Journal #5 Confirmation or Cremation?

Since my last entry, a lot has happened, both good and not so good. The best part was my confirmation, though Belicia got confused between confirmation and cremation. I only hoped the vicar hadn’t got confused as well!

It was such a lovely service with a lot of our friends and family there with us.We were treated to two full immersion baptisms as well. I can’t show them on here, but look them up, they are amazing.

There was also a buffet lunch afterwards that was really nice. So many people helped to set everything up, and I was really grateful to all of them.

It was great to see my friends and my brother who I haven’t seen for a while.  We chatted about our mum who is now in a hospice. She is up and down and in reality, I am not holding out hope. All I do hope is that it doesn’t drag on too long if it’s going to happen.

The next day was a bit of a shock, the weather was terrible and in the afternoon I had the worst anxiety attack in a long while – certainly since I had started taking my medication.

Thankfully, it didn’t last too long, but it was awful. I couldn’t speak to the till assistant in the shop. I managed a quick thank you and left before they could say anything else. That is the worst thing about it. The uncontrollable feeling that it gives you, like you have lost all rationality in your mind. My countermeasures had little effect, if my mind were playing war games, it would have launched the nuclear missiles and headed for the fallout shelter.

Thankfully, calm has been restored in many ways. My mind and my anxiety have thrashed out disarmament talks which will only result in a temporary ceasefire, and I am back to writing. It could have been worse, that’s what I always tell myself.

Anxiety Level – 10+


Secondary School Visit: St Anselms

Image result for st anselms school canterbury

Today we took our daughter to see another secondary school St Anselm’s Catholic School in Canterbury. We had already been to see Archbishops School and this was going to be the only other secondary school we would visit.

We were one of a few families that arrived for the tour, and we were immediately impressed with the staff and the atmosphere at the school. We were greeted by one of the sixth form pupils who was going to be our guide.

First, we visited the computer suite which has a number of PC’s available for the students to use. We were also told that they can have access to laptops and tablets if required.

We then went to see the gym and sports hall which was very big and well equipped. We weren’t able to see much as there were classes going on, but it was a nice building with lots of space.

We then went on to see the art rooms which had some stunning examples of students work dotted around the room. We also saw the gallery where they display their work.

One of the things that struck my wife and I was that the school was on very level ground with ramps and lifts for the higher levels. This was great to see as parents of a daughter with mobility problems.

Our tour then took us to the music, performing arts and science rooms. My daughter particularly enjoyed the science and biology room as they were diffusing pink gel into some water which she found fascinating. She also loved the animals that they had including the Degu and a bearded dragon.

The tour concluded with a visit to the chapel and the lunch hall which had a very impressive fingerprint scanner so the students don’t need to carry money.

Overall, we were very impressed with the school and the students. They seem geared up to look after the student’s needs and wellbeing.

But don’t take my word for it, this is what my daughter has written about her visit.

In my review of St Anselm’s was pretty good  it had loads of computer rooms and loads of learning was going on so they were really concentrating really well. So if you were going to go to that to that school I think you would really like it there. This is my opinion so you  can have a different opinion don’t take my opinion if you don’t want to go there I’m only saying I like it .

I think she likes it.

Journal #4 Kenny is in the House

As Arkwright in Open all Hours used to say ‘It’s been a funny old day’. Well, not so much funny as turbulent. It started off fairly well, took the car in for its MOT after dropping my daughter off at school. My anxiety levels started to climb and I wasn’t really sure why. It has been a tough week trigger wise, and my brain is particularly trigger happy with the old panic button at the moment.

I deployed countermeasures and it settled things a bit, but it was a rocky day after that. On the plus side, two pumpkins bought for Halloween and got the car back in one piece.

This evening for some reason, I had the song Lucille by Kenny Rogers going around in my head. Making up the words to the parts I couldn’t remember.

In the end, I had to resort to YouTube and watched the song with lyrics. I then went on a bit of a Kenny Rogers song fest and ended up watching many of his hit songs.

I have always had a soft spot for Kenny Rodgers music, very descriptive as Country and Western often is. Though none can match the classic ‘How Can I Miss You if You Won’t Go Away’ and many other great song titles.

I am calmer now thankfully…maybe due to Kenny!

Journal #3 Caution, Anxiety Ahead

Yesterday was one of those days that I dread. My anxiety was high and it didn’t really drop for the whole day.

The problem I think, is that over the past few days, the dreaded sickness bug has been doing the rounds. It always raises my anxiety but yesterday it seemed that everyone had it.

I felt my anxiety closing in on me like one of those villain death traps you see in the movies. Unfortunately, there was no comedy music or escape.

