July


It began in June. I felt it. I felt anxiety creeping in as I continuously worried about everything and anything and anyone. I felt myself loose hope once again of ever conceiving; because how can a body so riddled with worry ever have anything left to be able to carry a baby? I felt the tears of feeling lonely or depression hit me for no real reason. It began in June – this time of the year when I start to feel down. Depressed. Hopeless. As my birthday, and another year gone, “wasted” rapidly approaches..
This time two years ago was the lowest I’ve ever felt about my birthday. Ironically the big 3-0, although coming at me fast, didn’t, in May [when I started writing this blog(!)], feel yet quite as scary as I would have expected. Even now – 1 month to go – whilst willing time to slow and not exactly looking forward to it, I still feel calmer than I did two years ago. I hate getting older, and I especially hate doing it without children, but this year – somehow – feels much, much better than two years ago.
Two years ago I was ill. Seriously ill. I was terrified of my birthday approaching. I kept it quiet. I deleted myself off the team birthday calendar. I wanted no attention or fuss. I couldn’t look at people. I was anxious. I was scared. I was constantly hurting myself; even as simple as biting on my finger until I was forced not to, or drew blood. I wanted to kill myself. I couldn’t get another year older.
Two years ago I was told this “mood” I was in was seriously affecting and bringing down the entire team – a team that I had supposedly brought together with my “sparkly personality” (how on earth were they surviving before me?!) – a team though, which managed – despite me being the supposed glue – to simply ignore how ill I was.

Two years ago I wanted to kill myself.
I had no real concrete plans. Mostly only silly words that would come to mind about “driving off a cliff” or “slitting my wrists”… later on I became convinced that if I had access to a gun I would have done it that way.
It is bleak; to have to fight these thoughts. When underneath you know you are a happy, smiley person with a zest for life. When you know life is too short as it is and you just want to live it to the max and make the most of it. But within your own head is another voice telling you you no longer want to live, that you can’t live.
This year I welcome July with a little more excitement than usual. Today we go ahead with our first ever IUI procedure, having been cancelled last time due to hyper-stimulation [blog here: https://myblog010887.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/iui-cancelled/%5D. I am excited for the hope that comes with this; although struggling to find positivity for a BFP test in 2ish weeks..! Whilst hanging around waiting between appointments for the procedure I get to see my gorgeous goddaughter and her mother for the third time this week, my godson and his father (same family) for the second time this week. Spending time with friends makes me super happy. This evening, “grub club” with the girls visits another local restaurant for scrummy food {although, having been flat out asleep by the time James came to bed at 21:30 last night, I’m not sure how alert I’ll be girls!! Pre-going out so needed!!} Most weekends this month have some kind of plans or other – plans I know that I won’t – can’t – cancel no matter how much my mind betrays me and feels like I don’t want to attend them as the time draws nearer. I noticed recently that I seem to do that – fill my life with plans – because I can’t cancel – I will never cancel on anyone unless I am physically unable (🀒!!). I don’t say no and I don’t cancel on anyone no matter how anxious I might become. I think it means I can’t lock myself away from the world, thus making myself feel mentally worse.
July two years ago – you sucked. July last year – I barely remember πŸ˜•. July now… you know what you gotta do ☺️

xπŸ¦„x

[Mental] Health Crisis

Bit of a mush mash of words here.. but just wanted to write something(s!) down to go with my slightly scary discharge letter received last week.. And my brain isn’t working properly to make this blog better.. so I’m done with it in the mish mash that it is.. πŸ˜‚πŸ™„

πŸ˜”

We seem to be in quite the mental health crisis. Everyone knows the NHS is “always” suffering. But the mental health teams seem to be stretched beyond belief.

I waited 6 months for therapy. The therapy I have just undergone (CAT; Cognitive Analytical Therapy, which, btw, I loved and felt was massively helping) is recommended to take 1 hour for between 16-24 weeks. The NHS provides just 8 weeks of *not quite* 1 hour sessions..

How on earth are you supposed to make breakthroughs and adjust and be “fixed” in just 8 hours?! That’s a working day! And an average working day at Clarks is what tore me apart good and proper, forced me to leave the career that I loved, and put me in therapy in the end! 

The funny thing is – I(/we) could/would easily pay for me to have therapy 1,2,3 or even 4 weekly.. but I’m not sure it will ever truly make any difference anymore. This in itself is a huge improvement for me – I used to feel like I needed someone mental health trained to daily be by my side guiding me through life..!

I just seem to chop and change. For no apparent reason sometimes. Just like my eyes do – the other day for example, I felt like I could see clearer and further physically than most days. I only “need” glasses for driving but I often wear them just in places like the supermarket just to help me find my way round {quicker}.. but this was not needed the other day.. just like my PHQ/GAD scores… up and down up and down, better and worse, better and worse. Some days I find myself absorbed in this world of negativity and I cannot snap out of it; no matter how much I want or need to, it sticks with me until it is ready to shift on for a brief spell of time. Yet on others I seem to radiate excitement and zest for life; exactly who and what I want to be 24/7..

