Thursday, 28 August 2014

It's all getting a bit personal.

I grew up in a family that was very private - my parents didn't like talking to people outside the family about personal matters. To be honest they didn't really like talking to each other much never mind to us so we didn't have much knowledge about them. I never wondered if this was normal - it was for us - and didn't really notice it was odd. However, I've realised as time has passed that this is a very un-indian way of being. Sharing too much and asking personal questions seems to be a cultural trait that just missed my family entirely.

I used to go to a salon in Southall where as soon as anyone walked in the woman would say, "You need to lose weight," or, "You want a facial for your bad skin ?" It was like a really bad comedy sketch. However, it's actually not that unusual as my family in India will often do the same sort of thing and think nothing of it. It was when we visited India when I was 11 that I noticed that social distance just isn't a thing. People openly stare and ask questions like, "why aren't you married ?" (erm... I'm only 11) or "is everyone in your family fat ?" (yes, Auntie we are). It is very disconcerting indeed. What I wasn't prepared for was for that to continue over here. 

Of course living in and around London my whole life - apart from a few years in the Midlands at Uni - I often meet other people of indian heritage. The thing is I'm not wearing a sign that says, 'not equipped to handle indian inquisitiveness,' so they just pile in. It's not their fault, they just don't know.  I'm always amazed that some people will say things that are personal and ask questions that are inappropriate as a matter of course and just to be conversational.

Only the other day I was out with my boy and a woman with 4 kids started telling me about her infertility issues and followed me around adding detail to the story. I hadn't asked, but in response to her questioning my having an only child I'd said it wasn't all that easy and it opened the floodgates.  She concluded by asking me not to tell her family what she'd said - I've never met her family and wouldn't know them if I did. 

Then last week we were out at the shopping centre where there is a ride on fire engine and my son was playing on it with another boy. As the kids were playing the other child's mum started off asking if he's my only child, how old he is and why I don't have more. I was a bit taken aback, but politely said that he was an only child at the moment - I'd learnt from the last time. She asked what my husband does for a job, if I work, where I live and much much more. I felt a bit as though I was being checked out, it was quite disconcerting. 

The exchange I really feel uncomfortable with is the typical "where are you from ?" I hate this from anyone. I've known people for years and never asked where they're from as I consider it rude. I assumed my lovely pal Soraya was at least a bit indian and found out in recent years that she has roots in South Africa and Guyana - I had no idea ! It was only when we walked together for hours training for the Moonwalk earlier this year that I finally found out and after years of friendship that I felt I could even ask.

My lovely friend who I thought was called something exotic like Essjai (I'd only ever heard it not seen it written down) and whose dark hair and olive skin suggested some ethnic heritage turned out to be called Sarah-Jane and have some Irish parentage. I knew her for about ten years before I learned the latter.

You see I don't pry. If someone wants to tell me their life story I'll happily listen, but I don't enquire unless we are already friends. I think it must appear rude when someone asks me how old my son is, what his name is and other stuff and I reply politely, but don't ask the same questions in return. It just isn't in my nature to do it, but I think it must look like I'm not interested. To be honest if we just met I'm not really interested unless it's likely we're going to meet again. 

I'm hideously embarrassed when I'm confronted by people in the street, at the gym, in the shops who have no such qualms about nosying into my life. It makes me feel a bit out of touch as I'm using social media and sharing my life, but when it comes to doing it in person I want to just hide.

Here's a hint, if you meet me and want to ask a personal question, just tweet it to me, ok ?


Monday, 25 August 2014

"All I want is a bus of my own" - my boy

On Friday me and the boy had tickets to go and watch The Tiger Who Came to Tea at the Lyric Theatre in London. As it was so close to Covent Garden I told him that if he was really well behaved I'd let him go to the Transport Museum afterwards.

If you are a fan of My Fair Lady you will know Covent Garden used to be a flower market with Eliza Doolittle singing about her hopes and dreams in the early hours. Now it's a tourist destination of choice with street performers (Eddie Izzard used to play the streets here) and many, many stalls and fancy shops. Walking through there in the early morning you no longer see fresh flowers and street hawkers, but some very nice coffee and cake is on offer for those who partake.

