It's coming up to my birthday, and I realised that even though I am trying, nothing has changed in my situation.

Still not heard from my family

Still not made new friends

Still in the same job (which is getting even more stressful)

Started and enjoying voluntary work.

Still in the same house

Kids still eat me out of house and home, and still show no real interest in cooking, despite my efforts!



I know it's probably as my birthday is approaching, but I always have the hope that someone will notice it's my bithday. Every year, I say maybe next year, but sadly it won't be the case that someone will make a fuss of me, or just send a text, make me a cup of tea etc I will make a fuss of myself though, yet again.

I always find winter harder anyway, even though a Sad box completely helps. The problem is mainly due to where I live, it is dark (even in summer I need the lights on) and bitterly cold. Today i have been wearing my hat indoors, even though outside I don't wear hat and gloves! I have never enjoyed winter, but the fight to keep warm just makes it harder.

I have been to a few night classes, but they only lasted 5 weeks. Hopefully though, I will meet the same people if another course runs.

My job invloves supporting people, which I don't have the energy for. I also work with b**chy women who have pulled faces to each other when I talk, don't pass messages on to me etc I can't wait to leave there, as the place drains the energy out of me, but I barely have the energy to look for a new job!

When I come home from an afternoon of voluntary work, I feel positive. When I come from work I am just so drained of energy.

I am trying counselling, as I was able to get 6 free sessions, but the counsellor said that as I have loads of issues with my family it won't be enough. I haven't yet noticed any benefits of counselling, but i'll reserve judgement until the end of the 6 sessions.

In a nutshell, I'm seen as strong, I do a great job with my kids, am doing positive things to improve my life (study and voluntary work) but inside, I'm dreading winter which makes things that bit more difficult. Also, dreading my birthday, as it's a reminder that I'm not moving forward as fast I would like.

my kids are doing well though.

My cake will be done now, But I think I just need a magic wand.





Posted on: October 26, 2011 - 3:40pm

Hi towerofstrength

To be fair, you couldn't be doing anything more than you are - and I'm glad that you can see this.

Interesting to know that you find teh SAD box helps, as I keep saying I'll get one.

I hate winter too, you see...  I hate the dark nights, and now the children are older they're quite happy and don't even notice when I go up to bed, some nights before 8pm.

I'm so glad that you're enjoying the voluntary work.  And really feel for you that the women your work with are so rude.

I can understand where you're coming from with your birthday, as that is how I feel on New Year's Eve.  I seem to cry buckets when everyone else is celebrating.

Do spoil yourself on your birthday though.  This year my lot did actually put a bit of effort into things here.  Buy yourself a cake and do the jelly, and make sure you and your children sit down together, even if its for a slice of cake... 

Sending loads of virtual hugs your way.

You really are doing brilliantly.


Posted on: October 26, 2011 - 5:28pm

Parenting specialist DoppleMe

Hello tower of strength

...but you have done some really positive things, including the voluntary work and the evening class!

Teens will never notice a person with a birthday unless they are their grotty mate at school. So, as sparkling says, celebrate it anyway.

Set yourself a target for your next birthday, something realistic, maybe not marrying George Clooney and moving to the Bahamas (HA!) but maybe, just maybe moving house?? that sounds like a real pain being so cold....One thing Hazleyes does is have a hot water bottle to hug. I have a wheat bag thing instead.

Work women sound dreadful! Finding another job is not easy these days and I know it is something you have been thinking about for a while.

Making new friends: that is harder when you have older children. What things have you tried? One of our members has met new friends through a site called Meet Ups; have a look Smile

Posted on: October 26, 2011 - 5:42pm


I have been so brave, I'm really proud of myself. I have been meaning to go to the Doctors for months, in fact last time I went was January when I wanted to tell the GP i was struggling but I bottled out.

Today, I booked the appointment and I went to the GP. And I told him how I feel. I broke down in tears in the surgery, I feel so embarrased. Even now as i type I'm crying.


Typing this last night reminded me of the difference bewteen my "brave coping" face, and my inner face which is just a struggle to get out of the door, struggle to stay positive, etc If I was a car, it would be like I'm running on empty for months and months and but giving the appearance of a fab new BMW. I was dreading winter as I know I struggle anyway,


I am rushing this as my kids are upstairs,

Posted on: October 27, 2011 - 11:42am

Parenting specialist DoppleMe

You have INDEED been brave. WELL DONE you Kiss What did the GP suggest? No need for embarrassment, that is one of the things they are there for.Wink

Take care and let us know how you are.

Posted on: October 27, 2011 - 11:47am

Parenting specialist DoppleMe

Hi towerofstrength, nice to 'see' you again.

