Mental Health and the Autism Mama

9th March 2015. A Monday. A stuffy office in the paediatric department of the Royal Surrey County Hospital. Six adults all agreeing that a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder was appropriate for my almost three year old, blonde haired, blue eyed son. I remember so much about that meeting. The room was so hot. I felt so sick. If I’d had to picture the setting my world would fall from under me in, this small grey room with uncomfortable chairs wouldn’t have been it. It would have been exotic, dramatic, or at least better looking. But here we were.

In those first few moments I was given a plethora of leaflets about support for Oscar. This agency would help with this, this one with that. It was mind boggling, and most of it went straight in the bin. It was too much to take in at that moment. But the one question I did ask was which one of these leaflets was for the agency that was going to support me? Which one was going to give me the help I was going to need now my parenting journey had been screwed up and chucked over the doctor’s shoulder. I remember saying “That’s great, thank you. And what support do I get?”. The paediatrician laughed in my face. Literally. “There isn’t any!” she told me. Any that was that.

I remember going to the doctors several months later to apply for a one off Carer’s prescription grant, as suggested by our Early Years case worker. The doctor asked why I wanted the grant and I started to explain how hard looking after Oscar was and how desperately sad the diagnosis had left me. She looked on awkwardly while I started to cry and ask again, where was the support for me? Was there nothing for post diagnosis depression similar to post partum depression. She scolded me and told me that was something very different and to come back if things got much worse. I left with the feeling I’d wasted someone’s time and that I should be coping better. I never went back.

But things didn’t get “better”. It just got ‘different’. And still no agency was interested in how I was coping. Several people suggested peer support, but I’m not good at leaning on friends. I tried to find a SEN support network online, but struggled taking on everyone else’s sadness as well as mine. It could have been extremely helpful, but I just felt like I wasn’t giving as much as I felt I was taking. Or as though everyone was doing SEN parenting better than me. Even down to the amount they worried. It felt I wasn’t worrying enough. So I had to step back.

And all the while what I was really feeling was akin to grief. A grief for the child I thought I had. A grief for the parenting journey I thought I was on. A grief for the kind of relationship I would never have with my son. For the mother I would never get to be. All while coping with child who needs me in a way I’m still figuring out on a daily basis. And mentally berating myself for not doing, or coping, or being better. Because I should be grateful I had a child at all.

Eventually I knew something needed to change. My heart felt like it was breaking all the time and I hadn’t experienced anxiety this bad since I was a teenager. I also realised no one was going to formally offer to help me. I was so disillusioned with the support (or lack of it) I’d been offered by the NHS, that I didn’t even bother going to them. I found a private therapist. And it’s turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I struck lucky and found someone I felt comfortable talking to immediately (having seen counsellors in the past I know this is not always the case). And things I’ve never said to anyone have now been said. Burdens have been laid down for a while.

I’m not saying everything’s fine and hunky dory now. It’s not. I’m still coming to terms with plenty of stuff, stuff I sometimes think I might never find peace with. But I keep trying. Because for all the support Oscar gets as someone with ASD, none of it as important as the support he gets from his parents. From me. And if I don’t get the support I need to give him the best of me then none of the other services are worth jack.

I still think it’s a joke that parents going through such a traumatic event in their lives are just expected to get on with it without support. I hate that I was made to feel stupid for asking for help. And I’m so heartbreakingly sad that there probably other parents out there right now whose lives are being blown apart by a diagnosis they never wanted and with no idea how they will ever put their lives back together again.

So on this #worldmentalhealthday, I just wanted to fly the flag for SEN parents. The overworked, over looked, under supported. Your mental health is worth everything. You deserve support, as much as anyone. Don’t be afraid to ask for it. Ignore those who laugh in your face, or tell you you’re are not as in need as new parents. You are. Because supporting your mental health is really supporting your child.

And isn’t that the most important thing?