Hmm, patisserie for breakfast 
It's also a place with many memories for me. It's where I told my lovely friend SJ for the first time that I was expecting my boy when we went for a pampering evening at the Sanctuary. It's where I spent a Saturday afternoon wandering round debating whether to spend £70 on the Tin tin jumper that I'd seen Sting wearing in the video for "We'll be together." Shuttup !! It was a nice jumper ok ? And no, I didn't buy it in the end anyway. I used to love going to the Covent Garden General Store which was a genuine treasure trove, selling nothing you needed and lots that you thought you'd find a space for, it's now the site of M&S. My favourite pastime, however was spending days hours rummaging through all the vintage goodies at Flip on Long Acre, in they days before vintage was all the rage and it cost very little for fifties Americana chic.

A dog dress-up shop - for real
Old fashioned sweet stall





















Now it's the home of many an ad agency and lots of trendy shops, some of which are stranger than they are useful, but they are all busy. There are little nooks and corners with stalls selling all manner of tourist tat and some random elements too. My boy loved looking at all the wares and in turn asked me to buy him; vintage sweets (no), a trilby (yes it looks very cute, but still a no) and finally a dog outfit (we have a cat, so that's a no).

All of this, however, was just the time filling before we got to the London Transport Museum which is our boy's favourite place in pretty much the whole world, so far. We are friends of the museum so we can go as often as we like and it's free. As it's the school holidays everywhere is a lot busier than usual, but it was nice to take in the sun in the piazza itself and not be surrounded by thronging crowds as that was uncharacteristically quiet.

Shadow dancing
Promenading the Piazza





















Of course the museum itself is so much fun with tube trains, buses and this visit we went to story time where we met Constance the bus conductor and the children were all given little coins with which to join in. It was great fun - if a little too real for some of the younger children who were upset by the noisiness of the storytelling, but a lovely activity for the older children who joined in with the singing. Since we last visited a cafe has opened in the museum and they do a packed lunch in a bus shaped box which I will definitely get for my boy next time we go. Knowing how much he loves it there, I have a feeling it won't be too far in the future.

An old train carriage 
Organising station names 





















Coming home we were very tired indeed, but not too tired to take the secret woodland passage that leads home. Our outdoor adventures were both urban and rural this week and lots of fun.

Woodland walk home


This post is part of the #countrykids linky with the lovely Fiona of Coombe Mill.

 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

How to stay married and (mostly) sane

It's the August Bank Holiday weekend and me and Hubbie are spending some 'quality time' together while our boy has a mini holiday with Grandma. We did it for the first time last year and despite it being really weird to not have our boy with us we did get used to it - eventually - and had a fab time. So much so that we've decided to do it again this year.

Hubbie pointed out the other day that we've been together ten years and it occurred to me that we must be doing something right. You see we're both on our second (and hopefully forever) marriage. We made some mistakes in our respective first marriages and we hope we've learned enough to not repeat them. We're by no means experts, nor are we saddoes who buy each other teddy bears declaring our mutual love all the time - when a friend suggested recently that we are quite lovey dovey I tried to work out where she had got that impression from and I still have no idea.

What I can do is tell you what I've found helps to keep marital harmony - or at least some semblance of sanity in an otherwise chaotic toddler management programme that we both seem to be entrapped within. I can't promise that these will work for everyone, but here are the main ones I can share:

Don't point out that the gaps (that are still growing) in the kitchen floor are a result of his shoddy work in plumbing in the washing machine. This caused flooding under the laminate boards and they've separated while drying out - and yes, I do realise the irony of mentioning this online. 

I've realised that it's not a good idea to try and hang anything from pictures to coats on hooks that Hubbie has put up. We know that DIY isn't his thing and it takes many attempts to put up hooks, etc and leaves the walls looking like an inefficient and short-sighted sniper has had a go at them.