You have been through so much in your life, it is understandable that you have very difficult days.

Will your counsellor be able to recommend further counselling? I saw an NSPCC counsellor about 10 years ago now, I was referred by my doctor, I am not sure if they are still running sessions for adults, but it might be worth asking.

What did your GP say/suggest when you visited today??

Posted on: October 27, 2011 - 2:20pm


It's so good you went.

Posted on: October 27, 2011 - 2:29pm


It's really good that you plucked up the courage to go. You might feel silly for breaking down in front of the GP, but they see this everyday, so don't worry about it.

Posted on: October 27, 2011 - 2:38pm


Thanks everyone for your kind comments and support. I'm sorry about my earlier post but my son came downstairs, I'm hoping to have a bit of peace now.

I did break down in the surgery, the GP is the only person I have ever cried in front of in my whole life. I really hope they see this every day. I'm crying again now, not loads though as i'm aware my kids are around.

My GP has referred me to counselling as I'm doing everything I can. Even the GP asked what he thought would help!  I am taking St Johns Warts, will be using SAD box over winter, I exercise regularly (having no car is a huge advantage) and I'm a perfect weight.  He sggested counselling, but I didn't say I'm trying that now. To be honest though I've had 5 out of 6 sessions and I haven't found it helpful really, but I'll try the GP referral counsellor as I want to feel better.

I do feel a bit relieved too, as hopefully I can have a bit of support. I suppose coping with two teenage boys with no support, (my family haven't even bothered getting in touch when my son was 16 and taking GCSEs, when he had decisions about his future. 16 is such an important age for all young people too, my family don't even know how he done in his GCSes and what he is doing now. )  Yes, so I have no support at all, in a job I hate, studying and doing voluntary work, coping with everything thrown at me, from blocked toilets to teenage strops, day in day out. No wonder I struggle to be positive when I'm so exhausted.

I have been to three meetups, they have been different people each time,but I'm trying. Lately they have been meals or shows, and I've just had a few really expensive months. I'm on the mailing list, sent every week, so I'm sure there will be something a lot cheaper soon.  I haven't had £30 spare for a while.

i'm going out this weekend with the people from voluntary work too (it's a free event)

I've just thought, I'm due to take an exam this year, i think I'll call them tomorrow to see if I can delay it.  I'm too tired to study for it, even though I enjoy it




Posted on: October 27, 2011 - 7:08pm


It could well take another councellor to help you. What I mean is, the one you're already seeing maybe isn't the right one for you. Sorry your family still haven't been in touch, that must also tug at you. You have something to look forward too at the weekend, which is great, and it's free, yeahhh. Hope you have a lovely time.

Posted on: October 27, 2011 - 8:07pm

Parenting specialist DoppleMe

I agree with hazeleyes, a different counsellor could make all the difference Smile

Sounds like a good idea to delay the exam but dont give up the dream altogether.

That was a big step forward to cry in front of someone. I see that as a positive (tho I am sure it did not feel like that at the time!)

Enjoy your event this weekend Smile

Posted on: October 28, 2011 - 8:29am

Parenting specialist DoppleMe

PS tower of strength, you might be interested in the Home Heat Helpline for some advice about heating and insulation and grants! Smile

Posted on: October 28, 2011 - 9:46am


That really is so sad when the extended family had no interest in the GCSEs.  So hard for the children too.  No matter how much it may not be mentioned, I'm sure they feel it.

I do hope the weekend goes well.


Posted on: October 28, 2011 - 10:50am


Hi tower of strength i think you should be very proud of yourself that you went to the gp and told him how you feel some people dont and suffer in silence so well done,and i hope you have a lovely weekend you deserve it.

Posted on: October 28, 2011 - 11:10am

Parenting specialist DoppleMe

Hi towerofstrength, I think we have had this discussion before, but I saw 3 different counsellors before I actually started to feel better. I think at this point, just keep reaching out and taking whatever extra support is offered to you. It can't do any harm.

You have a lot of stuff to work through and the fact that you recognising that is a good thing, you are a strong woman who has kept going through thick and thin and you need to give yourself a pat on the back.

Any chance of a paid position at the organisation you volunteer with? 

Posted on: October 28, 2011 - 12:37pm

Lucy Parsons


Hi TofS, how are you today? Have you been on your weekend outing yet? What kind of thing was it? And what voluntary work do you do?

And what's a SAD box? I know what SAD is, but what's in the box?!

I'm taking SJWort too, since August in fact, and I need to check on the internet how long you can take it before it stops having any effect or becomes a bit addictive. Do you think it's helping you?