But this.. these scores.. they scared me a little. Whilst I agree, and I no longer feel like any amount of help/therapy is ever going to do anything; and I’m just going to have to thrive – as I do – on the good days (sprinkling glitter, kindness, care, love and smiles like the unicorn girl that I am), banking the memories and doing my best to plod through without hurting myself too badly on the bad days… the fact that a service happily discharges you when scores have not improved, and are still considered “severe”, I find quite scary.. 

They did improve, whilst I was undergoing therapy. They dropped a fair bit [“dropping” is good] and then slowly built again. It would seem the so many things that I felt were helping [therapy, running (VLM17), citalopram, holidays, fun, friends, sunshine, etc] really did make me “high” for a period of time and although many of these are still going on, my anxiety is back worsened beyond reasonable belief or expectation.. I don’t know why I am so badly over worrying about everyone and anyone, everything and anything, and why this huge sense of dread is sat so heavily on my shoulders right now. 

We agreed this, my therapist and I. Largely because all they now offered me was something I just cannot guarantee I will put the time and effort into it that it really needs. I always attended and engaged well with my therapist – but putting my mind to work is hard enough in therapy, let alone trying to make it work alone! This week I have been quite motivated to do everything and anything – but others I find myself exhausted not wanting to get out of bed and achieving seemingly nothing. Some say that’s ok – it’s ok to listen to what your body and mind must obviously need; but it never feels ok for me, especially whilst my darling husband is slogging through 50 hour + weeks.. but it means I cannot allow myself to commit to a new therapy that I may not always find the energy or motivation to put the effort into helping myself. And that’s part of the problem with mental health illnesses, isn’t it – you need to help yourself.. but that is always, always easier said than done.

I suspect part of the reason I have been motivated is because I few plans were cancelled (not by me; never by me; I cannot cancel… πŸ™„) at the end of last week which meant I actually had time to not do EVERYTHING and at 400mph as per usual Karen.. who then burns herself out from doing so..

I am incredibly grateful for the NHS and all the help we get, but with mental health in particular there just doesn’t not seem to be “enough” help. That age old problem of “enough”, rising its ugly head again..

Sometimes, I feel like, instead of having “one of those days” I’m having “one of those lives” where one thing after another just seems to go disasterously wrong and on, and on…

I guess I am just generally unsure what to make of it all. I could seek out therapy privately – but part of me can’t be bothered to start all over again somewhere else. Part of me doesn’t think I need/want to. Part of me thinks there’s no point. And part of me is shocked to still see those scores so worryingly high πŸ˜’

Worrying world of filters and edits…

Original image
Two things. Can we just 😍😍😍 how beautiful are these flowers?! πŸŒΊπŸ’

πŸ’–

But, importantly, this (yet another – spoilt this week!!) little blog, is about the situation with filters/no filters/edits/no edits which I noticed when posting “Cute Cottage” picture on Instagram earlier.. [see below] because it was something I had never really noticed before, and it alarmed me to see such a contrast on my camera roll from an “unfiltered” photo… I couldn’t help thinking to myself – no wonder we have generations of people desperate to change what they look like if others are constantly hash tagging “no filter” but editing TF out of their lives….

Original image…
#nofilter … but a tonne of “edits”!

So, with each picture here, the first one is unedited, the second swipe shows me playing around with the brightness/contrast/structure/warmth/colour/saturation/fade/highlights/shadows/vignette/tiltshift/sharpen… yet still enabling me to #nofilter … I used a few different images to “get the gist” across as such, although, ironically, the one with me in – which was my main point and worry about how people’s looks could be edited so far away from the truth – I think doesn’t actually look as dramatically altered (but it is!).

So this all got me thinking about how frequently we hear about boys and girls, men and women having {body} dysmorphic issues.. and I can’t help but feel, suddenly how obvious it is for some as to why.. I am willing to bet there are millions of people out there uploading seemingly perfect images to the internet every day, hashtagging them as “unfiltered” when in reality, all the filters or edit options have been applied. Now don’t get me wrong; I know I am not the only one noticing this lately, and there is definitely a lot of body empowerment and “owning” who you are going on with the use of the World Wide Web (you just gotta look for it, and once you’ve found one, you’ll find a load more) but I just kind of felt the need to write down a quick little blog for anyone out there thinking that their lives aren’t as perfect as “blah and blah” to say: noones life is perfect. Filters and edits exist, and sometimes – often – people only disclose what they want to disclose… I know I can be a bit of an oversharer at times (#understatement 😝) but, as with the main title of my page here – honesty is what you’ll get from me.. because I’m tired of fighting my perfectly unperfect life, mind, infertility, etc, on my own.. here you’ll find me: open, honest, filtered or unfiltered, edited or unedited – I’ll let you know – Karen. 😘 

Dear everyone – please bare in mind that what you see in an image may not be real life. Smile, love and be kind; that’s what makes you beautiful. πŸ’•

Original image

#nofilter … edited!!

P.S… I only discovered the “edit” options because I wanted a bluer sky behind the cottage like there’d been last week when I was too lazy to take the picture… πŸ€¦πŸ½β€β™€οΈ

#nofilter but lots of edits!

An open letter to my therapist..

Today I had my last therapy with my current therapist. I won’t say what kind of therapy it is I’ve had – as knowing this would have put me off at the start and I wouldn’t want to do that to anyone, because it is worth it – but you are asked to write a letter to your therapist in the final session – and they write one to you too.. you can write anything – even just one line – but we all know I’m a writer…!

