Tag Archive | anxiety

Positivity wins the day

Tut. Tut. SIX months since my last post-that’s a record and not one I care to brag about. The good news is that I am winning my fight against those Black-Dog and extremely anxious days which can creep up gradually when your guard is down or just as likely strike without warning as a reaction to specific circumstances. At 55 years young I consider myself a slow learner but I’m not sure whether I am slowing down as a result of my age or, more hopefully, my experience but either way, a slower and more measured and calm way of life seems to suit me.

My mother always said that if I had been born 30 years later I would have been diagnosed as “hyper-active.” My psychologist initially thought I was bi-polar due to the extreme fluctuations between energy and fatigue and even now I get comments that I do too much and I have more energy than many people much younger. I make sure every second counts in my waking hours and I am always doing and making something but I am learning to do it slower and try to enjoy being in the moment.

Driven by a combination of both nature and nurture I have to make use of every waking moment and, unless I am making quilts, hedgehog houses, cards, or Twinchies, decorating, gardening, blogging, taking photographs or organising my next project, I am wasting my time.  I can’t help it, I have to be doing something but, although I do get tired, I get a lot of satisfaction from my many and varied activities and this helps me keep mental equilibrium (and sleep).

I have decided that much like Tutenkhamun, I will be buried with my most treasured possessions; knitting needles, sewing machine, crochet hook, camera, hammer, nails and electric saw and, maybe IF I get to heaven,there will be a long-arm quilting machine, unlimited Kaffe Fassett fabric, a very patient crochet teacher, a wide-angle lens and pre-cut wood pieces waiting for me!

Here’s just a few of the projects I have been working recently.

 

 

 

Silver Linings

Well.
If you’d told me a few weeks ago that I’d be standing in front of an eminent audience talking about my depression, its impact and how I cope at work, I would have been extremely sceptical.

Caroline Ashrafi

For just three weeks ago I was feeling very overwhelmed, anxious, mentally and emotionally exhausted and my head felt like eggs being scrambled in a magi-mix.

In fact, to prevent any further deterioration in my mood and general well-being I invoked my work-place adjustments. I don’t like doing this. I try and manage my condition day-to-day but I have to admit that I did lose focus on maintaining my own good health a couple of months ago and, true to form, suffered a relapse arising from the delayed reaction weeks later.

Coincidentally, I had been asked to give a ten-minute talk at the Midlandsability network launch yesterday and had already chosen my topic,my workplace adjustments, never thinking that I would be able to quote from such recent history and experience.

Silver linings. It’s hard to have faith sometimes but I keep reminding myself that there are often silver linings to alleviate my downturn in mood.

But thanks to some amazing friends both old and new, a staggering amount of hard work, passion, dedication and sheer determination, yesterday was pure gold.

Guilt-free quilting

Going through difficult times and wanting to stay at home rather than venture further afield makes it very easy for me to feel guilty that I’m not doing anything. Of course that is nonsensical as it is impossible for me to do nothing except when at my lowest nadir confined to bed and sleeping all day.

So when I look back at the last week or so, although I haven’t been out and about as much as the previous week, I have still achieved a lot and should take pride in that instead of beating myself up. We could all learn that lesson and be kinder to oneself more often.

I finished my mini-quilt swap for my swap partner in the US. I will now be able to put it in the post and wait for her reaction. I just hope she likes it. Likewise, I will be waiting for mine to drop through the letterbox and I am sure I will love mine! Just the thought that someone has spent their precious time and energy on a project for me is warming and I love this idea of quilt swapping.

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Mini-quilt swap Spring 2017[/caption

My quilt-swap partner lives in Texas and I therefore settled on a pattern which has one star at the centre as I understand that Texas is known as the “Lone Star State.” I also hand-quilted it with stars. I love how you can personalise even the smallest quilt either by pattern or colour, or both and all quilts are made with love. They are almost living things and each one gifted goes with a piece of me.

I have also started to hand-quilt one for me. It is divided into 4 large squares which I will sash together when quilted. I find it very relaxing to sit and stitch in the evenings whilst watching TV. Good chill-out time and, as I am being creative and making something tangible, it’s all guilt-free.

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I am also learning a lot about the history of quilting both in the UK and the US. I have to say that the US wins the “most interesting” award and I am now fascinated with the quilting stories, history and myths which abound. All this in addition to the Civil War quilts and fabrics mentioned previously.

[caption id="attachment_14798" width="2560"]IMG_5075 Easy 4-square mini-quilt

I may not be racing around like an ant, but I am still being productive and creative. This should not be underestimated!

Creative

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Weeks 4 and 5- Facing the world

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Anyone who has suffered with depression and/or anxiety knows how difficult it is to face the world. Since starting my annual break back in February I have been quite happy to remain indoors quilting, sewing and even organising my office in preference to venturing outdoors.

It’s a good job therefore that I have plenty of previous experience in dealing with these issues and know myself well enough to kick my own ass into gear. Challenging my negative thoughts I set myself some goals to try and recover some normality;

  1. I arranged to visit Will at University so he could drive me to IKEA for a mosey round the aisles then treat me to lunch. This was my agreed Birthday present carried forward from February and which I had been putting off.
  2. I agreed to go out with the girls for a pasta night-and thoroughly enjoyed myself!
  3. I arranged to go to the local Farm Shop to meet a friend for lunch-this was a big step and it had to be with someone who understands why I am not actively in touch for months but remains supportive and non-judgemental.
  4. I started to join in the Jasper/Feri walks-taking him to the fields for a good run and play in the muddy puddles and found that there is something incredibly uplifting watching a dog enjoy himself so much with total unbounded joy and
  5. Helping Will with distributing and collecting questionnaires in the town for his University dissertation. This involved talking to several strangers about his work and the flooding which affects our town regularly. I found it energising and interesting and it took the attention away from me and my thoughts to thinking about other problems and solutions.