Don't mention weight gain. This works both ways, of course, but especially as Hubbie's parents like to point out how big he is every time they see him (he's not). They know better than to say anything to me besides, 'have you lost weight ?' He does the classic, " you always look lovely to me," line, but is also honest if I ask him if a dress suits me or not. Honest in a way that won't get a vase thrown at his head, though, not in a, "did you wear that when you were pregnant ?" way.

When we were on holiday Hubbie set the TV in the gym to Radio 4 so I could listen to the Archers while I was on the surfboard thing that he told me about. This was while he took our boy off for a play so that I could have some 'me time.'

When we met I earned more than him and it never bothered him - it might not seem much, but some men don't take too well to that sort of thing. Now I don't earn anything and he's fine with that too - I'm not, but that's another story for another day.

I love dim sum, but Hubbie doesn't do 'communal food' that everyone dips into from the table. If I want to have dim sum I go out with my friends, but sometimes I will buy it from the big Chinese supermarket and make it at home so that he can enjoy dim sum without having to dip in with other people. Same applies to indian food like bhajis.

Shared interests: we present a radio show together - ok not everyone will do this, but Hubbie prepares the songs and does the pre-production and I do the on air production stuff like the desk and mics. We joke that it's the only time we talk to each other, but it genuinely is something we love to do together.

Having separate interests: I have no interest in sport whatsoever. I may have mentioned this before - many times. However, Hubbie takes the boy to football every week during the season and I do things that I like. I might go to a matinee or an exhibition or just go for a nice meal / afternoon tea with a friend.

When we were first dating we went out for dinner one evening and I wanted to order gnocchi, but they had run out. A few days later when I was at his place for dinner he made me gnocchi because he wanted to make me happy. I know, I know it's sappy, shut up it made me happy ok ?

Lastly - and this is either pathetic or romantic depending on what your take is. When we have a bowl of sharing food like prawn crackers or nacho chips or pretzels I eat all the broken ones so that he doesn't have to. I honestly think Hubbie has no idea that I do this. It's daft isn't it ? We both love to eat chocolate, but I don't do pralines so he eats all the ones I don't from a selection box.

Maybe my mantra for a successful marriage should be:

"Share the love, the music and the laughter, but eat the crumbs when he's not looking and he'll always make sure that nuts don't ruin your day."

Have a super bank holiday weekend :)

And matching glasses - natch :)






Wednesday, 20 August 2014

It's only Wednesday...

... and already this week:

  • To save on cooking I bought the bargainous Asda 'vegetable' jalfrezi only to find it contains almost entirely cauliflower - which Hubbie hates. So much for saving time then. 

  • Since we re-organised the sofas in the front room, the cat is able to take up the whole of one of them on his own. As there have been fewer sunny days this week it's been a bit of a bun fight for space on the sofas. 

A sunny spell outside for Neo
  • The DVD player packed up so I swapped out a non-working DVD player and wired up a working DVD player into the TV without instructions and it works - go me !! 

  • My boy took off his armbands in the big pool and stood up on his own in the water. He also learned how to play tennis. He's still not even 4 yet !! 


video


  • I realised that when I listen to the radio it makes me very sad and very upset - and I'm not talking about the Archers, so I'm spending less time with the radio on these days.

  • We've been very late to the party with Despicable Me, but frankly it is worth it for me just for this clip alone: 


You know what ? It's only Wednesday, but I'm done in. Me and Hubbie have a fabulous weekend planned and I'm calling time on this week already thanks. 

I've decided to let it go:

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Modern life is rubbish (and other outdated musical references)

Modern culture dictates that we should try everything from the countdown telling us what we have to do before we're 30 to having a 'bucket list' to achieve before we die. For goodness sake there are even dictats telling us what we have to do with our kids before they're 4 or 7 or 12. As if parenting wasn't fraught and judgey enough already now there are KPIs checking how fun I am too ?

So, I plan and organise and take time to ensure that my child has wonderful experiences and doesn't miss out on the 'must-do' things in life. If I can get past my pathological aversion to camping we may yet make a go of family festivals. What I'm saying is that I am doing all I can to make sure my son is not left out of the conversation at the nursery water cooler.