As Anna says above: I think at this point, just keep reaching out and taking whatever extra support is offered to you.   She's so right - and I know it can feel incredibly hard and make you feel very vulnerable at first, when for so long you've been this TofS for your children and slapping on that brave face day in, day out.

But it's a really, really positive step going to your GP, and I truly believe that further counselling could be another great step - are there free/ cheap counselling organisations in your area? Womankind in Bristol offer some, or you could also try their support phoneline  - 0845 458 2914
Monday - Friday mornings: 10am - 12 noon
Monday and Tuesday evenings: 8pm - 10pm
Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons: 1pm - 3pm

I think the charge is 4p a minute from landlines.

So what have you planned for your birthday? Ordered a lovely film on Amazon to arrive a couple of days before (some are as cheap as two or three quid)? Bought a 'Happy Birthday Mum' banner so your kids get the hint for next year? Got yourself a special, delicious drink/ box of chocs for the day?

Maybe you could let this site know when it is and we can all send you a message on the big day?

Take care,

Posted on: October 30, 2011 - 2:12pm

Sally W
Parenting specialist DoppleMe

Hi towerofstrength

I have to agree with Anna and the others on the counselling i also have attended counselling three times. I have found that the changes don't always happen straight away, sometimes months after the couselling has finished.

How did your night out with your voluntary collegues go?


Posted on: October 31, 2011 - 1:43pm

Parenting specialist DoppleMe

Hi towerofstrength, how are you feeling this week? Any progress?

Posted on: November 2, 2011 - 11:26am


Thanks everybody for posting. I did post a comment but somehow it didn't appear so I messed it up somehow.

I am a bit wary of trying a new counsellor as i feel that as it is going through a GP I only get the one chance. Are the sessions limited , eg only 6 weeks or 8 weeks?

Where i work i come into counsellors too and I think that is also why i am a bit cautious. There are a few counsellors who are great and I feel i could talk to them, however some are just nosy and talk about clients for fun. My gut feelings on people are spot on, so I would know instantly whether I would like them.

If I didn't like the counsellor allocated to me, could I just say no? I know my gut feelings are right, but that isn't an excuse to change counsellors is it? I'm also worried if I ave a set series of sessions due to limited fnding, I would feel under pressure then to make progress.

Anway the assesment takes place this week, so hopefully I'll find out more.

The SAD box really helps. i used to like winter until one year I moved house and changed where i work. There is no window in work and where i live is very dark! That year my energy changed, I would be going to bed at 7pm every day and still be really really tired! On rainy grey days it would mean i wouldn't see daylight for weeks! The SAD box is a really bright light, which helps makes up for lack of daylight. You need to use it for a few hours a day which is easier said than done.

I bought mine slightly damaged over ebay. It's bulky too so not that easy to move from room to room every half an hour or so. However, newer ones are fabulous and small. I have seen one which is just like a normal lamp, that costs £120.

The SAD box helped me, but in my case it is direct lack of light causing the problem. I'm not sure if that is the same for everyone though.


Have to go, x

Posted on: November 6, 2011 - 11:33am

Parenting specialist DoppleMe

Hello and good luck for your assessment this week. You should not be under pressure to "make progress" but yes, if free through the NHS then you usually get six sessions, sometimes with an extra one tagged on at the end.

I am shocked to hear that you have overheard people talking about clients.....that is totally against the Ethical Framework that ALL counsellors should be working to, and membership of the professional institute depends on adherence to that. You could say "no thanks" if you did not like the counsellor but you do need to find out whether there are alternatives through the GP, or indeed the surgery will know of any free/cheap private counselling in your area (some are just donation only)

What are the prospects for rehousing?

Posted on: November 6, 2011 - 6:20pm


I'm glad the SAD box helps.

Hope you're ok.

Posted on: November 6, 2011 - 7:10pm



Again, sorry I'm late to your thread towerofstrength, but you sound similar to me...I hate the dark wintery days too...thought about getting a light box/lamp...but trying to save enugh points to buy one...

I'm glad to hear that you enjoy your volunteering work..I'm thinking of doing this too..

I work two days a week, so find I want to do more with my time off, as I need to get out the house..

I've met a few good people through meetup too...and am starting counselling sessions through work, but not too sure about the counsellor I have been allocated...

anyway, hello to you...

Posted on: November 9, 2011 - 2:35pm


Oh I had just started typing and the computer kicked me off!

Louise, by under pressure, I mean that as I have dealt with so much, maybe it's a lot to expect me to deal with all of this in the space of 6 sessions? I suppose I mean pressure as I'd like some results, and I'm trying to get it while it's free. I don't have the money for follow up counselling sessions when the free ones run out, so there is pressure I suppose to get results from the free sessions.