I was scared because you read the letters to each other (unless you really just can’t, somehow, through tears I managed it!) the writing wasn’t an issue, as usual. 

As I was writing it though, I thought about how it wasn’t necessarily just personal to him. A lot of it just makes sense. The Time to Change campaign are running a “what do you wish people knew about your mental health problem?” And whilst writing, re-writing, reading, and re-reading what I’d written to my therapist, I thought it fit in quite well.. so here it is.. my own words, to my therapist (with a couple of little bits just added)… but what I want you all to know..

Dear Richard,
Well, as per, I have no idea where to start, or end, or what to say full stop! If I’d have known this was coming I probably would have run a mile (or 26… did I mention I ran a marathon?!) 7 sessions ago! Even my husband came out with the understatement of the year in saying it sounded “scary”!
Writing isn’t really a problem for me… I can – and do – go on for hours! It’s more the speaking/saying it out loud. I don’t know if it’s even that I’m just scared/don’t want to/don’t like to – I just feel quite terrified.. but also perplexed – because at school I quite often wrote and did readings – sometimes with a friend, but also sometimes alone. I had forgotten I had ever even done this until going through boxes of my old school “stuff” recently. It highlighted to me, that at some point I must have had an element of self confidence within me, I guess, to have been able to do that.
I have enjoyed our sessions – and this therapy process in itself.

I don’t know whether “you therapists” (Rachael was the same!) “mimic” your patients – as such – but I always found it amusing/calming/warming how we would find the same things funny and despite my crazy mind we could still share a giggle over how much constant holiday you {never me πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‚!} get!! It’s the daft little things I guess!!
I am surprised at myself too, because as I got utterly desperate for help in the months prior to me being offered therapy with you – I eliminated male therapists from my search. I am a real girly, girl’s girl and I was convinced I needed a female therapist again. They didn’t tell me when I was initially offered the appointment over the phone that my therapist would be male – it was only when I got the letter that I realised (panicked!) but I then figured that I may as well give you a chance! I am glad I did – proud of myself, if you like! – you gave me an unexpected, different and somewhat calming approach.. despite being male!! However, you, or I, should really write down my “homework” as I often forgot on my return home!
I like {this} therapy. I think it makes sense – I just think the time isn’t enough (or maybe I am just extra complex – I suspect so!) especially just 8 sessions on the NHS, although I appreciate the constraints! I kept meaning to ask you if you worked privately so I could at least get the longer (infinite!!) time I felt/feel I need(ed), but, I don’t think you do. I feel, perhaps, like I have wasted our sessions: they’ve gone so fast and yet I don’t feel like I’ve progressed. That’s not through fault of you though! I don’t know if it’s my “never good enough” talking, or because time has gone so fast, or even just from where I don’t feel as “high” at the moment. I seem to struggle to concentrate, take things in and remember anything whatsoever when my mind strays into that black hole of… literal emptiness!! I’ve felt the same from my CBT sessions – again, not through therapist fault, but just because my mind is a mess, I guess. 
I wasn’t consciously aware of being upset in our second to last session because I knew therapy was coming to an end – but perhaps subconsciously it was playing on my mind more than I realised. I’ve found myself thinking in the last couple of weeks that I just can’t do this “on my own” despite being surrounded by family and friends who love me unconditionally and just wish they could wave a magic wand to “fix” me.
I write down a tonne of thoughts and head to bed, yet everytime I put my head on the pillow, my mind starts spinning with more. It is never ending. How do I break that cycle? I can, sometimes – or at least “after” – identify rational and irrational thoughts. What is ridiculous and what is stupid. I know hurting myself in any way won’t help, and that, despite the feeling of being in control from doing so, that that couldn’t actually be any further from the truth: that by doing so I am letting my negative, irrational mind win. But I just can’t stop the thoughts or stop myself from “playing up to them”.
It feels impossible to change those age old habits – they are older than I am an adult. They feel like me – even though I am also conscious – to an extent – of not wanting to be like this. I feel like a child. I feel constantly like I have regressed. I feel like I need regular (an improvement from constant!) support and help to crack this. I guess I just feel I need a bit of aid and encouragement to get the old brain cogs working!

And I am scared, but, I think, most of all I am scared of how much this all, still, controls me – what I do and who I am, yet I cannot give it up. It is obsessive and a compulsion, and I am petrified of the “what if’s”!! After all – who am I outside of this crazy mind? Who is Karen underneath all these many years and layers of anxiety with depression? Without compulsively under-eating and overexercising, without having something I can “control”? I know what my friends and family – particularly my Mum and Dad – will say. They will say I am kind and caring, loving and loveable, a worshipper of the sun and warmer weather, a girl who lives and loves to travel and explore the world! They’d say I am a fighter and have been since day 1; be it fighting for myself, or for others who I feel have been subject to injustice. 

But what if I am not? What if this kindness and caring and excessive love I give off is actually a result of anxiety and depression? Of how I have been treated? A result of my many layers; because I know. I know what it feels to not be treated kindly, or be cared about or loved; even if my experience of that has come from someone (some people) who really, is (are) nothing to me. And what if I can’t keep fighting?
I feel like a hypocrite, as, just the other week, in light of all the terror attacks, I wrote a brief post about how we cannot and will not lock ourselves away “just in case” of the “what if’s” – and yet, really, here I am, locked away inside my own compulsive little (nasty!) habits, inside of my own head. Ruled by a negative mind.

