When dealing with depression it’s easy to look back through a week and think that you’ve done nothing and nothing has made you smile. This last week I’ve been writing down little things that have made me smile so I can look back through and realise that there is always something positive to reflect on and moments of happiness to cherish.
Here is a little list of things that have made me smile this week:
Miss J sitting and doing row, row, row the boat with Mr T. Whenever I see these two do something sweet together it makes me so happy as it was such an adjustment for Miss J when she became an older sister.
A trip to Ikea. I love a good shop around Ikea and buying things to make my house seem more organised always makes me feel a bit better. Meatballs always help too.
A visit from a friend and her son. One of my old work friends came over with her son in the week which was great to have a catch up and lovely to watch our boys play together.
Sleeping. Besides last night with Miss J waking up many times in the night I’ve actually slept well and stayed off my phone at night.
Reading a book that I enjoy. I decided this week I needed to pick up a book and have a read before bed that wasn’t a self-help book. I looked through my bookcase and picked a book out that I’ve had for around 8 years and only ever read the first couple of chapters. The book is called Harvesting the Heart By Jodi Picoult and is about a young lady struggling through the demands of having a young family to look after. This book couldn’t have been more appropriate for me to read right now and I think it’s amazing how I picked it up out of a full bookcase with no memory of what it was about.
Reading to my children. I always read to my children every night separately, but a couple of nights ago I managed to get both my children on my lap and read them both a story. There was no shoving and they both sat still and listened. These moments when they get on are sometimes few so I know when to cherish them.
New clothes for Mr T. I love dressing Mr T up, but now he’s almost two I’ve found the clothes on offer a bit blue and boring. I went to John Lewis and managed to find some lovely bits for Mr T which have got me excited about the prospect of spring around the corner.
A walk to the park. I didn’t want to go out and leave the comfort of my home, but I was forced to go to the park and feed the ducks. It started off stressful with Mr T having a tantrum and not walking the right way, but eventually I learned to relax, enjoy the sun streaming through the clouds and I was able to embrace my children, covered in mud enjoying life and full of happiness. Mr T was a complete dare-devil on the slide.
Yesterday I hid away all day and felt pretty sorry for myself so this week I want to focus on getting out for walks and remembering to take my camera with me. Join me next week for my moments of happiness.
For anyone following my story will know I had a breakdown last October and ended up under Crisis team care after becoming very close to ending my life. I was discharged in mid November and worked so hard on staying positive and holding on to the fact I had been refered for Therapy. Christmas came and we had a lovely time as a family and got to make some wonderful memories. When new year came I was getting this niggling familiar feeling in the background, but as I do I painted on a smile and stayed up beat, clinging on to the thought of my therapy coming through. I chased and chased with no end in sight on when this would be. I quickly felt things start to unwind, My mood was dropping, negative thoughts were creeping in and I was lacking motivation. I told myself it was just the January blues and it would pass.
Things didn’t pass, my anxiety got crippling, my sleep was restless with disturbing dreams and I could see that mean, snappy mummy coming back. I wasn’t coping anymore and I was scared. I ended up going back into old habits which I knew were destructive like relying on my larazapam too much to relax in the evenings, self harming and binge eating. I felt like my mind just wanted to die and no matter how much I tried to stay strong I was losing the battle and my family was losing me. I was disappointed in myself every time someone would say to me how well I had been doing as I knew it was all a lie and I had yet again let everyone down
Things all came to a head on Friday, which resulted in a police welfare check and a trip to hospital. I literally have no memory of a few days before that or after. It was like it wasn’t even me and I was just watching from afar. I was disengaged with my children and unaware of what I was doing and who I was hurting. I ended back under crisis team care and had hit rock bottom once more and was giving up on life.
Friday was my cry for help and I could see that I did want help to get better I just didn’t know how to get better anymore. I gave in and was honest with the crisis team about everything I was feeling, how I wasn’t capable at this moment to be the mother I wanted to be, the intrusive thoughts I was feeling daily and that I didn’t want this life anymore. I accepted help from the crisis team and have been promised I will not be discharged back to my GP this time and I will be discharge to the mental health community team. I have accepted help from family and friends to try to focus on myself and give myself a break. I am learning there is no shame in letting others help when you need it.
