Saturday, 4 January 2014

2013 - The best and the worst of years

2013. What can I say?

(I must apologise in advance. This is quite an intense post (well it was to write anyway) please feel free to scroll down to the montages of my work below)

It's been a tough year. A very tough year. 

(At this point I feel that I need to apologise for the rambling nature of this post and the standard of my English (and French). English is my second language and although I count myself as fluent I sometimes find it hard to explain myself clearly and struggle to find the right words, especially if there isn't a direct translation from Welsh. This is where the French comes in - sometimes it's just easier to swear!)

I'd been feeling a little down in the run up to my return to work after my maternity leave with Marged. There had been days where I'd cried non stop for no reason whatsoever ALL DAY.

For no reason whatsoever.

Endaf wanted to know what was wrong but I couldn't answer him. There wasn't really anything wrong. I just felt like crying and couldn't stop! I was also constantly tired and was ready for bed as soon as we'd finished our evening meal, this was so unlike me, I'm a real night owl and my neighbours often ask me what on earth I was doing until 3:00am that morning!

This went on for around a month but came to ahead about three weeks after I'd gone back to work. So far I'd managed to keep my 'face' on outside of the house. If I felt that I really needed a cry I would pull over between appointments, have a good cry, get it out of my system, put my 'face' back on and get on with my day. One day I'd had one of these cries on my way to work and was at my first appointment trying to smooth things over between a contractor and a client. Whilst I was talking to the contractor in the kitchen the client called for me from the lounge. I put my 'face' on and turned around.

"Don't you bloody laugh at me!"

That was it. The 'face' slipped and I turned into a blubbering wreck. Luckily I'd known the client for years (hence the way she spoke to me) and somehow I managed to sort things out between her and the contractor (all the while tears were streaming down my cheeks) before driving straight to the office. I gave a short run-down of what had happened to HR and told them that I was going home and that I didn't know when I'd be back!

This had been the kick that I needed to get some help. I managed to get an appointment to see my GP for the same day. She prescribed three weeks off work and that I go back and see her in a week later, after I'd had a chance to cool down and write a list of everything that was bugging me! When I went back to see her she tried to diagnose Post Natal Depression but I wasn't having any of it. Marged was seven months old by the time I started showing any symptoms and I didn't have any of the bonding issues that I associated with PND. I told her that I'd researched my symptoms (depression, tiredness and feeling cold all the time) on-line and I thought that I had Thyroid issues. She tried to talk me out of it but agreed to blood test.

When the blood tests came back normal and after she explained that bonding issues only affected a small proportion of mothers with PND I was willing to accept her diagnosis. She also explained that the most likely reason why my symptoms hadn't surfaced straight after birth was because it had been triggered by changes in my hormone levels when I stopped breast feeding Marged at six months (this was also the time that my lovely pregnancy hair fell out).

I begrudgingly agreed to try a course of antidepressants. WOW! The change was almost instant (despite the doctor warning that it could take a few weeks for them to take affect). I was able to better control my work/life balance and most importantly I had a little energy again!

I've got three draft blog posts (the first was written in June - before I returned to work) where I've tried to explain what was going on in my head, but I've never been able to hit publish.

So why now? Well,

It's been a good year. A very good year.

As hard as the past year has been it's shown me just how lucky I am.

1. I have the most amazing husband. Truly amazing. No I'm serious. The best of the best.

We've always had a bit of an unhealthy relationship in that we never argue. It doesn't matter how much shit I throw at him, he just keeps on standing there, my rock. This has really been tested during the last six months. I was putting so much energy into keeping my mask in place during the day at work and at the school gate that I was exhausted at home. I wasn't particularly nice to the girls but poor Endaf was really getting it in the neck. He was my punch bag (not physically). It didn't mater how much or what I threw at him he didn't run (when I'm sure that many a lesser man would have) and I really wouldn't have blamed him if he had - I was such a bitch to live with!

Instead he cried with me. He would ask what was wrong? What could he do to help? He would try to understand when I shouted back at him that there was nothing wrong. I had the perfect family and the perfect job and absolutely nothing to be depressed about. That was the whole bloody problem!

I've now been off the drugs for three weeks and I'm back to my old self. I still shout at the kids. I still shout at Endaf.  But that's normal for me. I haven't cried for no reason for a few months and I've even  pulled a few all night sewing sessions! (I still feel really cold all the time though! I've gone from the person that used to walk around in winter in a t-shirt to someone that always has a dressing gown on over her woolly jumper. I've been like this since I had Marged - I'm blaming the three infections I got after to the c-section. If you have any other possible explanations I'm all ears!)

