No More, No Less

A bittersweet realisation struck me the other day. On our return from a long, hot day at the beach, our skin turned freshly pink from the sun, sand smuggled in every orifice imaginable and a happy, exhausted kid bursting with stories about the first crab he ever caught and OMG THE ICE CREAM and and and… All while covered in dirt from digging around in the mudflats and his hair full of saltwater.


I realised I was content.

I realised I was enjoying being this dude’s mum and spending time with him.

And there’s not many occasions I can say that’s actually happened.

Obvs it should’ve been a happy moment, but with the addition of the notorious Mum Guilt™ and Parental Doubt©, instead it was tinged with a generous dollop of  “I’m so shit. I’ve ruined his childhood,” and “Fuck, I better start saving for his therapy.”

Thing is, I reckon it’s still an unsaid thing, finding parenting a chore, something a lot of us cover up with self deprecating quips about needing to neck the gin / wine / any alcoholic beverage to hand (delete as appropriate) and hiding in the toilet with the door locked, armed with our phones and stolen Freddos and Smarties. Truth is I don’t really drink, and the last time I locked myself in the bog, the kid shat on the carpet outside the bathroom before I could hide away my contraband wrappers, wipe away the tear stains and allow him entry because ya know, sometimes 30 seconds warning of MUMMY I NEED A POO HELP IT’S COMING, ain’t enough.

What I mean is, we jokingly skirt around the issue, dance around it while the reality nips at our toes and we try not to let the pain reflect in our faces or the exhaustion show around our eyes, when all we want to do is collapse and weep for help.

I’ve been stuck in that seemingly never-ending cycle of wanting nothing more than to go back to bed before I’ve even properly begun the day, of feeling panicked and trapped, my heart racing, my head swimming with fear every time I’m cornered to play with my kid. Of having to physically force myself out the front door for every school run, every birthday party and outing, sweating, short of breath and shaking. Plus all the innocuous day-to-day parental tasks and required emotions and energy that simply feel impossible and out of reach, for the majority of my six years as a mum.

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It’s only now, after more than six years, that I can look back on a day and think “That was a good day.” Even with the house decimated and my kid’s parting shot when he goes to bed is “‘Night, OLD LADY,” while he tries to wipe his bogies on me.

It was a good day.

No more, no less.

And it’s enough just as it is, because it’s been such a long time coming.

Thinking Outside the Box for Father’s Day with Graham & Brown

Immediately following giving birth to Bean six years ago and the multitude of emotions and tasks I had to very quickly get used to, it came as somewhat of a shock that the first Father’s Day I was to celebrate with his dad was when he was only nine days old. Obviously being completely disorganised, I didn’t have the first clue of what I was supposed to do. So I did what I’m sure anyone would do –  I bundled a tiny Bean into his pram and rather awkwardly shuffled to the nearest card shop, wrote some incredibly soppy sentiments and was satisfied my job was done for a year.


However, Father’s Day catches me out EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. It still falls the weekend after Bean’s birthday and six years on, I still have no idea what I’m meant to do apart from make bacon and lots of fuss etc. I find men notoriously hard to buy presents for (especially mine) and of course, I also have to take Bean’s somewhat wayward ideas into account now, generally ending in my other half looking very confused and me holding up my hands declaring that the cushion adorned with fluffy kittens and hearts WAS NOT MY IDEA, I’M SO SORRY.

Interiors brand Graham & Brown recently got in touch to see if I’d be interested in looking at their Dad-friendly products. I must admit I was a little skeptical that I’d find anything suitable at first, however I soon had a list as long as my arm of things I thought the old man would enjoy. And since I’m forever reminding him that his interests vary too wildly for his own good, I thought there might be a little something for everyone in what I chose…

Hipster Dad – for the quirky man in your life, I picked up these cameo-style portraits of Oswald the Owl and Ziggy Zebra. They look brilliant displayed side by side and add a sense of humour to your space (something I’m rather passionate about). The unusual shape of the canvasses and the rather unique detailing with the hanging chain, they appear very old and could easily passed off as something you picked up in an eccentric antique shop.



Geek Dad – I knew I had to get these prints the moment I saw them. Everything from the comic book style to the retro Star Wars images and vibrant colours, I knew my other half would absolutely love them for his office area. They’re so much better and more impressive in the flesh, they’re huge and make such an effortless-cool vibe for your home. Also, please note that if Star Wars ain’t your thing, Graham Brown also have very similar comic book style Marvel prints and classic poster style Disney prints too.



