Tag Archive | friends

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.





Friends and my two-selves


I am really struggling with my latest bout of depression at the moment and am just about getting by but only because I am leading two lives. I don’t think I am unique but maybe a little unusual in the way I tackle and cope with my low mood and negativity. I do it by existing on two levels. Somehow,  I have learned to separate my true self from my necessary self. My true self reflects how I feel when you strip away my necessary self; my necessary self is that person who needs to work to pay the bills, needs to keep occupied to fend off the demons and needs to carry on because if I don’t, I will give up permanently.

My true self is that person who remains locked in a surreal existence where I question my worth, my value, and my purpose despite my achievements. Except that I don’t see anything as an achievement, just a lucky occurence. According to my latest mental health assessment, my mood couldn’t be much worse and I have avoided in-patient treatment by the skin of my teeth. I have to go back to my GP to discuss my medication, which isn’t working as it should and I have to organise more talking therapy to help me recover.

In the meantime I feel that I need to apologise and explain my inconsistent behaviour as some people can be very confused by it. A lot of the time, when I am feeling good, I am sociable, chatty, helpful and fearless. When I am in a depression however I am completely the opposite and talking to my best friends is difficult if not impossible however hard I try to force myself. It is at times like this that I need great friends. Those who don’t get miffed when I “ignore” them but accept that sometimes I am happier to retreat into myself and observe from afar. It doesn’t mean I don’t care, or that I’m not interested. Far from it; It’s just that my self-confidence and  ability to communicate are at rock bottom and I need some time to come round.

I don’t have many friends. Not  because I don’t like or trust people, but purely because I don’t want to let them down by not being there when I am needed. Sometimes I just can’t be there however much I want to be. It’s easier this way and those friends that I do have are treasured and valued beyond comprehension.


So, if I have been distant and uncommunicative, this is just me getting by and doing my best to hang around long enough for the good times to come along again. I have every hope that they will, as they have done in the past.

The only difference this time is that I am worried that I don’t have the energy or determination to fight this off again. It’s exhausting, demoralising, and I feel hopeless and useless but I refuse to stop trying.


House of Commons

You’d have thought that a gathering of depressives and their supporters (not sure what to call a gathering of depressives?) would have been a rather sombre affair but you couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, if you could have heard the increasing  volume of raucous laughter and jolity coming from Dining Room A, you may have been forgiven thinking it was a comedians party. But serious business was being done.

I was invited to the House of Commons yesterday as a guest of the Depression Alliance for a reception to celebrate the initial success of their Friend in Need Appeal. The appeal is raising much needed funds to help establish a new website service to help combat the loneliness that often accompanies mental illness.

It’s hoped the service, which will put people in touch with others living in their area, will be launched before the end of the year.

The funds are rocking and rolling in and the DA are spreading their wings to join with other charities and organisations in this quest to provide the support which everyone knows is one of the most potent weapons in your fight against depression and low mood-FRIENDS.

Alan Clayton kicked off the reception with a rousing, and at times, very moving speech about the importance of having good friends around you when things are not going well. As well as being blighted by depression himself he has been through the traumatic experience of his best friend committing suicide. At a time when maybe being a “Friend” would have made a difference, Alan listened to the 9 messages left on his answerphone asking him to call her but thinking that it could wait until morning, he went to bed. Sadly, whatever it was couldn’t wait until morning and by the time Alan made contact, his best friend was dead.

This is partly why Alan is so committed and passionate about this appeal and clearly knows first-hand why friends are such a vital element in the life of a depressive. But not everyone has friends and family support network to help them through. Many drift away, unable to cope with someone who has depression. It is hard being a friend to someone who has withdrawn, become a “different” person and it is often easier to walk away.

The Friends in Need initiative is about to address all these concerns and aims to provide everyone with a friend when most needed.

I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t had the support and understanding of my friends, family and colleagues; the patience and committment of the mental health professionals looking after me and yes, a sheer stubborn determination and fundamental belief that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Not everyone has these advantages in their fight against depression so I am asking everyone to think about this initiative and spread the word.

And most importantly, make sure that your best friend doesn’t die friendless.

Uncharted territory indeed

My readers will be aware that I use the online do-it-yourself mood monitoring tool Moodscope which I find invaluable in helping manage my mood swings and lifestyle.  Another welcome feature for subscribers to Moodscope is the daily inspiring email from Jon (Cousins) the founder of Moodscope and diagnosed bi-polar depressive. I always read his email and often wonder how he manages to come up with something different each day. Respect. The trick to these emails however is not just to read them, but to take his comments on board and try to act on them. It’s all to do with being proactive and positive and in taking the initiative, you will reap the benefits of your efforts. Like me today.

