Becci Nicholls

@becci-nicholls | contributor
Becci is a 31-year-old mum to two young boys. She has a passion for writing and often refers to it as her therapy. Becci blogs over at swordsandsnoodles.co.uk. She shares her highs, her lows, the good times, the hysterical times and everything else that goes alongside parenting. Becci is very honest, brutally honest, and prides herself on this. Not only is Swords & Snoodles a parenting website, it also often features mental health issues and experiences with children who have additional needs.
Becci Nicholls

A Letter to My Children, From Their Depressed Mummy

A few months ago I took the plunge into seeking medical help for my depression and anxiety. I had reached rock bottom and needed a helping hand or 10. After trying to get well on my own for more than 22 years I realized it was the end of the line and was make-or-break, so I did it. I started on medication, and six weeks in I felt the benefit, the amazing benefit. Don’t get me wrong. I still have bad days, but I also now have good days and don’t have to pretend I’m OK. I am fighting this monster for my kids, my husband, my family, and for myself. I am a depressed mother, but one who is on her way to recovery. After writing a letter to my husband, I decided a letter to my children would be helpful for me and maybe for some of you out there, so here it is: an honest letter to my children about the days the black clouds try to drag me down. I won’t be showing them this. Maybe I will in 10 years when they are adults. We will see. To my darling little ones, big ones really, but little to Momma nonetheless, You’re too young to fully understand what depression is, and for that I am thankful. It’s a viscous monster, and I hope you never get to meet it, but if you do I know you’re fighters. You’ve both proved this time and time again. Each obstacle you face you overcome with the unconditional love we pour into you. Some days Mummy cries — in private most of the time, but on the days when you do see me cry please know your little hands in mine and your tight squeezes make me feel like the luckiest mummy in the world. I feel honored to be your mum but also not good enough for you. My head is filled with what-ifs and scenarios, and I wonder if you deserve better, and often I believe you do. But I love you. So, very, very much. Some days I lie awake and don’t have the oomph to get out of bed and face the day. The silent monster shackles my feet and renders me unable to function, but you give me a reason to break free. You both give me a newfound strength and determination. I am forever in your debt for this. You both amaze me. Some days I don’t have the energy or drive to cook dinner, but the thought of your faces and sitting at the table altogether spur me on. They give me some strength, even if we just have sandwiches. I love going the extra mile for you, having spontaneous tea parties and making things together. I love to surprise you. I love to see you get excited. I love you to have fun, and we do, lots of it. But some days I don’t have the energy to set up an activity, so I pull out something I know is easy for me, but you don’t bat an eyelid. You don’t know my heartbreak. You see a smiling mummy, but sometimes it’s a lie. A lie I feel guilty about it, but I’m determined this monster will not ruin your memories like it has mine. I will give you the life you deserve. Some days we go to the park, or softplay, or on an adventure, and my heart races and my head is a whirl. My scary friend anxiety tags along, but we get on with it. Your little faces get me through, and I push through it for you. Some times I don’t know how I do it, but I do, and you are both the reason. Some days I yell, sometimes for genuine reasons, and other times not so much. Yelling is my weakness, and it plagues me with guilt, but I apologize when I need to. I promise I am working on it. Irrational anger is a sibling of depression, but I’m trying. We forgive quickly in this house, and we work on changing our behavior, adults included. Thank you for always loving me and giving me second chances. Your hearts are full of gold. Some days, weeks maybe, I don’t wash my hair, but you still tell me I’m beautiful. Your love does wonders for my weary soul. You have both saved my life in more ways than one, and I would not be here today if it weren’t for you two. You were a real divine intervention. You may never fully understand this. And although some days I still wish for my eyes to close, please know I love you, and the last six years have been the best of my life. Please know I fight for my life, I fight this monster and will continue to fight. My “medicine for my head” makes sure of that. Thank you for simply being you two and helping me find the courage to start this journey into wellness. It’s been a roller coaster few months, but now we are hopefully on a plateau. Thank you for being my brave without even knowing it. Here’s to the rest of our lives now. I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me yet, and it’s all for you, and for your daddy, and my family. Depression is not going to steal from me, from us, any longer. I love you, way more than to the moon and back. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo by Updog Designs

