Wasted Saturday

A wasted Saturday is a rare and glorious gift to ourself.

Advertisements

It seems that I am good in company at the moment, feeling genuinely cheerful and happy to be in social situations just chatting or dancing or listening to buddies, but am plunging in to worry and anxiety when alone when there is nowhere else to run from myself.  Feeling emotionally breathless is absolutely rubbish and I recommend it to nobody at all, not even my worst enemies.  So, Saturday my daughter and I took a day off of everything, absolutely everything.

When I’d awoken before dawn I realised that I could afford to get a bad day out of my system as I wasn’t required to be anywhere particular this weekend apart from Sunday Services.  I had a two A4 page of Honey-Do’s I’d written for myself, each line being a tiresome project which needed completing in the house preferably before winter falls. And I couldn’t face it.  I was close to tears, on a Saturday! What a waste of tears.  I determined I was not going to cry on my own time!  Instead, I was going to be still.  I was going to ignore the day as long as I could.

My teen padded in to my untidy room around midday and flopped on the bed.  We conspired together that we deserved a complete day off having run ourselves ragged for years.  It was exciting to be in this together.  We chatted a while about books we were reading on Audio because we’re both a little dyslexic and I’d rather listen to a book than struggle with text and so would she.  We’re both perfectly capable of reading but sometimes for recreation we just have someone read the darned book to us.  It feels like cheating but what is the point of technology if you can’t use it to enhance your experience of literature and make available that which you wouldn’t have tackled without the electronic intercedent.

After a while she padded off again and I settled in for more breathing.  Breathing is something I’ve taken for granted all these years but of late my glorious mind keeps trying to trick me that there is insufficient oxygen in the atmosphere.  Stupid glorious mind…

So, I lay there in my unmade bed and breathed.  Then when I’d done that for an hour or so I took a nap, then listened to a show and then breathed again.

I was roused only by the offspring’s enquiry as to what was for dinner.  Without said offspring I would gladly have spent all the hours until the next day in my room, but I’m contracted to care for the kid so up we got and a dinner of beef burgers and pasta was rustled.  Then, relocated to the living room, I sat and breathed some more until I realised it was now 2am and I really should go to my untidy room to breathe.  Brushed my teeth and toddled off to my chamber for some more breathing.

Is it me, or did somebody really turn down the oxygen supply in the atmosphere?  Asking for a friend.

2hrs 15 minutes

I turn over and look at the clock. I turn back and avoid the clock.

2hrs 15 minutes is the average time I’ve been spending in bed in the mornings, awake, trying to gee myself up to be enthusiastic about the day and everything I should have completed the day before which carries over to today and how todays actions are piling up too, compounding the problem.  Waking before the alarm is not something to which I am accustomed.  Laying there staring at the pillow beside me until the very last second is not something I want to make a permanent part of my life.  I sigh.  I turn over and look at the clock.  I turn back and avoid the clock.  I just breathe and try not to think.  I am well slept but weary.  The weariness never abates.  It’ll get better.

It should be sunny out!

It should be sunny out! I want to feel warm and unencumbered, vibrant as I turn my face to the sun.

My resolves are dissolving.  When the sun shines in the morning I spring out of bed and love the day.  I feel vibrant and energetic.  Nothing seems too much bother when the sun is shining.  I never complain about the weather being too hot if I include a caveat of my nations climate running to approx. 32 deg C at its toastiest.  Blue skies boost my happiness.

Nearly a month ago it seems the sun went in and the rain began in my little part of the UK.  Grey skies evoke grey moods.  Resilience reserves dip and life becomes a slog.  A grey day is a sludgy day.  A treacle syrup of a day.  Instead of leaping out of bed in the morning one finds oneself laying under ones duvet staring out of the window at todays deluge for hours while procrastinating the preparation for work and the commute.  If there is a break in the weather and outdoor life resumes – perhaps a bbq or reading a novel seated in the garden or visiting the beach – a person is still wont to keep an eye on the clouds as new weather systems move in at pace.

Body language changes in managing wet weather.  One becomes hunched over to protect the face from raindrops and as a person hunches, so does their demeanour.

I want the open countenanced, blue sky mornings to return.  I want to throw back my shoulders and turn my face to the sun.  I want to stride purposefully rather than tip toe and dodge puddles.  I want to pause and breathe deeply as I open the door to the outside world.  I want to feel warm and unencumbered.  I want to feel vibrant and glisteny.  I remember feeling that way before and I wasn’t too long ago.  It feels like these hopes and wishes are without merit and we might as well skip to winter.

No Longer Using the “D” Word

Our story changes quickly as we heal and grow so in the spirit of redefining what always was, I have decided to define personal experiences with “depression” as “not quite ok-ness” from this point forth.