We both work in a sector that closes down for Christmas so we've had two weeks at home together. This time together without the rush of getting ourselves and the kids out the door in the morning, the hassle of taking them to all the different after school activities, fighting with them over food/TV/clothes/bedtime (we've been super relaxed over the holidays and let them get away with murder - boy are we going to be paying for it next week!) has been really special and has shown me that although the last few months have been really tough they've bought us closer together and I really don't think that I could love him any more than I do right now!

2. I have the most amazing daughters.

The very lowest point of the past year was the Wednesday before I returned to work. It was half term week so I had both girls home. I was having one of my crying days and Marged wasn't having one of her best days either. At lunch time I couldn't be bothered to wrestle Marged into her high chair so I was feeding her her lunch whilst she was in her baby walker. Anwen came over and moved the baby walker and I lost it. Completely.

"What on earth do you think that you're doing? Can't you see that I'm trying to feed your sister? Why can't you just leave her alone?"

"But Mam, I just wanted to give you a 'cwtsh' because you're sad."

I'm the worst mother ever. My four year old daughter had shown maturity and compassion far beyond her years and I thanked her by shouting at her! Of course I apologised over and over again and tried to explain that Mam wasn't feeling very well and that she was really tired and really, really sorry for shouting at her. I hugged her as tightly as I could and told her how much I loved her and how she was the best little girl in the whole world. She wiped my still flowing tears away.

As much as we tried to shield her from my illness it was sadly unavoidable for this sweet little intuitive girl not to sense when things weren't quite right. More than once, if I was having a bad day, she would ask me "Are you feeling tired again today Mam? Would you like to go to bed?" I mean, she's five years old. She should be playing with her dolls, not worrying about her mother's mental health! But it really is amazing how much of a pick me up a cwtsh and a kiss from this little girl is.

As for Marged. Well, she's just Marged!

The main drawback that I've found of being a working mum is that I seem to spend so little time with Marged (she goes to bed and hour and a half before Anwen) and the time that I do spend with her I'm either trying to feed her, change her or clean up after her so I end up not really spending any time with her at all.

I feel that I've really gotten to know her again during these last two weeks. She's growing up to be quite different from Anwen. She's more independent and will quite happily keep herself and her dolls entertained. She has however got a very mischievous side (when she was born I said that there was a twinkle in her eye that told me she would be trouble) and will make sure that you're watching when she's doing something that she knows she shouldn't be doing and give you a little smile that tells you that she knows that she's being naughty - makes me laugh every time!

3. I've rediscovered sewing!

I've always been a sewer. Even when I hadn't picked up a needle for five years (except to mend) I was still a sewer. It's what you are, not what you do. Still, during 2013 I've rekindled my love affair with patchwork. It all started with Maged's Quilt (although I started it in 2012 I still feel that 2013 was the year that I really fell back in love with sewing). It's been great for giving me some 'me' time when I was feeling low and filled a little void that had been there since I stopped sewing regularly around ten years ago.

4. I've discovered the on-line sewing community.

Although today is the first time that I've really gone into my dalliance with PND (I've previously only mentioned it in one or two comments or in emails) the on-line sewing community really has helped me through the last few months. If only for the opportunity to escape into someone else's world for a few minutes whilst you're reading their blogs, the sweet comments I've received on my own blog/IG feed or the real pick me up from receiving free fabric through the mail!

So again, why write about this now and not last year?

As you can imagine it's very difficult to write about such a personal matter and put it out there where anybody (even my boss - God I hope not!) can find it and read it.

But I've come through it. I went through hell and came out the other side (I hope) a better,stronger person. And I write this in the hope that if someone reads it and something strikes a cord with them they go and ask for help straight away. Don't do what I did and bury your head in the sand. Don't let it get to the point that I let it get to.

There's no shame in asking for help. There is however a great deal of shame in shouting at your daughter for wanting to give you a hug.

