Autumnal Update

Thanks to those who are still with me, it has been a few months since my last post.  I am holding the fort solo so  this may well take all morning to write.  Rather than summarise the last few months, let’s have a look at what’s happening now and what’s relevant to this blog.

The main difficulty I am having at the moment is with the biggest small.  He started nursery part time in September; and two weeks prior to that he all of sudden decided he wasn’t going to use the potty or toilet anymore.  Fast forward to this week, and despite my plan of revisiting toilet training alas it was not to be, so looks like we’re going to be waiting until Christmas before braving the pants again. Disheartening? Yes.  End of the world? No. He still fits in pull-ups and nappies at night.  I guess I mainly feel disappointed because he was independently taking himself to the toilet over summer and then just regressed 10 weeks ago.

Littlest small is having a bit of a skin flare-up at the moment; he had to be seen in the children’s emergency department earlier in the month because his eczema got really bad and the poor dude ended up on antibiotics and steroid cream.  It’s still something we have to keep an eye on and meanwhile have to cover him in thick ointment twice a day which husband particularly dislikes as he hates the texture!  Can’t say I blame him.

Small people aside, I have noticed how Mindfulness has been effective at helping me cope with balloons and fireworks in social situations recently.  Last weekend I was enjoying a girly night with my lady friends, we were sat in the back garden with a fire blazing and there were firewoeks going off at random times throughout the evening.   They weren’t particularly loud, and the amaretto being consumed may have helped calm to nerves but it felt like a big step. Then the following day, as a family we went with out good friends for lunch at a pub in town and there were balloons all over the place (as decorations, not where people could play with them) and I didn’t bad an eyelid as I walked in and had an anjoyable meal.  I soon forgot about the balloons, and if any burst whilst I was there I certainly didn’t notice.  Since my operation I have neglected my mindfulness studies somewhat so have made a conscious effort recently to get more into it.

One of my short term goals is to get back into diet and exercise; I hve recently purchased a years’ membership to both Slimming World Online and the gym and neither are going very well, a month in.  I have been too lenient with myself when it comes to eating and not exercising so realise i need to incorporate mindfulness and more self disciplne to make this investment work for me, starting, well, today.

I’m trying to make a conscious effort to think before I eat about if I am hungry and if what I am going to be putting in my body is worth it and try and take some steps aorund the house to stay active.  This may prove challenging with a clingy small but will do my best!

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Slaying the Beasts and Receiving but a Scratch

Oh look, here comes another mindfulness/anxiety/CBT metaphor post. Observe!

Today I did some proper adulting. However, it almost didn’t happen because I experienced an anxiety attack just as my child care arrived to enable me to partake in said adulting.  My tasks were simply to go and vote, and get a blood test at the local community hospital just the other side of the city centre.  You may not know this, but I don’t have a phobia as such of blood tests but I dislike them immensely due to the fact that my veins are rubbish and tend to disappear when phlebotomists are present.

Today this decided to manifest as a panicky/anxiety-driven flap in which my poor mother was subject to me deciding whether I was going to go or not, me actually phoning my GP to determine whether the test could wait until I go in for my op (it couldnt), phoning my dad to see if he could give me a lift to at least get me there (he couldn’t) and the whole time she remained calm and patient as a said, occupying the smalls whilst I flapped.  Eventually, I decided I was going to put my big girl pants on and go.

Having rubbish veins and unfortunately several previous blood tests, I am aware of all the hints and tricks such as being warm and hydrated, making a fist etc.  tHEREFORE I took all measures, and, get this, decided to become mindfully aware of my walking and then my breathing as I waited for my number to come up.  You know what?  It worked.  The more I breathed, the more I felt my anxiety dissipating and the more relaxed I became,  I was still slightly apprehensive but it was totally manageable.  The phlebotomist I was was lovely, and listened when I explained about my poor history with blood tests.  Usually the aforementioned tricks of the trade helped a little, but today despite my  power walk to the hospital in my coat (after voting – see adult points earned already) followed by drinking a whole bottle of strawberry flavour water, my veins did not want to play ball so she ended up taking blood from my hand using a very pretty but complicated needle – butterfly tube – plastic thing combo.

It wasn’t pleasant, it sucked when she moved the needle around in my veins to try and strike gold but I felt a lot less stressed than I have previously, focusing on my breath and reminding myself this was as bad as it was going to get.  But it certainly wasn’t the worst experience.

