Productive weekend

Caz had to go to work on Saturday to do some overtime, so I decided to try and have a productive weekend.

I have to admit thy hat I actually went back to bed for a while after Caz left for work. A couple hours beauty sleep is just what the doctor ordered!

Once I was up, I made myself pancakes for breakfast. Yummy! 😍

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I even managed to put on two loads of washing. The washing machine won’t know what hit it!

A few years ago I inherited a few little bits of furniture from my Grandma when she passed away in 2010. Amongst the pieces are a pair of bedside cabinets.
When I received them they had a thick varnish lacquer on them in a mahogany style color.

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I felt bad wanting to alter the finish of them but thought my Grandma would approve. So I bought paint stripper and set about removing the varnish.
I managed to get them back to the original wood.

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Thinking about what finish to go for I decided to put a primer undercoat on.
We were planning on decorating our bedroom in a floral style with black and red being the main colours. Thing is, we never really got around to decorating the room and lived with bare walls for a long while… Now that we are building our new house we have decided to redecorate the room in more neutral (and saleable) colours.

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Knowing I wanted porcelain drawer knobs I bought these first. They are so cute!

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We found a lovely chocolate colour wallpaper with creamy colour flowers when we were shopping in B&Q. This would be perfect as a feature wall at the head of the bed. The other walls would be a neutral beige colour.
So this helped us decide what finish to now go for with the bedside cabinets – cocoa and cream!

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I bought chalk paints in the colours we wanted. I’d never used chalk paint before but had heard many good things about Annie Sloan paints. I can confirm that chalk paint is wonderful! There is no prep work apart from making sure the item is clean. You can put it on bare wood (this worked the best) or painted or varnished pieces. Paint it on and leave it to dry. Once dry you can put on the clear finishing wax to protect your handiwork.

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Caz had to drill the holes a little bigger so that we could put the knobs on. But now they are finished and are in place they really look good. Even if I do say so myself!

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Sunday wasn’t quite so productive. I seem to have burnt myself out just doing the little painting project yesterday. That is the joy of having hidden illnesses.

As we do every weekend, Caz and I visited our new house to see how it has progressed in the last week. Now it is a pretty weather tight shell, there aren’t as many huge differences. Some more insulation here. Some more external block work there. But it’s not like the first few weeks where it went from foundations slab to ground floor walls then first floor walls in a matter of a fortnight! It’s still exciting though and it feels more and more like home each time we visit.

The rest of the day we just snuggled on the sofa watching F1. This might turn out to be an interesting season!

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10 positive things

I have accepted to do a challenge of writing 10 positive things about myself that has nothing to do with my mental health issues. This originated from https://bipolarwhispers.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/10-positive-things-a-challenge-to-my-readers-and-fellow-bloggers/ and then https://losttothedark.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/10-positive-things/ took on the challenge too, which inspired me to write my own list of 10 positive things.

I want you to write 10 positive things about you that have nothing to do with any of your mental health issues. Post them on your blog and link the link in the comments. If you are not comfortable writing a blog post and linking it, you can write the 10 things in my comments section on this post.

10 positive things about me:

