Author Archive for Sally

World Mental Health Day – My struggle with Emetophobia…

Hi, I’m Sally and I have a phobia of being sick, or to use the proper, medial term I suffer with Emetophobia.  If you know me you will probably have no idea I struggle so much with this, I’ve got pretty good at hiding it over the years.  If you’re my husband, a close family member or a very close friend you’ll be well aware of how much this has affected me over the years and how it still affects me now – although I’m now much better at dealing with it.   

It started when I was about 14 and in high school, a friend of mine asked me if I was ok because I looked pale.  This triggered something in me which had obviously been there, underlying, waiting to come out.  I panicked, OMG I was pale, I was almost certainly coming down with a sickness bug I needed to get out of there fast.  I went to the school nurse complaining of feeling ill and was sent home.  I spent a lot of that afternoon feeling very sick with anxiety but I wasn’t actually physically sick.  From then on, out of nowhere at my young age of 14, when I was least expecting it, crippling panic would grip me.  I would be out and suddenly panic that I was away from home, away from my comfort zone – what if I was sick in front of everyone – I needed to go!!  At first my parents thought I was actually suffering from a bug – the only way I could describe my feelings to them was to say I felt sick.  I did feel sick but it wasn’t because I was ill it was because I was having a panic attack.  My panic attacks usually involve me feeling sick, weak, feeling breathless and shaking uncontrollably. All this began around Christmas time and it was easy to think that perhaps when Christmas was over things might calm down and I’d start to feel better.  I didn’t…

From then on, I would still have the panic attacks and the fear of being sick began to creep into how I ate.  I would avoid certain foods, worry about best before dates, how things had been cooked and whether I’d eaten something ‘bad’ without realising.  I also began to eat less believing that the less that was in my stomach the less likely I’d be to throw up and I started to wash my hands excessively for fear of germs.  People began to notice that I was eating less and losing weight and given my age tended to assume that it was some kind of teenage body image related eating disorder – in reality body image couldn’t have been further from my mind.

I saw the school nurse for some counselling, it didn’t really help.  Mental health wasn’t so well talked about or understood at the time – I’m so grateful that things have changed now.

Probably reading this you might think I’m crazy.  If ever I have tried to explain this fear to someone I’m usually met with a response along the lines of ‘Oh yes I hate being sick too’ I get that – we all hate it, it’s not nice, but this phobia – any phobia – is more than just a dislike of something it’s completely irrational.  It controls your life in a scary way and that’s what makes it so difficult to explain to people.  The irrational bit is of course that in the grand scheme of things vomiting is nothing.  For crying out loud there are people starving out there, actually seriously ill and of course going through much worse but for me when I’m having an attack, being sick feels like it’s the worst thing in the world which in turn makes me feel pretty rubbish because how can I possibly compare this silly irrational phobia with a ‘REAL’ illness or crisis.

I could ramble on for ages about the next few years and how this phobia affected me on and off but I’m so thankful to say that with a supportive family, my Christian faith and one or two very close friends who knew what I was going through things did get much better over time and I began to live a more ‘normal’ teenage life but I still had awful flare ups of this phobia. 

As I grew up the phobia would come and go and manifest itself in different ways.  I struggle with crowds, I feel claustrophobic if I’m ever confined or feel trapped anywhere (flying is still a difficult one), I avoided to the best of my ability, anyone who had had a bug or going anywhere that bugs might be around.  Hospitals, doctors surgeries etc.

I was terrified that I would never be able to have children even though being a mum was something I’d always wanted so much.  There was the possible morning sickness, sickness in the birth not to mention how much babies and children can be ill– plus all those germy nurseries, soft plays etc I’d have to deal with.

You’ll probably know now that I have two gorgeous children – thankfully I managed not to let the phobia stop me from being a mum.  I didn’t vomit AT ALL through any of it, so it is possible.  I prayed A LOT through both of my pregnancies 🙂

However, I do know of people suffering from this who will go through life wanting kids but not being able to have them and it breaks my heart to think that this phobia could ruin someone’s life like that.

Having my children has actually changed me and my focus on my phobia.  I have had some extremely difficult times but on the whole having my children has somehow put things a bit more into perspective for me.  It’s also made me brave.  I’ve done things I never thought I could have, I’ve pushed myself into situations I never thought I’d be able to be in.  I’ve been to the soft plays, I’ve been there with them when they’ve been ill and I’ve coped.  It was always my fear that I would run if they were ill and not be able to be there for them but I did it and I managed. 

