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A little warm in my heart.

Blogging about what makes me happy; family life, cameras, beauty and more.

Bracklesham Bay – hooray!

The husband came home from travelling for work  late last night, and we decided that today needed to be a making the most of time together sort of day.  Sunshine and warmth led to us craving sea air, so we drove the hour or so to Bracklesham bay, just outside Chichester.  It’s a pebbly beach, so perhaps not ideal for sandcastles, but there’s an excellent (though busy… Please remember to book – we didn’t and ended up having fish and chips for lunch at 2.45 in the afternoon…!) cafe called Billy’s on the Beach, serving tea, cakes, beer, coffee, sandwiches and of course fish and chips.

We had a lovely time – there’s definitely plenty of English seaside charm to be had…


Of course, Small and I couldn’t resist the chance to get our Saltwaters wet with actual salt water… Her soggy sandals are just out of shot!


She spent plenty of time choosing the perfect pebbles to bring home, and D and I were able to chill out while she played.


  

We’ve been to the Witterings a few times this summer, and whilst they’re beautiful, I do rather like the quieter, less crowded vibe at Bracklesham.  Where is your favourite seaside place?

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Sunny autumn days and daydreaming

Today Small and I made the most of the sunshine – she played at the park while I had some well-earned magazine time watching her whizz about in the fresh air and warmth. I’m thinking about house things a lot at the moment, so Elle Decoration was perfect reading material! 

   
I’m loving this sleek uncluttered colour palette, with a nod to rustic wood. White walls are so clean and calming. The dining table really makes it for me – lifts it from clinical to homely. 


This is sofa is the perfect blend of classic and modern. 
A distressed leather Chesterfield, a woollen blanket and and an open fire… I can see myself with earl grey, knitting and toasted crumpets.

 

I love interiors magazines – I find it easy to escape in to ideas and inspiration for living spaces. Elle Decoration and Living Etc are the ones I like best – they match my aesthetic, if not my budget! 

How about you? What are your favourite interiors magazines? 

Mim x

Exciting times.

I’m about to begin year two of my photography degree at UCA – I’m so excited and inspired to get going!  Last year was pretty great, though marred a little by admin issues with the uni, but judging by yesterday’s induction session, it sounds like massive changes and improvements have taken place over the summer.

Today is a gloriously sunny day, so I’m going to make the most of it and take some reading out in to the garden.  That probably means my brain will be scrambled by bedtime though, I’m a bit out of practice after the summer break!

We were set a summer project before the hols; ‘The Engaged Citizen’.  After ponding how to interpret the theme, I decided to engage with my immediate surroundings and learn about the wildflowers growing within a mile of home… something many people would walk by and not engage with particularly.

I identified them, learned their names and created images of them.  Inspired by Anna Atkins I decided to create a number of cyanotypes so I could put in to practice some of the techniques I learned in last years’s workshops at uni.  I love the ethereal feel of them, and I think I’m going to print a few up at A3 size for the house.

Here are three of my favourites – Welsh Poppy, Cow Parsley and Hedge Bedstraw.

minicyanotypes-11 minicyanotypes-16 minicyanotypes-17

I identified them with the help of a fabulous little book – DK’s pocket nature: Wild Flowers, which groups by colour of flower – so much easier than some of the other taxonomies!

If you’re interested in finding out more about cyanotypes, the Silverprint website is full of great information, and they sell all the kit you’ll need (though their paper didn’t work for me, I used some Bockford Hot Press watercolour paper from my local art shop instead) and Lux Darkroom in London run workshops regularly.

My experience of post-natal illness.

I appreciate this isn’t especially heartening to read at first, but I think it’s important to share my experience, and this seems as good a way as any to get back into the swing of updating my blog regularly.  I wrote this article for my local NCT branch newsletter earlier on in the summer.  I hope that having it floating about on the internet will help someone, somehow.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As someone who has suffered with depression and anxiety as a teenager (and on and off since), I was expecting some difficulties as I made the transition into motherhood.

However, my experience was nothing like my expectations. In some ways the reality was worse, in some ways, better than I had hoped.

After a happy and relaxed pregnancy, my daughter was born two weeks overdue, and in almost the complete opposite way to my birth plan! However, I was head over heels in love with her, and we bonded immediately, despite a traumatic post-partum haemorrhage the night after she was born, and my feelings of disappointment about being unable to feed her in the way that I had hoped.

We were allowed home after three days and beyond the initial baby blues I was (and am again) an blissed out, if exhausted and often befuddled, new mum.