Mrssavageangel Slimming World Week 14

I know, I know. I haven’t written one of these for the past two weeks. That’s due in part to the boy being off on his preschool Easter holidays. I find it so hard to concentrate when he’s around, particularly to write these posts, where I have to think hard about what I want to say. And if I’m honest it’s also in part because I’ve not had much to say. I gained 3lb over the Easter break. I stopped trying so hard when we went away and then it was so difficult to refocus when we came back. Why is that? Why is it so hard to fall back into negative habits, but so hard to stick to new positive ones?

Anyway, I’m disappointed with my results over Easter, but actually when I think about it (and look back at last year’s blog post) it’s almost exactly the same as what happened last Easter. And I pulled it back then. That’s good to know.

So this week, I actually started, albeit very slowly, to turn the tide, with 0.5lb off.

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So I’m back to having lost 13.5lb, dipping just back under the stone. And as that makes me sad, and I don’t like feeling sad, I need to change that asap!

And I plan to do that with the aid of a slow cooker.

My friends have been going on about their slow cookers forever, and this week I finally capitulated and got myself one. And I swear I may never use the hob again 😉. First day I had it I made bolognese and then on Saturday I got hold of the most enormous piece of brisket Waitrose were selling off cheap. Oscar loves watching the Buzzfeed Tasty videos at the moment (over and over!) and they occasionally have slow cooker recipes. One that really caught my eye was one with a huge piece of chuck steak. So when I got this brisket I had to try it. I halved a load of new potatoes, some carrots, placed half the brisket on top of the veg, seasoned and added Worcestershire Sauce, a splash of water and, 5 hours in, a couple of springs of rosemary and thyme. 6 hours on high and BOOM! We had the most amazing dinner. So amazing I didn’t get any pictures 😞. Anyway, the plan was to freeze the other half of the brisket and make pepperpot stew later in the week. Didn’t happen. We just had exactly the same meal on Sunday! Basically we ate half a cow this weekend! Half a delicious cow, mind. And this week I’ve already made Pork Vindaloo from the Slimming World Curry Heaven Book. I made double the amount and one half has already gone in the freezer and the rest is for dinner tonight. I’ll report back next week!

Syn free Slimming World pork vindaloo in the slow cooker!

Syn free Slimming World pork vindaloo in the slow cooker!

So other than slow cooked deliciousness, my other discovery over the past few weeks has been chicken burgers! When I wrote about how much I loved Heck sausages (they’re a freezer staple in this house and we buy them in bulk online!), the very lovely people at Heck Food sent me some of their Chicken Italia Burgers to try. Each burger is only one syn each and blow me if they aren’t blooming gorgeous! And so flipping versatile! I’ve had them as just delicious burgers with jacket potatoes and veg, but they’re fab chopped up and added to things too.

Heck Chicken Italia Burgers. In all their glory!

Heck Chicken Italia Burgers. In all their glory!

One lunch time I was planning to have burger, beans and mushrooms, you know, separately, then I decided to just mix them all together and accidentally invented a lunch time ‘Quick Casserole’. It was amazing and so filling!

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My own invention the ‘Quick Casserole’! Beans, one Heck Chicken Italia Burger and chestnut mushrooms. 1 syn for the lot!

And then another day, inspired by a picture on the IG account of @Shanonnagain58, I had a crack a Mexican style breakfast burrito. Chopped burger, with spicy scrambled egg in a BFree Wrap (1 x HEB) with a side order of mushrooms (I love mushrooms can you tell!). It made so much burrito ‘filling’ that I had trouble picking it up! Amazeballs!

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My attempt at a Heck Burger Breakfast Burrito! 1 Syn + 1 HEB for the wrap.

Who knew a burger could be so much more than just a delicious patty on a bun? I’m just off to place another massive order of sausages (seriously I think I have a bit of a problem with these sausages 😉 ) and I’m totally going to order burgers this time too!

