Tag Archives: depression

Denial is a wonderful thing


Apple Blossom this spring in our garden

Feeling low today. It was a real effort to a) get out of bed and b) get dressed, breakfast, get to work. Mainly I think I am feeling sadness and grief. Anticipatory grief I suppose as well as sadness at the change in the last week with Mum. I think it sort of hit me in a different way that she may not be here much longer. It’s a weird time. There is the knowing that there is nothing specific to be done. I see here every day and we are organising a family rota so someone else pops in too most days. But some days it is hard to get my head where it should be for work and other things. I can concentrate on what I need to do and then my mind drifts off. I check my phone constantly. I have it on silent or vibrate but then worry I have missed a call even though I know they can ring me on the office phone in an emergency. At night I have started having anxiety dreams. Last night I was in a car which was sliding backwards down a hill on thick ice. I had the hand-brake on but couldn’t stop it from slowly rolling away.

I thought about not going in to work today but made myself dress and put some make-up on. My make-up is a good indication of my mood, although only I can interpret it! When I’m low sometimes making myself get my moisturiser on a bit of mascara and some lip gloss is a good sign of ‘putting my face on’ to meet the day. Lip gloss is a big signal. Today I re-applied it several times! Of course I may also wear it to weddings and happy events so don’t take my word for this, I can be contrary too. So I got through today. Working with families sometimes makes me realise how lucky I am, today was one of those days. Also today a colleague went off on maternity leave. She is having her first baby and has been glowing with excitement and anticipation throughout the pregnancy. Today in her bright pink top she looked like a luminous space hopper. I gave her a bunch of freesia just because they smelt so sweet.

Mums' garden

Tonight Mum was asleep or dozing when I visited. I read the paper and made small talk and she knew I was there and occasionally responded. She is very tired but seemed quite peaceful today. We are waiting for a special nursing bed so she can be moved more easily and be propped up more so she can have a different view. I will try to speak to the District Nurse tomorrow. They have to put in a request to the PCT ( Primary Care Trust) and a ‘Urgent” request went in last week. Urgent seems to have more than one meaning. She is wearing one of her new nighties that we bought last weekend and looking pretty and well cared for.You hera such awful stores of old people in care homes wearing other people’s clothes and not having their hair brushed. I am so glad Mum always looks nice and the staff take such a pride in their work. I am so glad we live nearby and can keep an eye too on what is happening.

Today is a day when it was so good to get home. We chatted over the day and have eaten our dinner of nut cutlets, salad and wholemeal pittas. I am feeling hibernating tendencies. I want to go to bed and hide under the covers where I can feel safe. I want to be a child again snuggled up with no serious things to think about and to pretend this sadness has gone away. I’m glad I can have a hug, a cup of tea and  maybe sleep it all away for a moment. Denial is a wonderful thing. And real life will be here again tomorrow.

Mum 2009

Addiction- The Big Mouthed Sucky Monster


monstermonth.blogspot.com for image

I don’t know too much about other addictions but I do a helluva lot about sugar, some about alcohol although not from my direct experience and less about other drugs. I know there are a million addictions that we don’t even always think of as such. Gambling and shopping most people know of and many identify with even if just a little bit. Then there are ‘workaholics’, addiction to being busy, being the only one ‘who can do it’. Then what about video gaming? I’m pretty sure we all know someone who gets caught up in the X Box or Playstation and gets bad-tempered when they come off it. I expect that a lot of things can become addictive if we have the right sort of personality/ wrong sort of opportunity.

So how do we know? Well there are some standard indicators of addiction which are worth contemplating.

Let’s start with the formal definition of addiction. The American Psychiatric Association publishes a book called the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) which provides clinical diagnosis for mental illness and non-traditional behaviors. (They might refer to them as aberrant, 😉 ). One section of the manual provides a series of questions to determine addiction. These are typically used to measure whether a chemical is being used in an addictive way. Insert alcohol or drugs in any of these criteria to get a sense of how they work.

  • The substance is taken in greater amounts or for a longer time than intended 
  • There is a persistent desire or one or more unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control use 
  • Major time is spent in seeking, using or recovering from the effects of use
  • Frequent intoxication or withdrawal interferes with responsibilities 
  • There is a decreased level of social, recreational activities due to use 
  • There is continued use despite adverse consequences 
  • There is a marked increase in tolerance 
  • There are withdrawal symptoms 
  • There is use to prevent withdrawal

These criteria are easy to use if you are a professional in the field of chemical dependency. When you are on the inside of your own addiction, it may be hard to recognize a “marked increase in tolerance.” You are likely to simply think you can hold your liquor well. One major marker for recovery is the ability to recognize how many of these criteria are applicable to your use.