I stole the quote “what if I fall? Oh my darling, but what if you fly?” yet, despite finding myself regularly suggesting/helping/being there for others struggling with their own [mental] health, I cannot completely help myself. And worst of all, I worry. I worry that what if I don’t really want to help myself? What if I don’t really – can’t – loose this controlled/controlling part of me? In which case, why am I even doing any of this?!
It’s *almost* funny- but if someone says something self depreciating/negative/I don’t like/feel is true about me, I won’t stand for it, I’ll fight it and be fuming – and yet I’m negative about and towards myself consistently! Nothing anyone ever says or does or writes to me resonates for long enough to remind myself that I am enough. And even as I read you this letter, and you waited for me to finish, you remembered – somehow – even what I had said right at the start in order to respond. Even I couldn’t have remembered what I had said – and I wrote it – yet I know you responded in a way in which to remind me once more that I am enough, but already I cannot remember how or what you said….
And now, I don’t know where, or how to end this. As appears to be my forte – I’ve gone on for quite a while. I’ve been writing this on and off for the last two weeks, the main bulk of it done immediately after our seventh session so I didn’t forget! I’m not sure if I have said everything I want or need to say, or, as usual, if it is “good enough”, but with less than an hour until our final session, I guess I need to end somewhere.. Although I do have a couple of unexpected pages left, so I expect I will have a “P.S” or two somewhere!!

I’m also unsure how to “sign off”. A “sincerely” feels too formal, and I am also used to signing cards and letters to friends and family with outpourings of “lots of love” etc, but that feels even weirder! So instead, the only option feels to me to be a great big thank you, for your understanding and help, and for making me less “wary” or whatever it is I’ve previously thought or felt towards male therapists.
Karen x

There was, in the end, no P.S. I think I said everything I had to say for now. The only thing I’d like to add to Richard now (though it unlikely he’d ever see it!), is how funny I found it when he accidentally let an “f-bomb” slip.. I can’t even remember what context he used it in – it was definitely appropriate, but beyond unexpected, but being that I constantly feel like I’m swearing unnecessarily (and I hate it!) it certainly made me feel better, and giggle. β˜ΊοΈπŸ˜‚

x

The Cinnamon Trust.


My heart, is melting πŸ’”
Rufus 🐢 (!) and I volunteer through The Cinnamon Trust (http://www.cinnamon.org.uk/). It’s a charity which looks for volunteers to support “the elderly, terminally ill and their pets.” I have volunteered to walk dogs should their old/terminally ill owners be unable to walk them any longer.

Weirdly, I discovered around 5 months into being with The Cinnamon Trust that my dad also volunteered with them many years ago. Talk about keeping it in the family! πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦
It took a few months to first find suitable “client(s)”. Cinnamon Trust tries to find and match people that are close to each other so expenses are kept minimum; as you’d expect for a charity.
A month or so ago I began walking Jaz, a sweet little Jack Russell-Staffy cross belonging to an unwell June in my local village/”small town”. June is lovely – so sweet and incredibly grateful for my help. 
But I don’t do this just for June and others like her – I also do it for me, because I am a typical millennial in every sense and I just have this need and desire to help people – yet being too scared of blood and gore renders me useless to train as a doctor or nurse (as if I was even clever enough!*) and I [currently 😬] do not have the self esteem/confidence/belief to look at training as a therapist {a suggestion from my current therapist}.. Volunteering doesn’t often seem to me as that much of a real nice and decent thing to do – it is essentially pretty easy for me to do this and I enjoy it. I believe I am a mostly (!) decent human being, and it’s my opportunity to give a little something back to society; I believe we should look after each other. πŸ’•

I – like many – HATE(D) paying tax (as it so often seems to go towards those who don’t need or are undeserving) but I am more than happy and willing to help out those who are really in need.
Today, June presented me with this adorable bunch of flowers, hand picked from her own garden, πŸ’smelling – and looking – wonderful as a token of her appreciation for me walking Jaz. Just for me doing something that I feel like is just common decency for me to do! And not only that – I think due to holiday, I have only walked Jaz 4 or 5 times so far! 

I don’t need, or want, or expect any thanks – from anyone – for walking Jaz; she is super sweet and very easy to walk. And, like I said, by volunteering I am already part doing this for the good feeling I get back for helping. It is really no hassle for me to walk Jaz – and most of the time I actually feel like I should be doing more – and even though it’s against Cinnamon Trust rules – I always ask June if she needs anything etc. before I leave. I can’t help it – to me it feels like human nature to do so; to help. I was so touched and, as standard Karen, could have cried! We all know I love flowers 😍! Imagine the sheer elation I then felt when the bee 🐝 landed on the orange blossom as I walked home! It really felt like the world was going round harmoniously in one big hug of humanity. Simple acts of kindness really, really make big differences. I had been feeling stressed (thanks to the idiot bank) and anxiety has been creeping it’s way back in, but after receiving this lovely bunch of appreciation, I felt kind and happy and willing and able to engage in conversation with strangers again on my walk home. I am only sorry I didn’t give June a big hugπŸ€—; next week I will ☺️


