World Suicide Prevention Day (10th September, 2014)


Concentric Circles of Family



I have a strong sense of family. People do not need to be related to me genetically to be in my family, I include close friends as much as siblings in that definition. I belong to them and they belong to me. I am not sure if everyone else in my family feels it, and I am not sure if everyone else needs it, but for me that feeling of being surrounded by people and by support is very important.

seven circles words 2

I like to imagine the entire clan as my concentric circles of support. I rely heavily on the circles closest to me, but as these circles get further away from me they contain more people, each one I rely on a little less than the previous ring.


In the first circle there is me. I look after me. I make sure I am fed, warm, safe and happy. If I am not one of these things I seek to change it.

Surrounding that is my nuclear family; my husband, son and pets. Together we are a tight little unit of support. There is nothing that one of us could do that would ever stop us loving and caring for each other.

Surrounding that is my original family – my parents and siblings. Around that my in-laws: John’s folks and siblings. Surrounding those is my circle of friends. Around those is our extended families: Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents. And encompassing all of those are acquaintances. That is where the limits of the circles become vague, the population massive and my reliance on each individual minor.

circles bad

This sense of family is not to say that my family is perfect. They most certainly are not. We all have our foibles; our relationships have positive and negative qualities. We have our grumps, nags, moans and crazy folk, just like every other family. We know how to push each other’s buttons and frequently do. Nobody can wind up a person quicker than a close family member. We have bust-ups and blow-outs, but everything eventually blows over, because at the end of the day, we will always be family and there is nothing that can be done to change that. We will always be there, because we always are there.

ugly circle2

However that is not to say that families don’t take work. In order for me to stay protected in my little cocoon of family I actively have to maintain the relationships with the people that inhabit each circle. The circles only provide me a buffer if there are people there to prop them up. If I squeeze the people out of those circles and out of my life then my padded concentric circles become just empty walls. Impenetrable. I can’t get out passed them and nobody can get in. So if for some reason I can’t feed me, keep me warm and safe, keep me happy, then nobody else can get in to help me.


So I make an effort. I lift the phone. I drop a mail. I rarely remember birthdays, so I would be lying to say that I send a card, but I go to the parties I am invited to. I get out of the house, I put myself out there, and I make a conscious effort to stay involved and stay connected. Because I know how much I might need my family.




Sometimes a chat about mental health doesn’t have to mention mental health to be about mental health. On the 10th September 2014 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide Or Survive (SOS) is an Irish organisation focused on breaking down the stigma associated with mental health issues and are working to build a society where people embrace their mental health wellness. To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, for the whole month of September, SOS are running a national campaign called “High Tea & Talk” where they encourage everyone to take time to talk, open up and also listen to those who may need to share a few thoughts. Please do your bit to support them where you can.



The Post-Baby Diet

baby weight

The post-baby diet has begun.

My maternity wardrobe was too big (finally!) and my old wardrobe was too small. All I was left with was underwear even your granny would think was a bit prudish. I was in need of new clothes if I were to break out of this house and re-join civilisation.

I have to admit, post-baby clothes shopping was not the fun trip I was expecting.

Maternity clothes shopping had lulled me into a false sense of security. There is no such thing as fat when you are pregnant. You are supposed to ‘look big in this’, you’re pregnant and it’s a sign that you are growing a great big healthy baby, claps on the back all round. For almost a year it was like shopping for a school uniform again, you wanted to leave plenty of growing room, something that just fit would never do. And trying to squeeze into the smaller size was unheard of.

On the other side of the birth, things were looking a bit different again. I was expecting that once the baby was ejected a lot of the weight would leave with him. I had heard that once you gave birth you should be able to fit into the maternity clothes that you wore at four or five months. I could get these clothes over my mummy tummy, but not over my mummy thighs. Naively I put this down to water retention, so I waited patiently for the fluid to dissipate. And waited. A little did, but even two months later I still could not squeeze into the smaller maternity clothes. I had to face facts. If I wanted to leave the house wearing clothes, I needed to go shopping. I found solace in the fact that I was smaller than I was at nine months pregnant, put on a brave face and hoped for the best.

The outcome was not pretty. I wandered into changing rooms with clothes in one size, and several minutes of squeezing later, the fitting room’s assistant had to swap them for clothes four sizes up. My confidence was not at an all-time high. I decided to buy a cheap and cheerful temporary wardrobe from Penneys while I got my body back to its normal size.

If I am honest, I may have been unrealistic about my ‘before’ figure. In my mind, before this all began, I was a slender, slim, size 8. In some ways that is true: back when I was 16 before I met my husband and before we even started thinking about babies, I was a size 8. But in more ways, it is a complete lie. As soon as we decided that we were going to try for babies I started eating cake. And bread. And pasta. And just about anything else calorific I could get my grubby little hands on. I figured if I was going to get pregnant I was going to get fat so what was the point of watching what I was eating. I would lose the excess when I was losing the baby weight.

I am now on the other side of that thought process and I now realise that it is going to be no easy feat shifting all this additional weight.

My first step is to admit where I am. If you don’t know where you are, you can’t know how long it will take to get to your destination. I can safely say, I am definitely not a size 8 now. Nor am I a 10. I am much closer to a squeeze-into-it, thank-god-this-is-stretch-material, I-don’t think-all-the-buttons-are-supposed-to-be-able-to-close, is-it-a-Moo-Moo-if-you-buy-it-in-Brown-Thomas, I-have-seen-people-camp-in-tents-smaller-than-this size. Not big in the grand scale of things, but big for me.

My next step is to devise a plan. I’m a sucker for celebrity endorsed fitness products, so I have the Anna Richardson’s Body Blitz Diet and Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. I also have some strong advice from Ruth Whelan: don’t wait until Monday, start today. So here we go. Out with the take away in with the nutrients. I’ll keep you posted on how I do.