For more on addiction in relation to sugar, alcohol and drugs take a look at this article by Kathleen DesMaisons Here

I was thinking today how easy it is to slip into addiction or back into it. I know. I’ve been there a million times. I’ve been out of it too, but it lurks and I don’t think you ever leave it behind. Like the ‘black dog’ of depression addiction seems to me like the Big Mouthed Toothless Sucky Monster ready to suck me back under. Of course every day away from that place makes the monster a bit smaller on my shoulder. But I know s/he can grow and grow given half a chance.

But here’s the thing, giving into that monster never ever fills up the empty place. And I’m sure that for any addiction there is an empty place, right? It’s the urge to make that better, take away or numb the pain that gets us on that slippery slope. But it doesn’t matter how much sugar I eat it’s not going to help. And I think I’m pretty much ok. Yes I’ve got my hurty bits and those empty spaces sometimes surface. Or I have a bad day and my insecurities creep up. Or I am just tired ( like now), and a bit sad and want a holiday but can’t quite afford one. That sort of crap.

So why would sugar help with that? Now if you are reading this and you don’t do addiction you are probably going “Well duh, J. of course it won’t help!”. And you, dear reader and wise one, would of course be right. But if you too have a little addictive brain cell or two, you KNOW this stuff.

So what can we do about it? Accept it. Live with it. Learn from the millions of brave and tenacious souls who have gone before us on this recovery journey. Give thanks. Be grateful for life and living it and not being afraid. Being prepared to make a slip or two along the way. Asking for help.  Going to AA, finding support, seeing a counsellor, whatever works for you. Stop expecting to be perfect and rejoice in being human!

Sometimes I just have to say what’s on my mind. It is part of my own process, my own journey and some days are better than others. If you’ve read this far thanks for being present with me. I am thinking of you too, whover you are as I write this. We are on the same path. Kudos

Writing for life


Dear Blog,

I have no idea what makes people like what I write some days and not so much others. I suppose, like everything, there are multiple reasons but it certainly makes me curious. I find my best writing is usually those days when I have an idea and it ends up being quite ‘stream of consciousness’ stuff. Maybe that vibe comes through. Having “site stats” from WordPress means that I can see how many people visited my blog each day and today was my best day so far. And that was before i posted.

Of course being in the UK means that we are on a different timescale to a lot of bloggers/potential readers out there so sometimes that means people catch up on me the next day.

The things I like writing about most are: the journey with my mum through old age and towards what will come, the process and feelings around getting fit and losing weight and the recovery from depression and illness and the sort of daily ‘in my head’ meanderings that reflect on life and living it. Writing about mum is therapeutic for me, allows me to share some of the joy, sorrow and laughter in this part of our lifetime contract with each other. I hope to write about her always with respect. But the events and experiences we are living may shine a little light somewhere for someone else going through or thinking about dementia and care and these changes. That matters.

I don’t write too much about the other most important people in my life, my 4 nearly all grown up kids and my missus. I reckon everyone deserves their privacy and apart from the occasional reference or moment of pride that I just have to shout about I don’t think any of then would thank me for blogging about them. Or putting their photos up. The dog is a different matter, I reckon he’s fair game. And everyone likes a dog story, right?

I started this daily blogging in March, so I am now nearly 4 months in. From being a little girl I have loved words. I loved to read and remember writing stories as soon as I could write. Through primary and high schools I wrote. Teenage poetry, wordy and angst-ridden Im sure. I always imagined I would go on and study English and then maybe have a career in writing or journalism. And then I got sidetracked into Sociology. I loved it. It transformed me and filled me with another sort of passion. And I don’t regret for a moment where it has taken me. But along the way, apart from brief periods of conscious creativity the writing got lost along the way. And I forgot. Writing became about reports and essays. Emails and Facebook. Until now. This year is about recovery. I have a journal that I started last October. I wrote on the inside cover “The Journey Back”. I meant back to health, back to sugar-free living, back to life. And writing has become a part of that. Making a daily committment to be here, to just show up and get those words on paper. To share what I think and who I am. And I love it.