So this week I’m feeling much more positive at my own capabilities than I have been. At least I am today (don’t you find it changes from day to day?). So lets take this a day at a time 🙂

love

Lisa

xxx

 

I honestly love these burgers. They are so delicious and at one syn each so easy to fit into the Slimming World plan. I’d like to thank Heck for gifting them to me. I was not paid to write about them and as always my opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

Mrssavageangel Slimming World – Week 10

Hi howdy hey!

Where has the week gone? Seriously, I feel like I’ve done loads but I can’t remember a bit of it! This week’s sunshine has been much appreciated though. Soft sunlight, cold breezes, sweet smell of cut grass. Spring has definitely finally arrived in Haslemere. It’s been so… refreshing is the only word I can think of.

The health has been slowly recovering. Every day I’ve felt a little bit better and I’m coughing just a little bit less. However, I’ve been exhausted for much of the week. That’s what getting better does to you I guess. Especially when you can’t rest. Motherhood does that to you! You get no days off, you can’t call in sick. You push on. Because you have no choice.

Anyway, enough of that nonsense. You’ll start to think I’m about to make an excuse for a gain or something. But I’m not! Ha! That shocked you didn’t it?! No some how, despite another week of inconsistent eating and not counting syns properly and a morning weigh in last week I managed to do this:

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So while I wouldn’t recommend illness as a long term weight loss solution, the lurgy clearly suits me ?.

As I had to weigh and run last week, I didn’t get my one stone award certificate. Got it this week though! Total lost now 1 stone 2.5lb (16.5lb)

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Due to said illness I’ve been sticking to tried and tested foods again this week, so no new recipes, sorry! We have had the Mexican Chicken Stew I wrote about a few weeks ago twice this week though and if you haven’t tried it I urge you to, particularly if you have a cold. A bit of heat is just what you need when you’re bunged up!

So with the health on the mend, I really have no excuse not to get back into the swing of the things. After all next week is Easter and our sojourn down to Devon and Oscar’s birthday shindig. I’m out tonight with my lovely NCT ladies, but other than that, well let’s just say I would like to lose 1 lb this week. For all sorts of personal reasons, but also because I’ve just ordered some new clothes and I’d really like them to fit! Eeek! ?

Have a lovely week and fingers crossed the sun hangs around!

Love

Lisa

xxx

Mixing it up….

In just a few short weeks time, my bouncing little ball of energy, also known as Oscar, will be turning four. FOUR! Man alive, how on earth did that ever happen? A year. Over. Done. Never to be repeated. When you look at the passage of time through the ageing of a child it makes everything feel so much more transient, so here today gone tomorrow. Literally. Ahh my sweet sweet boy. Every day you change, every day you grow.

So aside from getting maudlin, and feeling all kinds of old ? we’ve been thinking about how to mark our little guy’s fourth birthday. Last year, you may recall, we threw him a wonderful party with the help of our friends at The Hen House, Haslemere. It’s was awesome! So awesome in fact that we weren’t sure what we could do to top it this year (not that it’s a year on year competition, but you know what I mean!) We ummed and ahhed and looked around locally, but couldn’t find anything suitable. Then we started talking about how much fun we had over Christmas and how it would be lovely if Oscar could share his birthday with his extended family.

So that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re going down to Plymouth for Easter. We’re staying in the same apartment as at Christmas, and we plan to celebrate his birthday, with his extended family, a week early, on Easter Sunday. I’ve been pinteresting like mad already for some Easter themed party food and while I won’t be going mad, a centrepiece always goes down well I find. My favourite at the moment is this one. Isn’t it too cute?

A dip filled bunny, surrounded by veggies? What's not to love?

A dip filled bunny, surrounded by veggies? What’s not to love?

Any other Easter themed party food ideas gratefully received. Seriously, if you’ve got any ideas, or blog posts to share, I’d love to see them!