  1. My husband, Carwyn, is the greatest thing to have entered my life! He manages to make me smile even when I feel it is so impossible my body just won’t remember how to raise the corners of my mouth. Without him I feel certain I wouldn’t be here today. He has given me a reason to live. We love a lot of the same things and I’m sure we were actually created from the same mould as we are so similar it is sometimes scary! Caz adds a vibrancy to my life and takes it from black and white to full technicolour.
  2. Bear with my while I get to my point! In 2012 my Grandpa passed away. I found this time really difficult to cope with and it hit me hard. I didn’t see my Grandpa tonnes over the years, just at the big holiday occasions like Christmas and Easter. But there was something about him that was so recognisable in me. His humour was very similar to mine as well as a lot of his thoughts and ideas on life. My Grandpa decided to leave some money to me in his will. I desperately wanted to make the most of the money as well as hopefully knowing I would have made him proud. So my husband and I thought we would put it towards the property market. We looked at houses for sale but nothing felt right. Then we thought back to our chilled out evenings watching Grand Designs. We decided to properly look into it before we ruled it out. We went to an estate agent and asked to have all the pamphlets for plots of land within our chosen area and budget. We went out for a drive and visited every plot for sale and one stuck in our minds. It was perfect. It was also owned by friends of the family! So we booked an appointment with an architect, got our dream home drawn up and then proceeded with our plans. Today the main shell of the house is there and hopefully in the next couple of months we will be moving in! I will eternally be grateful to my Grandpa for thinking of me in his will. I obviously would rather he was still here and could see my house in person and spend many happy days with us but I will live knowing that I put his money to the best use in bettering my life and making my future more stable and comfortable.
  3. I have a crude humour! I greatly believe this is a gene I inherited from my Dad’s side of the family. Fart jokes, stupid noises, whoopie cushions, puns, witty one liners… All get me howling in hysterics!
  4. I live in a beautiful part of the world in North Wales and am so grateful for it. I live a 5 minute stroll from the beach, but am also within a short drive from the big mountains such as Snowdon. I regularly go past castles and constantly remind myself how lucky I am to be living in such an amazing area. I thrive in this part of the world. Spending time out in nature really seems to boost me and it also inspires me.
  5. Reading has to be one of my favourite past times. As a child my parents read to me quite a lot. The Hobbit was regularly read to me and perhaps developed the fantasy world that now resides in my head! I then got to a point where reading became difficult to me. I found it hard to concentrate enough to read and I would end up re-reading many sentences and almost have to say bits out loud just to be able to move on from it. Although I have never been diagnosed with dyslexia, I do think I might have it to some degree. When writing with pen and paper I merge words and often really have to think which way around a b or d goes – they often get muddled around with me. But now I have rediscovered the joy of losing myself in a book. I tend to just pick up easy to read ‘chick lit’ novels but occasionally I will find something that really challenges me. Books about the war or more memoir type books are appearing on my radar now and although they can be difficult reads it is so life enriching and rewarding. I’ve also ventured into my local library and that has opened up another realm of options to me!
  6. I contain spare parts! In March 2011 my Dad donated one of his kidneys to me. Health problems had plagued me ever since I was a young child. So now I’ve got this new lease of life I want to make the most of it. To mark my kidney donation I have a plush zombie kidney! Maybe one day I will get a tattoo to commemorate it – a butterfly with a green charity ribbon as its body (this is for organ transplant and donation awareness) or the date in my Dad’s handwriting just above the scar on my lower abdomen.
  7. With my health problems I had always found exercising difficult. I would end up out of breath very quickly and quickly feel demotivated and unwilling to continue. But now I have a new sense of determination because Caz and I are hoping to begin thinking about starting a family (once we are settled in the new house). I want to achieve all I can within my limits. I want to do all I can without being hard on myself. In January I started running. When I say running I do a bit of jogging and a lot of quick walking! It has given me a sense of freedom I had never experienced before. I’m not great at it, which is frustrating but it shows just what I can do when I put my mind to it.
  8. I love baking. Not just because of the yummy rewards at the end but because in a relatively short time you then have something to show for your efforts. If I know someone is coming over I will bake a chocolate layer cake or scones. But more often than not I will just bake because it is something I enjoy doing. Because there are just two of us we can’t eat everything I make ourselves! Caz takes a lot of it to work and comes home with the compliments people have given to the cakes or biscuits. I have even made things for Caz to take to work on request! It’s nice to be acknowledged for something you do well!
  9. Fairies are something I collect. I currently have 6 fairy ornaments displayed on my sideboard. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about them. There is just something that draws me to them and if I spot one when I’m out and about in the shops I will have to impulse buy! The fairies I collect are pretty sexy and ethereal. I particularly love the ones by ‘Nemesis Now’
  10. I am vegetarian and have been now for over 12 years. It all began when I was in college and applying for all the free things on the internet. One of these happened to be a ‘going vegetarian’ pack with leaflets and information. I was shocked at the conditions animals were generally kept in and especially sickened by the process from farm to table. I pretty much decided there and then to become vegetarian. I love animals. I grew up with a dog being my ‘sister’ and would love to one day be in a position where I can volunteer my time to a rescue centre. I think being a vegetarian has helped maintain my kidney function as too high an amount of protein can be difficult for your kidneys to process. It has also helped my figure as it is a low fat diet!

When negativity is second nature to you it can be very hard to come up with even one positive thing about yourself. I also wanted to try not to record anything physical, because beauty is generally within and around us. It actually took me a good two days to come up with this listing! It was quite therapeutic having to overrule the negative voices in my head. It definitely got me thinking and maybe, just maybe, gave me an insight into how I could one day become. It is possible to be kind to myself and with daily practice it will gradually become my way of thinking.

The misconceptions of depression

During one of my sessions trawling the tinternets to try and pick up my mood, I stumbled across this article.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/laurasilver/this-is-what-depression-really-looks-like#.saxL4G9Wl

It really struck a chord with me.
When you see anything about depression it will usually be accompanied by an image such as:

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Even a Google image search for depression confirmed this:

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But in reality you can’t even begin to second guess what someone is going through just by looking at them:

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Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle

At work I am known to be smiley and happy. I greet everyone I bump into in the corridors and try and talk to others when I’m making myself a drink.

What I don’t show is that in the morning I was wondering if I could even make it to work. I burst into tears telling my husband how much I hate the negative monologue that is forever playing in my mind. It is telling me ‘what is even the point in putting make-up on as it will be like polishing a turd’ or perhaps ‘why bother turning up to work as I am completely replaceable and probably wont even notice my absence’. But I manage to go through the motions of crawling out of bed, getting showered and dressed and making myself eat breakfast before struggling in.