I can see things a little clearer and feel that I do still have a future, but I have a long road ahead of me and it will take time. There isn’t an instant fix and this will take time to heal from, but I am not ashamed of this. I believe life is trying to make me stronger and it wouldn’t throw this at me if it didn’t think I could handle it.
A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.
Everyone feels anxiety to some extent in their lives. It’s a natural reaction from when we had to use the fight or flight to survive. With us no longer being hunters are anxiety now proops up in everyday life and for some can become very exhausting.
For me my anxiety has started from being an unsure child and as I’ve got older it has started to manifest in many aspects of my life. Since becoming a parent it has become a real problem, but it was something I still I had control over until I was pregnant with my second child. Since being pregnant with Mr T I have almost constantly felt on edge leaving the house and doing things I would normally enjoy.
I have tried CBT for my anxiety which I found slighty beneficial, but I still feel the anxiety trying to stop me in my tracks on leading a normal life.
I often force myself to go in my car to go out and I end up turning around and coming home as the worry and panic gets too much for me. I forced myself to go in town a few days ago and walked backwards and forwards unsure what I was doing. Mr T was hungry but I couldn’t bring myself to sit somewhere for lunch. Eventually I found somewhere small to get him lunch and he ate it so quickly as he was that hungry. Anxiety is directly affecting my family and I hate the control it has.
For me to go to my work I have to take lorazepam to get through the day, which then makes me forgetful so I can’t see how that is good for my job. I constantly feel like I am having to be babysat through life just do everyday normal things. If I don’t have someone to babysit me then my children miss out on doing so many enjoyable things.
When things are like this my life is pointless and worthless. I am unable to do anything for anyone or myself and my existence pains me.
The intrusive thought I have, the never-ending playing through conversations I had earlier and struggling to make eye contact, this is all my head goes through every night whilst I am desperate to sleep. Sleep is my release usually but to go sleep is hard to come by and often it is disturb with terrible dreams.
I don’t know how to be happy anymore besides a fake smile and this is a life I hate, but I am desperate to make it change.
Something I can now find overwhelming, is when there is some big event coming up that I should be enjoying. I find there is so much pressure to enjoy Christmas day and after lasts year when I was deep in my postnatal depression I was a little worried how it would be. Last year Mr T was 7 months old and I had started antidepressants a couple of months earlier, I was extremely anxious and feeling pretty disconnected from the whole thing. I painted a smile on my face, some make-up and drank a fair amount of baileys in the hope it would improve my spirit. Looking back through pictures I just feel sadness that I wasn’t able to enjoy my baby sons first Christmas, so this year I felt I wanted to make up for it.
This year, even though I was determined to make it a great Christmas, I wasn’t very organised and brought my last present on Christmas Eve. I would usually be frantically shopping around for Black Friday deals, but instead I was relaxing in the sun in Fuerteventura. I was kind to myself this Christmas, I wrapped a few presents each night, whilst watching Christmas films, didn’t spend a fortune on my children as I knew they would be spoilt by family, I made sure that I got a present I really wanted (Canon 1300D DSLR camera) and I made sure I took the time running up to Christmas enjoying my family and embrace Christmas. I even managed to get a night out with my girlfriends and have a great night in a new local prosecco bar. I think being back at work this year helped me get in the mood, as not only was it Christmas it was also a break away from work for just over a week. If I can I always try to be thoughtful of other, but after this last year I felt I had taken more from the world than given back so I decided to set myself a task of doing something thoughtful every for 11 days before Christmas, I am happy to say that I completed all these little tasks, which made me feel fulfilled before Christmas.
Christmas day this year really was lovely besides waking up to Mr T, covered in poo, half way up his back. The children woke at respectable 8am and Miss J patiently waited upstairs, whilst her brother was bathed. It really was magical watching the children open their presents and watch the excitement in their faces. After presents we went around to my parents house for the second round of presents with my sister and her husband. We had a lazy morning, opening and putting together multiple children’s toys and I even managed to have a play with my camera. My mum put on the most fantastic Christmas lunch and after collapsing into a meat coma for a couple of hours we headed to my mother in laws house for round three of presents.
