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Mental Health

Mental Health, Musings

A Rant Within A Rant (like inception but dumb)

October 21, 2017

I have a problem… well I have many, but at the moment I can not stop reading online comments; I get no pleasure from this but it’s like when you have a spot brewing (you know those bruised under-the-skinners) and you can’t help poking at it to see how much it hurts.

I know people can be assholes, I’m not naive, but sometimes online people are a special breed of asshole. This week all the newspapers shared the news of Ibrahim Halawa’s release and I knew when I saw lots of angry face emojis that there would be a load of racial, scare-mongering comments… there was… loads of them.  I read them almost with one eye closed and then I’d come across a lovely, exasperated person trying their best to plead a case for humanity and how Irishness now came in many shapes (I’m a pear) and colours but nope they’d be shot down with desperate grammar and shouty caps.

Who are these people? Why would you be so angry that you’d sit down at a computer or phone and engage in arguments that don’t involve you or your life in any way? Are we angrier now? Or is it that everyone now has a platform? I suppose years ago the only outlet Joe Soap had for venting his opinions were on Point of View or in the comment section of newspapers and that involved buying a stamp and making a trip to the post office. Then there would be no immediate kick back from people with differing opinions so they’d have to have an angry wank or watch Jerry Springer.

My Mam has a saying for every occasion like most mothers but her favourite is ‘if you’ve nothing nice to say, say nothing at all’. Now that should be the universal web motto. Although she is constantly embroiled in battles online about Trump; You’ve never met someone who hates him more… she stays up late watching American news channels and throwing things at the TV but I think the UWM (universal web motto.. yep I’m trying to make it a thing) could be put aside for Trump bashing.

I occasionally write for The M Word and when I see the shite that Maia has slung at her time and again for some perceived violation of the mammy code, I have to sit on my hands so as not to tell them to fuck the fuck off.  I once got a major backlash because I used a picture of my kids in car seats and their jackets were too bulky… people were delighted to point it out and smugly pat themselves on their perfect backs that they’d never be that reckless. Maia was great on the Late Late last night but still a lot of people made a point about being pissed off she dared to call some kids assholes… some comments teetered on novella territory. Guess what? Kids are assholes, they’re selfish, demanding, messy and ungrateful! I even wrote an entire post about it called assholery ; Nonetheless, we all love them but if some profanity helps us day to day then shout it sister! Maybe that’s what the mammy comment brigade need to do more of so they’re less uptight in threads. I had a woman complain that my article was too complainy the other day…. the irony passed her by but I’m glad she decided to leave that one negative comment amidst the nice ones just to keep me awake with self loathing that night.

I’m all for bitching behind someone’s back… that’s cathartic… I hate people who want to tell you to your face like that’s admirable… it’s not, it’s fucking awful… please wait till I’m out of earshot and then go bananas.

So, I’m going to try to steer clear of all comments and threads for awhile until I feel that all is well with the world. NO anti-vaxxers, no NRA and no pro life asswipes. I will watch some quality TV, read some gentle Stephen King and pretend all is well with the world.


Mental Health, Musings

I’m not one for drama… but….

April 28, 2017

As I sat in a friend’s kitchen crying this week over a million problems that had combined to floor me, she commented that drama seemed to follow me. ‘Do you think I’m a drama queen?‘ I asked, mortified. ‘No’, she said, ‘I genuinely thing that drama seeks you out and that you definitely don’t want or need it.’

This was from Rebecca, a girl that started as my childminder back when I was in the shit of it with a nine month old, a two year old and a five year old…. we are now good friends and even though she is 18 years younger than me, she is wise beyond her years.

So.. let’s see, in the time that she has known me (4 years)… She has helped out as my baby had a cranial vault remodelling (as bad as it sounds) at a year old. She looked after my youngest when I was in hospital for a week having a different part of my body remodelled.

The brakes failed on my car a couple of years ago coming into Ashbourne and I ended up on top of the roundabout… thinking I was dead with two of the kids in the car. We got away with minor injuries, considering, but I am a very nervous driver to this day. If you pass me on the road.. which you will as I drive well within the limits.. don’t laugh at my straight- backed- posture and holding in a poo face (the odds are, I am holding in a poo.. but this is also my driving face).