The thinking, the processing, the way the words race and tumble over each other to come out on the screen.Googling, researching and taking photos to fit. The weekly photo challenge adds another dimension of fun and spark of creativity with the visual image. I rediscover why I love playing with colour and seeing the world through a lens can be illuminating.

Showing up every day isn’t easy but I can’t bear to miss a day. I have a dream to write every day for a year. I am honing my muscles here. I want to do more. I want to write. I want to write a book, see those words on paper. Whew! I am sticking my neck out and stating my claim on the Universe. I am going to put in the work. Watch this space.

Love Julia

One day at a time



Today I was reminded that recovery is about taking care of myself one day, one moment at a time. Recovery seems to have the same components whether it is from addiction, illness or depression and burn out.

Focusing on now, being in the moment and not getting sucked in to what went before.
Being grateful for small mercies, each sign of change is worth noticing.
Spending time in quietness whether that be meditation, prayer or sleep.
Getting enough rest.
Not expecting too much too soon.
Asking for help when we need it.
Accepting that it is a process, its not about perfection.
Some days will be better than others.

Today I feel like I should’ve stayed in bed! I’ve been tired and feeling somewhat overwhelmed. I don’t like to say too much or to let my guard down sometimes. I get scared people will think I’m falling apart again. Silly eh?
So feeling wobbly and overwhelmed meant some things didn’t work out so well today. But other things did. The things that are worrying me will be resolved. And I will make sure I give myself some space next time I have a heavy day emotionally.
Recovery is all about being gentle with ourselves. One day at a time.

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I have been thinking about happiness. It’s a funny thing isn’t it? We certainly know when we haven’t got it but it can seem difficult to quantify what makes us happy. There has been a lot of research done on happiness and this is some I particularly like:

It is from action for happiness who are a pretty awesome bunch!
Did you know that our happiness is much less related to income and lifestyle than it is to the way we were brought up, the attitudes of people around us and to what we do and our relationships. I think most of us agree that material things don’t make us happy in themselves but the balance is so much more on our relationships and how we think about things. Isn’t that interesting?

One of the things I like about this movement is that it encourages us to et involved and actively do something to make other people happy. Apparently this makes a big difference to our own happiness. And its good karma 🙂

I have printed off some posters about happiness and put them up at work. They make a great talking point and its nice to see people notice them and smile.
I like this one :      The really horrible part of depression is that it sucks all the life and happiness out of you. Everything can feel grey and dark and fuzzy and waking up every morning is an effort rather than a natural process. For me, I know  I started to feel better when I recognised again a moment of lightness and realised it was happiness. I have learnt that so much can affect the way I feel, the food I eat, the amount of exercise I take, sleep, sunlight, love. And that when you have been running on empty due to overload for too long it is impossible to give anything back.

Happiness is a precious commodity. You can’t hold it in the plam of your hand, but you can forget that it is there. Noticing and appreciating what makes our lives good can change a day from ordinary to happy. Sharing happiness with others is easy, smiles and laughter are catching. And if today is a hard day and happiness seems a world away, believe it will return.    

Just when you think it’s all going swimmingly…


Just when you think it’s all going swimmingly ……..or Life Happens.

I can be a little like the duck. On the surface all is calm. People think I’m doing great. That’s just because they don’t see those feet flapping away underneath. Mostly that’s a strength. Sometimes I can keep swimming when I should dive for the weeds.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this. Maybe because I’ve just been revelling in the sense of having got a life back. The last 2 years have been Hard. Not all the time, but a lot of it. And I don’t want to go on about that. I’ve been there done it and cried the tears, worn the t-shirt and ranted and raved. Ive hidden in my bed. forgotten to shower and had to make myself lists of whats important to get me through the day. yes honestly. They are on my phone as daily check lists and this time last summer I was still working through them every day to get myself going. Some days it worked.

