Faith, Mental Health, Parenting

When what now becomes what if

Hardships aren’t easy. (The clue is in the name). But I’ve seen great purpose come from great pain.

When I struggled with maternal mental health for a second time, and sank to such depths from which I thought my marriage and my family would never recover, I couldn’t see a way out. I remember crying out ‘what now?’ not understanding why a God I loved and served would let me suffer like this. I couldn’t understand why I was being broken all over again, even more deeply than the first time.

Sometimes it is only when we are fully broken that we can be fully rebuilt.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Now I can see that God turned my ‘what now?’ into a ‘what if?’. What if I stuck my head above the sand and shared my story? What if I spoke of my struffles and helped break the stigma? What if?

It is because of some of the darkest days in my life that I began to share my experiences. This led me to blogging, setting up a moms on mental health group and more recently becoming a mental health swim host.

Since my second mental health diagnosis three years ago, God has traded my shame into sharing and exchanged my isolation for community. Rather than prevent my pain, He used it to help me direct my focus on Him so that He could help me encourage others.

If I hadn’t endured mental health battles of my own, I would never have empathised and understood those who did. I certainly wouldn’t have been so proactive in supporting them. Yet here I am doing just that and I have never felt happier.

All we need is a seed of faith to grow a tree of fruit

Please know that I am no superhero. I am no saint. I am simply someone who struggled and saw a need. Someone who was willing to put her hand up and say I am hurting, this sucks, does anyone else feel the same? One thing that I have learned since walking my mental health journey is that it is a much easier road to travel when you don’t walk alone.

Pain can produce purpose

Pain can produce purpose. Do you believe that? It’s a hard pill to swallow when you are in depths, believe me. But if you are struggling and asking the same question – ‘what now?’ can I encourage you to turn the question on its head and ask ‘what if?’

What if your health doesn’t decline? Your business doesn’t go under? Your marriage doesn’t fail? What if it does but you make it through, battered and bruised? What if our ‘what nows’ are training grounds for where God is calling us to be?

What if our ‘what nows’ are training grounds for where God is calling us to be?

It is incredibly difficult to see how hardships are anything but that – hard. If you are facing hard times today, please be encourgaed; maybe, just maybe you are in training to find a purpose of your own.

R x

Standard
Adoption, Mental Health, Parenting

Behind The Smile

It’s not very British to air your woes, unless you are complaining about the weather of course. The ‘keep calm and carry on’ mantra has continued long since the war ended and our chronic apologetic nature makes us too polite to challenge attitudes or actions we don’t like. In short, we have become very good at hiding how we really feel, and this is to our detriment.

When I was first diagnosed with post natal depression in July 2013, I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Following the birth of my second son in 2013, I had felt like an utter failure. I couldn’t juggle the demands of a baby and a 3 year old and became increasingly unable to cope. I was hugely emotional and irrational and I couldn’t seem to get my words out or process simple information. My husband noticed and said that sometimes I would just walk into a room and ramble, then walk away. He felt like a light had gone out in my eyes, and I wasn’t ‘there’.

My diagnosis felt like a relief; I wasn’t going mad, I wasn’t a failure, there was something wrong with me and I needed help. I was very open with my diagnosis and would tell anyone and everyone because I felt that if they knew what was going on they would understand why I was different. Only trouble is, I had been so good at masking the depression with all except my very closest loved ones, that no one had any idea there was anything wrong. They would say things like, ‘Oh but you always look so put together, make up on, outfits carefully chosen, kids dressed and at church/playgroup…’ I had painted on a smile, presented my family and projected the fact that I had it altogether, when really I was crumbling side.

I had painted on a smile and projected the fact that I had it altogether, when really I was crumbling inside.

It makes me so sad that I did this. Not that I should have been unkempt, scruffy and miserable all the time either, but that I felt the need to tell the world ‘I am okay, I have got this.’

Friend, it’s okay to not be okay. I’ll say it again – it is okay to not be okay. It’s okay to drop the ball, let the tears fall, let your guard down and let others in. Because it is only when we reach out that we can be pulled out.

I sought professional help with both my depressions. My GP was incredible, so compassionate and supportive. I was prescribed medication both times following diagnosis. It worked brilliantly first time and I was on SSRI’s for six months, but second time round I didn’t react well to them at all. With my post adoption depression there were different triggers and it was less of a hormonal imbalance as opposed to an emotional one, therefore I sought weekly counselling which was a lifesaver, I exercised and spent time outdoors whenever possible, preferably in the woods or at the coast, and I began to use essential oils to support my emotions.

Depression is no respecter of persons, ages or stages.

Depression can hit at any time. It is no respecter of persons, ages or stages. You can be living in an ivory tower and have depression so deep in your soul that you want to leave this world. You can have the perfect family, the perfect job and still struggle with mental health. It isn’t necessarily because of what you have or don’t have, it can be the result of emotional injuries from long ago that surface due to a circumstance, it can be due to a stressful period in life, illness, hormones, you name it. We are emotional creatures, and our feelings need to be heard, acknowledged and processed, not brushed under the carpet or put back in a box.

