I am not alone anymore

As I posted before, I have struggled with my mental health recently. It could be just from pure exhaustion and dealing with change – I mean, did I mention we moved house? Yeah, we moved house. That comes with endless to do lists on top of the usual neverending list of things to do.

I had felt vulnerable and shattered.

I felt tired physically and mentally, trying to get the house sorted enough that it would be livable and not a constant trip hazard. It didn’t matter how much I managed to do during the day, I still felt like an utterly lazy and awful human being who hasn’t done nearly enough when I went to bed. I tried to be kinder to myself and change those critical voices in my head to something more compassionate, but didn’t seem to succeed.

Panic! at the shop

Then, couple days after the reported panic attack, I had another. I was shopping in Aldi and without any prompt or apparent reason, it hit me. A huge wave of pure mental anguish. I wanted to scream, cry and run out. I was at the fruit and vegetable aisles, clasping to my trolley for support. My chest felt tight, and the mental pain felt physical. It was painful pressure building up inside in me, filling me up, scrounging me hollow. It needed to release, and in its most painful state it used to be my previous impulse to harm myself somehow to give all that mental torment a way to discharge. This time, I snapped my fingers against the shopping trolleys handle and concentrated on breathing like an yogi. In while counting to three, out and counting to three. In…Out. In…Out. Pick up potatoes. In… Out… Pineapples. We need pineapples, pick two. In… and milk. Out..

I didn’t notice if people were staring at me, I paid no attention to any other customer or staff member there. It was just me, shopping, my psychological torture and breathing. I didn’t fight it, it never helps, I only counted to three and breathed in rhythm to it and picked up items into my shopping trolley.

By the time I had circled around all the aisles and was at the tills, the panic attack had eased. It had left me feeling weak, used up and unsteady.

A night out with the girls?

I got home okay. While unpacking the groceries I thought what to do next. I was supposed to go out that night with some other DCF mums, but the whole thought of going somewhere public, loud and full of other people with all that stimuli it brings about was too much. I felt another attack building inside me.

I didn’t give up straight away, as that would have made me disappointed in myself. I decided to have a shower, just to see if it helped.

Freshly out of shower, I felt better – but wobbly and weak. I could not face going out – it already felt too much having to drive to nursery to pick Melody up, but I had no other choice.

I sent an apologetic message to the other mums telling them honestly about my panic attack and that I could not come out with them that night, but urged them to go without me. They sent me sympathetic messages and I went to pick up Melody.

I never expected what happened next.

“Maiju, it is all arranged. We are coming to you. With food, wine and chocolates.”

The girls didn’t go out for dinner without me. As I couldn’t go out, they came to me. We sat around our tiny dinner table surrounded by the mess that is our daily life with surplus moving disarray, and they didn’t bat an eyelid. They brought everything with them that we needed, and we sat in our comfortable clothes, ate and drank and giggled. Even I cracked smiles and laughed, feeling more certain about myself around them. They made me feel better. They made me feel cared for, loved.

This is the best photo of me ever taken. I am sitting by that same dinner table and Melody took this photo with my phone. And posted it into my Facebook story with some smileys on it too, without me realizing what she was doing.

They made me realise I was no longer alone – I had mum friends that cared for me and were ready to change their plans to help me.

[I am aware I have never really been alone, I have friends abroad and here too, people I have met through different connections. It has been my own fault that I had not seen them that often or become that close to them. ]

How precious is that, how amazingly lucky am I?

Since that night, after those hugs and bottles of wine, I have felt steadier on my feet. I haven’t had another panic attack. I have made more of an effort to be kinder to myself, and celebrate the things I have managed to do. So far, so good. Additionally, just thinking about that night around our dinner table makes me smile. It fills me up with hope.

Hope for our future, hope for myself, hope in general.

Thank you girls.

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We met Jules the Entertainer at Julia’s house event

For years, we have been getting support from Julia’s House Children’s Hospice.

Every school holiday they organise an event called “Housemates”, which is a lovely relaxed play session for the whole family. Parents can have a hot drink and a gossip with other Julia’s house parents while the disabled and their siblings are all entertained with arts and crafts, toys and games and sometimes even a child’s entertainer pops along. Last half term we met Jules the Entertainer, who is a master Balloon Modeller among other things.

