Friday, 30 August 2013

One day we'll look back on this and laugh

familymwr / Foter / CC BY

I've had this post in draft for over a week, but have hestitated about publishing it but here goes.

The problem with admitting to being depressed is all the stigma that comes with it:  the guilt, the misconceptions about it and the impatience with it. It's difficult for people without experience of depression to understand what it's like, and I totally get that, because it's very hard to explain what it feels like. It isn't something I can 'snap out of', and neither can I 'pull myself together' - and I've been told to do both over the years.

For me, it's an overwhelming feeling of despair and an inability to see past it. I can't make decisions, I have no energy or enthusiasm for anything and I feel completely and utterly exhausted. When it's less severe I can hide it from other people, friends, colleagues but every so often it becomes too difficult to shake off and it's obvious that something isn't right. I'm having one of those episodes right now.

It's very easy to give in to depression, to succumb to its fug of despair, but this time around I want to work through it and try and manage it before it takes over completely. This time I want to take a different approach, an alternative way of dealing with it instead of masking it with medication. So I'm going to try and be proactive which is easy for me to say today, right this minute, because it seems achievable, but tomorrow or the day after maybe not so much.

The areas I'm going to work on are good nutrition; daily exercise; talking about it; and finding out about (and trying) natural anti-depressants.

Good nutrition - well, this one seems obvious but very hard to do when you're feeling low and all you want is to spend some quality time with a jam doughnut (or two). I absolutely have to get a healthier diet going on, not just to lose weight - although I need that too - but to feel better and have more energy.

Daily exercise - again, this has to be a absolute must-do. There are strong links between doing exercise and feeling good, we all know that of course, and it's to do with the release of endorphins into our body which makes us feel better and also acts as a sedative. The Blurt Foundation has a very good information sheet about the need for exercise.

Talking about it - a couple of years ago I asked for support at work and was referred to a occupational health counsellor. Unfortunately, it didn't work, mainly because I felt embarrassed to be there. The timing couldn't have been worse because my first appointment coincided with the news of the 2011 Japanese tsunami and there I was sitting in the counsellor's waiting room waiting to talk about being depressed. I felt guilty that there were plenty of people in the world far worse off than me and that I had no right to be depressed. It's the same now with Syria - I have no right to feel like this when such atrocities are taking place.

But of course that's not how it works. Depression doesn't discriminate. It comes at you like a wrecking ball, smashing everything else out of the way and knocking you completely off your feet.

This time I do need to talk about it, so I'm going to try two options. The first one is to have a mentor and I've requested one from the Blurt Foundation who can put you  in touch with mentors with personal experience of depression. I think this might be a way forward, to be able to talk to someone who understands what it feels like.

The other thing I'm going to do is to talk about it on this blog. I realise that it won't be everybody's cup of tea, but really, blogging is the cheapest form of therapy - I should know, I used it for years like that before deciding to be more guarded about my personal life. But needs must and this is going to be my outlet, my ranting place, my silent confidante.

Natural anti-depressants - after many years of using prescribed anti-depressants and gradually weaning myself off them earlier this year I want to try a different type of treatment. There are several natural ways of treating it, and I want to try them to avoid going back to the medication and its numerous side-effects. I had an appointment with my GP yesterday who, unexpectantly, suggested this to me before I had a chance to explain my plan. He thought I was exhausted from being years of 'coping' and dealing with life's challenges *cough* and suggested I needed some breathing space (breathing space = time off work) to find my feet again and rather than paper over the cracks with anti-depressants to actually deal with and fully repair them.

Yesterday, when I was explaining all of this to a friend he made me laugh by describing me as being "like Post-war Britain". I know it sounds bizarre but his theory was that the years of  being constantly 'at war' had finally taken its toll, and although I was over the worst it would take a while to repair the damage. I like his analogy, it seems to make perfect sense to me.

This is going to take some time to work through, and I'm not expecting quick results plus there's possibly some significant life changes that need to be made. I hope I can write more about those in the next few months.

Thanks for reading.

Oh, and by the way, if you know someone with depression, or suspect they may be experiencing it, please try and offer them support.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

A walk in the park

I love to get out in the fresh air and luckily for me I have a dog that insists on being walked twice a day so it works out nicely.