The more I push myself the more I know that I will not let this phobia beat me.  It will always be there niggling at me in the background, I’ll probably always be funny about use by dates and hand washing and will probably keep my distance from you for a while if you or your children have had a bug, I’ll go vegetarian in a restaurant rather than risking how the meat has been cooked but I don’t like a lot of meat anyway so that one’s not too difficult.  I’ll always keep myself ‘safe’ in my own little ways, which is why I think if you know me now you would probably never know that I suffer/suffered so much with this – or maybe reading this makes a few things about me a bit clearer, who knows! It’s true to say though that  I don’t tend to talk about this unless I really have to.

I know a bit more now how to manage it and what I need to do to talk myself down.  Getting outside is a major thing for me, as soon as I’m out in the fresh air and in nature I feel so much better.  Having my dog has helped me a lot with my anxieties in this way too – walking him makes me get out into my happy place and feel a lot calmer. Knitting and sewing have of course been immensely helpful to me too,  knitting particularly brings a sense of mindfulness to me that just brings me calm and I think it’s because my hands are busy and my mind is focussed but I can sit on the sofa and watch TV with it at the same time. I knitted through my teenage years too and it helped me so much!  There’s also prayer of course, I wouldn’t manage without my faith which is probably something else I don’t talk about enough here – I’m pretty reserved without even really realising it half the time.

My husband also knows my triggers and symptoms which is a great help and he won’t pander to me if I need to be told to pull myself together which is actually more helpful than I’d like to admit sometimes.

I’m not completely over this, I probably never will be, but I know that I never want it to have control over me like it once did again and I’ll do everything I can to push myself away from it when it tries to stop me living the life I want to lead.

I would love to hear from you if you suffer or have suffered from something similar.  Writing this all down has felt extremely vulnerable but also extremely empowering because I can look back and see how far I’ve come.

The best thing we can do for our mental health is to talk about it and if my story helps even one person out there to know that you can learn to deal with this then it’ll have been worth it.

Lots of love

Sally xx

Ten things I’ve loved about this summer…

As the summer turns to autumn I’ve been thinking about some of the things I’ve enjoyed most about the summer holidays.  Here’s a list of ten of my favourites…

More time with my babies who aren’t really babies anymore… I’m ever aware of how quickly they’re growing up so it’s always a bonus to have this extra time with them.

The lack of routine… I love that we have the ballet, the football and the swimming in our lives (sometimes) but isn’t it lovely to have your evenings and weekends completely free of these just for a little while.

Investing in a National Trust pass… we got out and explored lots of lovely places nearby that we perhaps never would have known were there and learned a little bit of history along the way. 

Visiting Cornwall… one of my favourite places in the world. Beautiful even in the rain and gale force winds we experienced towards the end of our week away!

Not feeling (too) guilty about screen time… always a tricky one but I decided that in our house balance was key. We went outside a lot, we spent some time at home relaxing – perfect!

Having a good sort out… I’m a bit of an organisation and tidy freak inside. Throughout the six weeks I slowly managed a good sort out of most of the cupboards and wardrobes in our house and it felt soooo good to start September feeling organised.

Taking a break from the business… I realise how lucky I was to be able to do this but having this break gave me family time and time to refocus, start energetically and helped me to remember why I love my work so much.  I’m excited for the new things I have planned over the next few months. 

Having time to read… I’m generally a bedtime only reader and not having to get up so early meant I could stay up a little later reading – something I love to do. I managed to read three books (a lot for me!), I’ll maybe do another blog on what I read.

Turning 40… can’t believe I’m including this in the things I loved since I was actually feeling really weird about it but I had such a lovely time with friends and family and it made me realise again how lucky I am for the people I have in my life.

Realising how much my children have grown and changed over the last year. Both a love and a bit of a heart breaker.  Summer holidays seem to do this to me, I realise how much further they can swim, how much more independent they are etc.  It makes me a mix of emotional and excited for how they are growing.

What things do you love about summer I’d love to hear…

Sally x

On being a stay at home mum…

I have always wanted to be a Mum and not only that I’ve always wanted to be a stay at home Mum.  I know, shock horror, how dare I ever admit such a thing in this day and age of trying to ‘have it all’.  Please don’t stop reading here…

I took voluntary redundancy while on maternity leave with my son and from then on we decided that I wouldn’t go back to work in the same way after my maternity leave was over, at least not while the children were little. We then learned how to manage on one income so that we could afford to do that. 