I was mugged in December.. yep a proper mugging. Myself and my neighbour were on our way home from a meal out with the girls and a car pulled up beside us and two hooded junkies hopped out. Do you know what they said? ‘girls yiz are about to be mugged’.

They wrestled our bags from us and threw us to the ground and sped off. They got my brand new upgrade, and my wallet… with ALL my cards, including drivers licence… same as my neighbour. It was shocking… so shocking that we both wet ourselves (any excuse) and then had to waddle to the police station to make statements. Oh and my neighbour had gotten chips, which the fuckers also took. The police put the incident on a local facebook page and it did read rather dramatically and when I told Rebecca it was me, she said she should have known.

She rang the other day to say she was visiting so I decided I’d better get off the bed and stop playing Fallout Shelter (do not download this.. it is beyond addictive). I grabbed three half full (I’m an optimist) glasses of water and made my way down the stairs. My slipper went from under me and in my panic I elbowed a framed picture of the boys, shattering it and cutting myself. I hit 3 steps with my arse and the waters flew in the air, splattering me (mainly my crotch.. but I swear I didn’t wet myself this time). Koray heard the scream and came out to enquire what the google play password was. ‘I can’t give it to you as I’ve broken my back and the last time your brother bought 900 gems for Hungry Shark Evolution that cost €42.99 .. now go find the ibuprofen for mammy.’

Ossie arrived home to me standing at the door with a tea towel on my elbow and reeking of Deep Heat. ‘Don’t you fucking dare hurt yourself’ he said ‘or I’m staying in the hospital with you’… not words of love but terror at being left alone with the kids.

I had my wisdom tooth out in February.. of course it was growing horizontal under the gum and she had to really dig for it. I ended up with a dry socket and if anyone has had one of these packed… you know pain. I ploughed through pain killers and I was swollen, bruised and miserable.. the other impacted wisdom tooth has started to hurt and it can fuck right off.

I’m depressed.. I’ve come off sertraline as it was making me dopier than usual and am about to embark on lexapro. I went to the doctor yesterday and she said ‘girl you better try to have fun no matter what you do‘.. but she’s a fool. No, she’s lovely and I cried and said.. ‘see.. see, this keeps happening, it’s so fucking embarrassing’. I explained a difficult work situation I’m having and problems a member of my family is having (sorry to be mysterious but I’d be in further trouble if I discussed the former problem as freedom of speech is not very well respected there and the latter is not my problem to discuss). So when I was done bawling with the doctor, I’d to go have a smear with the nurse. The nurse turned out to be a lady I know well, her boys are in the same school as mine and she is super nice; it didn’t make it any easier to show her my fanny and I felt I had to preempt with the procedures I’d had done in case she got a fright. I’m not saying my fanny has a Frankenstein appearance but I have never looked at it with a speculum. She asked how everything was and I put on my Aisling mask and smiled and joked as if all was right with the world and it was only on going to the bathroom directly afterwards that I noticed mascara had streamed down my face. I also realise now that I gave said nurse my blog details and she may read this… sorry but I was sad and didn’t want to share my misery and you are lovely and you have a gentle smear technique.

My husband has recently started training as he was morphing into quite the fat bastard.. there is gym equipment everywhere, competing for space with lego and he looks really good so I’ve asked him to help me; I haven’t been this big since I was pregnant. He is very strict and as I’m doing weights he tuts and exclaims that I’m really bad and he’s never seen such low muscle tone while grabbing at my bat wings or back fat. Then when I get something right he says ‘good girl’ like Georgie Burgess. I channel my homicidal feelings into the workout so I should be like 1980s Jane Fonda (I’d even settle for now Jane Fonda) in a few weeks.