My mother in law loves nothing more than Christmas and never fails to disappointment in making it a lovely day for the children. My two children got to spend the afternoon playing with their four other cousins, running around and playing games. My mother in law does a separate Christmas tree covered in prizes for the children, they pick a raffle ticket and get to find there present on the tree, which the children love.
The whole day was beautiful, filled with laughter, love and far too much food. I’m so glad I was able to fully embrace Christmas day and appreciate the time spent with our family.
Taking Miss J home from hospital for the first time was nothing short of magical. She was beautiful, happy, content and feeding well. My husband was lucky enough to be able to take two weeks off and we spent those couple of weeks visiting friends and family and going out for lunches. When my husband went back to work working 12 hour shifts and the visitors died down I started to realise the reality of being a mum with a husband who worked. I started to get lonely and realised that being at home with a baby all day long, with no one else to speak to was lonely and isolating. At first when Miss J came along we had so many visitors, but as she got older they dwindled, not for any fault of their own it was because life moves on and people have their own lives to live.
I didn’t have postnatal-depression with Miss J but I did struggle with anxiety so for me to go to baby grows was pretty scary experience and something I would get myself really worked up over. I forced myself into these groups but in the village where I lived at 24 I was one of the younger mum’s who went and felt a little bit unsure of myself. I continued to go and did make some lovely friends through these groups and me and Miss J loved doing the baby massage class together. My year at home with Miss J was pretty jammed packed full of different groups sometimes even two in one day and it honestly was the best year of my life. The baby stage is very short, even if at times it feels never-ending probably because you haven’t had eight hours sleep over three nights let alone one night. I felt it was important and helpful to me to find some friends who were going through the same stage as me so baby groups and also Facebook groups were so invaluable to me. When I did have to return to work when Miss J turned one I was honestly gutted that I wouldn’t have that time with her again. I went back to work three days a week and I cherished my days off in the week with her.
When Mr T came along I was naive to think it would be the same. I thought having Miss J at home would be helpful and would be nice as I could now have a proper conversation with her. Miss J wasn’t particularly impressed with this screaming and pooing thing that I spent most of my time feeding. She because quiet jealous and wouldn’t acknowledged his existence. As a mum you immediately feel guilty and that you have betrayed your first born child and with my husband going back to work I had never felt more alone and isolated. I tried desperately to get out the house but I found toddler groups just exhausting, as I had to keep an eye on Miss J whilst carrying Mr T with me. I wasn’t actually able to talk with anyone and found the whole experience stressful. Miss J decided to perfectly time stopping napping when her brother was a week old which made me I feel I was unable to have anytime to actually bond with my new baby or time to be able to appreciate my daughter and I desperately lonely in my house all day long. We tried getting out with walks to the park but Miss J would refuse to walk and want picking up whilst I tried to push the pushchair. I found that I wasn’t seeing or speaking to people for days and I would just sit at home crying and feeling like I was letting both of my children down.
When Mr T was 5 months old something had to give and I excepted that I needed to get help for postnatal-depression and anxiety. Luckily Miss J had started pre-school at this point and I was able to get a little bit of a break from her and she could get a break from me and her brother. I started taking antidepressants and started CBT which did help my anxiety. It has been a constant battle and something I am still battling. I’m enjoying my time more with the children and I am able to appreciate them more, but I do still have times where I feel isolated and lonely. Miss J now loves her little brother and also loves to go to school whilst Mr T has got a little easier and is happy to entertain himself for short periods of time so I can just about keep on top of the house.
The point to this post is that it does get easier and it is all momentary and will not last forever. They will soon grow, need you less and became their own little people. It’s important to involve yourself in local groups, even if it means trying out a few until you find one you really like. Connect on Facebook with local groups and also baby groups and you will soon realise you are not alone and that your feelings are quiet normal to feel lonely. I have made some lovely friends through Facebook, some who I have met a few times and some who only live in my phone, but these people are real people who care for me and support me as I do for them. Do what you need to do to get through the day and don’t feel guilty as you are doing a lot better job than you think you are. If someone offers to babysit, take them up on it, if no one asks, then ask them, if you can put you child in a crèche whilst going to the gym, then do it and if you can put an older child in preschool or nursery then do it. A happy mummy equals happy children so make sure you are looking after yourself so you can look after your children properly.