Yesterday (21 September), Jon’s email was entitled “Uncharted territory” .  I read this Blog post and it dawned on me that, unusually, I haven’t spoken to anyone new for quite a while. As someone who does a lot of travelling on the train and has responsibility for several different offices across the UK, I realised that I had settled into a “comfort zone” which accompanied my recent downturn in mood and desire to withdraw from the world.

I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe that everything happens for a reason and I am always happy to make positive connections where I think they exist. Today, I was presented with lots of opportunities to speak with and work with “new” people and found it amazingly refreshing, exciting and I learnt a lot. Hurrah! Change, development, initiative, ideas, learning and creativity is what I thrive on and I feel that I have emerged from my self-imposed cocoon at last. At work I have “new” colleagues to work with over the next few months and I’m looking forward to it. The change is good and has inspired me to focus on what I do best with renewed energy.

This attitude and positivity also spilled over into my train journey home when I met a delightful young Somalian girl dressed in hijab and abaya who was travelling from Glasgow to  Leicester to help her Doctor husband pack his case and move up to Scotland. All she did was ask me, in broken english but with an endearing smile, which train she needed to catch from Birmingham New Street to Leicester. I explained that I was going that way myself and I would help her.

Over the next hour, we found the right train, some seats and found out a lot about each other. She told me that she has been in the UK (Glasgow) for 4 years and is learning how to speak English at Glasgow College. She also happened to mention that she was struggling to understand her tutor this year (a Glaswegian) whereas last year she had no such problems when she had a tutor from London.  At this I started to laugh and explained that if she can learn to speak English in Glasgow she’s brilliant! Although her English was broken, she made every effort to speak with me and made use of the vocabulary she had. No, it wasn’t perfect but she made herself understood and we “chatted” for an hour between Birmingham and Leicester.

She told me that she misses Somalia because she could go out in the warm weather with no shoes on whereas in Scotland it is cold all the time and shoes are always needed. She asked me if it ever stops raining and what is Buckingham Palace like? She wanted to know about my gold jewellery (obviously not European) and asked whether I had been to Africa. She will never go back to Somalia because “They are killing each other” and she will always look after her mum. She is the youngest of seven children and when someone gets married she does the beautiful henna hand paintings. All this and more with limited vocabulary.

 When we got to Leicester, I showed her the exit and where her husband would be waiting. Giving me a hug she said “Thank you so much. You have been very kind and it has been nice meeting you”.

Who needs Reddybrek for a warm glow? Not me.

Her name?

No idea 😦

I am blessed

I am truly lucky to have a small band of very loyal and thoughtful friends who seem to know the right time to appear to provide support and encouragement just when I need it, even when I don’t realise it.  It’s always nice when someone goes that extra mile to brighten the day and reinstall my faith in humanity.

This week has been a brilliant week for friends on many levels. Firstly, I discovered a fellow spirit and made a new friend on Tuesday when I met the lovely Katie. We sat and talked for quite a while over an early lunch and when I kept breaking into laughter, Katie would ask what was so amusing. What was so funny was that I could have been talking to myself. The same interests,a  similar outlook on life and shared experiences meant that I connected with this feisty, sensitive girl straight away. Even more spooky is the fact that we share a birthday. It was clearly meant to be.

Secondly, Sue came along and painted me a picture. A watercolour of my beloved orange poppies arrived through the post, beautifully framed and wrapped. Clearly a labour of love.  This is already a much treasured gift from someone I have known for a mere two months but whom I feel will be a friend for life. In the beginning I helped her realise that she isn’t on her own, and that some people really do understand. Now, the relationship has developed to such an extent that she is one of my few confidantes and being a “typical” Brummie, we get on like the proverbial house on fire. Thank you Sue.

Then, along comes the indomitable Colleen and announces that she has finally bagged her man! She is engaged to the wonderful Philip who loves her with every bone in his body. They deserve each other. They are a fantastic couple and deserve every ounce of happiness that life throws at them. For those who don’t know, Colleen has early onset Parkinson’s Disease but you would never know. She deals with this illness with immense dignity, humour and an amazing zest for life which leaves even the fittest of people breathless and exhausted. Go Colleen and I’m so looking forward to the epic party in April 2012. London Olympics? Your party will be the real place to be and the golden ticket to have next year! (Don’t forget to invite me!)

My cousin Julianne has continued to supply me with information and photos about my family which is so very welcome and is helping me to piece together the jigsaw that was my early life. This has made such a difference to me that I can’t thank her and her mum enough for spending the time in doing this. I am happier and more secure of my being as a result and it is not too dramatic to say that I feel a different person as a result of finding my family.