I almost forgot The Cat… people up the road moved out leaving approx 9 very young cats behind. Along with some other neighbours, I’ve been minding them and managed to get all neutered.. not easy to catch a wild cat. Anyway I was feeling like the Mother Teresa (I know she was actually horrible… can i get suggestions for a new go-to-good-person please?) of the cat world. That was until I backed over one in my driveway… ugghh it was awful.. the crunch, the screams. I stared out the window in silent horror as the poor kitty flailed about the driveway spraying blood like  a Quentin Tarantino movie. The other kitties stood next to him and stared at me in silent loathing. I got out of the car and ran in a circle for awhile till I spotted a lady walking up the street. I lunged at her bawling and thankfully she was calm and had some Slavic stoicism. She asked for a black bag.. ‘but he’s not dead‘ I shouted. ‘He vill be soon’ she said pulling up her sleeves. I ran for the black bags and she shouted ‘we vill need two’. She bagged up the unfortunate cat and left him by my bins. She washed her hands and gave me her card.. she’s a manicurist and had spotted the state of my nails. I would later drop her in an Aldi number 1 candle and some flowers. When Ossie woke up that day I told him there was a body in the boot and the car was covered in blood and he dealt with it all a little too professionally. It was awful and I still can’t process that I’ve taken a life.. let’s not include spiders or flies in this… or wasps. I even became vegetarian for 3 full days. I still have four cats.. they let me feed them but won’t tolerate my touch.. grudgey bastards.

Now, you’re all up to date.. no drama to see here.. move along.

Mental Health, Motherhood

January blues

January 9, 2017

Lately it feels as if all the plates I’ve been spinning in the air have started to wobble and some may have smashed entirely.

I am trying my best to get from morning to bedtime without damaging my larynx through screaming or causing structural damage to the house because of door slamming.

The kids being on a lengthy break from school is a massive factor and I can’t help but wonder if my recent fallback on anti-depressants is making me dopey. Could it be the dark evenings? My need to binge watch the Gilmore Girls? The extra stone I’m carrying since Roses and King crisps made a seasonal appearance?

I feel so tired when I wake up and envision a day of washing, meal making and fight diffusing ahead and it’s all I can do to put a blanket over my head and call in sick… if only.

There’s just so much to do; car and health insurance needs to be renewed, I have to register for the household charge, top up the balance on our bins… oh and put the green bin out (with a sneaky 56 extra bags of torn wrapping paper placed in hope beside it). I could definitely do with some personal grooming, my nails are chipped and too long and let’s just say that Veet will have it’s work cut out for it. The boys all need haircuts and two of them could do with getting vests that don’t have unwashable stains or shrinkage due to heavy handed dryer use.

So, I make coffee and check facebook and all of a sudden it’s the afternoon and I’m still pj-ed and bra-less and I think “let’s have a pj day” like they all do on facebook… chilling on the couch with the kiddies, watching a movie; except every day of the poxy holidays has been a pj day and it has been anything but chill. The boys play separately but now and again their games overlap or somebody deigns to look at someone else and war erupts. They all want Mammy and while I know that I will treasure the memories, I am finding it very difficult to divide myself up and my hat is off to anyone with more than 3 children. This week Rian has been playing xbox Lego Pirates of the Caribbean and while he is fantastic at just 4, he needs my help in tricky situations.. I love to play with him but I can’t possibly allot him the one on one time he craves as Koray is in the kitchen on the old Xbox playing Lego Harry Potter and I have to go help him complete some missions (often with the help of youtube walkthroughs). Then there’s Conall, with his questions about ratings (his current obsession).. “Mam what age would you have to be to watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre?” and so on and on and on…….

As if I didn’t feel shite enough… I see other families out walking in the mountains, or on the beach in all their January shininess and I’m still elbow deep in white bread sandwiches and Baron St Jean.

Right now I can’t be arsed to make a resolution but I will try to reassess when they are back in school and I can have a moment to sit and be still and think.


Mental Health, Motherhood

A Woman’s Work

May 17, 2016

It is hard to be everything to everyone; a good mother, a good wife, friend, daughter, employee etc.

