Countdown

Eight days to go.

Today I actually felt happy. Yes, happy. I can not tell you why exactly, because I don’t actually know. Perhaps it was the Spring sunshine. Maybe it was the antidepressants doing an amazing job. Maybe it’s my new diet. But, without worrying too much about the why (as only someone with anxiety could) I decided to accept it with gratitude.

As I said in my last post, my little trip away has seemed to do my mental health the world of good. Wednesday I started a new eating plan too.

I have played around with Lifesum for a few months. I’ve previously had My Fitness Pal and have used it a few times quite happily. However I like Lifesum’s interface (is that the right word?) and so decided to pay for the subscription for a year. It’s two months payments for Slimming World /Weight Watchers – both of which I have tried and failed on multiple times- and so I thought it was worth a try. I have lost weight on both of these diets and I know they work really well for lots of people but just not me. I stop losing weight, yo-yo, and give up when I realise I am paying a £5 a week to be looked at pityingly by a group of smug slimmers.

After lots of reading up, I’ve decided to try low carb. I have PCOS and so cutting down on the sugar is a good idea amongst the other obvious health benefits. Problem is, I love carbs: a crispy jacket potato with butter and salad and spicy chicken. A decadent sandwich stuffed with turkey and rocket. Homemade lasagne. Chilli and rice.

Even now, only five days in, these still appeal to me. Other things seem to be taking a back step: no sugar cravings in the last few days. And I am not hungry all the time. And I seem to get full really quickly. And finally my, ehem, toileting habits have improved. I’ve also been sucessfully intermittent fasting on 16:8 and have managed this on all but one day. Yay me! I have not had the bloating and my stomach feels smaller but, it’s not been weigh day yet and I’ve been fooled by ‘feeling thinner’ before.

Ultimately, if this can create some healthier eating habits – no late night binging so far and I am definitely eating more veg and less sugar – then it is worth it in the long term. I’ve been having a small amount of carbs with tea but may cut these out too if I don’t lose weight. My original plan was to do this until I am back in work because I wasn’t sure I could maintain it. But I’m going to take each day as it comes. I’m monitoring my calories on Lifesum also so where I have a bad day with carbs I will make sure I keep within my calorie allowance. And if it doesn’t work? I will just keep trying until I can see those lbs coming off.

I want next week to work a little differently. I have proved to myself that I can be a good housewife when I have time to do it. I am determined never to let those feelings of failure and guilty about my home plague me again: when I have the time, I can keep on top of the housework easily. What I need to work out now, is what I can manage outside of working hours. And so I have decided that next week I can not do any general housework between the hours of 7.45am and 5pm as this approximately is my working day with the odd few later nights here and there. I need to manage my housework before/after these hours and if I can’t, I will hire a cleaner as I will have proved to myself that it impossible to meet the standards I want with the limited hours I have.

So, what am I going to do in the daytime? Well, I have a few appointments next week. I’m also going to try to get out each day, somewhere… Anywhere. And after that? I will allow myself to do any ‘extra’ housework. You know, decluttering – not every day jobs but things you save until you have more time. I’m going to sit and plan my week and make sure it is a productive as I can. 😊

Have a good week everyone.

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Why happiness is mine to accept

To understand this post, you may want to read the previous one first! https://startingfromthemiddleblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/11/why-am-i-depressed/

I have a good job, a nice home and three beautiful and healthy children.

My dad has survived lung cancer and his prostate cancer is in remission. He is still with us.

My relationship with my mum has improved. She is happy and I know she will always be there if I need her.

Never say never. The job I have now is suitable for my situation on the whole. I get time off with my children. My job is enjoyable and challenging and I am good at it. There will be time for change in the future when the moment is right.

My children know they are loved. They know they can depend on me. They may not have as much as some but they have more than others. They are polite and well mannered and have a healthy interest in reading and history and technology, of course.

Happiness is not just for those in a relationship. I can be happy without a man. But at the same time, love could be on the horizon til the day I die.

At least I know that the connection exists. Somewhere, out there is another connection – so strong that nothing will keep us apart.

I tried my best to keep my marriage alive. What I have now are lots of happy memories, three beautiful children and a much better relationship with their dad.

As I write, I am an able bodied woman with no major health concerns other than the need to lose weight. It could be worse.

Life can be good if we open our eyes to it.

Slow snow

It’s snowing!

Somehow, my area has pretty much missed the snow so far this winter. Further north, the Lake District and Cumbria have been hit a number of times, as has the South. But despite a few minor flurries, we have been snowless.

Snow is a big deal round here. Of course there is the excitement of snowball fights and snowmen and the possibility of a snow day. Then there is the worry and concern of the state of the roads. Britain panics when it snows, even with modern technology and knowledge. Bizarre.

It struck me as I sat here, that those initial and overriding feelings of excitement and/or panic mean that you miss the absolute true beauty and tranquility of snow. I’m watching those little flakes swirl and dance as they fall and it is so beautiful.

(It seems to be falling quite fast but the flakes are really small. It’s like snow in a snow globe. I love the massive flakes that fall too: soft, memorising fluff.)