I remember Mum once said that she had to start watching TV because she had nothing in common with her work colleagues. She would come home from work and make dinner and get ready for the next day and get us all sorted out for school, work, etc and this left no time for popular culture. To combat her inability to follow the chat about Eastenders she took to having it on in the background while she made dinner. This didn't last long as she had genuinely no interest in people shouting at each other as entertainment.

Much like my mother there are things that I just do not get. Conversations I just can't join in with. It isn't something I mind - I mean I have plenty to say about enough else. I don't mean things I choose not to do, like watch reality shows... any more. I mean the stuff that has entirely passed me by. The stuff that I genuinely don't know anything about and my life trundles on anyway. The look of horror on the face of someone when I tell them I haven't watched Breaking Bad is something I can live with.

I think a musical interlude is appropriate at this point: I'm with Wendy James - of Transvision Vamp - on this one - "Baby I don't care":



Here is my - by no means comprehensive - list of the things I just don't get the appeal of:

Scandinavian crime series: I'm a traditionalist, I like my crime drama wise-cracking and American (although I'm now a fan of Death in Paradise) and sensible knitwear aside I just don't see the appeal. I'm shallow, I need a hunky Steve McGarrett or a twinkly Richard Castle or better still Idris Elba (cop or bad guy I'm not fussy) for a show to catch my attention.

Breaking Bad: I watched one episode and didn't feel the need to watch any more. I'm sure you're all right and it's amazing and will change my life, but it actually took me almost 5 years to get through all 5 series of the Wire and I loved that show. How long do you think I have to devote to 7 series of a show I'm not that interested in ? I've got House of Cards and Orange is the New Black to get through still and I've just downloaded all of Community - it's all just too stressful.

Beards: Yes you with the beard you could lose a badger in, wearing a comedically oversized baseball cap channeling the southern trucker look. Oh and the ironic tattoos - just why ? Bear in mind I come from a Sikh family so I've grown up around men with beards, but they weren't for fashion purposes and seemed a bit too high maintenance for my taste. My Dad used a gluey substance called 'fixo' to tame and then (with the aid of what was essentially a hairnet) 'set' his. This made his beard hard and scratchy and it had the feel of plastic. I'm told when he came back from India and decided to go 'natural' with a long fluffy beard I didn't recognise him and he bribed me to call him Dad again by giving me fresh mango. Give me a break I was only a year old ! 

Fifty shades of grey: a story about a young woman in an sado-masochistic sexual relationship with a man. Yes ? So what ? Even my mother in law has read it - I don't want to know any more than that. If the manufacturers of paddles and handcuffs have benefited and the ticket sales for the Erotica show have sold out even quicker than usual then I'm happy for them. No really I am. Otherwise all we've learned is that people like to read about sex where the woman is dominated by the man - erm... not sure I'm impressed by that or think it's ground breaking. If it's unleashed the hidden sexual desires of Marjorie and Malcolm down the road then woo-hoo ! Oh, and please don't share. 

Cocktails served in Jam jars: are you a mixologist or a frustrated WI member ? Seriously, bring me a proper glass weirdo. I'm all for recycling and always wash jars and reuse them for all sorts of things. At the moment we have a jar each for our 'using our voices nicely jelly bean challenge' - no don't ask me please. What I don't do is think, hmm what this mixed drink needs is an identity challenging receptacle, oh yes that marmalade jar will be just perfect. If you need a gimmick, then maybe your drinks need some work.

spot the extraneous design element here 

Teeny tiny chocolate boxes: why do teeny tiny boxes of celebrations have a resealable tab ? Who is saving the chocolates in a box that small ? Honestly, if the box only has 4-5 chocolates in it is anyone really saying, no, no, I'm full, really I'll have the rest later. I am pretty sure this is a pocket size one use only serving, so creating the tab is one manufacturing process too far. Just give it up as a bad job. 