We all try but sometimes we fold under the pressure. I am not an over achiever by any stretch of the imagination; in fact I am typing this as my house goes to shit. There are clothes to be put away, a trillion pieces of lego to be stored in the giant lego head and I could do with shopping around for car insurance. Some days, I tick along nicely and manage a relatively happy house… other days I LOSE MY SHIT. It all gets too much and I explode. After the meltdown, if I check my period app it will always say 10 days to my period.. any experts out there that can shed light on this?

mushroomsA Good Mother? Monday was 10 days till, I was preparing dinner but I had a lump in my throat for no reason and should have excused myself to my room to listen to early Madonna and weep for my lost youth but I was doing my martyr act and the kids were tripping me up everywhere I stepped. Ossie was judging my dinner choices and extolling the benefits of everyone eating the same dinner instead of making several different things. In my head I was imagining ways I could slowly poison him and be cleared in the autopsy results. The noise level was increasing and I’m ashamed to admit the following; I picked up a punnet of mushrooms and threw them against the wall and screamed “MAKE YOUR OWN FUCKING DINNERS” at the top of my voice. Ossie bolted to close the back door and windows but I didn’t give a flying shit if  Gwyneth-fucking-perfect-mother-Paltrow heard me. I grabbed the car keys and drove to the end of the road where I was racked with guilty and self-pitying sobs. I then drove to my sisters and in to the middle of her own domestic dramas.. she assured me I was normal and gave me cigarettes. I drove home after half an hour, reeking of fags and self-pity. I opened the hall door and my 4 boys were sitting on the stairs like the Von Trapps. They jumped up joyously and chanted “we love you mam“. I got them all bathed and put to bed and when I looked for food, there was none. Ossie offered to make toast but changed tack when he saw my face… a chinese was suggested which I declined as an extravagance for one. Half an hour later I had the best place on the couch, a prawn chow mein on my knee and a glass of wine.

Why does it take an almost breakdown for anyone to take notice of my needs.. is it selfish as a mother to even discuss having needs? I’d love to see a pie chart of my day because honestly the only time I get to myself  is a toilet break which I often put off to my weakened pelvic floor’s detriment. I cannot continue like this and be a good mother… I feel too hard done by and it’s making me snappy and weepy. It’s not fair that when a 3 year old asks you for the 10th snack in as many minutes that you answer them with “I had dreams you know, ones that involved a loft apartment in New York with an exposed brick wall, a roof garden and a laundromat where I would meet interesting people.”

Lucky Aide Lois from Malcom in the Middle 2000

A Good Employee:  I normally love getting out to work, hopping in the car, turning on the radio and stopping for a coffee; I like having a lunch break and some of the girls are best friends for life.. they are all wild and interesting. I like my job and I even like most of the customers. Lately though my babies are getting anxious as the weekend approaches and often stand at the window and cry as my car drives away and that is the hardest thing. I’m at a crossroads and dependant on the mercy of a slew of childminders (is that the plural?) and sympathetic bosses. If I quit my job, I will lose all contact with normalacy and friendships will eventually wane but are my kids suffering without me? I need a life coach… are they still around or was that a ’90s thing? Married-with-Children-married-with-children-30474101-800-544

A Good Wife: I try, really I do but I have not got much left for him at the end of an exhausting day. We still have a date night once a week that normally involves staying in and watching a movie and having a few drinks but at this stage in our lives, it’s enough. We are both hot-heads and built up rage at our kids can manifest in some adult door-slamming but our fights don’t last long and we realise that neither of us can do this alone so we are bound together as ignored dictators of a rebellious war zone. All pretence at romance is long gone and we sit in companiable silence at night in mismatched, worn out pyjamas. I’m a nag but if I didn’t, he would gladly sit on his phone as I do all the housework, oblivious…. he tells me to rein in my spending (I can be a bit fluthulach… my mam’s word). So, in essence, we are the quintessential poster couple for married with children.

A Good Sister/ Friend: I hope I am, I try but often when they ring I have to scream at the kids alot and then without warning, hang up because laughing has indeed turned to crying. I do cherish these relationships though as they are the ones who will always pick me up when things are too much and if it’s desperate… a night out will be arranged.

93414622A Good Daughter: Read the above regarding phonecalls. I am now in a position to understand my Mam’s dilemmas when she returned to full time work when we were kids… in fact we often cry over how hard it is to leave your kid’s in someone else’s hands (just one of the many things we cry over). I appreciate all they did for me and hardly begrudge them their lie ins… argghhh I do, I really do.

