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I’m Happy Daddy. I’m new to blogging so bear with me. I’m a 34 year old Dad to two beautiful little girls, married to a wonderful woman and have a steady enough job. People think I’ve got a good life and should be happy but I have always struggled with being happy and content. It’s frustrating and upsets me that I can’t work out why I feel the way I feel. I wanted to share my story with you to help me on both my own journey and hopefully you on yours…

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Sleep is over-rated

Day 248: We are going through a tough time at the moment on a night with our 2 year old who up until recently was a decent enough sleeper (doesn’t nap in the day anymore and doesn’t have milk. She generally sleeps through).

You get drawn into a false sense of security and contentment with kids. She’s had a viral infection lately which left her with a bad chest and she’s not shaken it off. During the day she is fine but about an hour into sleeping she starts coughing and it wakes her up. The pattern continues all night. Cough. Cry. Wake. Cough. Cry. Wake.

My wife takes the brunt of it as she is a lighter sleeper than me so is quick to respond. We can’t really leave her crying for too long because we have a 6 year old daughter across the landing who may be woken by the commotion and she can be a nightmare during the night when she wakes too.

Sleep is something many of us take for granted before you have kids and I don’t think I’ll ever get back into the rhythm of sleeping like I did pre-fatherhood. Period. Even when my daughters are all grown up I bet the night time disruption in my sleep pattern continues. Giving up alcohol has certainly helped with the ‘quality’ of my sleep albeit at the moment the quantity of sleep is reduced. I could have what I thought was a good 8-9 hours in the past but that came off the back of two bottles of wine or half a bottle of whisky. I’d still feel wrecked and tired all day. I’m finding at the moment I’m averaging about 5-6 hours max and whilst I feel tired when I first get up, my body can adjust fairly quickly and if I push through with exercise and drink plenty water, the day is good.

The reality is this period of broken sleep will pass. We’ve been here before with our oldest child. It isn’t easy at 2am when you are half asleep and trying to settle a kid but it could be worse. People have it much worse. Some people can’t sleep at all and that’s regardless of children. It must be so difficult.

So my plan of action this weekend is to get up at 5am on Saturday morning for a 15 mile bike ride whilst everybody else is still asleep (hopefully) and I will do that regardless if tonight brings broken or unbroken snooze. I’m doing a couple of 5km runs each week at the moment too so I’ll aim to do that on Sunday early doors along with some Yoga practice before I head to my 6th class next week.

That’s my priority. Sleep is important but if I let the lack of sleep dictate how I live my day I’ll end up in a hole. Power through and get some fresh autumn air in my lungs. I’ll soon wake up!

I do appreciate running tights and bright trainers!

Day 1

Day 245: I was thinking about my time in hospital earlier and it lead me to read over a few of my early blog posts. The person I was in February seems like a stranger to me today. It is so scary what mental health disorders and medicating with alcohol can do to you.

Here was my maiden post from my hospital bed…

Day 1: I don’t remember doing it and I don’t know why but what I do know is I ended up in a psychiatric hospital as a result of it. I’m still processing it all. My initial feelings are of guilt, confusion and sadness. I’m not with my wonderful wife and two beautiful young daughters. I can’t leave my small room – at least not for the isolation period for Covid, and I can’t have visitors. Covid has obviously impacted the life of a metal health inpatient too. What I do know is I agreed to come here. And I know I need help. I’ve lived with my demons for as long as I can remember, and managed those demons from time to time. Sometimes things have escalated. I’ve drank excessively to block out the pain. I’ve tried to run away. I’ve gone within myself and blocked others out. I’m at a point of no return now. I don’t like being in this place and I want to go home as soon as possible

It was awful being ‘locked’ away but I needed it. The time I spent in hospital allowed me to ‘reset’ and clear my mind. I left hospital with a plan and a fresh outlook. I always remember the day I was discharged – it was a typical hospital discharge process of knowing I could leave from the evening before but then waiting all day to get the final medications and discharge papers signed by a Doctor. I was packed up ready to go from 9am but didn’t walk out of the unit until around 5pm. My wife and two little daughters met me in reception (my wife had told the girls I had been working away in this building and it was like a hotel). The hugs and kisses I gave my then 1 year old and 5 year old were the most precious moments and I knew right then I was never going back into that hospital.

I’ve said on numerous occasions that sobriety doesn’t cure depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions but in my case it has reduced the severity and frequency of these bouts. By the time I was admitted to the mental health hospital I’d started suffering from Dissociation

Dissociation is a mental process of disconnecting from one’s thoughts, feelings, memories or sense of identity. It is like amnesia according to the medical experts. The night I ended up leaving the house bare foot and in nothing more than shorts and a vest (on a February evening) I don’t remember a thing. I ran into nearby fields / woods and when I returned my feet were filthy and cut. Don’t remember a thing. I grappled with police. I was taken to hospital in a police escorted ambulance. Still to this day don’t remember a thing. My alcohol consumption that day hadn’t been anything major in comparison to the volume I was drinking almost daily anyways. I’d been taking more than the prescribed amount of Propranolol I should have been taking – and as a beta blocker it was dangerously reducing my blood pressure.

A few months earlier I’d had another episode where my wife called the police / ambulance because I was incoherent in the bedroom hitting my head off our bedroom wardrobe doors. On this occasion I hadn’t drank any alcohol, in fact I was going through a more controlled few days of not drinking but whatever happened was down to my mental state. I was taken into hospital on this occasion too but the Crisis team deemed me safe enough to return home. Again, I remember very little of that evening.

I try not to dwell on the past and I certainly don’t look too far ahead into the future because I can’t control either. My immediate focus remains on today. I want to give myself a fighting chance of not just ‘getting through each day’ but appreciating and enjoying it as much as I can. Even on days when my kids are being difficult, I’m feeling down and work is annoying me I try to find some light in that day. One positive thing that I can cling on to until I close my eyes and say goodbye to today. It could be a walk, reading a book or writing on here – I’ve still done something positive.

More often than not though at the moment I am going to bed content and smiling at the day I’ve lived. Not because it has necessarily been exciting but because I’m present, in control and not dying inside.

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