And here are the ones that had passed me by, but I've tried now:

Loom bands: yes I can loom - no I'm not addicted. It was scooby doos when I was at school (and a weird and pyro-friendly shrinking crisp packets under the grill craze), now it's loom bands. I'm pretty nifty with old school crafts, you know knitting, crochet and that malarkey, but I am baffled by the appeal of loom bands. I mean they are a bit linear aren't they ? I still don't get how (or indeed why) anyone was able to make a dress out of loom bands. They're a nice distraction and yes my son can do them, but it's a bit sedentary for him. He does it for about ten minutes then just wanders off bored by the process. He's no crafter my lad. 

Frozen: nice songs and lovely animation. My boy was singing "Let it go" long before we'd seen the movie - that's how much this movie has become part of children's lives. Yes I have seen it and enjoyed it, but I am also over it. After all it's the usual insanely skinny women with big eyes singing lovely songs and emoting, there isn't even a proper talking animal in this one ! The day Disney go full Bollywood with a cast of thousands, voluptuous women and maybe some diversity in casting I'll sit up and take notice. For now though I've let it go - see what I did there ?

I think Vix, Magz, Jo and Tina - aka 'We've got a fuzzbox and we're gonna use it' - put it best: "There must be more to life, there must be more, than this..."

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Do you know what we've done this Summer ?

This is the first year we've had summer holidays with our boy. Of course we do things with him all year round, but this is the first time we've had a few weeks to fill with activities. He has been going to a nursery that runs all year round, but as he's going to be in school this September we decided to give him a break first to help with the big transition. So now we have first hand knowledge of how challenging it is to fill the weeks of summer when you have a child to entertain. We've planned meticulously to ensure that our boy has enough to keep him busy and the weather has mostly been lovely so we've been able to go out and do some fun things.

My boy rode a Sumatran Tiger (just call him Pi)
We love outdoor activities and as he finished before the official summer holidays we were able to do go on a London Safari before the schools broke up and everywhere became super busy. We also aim to familiarise ourselves with where we live and to try new things as a family so we discovered new places in South Norwood  including a country park that we didn't know about. One lovely sunny afternoon we travelled to Biggin Hill and visited Foal Farm animal sanctuary where we met the rabbit that I sponsor. We also made friends with the other animals that live there including cats, horses and goats.

Keeping things local we are fortunate to have so many activities in our area and one that I only discovered this holiday is Whitgift Weenies. This is club that is free to join and they run free activity mornings for children in the middle of the Whitgift shopping centre in Croydon. The ones we've been to so far have included a loom band workshop and the most amazing children's performers and free face painting for everyone. The best was the chap who made balloon animals and entertained the children then at the end climbed inside the biggest balloon we've ever seen !! He did make all of the children promise not to try it at home, but I admit mine did look like he was considering it *grimace*

My boy shoots hoops
Of course not everything can be free and our favourite local activity is a sports activity for pre-schoolers called Totstars. They have been running Totstars Summer Camp with different sports every day, crafts, quiet time and fresh fruit. My boy comes home after 3 hours exhausted and having had a lot of fun with friends. I also get to do a few things while he is busy - like finish a cup of tea or hang up washing in the sunshine that then gets soaked when it pours with rain - humpf.

Talking of freak weather we have had to make some alternative plans for those inevitable indoor days and one of the best is the Gorringe Park Pub cinema in Tooting. All summer they show free films for children during the day and for grown-ups at night. It's an ideal activity for rainy days in the purpose built cinema downstairs complete with popcorn, cinema seats and massive bean bags or for sunny days in the pub garden with outdoor games too. We've only recently discovered this gem and will be going a lot more often I can tell you !

Setting up the 'pins'
Testing the 'bowling ball'

We like to spend time at home too and I keep cardboard egg boxes, toilet roll inners and all manner of materials for model making or making impromptu instruments - you should see our tissue box guitar collection. The materials pile gets bigger by the day so I was delighted when my boy helped himself to some things and went off quietly to the back room. A few minutes later he called me in to play a game with him and this was what he had created - we call it ten (toilet roll) pin bowling. He uses a lightweight small football as the bowling ball so it's very safe to play indoors, thankfully. I'm so pleased he used his initiative and made a game to amuse himself •proud face*

One of my interests - other than parenting, teaching yoga and blogging of course - is radio and I've produces and presented few about fun things to do in the holidays. My show is aimed at families with children and offers ideas for how to spend time together from days out to unusual activities. You can listen to my latest shows by clicking on the links in the margin just to the right of this blog post. If you can spare an hour make a cup of tea and have a listen. Of course you can pop it on while you do something else, it is radio after all :)

To help get you started here are the links to my guide to all you need to know about family festivals  and the show I did about Open Farm Sunday . Then there's this show based on some lovely ideas from Alison at Not another mummy blog - 50 things to do with a toddler in London . We have tried a few of them, but by no means all, so there are plenty left for us to work our way through.