As women we are expected by society to fulfill all the above roles without swearing and preferably with lipstick. It’s impossible and if you are doing it and fitting in the gym and trips to garden centres, I am assuming that you are taking speed. We need to not be so hard on ourselves and support each other… to be successful certainly does not require adopting male characteristics, use your empathy and experience to support other mothers trying their best. If you feel like fucking the dinner off a wall, try counting to 5 and at least get a chinese out of it. If you, like me, sometimes feel like you are doing a shockingly bad job of all your roles, watch reruns of all the TV shows I’ve featured and you will feel perfectly normal.

Family, Mental Health, Motherhood

Baby-proofing your marriage; my experience

September 22, 2015

I had forgotten about the curveball/ grenade a baby throws into your relationship until I read an article on it recently. It completely changes how you both feel about each other and the manner in which you deal with these feelings will ensure your survival or destruction as a couple. I was completely unprepared for how much I would dislike my husband after baby number 1 as he would me but let me back the story up a bit..

223537_6142043137_8921_nMy pregnancy on Conall was as lovely as expecting your first baby can be; I would stroke my belly while smiling up at Ossie as he caressed my hair and kissed my head lovingly. We walked everywhere (no car at the time) holding hands and imagining what our little man would be like. “I’ll be happy if he has your nose” I’d say and he’d reply “I’ll be happy if he has your lips”… We’d then laugh at the possibility of him having my teeth and his ears.

At night we’d look in the empty moses basket longingly, willing the weeks to pass.

It didn’t happen like in the movies; For a few nights in a row, I’d get up to pee and as I’d make my way back to bed I’d feel a trickle down my leg and think ffs and go get a pad and do a baby wipe job on the undercarriage. I began googling and thought it could be my waters so I went to my GP who gave me a little pee container and said if I could catch some that that would be my ticket to the labour ward. That night I managed to catch some and I did the smell test… it smelt sweet, bingo! I was starting to get some light contractions so off we went.

I was in very early labour but the magic vial of amniotic fluid ensured my stay and Ossie was fantastic walking me the length and breadth of Holles Street to make things move faster and he let me gouge his arms with my fingers when a bad contraction took hold. His face was pressed to mine in the final stages as he told me to push push… “I can’t I answered, I’m going into the light.” (It was BAD)

37180_436518501866_8271316_nWhen Conall was put into my arms, I smiled at Ossie and I had never loved him more… “he has your nose” “and your lips” he answered with tears pouring down his face. We noticed his ears then and laughed.

2015-09-22 11.55.42We were living with my parents and the segway into parenting was not so smooth. I had adopted a uniform of giant nursing bra, disposable pants and an oversized nightdress. I had gone from glowing and “all bump” to a saggy, leaking mess. Conall would not latch and my nipples were cracked and scabbing and I was getting little or no sleep. The moses basket was still pristine as our angry man had made his way between us. Then I contracted a kidney infection that spiked my temperature and had me shivering and in pain for a week. There was an ugly moment where Ossie tried to strip me of my fleece dressing gown and blanket and threatened a cold shower to bring my temperature down; I turned my pleading eyes to my parents who were putty in my hands and a row broke out with Ossie storming off and me agreeing to remove the dressing gown. I started to resent his light snoring at night and prodded him to wake when Conall cried even though he couldn’t feed the baby and had work the next day. I was insanely jealous that his life continued more or less the same while I had this screaming dependant that wouldn’t let me shower and I felt broken inside and out. I found myself narrowing my eyes and searching for “mistakes” Ossie had made so I could point them out and say “see, see you’re useless” (implied and not said). They were tough times and I began to plan my life as a single parent and I’m sure he did too although he would never dare admit it.

4113C06438L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_It was only when a couple of months later I was on the phone to a friend, Michelle who asked “well have you noticed how useless men are yet?” and I almost fainted… yes, yes! I’m not proud it was a phonecall full of misandry (it’s a word) and husband-bashing at it’s worst but it was cathartic and she recommended a book on how to babyproof your marriage. I bought it the following day and read it cover to cover. It’s hilarious and includes real stories and I came to the realisation that this is a thing. I’m sure some of you didn’t experience it and were blissfully happy but many women I talk to agree. Having a baby is HUGE… it changes your perception of the world and those around you. You realise quickly which friends will offer practical support and advice and which ones are pissed off that you’re not their drinking buddy anymore.