We’ve never met him before and we were curious to see how he would do with our children’s requests. He made an unicorn balloon for Melody in no time at all, and when it was Elisa’s turn…

Can you guess what we asked him to make for Elisa?

If you have met Elisa, you should be already aware that she is the hugest fan of Futurama. She has loved it for years already and it still continues to entertain her to the fullest. Her favourite characters are the robot Bender and Dr Zoidberg.

From GIPHY

Hearing this, Mr Jules sighed comically, took out his phone and searched up “Dr Zoidberg” from the Internet. Soon he had an image of the lobster up and he was modelling away, picking up balloons to match the colours and murmuring to himself while trying to work out the logistics of how to actually build up a weird creature with tentacles on it’s face. Elisa was fully entertained by just watching him, and everyone else around was having a ball seeing him “struggle”. Soon Elisa had worked out what he was making and the wonder on her face…

Elisa didn’t yet know what he was about to make …
Here, Jules is making eyes for Dr Zoidberg. Can you tell it from Elisa’s face? She already knows!
It’s coming along.. and Elisa is loving every minute of this balloon show!
“Hmmm? Does it look like what it should?”
Elisa thought it did and her opinion is what mattered the most!
She loved it.

I like to believe that seeing the pure joy on my child’s face,

it motivated Jules even further. After he had made a balloon to every child in the event, he then did some research on Futurama themed balloon models. We carried on with the events other activities – Melody was busy decorating pumpkins and biscuits and soon was time for stories and songs.

In the end of the event we found Jules in the hallway crafting away with his balloons, building an even bigger Dr Zoidberg for our Elisa!

We found him!
Putting it all together while Elisa is waiting excitedly…

Elisa was so happy.

how can I explain the joy she felt when she saw the big balloon creature that looked like her favourite character from her favourite tv-show?

I was so taken aback by the generosity and the will to make my child happy that Mr Jules showed that it made me speechless. It did make me cry [of happiness]. In secret though, I did not want to embarrass Elisa nor Jules!

Making sure we all got home safely.

I could not think of any other way to thank Jules enough for what he did for my children than to write this blog post.

Jules the Entertainer

can not only do balloon modeling, but magic shows, fire stunts, stilt walking and circus workshops. He does do kids birthday parties – he is the “Bournemouths Children’s Entertainer” – and he is available for corporate events too.

I cannot recommend him for birthday parties as I have not yet seen him in anywhere else than at this Julia’s house event. If his compassion for the children he met that day. his eye for detail and his determination to bring joy and happiness to the children and their families are anything to go by, I would say he is an excellent choice as a party entertainment for anyone.

We all hope to see him soon again. Thank you Jules for making our children happy!

Jules the Entertainers contact details:

This blog post is not paid collaboration or sponsored post.

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A smell of mucus caused a panic attack

Melody has got a cough. It is nothing unusual for the time of the year. She coughs, laughs and carries on. She doesn’t complain or moan, she doesn’t let it to slow her down.

The only reason I mentioned it is the outburst of emotions it caused in me. She knew nothing of it as she was fast asleep, with rosy cheeks and lips healthy red. I could only smell the mucus that caused her to cough every now and then and it unnerved me. My own breath was caught in my throat, my hands suddenly shaky. I noted her colour and breathing patterns, all healthy and unaffected. I stared at her, scared for her life.

I was taken back to PICU,

when Elisa was in medically induced coma and a machine breathed for her. She was unusually still, colour so pale, dark circles around her eyes. She made no sound while fighting for her life.

Instead of Elisa though, I saw Melody hooked up in those machines. In present I saw Melody breathing evenly, but in my minds eye I heard the sirens of an ambulance, the beeping sounds of hospital equipment. I smelled the hospital.

I concentrated to watch sleeping Melody’s even breath while I battled to get my emotions back in control.

My child may die before me

I have had to face the possibility of Elisa’s death many times already. We were lucky that she came out of my womb alive, we were lucky that she survived her first week after her birth. So often she has fought and survived, and I have been by her side urging her on.

If Elisa was to go to a hospital now,

I would bat an eyelid in annoyance. I wouldn’t be scared for her. We have taken Elisa to hospitals so many times that it is like taking her to see a dentist. It is nothing to be overly anxious about.