I have been back home from holiday for almost a week and have been so worried about how I would stay positive, cope going back to work and having to get back into our normal routine. I’ve found that I can spiral quickly when things are on top of me and when I feel overwhelmed and with coming back to a house with a mountain of washing, school runs, catching up on jobs and going back to work I was unsure how I would cope. The first couple of days after getting back from our holiday I stayed in and just caught up on washing and jobs around the house, I wasn’t feeling very motivated as I’m sure no one is about washing, but I pushed myself to get it done. I find it so easy to get myself stuck in a rut and not going out of the house. On a Monday I now usually go to a gym class, but with Mr T being full of cold I was stuck in doors for the whole day which had then made me anxious and I struggled to stay positive about returning back to work the following day.
Miss J had her first nativity play this week as a towns person, which she has been very excited about. She’s been singing the songs all week and was so excited that me and daddy would be coming to see her. Unfortunately were not able to see her much in the nativity as we didn’t get great seats, but she saw that we were there and she loved it so that’s all that matters.
My sleep on holiday had been fantastic, I was getting a good 8 hours a night plus naps most days, but since getting home I’ve been struggling to unwind and sleep again. I felt so relaxed and calm on holiday and since I’ve been back I’ve felt like my mind is racing again. When I don’t get sleep my mood can be effected quickly and it’s something that had worried me. Last night I downloaded Headspace app which I have used previously to help me sleep. I’ve put a reminder on through the app every night at 11pm so I can go upstairs and listen to it in preparation to sleep. The sessions take ten minuets and they really are so relaxing and I always seem to be able to get to sleep quickly after.
Something else positive this week was going back to the gym yesterday. I tried out the body pump class and can honestly say that I loved it and will be back again next week. I ache so bad today, but am determined to keep up with the gym so I can lose weight, tone and also feel better in myself. Before my holiday I had been going to Zumba class on a Monday which I am also really enjoying, but unfortunately with Mr T being ill this week I had to miss it. I never thought I was a gym person and when I had joined other gyms before kids I soon got bored and stopped going. I think the key to this one is that I can go in the day when I have energy and they also have a crèche so by the time I’ve finished my class and had a shower Mr T is ready for his nap, so I can have some time for lunch in peace and we then can have a lovely afternoon playing. Mr T hasn’t been in a nursery yet so this time for him has been great for him to be away from me and to interact with other children in preparation to him starting nursery next month. I have also taken some horrid pictures of myself in my work out clothes to motivate me to lose this horrible belly and massive thighs of mine, I don’t think I’ll be sharing those with you though.
This morning we managed to have a bit of an epic fail. I got Miss J dressed for Christmas Jumper Day today and then realised half way to school that no other children were dressed besides mine and my equally silly friends two kids. We quickly ran back home, did a quick uniform change and promised that she could put it back on after school, when I realised I had locked myself into my house. We had our door fixed recently which wasn’t done very well as we now need to use the key to open it from the inside, but you can open it from the outside if it isn’t properly locked. In the frantic rush to get Miss J dressed I had managed to leave the keys on the other side of the door. Poor Miss J had to go out the window and broke a plant pot in the process, so she could open the door for me. We then eventually made it to school, dropped Mr T of quickly to my mum and managed to make it to work on time. Another thing on my list of things to do is to get the front door fixed.
My job for over the weekend is to start writing out a chores schedule, so we can all do our bit in the house to make it cleaner, more organised and taking away some of the stress of it all landing on my shoulders. My husband is fantastic as he works long hours, but to do anything he has to be told and he has a habit of leaving clothes, cups plates and sweetie wrappers all around the house. My husband like many others still lives like a teenager and with the children taking up so much of my time it’s his time to start chipping in. My darling husband you are no longer going to be picked up after and you are in charge of you own mess. Another job for me this weekend is to have a clear out whilst Miss J is staying with her nanny. I have made a start going through the children’s clothes and packing up a big bag to go to a local hostel for young mums. Tonight I will be making my yearly Christmas card and calendars for the grand-parents so I can tick off something else on my never-ending list. Getting the children to stay still and happy last night for pictures for the Christmas card was extremely frustrating (see blog post picture), until we discovered jelly tots. We eventually managed to get a decent picture through bribery and got the children hyped up on sugar just before bed.