The colleagues I work with are awful. My manager said the phone was ringing, he ran through to our office to get the phone and colleagues were just sitting there talking instead of getting the phone. They also whisper in the office. The manager cancelled a meeting yesterday asking us to do alternative work instead and two girls just talked and done nothing. I could go on, but I'm not in a normal work environment, so overhearing about clients doesn't surprise me!

My manager has said that I'm quite withdrawn in work. I am better at listening than talking anyway, but I do find in work I am withdrawn. They are horrible about other people, so I have withdrawn to protect myself and just get on with my job. I'm finding the situation really draining, so need to be careful that it won't affect my study or enjoying my home life and voluntary work.

I feel if they knew anything about my life, ie working hard to do the best for my kids with no support has meant that my life has sometimes been put on the back burner. Although I'm working on this, it won't happen overnight, especially as i'm putting effort into changing work. The nosy people in work will just say why don't you see your family, and I don't feel comfortable lying. However, if I say the truth they will love it so much and really it's none of their business. So I feel I could have a few white lies ready, but then I'd be on guard all the time. So I think I naturally withdraw. It's bizarre as it's mainly with these work colleagues i'm like that. It's just judgemental and nosy people I shy away from!

As for rehousing, I'm on the waiting list and trying. I'm trying to contact my energy supplier for help with insulation, but as i live in a house converted into separate flats it's possible I won't qualify for help. I have bought a dehumidfier which so far has taken out 6 litres of water in a small room, so this will help take the arctic chill off! When this is done I'm putting cheap fleece blankets on the wall and make my own insulation!

Mich, I would suggest to start applying for voluntary work now. It took longer than I thought it would getting voluntary, as often the adverts on websites were out of date, or voluntary places closed over the summer etc.

As for the SAD box, mine was used and cost £40.




Posted on: November 10, 2011 - 9:45am

Parenting specialist DoppleMe

Hi towerofstrength, sorry to hear that you were kicked off One Space, we are not usually so rude Cool

6 sessions of counselling does seem like a short amount of time, I agree, but maybe this will help you really hone down on what needs to be tackled first. So once the sessions are over you feel clearer on what your next steps should be?

Your work sounds dreadful, I don't envy you at all. It is hard if you are not enjoying your work colleagues. I know that you are exhausted after work, but do you have any email alerts set up from job agencies, to save you some searching time?

I love your idea of fleece walls! Very resourceful, it is amazing how much a humidifier can pull from the air, I have one and am always really suprised how much damp there must be in my bedroom.

You might want to look at this: Free Insulation Grants or our article on Grants for Fuel and Water bills.

Thank crunchie its Friday, I hope you are looking forward to the weekend, any plans?

Hi Mich I have just seen a SAD box on Maplins website for £40.


Posted on: November 11, 2011 - 3:48pm


I have just had my assesment done, and I am on the waiting list for Cognitive behaviour therapy. A waiting list of about 12 weeks which isn't too bad.

I will only get 5-6 sessions of 30 minutes each, so I will really need to think about what I want from the service.

The assessment was much harder than what I thought it would be and I feel a bit embarassed about using it, but I need to try something different about my situation.

Last week I was going to work by train and it was so busy. I saw someone with their coat over the chair and I went to sit on it. But it was my brother!! Apparently I have been an aunt for nearly a year now and nobody even contacted me to let me know!! My parents will help my brother mind the baby when his wife goes to work.

All the times I asked for help and was told no!!

I still can't really get over my parents now that I'm a parent. How can a mum not call her own daughter to see how she and her grandkids are? How can a Dad never ever call or visit his daughter and grandkids?

They know i'm alone with kids and do nothing yet help my brother who is married and his inlaws help too. My dad said that "he only liked me when I was small" so maybe it's something to do with that.




Posted on: November 25, 2011 - 11:43am


That's heart breaking towerofstrength.

Will your brother keep in touch with you now, do you think?

I'm so sorry that your parents are like this.

I 'only' have my sister and brother.  I have to say my brother is making an effort at the moment, otherwise very little contact.

Posted on: November 25, 2011 - 12:24pm

Parenting specialist DoppleMe

Hi tower of strength

What a shock! it is always difficult when people feel one child of the family has been treated differently from another. When you were younger did you feel that he was favoured or have your parents become distant with you more recently? Whichever it was, it could well have affected your self esteem and maybe this is one thing you could used your sessions for, in that if our self esteem improves then we start to want more for ourselves in all sorts of situations, and work towards that ourselves....but of course you are the best judge of how to use this time, it's worth thinking about what would achieve an immediate impact, so that you see a difference!