Even though our house backs onto a park, Tessie's favourite place to go is a nearby field. I have no idea why she likes it so much, but if I leave the house a certain way she literally drags me in its direction.

It used to be owned by a brewery (it's behind a pub) but when it was left to go wild the local residents stepped in and asked the brewery if they could take it over. I was involved in the very early days because I used to live in a teeny tiny terraced house on the same lane as the field, but we had to move when the house became too small to raise children in. I loved that house though, I'd bought it when I was young, free and single and it was quite a wrench to leave it.

Anyhoo, Tessie loves the field which is now lottery funded and looked after by the residents. It's the site of several events each year - summer picnic, fun days, Hallowe'en fancy dress events and more, but usually during the day you'll find informal football matches being played, children playing, and dogs being walked.

Last year, a wild flower meadow was planted with limited success but this year they tried again and it's been a much better display.

The wild flowers only count for about a quarter of the field, but they look so pretty and Tessie always likes to follow the rough path that takes us right through the flowers.

Most mornings though, we venture onto the park through the entrance at the end of the road. We live in a row of houses built on land which used to belong to a rather grand Georgian house around the corner from us and according to a neighbour there was once a large orchard in the grounds. 

I knew there were three trees right behind our house that could be fruit trees, so earlier this year I thought I'd take a closer look. The trunks are really gnarled and old, they must have stood there for years so I reckoned they were part of the old orchard.

They're in a funny little bit of the park that doesn't lead anywhere, just behind the duck pond and people don't tend to bother walking up there.  They're quite a distance from the Georgian house so the grounds must have been extensive.

You can just see our house through the trees.

In the spring two of them were covered in blossom and  I hoped they would bear fruit, although the middle tree has remained bare all year.

And they have. One is absolutely weighed down with pears and the other has apples - possibly crab apples, I'm not sure. Thing is, I'm not sure who the fruit belongs to but I assume it's the local council although I can't see how they would use them.  I'm tempted to pick some. Do you think it's worth the risk?

I hope Mammasaurus doesn't mind me linking this up to this week's How Does Your Garden Grow? but my garden's looking a bit flat at the moment. To see plenty of garden gorgeousness click on the badge below.

Mammasaurus - How Does Your Garden Grow?

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Interesting stuff from around t'internet #8

I can't get enough of the Learn Guitar with David Brent videos. All sorts of ace.

This website is addictive. has examples of unfortunate translations of the English language. Enjoy.

What the night sky would look like if cities went dark. Utterly beautiful, mesmerising photos.

20 historic photographs restored to colour. Incredible.

23 signs that you're secretly (or maybe not so secretly?) an introvert. This pretty much sums me up, how about you?

Guys with fancy lady hair. Strangely unsettling.

And because there always has to be some cute doggy item, how about this. Photos that only dog owners will understand. 

Finally, some examples of how people found my blog. Why are people googling these things?

Friday, 23 August 2013

Is there such a thing as too much 'me' time?

I had a glimpse into the future last week and I didn't like it. Didn't like it one little bit.

Tall Daughter went to stay with friends for a week - an unusual occurrence, she doesn't normally stay away from home - and the Teenager was very busy with her new McJob, her boyfriend and her hectic social life.

So, for the past week I've spent quite a lot of time on my own.

I know, the chance to have some me time, right?  I can hear all of you parents with toddlers and babies wishing - praying - for some 'me time', so I don't want to sound ungrateful but, well, I had far too much of it.

Yes, too much me time - is there such a thing? I mean, how many candlelit baths can you have before it loses its appeal?

Now before you all drown me out with shouting 'YOU FOOL!' I should perhaps mention that the reason I had too much is because....I was alone. And it's not that unusual anyway, I get plenty of it in a normal week as it is.

Or maybe I should rephrase that and openly admit that I'm lonely. Incredibly so, and I don't see that changing anytime soon unless I do something about it. It's embarrassing to admit it, but there it is.

Tessie the greyhoundDon't get me wrong, I can keep myself occupied so that's not the problem and I have a few hobbies - blogging, gardening, reading, walking the dog - but they're all solitary pastimes which means that although I'm kept busy I'm still spending a lot of time on my own, especially if my daughters aren't around. And Tessie doesn't say much, bless her.