I have my first appointment with the mental health community team next week to see what long-term help they can offer me. I’m so nervous about going, but I know it will be a hugely positive thing for me to have this support so I can continue to get better.
I have set my goals for the following week to stay positive and achieve what I can. Any achievement for me to improve even if only slightly is a huge step in the right direction. I will continue doing my affirmations everyday to make sure my head is in the right place.
So on the 3rd of December I entered the last year of my twenties, eeekkk! I am now a year away from being a fully fledged grown up in the eyes of my ten-year old self. I always assumed that at thirty I would be married and starting a family and at 29 I have managed to be married for over five years with two children. My twenties have had their ups and downs and I have learnt so much in this time, but I am happy in myself to say goodbye to them next year and move on to the next chapter of my life. Will I feel any differently turning thirty? probably not. Will I have some grey hair? most probably.
I welcomed my twenties in true 2007 style by hosting a ‘Moulin Rouge’ themed birthday bash in good old’ Bedford town centre. We graced the presence of the sticky floored Litten Tree and then moved onto the crappy club over the road. Looking back at pictures on Facebook (I still can’t believe I’ve documented my drunken pictures for almost a decade) I can still see lots of familiar faces which makes me feel so happy that a decent amount of my friendships have lasted the test of time and the test of parenthood. At twenty I was carefree, single, living at home, at college and working in my now local pub The Fox and Hounds. I was single for a whole three months of my twenties until I met my darling husband, but that is a whole different story to blog about.
At 23 I got to marry my soul mate and love of my life. I may have been too young in some eyes, but for us we were just killing time until we said ‘I do’. Six weeks after getting married we found out we were expecting Miss J and we quickly had to grow up and become parents. It really has been such an amazing adventure making our own little family and becoming ‘The Goodwins’. I never would have believe at twenty, that I had all this to look forward to and that I would get excited about making our own Christmas cards and staying in every weekend whilst exchanging foot rubs.
My twenties have taught me the value of friendship and how important the ones who have lasted the last decade are to me. My friends are basically my extra sisters and we’ve been through marriage, divorce, plenty of babies, breastfeeding, drunk nights out, miscarriage, depression, mental breakdown, loss of friends and loss of family. We have all stepped up for each other and supported one another when we’ve needed it. We have cried together, laughed together and cried laughing together. I have also learnt that it is never to old to make great friendships with new friends and to make friends with your friends, friends. I really am so luckily to have the most amazing ladies around me who will always have my back.
I spent my 29th birthday a bit more low-key to my 20th. I was on holiday in Fuerteventura, had a lovely meal out with my husband and a slight hangover the next morning. On my actual birthday we flew back to England and it was written off until the following day where we spent the day in pj’s and watched Disney. It was a perfect birthday as I had my family with me and a box of Lindor Chocolate Truffles.
The last 18 months haven’t been the best for me, obviously I am so happy and grateful to have Mr T in my life, but I’ve struggled so bad with anxiety and postnatal depression, that it has tarnished the memory. It has honestly been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with and something that has pushed me right to the very edge, but I survived it and fought it. I plan to make 29 a really great send off of my twenties and will embrace everything it throws at me. Not everyday will be perfect, not everyday will be easy, but I know I can find my happiness. I plan to keep blogging and giving it everything I can, as it really has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my life.
Bring on the next year of my life, my journey, my family, my friends and my thirties.
Today has been one of those days. I have struggled from the moment I got up this morning with my anxiety and depression. I have felt fragile, like I could break any second. I have been questioning myself as a mother, questioning how much I actually love my children. Do they deserve better? Am I just hopeless? Do I not deserve joy and happiness?
Postnatal depression has reared its ugly head and has tried to crumble any kind of confidence I had gained, self-esteem, self-worth and has tried to plague me full of self-doubt, negative thoughts and guilt. I let it come in gradually and started to believe again what a terrible mother I am and how my children deserve better. I hate feeling like this and always having to battle every single day for my happiness or lack of it. I don’t want to be this person and I don’t want it to consume me and have control over me.
