Saturday, 27 February 2016

Marble Jar Rewards

I've always been a compliment-driven person, I didn't get any as a child. Nothing in did was good enough, so I still struggle with my self-worth as an adult.

As a result of this, I wanted to start a rewards system, so I could have tangible proof that I did compliment them. For those days when I feel that all is lost and I can't even have a wee in peace.

Initially I thought pom poms, they are colourful and easy to get hold of. But then a friend said that she has used marble jars for her children for some time and that it is a really good way to reward helpful behaviour.

So, I have 2 cleaned peanut butter jars and 200 marbles. Total cost £4 (not including the peanut butter).

Every time a boy does something kind, nice, helpful, or makes good choices, they get a marble (and a big verbal acknowledgement).
Putting shoes on,
hanging coats up when the come inside (instead of wazzing them on the floor)
Coming to the table at mealtimes and not screaming (Noah, that's you!),
Being polite unexpectedly,
Being helpful before nursery even though they feel upset (this is an important one, they are allowed to feel upset and I totally validate that feeling, but refusing to get dressed, kicking shoes off, etc was common before the jars).

I have visual proof that I have 2 well behaved, lovely boys and they get real-time feedback both verbally and a reminder of the marble jars, which I keep on the kitchen windowsill. This means that when I do shout at them, or tell them off for being little shockers, that I don't feel as wracked with guilt as I once did. Because I KNOW that I reward good behaviour.

I'm getting to grips with removing marbles when they are really trying, hitting and refusing to make it better is a definite marble out.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I'm really proud of myself and I'd recommend this system!

Today is the day of the first reward, and I'm feeling pretty generous, so we are off to the big toy shop that is run by the Geoffrey the Giraffe! Ewan is dying to get a Nexo Knights set from the new Lego series.

Until next time xx

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Anxiety, you're a bug a boo

Anxiety is caring too much about everything.
Depression is not caring about anything.
Having both is the constant worry about the now, while still being hurt by the past.

Dear Anxiety,

We have known one another for a very long time. My first clear memory of you becoming a bit of a pain was when I was 17, shortly after the break up of a relationship. I became plagued by self-doubt and social anxiety. So, in the years hence, I spent a lot of time living my life feeling like I was imposing myself on my friends. University in particular was a very lonely time.

Then the social anxiety bled into my work life, my intrusive thoughts leading to anxiety attacks and sickness absence. I kept it a secret for the longest time from MrB, until one day I was caught and I came clean about the horrible anxiety attacks that made me look fine, when I was falling apart inside.
MrB helped me to get you in check, 'it's ok, you're ok, just one step at a time.' He would coax me into work, often dropping me off to help me through the panic. (Remembering this is very emotional for me, he really is amazing).

About 2 years of no severe anxiety passed, August 2009 to early 2011. My halcyon days. I'd say yes to social plans (every time, and turn up). I learned to battle you, anxiety. I learned to know how you felt, and I could ignore it because I thought it would get better over time. I got really good at ignoring, pushing past you. I read about social anxiety, it helped a little But then I had babies.

Severe antenatal anxiety. Everything was something to worry about, and catastrophising became my mainstay. If I dropped a sock on the grass in the garden, I'd have to re wash it, in case there was some cat poo remains from years ago there. Simply because the leaflets said to be careful of cat faeces.

So, when my PND developed, my anxiety had already peaked and was once again combined with depression. I had to choose, in my first CBT appointment, in July 2014, between CBT for anxiety or depression. I had to CHOOSE, there and then. I chose depression, because it was making my life the most miserable then.

It's now February 2016, and I am done with you, anxiety. I have an irrational fear of dog poo. Standing in it, walking past it. It makes me mean, shouty and ridiculous when  out with the boys. It causes me so much worry that I prefer not to walk places with the boys.

This is just one example, I have plenty more reasons to give anxiety the push.

Your days are numbered, my heart shrinking, attention seeking little pal. I want to delete your number, block you on twitter and never see you again.

I've been referred for CBT, and in the meantime I'll be writing, I'll be seeking self-help and i'll do whatever I can do to stop you in your tracks.

I deserve to be happy and kind to myself.

Yours, Caroline

Monday, 15 February 2016

Solidarity and Sisterhood

Growing up with a mum who was emotionally unsupportive took its toll on my interactions with other girls and women. I had no idea how to be sisterly, how to respect the opinions, life choices and beauty of other women. I was raised to be judgmental, I was a judgmental arsehole in my head...

Until I started to tweet the #pndfamily. I was greeted and reassured with electronic hugs, and I remember feeling quite awkward...I wouldn't accept or like a real hug, so what am I supposed to do with twitter hugs?

I've been tweeting for 2 years about my post natal depression, electronic hugs are a mainstay of my online experience. I have learned the value of having someone to sit with you, in your darkest moments. Sitting together, being there, being kind when your depressed mind cannot remember how to be kind.

The sisterhood and solidarity shown to me in those early days helped me to learn, that I am capable of being nice, genuine and caring. That my empathy, kindness and experience have value not just to me, but to my family and other people who are struggling.

I was a jigsaw that was completely jumbled up. As I put myself together during the late part of 2014, the kindness of those people who had become my friends helped me to become someone better than I was before.

That's why I still, regularly check and interact with #pndchat. Because I want to be there for others who are in their own dark, sad, depressed, anxious places.