We grew tomatoes 

At the start of the summer I was walking through Surrey Street Market in Croydon on my way to present my show and I saw a stall selling plants. They had small tomato plants for 50p each and I thought we'd have a go at growing tomatoes. We chose 4 different varieties including two that produce yellow or 'golden' tomatoes. I had hoped that these would inspire my son to eat tomatoes as he insists he doesn't like them, but I'm hoping he will try them if he picks them from the plant himself. So with the alternating wet and sunny weather they have flourished and look absolutely amazing now. I can't believe that I've grown them from such humble beginnings. The real test will be if he actually eats them when they are ready.

Of course it's never a challenge to ask a toddler to eat a biscuit - especially when it's got a big smiley face on it. He'd never tried BN biscuits before so when we got two packs to try he kept asking when he could have one. I told him we'd all have them as a family, not least as I wanted to try them before he got his paws on them and ate the lot ! We tried the chocolate and raspberry flavours and they are delicious and not too sweet - ideal with a cup of tea (for me) or as a treat (for my boy).

A happy alternative to indian sweets :)

Last weekend was an indian celebration that we call Rakri in my family where sisters tie a coloured band to their brother's wrist and exchange sweets and gifts. My boy doesn't have a sister, but he does have a lovely cousin who always sends him a rakri even though she now lives in Canada. As a special treat this year we decided he could have a 'smiley biscuit' instead of indian sweets and his smile was a mirror image of the one on his BN biscuit.

We're having so much fun this Summer - we've even had a chance to sit in the garden and relax.

 Chilling out in the sunshine

This post is an entry for 42 Days of Summer Linky Challenge sponsored by McVitie’s BN. Learn more at http://bit.ly/1mRpMCL 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Oh Captain, My Captain.

The sad news about Robin Williams' death on Monday was accompanied by talk about his 'battle with severe depression.' I didn't know him so I can't possibly know how it felt for him or how he dealt with his depression, but I'm sad for his family and for those who did know him.

It does seem that his untimely death has opened up the public conversation about depression and how to live with it. I don't say 'cope with it' as I'm not sure I, or anyone else, does, but I know that I live with it. Depression is a constant in my life and one that has taken most of my life to learn to live with. As part of the general conversation about what being depressed can be like here is my take on it. Please accept this with the proviso that we all have different ways of feeling and managing and at times 'not coping.' These are the things that help me, they may work for you, they may not. I offer them here in the spirit of openness and honesty.

Fake it to make it: 
I smile, I make nice, I meet friends, I post happy photos on Facebook and make jokes on Twitter. It's not that I'm lying about how I feel, but sometimes you just don't need sympathy or empathy or platitudes. You just want to act like it's all ok. Also, when you're around a small child all day there are few opportunities for self -reflection or being morose, so there is a kind of enforced jollity that you find yourself employing. There can be few things more heartbreaking than a toddler asking "why are you so sad Mummy ?" and not having an answer.

Keep on moving: 
I have to exercise every day. If I don't I get agitated as all the anxiety courses around my body and my ability to deal with every day life becomes fraught. The irony is - of course - that with depression can come almost crippling exhaustion so I am constantly forcing myself to go to the swimming pool or to put on trainers to go for a run or a walk. I would much rather lie down on the sofa and try and sleep, but I know that exercise acts as a dopamine hit and for a moment it feels ok. It may not last, but to not exercise is just not an option for me.