I feel sad, and worried, as I often always do when I think people might be lonely. I know the feeling all too well and I hate the thought of others being alone and lonely. I suspect it is more often than not why I reckon I am (self diagnosed!) as quite intense sometimes (soz-not-sozπŸ’πŸ½). Why I feel like I’m harassing people sometimes (some of my closest friends may even join me with in a good laugh here about me not being a “manageable relationship”!!!!!!!!!🀣🀣🀣) – because I worry about them being sad and lonely more so than the fact that I’d appreciate the company too! I am not saying June is lonely – I don’t know her well enough to know if she is or isn’t. I – as I am so often – still feel that awkward stage of being unable to ask people more about their lives. I know – from having seen when collecting/dropping Jaz – that she certainly has an array of visitors; which puts my mind at ease. I really am just a worrier. Often unnecessarily! I just hate to think of people being lonely. Ironically, I am then pretty awkward and apparently incapable of simple conversation which would mean I could make others less lonely…. hashtag, lifeπŸ™„/irony or something along those lines!
Anyway, thank you to June – I really, really love flowers.❀️

*My therapist has asked me to notice when I am being self-depreciating, and I expect a few people that read my blog/posts also feel I should just stop being so negative; but on this occasion, I genuinely am not clever enough! I am not stupid, but not clever enough to be a doctor or nurse πŸ‘©πŸ½β€βš•οΈ! BUT, I do later give myself some credit for a change πŸ˜‰ – it doesn’t come easy to me to do so. It feels weird and big headed. I remember an old Primark colleague once saying to me something along the lines of “if I don’t “big myself” up; you can be certain no-one else will, as everyone else is too busy “bigging” themselves up” – so you need to fight for yourself! πŸ‘ŠπŸΎ

Fat.

We all individually think we are fat. Beyond Gordon hits the nail bang on the head with the hammer when I read ~ just yesterday ~ her words in “Mad Girl” {and oh, my, gosh do I resonate with SO MUCH of this book..!} of 

“For young women, fat is more often a mental state rather than a physical one.” 

We all individually think “others” are perfect.Why do we judge ourselves so harshly when we wouldn’t judge others this way? Alright, I know theres a few nasty bullies out there who judge others instantaneously – not gonna lie; I’ve probably definitely done it in the past… we all have… but I have noticed myself more and more following “kindness is magic” because you just don’t know what others have/been/are going through and thus don’t judge a book by its cover.. but by and large, we are extrodinarily self critical whilst viewing others in this positive glow of perfection that simply isn’t true.

Why do we see ourselves in one light and others in a more positive light?

We are πŸ¦„.

I’m noticing this a lot recently. It’s good, because it’s what I’m meant to be doing as a result of therapy; catching myself thinking negatively about myself and really assessing, well, me. Not just in terms of “I’m fat” but generally under this all round umbrella of “not good enough” that I’ve placed upon myself; but there is no upper limit to what is “good enough” so I am constantly a failure to myself; because myself doesn’t even know what is good enough… genius, right?!

In a group conversation with two of my bestest πŸ¦„ girlfriends the other day, we were all individually berating ourselves. Calling ourselves fat, or flabby, whilst the other two said “you’re not, but I…” etc, etc. We do it a lot – not just us 3; women in general. But we aren’t. We are all different and unique. I have bigger thighs. Francesca is just all round tiny [Well Rosie and I think so at least ☺️]; and we don’t know how because my-unicorn (don’t believe in god πŸ˜‰) she is one hell of a baker, and if I baked like her I’d be absolutely enormous from taste testing the goods/licking ALL the bowls πŸ‘…πŸ€£ . Rosie, on the other hand, is “top heavy”: she has bigger boobs (guess the guys/her bf are/is happy πŸ‘€πŸ˜‚), and she’s dubbed her “belly” “Krispy Kreme Castle” and butt πŸ‘ “Mars Bar Mount” which is so cute and funny, and made me laugh out loud that I can’t help but join in with her on it. She’s still tiny. Her legs are long and slim and her butt looks pretty good to me and not so Mars-Bar-Mounty… me? Well I have tiny hands and feet and I’m warming to the rest of me. My stomach often looks reasonably flat despite ALL the food, and I prefer my smaller boobs (although they never feel so small πŸ˜’).


So here we are. Krispy Kreme Castle bellies and all; terms of endearment. I don’t think we really care anymore though; this is just who we are. We exercise/don’t exercise as and when we want. I run; I love it. Francesca doesn’t; because her asthma is waaaay worse than mine and she doesn’t so much love it 🀣. Having said that; she was pretty good running in France this week and has seriously good form! Rosie does ALL the gym classes and has discovered that if we play the 90’s Christina Aquilera “Fighter” then she totes adores the boxing even more!! The funny thing is – we all wear pretty much the same size clothing..!