Classic Dad – And lastly, for the perhaps more grown up dad with an interest in history or geography, I chose this traditional style map of the old world. Again, the print is huge and instantly makes a focal point wherever you choose to hang it, the neutral tones ensure it suits any colour scheme and it adds a very mature, traditional feel to your home.


Overall I’m thrilled with the items I picked and the way they’ve really finished my home off in style. And I also love the fact that I’ve managed to tie in several of my other half’s interests as he usually allows me to take full control of the décor in our home.

Have you ever thought of buying interior-related gifts to the man in your life? Would you consider it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Please note: All items mentioned above were very kindly sent to me by Graham & Brown for the purpose of this article, however all editorial and opinion is entirely honest and my own.

And Repeat

A year ago, to the day in fact (thanks to that smug little animated dinosaur that prances onto my phone to merrily remind of my annual failings each and every morning) I wrote this post. It was nothing special, but the point is I could’ve written dozens more exactly like it. The ominous assessment, the dreaded GP review, the painful therapist appointment. Where the texture or tone or composition might be slightly different, but they’d still essentially be a snapshot of the exact same thing.

Me, perched on the edge of a padded chair that’s too low to the ground in grey room, panic racing through me, eyes darting methodically. The generic box of tissues. The certificates on the wall. The grubby mark on the wall by the door. My fingernails. Dust motes dancing in the ever decreasing sunlight creeping through the vertical blinds. The ill-chosen printed artwork on the wall. Back to the tissues.

And repeat.

The doctor / therapist /  psychologist / psychiatrist (delete applicable) absent-mindedly twirling to and fro in their swivel chair, fingers poised over their keyboard and mouse, ready to type unknown words I can’t see or churn another prescription out.

I ask for help. I say the things I don’t want to say. I nod silently.

I’m handed another prescription with a disingenuous head-tilt, complete with what they’re probably aiming for as empathy in their tired, slow eyes. I’m given instructions to call 999 if “things get bad”.

I leave.

I go home. I hide in my bed. I refuse to speak.

And repeat.

This well-trodden and anti-climatic routine led to “things getting bad” with a crescendo of me having a breakdown and being admitted to a psychiatric hospital last summer which I’m only starting to process now. Apparently, a breakdown isn’t a fix. It’s not a cure. It’s not the excuse to surround yourself with inspirational quotes and self-care and cross your fingers really hard that the same thing won’t happen again.

It’s a huge, ugly, jagged event that towers above everything else, where you start to remember things Pre-Breakdown and Post-Breakdown. You can’t talk about it because, well, if you’ve had a breakdown, you’ve got it out of your system now at least, yeah? Now let’s change the subject. There’s no “Sorry about your breakdown” cards. You’re just surrounded by concerned eyes watching you when they think you’re not looking, an avalanche of *hugs* and more dissatisfied appointments in grey rooms.

In the Post-Breakdown haze, the local crisis-team visited me at home. Although, they weren’t really the proper crisis team, I’d have to wait months for that, these people were more the mildly problematic team. I didn’t want to talk to them. I no longer trusted myself and felt if I said a trigger-word, they’d be sectioning me. They intimated that I might be dealing with more than just your common house depression.

The words “personality disorder” seeped through before my defenses shot into the atmosphere. I didn’t listen to another word they said.

The private psychiatrist I paid over 150 quid to see for fifteen minutes, shrugged off the suggestion while my other half saw a chance of getting somewhere, a breakthrough and I refused him it.

I didn’t know what to think, who to trust, denying that anything was wrong. The words, the lingering, leading questions were invisible rain, sinking through my protection, my clothes, making me colder and colder while I pretended it was OK as my teeth chattered and my skin was covered in goose-flesh.

Until one night, I told my best friend. I told her about the exhausting, unpredictable switches in mood. The compulsions. The sensory overload. The panic I felt at being asked if I was OK, because honestly, I had no idea. I told her the seemingly tedious details. I told her everything.

She’d asked questions, she’d said the scary Personality Disorder words, she asked if I was sure I was just dealing with depression, but it was OK. I realised then  that it was alright to listen to other people’s opinion and myself, that a personality disorder didn’t have to be a terrifying unknown.

From next week I’ll be going back to the grey rooms with the dirty marks on the walls. I’ll be asking to be re-diagnosed, for a second opinion. Most likely I’ll be nodding silently, leaving with a prescription pressed into my palm and not much else.