Eat well, Sleep well:
I find that I either over or under eat when I am depressed. It isn't an exact science so I can't possibly say what will help me. Some days I want to eat lots of bread others I want chocolate and some days I don't eat for hours and I'm not hungry. I know that I should eat regularly or I feel horrid and that I must drink lots of water to feel well. Instead I often spend an entire day carrying round a full bottle of unopened water and lots of fruit. Then there is the sleep issue. I can be flat out dead on my feet tired and still not sleep. Or I'll get up at an unearthly hour, feed the cat, the goldfish and then go back to bed and fall asleep again for another few hours unaware of the time. There is no 'normal' for me and I'm sure that is not unusual.

Make space: 
Just as I try and keep company and be sociable I know that sometimes I need space. This means asking for help and I don't do that very well. Whether it is asking Hubbie to take the boy out so I can have some quiet time or asking family if they can have him overnight I am only just becoming able to do this. At it's worst a few weeks ago I wanted to take myself away and out of all of it. There are times when a bit of room and nothing to do just makes it all feel different. Not necessarily better, but different and that is ok.

Know who to tell: 
There are people who can hear you be honest and those who just can't. I know who these people are. Last week I spoke for a long time to a friend who I've known for almost 25 years (yes J, it's been that long !) about how it all felt. I spent a lot of the call in tears. In the time we've been friends we've been through and talked about our: 4 marriages, 2 divorces, many miscarriages, post-natal depression, love affairs and indiscretions.

Between us we now have 4 healthy, happy children and we are totally honest with each other - to the point of being beyond embarrassment when asked anything. If I ask J to be honest with me she will be. I do the same for her. It's not easy and it means there are periods of time when we just don't talk for a while as there is a lot to process and we know the conversation will be raw and the questions will be unavoidable. Just having even one person who will not judge when you tell them about the awfulness that is you makes a world of difference.

Knowing who not to tell:
Either because they will judge, or offer unwanted advice or just not listen. I shared a house at uni with 'friends' who sat me down for a chat/intervention and one of them harangued me to tell them "what is wrong with you ?" This neither inspired me to share, nor made me feel it was safe to with such a cold and unfeeling audience. Sometimes you want to spare other people's feelings and not worry them that you can't cope. Most days are functional and fine - some are difficult and require effort. Telling some people that you feel depressed might lead them to picture a neglected infant and to over-react. No-one wants that.

It's not going anywhere: 
Trying to pretend it will all go away and not be there any more is at best a wild dream and at worst a delusion. There is nothing wrong with being depressed. It's not who you are, it's how you are feeling. I've been feeling this for nigh on 33 years and there are times when I believe that it's just part of who I am. It isn't. I can't magically make it go away, but I can do my best to manage how I live through it. It is, however, persistent and always just there waiting to make itself known. Accepting that this is real and owning it is not giving in, it is ensuring that I am able to live with it.

Feelings are ok: 
I spend an inordinate amount of time telling myself not to be angry, or upset or to 'try and be normal' - whatever that is.  Don't punish yourself for having feelings. There are times when it seems like I feel too much, or I feel everything and am not able to disassociate from what is outside my head. Hearing the news at the moment is very difficult for me as I feel angry, sad, upset, powerless and this becomes overwhelming. I'm not alone in that, but if the feelings make you want to harm yourself or others then it's time to tell someone how you feel. That's not easy, I'm not saying it is, but you have to try.

Always look on the bright side:
Ok, this one is partly tongue in cheek. I succumb to such black clouds of depression that I really can't see anything else. While on holiday the boy was having a wonderful time and watching him I appreciated how lucky we are to have him and that he is active, healthy and cheerful. I wasn't always feeling things or wanting to be involved, but I did them anyway. Maybe somewhere along the line in the future I'll have a memory that might feel positive and happy, even if I wasn't happy while it was happening. I might feel it in hindsight because the depressive moods don't remain so photos and mementoes are really valuable reminders of what happened rather than what I was feeling.



I hope that something here might help someone else. I'm not an expert, I'm just another person living with depression and willing to talk about it. 

If you would like professional support here are some links you might find useful:



Samaritans


I wish you the best of luck.