I’m Karen. I’m 29 [fighting 30 in a few months.. 😱] and I’m 5ft 5″-ish.. and I tend to sit at around 9 and a half stone. Sometimes just over (ugh) and sometimes just under (yay!). I’ve fought that for years, I’ve fought and continue to fight the anorexic thoughts that have been present within my mind for more or less 30 years. I’ve said before I don’t truly believe they will ever completely go away; they may come back stronger than ever, but right now I am learning to appreciate what I’ve got and live, love and laugh with it. Clearly 9 stone 7 pounds [ish] is where I’m meant to sit. And you know what? That sits right smack in the middle of “healthy” for my age/height/sex. That is, those magic words; “good enough”. As I’ve typed that I’ve realised it’s a classic time for me to “catch myself” again. That is good enough. I am good enough.

Obviously (“ugh”) I am not ok with the ‘slightly’ over 9.7 stone, and ideally I’d maintain the 8 stone I was at around 2-3 years ago, but I can’t. I can’t maintain 8 stone or just under. I can’t even seem to maintain just under 9 stone. And I think I’m learning to deal with it. If it’s unmaintanable then it can’t be right, right? I want to live and be happy: not fight myself day in day out. I’m not gonna lie – This isn’t easy for me to say or deal with, but I’m trying to for the sake of life and happiness which is super important. The most important. I am learning to be ok with it. I am living; eating and drinking and moving as others do. For the first time since I’ve had the t-shirt, my “running = more cake πŸŽ‚” tee is actually more truthful than laughable. Running used to equal more running.. running used to equal allowing myself dinner..

I have stretch marks too from puberty. I hate them – but actually they are mostly faded now and, you know what? I was so, so relieved when Francesca said to me the other day that she “hates these stretch marks on her thighs” because I’d never noticed hers. I’d have never said she had any until she told me. We home in on our own “faults” and fail to realise that actually they are just part of being human, they aren’t abnormal, we are NOT all perfect, photoshopped images, and they/we’re ok.

I’ve noticed this last week I’ve got the beginnings of some tiny varocous veins forming… not best pleased for not-even-30… but maybe, just maybe, by announcing this “out loud” will make someone else who is struggling with noticing this in themselves be ok with the fact that I too, am not yet 30, and not best pleased – but what am I to do?! They are forming. I don’t know much about them as they aren’t something I’ve spent years worrying and pouring my soul into researching like every other aspect of me – but I know my mum has them, and I’m sure the googling will soon ensue…

Something inside me is changing. Maybe its age/maturity. Maybe it’s the amount of beautiful weather we’ve been having (/I’ve taken myself to!). Maybe it’s the Cognitive Analytical Therapy [CAT]psychotherapy that I’ve been undergoing, or the citalopram I’ve been taking, or because I ran a marathon, or been talking to therapists/everyone and anyone who will listen about everything and anything. Or maybe even the amount of doctors/nurses that have had probes/cameras/catheters/speculum’s up my vagina in the last few years. Who knows – whatever it is [& I do suspect a strong element of maturity; perhaps induced by the citalopram] I’m changing. Topless in front of friends/my Mum? Don’t care. Or one of my besties, Rosie “I’m-not-going-to-walk-in-on-you-naked-in-the-shower-oops-I-just-did”… I just don’t seem to be fussed. I just don’t seem to care anymore: we are all human. We all have bodies. We are all different but we all have our pros and self-perceived “cons”. And more and more of us are realising this, and that life is just too short to not enjoy it…Man I wish I had felt this age … 0 onwards….

MHAW2017

Poignant, I think, for the last day of mental health awareness week.. 

I think I scared a few people earlier this (last) week.. had a couple of calls (although I will say I’m not adverse to calls rather than the usual epic texts conversations I’m normally involved with!) and texts I wasn’t expexting, even James was worried I was having “naughty” thoughts… that’s what we call them.. the worst kind of thoughts.. no one can bring themselves to say THAT word, can they?

 I won’t mention names, and I hope she’s ok with me referring to her, but I had a friend who took an overdose earlier this year.. in talking to each other now, the word “suicide” has never really been mentioned – it’s like the word depression [and anorexia]; for me it’s hard to say – I struggle to say them even now. Only in the last year have I ever referred to myself as actually having had/have anorexia and it still feels like the most impossible word to say. It sounds alien and wrong coming from my mouth. 

But it also doesn’t quite fit for me: suicide. Just like the word depression doesn’t quite make sense. I – and my friend was the same – don’t want to die. I don’t want to kill myself and I don’t want to cut this already short life even shorter, but sometimes, the will to just stop having to think is super strong, and you will clutch at anything to make that stop. That’s what my friend said to me; “I just didn’t want to think anymore”. And I got her. I got her like I felt like I had never gotten anyone before. I’ve had suicidal thoughts when I was at my worst, but really, it’s just the desire to not have to think any longer.. that surging panic within you consuming every ounce of you that you just want – need – it to stop.

So, I’m ok. I am not suicidal. Obviously the early part of last week was a bit of a shocker. It was hugely disappointing, frustrating, upsetting and stressful to find out that [not only are we still not pregnant – but] we have yet another month where we don’t even get a chance to try to be. It did make me think “what is the point” again but – although it sounds it – not in a suicidal way.. the only thing I have ever known I always want to be was a Mother – so every set back along that way is literally like another giant step backwards, and leaves me seriously questioning yet again what I am here for.