I have tried to define it in the past, what with me being content and happy and excited about life and all that but there isn’t a word I have come across for describing the process of learning, growing, sometimes feeling a tinge of grief but mostly being absolutely flipping fine and standing tall and happy …. so I made one up.

Feel free to borrow it yourself, “not quite ok-ness”.  If you have a more appropriate and non made up word, please feel free to share.

Eeyore and Piglet, the key to surviving depression.

If this is who I am, do I have to stay this way?

I’ve been dwelling recently on “what makes the difference?”.  What is it that takes a mundane, killing time waiting to die life to one of happiness, contentment and the strength to strive?

All things being equal, what is the difference between Eeyore personality types and Piglet personality types?  Are our personality types set in stone?

I have observed two successful strategies so far.

  • people who extend themselves in service
  • people who look for the good.

So let us look at the strategies listed above.

Firstly, people who extend themselves in service.  When someone is going through a bad patch, perhaps they’re feeling blue or perhaps they are really being put through the wringer – either is equally valid, it is easy to get caught up in thinking they are the only people who are having difficulty, it is all about them, the focus is continually drawn to their distress, their problems or sadnesses are perceived to be insurmountable.

Have you heard the little story about the size of a pebble?  How if it is on the ground it looks small but if you hold it to your eye it is all you can see, obscuring all other vision?

Looking for service opportunities requires the individual to move the pebble – representing their troubles – away from their own field of vision to look for others who need a hand.  The mere act of looking out for others is an immediate blessing and benefit to the individual who starts to re-gain a sense of perspective.  Looking out for others, or even forcing oneself to be interested in their conversations no matter how bad things feel or how mundane to the first person brings immediate relief.  Perhaps only momentarily and perhaps only slightly, but feeling solid ground under their feet for the first time during an episode is blissful relief.

Next, people who look for the good.  Birds of a feather flock together, goes the old phrase.  If a person is perceived to be a constant complainer, always seeing the bad and never suggesting options to resolve the concern, they’ll be joined by other complainers and people who don’t follow the same philosophy will begin to avoid them.  Thus, a person who always complains without fixing the problem will become surrounded by like minded people.  It is a synergy creating a doom loop in a downward trend.

However, I have observed that those who notice something good about a situation will be rewarded with a moment of internal respite and also will start to gather likeminded people into their life.  If a person says “I have an awful cold but I was so happy that Emily stopped by with a little pot plant to cheer me, how thoughtful of her”, plants the seed in the listeners ear that kindness is recognised and they’ll likely become a good friend like Emily in this example.

As well as gathering likeminded people, even if nobody were around to speak with or share good news, the act of mentally registering the nice moments adds to an almost imperceptible tally of how ok life is.  This is a difficult one to explain.  We can be pragmatic and acknowledge that there’s no petrol in the car and the kids are squalking like parrots but the person behind the counter smiled at you creates a moment of ok-ness.  If you smiled first and they reciprocated, there is the act of smiling releasing endorphins and then the happiness of a shared moment adds to the experience.  Tiny things are powerful.

I was raised as an Eeyore, overly pragmatic, not looking for the good.  It did not bring me feelings of contentment or happiness but I was very clear on what was right and wrong in the world.

Then I met lots and lots of women who were, in the nicest possible way, Piglet people!  The Relief Society (look it up! Here  ) is filled with a couple of Eeyores who are loved but mostly people who are looking out for others and looking for the good.  It was a revelation but I was still definitely overly pragmatic for my own contentment.

But then, I was blessed to become the mother of a funny, bright, sharp as a tack, beautiful child who is on the Autism Spectrum, specifically Asperger’s Syndrome.  My strategy of noticing how difficult things were rubbed off on her.  My signals that I carried through life was picked up by the beautiful daughter and I saw her learning unhappiness.  If I walked in to her room in the morning being stern that we were running behind in the getting for ready school schedule, she’d get up but distressed and antsy.

So I changed.  I changed one morning after deciding to change.  Poof, easy as that.

I would wake her each day with a smile and greeting.  I would continue to be nice when she rolled over to go back to sleep and I had to insist we start our day.  Out went yelling, out went criticism, out went negativity.  She responded likewise.  Piglet-ism became our life outlook.  At first it was an effort but now we notice the little things that combine to create a lovely life.

Forgetting about ourselves for a while and serving others, combined with looking for the good has proven to me to be an immeasurable blessing for which I am thankful.  I am thankful for the older sisters who had me sit with them in Relief Society even in my Eeyore days and who just went through life being themselves and being a great example of how to build a reservoir of ok-ness.