And repeat.

A Fresh Start with Farrow & Ball

A little while ago I was totally thrilled to be asked by Mumsnet and Farrow & Ball to makeover my home with Farrow & Ball’s gorgeously luxurious decorating products and paints. Now not only was I excited because my house looked a right state, ya know, tired and grubby (we shall not mention the bogies and peanut butter I had to clean from the walls prior to painting – cheers kiddo) but also, I’d never actually tried their products before, I didn’t feel worthy enough, as though my home was worthy enough for beautifully obscure paint names and eggshell – EGGSHELL! THIS IS POSH STUFF, RIGHT?


Now, Mumsnet and F&B (it is cool that I call them that, right?) put on a lovely event in Chelsea at the end of October, to introduce themselves, discuss and demonstrate the paints and colours and techniques with us etc. However I couldn’t make it due to a virus, and didn’t manage to get any further than Fenchurch Street Station’s loos – soz about that. I was gutted and felt I’d ruined my chances of making my house vaguely nice ever again and creating a good impression with Farrow & Ball. Luckily they took pity on me and still allowed me to continue with the project (Thank you again, you lovely people). Obvs I missed the talks and advice so I sort of did my own thing when it came to deciding on colours.

Shall we get down to business and look at some before photos now? Yeah? Yeah.


No, I’ve not put a filter over that to make it look vintage or anything. It really is that dark in my living room – AT MIDDAY. I have a south-facing garden, therefore the front of my house is always dark and gloomy, even though the whole of downstairs is open-plan.


I wanted to keep things as simple and light as possible as I could with the walls and chose to paint all the walls with Dimpse (modern emulsion) – advertised as a cool grey on the F&B website. I also wanted to update my tired pine dining table and chairs so I decided on Blue Gray (in estate eggshell) – as the name suggests it’s a beautiful muted blue / grey. As it turned out, Dimpse is very similar to the original colour I had on the walls, only cooler and brighter. I don’t actually mind at all, as I don’t think the room could handle an overpowering / vibrant palette due to the lighting.

Once the paint and accessories arrived the high quality was unquestionable from just simply looking at them – no plastic paint pots or roller handles here, no ma’am.

On opening the tins I was a little nervous, having only ever used the paint with the famous Old English sheepdog on the adverts – the Farrow & Ball paints consistency was rich, runny and highly pigmented (no stirring – plus plus) as opposed to a big, thick mass of congealed paint that I was used to. Another thing is the scent – there is none. Not even with the eggshell paint or primer I used with the table and chairs. Yes, you can smell it ever so slightly while you’re using it but it’s virtually gone once the paint has dried (which is very quick btw) and leaves none of that “newly painted” smell that usually hangs around forever with other brands.

Ready for some afters? Yeah? Go on then.



after 2

Farrow & Ball’s paint is an absolute dream to use, the thinner consistency glides on walls with total ease and if your walls are ever so slightly textured it clings in all the right places with little effort. I was stunned to find I didn’t need to use a second coat, and even more surprised to find I only used around 3 litres for my entire living room and dining room – a little goes a VERY long way and the finish is unlike any other paint I’ve used.

I honestly couldn’t be happier with the end result. This project has breathed new life into my home and my family, I’m constantly thinking of other things I can improve and fancy up now. I can feel my mood being lifted while sat in my living room, rather than feeling gloomy and oppressed as it used to, it’s fresh, bright and I can actually enjoy just being in here.

after 3

after 4 after5

Would I recommend Farrow & Ball to friends and family? Yes. Absolutely yes. Initially I was put off by the price (2.5 litres of emulsion retails for around £42). HOWEVER – taking into consideration the ease of use, quality of the product, lack of chemical smells and just how far 2.5 litres stretches. It’s worth it, without question.

Disclaimer: Farrow & Ball very kindly provided me with all the paints and materials needed for this project for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are completely my own and 100% honest.

Please note: Absolutely no camera trickery or filters were used in any of the photos above to alter the result of before and after shots.


This was a trending hashtag I spotted on Twitter late Saturday night while innocently minding my own business drinking tea and lurking to see what was going on in the world. I was expecting to see the X Factor finalists or something equally innocuous. But no.


That’s how my head works. That’s how I read what I saw, accompanied by a friendly little hashtag in a vain attempt to make it less painful and insulting and more LOLZ.