Here’s the list:

  • shower
  • eat breakfast
  • pack lunch
  • wear something nice
  • put earrings in and a bit of make-up ( work days)
  • try to do something to make me smile
  • have a walk
You see how it was? You may have been there too. I know I’m certainly not alone here. Depression and anxiety can affect any of us and I never quite realised before this time just what hard work it can be to come back from that.
Anyway I’m not interested in looking backwards here. Life is pretty damn good right now. I’m working less and my job stress has gone down, waaaaay down. I’m enjoying my job, hold the front page!
Those of you who’ve been around here a while know Ive been getting back into the garden, spending good time with my family and starting to play more. I have a great plan for this year. Its summed up pretty well as get fit, lose the fat.
Then today at work I got a bit of a bolt out of the blue. Something from my previous job came back to haunt me. I am going to be involved in something that might be pretty stressful and complex. If I let it.
And I realised I need to grab this opportunity with both hands, give it a good shake and say ‘I am not going to get stressed over this’. I am choosing to have a great life and its going to stay that way. So I am putting myself on the line here. I will deal with it on the day. I will do what I have to do as well as I can. And I will get on with being grateful for getting this life back and having as much joy out of it as is humanly possible.
How does that sound?!

The beat of a butterfly’s wing


 A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – Lao-tzu

This week a miracle happened. Someone dear to me took a small step into the big world of outside of their own room. A small step with ripples of consequences.  I don’t know understand the whole complex world of chaos theory but the image of a butterfly flapping its wings and a tornado happening in Texas resonates. The butterflies wings beating cause a shift in the atmosphere that may not have happened otherwise, so depending on the starting point one small, apparently insignificant event may cause an unexpected response elsewhere.

Making a decision to shift position has ramifications. Just making on small step changes the course of events and lives. Recently I made the decision to change my working hours. After a year of dark depression and ill-health a change was on the cards. The decision in itself produced changes. The atmosphere lightened at home as the weight of my anxiety floated away. In a short time since the effects have spiralled out.

I am seeing how what I focus on grows in real life, not just as words on a page. My energy was turned inward as I battled to survive and crawl through the undergrowth of depression and anxiety coming from being in the wrong job in the wrong place for too long. My misplaced determination to not be beaten and to do a good job kept me struggling on, ignoring every message from my screaming brain ad body. Enough already, stop!

Now my energy is turned to living. To other people, to the world outside of myself, I am walking, swimming, shopping and cooking. Writing, taking photographs and creating. I am loving and laughing and walking the dog. I am working and loving my job all over again in a different way, I can give again because I am able to have time for myself. Being present. Being me.

And the butterfly effect goes on. Less tension means less arguments. More time at home means the house runs more smoothly. Less money means some compromises, but the bills will be paid and our quality of life is priceless.

Oh and by the way these things don’t just happen in isolation. I got support, love and understanding. My brilliant family have stood alongside me and taken this on. Kudos.

So when I see the butterflies beginning to appear in the garden, when I sense the touch of their wings on my face and hear the rumble of thunder in the summer nights, I know that for every little change we make more are on the way.

Stirrings of Spring


Woke early this morning to birdsong and light filtering through the blinds. It is Spring Equinox today and everything seems to be stirring and budding and getting ready to shoot and grow and blossom. I can feel it too, those stirrings of energy and urges to  move, change, live. I overdid it a bit yesterday in my enthusiasm for the great outdoors. I suppose after 3 weeks of inactivity  a 10 minute walk would have been better than pottering about for an hour, enthusing over each flower. Sometimes I can be a bit too all or nothing, I like to think this is part of my charm but I also know its part of my recovery to ‘take it easy’!

So today I have a sort of spring cleaning plan, but one that involves having my leg propped up on the sofa with the requisite number of cushions to take it above hip height! The dog and I have had several discussions about this over the last few weeks, especially as he is sure that all cushions are his personal property, as also is my leg. So we have had to come to a compromise of him lying next to me on the sofa, with occasional shoving in both directions for space! Having said that there is nothing like a shaggy dog companion to cuddle up to when you are feeling a bit down.

Anyway back to the spring cleaning story! Last night I was looking for a letter than son 3 needs for his trial visit to Durham Uni this week. I just ‘know’ it was in one of the piles of paper on the kitchen table. Unfortunately the piles of paper get moved depending on the number of diners at this establishment ( literally a moveable feast!) and I ended up searching through several piles which had been moved to table 2 in the back room. Ahem.  Now I know I’m not the only one who has this paper moving issue but in a short space of time I found several things I had forgotten about, the Census ( UK), an online prescription service from our Dr ( didn’t know that!), son 3’s driving license, a hospital appointment etc. So my task for today is to take said piles of paper, shredder, box files and spend a happy time organising, filing and deleting as required. And all with my leg up!

Over 12 months of depression has contributed to the paper mountain of course, inactivity, isolation and forgetfulness all being part of the cycle. It will be fun to turn some of this budding energy into reclaiming little bits of my life.