Posted on: November 25, 2011 - 4:46pm


No, I was always treated differently. I was never hugged by any of my parents but my siblings were hugged constantly. I was also the only one emotionally and physically abused too. I learned from a very young age not to draw attention to myself as it would only mean I'd criticised or hit. I just withdrew into my shell and learned to be very independent and self sufficient. I could go on and on but that is the past, although it is obviously a very big factor why my self esteem is low.

I used to bring my kids to their grandparents as I believe my kids have a right to know their extended family. So my parents have had lots of opportunities to get to know my kids. However, I had a really tough time a few years ago (which my parents knew about) and just had to focus on me and the kids, and I have rarely heard from them since.

The only good thing about the past is that is has made me determined to me a good parent. My kids have received all the hugs and more that I never had and always wanted. The things that the kids tell me are things that I have never been able to tell my parents so I have broken the cycle.

Just as I am typing my 16 year old has come in and said "You're the best" and asked if I wanted some hugs. He then started telling me about his plans for the day and his party tonight.

Posted on: November 26, 2011 - 9:27am

Parenting specialist DoppleMe

That's lovely, tower of strength, and I am sorry to hear about the difficulties with your parents. We get most of our emotional programming in life by the age of about four or five so even though you quite rightly say it is the past, it can have a very lasting effect. How wonderful that you decided that lots of hugs was a good way forward with your own children, and it is nice to hear about them hugging YOU Laughing

Posted on: November 26, 2011 - 9:46am


Aww, that's so lovely of your 16 year old.

Well life wasn't easy growing up I've always been determined that life would be different for my children.  While they may not appreciate it, I know how much I'd have preferred my child hood to have been.

You take care.


Posted on: November 26, 2011 - 2:38pm

Parenting specialist DoppleMe

Hi towerofstrength, well done for taking the bull by the horns and trying something different. Hopefully you will find the cognitive sessions useful.

Seeing your brother must have been such a shock! How do you get on with your brother, was he pleased to see you?

Posted on: November 29, 2011 - 12:48pm


My brother just spoke about the baby and surprised I didn't know he had a baby. Eventually he asked about my kids and then he had to get off the train. We just said Bye.


Posted on: December 2, 2011 - 9:39am

Parenting specialist DoppleMe

That must have felt so strange, tower of strength.

How are you today?

Posted on: December 2, 2011 - 10:41am

Parenting specialist DoppleMe

Hi towerofstrength. Do you think you want to keep in touch with your brother?

Any news on new homes?

Posted on: December 6, 2011 - 11:21am



Hi tower of are you today?

Posted on: December 8, 2011 - 9:54pm


I have had the last of my 6 sessions with the counsellor and when I told her I am on the waiting list for sessions via the GP she immediately said "look into more as that isn't enough for you!" I thought counselling was meant to be good for you, it has made me wonder why I bothered with trying to do something positive!

Anyway my mother called yesterday, didn't leave a message and I only realised she had called when I dialled 1471. The last time we spoke was a year ago.

I can't be bothered with the stress of her calling. I'd just started to feel good about things and looking forward to Christmas and now she has called. GRR!

If any of my kids were a single parent I'd never, ever ignore them for a year. Even if they were married I'd never ignore them. I'd probably be the opposite and contact them too much lol Now my kids say I ask them for too many hugs, but we can laugh about it. I ask if they want a hug every day, the answer is sometimes yes sometimes no, but I respect their answer. So imagine what I'll be like when they leave home?

Even if I speak to my Mother she'll just talk about how great my siblings are getting on. My partner used to say that it was like the Victorians when we spoke, even though at the time we got on the best we had ever got on!

I was so looking forward to Christmas as I have done quite a few positive things since I last posted and now she has called. I have got to the stage where I was thinking if I moved house, would I bother telling her. If I speak to her she'll just make judgements that I haven't on the outside moved on (ie material wise)

her calling has brought up my anger which I can do without. Isn't there a saying that you can choose your friends but not your family? I can really relate to that lol









Posted on: December 16, 2011 - 1:17am

Parenting specialist DoppleMe

Hi tower of strength

Yes there is a saying like that and it is frustrating that a seemingly small thing such as a phone call, even one we did not need to take, can unsettle our fragile security. I suppose you will now be wondering whether she will call again? It is good that you have fostered such an affectionate relationship with your own children....and you can still have a good Christmas Smile

Counselling is indeed very beneficial but only a few sessions just scratches the surface.

Any news on a possible house move?

Posted on: December 16, 2011 - 9:27am


Don't let the call spoil your Christmas tower of strength.

Do you have caller display? 

Posted on: December 16, 2011 - 9:50am