After that, I power walked to M&S and had a delicious lunch and discovered chocolate covered cookie dough bites and chorizo crisps.  I need to go there for random junk food more often.  I feel like the anxiety was akin to a small yet persistent aggressive terrier that once it got hold would not let go until I took it for a walk, and then it got so bored of terrorising me it just left of its own accord.

As a bonus, tonight the biggest small asked to play with balloons.  So I sucked it up, and retrieved a couple of small ballons for him and one for his brother from the “therapy balloon bag” and let them play with them for th elongest time ever.  None of them burst and nobody died.  Today was a good therapy day 🙂

I think it’s working :-)

Wow, what a difference in how I am feeling and behaving!

Argh I’m going to sound a little bit preachy now; believe me that is not the intention I just want to share how helpful I’m finding keeping a bullet journal.  It’s like a paper PA that has seen a massive increase in my own personal productivity in the week that I’ve been keeping it.  Like paying outstanding invoices promptly, signing up for things, working out, meditating and being more aware of what I’m eating.

 

I love being able to set daily goals for myself and the satisfaction of crossing off each task as I complete it.  In addition, because I have been able to keep better track of it I have been meditating almost every day (only times I didn’t were after an evening of drinking – not really the best frame of mind for me to sit still!) and working out at least every other day.

 

I really like doing kettle bell workout videos on YouTube.  As husband does kung fu, he finds it helpful as well to do between classes and I love that it’s something we can enjoy together.  As the videos range from 15 mins to 30 mins I find myself sometimes doing a couple a night, it’s getting addictive!  I am pleased with past me for picking up a couple of kettle bells from Aldi when they were on offer a while ago, will definitely be looking to purchase another soon with a heavier weight.  I haven’t noticed any difference in my weight/body shape yet but it’s only been a week and I am enjoying the fact that I have made a commitment to myself and am sticking to it more than anything else at the moment.

 

I also found out that my surgey will be on 2nd July.  I’m scared – not going to lie – and to be honest the worst bit will probably be when they cannulate me!  But I plan to use the techniques I have learned through CBT and mindfulness to try and make it as least stressful experience as possible.  Plus husband has 2 weeks off work so I know the boys and my mum (who I work with) are going to be OK.

The mindfulness meditations I have been doing have made me feel overall calmer; in particular when dealing with children who refuse to sleep/settle/not sleep through the night and also feel more positive despite the resulting lack of sleep.

I have been trying to do the loving kindness meditation over the last 7 days but to be honest, I’m having trouble getting into it as much as those that focus more on the breath/body so will be trying that kind this evening.  So yeah, it’s nice to have something positive to talk about!

I also managed another period of the boys playing with balloons… husband even blew another one up (sneaky man!) and was releasing it much to the boys’ delight.  I feel like I cheated a bit as it was mainly whilst I was in the kitchen preparing dinner but this for me is progress, and I kept popping my head into the living room to see what they were up to.

 

Definitely feeling a lot better than I did a year ago.  Give meditation and mindfulness a try, I’m still very much a beginner but already feeling the benefits!

Behaviour Experiment: Giving the Children (old) Balloons to play with before bed.

A while ago, I brought home a binbag of about 5 balloons from my mum’s church hall, with the intention of using them as therapy balloons. A few months later,  they are still all pretty well inflated but with enough “give” that they won’t burst easily. 

Last night I read some pretty inspiring words in a Mindfulness for Overcoming Anxiety book which I will share here; 

Know your purpose

Know your feelings

Do what needs to be done 

To wait for your feelings about something to change before you do it doesn’t work because they won’t change until you do it. We have control over our behaviour. We do what needs to be done to fulfill our purpose even though our feelings want to push us in another direction,  hence undertaking behaviour experiments willingly.
So tonight I decided it would be a good idea to let the children play with the balloons. Which was fine until 3 year old decided he wanted them all for himself, and his little brother wasn’t allowed any.

This ended up in daddy confiscating all of the balloons and the children being sent up to bed (it was bedtime anyway) where I then spent 15 minutes calming and undressing a devastated 3 year old who needs to learn to share!
But I did it 🙂 I was brave and unleashed the balloons anyway, and feel like I could do it again tomorrow. Success!
And none of them burst.