I have shared my story ever since to try and reduce the stigma attached to mental health and encourage others that they are not alone. I began a peer support group for moms affected by mental health back in the Midlands and am now proud to be a Mental Health Swim Host here in Port Talbot, South Wales.

If you are struggling wiht mental health or know someone who is, then please reach out to someone you trust or to a mental health organisation such as the ones below:

Mind

Ask them mental health problems, where to get help near you, treatment options and advocacy services.

Tel: 0300 123 3393
Email: info@mind.org.uk
Text: 86463

Samaritans

Samaritans are open 24/7 for anyone who needs to talk. You can visit some Samaritans branches in person. Samaritans also have a Welsh Language Line on 0808 164 0123 (7pm–11pm every day).

Tel: 116 123 (freephone)
Email: jo@samaritans.org

Sane

Offers emotional support and information for anyone affected by mental health problems.

Website: sane.org.uk

Shout Crisis Line

If you’re experiencing a crisis, are unable to cope and need support, text Shout to 85258. Shout can help with urgent issues such as:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Abuse or assault
  • Self-harm
  • Bullying
  • Relationship challenges

Rethink Mental Illness

You can call the Rethink advice and information line Monday to Friday, 10am-2pm for practical advice on:

  • different types of therapy and medication
  • benefits, debt, money issues
  • police, courts, prison
  • your rights under the Mental Health Act.

Tel: 0300 5000 927 

Standard
Essential Oils, Lifestyle, Mental Health, Parenting

Too good not to share

Ever been in love? If so you know what it feels like to be head over heels, completely consumed by someone or something. This is how I feel about essential oils. Sound extreme? Think again.

If you knew that you had a way to help a friend feel good, help her baby sleep, or support her skin, you would share it right? I mean, we don’t think twice about texting a pal to say that the Zara sale is EPIC, so why would you hesitate if you could share more than just great wardrobe suggestions?

I am passionate about sharing how we can live happier, healthier lives. Essential oils were key in my recovery from maternal mental health. They helped me feel positive, confident and courageous (find out more about essential oils and emotions here). Their impact on me was so huge that I couldn’t not share. Medication didn’t work for me this time around, but I found a natural alternative that supported my emotions and my mental health so well.

Since that first huff in the summer of 2017, I was hooked and have been on an oily journey ever since. The phrase ‘once you know better, do better’ rung true on a whole new level for me as I explored how and why we use essential oils. As a family, we are now well on the way to eliminating as many chemicals as possible from our home, filling our air with life-giving plant oils not putrid perfume and petrochemicals.

Our kids don’t cough like they used to. My skin doesn’t itch like it used to. We don’t get sick like we used to. Coincidence? I think not.

Since we ditched the chemicals and switched to plant based, natural products we have been the healthiest we have ever been. Coughs and colds have been few and far between, illnesses rare and rapidly recovered from. Teething smoother, tantrums shorter (mostly!), periods easier. You name it, every system in our body has benefited. And you can too.

I am on a mission to empower YOU to make a difference in your family health. You are the gatekeeper to your home. You control what comes in through your doors and goes on to and in to your body. Start turning over the products in your bathroom cabinets and kitchen cupboards. Read the ingredients on the labels in the brightly coloured sprays that you use on your babies highchair and on your body. Many of these products contain known carcinogens, known toxins that pollute your atmosphere and damage your organs. When you know better, you do better, and I would love to help you on your journey to a healthier, happier you.

Want to know more? Grab your oils, grab my hand and lets learn together.

R x

Standard
Adoption, Faith, Lifestyle, Parenting

Everything I never wanted

It is Mothers Day, and this is the first one as a mom of three that I am actually looking forward to. Last year I was dreading the emotions (or lack thereof), that I would feel when my children bundled into bed with me.

I consider myself crazy blessed as a mom of three, but I wouldn’t wish my motherhood journey on anyone. Before I had my first child I knew a little about postnatal depression and knew of people who experienced it, but I learned so much more when I actually experienced it. I had moderate postnatal depression after my second son was born.

I put my tiredness down to juggling two, I put my desolation down to long days and sleepless night. It took me five excruciating months to get professional help with my maternal mental health and medication and conversation helped me through one of the darkest times. Fast forward a few years to the adoption of our daughter. A perfect princess to complete our family, yet when she arrived, my world came crashing down once again.

Motherhood seemed to be everything I never wanted

It seemed so unfair. I wanted to feel happy and proud but I felt terrified and trapped. I wanted to cherish and treasure my babies but I was angry and ashamed. All I had ever wanted was to be a mom, yet not once, but twice my mental health suffered as a result. I had done everything ‘right’, prepared, planner and prayed, yet postnatal and post adoption depression and anxiety tried to crush me.

But it failed.

Because my God is greater.

If you are facing tough times please know that you are not alone.