It’s only now, in the last few weeks or months, for the first time in around 2 years that I have finally started to feel truly like the “old” Karen again. Even despite the days flying into weeks flying into months and the dreaded build up to my birthday rapidly approaching (getting older is a huge, huge anxiety for me, usually one of my lowest points in the last few years!!) The smiley karen that loves to be around people, always laughing and chatting, happy and just living; because life is too short as it is. The karen that craves the comfort of others, chatting and smiling to everyone and anyone. I’m chattier, eye contact and engaging is easier, conversation flowing easier, listening to others and taking in their lives and concentration (almost!) seems to be improving. Being kind and friendly and wanting – needing – to be around people and engage with them is returning. Because, while the general public can be full of idiots, I like to think I’m good at dwindling out the decent, like minded ones πŸ˜‰  My love/hate relationship with people in general becoming funny again; because people are annoying but people are also brilliant and I love being around people!

I’m on meds. I’m back in therapy. Holidays and fun plans are on the horizon. The {standard British} weather is slowly starting to pick up to give us some kind of summertime and I’m running and moving reasonably well.. so it may be one, or a combination of all these things, but one way or another, I’m doing ok right now. 
And so, I guess, I am a prime example of what mental health does to you. What it looks like and feels like. It’s dark. It’s horrid. It isolates you, without you even realising, and it will always be with you. Mental health illness isn’t just something you suffer with for 8 weeks or so and then you’re fine forever; throughout your life it will come and go. Sometimes you’ll be aware of what’s triggered you and others you’ll have no clue as to what’s going on or even why now? But there is light at the end of the tunnel. It might be just a pinprick to start. You probably won’t even be able to see it at first. But somehow, somewhere, you can and will get through it. There will be bad days, and there will be good days, and slowly the good will increase and the bad lessen. Always look up. 

So..!

So – the 2 pages I did actually manage to read yesterday:


Relevant. So relevant. Especially that second to last paragraph on page 16… I have lost count of the number of times ignorant* people have said to me “but you’ve got everything! You’ve got a lush house, job, car, husband, dog, good figure, fit, healthy” blah-de-blah-de-blah… are you for real?! I mean cheers – that makes a mental health sufferer feel 150 bazillion % WORSE. And guilty. SO GUILTY. I know – believe me I know how bloody lucky I [mostly!] am – I am fortunate. I am physically (mostly) and financially wealthy and comfortable. That doesn’t mean my head isn’t fecking mental, and thus I do not need reminding why I seemingly have nothing to be “anxious” or “depressed” about. 

It. Is. Not. A. Choice. 

I wouldn’t wish the hell I have been through on even my worst enemy – and believe me I can be pretty mean like that, so: why on earth would I then choose it for me?

Sometimes, I do think mental health is more important than physical health – because the state of your mental health can dramatically impact on the state of your physical health. I keep going back to this recent saying from my primary school teacher – Mrs Cooke you have really got me thinking here!! “mens sana in corpore sano” ~ “a healthy mind in a healthy body” 🌚🌝

*if you actually say the words “I don’t understand it” or “I’m bored of trying to understand it – then, I’m sorry; you are an ignorant plonker. Sorry, not sorry. But I’ve heard it and its just absurd. Do you understand Cancer? Me either. Parkinson’s? Same. How about Poverty? Aids? World hunger? Human trafficking? Nope, nope, nope and nope: me either. Do you try to understand, and empathise? Yes. The world is full of shitty things no one should have to go through; mental health illness is no different. 

It isn’t easy to help someone. I see that now in me in hindsight, and in desperately wanting my friends to feel better now. A typical reaction for someone struggling with mental health is to entirely withdraw and isolate themselves. It’s not obvious to the sufferer at the time, it just happens. You think you are screaming out for help, but in fact you are withdrawing and quietly freaking the hell out. Just be there for people. Listen if need be. Be nice. Be patient. Give hugs. Or flowers. Love. Be kind. I like all of those things…. there really is something about this kindness being magic which makes everyone feel better…
Couldn't agree more!
^ couldn’t agree more!

IUI. Cancelled.

IUI Cancelled ❌
I am gutted.

In all of my being open and honest and talking (because it helps & because none of us are alone in this world) about all of this – never in my wildest dreams (& they get pretty insane…!) did I think I would be posting this message, of all messages.. it was literally the absolute last message I expected to be telling anyone.

I really, honestly believed this was the time. So many little signs and signals, marathon done, dusted and achieved. It felt like it was right. Now was our time. We were undergoing treatment and definitely going to conceive this time..

I more or less hyper-stimulated. Not so badly that I’m in danger or pain. But enough to have to cancel the treatment cycle. Instead of the maximum 3 follicles of a decent size, I had 5 ranging from 12-17mm (& increasing), alongside tonnes of smaller ones also still growing. I’m gobsmacked. I have been using the same medication (gonal-f) on the exact same dosage for seven cycles now and whilst I always reacted pretty well and quickly, I never had this many larger follicles at once.. I don’t understand how or why. Every women can react differently on every cycle – but previously I’ve been pretty steadily similar! I am just lost for words. I’ve somehow barely even managed any tears (I suspect that’s the citalopram?!), and somehow I am yet to have a hug from anyone. And I really need a hug. I’ve had a couple of hugs wrapped up in text messages from lovely lovely supportive friends, but I could really do with the real deal now. I’m looking forward to James getting home, and mum and dad arriving tomorrow. Big thank you to Lesley at upholstery class as well taking some extra time to listen (again) and join in my being gutted! I am so, so glad I hadn’t quite given up running; as now I just want to run and run – and I wonder how much further I would have hyper-stimulated had I not carried on.