And of course my girls are getting older now and they're already spending less and less time with me (as it should be, I don't want them hanging around keeping their old mum company). So that means I'm going to be spending much more time on my own in the future, which is a depressing thought actually. I can see the years stretching ahead full of alone time. Not good. So what's the answer?

Well, I suppose I just need to get out more - simple?

Except it isn't that simple. In order to spend less time on my own I need to have other people to do things with, but it's not easy to do that if you have neglected friendships over the years (which I have) or they've moved to other parts of the country (possibly to get away from me?)

I used to consider my colleagues to be good friends, but there have been so many changes - people leaving, new (much younger) people arriving, new cliques being formed, which has left me feeling like a bit of an outsider.

So where do people go these days to meet new people? And I'm not talking about dating, I'm talking about meeting new people, people who may become friends?

I am making some effort - in January I joined a book club. We meet once a month, which is great, and last week we even ventured out to see a play. (Othello - performed at an open air theatre in Chester, very good it was too.)  But I have to say that the book club is a safe option - I already knew most of the people in it, and it hasn't really extended my social circle that much.

But I'm a bit stumped when it comes to meeting other people. Especially when confidence is an issue (or lack of it). What would you do? Where would you go? I'm all ears.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The August garden ~ fading

Summer is fading in the garden and there are already signs of autumn. I pruned back the rambling rose this week and exposed the hidden berries of the pyracanthus which grows right next to it. In a couple of months the cascades of roses will be replaced by masses of orange berries. 

Rambling rose super helexa



Dahlia border

Leycesteria formosa
Sea hollyCrocosmia
Mini cucumbers
I mentioned last week how well the chillies and peppers were doing, and the mini cucumbers are also doing well but don't look particularly appetising at the moment. They're still tiny too, not sure how big they're supposed to get.
sweet peppers and chillies

This post is a bit short and sweet because we were out all day yesterday, and today has been all about the Teenager getting her GCSE results. She did really well and it's great to see her hard work rewarded with good results. Couldn't be more proud of her, although I think it's going to cost me...

I'm joining the gardening linky again over at Mammasaurus' blog, there's plenty of other gardens there to have a virtual wander around.

Mammasaurus - How Does Your Garden Grow?

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Featured post ~ Three ways to wear white

White is a great tone for summer. Fresh and clean, it looks cool and doesn’t absorb sunlight the way darker colours do, so helps to keep you feeling comfortable. We tend to wear white more often in the summer than in any other season, so it makes sense to have a good idea of what looks good and how to wear it with style.

How to wear white
Image credit – Love Maegan

First, the tailored look. White is perfect for crisp, tailored shirts, which set off your skin colour and give an air of sophistication. For men and women, a clean white shirt just looks fantastic and you can pair it with just about anything to make a statement. A warning, though – to pull this off, your shirt has to be absolutely perfectly white and really well laundered – creases, crushing and old off-white doesn’t look as good.

Cotton Traders white blazer
Figure 1- Cotton Traders White blazer
The all-white look can be great for women. White women trousers, jeans or cigarette pants are stylish and elegant when they are properly fitted and good quality. Match with a loose chiffon blouse for a cool effect, or with white vest and jacket, likethe white blazer above from Cotton Traders  for a nattier look. Add a touch of colour with sunglasses, a clutch bag or funky shoes, or keep the all-white theme going with white sandals, white jewellery and an oversized white bag.

Cotton Traders linen trousers

And white is perfect for dressing up. Whether it’s a lace overlaid cocktail dress, wide-legged linen trousers such as this linentrousers from Cotton Traders combined it with sleeveless top, it’s a great way to turn heads and stand out from the crowd. With some clever accessorising, you can create a stylish yet simple look without spending a fortune. Use different fabrics for contrast, so silk and lace or crepe and cotton – you could even go for different shades of white, going as deep as ivory to provide an added dimension to your look without really straying from the original palette.

Be bold, and add some clean white clothes to your wardrobe this season. You’ll find that simple cuts look great and that it’s easy to accessories with coloured jewellery, shoes and bags. Wear it with confidence for work, for play, for smart nights out and casual nights in. You might have to pay more attention to looking after it so that it stays as clean and pristine as possible, but it will be worth it for the sheer satisfaction of looking just as cool as you feel.

This is a featured post from Cotton Traders