Nicolas continues to read my Blog and provide intelligent and sensitive comments on my posts. I truly appreciate this and again feel that although we have never met, we connect on many levels and in respect of various topics. In return, I love reading his weekly Blog which provides a quality of eloquent writing and deep understanding of his topic rarely seen in the professional arena, let alone in a Blog written as a hobby.

Judith has yet again come up trumps with her information on colour inhalation. As an alternative health practitioner she is able to tune in to my emotional state of mind without effort. She always provides simple and easy to follow alternative solutions to my agitated and confused persona and to me it all makes perfect sense. I now understand why I changed my Blog to “blue” and with a butterfly as my latest logo. Yes, I do wish to be calm and yes, I am ready for change.

So, along with Andrew, Caroline, Steve, Ian, Glen, Mand and Jenny may I take this opportunity to thank all my friends who make a difference.



In my eyes, the word “disappointment” doesn’t sound damaging. It’s just  sad. But disppointment can be the most destructive and long-lasting emotion clouding relationships for hours, days, months and years.

Today I was disappointed both by others and myself and I’m fighting to cling on to the positives rather than sink with the negatives. It’s hard when someone lets you down and fails to meet your expectations especially when you don’t expect much to start with. It’s even harder to realise that you have let someone else down despite your best efforts.

Tomorrow is another day with new challenges and perhaps I will be able to atone for my disppointments.

I always try to give 100% and therein lies the problem.

I expect everyone else to do the same.

This is unrealistic and I understand that but it’s hard to reconcile sometimes.

Here’s to tomorrow.

Depression Awareness Week- Friends

Over the past difficult couple of months I have been privileged to receive the support of some great mates. What a difference it makes when someone genuinely cares enough to see through the “OKs” and the “fines” to bouy you up as you struggle. Friends, buddies, mates whatever you want to call them are a huge filip when feeling low and a true friend will stick by you when the going is tough.

Diamond rings, flash cars and designer clothes are all very well but it is the everyday efforts that a person makes to ensure that your day is a happy one that counts more than anything.

A person who sacrifices their own immediate feelings and position for the sake of another is a true friend indeed and should be loved and appreciated with all your heart. Indeed, too many times words are spoken in earnest, but are never followed up by the promised act. If you find a friend who is willing to stick their neck out for you, support you, care for you and offer impartial guidance when you least expect it, you are a very lucky person. If they can also make you laugh and cry with joy, reassure you that “No, your bum really isn’t that big” so that you start to believe it, and give you the confidence to break down long-established inhibitions and  barriers to enjoyment I must be one of the luckiest people alive.

Some advice- don’t let them go.

Instead, let them challenge you and your attitudes, habits and  “comfort blankets” to ensure that you develop as a person and become a better, more thoughtful and self-aware individual whilst you grow in confidence day by day.  This is a wonderful relationship to have and not everyone gets the privilege.

The help, support and love of a friend is given unconditionally and without pre-conceptions or judgement. It is invaluable. It is always welcome and should never be taken for granted.

So how do we thank these friends?

By being a good friend in return.

I hope I am.

Get it off your chest-find a friend

For some reason this week I found myself battling a low-mood which hasn’t been this severe  for a while. With lots of things whirling around in my head a mass of confusion and despair I eventually reached the stage where I had to tell someone something. A particular someone a particular something. Clearly my inner-self had decided that I needed to do it and do it soon. I have experienced this overwhelming desire to deal immediately with something very emotional and personal before and the sheer physicality of it can be disconcerting.

I finally found the courage to unburden myself. For me it was a leap of faith but it was one that was rewarded not with the disappointment I expected but with the support, care and respect that I hadn’t dared hope for. I am grateful for this and also appreciate the continued love and support shown since.

Whilst I recommend getting things off your chest, don’t expect everything to settle down immediately. Undoubtedly I felt better for having come clean but worried that my friend would think badly of me, it also left me scared, exposed and vulnerable.  Fortunately my fears were totally unfounded and these feelings didn’t last for long but long enough for my mood to plunge well below the “danger” level in the morning.

Friend to the rescue again and with their help and support I was able to see through the fog of hopelessness and resume normal service. A potential disaster of a morning hit my radar in the end as a blip.

So if you need to talk to someone, find a friend.  Someone who;

  • Does not judge you
  • Forgives your weaknesses
  • Supports and encourages you through your darkest moments
  • Is there 24/7
  • Challenges your negative thoughts and doesn’t let you indulge in them
  • Opens your mind to alternatives
  • Gives you confidence when self-esteem has done a runner
  • Treats every day as a new day. Yesterday is history and has no bearing on tomorrow.
  • You can trust
  • Listens