However, once she got to a few months old, I noticed my mood beginning to dip, and I also became increasingly aware that I was having distressing thoughts coming into my mind of hurting her.

As someone who has been known to check, and triple check the car seat is fitted correctly, and who carried my baby down the stairs in a special way, so as to avoid her being injured if I stumbled, these thoughts were acutely upsetting, and were the complete opposite of my normal, cautious and safety-conscious self.

Because these thoughts were so upsetting, I didn’t mention them to anyone. I felt ashamed and worried that I was becoming a bad person, and I was terrified that my daughter might get taken away from me as I was (in my mind) becoming an unfit mother.

I began to avoid certain things because of the thoughts they’d trigger off – a bizarre example of this is a beautiful decorative pen I ended up throwing away in disgust because every time I used it or looked at it, I would get an image in my mind of hurting my child with the sharp tip, which of course would upset me hugely, often reducing me to tears. I could not understand what was happening to me at all.

It all came to a head one night, when after several thoughts about harming people around me, I began to wonder if I was going criminally insane, and started making plans for who would look after my daughter while I was in a mental hospital. I honestly thought I needed to be locked away to protect others.

Luckily, I had an awareness of mental health and some postnatal conditions like puerperal psychosis, and although this was not what was wrong with me, it meant that the next morning I went down and looked up the APNI (Association for Post Natal Illness) http://apni.org/ and Perinatal Illness UK http://www.pni-uk.com/ websites. Here I learned that what I was experiencing was actually a relatively common aspect of post-natal depression and anxiety, just one that people don’t talk about much. I’m sure you can imagine how relieved I felt that I wasn’t the bad person I had feared I was becoming. I decided there and then to try to talk about my experience with others as much as I could, to try to help others to avoid the anguish that I went through – which is one of the reasons I’m writing this article 🙂

I spoke to my health visitor and GP about my general unhappiness and distressing intrusive thoughts, and was reassured that the websites were right – I wasn’t a danger to anyone, and I would get better with treatment. (My treatment included anti-depressant medication and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy/CBT * – but everyone is different and therefore their treatment will be different.) *for more information see this excellent link http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinformation/therapies/cognitivebehaviouraltherapy.aspx

I carried out further research on the internet and learned that the thoughts I was having were ‘ego-dystonic’ – which means that they are the total opposite of me and the sort of person I am. In fact, they often reflect the things I find most upsetting, or that I fear most. I also learned that they are a symptom of a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder, commonly called ‘Pure’ OCD, in which the sufferer has intrusive thoughts but no outward compulsions. I saw an NHS psychologist, and she explained to me that the intrusive thoughts I was having are symptom of inner anxiety and are my brain being hyper-vigilant or over-aware of signs of danger. She was even able to reassure me that people suffering with my kind of symptoms are arguably the least likely to harm their children or others. She also said that they are most common in over-cautious, safety-conscious people who tend to worry a lot – which sounds far more like me than the person I had been fearing I was becoming.

I’m happy to report that now, 2 years down the line, I’m much better and I have been for some time. I see my GP regularly to help make sure my depression is kept under control, and I see a therapist once a month for CBT, to help me to stay positive during life’s ups and downs.

I continue to have a fantastic relationship with my daughter, and despite a recent blip when I started feeling depressed and low (my medication needed tweaking, and I’m fine again now) I really am proud of the person I’ve become. I’m much stronger, more courageous and confident now, and I feel that what I went through has benefited me, though it felt like hell on earth at the time!

If you find yourself having similar thoughts, or feeling low and unhappy, please don’t be afraid of talking to your health visitor or GP, it is far more common than you think, and it is treatable. Please, don’t suffer in silence.

If you are interested in reading more, the following websites are an excellent source of information.

APNI (Association for Post Natal Illness) http://apni.org/
Perinatal Illness UK http://www.pni-uk.com/
General CBT information:http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinformation/therapies/cognitivebehaviouraltherapy.aspx
and
http://www.babcp.com/public/what-is-cognitive-behaviour-therapy/

Free online CBT tools: http://moodgym.anu.edu.au/welcome
Information on OCD: http://www.ocdaction.org.uk/

Books:

The Imp of the Mind – by Lee Baer (this is specific to intrusive thoughts like mine and was really reassuring)

Mind over Mood by Greenberg and Padesky (Really thorough CBT workbook)

Cognitive behavioural therapy for dummies by Rob Wilson and Rhena Branch

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