I realised that is this not often the way of life? That you become overwhelmed by your initial thoughts and feelings to the detriment of feelings pondered on later? Fear and worry take over, dominating sense and calm. It’s easy to say from my position of course, sat snuggly on my couch with the benefit of a slower pace of life courtesy of a breakdown and a sicknote. I’m sure if I was at work I would be feeling differently.

Speaking of which, I’ve had a week of good days! This has been my longest period of positivity and has to be a good sign. 😊 I’ve been productive too and am steadily working through the list of things I want to achieve before I return.

Yesterday I made myself go shopping but further afield than usual. Going out of the house is still an issue so travelling further was a goal. It wasn’t too bad in the end.

So, whatever you are doing today, take time to stop and think. Acknowledge your initial and dominating feelings, but give yourself time to consider the feelings under the surface. I actually think these are the most important.

This time, next year

Dear 2018,

So, you’ve finally arrived! There have been times this year when I couldn’t wait for you to get here. Other times I pretty much wanted the world to slow so I could catch my breath. Either way, I’m glad you’re here now.

2017 actually ended the way I would want. My children were happy and we had all a lovely time over Christmas and New Year with my family. It was busy but I am beginning to feel much more rested and rejuvenated. I still don’t feel on top of my game but now that you are here, hoping that will steadily change.

You hold so much promise. I know you don’t have the power to make my life this perfect place I perhaps want it to be, and I know that I need to stop feeling guilty when my life isn’t the way I want it to be. It’s down to me, both scenarios. But as this time of year is about wishes, and hope and looking positively towards the future and being appreciative for what you do have, I thought I’d tell you of what I’ve being thinking.

My children

I want to be there for my children and be able to spend quality time with them without being overly tired or stressed. I want to take them to beautiful and interesting places. I want them to have happy memories of their childhood.

Home

I want a home that is welcoming, warm, tidy and clean. I want to feel like I manage my home without feeling like it manages me. I don’t want it to take too much precious time away from me being with my kids. Can I have the best of both here??

Work

I want to feel enjoyment and security at work. I want to feel satisfaction that I am doing a good job but that I can continue to learn and develop. I want to enjoy it while I am there but I do not want it to be my life. Because it isn’t.

Social

I’ve learnt that there is nothing wrong with having some time to myself: it doesn’t make me a bad mother. I want to spend time with friends and family. I want to go to interesting places. I want to better myself and make myself better. I want someone to love me and to enjoy life with me.

Me

I want to be fit and healthy and full if energy. I want to run and walk and swim. I want to be happy in my skin, happy with who I am. Happy with my imperfections. I want to better myself intellectually. I want to write. I want to feel fulfilled.

I want to be loved. I want to feel like I am at the top of someone’s list for once. I want companionship and friendship and sensuality and affection and laughter.

I know it is a lot to ask 2018, and I know that this is all down to me. But if you could help me out with some of this I would appreciate it. And you would prove to be a much better year than 2017.

Many thanks,

Me

Xxx

21

After braving late night Christmas shopping at Asda (we could actually park which is a bonus!) I came home and unpacked and sent my children off to bed.

My daughter had been watching “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and after crossing off items from my list in a most satisfying way, I watched the second half of the film.

I love this film. I’ve not watched it in such a long time. Colin Firth is just dreamy and Hugh Grant is great as the slime-ball seducer.

The film brings back so many memories for me. I was 21 when the film was released. I had just bought a brand new computer (my uni lecturer had not been impressed with my second hand word-processor) and had treated myself to some DVD’s. I can’t remember exactly but these DVD’s were of some significance – maybe they were the first ones I had bought myself (??) as I can’t believe they were the first I had owned. It seems funny now as many people are getting rid of DVD’s now in exchange for digital versions. Anyway, I would sit in my tiny boxroom and watch Bridget Jones on my new desktop. I’d get so excited every time I watched it: laughing, hoping and stomach turning. Of course I was totally in love with Mark Darcy (character and actor) and just reveled in the idea that opposites could attract – there was hope for me yet!

My favourite part is the end where they finally kiss in the snow. Ah, it is so magical. Love it..

I was in a good place back then. I was in the second year of my degree which I was absolutely loving. I had lost loads of weight and was slim for the first time in my life. I had got rid of an absolute arse of a boyfriend who had sucked every bit of confidence and happiness out of me in 2000 and I had finally realised that I was so much better without him. I had met a new best friend and we were having great fun. I had a job and money. I was happy. Actually happy.

I wasn’t short of male attention but couldn’t find someone decent long term. I didn’t care though and decided to focus on my career and eventually my own place. I was going to move away and start afresh with this new found confidence and happiness.

Two years later and I had met my husband to be. And here I am.

I suppose in my current mindset it would be easy to talk of regret. But I don’t have any. Sure, I’m separated, fat and depressed but I have three beautiful children, my own home and a career. 😊

I do want that feeling again though. Not being 21 again, just that feeling that all is well with the world. Happy. It’s sad to say, but I can’t remember the last time I was truly happy- fleeting moments, yes, but not all encompassing happiness. Perhaps 2018 is the year that I regain it.