I forced myself like I do every day to go through my blog posts comments and started to feel an ounce of happiness again. For someone to say my writing resonates with them or it has helped them feels amazing and is a huge boost to my confidence. I’ve got to keep going and keep on writing as it really does help me so much.
As I was finishing replying to my last comment Mr T awoke and started to cry, so I went straight into his room and picked him up out of his cot and settled into the nursing chair. I could smell the smell of his warm dribble and stroked his messy hair, whilst I let him have his milkies. As he lay in my arms, latched on to me, eyes rolling back, I felt at peace, I felt like I had a purpose, I knew this is where I should be and what I am worth.
The fact that I have two beautiful children that love me unconditionally is amazing and my biggest weapon in fighting this horrible thing. These two people hang on to my every word, they cry for me, they want my cuddles, my kisses and my bedtime stories. I am everything to them as well and they are everything to me. I have a family who loves together, plays together and cries together.
I love unconditionally. I am unconditionally loved.
Today it has rained none stop, Mr T is cuddled up to me, poorly and it’s just a bit depressing. I am stuck in, unable to move off the sofa, the washing is piling up, I have holiday clothes to wash and pack, but today it will have to wait. I hate the rain and how it makes everything seem so depressing. I have such a fear when one of the children or me is sick as I know how easy it is for me to slip back into depression. Being stuck in a house with a poorly child, isolated, alone and unable to do the jobs that I need to be doing can be such a difficult thing for me and my wellbeing can suffer quickly. If I get into a habit of staying in and being isolated I then struggle to get out again and things can easily spiral for me and negative thoughts can creep in, but the best thing that has come out of my recent mental breakdown is that I can recognise this and put things in place to stop it snowballing. It’s hard when you have a small child who is sick and is demanding your time and attention and when you add the lack of sleep into the mix, it can quickly become too much.
I won’t always have postnatal depression, the house won’t always be messy, my children won’t always be small and hopefully won’t always be ill. Everything is momentary and just a small piece of time, we will move on and carry on as that’s what we have to do as humans. Be kind to ourselves, be honest with ourselves and don’t worry about tomorrow as tomorrow will come in its own time.
Mr T has eventually fallen to sleep and been placed in his cot and I can see the gently rise and fall of his chest. He looks so at peace, content, warm and loved. He is happy and right now and i’m all he needs.
The nicest thing about the rain is that it always stops. Eventually – Eeyore
Yesterday I did something completely liberating and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I took a massive step and admitted on my Facebook that I am recovering from a mental breakdown. Some people may see that writing a status admitting this as attention seeking or even over sharing, but for me I think it’s so important to lift the stigma around mental illness. Anyone who reads my blog knows what I have been dealing with, but putting a status on Facebook is as subtle as standing in a crowded room and shouting it for everyone to hear.
The reasons why I have taken this bold move was because I can’t stand uncomfortable silences, they make me anxious and make me talk crap to fill them. I’m going to have to face going back to work on Friday after nearly a month off and would prefer knowing that everyone knows what has happened and they can either say nothing or if they want they can talk to me. By being honest and open I am telling people I am not scared of this and also this illness has not defined me. I am still Michelle, wife, mother of two sprogs, Technical Assistant and part-time blogger. Nothing has changed besides me going mental, recognising it and seeking help. Why should I hide that? Why should I be ashamed?
By being honest I have had so much from support and love from people who I really think has been key to my recovery. The more we talk about mental illness, the more people become comfortable and the more normalised it becomes. The more I’ve read into mental illnesses the more I’ve come to understand and appreciate it. The human mind is so much more complex than we know and they still don’t understand it completely.
1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem each year in the UK so for anyone to think now with the knowledge we have on this subject that it doesn’t exist or you can just get over it is just ignorant. I can’t just brush it under the carpet and pretend it is not there. It is part of my life and I am trying my best to overcome it and if I can help some people along the way, then that is even better.
Today I have been discharged from the CRISIS team at hospital and will be now having support through the community mental health team. I take medication every day and cannot see myself coming off these anytime soon and will be starting counselling in December. I have things in place to get better and I have support. I am confident that I can and will get better. Read steps to get help with postnatal depression
Finding happiness again
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