Becci Nicholls

To the Parents Who Take ‘Disruptive’ Children to Restaurants

Is there anything more annoying than loud, unruly children in a restaurant when you are trying to enjoy a nice quiet meal? Why do their parents even take them out knowing how loud and disruptive they will be? My husband and I went out to a restaurant for dinner to a quaint, quiet place in the countryside. We were near two school-age children for the entire meal. I still have indigestion thinking about that evening now. The two kids should have been in bed — it was a school night after all — but instead their parents had taken them out. The two children got louder as the evening went by, and I could see the aggravation rising in my husband’s eyes. We came out to enjoy a quiet meal, but instead we were witnessing something from a Looney Tunes cartoon. The children shouted, laughed loud, shook condiments over people, climbed under the table, squealed loudly, were rude at times and kept standing on their chairs. The mother tried to reason with them but to no avail. One of the children ran around the restaurant and was dragged back. I looked on in utter disbelief. The children, surprisingly, ate their food despite moaning about its impending arrival. It was obviously way past their usual meal time, but each parent to their own I guess. When the kids had finished their main course, they demanded pudding. Manners were scarce! After the kids had eaten, the rampage continued. They started swiping at the grown-ups with their teddy bears. They climbed over chairs, made patterns in the condensation on the restaurant windows and jumped on the back of their mother. At one point, the mother was on lockdown with one of her boys. He had her hair in a death grip. I was shocked. I was disgusted. The whole restaurant was aware of this family, and it felt a little uncomfortable to say the least. Why do parents with children like this inflict them upon the public? Are they really this selfish? Aaannnddd stop. The kids in this post are mine. The hair was also mine. Would I take them back to a restaurant? Hell yeah! That’s the life of this momma, and as disrupting as it may have been, they were actually pretty well behaved on this occasion. Ha, for real. Don’t ever be ashamed or embarrassed, ever. Those onlookers know nothing about your children or your parenting skills. There are additional needs in our family, including, invisible ones, sensory processing disorder and various ongoing assessments for other needs. But regardless, if a restaurant has a children’s menu, the fact remains that all children are welcome. Follow this journey on Swords & Snoodles. The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability and/or disease, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines. Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Becci Nicholls

A Letter to a Depressed Me, Myself and I

Dear Me, Myself and I, I’m writing this letter to myself, to me, to you, in the hopes that you will read it on the day when depression rears its ugly head. When depression strikes and covers you in a black fog, your brain has a funny way of forgetting everything you know, so this letter is here to remind you of all the things you may forget. The black fog takes away your inner light, you feel nothing yet feel everything, and although you feel like you will always feel this way please know you will not. The cloud will go! It may take a day, a week, a few months, but it will give you respite at some point if you just see it through. The black fog makes you lose your appetite, and the less you eat the less energy you have to fight this monster. On the days when the thought of even making a drink makes your tummy turn please do it anyway. I promise it will make a difference. The black fog covers your hunger, but your brain still knows you haven’t eaten, and even more fatigue will set in. Make this a rule. Do not trust your feelings; they are unreliable. The black fog will take your self esteem and wrap it in chains, but you still have the key to those chains. Do not let yourself have time to sit and wallow. I know you have no energy, no umph, no motivation, no anything, but do not sit down and think things through. Depression is a toxic beast and it poisons every single thought you have if you let it. Keep busy — very, very busy. I know you just want to be alone and hide in bed, but don’t. It will not help you. The black fog will tell you to stay home, and every inch of you will accept that so easily, but please do not give in. Go for a walk, anything, something, just do not ever agree with the monster; he does not have your best interests at heart, and you deserve so much more than this. The black fog will remind you of every single flaw you have; it will magnify them until you only see your flaws. You are not just your flaws. You are so much more than flaws. You are amazing, brave, courageous; you just don’t know it yet. I promise the fog shall pass. Keep going, plod on, head down. You can do it. I promise you can. Have a shower, get dressed. The black fog zaps your energy, but force yourself to shower and get dressed. That will be one batte down with the fog. Do it. Every single time, do it. Tell someone how you feel. Stop letting this black fog keep you trapped in the chains of shame. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Ask for a hug, tell someone to send good vibes or say a prayer. Tell someone it is hard right now and you need their strength too. Do not battle a bad day, week, month, year, alone. Find someone and tell them. You will feel strengthened by breaking the silence. The black fog works better under circumstances of shame, so kick its ass and set some of yourself free. Never suffer in silence, never. Being strong does not mean being silent, please remember this. The black fog will tell you that you are better off not around, but it’s a lie. You’ll often think about how life would play out if you weren’t here. I’ll tell you now how it would turn out if you ended it all – crap! It would be absolute crap for your family and friends. They are most definitely not better off without you. This world needs you. That black fog is a liar. Depression is a big, fat stinking liar. That is not the answer, ever. No matter how much you feel it is, it is not. Not now, not ever. You are needed, and you are more than able to fight this monster. I know you’re tired of fighting. I know you feel the black fog approach and it shakes you to the core, but you are strong enough to send it running time and time again. I cannot tell you that one day it will be completely gone, because I just don’t know. What I do know is that you’ve held on for this long and have kicked its butt more than it’s gripped your life — for that you should be proud. On the days when you’re tired of fighting, read this letter; this letter is just for you, for me, myself. A reminder of all that gets lost in the black fog. There is a light, and it never goes out; it just gets lost in the fog. You are loved, you are wanted, you are worthwhile, and you are more than a conqueror! Lots of love, Me, Myself and I Follow this journey on Swords & Snoodles. If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Becci Nicholls