Right, onto quilting business. This post was SUPPOSED to be about my year as a quilter. Maybe I can still salvage a bit by showing you a few montages of my 2013 makes:

Completed quilts

1. Anwen's Quilt 1 (finish unblogged) 2. Get Shirty (front) 3. Summer's Little Hen
4. Cara's Quilt 5. Get Shirty (back) 6. Marged's Quilt
7. Cian's Quilt (unblogged) 8. Caleb's Quilt (back - finish unblogged) 9. Caleb's Quilt (front - finish unblogged)
Quilts in progress

1. Kaffe Snowball 2. Ella's Quilt
3. Anwen's Quilt 2 4. House Quilt
Other bits and bobs

1. Echo Bag 2. Lunch Bag 3. Dona direidi 4. Blueberry pincushion 5. Ironing board cover
6. Birthday badge 7. Bright cushion 8. Christmas totes and pouches
9. Horse cushions 9. Angel Dress 10. Horse tote
I actually got a lot more done than I thought I had, although there are quite a few items that I still haven't blogged about properly and as three of them are finishes from my Q4 FAL list I'd better get cracking!

As you might be able to guess, this post took quite a while to write. I actually stated on Janurary 1st with a view to link up to Lynne's Fresh sewing day. What the heck, I'm late for everything else - I might as well be late for this!

Lily's Quilts

And I'm going to link up to her Small Blog Meet to as although I appreciate every single one of my followers, there are definitely less than fifty of you!

Lily's Quilts

I hope to be back soon with a few of those finishes and my list of goals/things I'd like to try for 2014.

Untill then - Keep dancing quilting x


  1. Oh what a happy ending, good for you x

  2. Good for you! I know from personal experience that it's easy to think that feelings like these are some sort of personal failing and not a treatable condition. Knowing that you're not the only one really helps.

    You've made some fantastic things in 2013 - onwards and upwards to a great 2014!:-)

  3. Never under estimate the strength of multiple infections and hormone changes. I've had similar issues although PND has definitely not been my issue as I've not had any children ;-) Well done for recognising that you tried putting a brave face on things and when that didn't work you got help. Here's to a happier, healthier 2014 with lots of sewing, vintage sheets and fabric goodness :-) x

  4. Well done for sharing and it sounds like you have a brilliantly supportive family!
    Hope 2014 is full of fun, laughter and fabric! x

  5. The twinkle in the eye, I am familiar with that one, both my kids do it, especially if they are "playing" with mommies fabrics. Glad you were able to write this post and hope you fill better in the New Year.

  6. I am so glad you are feeling better now and I hope this coming year is far, far better.

  7. We all think mental health is such a taboo subject, when in fact, by sharing our experiences, we not only help someone else, but we are stronger I. Recognising our own symptom if they come back in the future! It's wonderful to know your are feeling yourself again! And what a productive year you have had! Well done, and here's to a happy and healthy creative 2014, x

  8. 2014 is a new year for you and your family, I hope it's a great one :)

  9. Thank you for this glimpse into this non-sewing, personal aspect of your life, it must have been a hard post to write! Fortunately your doctor diagnosed correctly, and by the sound of it you are at the other side now. I can completely understand the way it can be hard to express things like this (when emotions are involved) in a second language, I do that all the time, too, and it makes me re-write posts, comments and emails hundreds of times before I am half happy that they express what I want them to!! I also tend to use too many words...
    Anyway, you had a productive year all the same, I'm sure you'll be doing great things in 2014! Happy New Year!!! (Hugs)

  10. What a brave post, thank you so much for sharing. Hoping 2014 is full of joy (and sewing!) for you and your family

  11. What a brave post, thank you so much for sharing. Hoping 2014 is full of joy (and sewing!) for you and your family

  12. Aww, sweetie, big (((((HUGS))))) For some reason you'd dropped off my feed, so I thought you were taking a break, but I saw that you'd posted on IG, so I've nailed you back onto my blogger dashboard again (I hope!)

    Hope you all have a fabulous 2014!

  13. I'm so pleased to have 'met' you in '13 and I can't wait to see what '14 makes for you!!

  14. What Trudes said is so true. I had pnd after my first child and it was horrible. I have come so far and you are doing so too. So pleased to know you! Xx

  15. What Trudes said is so true. I had pnd after my first child and it was horrible. I have come so far and you are doing so too. So pleased to know you! Xx

  16. Here's to a year of health and happiness for you and your lovely family xx

  17. I do hope 2014 is your year - it certainly sounds like you've got an up-an-at-'em attitude going on. Your girls sound really lovely (and your man! ) but you must explain how to pronounce cwtsh!! I'm Scottish so have a decent glottal stop but the lack of vowel has me stumped! *g*

  18. What an honest and inspiring post Catrin! Well done you for facing up to your problems and asking for help when you needed it, and for encouraging others in a similar situation to do that too.

    Hope you have a Happy and Healthy 2014.

    Would love to know how to pronounce cwtsh too, it looks like a great word to have in my vocabulary :)


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