MkII_07The romantic world that you built the foundation of your relationship is stripped away and he has seen you at your worst/best with your vag in tatters and your boobs leaking. You now pee in front of each other as opportunities to use the bathroom are not as easy (I draw the line at pooing, never, ever do I want to see his poo-face). Sex is off the cards for a minimum of 6 weeks and new ways of intimacy have to be initiated. I remember telling my mother that Ossie was in a bad mood and she asked “have you had the other yet?” (her euphemism has always been the other) and I said “no”. She told me that it would be a good idea to keep him sweet and that there was “more than one way to skin a cat”. I will never forget those words…. they haunt my nightmares but she had a point.

Communication is the key… he kept asking me what I wanted and I would answer “nothing” and cry… (I still do this) but I should have told him I wanted him to tell me I was doing a good job, I wanted him to hold me and tell me he loved me and that I was still the same sex bomb I had always been to him. In hindsight he probably wanted these things too but we sat side by side and watched TV in bloody-minded silence while Conall fed oblivious to the chaos he had caused.

I baby-proofed our marriage when the next two came along simply because we talked about it and knew what to expect. It isn’t a fairy-tale, it is bloody hard but if you survive it together you have a strong foundation to lead you through the minefield of raising children.
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Family, Like Magazine, Mental Health, Motherhood, Musings

Won’t Somebody Think of the Children?

May 14, 2015

I’ve always loved referendums, it’s an exciting time to vote. Elections can be confusing and, let’s face it, a little boring. Referendums tend to get people animated, and heated debates can be overheard in the workplace, the home and the pub. May 22nd is no exception. We’re being asked to vote on marriage equality and as the date approaches things are heating up. It’s starting to feel like a fight between the insular Ireland of old and a modern Ireland encompassing many different nationalities and lifestyles .

father-ted-careful-nowThe No campaign have tried to muddy the waters on what should be a clear cut decision of marriage equality for all. They have made the argument about children and in doing so have gone for the human jugular. If it wasn’t such a serious matter I would find their posters funny in the way that Father Ted’s poster down with this sort of thing was  Children deserve a mother and a father” and “surrogacy? she needs her mother for life, not just for 9 months”. They have managed to alienate a vast number of the population asides from the LGBT community; single mothers, widowed parents; adopted kids; surrogates etc

I am doing my best to raise my kids to be as open-minded as they can be. I want them to grow up in a world where they are accepted and loved. They have each had a shaky start; My 7-year-old has aspergers. He struggles socially and I worry for his future relationships. I have never worried about the sex of his future partners, to me that is irrelevant. My only concern is that someone will find him as amazing and hilarious as I do. My middle boy has a heart condition, and I worry for his future health. I don’t worry about his love life… He will be loved wholly and completely, two minutes in his pouty, wide-eyed company and anyone would fall for him. My baby boy had major surgery at age two for craniosynostosis. He was born with a metopic ridge down the centre of his forehead that gave his face an unusual look. Faced with the difficult decision to proceed with major cranial surgery for what were primarily cosmetic reasons, we did it for him because life can be hard and cruel and we wanted him to feel acceptance and not to be judged by his appearance.

Your life changes forever when you have kids. You become almost primal in your desire to protect these helpless little beings. To flourish, they need someone batting for them. They need to feel pure love with a side order of discipline. There are many parents out there doing this alone and I take my hat off to them. With two parents you can take some time out for yourself, have some support with family decisions along with all the good bits a relationship brings.

The sex of that other person has no bearing on things whatsoever. Someone to teach them ball? My husband doesn’t play sports and the boys aren’t interested anyway. Would two men raising a daughter have difficulty preparing her for periods? My Mam didn’t have a notion about biology and my Dad explained it to me factually and it wasn’t slightly awkward.image

Raising boys I’m always conscious to keep the lines of communication open. I have a worry book that I use each night with Conall in which we draw and discuss anything making him anxious. I lie beside each one of them at night and tell them to feel free to tell me anything.I would be heartbroken if I thought that they felt they had to hide some key part of themselves- after all, statistically young men are prone to suffering from mental health issues that end tragically. Boys are taught to be self contained and can become emotionally stunted as they get older. They need to know they can disclose anything and we won’t love them any less. Well almost anything- I could accept them telling me they’re gay, bi, transgender anything but a priest. That I would struggle with – but I would find a way.