I tried to find the catalyst, curious as to why the notion entered someone’s brain that this might be a responsible, appropriate thing to aim at vulnerable, struggling and very unwell people. However, after some research, Twitter don’t / won’t allow you to find the origin of a hashtag. I can see it’s reached over 800,000 users. I can see there has been 703 tweets using the hashtag at the time of writing this. After scrolling through over 700 tweets that have used the hashtag as a piggy-back for far-right political views, kids publicly humiliating their peers and pretty much every form of bigotry you can imagine – I gave up, imploring STOP, I WANNA GET OFF NOW PLEASE to no one in particular.

#ThingsACrazyPersonWouldSay plastered over social media, right there, impossible to miss.

Ya know social media, right? That lifesaving tool that helps millions of us cray cray folk interact with the world, to help us feel less alone, where we can have a voice, where we are listened to and valued for a small portion of our day. While in the real world, crisis teams tell us to have a nice cup of tea, a hot bath and “Oh, awkward, soz, our waiting lists are 18 months long btw”.

Where we’re pushed out the doors of our GP surgeries and A&E departments as we’re not “bad enough”. Where our families, friends and society turn their backs on us because “What, you’re still ill?” and “You have nothing to be depressed about!” or “You seemed OK the last time I saw you.” in an accusing tone.

The real world where we’re alienated, dehumanised and the punchline to easy jokes.

Words such as crazy, mad, mental, nuts, loon, dotty, bonkers and all their derivatives and synonyms have stubbornly woven themselves into our language like an ugly stain that seemingly refuses to budge. To the point where it’s apparently totally OK to title children’s films “The Nut Job” (I honestly couldn’t give a furry rodent’s arse that it’s about squirrels – we all know what a nutjob / nutcase is FFS). It’s all risque and humorous for a dubbed baby to call another baby “a psycho,” in an advert. Then there’s the even more dangerous and misguided trivialisation of severe mental illnesses. The weather is not bipolar. I highly doubt your friend did in fact “go” schizo. And I’m pretty sure your dad / neighbour / MIL / ex isn’t a psycho.

This ain’t a case of political correctness gone into overdrive. It’s about not being a cunt.

It’s about not deeming one human being lesser than you or lower down the food chain because they are ill. Because their bodies and minds and thoughts and feelings and behaviours are not those of a healthy, functioning person.

It’s about having a modicum of consideration and compassion for those who are unwell with illnesses we cannot see.

Mental illness isn’t a cheap gag. We are not jokes. We don’t wear bloodstained strait jackets or Asda “mental patient” costumes. We don’t write melancholy poetry in the dark with our own blood. The vast majority of us don’t scream nonsensically for no apparent reason. We are not insignificant “things” to laugh and point at and to help you feel better about yourselves.

Crazy doesn’t exist. Crazy isn’t a diagnosis or a medically recognised condition. We have a hard enough time as it is getting the little help we do receive with actual moderate to severe illnesses and disorders.

So, #ThingsACrazyPersonWouldSay?

Exactly the same things a non-crazy person would say tbh.

The most dangerous thing we can say?


The Quiet Ones Have the Loudest Minds

Generally when I meet people for the first time I’m all awkward and completely forget how to behave when I’m around actual human beings. I start to panic that when they look me in the eye they’ll be able to see all my secrets, steal my superpowers and notice that worst of all, I only managed to get mascara on one eye this morning before leaving the house in a whirlwind of book bags, permission slips and tangled hair. My voice shuts down completely, it’ll get stuck halfway up my throat and surface as a shaky whisper. I’ve started to think it makes me sound profound or mysterious, but truly, I just sound like a have an epic bout of tonsillitis.

It seems that the majority of mums (and dads, obvs, we’re all equal here guv) take to the whole socialising with their children thing like a fish to the proverbial expanse of the wet stuff. You sometimes catch a glimpse of us awkward ones, slinking around the parameter of the playground or baby & toddler group, pretending to be really into what our kids are up to (or the next imaginative way they’re trying to maim themselves or others). We’ll be looking anywhere but directly at the other people. Anywhere. Oh, hang on, I must now look really intently at my phone for the next few minutes, brow furrowed, swiping that finger with purpose, I tell you. You are reading business emails, those deadlines keep whooshing in and dammit the FTSE has just dropped 100 points.

What? They don’t need to know that you’re simply trying to annihilate level 540 on Candy Crush and that you have no idea how to work your 4G.

Don’t forget the dramatic sigh for added effect.