One year on.

A year today I started this blog. Madness. At first I was pretty proud of myself for posting for a whole year, but then I realised it was more than that.

This blog has got me through some really tough times this year. It’s been a friend, a sounding post, a crutch.

Without a shadow of a doubt, on my second and final separation from my husband a year ago, I felt the absence of utter misery and stress would leave me feeling a lot happier. Surprisingly, it didn’t.

My circumstances are a lot different from the first time. I’m older (obviously), have three children (not two), and a more demanding and high pressured job.

I’ve found my separated life to be quite lonely. I’ve gone through dark clouds of depression to euphoric bliss and the boredom of monotony in between:

Dates – nope.

Rooms redecorated – half (don’t ask).

New hobbies – one.

Weight lost – none.

Evaluation of creation of new life? Poor.

But (and there is always a but)..

I HAVE MADE IT!

I have been a single parent to three gorgeous but highly demanding children whilst holding down a career and attempting to keep my house from looking (and smelling) like a dump.

So my advice to you, ‘newly separated and hopeful’ is:

Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to make big changes. Let the dust settle.

Accept that it will take a while for the dust to settle.

Don’t think that the big hole left (however desired) by your ex leaving/getting kicked out is going to be filled with love and wonder and happiness. Not at first anyway. You need to explore every inch of that crater to process what happened: how you feel about it and what you truly want now your dream of night long sex with [insert sexy movie star here] is no longer needed to get you through the pain of a dissolving marriage.

Be kind to yourself. You are going to emote in ways you didn’t know possible. You may even miss him a little. Doesn’t mean you want him back or that you should backtrack on your decision, necessarily. It’s OK to mourn what once was and what could have been.

Give yourself the gift of time. Go out with the girls. Get out in the fresh air whenever you can. Laugh, cook, dance. You don’t need a replacement to make you happy.

Take stock of your achievements regularly. This is a big change to your life. It’s not easy to go it alone.

Don’t be afraid of asking for or accepting help. It doesn’t make you weak. Just reminds you that you are not Wonder Woman. (More’s the pity).

Don’t settle for mediocrity. You’re better than that. You deserve more than that. There’s no rush – get it right this time.

Thank you to all the people who have read my blog and the two special ladies who regularly comment. It is always appreciated. 😊

Here’ s to Year 2 and all that may bring.

Happy Blogging!

Xx

Hope

I’ve got to nothing to say.

Nothing to give.

No answers.

No insights.

None.

So,

Each day,

Each and every day,

I’m going to try to live my life

With love in my heart

Light in my eyes

And hope that life can be good.

Immersion 

Memories are such a powerful thing. I would expect, perhaps even without realising it, it is one of the main reasons we write a blog. We are recording our thoughts and opinions at specific moments in our life – memories  that otherwise could disappear into history never to be thought of again. Just think about how many minutes you have lived today and how many of them you will never remember again. 

There are certain memories that I love to immerse myself in. By that, I don’t just mean thinking about them as I’m hoovering or washing dishes or something. I’m talking about focusing clearly on every part of the memory that I can. I suppose in some way it is a form of meditation or relaxation. 

First of all, I need to be lying down somewhere comfortable and quiet. And then, I think very carefully about where it began. It’s almost like flicking through a photo album: my mind searches through to find the true beginning. 

Then it starts. I play the memory in my head, crafting each moment and sound, each feeling and sensation. Sometimes my mind might wander a little as I process something that occurs to me or perhaps I’ll realise that I have missed something. At that point, I may make myself go back to the beginning. 

At the end, I pause to relish in the happiness of the memory. That is key, of course, they must be happy memories. Occasionally I fall asleep but that’s OK – it’s what my body needs at that point. (Plus, I often don’t realise that’s what has happened until I wake up!) 

I find this truly relaxing. I come out of the immersion feeling calmer and happier. I know that with mindfulness at the forefront, we should not dwell on the past. But for me, somehow, immersing myself in a time that made me happy makes me appreciate what I have had and what I may have again someday. 

Hopefully, this will help someone else out there. ☺ 

When you’re smiling… 

As I walked into the petrol station my mind was on the fact that I was later than expected and this was just adding to it. I’d had an OK-day. My friend and I had met for coffee but we were not sure where to go so spent too long driving round. 

My attention was caught quickly though by the new cashier behind the till. Young. Attractive. Smiling.  Now that was first – ‘miserable and with no customer service skills’ is on the job description. 

He continued to smile as I approached the till and then the usual conversation appeared. What an attractive young man, I thought. (OK, it wasn’t quite those words. More like, my god youre cute.) I swear he could read mind because he smiled again that way. 

I dropped my eyes and focused on keying in the right pin on the card machine. 

As I pulled out my card I looked up again and he gave me a big grin. Oh my. I smiled back. Oh my again. 

I know, I know, he was probably smiling because he knew I was attracted to him. He may be the most conceited, self obsessed man in my county. He would probably never go anywhere near anyone like me. 

But that smile made me smile, and that’s all that matters.