Tag Archives: mental health

Hope in the Storms

As I write this blog, the sun is shining and considering it’s the end of December, I took a quick stroll in the garden and it was pleasantly warm. I have been blessed with having a whole week off from work without using any annual leave. Yes, you heard that right (still pinching myself). The employer closed its doors to all employees for the whole of the Christmas break and after being a teacher and working for the NHS, I had to ask three times just to make sure. I mean, I’ve hardly had time off during the Christmas break unless it was a couple of days annual leave and don’t even get me started with those teacher years when guilt use to make me mark mock exam papers for years 10 and 11!

This period of recharge has enabled me to gain a decent sleep pattern and actually cook fresh food, to spend time with the kids, to lose badly in Mario Cart. Our resident kitty did a double take that the stranger who grumbles whilst in yoga pants and a thick hooded fleece as they rush back into a Teams call, actually tickled the old geezer behind the ears and rubbed his freely offered tummy. I’m sure he’ll have a meltdown next week.

As I reflect on 2022 with this blog post I’ll admit that it has thus far been one of the more challenging years – from the health related emergencies linked to my mum and myself at the beginning of the year, the cost of living crisis and its impact on my net income, a very challenging change to a new job role. All of them seemingly coming one after another, one could be forgiven into thinking that this is never ending. In some respects, when facing challenges we tend not to have an opportunity to get all philosophical about it and it is always when we reached the other side of ‘drama’ that we can view the lesson learnt. This is perhaps where I am as 2022 draws to a close.

Image by Joe from Pixabay

If there is one main thing that has been cemented this year and the past few years, well, actually life – lets say life – it is where I place my hope. Like a student sometimes I have to go over a task an innumerate amount of times before I fully apply and understand a concept. It just so happens that the Lord – being the Rabboni or teacher that He is – has been patiently teaching me to put my hope in Him. Not in job satisfaction, not in family members or friends or people, not even in chocolate and Prosecco. But in Him. And the brilliant thing I was reminded of this year is that He is just a call away, as in just calling on His Name when the proverbial organic waste hits the fan.

One wise bit of advice that I offer you – don’t be like me! Don’t swim in the muck of life and then think “Oh Yeah! I can call on the Lord”. Be more like my kids. When trouble hits them, I hear them quietly praying to Him who provides. Maybe I’m old in the tooth and old habits die hard (the meme of Elmo raising his hands surrounded by fire reminds me of the point that I usually call on His Name), but I have learnt this year to not wait until I feel chest pains and heart palpitations before I call out to Him but to literally offload while stuff is happening.

What I have found this year, has been that immediate answer to prayer, a peace, a Shalom, a wholeness which envelopes your very core and smothers out those flames of fear and anxiety. It’s taken yet another year but I feel so much peace as we enter into 2023 knowing that although it is going to be a tougher year, I know that I will still stand.

As I began to write this blog post, I wonder on what Bible verse would come to mind as I reflected on the highs and lows of the past year and it was Psalm 42, verse 11 which states:

Why my soul are you downcast. Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God.

Psalm 42:11 (NIV)

May those who read this post have a blessed New Year, may you be filled with the Lord’s peace which surpasses all understanding and may you be filled with His hope to endure whatever gets thrown at you.

P.S. ….don’t be an Elmo meme

Hello, It’s Me, Migraine

I guess a lot of us in the UK celebrated ‘Freedom Day‘ by heading outside doing things which we have been prevented from doing since Covid began last year. Except for yours truly of course. Instead, after a night of profuse tossing and turning I woke up realising that I had the first migraine in a while and was this a humdinger.

During my peri-menopausal years I had a guaranteed monthly occurrence of migraines having never had them when I was younger. It took numerous visits to the GP before it was officially recognised as just that – a migraine – and I had pretty much managed it with over the counter migraine relief. There was one caveat though – if I caught the migraine while I was awake I didn’t have any issues at all except the feeling of being in a different solar system due to the strength of the pain relief. But if it came on in the night, I would kiss goodbye the ability to carry out my duties as a normal human being. When I passed the menopause threshold of 50, they began to reduce significantly as my oestrogen levels bid their farewells as well and I very much didn’t miss them.

So who told this particular migraine to visit on one of the hottest days of this year?

Yesterday during a fitful sleep I vaguely recalled feeling pain sufficient to bring me out of deep sleep but I ignored it as it was a Sunday night and I regretfully thought I had to force myself to sleep due to work on the Monday. By the time my alarm went off at 6am the migraine literally slapped me awake! I stumbled out of bed and staggered downstairs to the kitchen. Once there I fumbled to get the medicine box from the upper most shelf in the kitchen cupboard – it occurred to me at that moment that my son was 10 and so was not about to overdose on out of date plasters and paracetamol. After being attacked by an avalanche of medically related boxes (never did get round to placing them in the box), I finally found the migraleve and popped the pink pills with a full glass of water.

It struck me an hour later that the migraine possibly started a good 4 to 6 hours prior to me getting up as my stomach began its telltale cramping which occurs towards the end of a migraine episode along with what I call the ‘munchies’. During a daytime episode, I would be 4 hours into the migraine when – in spite of eating normally – my stomach would feel immensely empty to the degree that no amount of eating would alleviate the sensation. Hence the term, “the munchies”. If I ignored this sensation, I would be rewarded with the mother of all stomach cramps. However at 7am with a tight school run to do, I ignored the warning signs and attempted to get by with another glass of water and a bio-yogurt drink.


Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

By the time I had made it to the car with my son, I was in the full throngs of unbelievable stomach pain. Sweating profusely, I pigheadedly drove my son to school and made the 14 mile round trip back home. Back on the drive, I was making my peace with God, trying to remember where I had placed my stupid Will, but somehow managed to get myself back inside just in time to chuck the two glasses of water, bio-yogurt and migraine tablets into the toilet bowl.

About 20 minutes later my older daughter saw me sat on the landing like a wet lettuce and I must have looked really bad because she genuinely looked worried and did not retort with some kind of banter that she normally would. Instead there was a degree of role reversal – she gently and quietly rubbed my back, dried my sweaty forehead and comforted me until I was strong enough to get up. She then forced me to drink some water before helping me back into my bedroom which had a fan blasting and closed curtains. I rode out the rest of the migraine there until it subsided.

I have an idea of what brought on that migraine and in a small part the hot night did not help.

But the thought of me working for the NHS, hearing and witnessing the deep routed concern about ‘Freedom Day’ from the frontline workers who care deeply about their patients and the continuing rise of cases hitting the wards, had my brain working over time on what would have been the hottest night of the year.

Keeping an Eye on Your Mental Health

I was sifting through my Twitter posts and saw a meme which reminded me of how I felt at the moment of seeing the meme, and I thought I’d post it here:

source: i.chzbgr.com

If ever there was a meme to sum up me during 2020 it was this. But I was thankful because as I approach the shortest day of the year, I am keeping an eye on how I am doing mentally. Last week I was caught short and by Friday I seriously wondered if I was going to be able to make it through to the end of next week. Work has suddenly become more hectic which coincided with my son’s year group being on a 14 day self isolation stint due to one child testing positive for Covid. I was back to home schooling while holding down a full time job with no family support as my siblings are either in high risk groups or live too far away.

This is my third job this year. When we entered into Lockdown in March I was on contract but this particular contract was about to end and so by lockdown I was working through my notice, still training users how to quickly use MS Teams which had been frantically brought in to cope with the organisation suddenly being forced to work remotely. All of us was home and I was home schooling in between.

After this contract ended, I was blessed to move into another job. Whilst still in lockdown, I had to map out how I was going to deliver training for a course, get to know new work colleagues, learn the basics of approximately 5 computer programming languages (one each week or so) with a 48 hour turnaround to then deliver them to a course group. I still – as a single mum – had to try to keep the family together who by now were beginning to exhibit the stress of missing school friends and the familiar routine of school. It was during this period that we lost Knuckles to boot and I crashed and burnt resulting to needing about 2 weeks (I had the most amazing boss back then). But the task of juggling all these things meant that I needed to return back to common ground which was where I resigned and went back to contracting.

It’s crunch time with this current role but compared to the last role where I was having to grasp and apply my understanding of programming languages I’d never used before (beyond Python), this wasn’t as stressful. My primary school aged son was back in school and up until a week ago things were manageable.

Now, I am sharing this with you because by the end of last week I had forgotten about a few things which in turn made my stress and mood plummet:

  1. I failed to force myself to attempt only those things I knew I could achieve and to say ‘no’ to anything else. My Project manager has no idea what I was juggling and I should have told him
  2. I rushed into the day and took late nights. My mind was swimming with my ‘to do’ list and as a result I was going to bed later, shooting awake at 4am. With this one I managed to catch it mid-week but made sure this weekend to just plain sleep!
  3. I had stopped taking little walks in my garden. Part of my screen break was to wander in my garden and take in the goldfish in the pond, do a bit of weeding – just little 10 minute activities which helped me maintain being on terra-firma. Bad weather and work had caused this to pretty much stop
  4. I failed to put my son before work, which upset him and which in turn upset me (never like seeing him disheartened)
  5. I was rushing into the day and skipping my quiet time with God. Yes, a face palm moment for those of you who are believers

Friday evening I was an emotional, weepy old dear who began to wonder whether I was going to be able to pull myself out of such depressive thoughts. And yet on reflection (and after two very good nights sleep) I had forgotten to consider just how seriously blessed I am.

Well the good news was that it is possible to turn things back!

It was while I was reading back on my earlier posts that I was reminded about my post called “Running from your Lynels“. The main thing that I had forgotten to do was to remind myself who was with me every single step of the way, good or bad, hard or easy times. You see, with God all things are possible.

No one ever said my life or my experiences were ever going to be a walk in the park, 100% of the time. But by noting when things are beginning to slip and then reminding myself of who I serve and therefore, immediately casting all my cares, worries, fears, weariness, anxiety, depressive thoughts, discouragement, apathy…. you get the idea…. onto Him, the burden gets easier to carry.

The main silver bullet on this occasion that significantly carries me through these episodes of SAD/depressive thoughts is singing. Today, with the weather looking dull and overcast, I put on some worship songs on You Tube which included lyrics as well and belted out some praise and worship to the One who sustains me.

So if you have been drawn to my post, it is by no mistake – if you are feeling low, leave a reply below my post and I will stand in agreement with you in prayer to reassure you that you are not alone and you will get through this.