How to Explain Depression to Your Husband, a Letter From a Wife

Dear Husband, I love you dearly, more than anything in this whole world. I think you already know this. I know you love me too, I just forget sometimes. Depression clouds my mind and fills me with horrid thoughts about how unlovable and worthless I am. Sometimes I believe you, sometimes I believe depression. I know you prefer the good days when I’m happy and not anxious or snappy, and I wish I could have these days every day. But I can’t. I feel the cloud approaching and it petrifies me. Sometimes I tell you and sometimes I don’t. Please, if you notice the cloud before I tell you, just hug me tight and tell me we’ll fight it together. Please don’t ask me if I’m OK — my automatic answer will be yes. In reality, it’s a big no. You see, depression can make you feel ashamed. If depression is the third wheel in your relationship, you don’t have to figure it out alone. Join our Let’s Talk Depression group to get advice from people who’ve been there. I know sometimes I overreact about the smallest things and get angry, but please be patient with me. Forgetting the bread will not be the real reason. It’s that I feel like I’m losing control over my mind. Depression is very clever, you see – it builds up a wall of anger piece by piece, and you never notice it until it’s so big it begins to topple over. I’m sorry you get the brunt of my anger on cloudy days. Please forgive me. Please. Just tell me you love me and leave me to calm down. I know it’s hard to help somebody through depression if you’ve never experienced it yourself. I understand. I totally get it. Just listen to me and ask about the cloudy days. I can’t just bring it up in conversation. Depression clouds your mind. I need you to break the silence. There will be lots of times I feel like you’d be better off without me, or that my children deserve a better momma. Sometimes I’ll tell you. Most of the time I won’t. Sometimes I can go for months without those thoughts crossing my mind, and other times I think about them every second of every day for weeks. That’s the scary truth. Depression is vile — a vile, nasty monster. Please always keep an eye on me, but know no matter how many times you tell me I’m worth it I probably won’t believe it on cloudy days – but please never stop telling me. Ever. I love our children more than anything, but sometimes I feel like a failure. I feel like a rubbish momma. My mind nags me and tells me other mommas do things better and love better than me. I feel like I always fall short. I find it so hard being a momma on cloudy days, but I try so hard to not let them notice the clouds. I hope you know I try. I haven’t self harmed since February 2010, but the urge often consumes me. When the black cloud is here it consumes my mind. I fight it so hard for myself, my children and for you. I know it’s hard to understand why I crave it, I can’t explain it myself. It’s like an old addiction that comes to hurt me when it smells the dark cloud. One day I hope it won’t ever cross my mind again. I know I don’t talk about these black clouds often, but I want to. I hate the silence it forces me to keep. There’s a certain freedom when it comes to talking openly about the monster. Help me find that freedom. Depression makes me feel tired. Sometimes the fatigue is so bad I just want to cry. Every bone hurts. Sometimes I lay awake at night and worry about things that won’t even happen. Squeeze my hand tight if you’re awake too. Sometimes it takes every bit of motivation to get up in the morning, but I never let you in on this. A new day often scares me. I wonder, will I cope? Will the sky be blue or black? Is the weather nice? Every single morning is hard, but seeing you makes it easier. I want to publicly thank you for loving me and supporting me. You are the best. Yours forever x Follow this journey on Swords and Snoodles.