Looking at my sleeping youngest child though I found myself paralysed with fear, even though she had no temperature, she was breathing effortlessly and the only signs of a slight illness were a smell of mucus and a cough. I realised I had never prepared for her death. The mere idea of it had thrown me.

You can never be prepared for such things and I know I’m not prepared for Elisa’s either, I am only equipped to battle with her to keep her alive – but to do the same for the one child that has never been admitted to a hospital since her birth…

Being Elisa’s mum is so different than being mum to Melody

There are things that I do on auto-pilot with Elisa, things that would throw me straight out of balance if I had to do the same for Melody. I don’t hesitate to clear up Elisa’s sick, suction her mouth and check that her airways are clear. I don’t think twice for placing oxygen prongs on her or performing chest physio. When Melody is sick, I have caught myself being frozen, having to think what I need to do next.

Melody is my healthy child.

She is the child whose health I do not have to worry about. That is how I carry on in my every day life. Only a smell and a sound of a cough threw it all out and I was confronted with the possibility that this small normally abled child could fall seriously ill too. What would I do then?

I restricted myself

and didn’t allow myself to gather her close to myself and hug her tight – oblivious to my distress, she had only just fallen asleep. I swallowed my emotions and went back downstairs, where the child who I am used to seeing unwell was laughing and giggling in her room as her night carer was getting her ready to bed. I washed dishes and tried to make sense of these whirling feelings of mine but came in no conclusion.

Maybe it was a PTSD symptom?

Have you ever experienced anything similar?

We love wemove.

Have I yet mentioned that we moved house? Yeah. We moved.

Now I want you to put your imaginative hats on and wonder, how much material will a family of five have? Three kids, one of them a teenager, another a 4-year-old child and a 6-year-old. Add some extra with the additional medical needs of one of them, and those little bits that a growing Labrador puppy will have acquired. You might come to a close conclusion that there was quite a bit. Add some more baggage just to be on the safe side.

So, you can imagine the stress levels of two adults who are desperately trying to sort through all of it.

Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash .

How to move it?

We were going to need some help on the actual moving day. We contacted our favourite moving company that we had used previously, and luckily they were able to book us in fairly soon.

The plan was to let the professionals handle all the furniture and other heavier objects that needed to be moved, and we would move the boxes and small things.

Who did we hire?

The company we used is called “WeMove“. We knew the founders as they handled one of our moves when they were only just starting out as a company. They really go above and beyond for what you expect a moving company to do – all of the team members that we’ve met have been not only polite but fun to be around; they make the stress levels lower down with laughter.

Why them?

They are affordable.

Now, our financial situation has always been rather tough, but the wemove – people have always been courteous about it. As an example, first time we were about to hire them I told them straight up that we had a tight budget for how much we could pay them for. I was stressed about it, as I knew we could go no further than that and I was aware they charged for their services with hourly rates. What we could afford then equaled two hours worth of their work.

They accepted it and didn’t make a big deal out of it – and I didn’t expect to see them working as quickly as they did. They didn’t run, but they moved as fast as they could, moving our furniture from the old place to their van and strapped it in. Soon everything was packed up, driven to our new place and unloaded. It was all done within the time frame I had given.

It made me trust them.

They showed respect.

They were there to do a job well and quickly, even though working slower would (in theory) get them more money in their pockets. They play for the long haul, knowing that pleasantly surprised and happy customer is a customer won over for life.

We have now hired them three (3) times in total.

On our second move with them, the founders didn’t come to do the job personally themselves, but they sent us their lovely workmates who presented the same respect and work ethic to us than the founders themselves.

On our final move – this one – we had precisely the same experience than in the previous occasions. The teammates listened to our wishes, and they made it feel like everything is possible. It was no problem for them to go and complete a fridge-freezer swap for us. They took the fridge we had been using to Dan’s brother, and took the brothers fridge to our new place, with no complaints or weird looks to us at all. It was just part of their work day, no problems.

Would I recommend them?

Yes, I would.

My advice would be to be up and honest with them about what sort of a job you have in mind, and be as precise as possible about how much stuff you have that you would like them to help you with. The more they know, the better they can prepare for the job; so they will turn up with a vehicle that’s a right size for the job – not a small van for 5 bedroom all furniture move or their hugest vehicle to help you move out from your studio flat – and with right amount of work personnel.

They do have a handy tool for this online on their website here!