Thing is though, you might see us awkward folk, desperately trying to go unnoticed. Some of us performing the school drop offs and pick ups with the expertise of a ninja, speaking to no one, avoiding even the Glam Mums, straight in and out, and in a puff of smoke – they disappear. Some being less fortunate and run in with the school PA (ya know the one, the mum who makes it her personal business to run everything yet isn’t actually on the payroll), with a homemade cake in her hand, “Excuse me, the rules do state that the children aren’t supposed to ride their scooters or bikes within the school grounds. Just so you know.”

We may be quiet. We may be awkward. We might say the wrong thing or laugh at an inopportune moment. Hell, we might even have leftover tear stains behind the bug-eyed sunglasses or hiding our quivering hands within our pockets. We could have an occasional tick and our hearts stop momentarily as a child screams, a baby cries or once we realise that we really can’t deal with crowds.

You might think we’re mental. You might even say it out loud or via a loaded glance to one another.

And do you know what?

We probably are.

Postnatal depression affects one in eight mothers. Not to mention causes a tidal wave of destruction for their partners, families and friends. Mental illness affects one in four people in the UK.

My name’s Cas, I’m a mum to a nerve jangling five year old. I write a blog. And I’m a bit mental. Various acronyms have been thrown around in my presence – PND, OCD, PPD, PTSD, plus the good old depression, major depression and neurotic depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders.

To be honest, I haven’t got a clue what’s going on in my head and most of the time I’m floating on a rollercoaster of antidepressants.

The quiet ones are all coping, somehow, hanging on by our fingernails. We’re battling stuff we could never say out loud, even if we were able to put it into words coherently.


NB: Previously published in the Southend Echo.

The One Where I Can’t Wait For School to Start Again

Maybe that’s not the cool thing to say.

And while I type this, I hear the lady shopkeeper down the road rolling her eyeballs like marbles in a cup as she says once again, her tone more urgent as time wears on, serving another cheery mum, scanning her celebratory caramel digestives which she can now enjoy with a cup of tea which will now be the in “vaguely warm” category. “Why have children if you don’t want to see them?”

Looking forward to school isn’t about doing a somersault in the car park after drop off at the thought of not seeing your kids, with an added “BOOM!” for dramatic effect, it’s about space.

That’s all.

Every single day I drop Bean off to school, the second his fingertips leave mine, the moment my tiny shadow breaks apart from me to whirlwind around the playground with his friends, or worse, to head into the classroom for another six hours, I feel bereft. I feel lost. I miss him the nanosecond he’s gone from our safe little world together into his big bright exciting world of his classroom.

I have all the admiration in the world for people who can regiment their families in the summer holidays, can get the house cleaned, jobs done, themselves and their kids dressed and out the door for some fabulous adventure by 9am – but I can’t do that. Depression doesn’t work very well with free and easy and “Well let’s just see where today takes us.” Free and easy translates to “Can I go back to bed yet, please?” It generally doesn’t take too well to getting dressed even if I’m not planning on leaving the house today, thank you very much Mr Postman as you eye my Ninja Turtle pyjamas with glaring disdain.

Let’s be blunt, depression doesn’t really work with anything, apart from I MUST be at THIS location tomorrow at THIS time and if I’m not I’ll have to explain why I wasn’t and deal with it, which will highly likely involve talking on the phone. (Depression hates talking on the phone and will do almost anything to avoid such grave consequences).

Dealing with the aftermath of a breakdown and the summer holidays at the same time makes me feel like a terrible parent. Too much yellow food, no routine, pyjama days that turn into weeks, a daily showing of The Return of the Jedi and a very sad summer holiday scrapbook that consists of one, somewhat desperate entry of “Erm… We went to the ZOO?!” You can give me 100 Fun Free Things To Do in the Holidays and I’ll do ’em all day long, but it’s just not the same.

School makes me feel like a kind of, passably better mum.

I get up before noon, I get myself and Bean dressed, I shove something vaguely healthy in his face for breakfast and with his obligatory book bag, lunchbag, PE bag and suchlike – we walk to school (casually or breaking a sweat, losing-all-dignity-jogging depending on timings).

And while I see his untameable blond mane disappearing in a sea Frozen rucksacks and red sweatshirts, I feel sad, but also I feel I have done A Good Thing. Something positive. Something positive for my family. Something that works. A routine that sticks and isn’t inspired by a Pinterest board in a 3am binge of madness.

So, it might not be cool to say I’m looking forward to school starting again.

But I totally am.

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