For those that don’t understand all this {because unless you’re some kind of fertility expert/going through this yourself, you’ll have about as much clue as I did (J is still often playing catch up to understand!) when we started this process 18ish months ago} – 5 follicles means 5 eggs. Ideal size is 18-20mm before ovulation & turkey basting {insemination!} process would then be given the go ahead. If they allowed me to continue with 5 (& who knows if the others would also keep growing; likely) and then ovulate, and be inseminated – that could mean 5 fertilised eggs. 5 babies at once. And that’s if none of those eggs then split… I’ve always dreamed of [identical – I’m obsessed!] twins, I’ve always wanted 4 children, but 5 babies at once is just too risky to their health. That’s why the cycle is cancelled. In regards to the running – on the cycle where I did my first long marathon training run, progress slowed/stopped over the weekend I did that run, suggesting running hinders follicle growth.. I suspect OHSS (Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome) would be a lot worse …

As is tradition, I now just want to avoid food and move more. You’ll find me running. Thank god for running (and Bec, don’t worry, I’m eating anyway). The extra irony being that I was quite looking forward to a (minimum) little break from running during the tww.. πŸ˜’

πŸ˜ͺ

“DIET”

{Full posting, including from Instagram..}


LOL. S U B T L E as always, thanks mum.. she absolutely cracks me up.. 🀣I’m obviously no expert, and I’m STILL πŸ™„ not pregnant🀰🏽 😭 BUT, I really think just eating sensibly, a mix of everything (obvs veg, πŸ₯•πŸ₯πŸπŸ† vitamins & minerals are most ideal, but don’t JUST eat them!!), listening to your body and not denying yourself anything, is the best way to live.. ttc or not πŸ’πŸ½ obviously, following my own above advice is easier said than done…

I have a soon-to-be 20 year, on/off battle with anorexia.. I didn’t have “treatment” as a “child” and I probably won’t as an adult. It seems virtually impossible to “treat” now; it is engrained in every part of my being. It is almost all I have known/can remember. I have had it for longer than I have not. I have grown up (!) with it. It is also probably the biggest route cause for my infertility.. I have to work SO hard to maintain eating sensibly: a healthy, balanced diet. I generally eat quite well/clean, but sometimes, like today, I allow myself a break; I’ve had a huge brunch of waffles and milkshake πŸ₯ž (& boy has it kept me going all day! And.. err.. let’s just say “dinner” hasn’t exactly been too “healthy” or “sensible” either… 😝). In the 18 months-ish I have had to battle myself many-a-time to NOT cut carbs, NOT avoid certain foods, NOT make myself sick, NOT track every single calorie, NOT undereat/burn more than I consume, NOT take 1/2/3/4/an-entire-pack of laxatives, NOT over-exercise and generally, all round, avoid the dreaded word “diet”.. and no, I don’t have a 100% success rate. I have had to gain weight, and I’ve been told I need to maintain it, for a prolonged period (ever), in order for my body to conceive… and then it still doesn’t and it is seriously hard to not go back to that tiny person I much prefer. 

I honestly, (despite needing glasses at times again) can spot the word “diet” on the front of a newspaper/magazine/book from a mile-off and every, single time I make a beeline 🐝 straight for it. I seem to be utterly programmed to just make myself diet constantly.

And let’s not even get started with the “eat well. Cut stress” tagline there, right? Even my (male!) psychotherapist rolled his eyes in disbelief when he heard a doctor had recently said something to me along the lines of “just cheer up”!! I have never felt particularly stressed when undergoing meds, or all the appointments associated with trying to conceive under the bracket of “infertility”, the biggest stress is discovering every month it still hasn’t worked. That is never going to change, no matter what! In fact, I was the least stressed I’ve ever been about it this month, as it meant I can run the marathon; but instead my husband took it worse than me.. I expect to be back to “normal” and stressed and destraught when I discover in approx 3 weeks that once again I am not pregnant; even though I’ve been under no medication or treatment whatsoever to enable that, and obviously running like crazy! πŸƒπŸ½β€β™€οΈ

I love my Mum with all my heart. I am not getting at her, or anyone. I’m not ranting at anyone. As always, it’s just my thoughts over spilling (perhaps getting them all out this week means I’ll actually sleep tonight?!). I want/wish more than anything to start my own family πŸ‘ΆπŸ»πŸ‘ΆπŸ»πŸ‘ΆπŸ»πŸ‘ΆπŸ» with my fab husband, and I really wish we had been lucky enough for it to “just happen” – yet still I find it incredibly difficult to not “diet” one way or another, and to be ok with this (perfectly healthy) “weight”. TTC or not, whatever you’re doing, just eat a healthy balanced diet. Just use some common sense and be sensible! Believe me; I know better than anyone that it’s easier said than done, but if I can work at it and battle it, we all can. Have an apple. Have chocolate if you want it. Eat your veg, but if you fancy a burger, then, that’s what you need. We really need to STOP ❌ with the word “diet”, with what you “should” and “shouldn’t” be doing; WE.ARE.ALL.DIFFERENT

 #reallife 

x