All in all, my objectives were to become less focussed on remaining in my “craft-cave” and to be more interactive. It worked a treat and starting the process with people I trust led to me being more comfortable venturing outside those boundaries.

So over the last couple of weeks I have been busy out and about. A welcome change but, although it’s nice to go out, it’s nicer to come home.home

 

 

On The Up

I don’t know where the time goes and I cant believe that its 8 days since I wrote my Blog. In that time however I have managed to establish some sort of equilibrium and am much calmer.

Earlier in the week Jasper alerted me to a juvenile hedgehog eating its dinner in the night garden. It was clearly obvious that the hedgehog was not particularly big, so I asked hubby to bring me the scales from the kitchen.

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I weighed “Cheeky Charlie” (named because he/she didn’t curl up for long) and found that the 375gms was not sufficient for him/her to survive winter hibernation. I understand that hedgehogs should be at least 500-600gms to survive over winter so I prepared the cat carrier, complete with towels, hot water bottle, newspaper, food and water for the hedgehog’s overnight stay with us, before taking him/her to the local Wildlife Hospital the next day.

The hospital welcomed the new addition and promised that we can have him/her back in the Spring.

The hospital will keep the juvenile hedgehogs, not ready for hibernation, in warm conditions so they don’t try to hibernate. This would probably kill them as they don’t have enough body fat to live on whilst their body slows down. Hopefully, after a Spring and Summer back in our garden Cheeky Charlie will be ready to hibernate this time next year.

In the meantime, soft as I am, I have built the hogs a shelter so they don’t have to eat their dinner in the rain……..

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Am I daft?

My frustrating brain

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I’ve had a good few months. My brain has been behaving as expected; waking up nice and early ready to take on the day’s challenges quite willingly. It has enjoyed and embraced the challenge of technical tax work and I have gone to bed at night feeling mentally tired but still in control.

That is until I woke up this morning.

Today I could have cried. I woke up feeling overwhelmed, confused and angry with a head that felt like cotton wool. Why does this happen? I do know why but as hard as I try, I seem to have little control over those pesky grey cells between my ears.

Whilst I hate to labour the point, as an “HSP” I am a square peg in a round hole; Something I have known for many years but have been too chicken to resolve. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy my job. I do but maybe for the wrong reasons. It satisfies certain criteria in that I enjoy a challenge, I am target driven and I like to learn new skills which stretch my brain. What it doesn’t do however, is help me satisfy my long-hidden creative instincts and the basic need to do something “meaningful.”

So, I really tried to continue as normal today. All the time fighting the urge to jack it all in and  disappear into a large cave somewhere. As an HSP susceptible to periods of depression and anxiety I need my periods of respite so mid-afternoon I caved in and logged off.

When I get very bad hay fever, I want to take my eyes out of their sockets and wash them clean. When I get brain-fog, I feel the need to do something similar. Remove brain from skull; immerse in liquid chocolate and breathe. I need complete sensory respite from targets and tax legislation.

So what did I do?

I went into the garage and sawed some wood. I switched off and made something. Something meaningful.

A hedgehog house.

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Just keep going….

Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to get out of the house. Most people take this for granted, but if you have low mood, fatigue and apathy, just getting out of bed in the morning is a trial. This is how I feel at the moment. I know that it is  temporary and that one day  I will get my enthusiasm and energy back, but for now I just need to keep going until the tide turns.

In practice this means accepting all invitations to socialise and not make excuses to avoid being with others when just getting up, showering, putting make-up on and dressing smart are a monumental effort. It’s hard. My perfect day would be to get up when I feel like it, dress in tracksuit, put hair up in a scarf and sit all day behind my sewing machine until hubby comes in from work. But I know that this is not healthy day after day after day.

Today I had arranged to have my hair cut. I was tempted to put it off again but already being 2 weeks overdue, I felt that I really needed to get up and get trimmed. Once I was in the salon I really appreciated the 45 minutes of “me- time.” Two shampoos and the slow massage conditioner treatment were really relaxing and with my hair cut, I felt so much better.

Then came the walk with the “girls” at 2pm. Four ladies plus Jasper met at the local park for a walk and 1 1/2 hours later, we returned to the park, tired but pleased that we had not succumbed to the rain and wind earlier in the day, to be rewarded with sunshine for our get-together. This is the embryonic walking group which Julie has tried to set up on our local internet page and so far we are doing well. Jasper and I enjoyed our walk and are now looking forward to organising next week’s stroll. I wasn’t looking forward to it earlier but knowing that fresh air and gentle exercise would be beneficial to my mood and general well-being, Jasper insisted that we join in.

Jasper and I arrived back home after 2 hours of walking, exhausted from the fresh air and wondering how on earth I was going to survive an evening out with the “other” girls. I ran a bath, and nearly fell asleep, but somehow managed to galvanise myself to get changed and get ready by 6.30pm when we left for the meal.

The meal was great. The company was friendly and interesting and being back home by 9.30pm means that a late night is avoided. I really enjoyed myself although if I had had the chance earlier I would have declined the invite.

I have learned over the years that even if you feel low, you need to keep on going. Keep accepting invitations from friends. Do not become isolated. Go through the motions if you have to but keep going. It’s the only way. Yes, it’s hard work and can be exhausting but don’t even think about not going. Put yourself on auto-pilot. Explain to your friends if necessary; they will understand and I guarantee that you will be pleasantly surprised.

Make the effort. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.