We are told by the no side to “think of the children”, and indeed we must. We must think of our own kids and the kind of world we want to raise them in. We must think of the children growing up in Ireland right now, and realising they might be gay. What will a no vote say to them? That they are less than their straight peers? We always tell our children they can be anything they want to be*. Do we want to put a small disclaimer at the bottom of that lovely sentiment? (*As long as you’re not gay and wanting equal rights.)

So, I urge you, DO think of the children and vote YES; yes to equality, yes to love and yes to being anything you want to be!


Mental Health

Anti-depressants Are the New Gin

May 4, 2015

Since I became a mother, I spend a lot of time apologising to my own Mam for when I was a bratty kid; not doing my bit around the house, slamming doors in a tantrum and constantly fighting with my sister, Fiona. You see the fighting is the worst. When I knew I was having a second boy and then a third, I thought aww they’ll be such good friends. I didn’t learn from experience. Aisling & FionaMy sister is 2 years younger than me and anyone who meets us comments on how different we are. She’s the bolshy one while I’m the people-pleaser. She will send food back in a restaurant whereas I’d just pick the hair out, afraid to offend anyone. We had some historic fights. She threw a glass ashtray at my head once; I stripped her on the street because she was wearing my paisley shirt; she used her teeth, I used my nails, fun times! It was irritating when people would say you’ll be friends when you’re older. It took us a long time and we can still hurt each other, just not physically any more. However, I rely on her honesty, she can be hilarious and is the best person to party with. We share a history and love slagging my Mam (to her face). She’s got my back and I’ve got hers.New_30_Hurl_i3

This got me to thinking about my grandmothers. My Dad had often recounted stories of his mother chasing himself and his brother (11 months apart) up the stairs brandishing a hurl. They’d lock themselves in their bedroom and taunt her until eventually she gave up and her anger dissipated. As a kid, I couldn’t reconcile the image of my lovely, cake making nanny to that of a crazed lunatic with a hurl. Now, I can! Jesus, those women had it hard. Her story is similar to many of the time; 5 kids, 1 stillborn in a cramped corporation house. My Granda spent two years in hospital with TB, making it out minus a lung. My Nanny was a strong, fiery redhead, educated to leaving cert level in a prestigious school. She was smart as a whip and could always guess the countdown conundrum. She was a voracious reader and would read poetry for fun. If she was born into today’s society, I’ve no doubt that she could’ve tapped into her potential and had a fulfilling career, probably in politics. She never seemed unhappy to me and nor did she complain but I’m not sure that that generation of women knew how badly they’d been swindled.

Traditional HousewifeImagine being put into a time machine and experiencing life as a 1950s housewife. Straight away I think, no dryer, no dishwasher… but no it gets worse; no washing machine, no car (probably) and worst of all, no contraception. I can’t even fathom the horror of pregnancy after pregnancy and the toll that would take on your body. I remember my nanny telling me that there were times that she went to the loo later in life and would have to physically push her womb back in.

condoms_3Someone told me a story about how his Mam had had many pregnancies in a row. His dad was to go on a trip to England and she begged him to bring back condoms but he couldn’t go against the church and she continued to have babies… 11 in total if my memory serves me right.

000_laundryMy Nanny took pride in her work and I have yet to taste food as good as she would make. She would recount how her whites were a great source of pride to her. The nuns would come to offer her help when my Granda was sick but she took more pleasure in having them admire her line of whites than putting them to any use. Can I state that these whites would include nappies…. aggh no nappies, no wipes. This quality (are getting whites white a quality?) definitely wasn’t inherited and whites are not long in becoming grey or blue in my house regardless of detergent and strategy.