God will never leave you nor forsake you, even if you feel like He has.

I spent hours, literally hours on my knees crying and screaming out to God to fix the mess I was in, to take away the pain. I didn’t feel Him but I know He was there. And now as I look at my babies, I look back and see that while I was holding on to hope, God was holding onto them.

He cradled my baby when I couldn’t.

He soothed troubled hearts while mine was overwhelmed.

He did what I wouldn’t, then when I was ready He gently handed them back to me.

Mama, if you are reading this in the wee hours of the night because you cannot sleep, or with tears rolling down your cheeks because you know how it feels to want to just run away from everyone, everything, please know you are not alone. I was there, twice. I made it through and you will too.

Check out our Facebook group Moms on Mental Health for friendship and support with other mamas who have overcome depression or are still battling through it. We are stronger together and we would love to cheer you through the dark days.

R x

Standard
Adoption, Faith, Lifestyle, Parenting

Finding the lovely in everyday life

Nothing like quite a blog rebrand is there? My blog has enjoyed several face lifts and name changes over the years, but this current one somehow seems more poignant than ever.

Have you ever wanted to find your place? Your purpose? Your calling?

I am a self-confessed people pleaser, searching for the one true reason that I was put on this earth, wanting to hone in on that talent, that gift, that passion that I have been blessed with and run with it to the best of my ability.

Of course, the truth is we all have many talents, many gifts, many passions. I love to sing, and worship music is something that is incredibly close to my heart. I have tried to pursue this calling and advance in my ministry but have been met with a wall limiting my growth and holding me back. I love to write, and dream of writing my own story, pouring my life into the pages in the hope that my experiences could help somebody else, yet it never seems to be the right time. I love being a mother, and this lifelong desire to raise a family is now realised, yet I have found myself struggling with depression and mom-guilt.

Trying to fixate on just one gift is like trying to a child that once he has learned to walk that is all he can ever do. He shouldn’t try to run, ride, hop, skip or jump – sounds ridiculous, right?

All through my life, I have tried to please others. To get others to notice me, to recognise my giftings, to use my talents. Not in an egotistical way, but because rightly or wrongly I find my self-worth in what other people think. This applies to my blog too, to a certain extent, as I have always wanted to find my ‘niche’.

My very first blog was a craft blog, Sing Sew Write, inspired by my heroine Kirsty Allsopp following her successful series Kirstie’s Homemade Home. I documented my attempts at patchwork cushions, decoupage and even managed a crochet blanket, however, I soon ran out of ideas within my skill set, not to mention time after my second son was born.

I then thought that a mommy blog was the way forward, and Boys and Babyccinos was born. I loved documenting my adventures with my sons, but soon felt torn between wanting to share their lives and wanting to protect their identities. My husband and I agreed that in this media hungry world we needed to limit our children’s exposure on the world wide web, and so Boys and Babyccinos was no more.

After that I decided to go for a more generic blog, using my name Rachel Rae Writes and began sharing my journey with Jesus. As I was taking to time to study the Bible or spend time in God’s presence, He would drop little nuggets of wisdom into my mind and pretty soon I was writing mini-sermons that spoke into my soul. This has continued for a while until we embarked on our adoption journey and our third child, a daughter arrived.

To say that adoption rocked our world is an understatement. The assessment process itself is at best like having your home life raided by social workers with a search warrant. The approval process and eventual matching are both extraordinary and excruciating, and the introductions and birth parent meetings leave you reeling in every which way. Then there is the integration of a brand new little life into an established and, in our case, exuberant family. We have been on the most incredible journey, one that has left us elated and exhausted, delighted and depressed, complete and cautious. Yet, to protect our family we have chosen not to share the details publicly.

So where does this leave my blog? What should I write?

As a professional writer and chronic oversharer, I am rarely left without something to say, however, I feel that the focus of my blog needs to not just shift, but be removed entirely. Why can’t my blog cover many topics? Why can’t I be interested in and passionate about many things? I believe that over the past 12 months or so, I have undergone a major change in my thinking, I have found my worth in God and not in my giftings. He doesn’t want to pigeon-hole me, He wants to pursue me. He wants to see my find my feet as a daughter of the King and not be defined by a role or responsibility. He wants me to live free from restriction and restraint, to run with my imagination, to realise my dreams.

I want to share my life with you, the journey that I am on personally, both with God and with my young family. We are about to embark on a new chapter in our story and are so tantalisingly close to an exciting future as a family of five. My impatient nature wants to run ten steps ahead but my heart tells me to be still and wait. There is beauty in the waiting. There is a miracle in the middle. There is lovely in life. While I wrestle with my new normal there is much to see, much to enjoy. There are moments of pure calm and sheer bliss amongst the many moments of muddied waters and stormy seas.

As I navigate unchartered territories, I cling to the One who calms the storm, the One who created the seas, and I will seek to share a window into my world with this new blog Little Rae Life. I hope you will join me on the journey, I thnk we are in for quite a ride!

Rae x

Standard