Even in the evening when I had a meeting at the church I was still on high alert. It can be very disruptive, I really didn’t want to go out. I just wanted to stay at home and hibernate until July.

Anxiety Level 10+

Journal #2: Air Con Sliding

Today was a fairly quiet day anxiety wise. No major problems or unexpected shocks…until this afternoon.

The morning was uneventful, cleared more rubbish out of the loft and took it to the refuse centre. I am sure 50% out of the 70% they achieved this month was because of me.

Did the usual school run and took our dog Amber with us. She loves the school run because all the kids want to stroke her. I was a little amused to see a certain teacher open the school gate, not sure it’s in the job description.

Later we went to Sainsbury’s to get sausages for dinner. Went into minor health anxiety mode and insisted that we choose a pack from the back in case the front one had done a tour of the supermarket.

Coming out of school my daughter told me that her friend who stayed over wasn’t in school today. Instant alert mode and full interrogation revealed that she was sick last night.

This child that my anxiety sense had flagged as a potential biological weapon was now ill. I felt a justified told you so was in order, but my anxiety level went up a tad.

Then proceeded to try and relocate the mobile air con downstairs for the winter. Whoever designed this ‘mobile’ air con should be sacked. A Boeing 747 is more mobile and probably lighter that this was.

After a lot of struggling and sliding down the stairs, it finally reached the bottom. I feel this is the last trip this air con will be taking upstairs.

Anxiety Level : 5

Journal #1: Sunday Service

So today I found myself much better than my very anxious state the day before. My daughters friend had not contracted the sickness bug that her brother had, well at least over the past 24 hours.Also, my mother seemed in brighter spirits and is no longer peeing into a bag hanging on her bed.

As if the day could have got any better, my wife made waffles for breakfast. I saw it as my duty to devour as many as I could before the children came downstairs. It was then time for church, which held a few surprises. We arrived to a queue of people in the doorway and my wife’s aunt and her family milling around. At first we thought this was a This is Your Life rehersal, but we then remembered that neither of us are famous.

It turned out to be a christening of a distant relation and we all shook hands and kissed while laughing our surprise. The church was full which was a good sight, the reverend was as I was soon to learn, holding things together admirably.

The usual birthday and notices were concluded along with singing and sermon. Then came the christening and apart from dropping the paper into the font, the reverend marched on gallantly as all the god parents recited their words of support to the baby.

I was feeling good when the service finished, that was until the reverend came over to us and proclaimed that he had got through the service despite wanting to throw up since 3 am. Before he even uttered the words, my anxiety sense realised what he was about to say. Immediately, my mind went into damage limitation mode, replaying every encounter with the reverend since we arrived. I was pleased to find that apart from walking behind me when we got our tea, he had not come into contact with me.

It was enough however for the vice to grip my throat momentarily and have me reaching for my counter measures which I had left at home. Needless to say I will be monitoring everyone for the next 24 hours for any signs of contagen.

Open Day at Secondary School

The day has finally arrived, the day that we prepare to choose what secondary school our daughter will be attending. It doesn’t seem like nearly six years since we took our little girl to her first day at primary school.

We have been thinking about secondary schools for a little while and have decided that there are really only two options that we wanted. We also (as we thought we should) asked our daughter what one she would want to go to.

For those who don’t live in Canterbury, this won’t mean a thing, but we chose Archbishops School and St Anselm’s. Both are church schools, although whereas Archbishops is Church Of England, St Anselm’s is Catholic.

We wanted a faith school because we wanted our daughter to learn about faith. This may be a controversial point for some, but we are all church goers and this is an important part of our life.

The First Open Day

Our first open day (or evening actually) was at Archbishops. It is amazing that even though I never went to this school, the moment you walk through the door, you are immediately transported to your childhood.

After a nice cup of tea, we assembled in the hall to listen to a chat with the head boy, new pupil and the Head  and deputy head of the school. I should mention that there were also biscuits and cakes on offer as well as tea.

One by one, they all took turns to tell us about the school and what it had to offer for the prospective pupils. They spoke of trips abroad, aspiring results and a determination to make the whole experience fun and educational. As a parent, they were telling us everything we wanted to hear but we still needed to tour this 1950’s building.

The Tour Begins

After the talks, we were split into groups of 15 and assigned a pupil to act as our guide. We were taken to each classroom where there were displays of work, demonstrations, and teachers for us to interrogate. Not that we really felt we needed to ask too many questions, as they were very good at showing the best the school had to offer.

We started at History and wound our way around the school going up and down lots of stairs. One of the highlights of the tour was the science classroom. There were pupils giving demonstrations ranging from setting fire to popcorn, to testing the ph of liquids. This part of the tour took the longest, as the faces of the children lit up and gazed at the experiments.