GordonsI love to hear stories of the boys though, one of them being my Dad… they were crazy. The younger of them jumped out of his bedroom window believing himself to be Superman and my Dad held on to the bumper of his Dad’s car as he drove off, requiring clips to hold the gashes on his legs together. I may not be a 1950s housewife but I have not been to Temple Street’s emergency department yet… yet! So, back to that hurl… there was no respite for women then, you got on with it, didn’t complain and while I’m not condoning violence, I sure as hell understand it. Then there were the women who self-medicated through the chaos and suffocating times of the ’40s and ’50s. My other Nanny was also an accomplished young woman when she met my Granda. She was sporty, loved Irish dancing and cycling (I’m beginning to think I was adopted or my parents were) and then she met my Granda who was older, commanding and drove a company car. She was smitten and pictures of her wedding day break my heart. She was smiling and beautiful, full of hope for a life ahead with the man she loved. Then came the babies, lost and born. Six survived in total and her first were a set of twins. My Granda spent a lot of time away on business and her hobbies were all but forgotten. My Granda liked a drink (such an Irish euphemism) and she discovered the lovely, numbing effects of alcohol in her 40s.

As a kid, I would stay there after school as my parents worked and god I loved spending time with her. She was so much fun. I had a little tape recorder and would record her singing Al Jolson and Elvis. Little did I know that some of these fun times were gin related. The highlight of our day would be a trip to the local shop to get her fags but before we would go she would verse me in how to get extra money from Granda. Player'sHe’d be in the front room at a large imposing desk and I’d stand back and watch her listing what she needed as he totted it up and gave her the exact money. Even as a child, I would feel embarrassed witnessing that. It would take us an hour to get to the local shop as she chatted with everyone she met; she was a social butterfly trapped in a non-gilded cage. The house was dreadfully messy and would require a trip from Kim and Aggie nowadays, it had a big contribution to my own mother’s OCD. Nanny battled with depression a lot in her final years and when we’d go visit her in hospital, she seemed almost inconvenienced to see us. Here she had found some solace and company. She died in her 70s at home and with her last breath told her husband she loved him. I was 12 when she died and wish I had known her as an adult but from what I can surmise and psychoanalyse, I think she was a romantic at heart. She wasn’t a practical woman and when motherhood and marriage didn’t prove to be the stuff of movies, she self-medicated and internalised until her mental health suffered.

shutterstock_112992829If, I look to these two amazing women, I can probably identify with the latter best. I too am a romantic and stick my head in the sand (according to my mother) when faced with the harsh realities of life. I have self-medicated with antidepressants when motherhood got too hard. I’ve been chemical free since February and I’m fine, a bit weepy but that’s just me. Parenting is hard bloody work and most mothers I know are taking some form of antidepressant. We’re probably all on our way to being alcoholics with the amount of wine o’ clock statuses I witness. Yes, I do use my evening glass of wine as a beacon of light at the end of a tunnel of mess, tantrums and body fluids; sometimes I don’t have it but I need a short-term goal.

59tg4h4g-1393304556Mental health is a huge issue these days and the focus seems to be mostly on young men. I am 100% in favour of that, having three sons but I do think mothers are also susceptible to the dark pull of depression. This can be post partum or like in my case, a feeling of despair and being overwhelmed. Unlike our 1950s counterparts, we have a wide range of advice and non-addictive medication at our fingertips but we also have all the pinterest mothers making cupcakes and home schooling to make us feel inadequate. My advice as someone prone to depression is talk…. to your partner and especially your girlfriends. Chances are your friends are feeling or have felt something similar. Also, make time for yourself… even if that is an hour grabbed to lie in bed with a laptop (watching netflix you dirty minded people). There is something so satisfying in lying there and listening to my husband struggle with maintaining his temper as the boys run rings around him. Date night is lovely too but if you don’t have a partner, a night out with friends is even better!(but takes longer to recover)

I love my kids and they benefit more from having a healthy and happy Mam. They don’t need constant outings and attention from me. They need to learn to make themselves happy and find something they like about each other. I will often sit in another room and scroll aimlessly through Facebook or Twitter or watch a sneaky episode of House of Cards. This is for me, my mental health.  I couldn’t give a shit about my line of clothes because I use the dryer at all times. I haven’t yet picked up a hurl but I’d say my verbal lashings are just as bad when I lose it. Yes nanny Kelly, I got your red-headed temper. I can’t cook but I do love a sing song, probably best to steer clear of Al Jolson tunes though.