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The Thief of Joy

Recovery from depression is actually pretty fucking depressing.

My recovery and enthusiasm for living once again have force me to realise just what I’ve lost due to depression and anxiety.

I lost the first few years of my children's lives through being present but emotionally absent, once cherished family members are now strangers,  I lost my career which at one time was everything to me and I’ve also come to the harsh reality that I lost my friends.

Every single last one of them.

single chair

I’m not sure I can blame them, how many times can you cancel on a person because you’re too scared to leave the house, how many times can you go out and seem distant at the same time?

Over the course of 7 years it seems it can happen too many times before the phone stops ringing, the birthday and Christmas cards stop falling on the door matt or invites to go for coffee stop being made.

When I couldn’t even make sense of what was going on, I could hardly explain it to others, let alone hope for them to understand.

It’s a devastating blow to actually accept what I’ve lost; having no one to shoot the shit with, no one to go to when I need a laugh or a vent, no one to meet up for a coffee when I just want to get out the house.

I wish I’d known what the past 7 years would have cost me, perhaps I could have worked harder to keep hold of the people in my life, or not.

Maybe it was inevitable, as I come through the dark for of years of depression perhaps it’s time for the new me to find a new them.

Until then, it’s a pretty bleak and lonely future when you’re doing it alone.

Papa Tont

Calm Before the Storm

I’ll be the first to admit that I have mixed feelings about the Summer break.

Whilst I relish the idea of throwing routines out the window and spending time with my children, just the thought of throwing routines out the window and spending so much time with my children has me breaking out in a cold sweat.

So, with the impending break up of school I decided to take a day away from everything and spend a bit of time trying to find the much needed calm required to get through 6 weeks with Ahren and Ethan.

Thankfully summer had finally arrived with blue skies and warm weather, perfect for a stroll along the beach.

early morning pier

I decided to head away from the promenade and walk along the beach at the foot of the South Downs cliffs, this part of the beach always seem quiet compared to the more popular areas with easier/safer access, but if you’re ever in the area and time and tide are on your side, I really do recommend you take a walk away from the beaten track.

weathered groynes

Unlike other areas of the beach front where you can see repairs being made as and when necessary, this section seems to have been left alone to bare its weather beaten signs of erosion. It’s easy to underestimate the strength and persistence of the sea until you see the constantly changing coast.

time and erosion

It was a nice change to walk at my own pace without having to keep an eye on children determined to get themselves in to trouble of some kind.

beachy head lighthouse

I also managed to find some sea glass to add to my collection, yay!

seaglass

Before long, walking in a daze and letting random thoughts take over, I reached the point where it was time to turn around and head home, walking over the South Downs to avoid being caught by the rising tide.

thistles

As I pootled along, avoiding bees and stinging nettles I tried to think of ways to keep the kids entertained during the holidays, before giving up and deciding to let it play out as it will, we’ve never been good at sticking to plans anyway.

south downs and wildflowers

Before long I was almost home and preparing myself for the ridiculously hectic last few days of school…Summer Festivals, best friends leaving school, retiring teachers, school reports, teacher gifts, attendance awards, ordering uniforms, arranging play dates…and the list went on.

wildflowers by the beach

Now, we’re in to our first week of Summer break, the children are officially bonkers and in true British Summer tradition the sun is no where to be found, it must be time to buy new wellies!

Back to Basics – Family Time

Sometimes you need to get back to basics.

Our family, despite my best intentions have succumbed to ‘screen time’, but I’m fed up of being ignored, having to settle ridiculous arguments and generally seeing the back of my kids heads as they focus on some gadget or another.

So in an effort to not only reduce screen time but to encourage a bit more ‘family time’ I’ve started a collection of back to basics board games.

The children were initially dubious, when you have a PS4 Jenga hardly seems in the same league!

But their enthusiasm has been pleasantly surprising, with them both opting to put down tablets and turn off the TV to spend time playing a simple, if competitive game of Snakes & Ladders or create an elaborate trail of dominos.

snakes & ladders

It has also given us an opportunity to spend some time together as a family. It may sound ridiculous but I often struggle with ‘family time’, I didn’t grow up in a family which spent much if any time together, participating in the same activity, so I’m rather chuffed that my own little family has found some small way to come together and have a giggle.

With the Summer holidays starting in just over a week and the rain clouds not looking like they will be dispersing any time soon, I’m glad to have found something so simple to keep my little ones entertained when stuck indoors, even if only for 10 minutes at a time.

Happy and Home at A Residence blog

Fading Beauty

I’m always rather fascinated with the decay of a once vibrant flower, the transformation from a bright, open and fragrant bloom to a limp, almost dirty fall of petals is at times a sight to see.

Few flowers make the transition in such a stunning way as the peony.

peony bloom

Until recently the closest I’d gotten to a peony was via Instagram, I was at once enthralled by their unique beauty and was thus ridiculously excited to purchase my first bunch.

The first few days were rather impressive, these tightly bound balls of petals, which I really wanted to bonk on Spencer's head, began to unfurl.

peony bloom 

Never having seen the “inside” of a peony I was amazed at just how many petals there were.

peony bloom

They look rather ridiculous in the most fabulous way.

peony bloom

peony bloom

peony bloom

Over the next week or so I watched with interest as the blooms opened to their full display before gradually beginning their decline.

It’s intriguing to see something once so beautiful quickly fade to nothing more than a shadow of its former self.

faded peony

faded peony blooms

faded peony

faded peony

faded peony petals

Most of us disregard cut flowers as soon as they show any signs wilting, which is a shame as I do believe we miss out on such an extraordinary transformation.

fading peony

Whilst not as aesthetically pleasing as a fresh bouquet, the wilting process itself is something rather magical to see.

Optimistically Lost

I never really appreciated just how terrifying it can be to recover from mental illness.

There was a sense of safety whilst I was trapped in the midst of depression, it’s hard to explain but whilst I was clinically depressed and dosed up on handfuls of drugs I knew what to expect. I knew that my emotions were non existent, I didn’t have to worry about having the right response to a situation because I just didn’t have any response, there was a relief to the numbness.

Whilst recovery brings with it a whole heap of positives and expectations it also creates some rather terrifying realisations. Having to relearn who I am after more than 7 years of numbness is difficult, more so than you’d think. The world and everyone in it has moved on, whilst I was stuck, now that I’m starting to emerge from depression I realise that I no longer know who I am.

I need to figure out what are natural responses and reactions to situations. At the back of every reaction is the fear than I’m having the wrong response, perhaps my sadness is me slipping back in to depression, maybe losing my temper is a sign I’m not getting better or maybe I’m too happy too soon and I’m being manic.

I never realised just how scary ‘getting better’ could be.

Recovery is something I’ve been chasing for years, I’ve had teasing glimpses of what being a happy parent and partner could be, how much better my life could be, and now that I’m on the cusp of it….I’m terrified of fucking it up.

No one tells you how to cope with getting better.

I’ve had my allocation of therapists, counsellors and other medical professionals and now I find myself alone, during what is perhaps the most important stage of depression, trying to navigate what is unchartered territory.

I’m optimistically lost.

tunnel of trees

I hope I’m strong enough, that I’m determined and stubborn enough to push through the  doubts, blips and second guesses that will eventually lead me to an existence in which I’m content, secure in who I am, a parent I can be proud of and partner worthy of sticking with.

Living with depression is hell, the tantalising possibility of recovery….that, that is terrifying.

Papa Tont

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