Like anything, learning how to be a stay at home mum took time, I had to find the best way to make it work in order to keep us all as happy and sane as we could be… (this didn’t always go to plan as I’m sure you can imagine)!!

I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned about being a stay at home mum that helped me while my children were little in case they are helpful to you too:

Always get dressed no matter how little sleep you’ve had, no matter how rubbish you feel and even if you aren’t leaving the house.  It will make you feel so much better.

Always try to get a bit of fresh air if you can.  There will be times when you really can’t face it and that’s ok but whenever I forced us out of the house, even for a walk down the road to the park both me and the kids were so much happier for it.

Know that you can’t do it all!  I’m definitely guilty of feeling like a failure more than once because I didn’t have a freshly cooked meal on the table every evening.  It’s fine to have pasta and stir in sauce for the third night in a row if you’ve had a rough week – at least everyone is eating!

If you have a hobby or interest do your best to keep at it even if it’s just very loosely.  Sewing, knitting and baking honestly helped to keep me sane during my days at home and if you can get the kids involved in something you’re interested in – win win!

Go out and meet other mums even if you don’t feel like it.  I’m naturally an introvert, if I’m feeling rough the last thing I feel like doing is talking to other people when I could be cosied up at home in my safe little haven.  There were so many times in the beginning of motherhood that I literally had to force myself out to playgroup or music group on little sleep and feeling rubbish.  I now have some amazing mum friends that I don’t think I could have got through those first few years without.

It’s ok to have a CBeebies day, or even an iPad day (gasp!!) Sometimes you just need it and guess what, the world won’t fall apart and your child won’t be permanently damaged by it.  And no they wouldn’t be better off at nursery because you are a rubbish mum – they are with you and that’s what makes them happy!

Don’t feel bad for not playing with your child ALL OF THE TIME!  Of course they will want you to play with them all the time but if you have to go off an start dinner don’t feel bad for it.  This is one of the things I used to struggle with the most, then I learned that independent play is actually good for kids and I probably didn’t encourage it enough.

Make time for yourself.  So, so difficult when essentially your day job has become full time carer to everyone else but, if you can, do something that’s just for you.  Even if it’s just once a week!  One of the things I missed the most was probably the lovely hour lunch break I had at work to read my book.

Don’t feel bad for not enjoying every single second with your children.  Yes time flies and yes you should make the most of them but some days are horrid and you just need to accept that and know that tomorrow is another day.

  • Resist the urge to punch anyone that asks you what you do all day!  Staying home with your kids is hard work, it is more than a full time job that you don’t get paid for and often don’t get much recognition for.  It can be seen as an easy option and I’m here to tell you it’s blinking not.  You and only you are responsible for a good chunk of your child’s upbringing day to day and that can be both wonderful and terrifying at the same time.

I hope these tips are a little bit helpful, they kind of focus on the more difficult aspects but I’m happy to say that, for me, I absolutely loved my time as a stay at home mum. I’m so pleased and grateful to have had that time with my children, it has changed me and my outlook on life in so many ways but that’s another post. Of course, I’m really talking here about before my children started any kind of preschool or full time school. I mean I guess I am technically still a stay at home mum now, I work on my business at home around the children after all, but now they are in full time education life is very different.

I know staying at home is not right for everyone and you must do what’s right for you. This is in no way a judgemental post, I just wanted to share my experience of what we thought was best for us. I sometimes wish I could go back in time and tell myself some of these things at the times I felt bad or questioned myself but really I don’t think Mum guilt ever ends does it, I just have other things to feel guilty about now that they are older!

Lots of love

Sally x

January – on taking things slow…

I went out for dinner with some friends last week, our main topics of conversation were:

  1. How tired we are
  2. How busy we are
  3. How much we’d done that day
  4. How quickly time is flying by

You get the picture and I’m sure you’ve probably had very similar conversations yourself.

I am a busy person, I struggle to sit through a film, the cinema would be my least favourite outing of choice because it involves sitting still for more than half an hour.  With both work and home I plan tasks in my head that I ‘must’ get done that day, if I don’t I feel I have failed. I can’t watch telly without doing something else at the same time. It’s why I knit, at least I feel I am doing something with my hands and something productive with my time. In short, I struggle to slow down – I know I’m not alone!