They also don’t know that I had a terrifying panic attack on the weekend that left my husband holding me and repeating over and over that I can breathe and it will be okay. It drains me and leaves me really low for quite a while afterwards. I find it can take as much as a week to even begin to find glimmers of happiness again after a panic attack. It saps my energy and all the hope from me and leaves me running on empty. You feel that things will never get better again. I felt like I had taken a huge step backwards to perhaps where I was 6 months ago. I’ve been left wondering if I should get back in touch with my clinical psychologist to try and make sense of the world again and try and continue the progress I had previously experienced. But it is just a blip. A small relapse. I am stronger than I used to be and I am getting there.

When I’m at work I feel a lot better. I don’t have time to think and dwell on my problems. If things start to get the better of me, I will take myself out of the situation and make myself a cup of tea.
At lunch I will lose myself in a book. It takes me away from my problems and completely submerses me in this other world.
Occasionally I will go for a quick walk at lunch to clear my head and freshen myself up with some big lungfuls of sea air.

When I get home I will try and do something active. I will go for a run or do some circuit training. Something to just clear my mind and give me the happy glow of having achieved what I set out to do.
But it is difficult. When it is quiet my mind starts to notch up a gear or two and is quite vocal again. I try and keep myself busy with hobbies.

Busy hands are happy hands

The devil finds work for idle hands

When I’m feeling stressed or anxious I need to keep reminding myself that this feeling will pass. I need to do something that keeps my hands busy and occupies my mind. I will pick up a colouring book and scrawl away until I’m feeling better. I might ‘play’ something on a piano app on my tablet to really tune into my concentration (my coordination is far from ideal!). I have been wanting to have a go at sewing or cross stitch lately but it is finding the time and motivation to jump in and try it out! I also need to make more time for baking. I really love creating yummy treats as it gives an excuse to invite people over for a cup of tea and a chat.

There are many other helpful and simple suggestions in this link about what you can try when you start to feel anxious. Some I hadn’t thought of and that seem so obvious now!

http://www.buzzfeed.com/carolynkylstra/anxiety-tips

Hello…

Hmm…  I’m not sure where to begin.
Perhaps ‘hello’ is as good a place as any to start.

Hello – I’m Nikki Massey.

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Here I am! I’m sat outside my home in Llanfairfechan in this picture. My husband was trying to get the right brightness balance on the camera and setting up the timer function so we could get a picture together. He was making me laugh as usual!

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That’s my husband, Caz! He is truly my soulmate and best friend!
We met way back in college when we were both 16 and got married in 2010.
We have been through so much together and he really is my rock and the one who keeps me (slightly) sane.

In 2008 we bought our first house together! It is only a 2-bed bungalow but it is home.
Then in 2010 I became Mrs Massey! We got married in a magical country manor called Plas Maenan. It was a truly special day!

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Then unfortunately less than a year later I had to have a kidney transplant.
I survived kidney cancer as a baby and had to have my right kidney removed. After going through school, getting good grades at GCSEs and graduating from college I knew that my energy was starting to feel more and more depleted and the time for an intervention was getting closer.
Luckily, I avoided dialysis (a machine that rids your body of toxins in place of your failed kidney) as I had a living donor lined up. My Dad was going to donate his kidney to me.
On the 2nd of March 2011 I had a kidney transplant.

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My Dad is as healthy as can be now and my recovery has gone well too!
Since then Caz and I have since been embarking on a big project – we have decided to build our own house!
It has been a long and, at times, stressful process… We purchased plot of land that is 0.25 of an acre in a lovely rural location that is still close enough to all the amenities we need and love!

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We went to an architect to draw up a design and this was submitted to the planning department. After a lot of back and forth the location, design and house were accepted! Many more moons passed before we were in possession of the building regulations and off we went to pick a contractor to carry out our dream project.
To not bore you I will talk about my house project in a separate post!

Life has its ups and downs. It isn’t all plain sailing. There are swings and roundabouts at every point.
I have my health problems but I also try and make the most of life and create as many happy memories as I can. It can be difficult to not just focus on the negatives in life seeming there are daily reminders with the pills I take and the hospital visits as well as blood tests. But I do my best. I do live with mild depression and occasionally suffer from panic attacks. Caz helps me out so much – he keeps me smiling!

The aim of my blog will be to talk about my life. It will detail the little things that bring me joy. The ways I pick myself up and cope when times are tough. How I live a ‘normal’ life with a kidney transplant. Raising awareness for organ donation as well as removing the stigmas associated with mental issues, no matter how minor. This is my form of therapy, getting everything out of my head and on to paper. If my journey to happy and healthier times interests and helps you too then that’s an added bonus!

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