So that’s the party sorted, but then there’s what to get him for a gift. For the last few years we’ve concentrated on large garden toys for his April birthday, setting him up for the coming summer. And that’s been great, but this year we haven’t really got anything in mind. Maybe a bigger slide? But where would it go? Hmmm. It’s a conundrum that’s for sure. And in terms of play toys, there’s nothing he desperately wants and nothing much he needs, to be honest. He’s got more Thomas toys than you can shake a stick at and Duplo coming out of his ears! He has no interest in any of the movie tie ins and flits between favourite cartoons most days (last week it was 1940s Tom and Jerry, this week it’s been 1990s Rugrats – all hail TV streaming services!) He has just started to pick up things (straws, sticks, the Hoover!) and use them as guns, but this upsets me no end and I have no wish to encourage it. So we’re back to the question; what do we get him? What is he in to?

There is one idea I had. It may sound crazy and you may think this is more for me than him, but hear me out. The boy loves to bake. This has been a thing now for over a year. But recently he’s decided he doesn’t like using my Kitchen Aid and instead wants to ‘mix’ everything himself in a ‘giant bowl’ (his words). For this you need a good sturdy bowl, and I just don’t have one. We tend to use my mixer bowl, which is light and topples off its tiny base regularly. He needs something better. I’ve always loved Mason Cash bowls. My mum had one, my Nanna had one. I used to think owning one was almost a prerequisite for being a mum. I always wanted a beige one, just like my mums, but recently Mason Cash released their Varsity range, in cream and Navy Blue. So I started thinking, actually, of all the things we could get him, how about his own ‘giant mixing bowl’? And if we’re going to do that, why not get him the grande dame of bowls?

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The Mason Cash Varsity Mixing Bowl in blue. The perfect gift?

Surely that’s what every four year old would want for their birthday. Right?

Come back in a few weeks, I’ll let you know what we decide!

Mrssavageangel Slimming World – Week 9

Just a quick one today. For no other reason that I’ve spent the week with, what feels like my old friend, Bronchitus. Mothers Day was a wash out, but other than that I’ve had to push my self from one thing the next somehow. That’s just what mama’s do. My appetite has been all over the place. When I’ve been hungry enough to eat, I’ve only been able to face foods I wouldn’t usually eat (Slimming World or not!) Heinz Chicken and Mushroom soup – childhood much? Hot chocolate, toast. Comfort in the extreme. Which is what you need when you’re coughing your lungs up and you’re not sleeping.

Anyway, I didn’t weigh in last night as I usually do for three reasons. One: I was still feeling pretty rough, two: it was hammering it down and I really didn’t want to walk to group in the rain and three: Oscar was being extra cuddly at bedtime last night, and didn’t want me to leave. So I stayed. And it was totally the right thing to do for all of us. And the fact that I made that choice to stay with my little guy meant I got to hear my very first unsolicited, unprompted, unexpected “I love you” from him, while we lay in the dark quiet of his room. It’s only taken four years. I’d have waited four more ??

Anyway, back to Slimming World. Yeah I decided to weigh and run this morning instead, something I’ve never done before. It meant taking Oscar in with me, but bless him he played in the toy corner like a boss and didn’t even cry when we had to leave the little Mr Potato Head behind. High Five that guy! Oh and I did this:

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Now look, I know they say you always weigh less at a morning weigh in than you do in an evening one, but after how crappy I’ve felt all week, I’ve decided to take this and run with it. I won’t be surprised with a small gain or another maintain next week as things balance themselves out, but right now, at this moment, I’m patting myself on the back. And not just to loosen this god damn cough! Because this means I’ve lost 15lb. And that means I’ve reached my first stone! ??

As I said I’ve eaten a really weird combination of foods this week and so have no new foods or recipes to share, sorry. I wish I had felt well enough to make my own soup, but it’s not what I craved. And when you feel this shitty, you give in to what your body says. What foods to you gravatate towards when you’re feeling proper poorly? I can’t be the only one who goes back to the kitchen of their early childhood!

Hoping for a week of slightly more energy and hopefully some better food choices.

lots of lurgy love

Lisa

xx