In the run up to Christmas life was so busy, as it is for everyone, with Christmas shopping, working on the business, getting orders out, school activities, productions etc.  In the week or so before Christmas I struggled to sleep at night and by the time Christmas came I felt quite stressed and exhausted from the lack of sleep.  Once  Christmas got going though, with no work and a lovely lack of routine something strange happened – I started to relax.  I would watch tv and be able to concentrate on what I was watching,   I read at night in bed and actually got into what I was reading and enjoyed it, I had a long bath rather than a rushed shower. I began to allow myself to spend time doing the little things I enjoyed and actually allowed myself to enjoy them and not feel guilty for not doing something ‘productive’.  As a result, I started to sleep better and felt happier and more relaxed than I had in a long while.

This got me thinking, I am one of those people who is constantly amazed by how fast the days, weeks, months fly by and  I get frustrated because I don’t feel I can take enough of it in.  But is the reason it does fly by so quickly because we are so immersed in the busyness of life to notice what is actually happening in the moment?  For me I think it is.  There’s almost a pride these days in how busy we are, how many clubs our kids go to, how many nights of the week we are out – but why?

I mentioned the other day on Instagram that in the past I have struggled with being a stay at home mum working on my business while my children are at school because I feel like I constantly have to justify my time, although no one is actually judging me but me.  I feel almost guilty sometimes about stopping for a cuppa and half an hour of telly where I could be working or doing the washing or getting the dinner prepped.  We all know how these tasks never end, but on the times I have allowed myself a break I have been a lot more productive in the hours that follow.

So this month, even this year I am going to try and bottle those feelings of enjoyment at making time to do the little things I enjoy.  To slow down and make time to read, go for a walk with the dog without feeling rushed, watch tv in the evenings, without being on the laptop at the same time, do some exercise (yoga and running for me) and make some time for myself without feeling guilty for it.  What’s that saying – ‘You can’t look after others if you aren’t looking after yourself’ or something like that.

So January, for me, is going to be my slow month.  Even if my slow month does mean slowly Marie Kondo-ing my way through our house along with the rest of the world, it’s good for the soul you know…

Take care!

Sally xx

POPPY & PRIMROSE CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE

Lots of us are choosing to ‘shop small’ this Christmas, looking to buy something unique and made with love and it’s such a lovely way to support handmade and small local businesses.  Here’s a little guide I’ve put together of some gift ideas from my own handmade shop – I hope you like them!      

FOR HER
My personalised cushions are not only for little girls.  I’ve been asked to make ‘Nanna’ cushions, cushions with house names on for the hallway, town names and of course ‘Mummy’ cushions for Mum’s special chair.  Something pretty for the home and something she probably won’t be expecting! 
 
And of course there’s always a pretty Christmas stocking for a before Christmas treat too!

FOR HIM
Men are always hard to buy for aren’t they!  So how about, instead of the usual socks this year, you treat the men in your life to something more personal.  Maybe a string of bunting saying ‘Dad’s Office’, ‘Grandad’s Shed’ or of course there’s a personalised cushion again for their special seat in the house.
 
FOR GIRLS
I find girls the easiest to buy for, if they’re anything like my daughter they will love anything pretty.  So, for girls, I can offer my pretty name bunting in your colour choice, a co-ordinating name cushion, perfect for making their bedroom their own.  Or how about a trendy personalised initial letter cushion in a bright colour, or even a pretty, on trend pom pom trim cushion.  This one would be perfect for a budding ballerina!

 

FOR BOYS
It’s difficult sometimes to find things for boys that are bright, colourful and unique.  Similar to the ideas for girls, how about a brightly coloured name cushion, or one in a monotone design for older boys in blacks, whites and greys.  There’s also a colourful string of bunting – which doesn’t only have to spell a name and of course I also offer those ‘on trend’ initial cushions for boys too which can be made in the colour of your choice!

 

FOR BABY
Baby’s first Christmas is such a special time!  Why not treat that little one in your life to a beautiful personalised patchwork quilt or blanket, something special that they can keep and treasure for years to come. 
 
My blankets are super snuggly, perfect for all of that out and about Christmas visiting baby will be doing.
Or, If you’re looking for something to add a pop of colour to baby’s nursery, how about one of my bright baby print pom pom cushions which look great on a nursery chair, cot or bed.

I hope these ideas have been helpful.  I haven’t been able to include photos of everything of course but everything mentioned or shown here is available to order on my website and I’m always open to bespoke orders too – time permitting.
 
Please don’t forget that my closing date for made to order items will be FRIDAY 7 DECEMBER.  I’m getting busy already and am so grateful for every single order!
 
Thank you for reading!
 
Sally x