When we eventually left, we went on to the languages classrooms, CDT and Geography. Along the way was another highlight, home economics or cookery for those old enough. The smell of baking cakes carried us up the stairs like a lift to the top floor. There were students working hard making small cakes and pastries that were delicious.

Across the hall was Religious Studies, where our friend from church was busy showing people around her classroom. It is a long day for all the students and teachers and I didn’t envy them at all. However, they were all magnificent and showed just how proud they were of their school.

Ticking the Boxes

After the tour, we left feeling as though we were buzzing. My daughter was really excited about her experience and felt that she would love to go there next year.

Despite this reaction, we are going to the open evening at St Anselm’s to see for ourselves what they are doing as a school.

I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to go and visit schools that you are planning to consider for your children. I am sure most people do, but if you are thinking that it doesn’t matter, then I urge you to reconsider. This is a decision that could change your child’s life for better or worse, you need to go into it with all the information.


Determination is the Key

One of the things that anyone who is successful will tell you, is that you have to be determined in order to succeed. This detail is unfortunately at odds with one of the main problems with anxiety.

Anxiety will tell you that you are a failure and that there is no point in going on with what you are doing. While this may be true on some occasions, it can never be true about those things you are passionate about.

I have been blogging for nearly a year now and in that time I have been working to get a plan together to be more successful. This plan has been altered and scrapped a few times along the way, but in essence, it is the same.

I want to educate, help and highlight all the things that have made mental health stigma so prevalent. I’m not looking for fame or fortune, just the opportunity to get my message to where it is needed.

This blog is part of that strategy, but over the last year, I have spread my posts and focus too thin. I am now trying to remain more focused on what is important and leave the rest behind.

All the time, I am in a constant battle with my anxious mind, who tells me its a waste of time and effort. I think that every voice has a place to be heard, and a point of view. But that voice has to be sincere and not just what you think will make you heard.

In the end, it all comes down to being in the right place and putting yourself out there. This is what I am doing and all those who want to do the same, don’t listen to your anxiety.

High Anxiety

Today I went to see my mother who is currently in the hospital. These situations are always difficult for me and have been since I was younger.

The problem is because my mum was the main carer for many of her brothers and sisters, I was often taken along with her as there was no-one to look after me.

I saw first hand the deterioration and death of two of my mum’s siblings and my father. I have seen these signs before, and in some ways, I look for them when they aren’t there.

My mum has had a series of problems over the past few months. Starting with a reaction to her chemotherapy for cancer, breaking her arm in a fall and now vomiting and no appetite.

This last problem, coupled with her arm is what’s giving us the most concern. Mainly because there doesn’t seem to be any attempt to get to the bottom of it. It has resulted in mum going from a fit, independent woman in January, to a thin and frail lady who can no longer walk or stand very well.

The fact that I have an anxiety to hospitals, and that my mum was unwell, meant that my anxiety level was at DEFCON 1. In many ways she was still like her old self, joking with the staff and the other patients. But she was also in a lot of pain and had no desire for food. Her hair was returning, giving her a short white downy look to her head that you might find on a baby.

Fear of what I might find was causing a lot of problems with my anxiety before we got there. Having been to hospitals before with my mum, I was aware of the many ways you can find someone who is very poorly. Reports from my brother were optimistic but also laced with agitation at a lack of diagnosis for our mum’s issues.

We stayed with her for a few hours but left feeling none the wiser about her condition or what they intended to do to remedy it. I think it is this lack of progress that caused the most anxiety and stress today. I am glad that I have my medication or I might have been a lot worse.

One thing that I was determined to do was to see her no matter how bad my anxiety got. I wanted to see for myself how she was and let her know that we are thinking of her. In some ways, it was a great achievement, but this wasn’t how it felt at the time.

Regardless of the outcome, I want to know that I have tried everything I can to help her get the best care she can.

I Need to Lay Down

Today, I had to face my fear of vomiting in a way I hadn’t expected. It wasn’t anything I had considered or planned a response for. 

My mother has been unwell for a little while with cancer and she has recently been getting sick. It hasn’t been for any identifiable reason, so my brother decided to take her to the doctors. 

One of the things my brother told me was that the vomit looked a weird colour. As my wife was a nurse, he wanted to know if she wanted to see said vomit so that she could form an opinion. 

He then promptly decided to send me a picture of the vomit….it was something that initially, I couldn’t even look at. It didn’t look particularly discussing, but it was the thought of what it was that did it for me. 

I forwarded the picture quickly and with my eyes partly closed. I then tried to deploy the countermeasures to what was the begining of my anxiety. 

I am glad that I didn’t have a full blown meltdown, but then I wasn’t at the ‘sharp end’so speak. If I had been, the result could have been very different.