Becci Nicholls

For Moms of Children With Sensory Processing Disorder

I’ve learned to follow my gut instinct over the last five years and it’s never failed me yet. Over the last 15 months, my gut has been telling me that my 4-year-old may not be as high-maintenance as I thought, and that it runs a lot deeper than just being a sensitive soul. Maybe my gut has been telling me a lot longer than that, but I was in denial. That’s the thing about the term “special needs” – you’re accepting of everybody else’s children under that definition, but it can be harder when it’s your own children. It’s hard to accept that life is never going to be “normal” by society’s standards. It’s hard to embrace it. I admit I struggled when I realized my child may have sensory processing disorder (SPD) and some autistic traits. My child? No, not my child; yet he ticked every box! Things started to make sense. He wasn’t just sensitive, he was overloaded and couldn’t cope. They weren’t tantrums 40 times a day, they were meltdowns from sensory overload. He wasn’t sniffing everything just because. He wasn’t repeating everything to be rude, it was echolalia. He wasn’t being awkward about his clothes being just right. He wasn’t being naughty when he had a screaming fit because plans changed. He wasn’t being silly about refusing his nails being cut. He wasn’t just sensitive when smells made him cry. He was overloaded. His senses are literally in control (or out of control) of his every thought. This breaks my heart. I can’t fix it. His momma can’t fix it. How as a momma did I not know something was wrong? I’d have done things so differently. I would’ve been more patient. I wouldn’t have made him have time-out for every meltdown that occurred. I wouldn’t have yelled when he wouldn’t try a new recipe. I wouldn’t tell him he was rude when he wouldn’t acknowledge people or say goodbye. I could kick myself now looking back. How did I not know?! But life is too short for regrets. I was in denial for a long time. I was grieving the life I thought I’d lost, but I was wrong. Nothing has changed, except my knowledge and recognition. This is the life we have, my boy has. He’s not defined by a label. His brain may be wired a little differently to the average person, but that doesn’t make him weird or less of a person. As soon as I accepted that, we were able to approach things differently. I think when our children are diagnosed with disorders we, as parents, are often so worried about the stigma attached to those disorders that we’re the ones with the actual problem. We fret so much about what others think that we often do more harm than good. We have to accept the circumstances ourselves, and once we do, nothing will hinder our perception of the disorders. After researching SPD, I understood more and more about the challenges my boy was facing, and I became prouder by the second for his accomplishments. Daily life is overwhelming for him sometimes, but he tries so hard. Even simple tasks such as getting dressed are big accomplishments. I find myself begging the Sock God to be kind and not make the seams irritating today; I hold my breath when labels meet skin. The thought of asking to trim his nails sends shudders down my spine. I’m constantly holding my breath waiting for the next reaction armed with calming words and cuddles. I try to be as patient as possible. That is a key factor with SPD. Anxiety levels are already on the edge daily, and an impatient momma will not help. I’d like to say I’ve perfected this, but that would be lying. Some days I yell. Some days I cry. Some days I feel mentally exhausted. Some days I feel like a crap mom. Not a second goes by that I’m not planning the next moves around the sensory needs of my child. It’s a never ending job and my mission is to avoid meltdowns at all costs. Sometimes that means staying home all day, or spending days speaking about upcoming plans, or swapping housework for an afternoon of cuddles. I’m never, ever too busy for cuddles. Sometimes it even means joining him under the table to eat at a party when he’s overwhelmed with all the people. I fret about going to the mall, to parties, to people’s houses, to new places, but it never stops me from going. I don’t want my boy growing up feeling ashamed or lonely. I want him to know it’s OK to feel how he does and that people understand. I want to teach him healthy strategies to cope with his issues. I want the best for him. And the best is not me denying there’s an issue. The best is not me wallowing in self-pity and feeling sorry for him and his future. The best is instilling self-worth in him every single day. I need to remember he’s highly sensitive to the world around him, and that even on calm days, he probably feels like a tornado has just buzzed around him. There are some things that I can’t stand, one of those being veins. Even the word makes me cringe. If I see veins or hear someone talking about them, I feel sick and weird. My boy sees and hears veins every minute of his life, except it’s not veins, it’s smells, noises, textures, crowds and bright lights. This keeps things in perspective. SPD might wear you out as a momma, but imagine how much more it wears out the child who has it? Momma, your tears won’t change the future, but your perception of SPD will. More patience, more cuddles and less apologies to the public will help. You don’t have to justify anything to anybody, and if people question the diagnosis, let them. Some disabilities are unseen. Momma knows best. I hope sharing a little of our world helps in some way. It can be a lonely road, but I’m right there cheering you on. Keep going. Tougher days might be ahead, but plod on through the tears, the meltdowns, the aggression, the misconceptions and the brick walls – your kid needs you. Follow this journey on Swords and Snoodles. Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one piece of advice you’d offer about your (or a loved one’s) disability and/or disease? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “ Share Your Story ” page for more about our submission guidelines.