Thank you,

the whole team at wemove. You’ve made our moves so much easier to bare. I have written this blog post as a way to thank you for your kindness, hopefully reading this has brighten your day!

Contact details for The WeMove:

This is not a sponsored post. All sponsored material and paid collaborations are clearly marked at the start of the blog post.

You can follow me and my family in all your favourite social media channels; on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Random act of kindness: A New Laptop

I had bought my laptop through Amazon, it was “certified refurbished”: secondhand laptop that had been fixed by someone who held Amazons approval for refurbishing laptops. I bought it with confidence, hoping it would last me years and years as its only job would be to provide me a blogging pathway. It did, without any apparent hiccups for couple of years.

Read more about Amazons Renewed – products here.

One night as I was about to turn the beloved laptop off, it told me it needed to refresh itself with updates. That’s fine, I told it, just shut yourself down after you are done.

So it did.

It did it so well that it never woke up again. Next time I climbed up the stairs and got myself comfortable in my little hidey hole where I blogged, the laptop was off. I pushed the power button and nothing happened. Frowning, I checked the power lead, the plug and all the connections. Everything was attached to themselves as they should, but my black laptop still kept itself dark. I unattached the power cord and took off the laptops battery and clipped it back on again. I attached the cord and pressed the power button. Nothing.

I then contacted my in-house IT support – my partner Dan.

He did all that I had just done without getting a different result. That point I gave up on blogging for the night. The plan was to leave it charging overnight, just on the off chance that the laptop had just really drained all of its battery life out of itself.

In the morning, the little laptop was still lifeless. Dan took it downstairs to try whatever magical tricks he can do with all of his certified IT knowledge, and I trusted him to get it up and running in no time.

Even he could not get it to power up.

It wasn’t the battery, it wasn’t the leads – something had just happened to the internal organs of the device and it was undeniably dead.

It was a shock to me.

I stared at our bank account and wondered how on Earth would we be able to afford to buy another laptop, after all the money we’ve already used for moving house, furniture and even the bit that I have already done for Christmas. There was even more furniture that we are lacking and in definite need for, and it all would require some capital.

Could I go on without a computer?

Yes I could. I do have my smartphone and on that I could type out some blog posts if I needed to – it is not impossible, it is rather doable – but it is not as practical as doing it on a computer. Especially if you can touch type on the QWERTY keyboard like I do, with a speed of about 80 words a minute, typing with a smart phone is mind-numbingly slow.

I researched getting laptop through different financing options from several companies, comparing and making notes on what we could possibly afford with careful financial planning and what is definitely out of the question. In the midst of it we celebrated Halloween and as I posted photos of my beautiful kids in horrific costumes on social media I mentioned there about my dilemma, just on the off-chance someone had been waiting for a post update.

My girls and myself all ready to go #trickortreat yesterday!I have some sad news. Sad to me, at least. My loyal…

Posted by Maiju – Family Blog Featuring Special Needs on Friday, 1 November 2019

It didn’t even cross my mind…

Within minutes, I got a private message from my brother-in-laws girlfriend. She had a laptop that she no longer needed and she offered it to me. I was stunned. I sent many messages asking if she was really sure, if there was anyone else who she might want to keep the laptop for and I triple-checked if she really was certain about giving the laptop to me. She persisted.

On the same day, I was sitting with the brand new looking laptop in my possession and having coffee with my brother-in-law. The angel in disguise herself was at work.

Right now, I am already using that very same laptop to type out this blog post. I cannot express how lucky I feel, how grateful and … just speechless with gratitude.

I know there are nice people out there,

people willing to help out whenever they can. It just did not occur to me that someone might offer their laptop for me to use if I just mentioned I was in need of one.

Thinking about all this gives me a funny feeling in the bottom of my stomach, sort of warm, fuzzy tinkle. I feel… loved and supported. It makes me emotional and .. in a way embarrassed. That I was in a position that I needed help.

I know that if the roles were reversed, I would be there offering the help I was in place to give.

Have you noticed the same?

That you could offer to help someone without a second thought, full-heartedly and eagerly, but if you were the one receiving the help, you’d feel embarrassed, flustered?

Saying this, I am ever so grateful for my friend for doing this for me. It means a lot. With my whole heart,

thank you.

Thank you for helping me. Thank you.