reflecting light from around their surroundings. The beads creates sounds and music. All the above shakes are great stimulation and helps them to develop their motor skills and learn colours.

Activity number three: cupcakes!

What you need

  • Cupcake tins
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spoon
  • 2 Medium eggs
  • 110 g of plain flour
  • 110 g butter softened
  • 110 g caster sugar 
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

How to make your cup cakes with your children 

First preheat your oven to 180 C/ Gas 4. Line your muffin tin with cases. Next put your butter sugar into a bowl and beat it until its smooth (I used my hand mixer to speed things up). sift your flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl too. Beat your egg and vanilla together with the mixture until combined. Finally spoon the mixture into your cases. bake for 20 minutes . Check its cooked inside by placing a knife through the middle, if the mixture does not sticks to the knife then its ready. leave to cool for 10 minutes. Serve with warm custard :).

What can my child learn?
Most children can take away different things, it all depend on there age and abilities

Activity number four: Shaving foam and alphabets!

What you will need .

  • Shaving foam
  • Foam alphabets or Magnet letters
  • Bath toys (alternatives)
  • Tray

How to do activity

My self and Jerry love this activity, it really allows us to get messy. If your like me, and are a bit of a
clean freak. First I would create a space where you and your child can be free. Next fill your tray with shaving foam and put in your alphabet letters/ magnets or any bath toys in.

                            what your child can gain from it.
Your child will then go on a little hunt find the toys or alphabets, whilst exploring the different texture in their hands. You will be surprised but this can keep them busy having fun for a while. 

5 bouncy rice balloons !  

What you will need.
  • Balloon 
  • rice
  • elastic band (optional)

How to make 

This one is a real quick and simple one, but so much fun. Place the rice into the balloon before blowing
it up, after that's complete blow it up and tie a knot.

What can my child learn from it ?

All the above activities are suitable for toddlers but pick the ones that best suit your child's interest and abilities. Hope you have lots of fun and enjoy "lets get creative" as much as I do. 
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