Try it out.  If you’re having a difficult period, pay attention to your friends, find out what’s going on in their life, make a nice comment occasionally and see how you feel thereafter.  In the Winnie the Poo stories, Piglet and friends always loved it when Eeyore joined in the adventures and always acknowledged when Eeyore made a positive comment.  It can’t hurt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The happiest depressed person in the world.

I am happy. Delightfully and deep down so. I also have a long standing romance and dalliance with serious and catastrophic depression.

I am happy.  Delightfully and deep down so.  I also have a long standing romance and dalliance with serious and catastrophic depression.

Sometimes the dalliance with depression has been to the exclusion of all other emotions.  All encompassing and overwhelming.  White knuckling through life.  I’ve been managing and overcoming this for the best part of 37 years and am quite adept at getting back on my feet.

I had an atypical upbringing and marriage so am working on developing a “baseline of normal… what do regular folks do in this situation” – the topic is my choice because I really didn’t have a clue where to start building a healthy life.  Progress is speeding up recently since I brought in the big guns.

I have a lot of help from friends who keep it real and tell me when I am being a pain, and I have good access to counselling from Steven Lucas who quite frankly calls me on my nonsense too. ( Steven Lucas Counselling Central ). Working with a professional counsellor is like having a Formula 1 Pit Crew at your disposal to get the car back on the road when the tyres are worn down or wonky.  It is brilliant.  I highly recommend it. When I started speaking with a counsellor I had no idea what was wrong, I just knew I felt squeezy all the time and kept losing my breath so that’s where we started.  Best Thing Ever.

Depressive conditions come in lots of varieties.  I tend to favour a ballsy no holds barred grit your teeth, get it done and push through and never miss a day of work variety.  I get tense, agitated with myself but physically still, then a little hyperactive to prepare the house for the kid when I recognise a session rolling over me.  I have to take a few days of going to bed at 6pm  We often share time together in my room watching her shows on a device or reading books or listening to audiobooks.  She is not neglected.

The strange thing to me is that I think I might be the happiest depressed person in the world.  The two states co-exist.  Sometimes one is stronger than the other and becomes the dominant situation but neither is ever fully eradicated yet.  I am happily anticipating the day where I don’t feel that I am having to cope, I can just be at ease and ok with where I am.  It is close.

The happiness is a contentment.  A reserve of knowing that I will get through this.  A trust that it will work out in the end even though right now I have no flaming idea how.  A deep down belief that there is more for me in this life than against me.

As the happiest depressed person in the world I have the opportunity to let you know that if you hang on in there you become stronger and more able to manage whatever is occurring.

Whether that be internal or external, it doesn’t matter.  The more times you get through, the more times you can get through.

It doesn’t matter if the current episode was triggered by feeling stupid that you ran out of laundry detergent and what kind of mother are you that sends their kids to school in dirty uniform, or whether it is being made homeless as a result of somebody else’s actions.  Doesn’t matter.  Those situation are managed differently but the “sigh” feelings are similar.

Being happy and depressed is confusing to me.

I am constantly on the cusp of laughter and tears but I don’t cry unless it is over something beautiful like a piece of choir music or something that brings out the empathy.  Mostly the laughter wins out.

Slightly tangential – but it is my letter so I am ok with saying what I want – when I see others suffering with their genuine grief or distress, it kills me.  Absolutely rips me to shreds.  I cannot, for that reason, watch clips of Robin Williams because I am completely undone.  I can fully grasp the full breadth of hysterical joy to pathos in a heartbeat and it knocks the wind out of my sails.  When I see that happening in my friends lives I become very protective and want to help them know that they’ll get through it and they must never believe they are untethered to this world because I am here rooting for them. When things get rough I fight like a dog for folks, I need to learn to be more graceful.

I read an article once, probably on the Momastary blog, which spoke about someone saying “why are you crying?” and the answer was “Because I am paying attention”.

My internal barometer was running at a high 52% depressed, leaving only 48% for other feelings yesterday.  So, I deactivated Facebook while the world is going crazy, ate a cupcake, got a good nights sleep and today I feel 19% depressed.  That’s a heck of a lot of recovery overnight.

A long time ago I heard a quote by a chap named Spencer W Kimball.  He’d been asked how the Mormon church was managing the drop out society of the 1970’s and he said something like

“People are dropping out of society in an effort to find themselves, but when we lose ourselves in the service of others, there’s more of ourselves to find”.

Do what looks after you.  There is always hope even when none is apparent right now. Do what looks after you.  It is ok to find moments of funny even on the darkest days.  If it happens, let it.  Do what looks after you.

Best Description Of Depression Ever (and funny as heck)