Tag Archive | hope

To carry on or to not carry on? That is the question.

026Over the past couple of months I have been wrestling with myself and wondering whether I should carry on writing under my Poppyposts title. For those who have been “with me” for a while know that Poppyposts was originally a Blog created to share my experiences of depression so the question now is whether to stop, or to carry on under a different banner. Not that my depression has dissipated. Not at all, but it appears that after 30+ years of living with my demons, they are here to stay and I have nothing more to add. The trouble is that I like the name Poppyposts! To me is signals hope and colour and life. I am reluctant to give it up without a fight.

I live with this illness for better or worse. I cope with the illness, well or otherwise and I take full responsibility for its impact on my work life, good or bad. In this I am like thousands of others who experience the same ups and downs; the positives and negatives; wanting to help, wanting to stay anonymous.

So I think I have come to the conclusion that I will continue to Blog, but not necessarily about my personal battles with depression and anxiety. This takes the pressure off a little-self-induced pressure undoubtedly-so that I can express my opinion on a particular matter, or just journal my hum-drum existence as I want to without wondering whether there is a purpose or an impact. I guess I was brought up to believe that everything has to have a purpose otherwise it is superfluous. If its not useful, its not worth doing. If you are not learning from the experience, dont do it.

If nothing else I am learning that I can do things and experience things just because. There doesn’t have to be a purpose. I can enjoy life without having to give it a mark out of 10.

So, I’m back. 3 1/2 stones lighter than I was! Not that Blog readers can see it but nevertheless the weight loss has had a huge impact on my life and how I live it which will undoubtedly flow through to my Blogs. I hope that I don’t become a Slimming World bore but I feel so much better, more alive, more capable and definitely look better, that perhaps my story will help to inspire others to take the same journey. Who knows?

 

 

 

114 days of Freedom

Freedom

I can’t believe that my last post was 3rd January. Where have those (almost) two months gone?

ActuallyI can tell you- January is my busiest month at work as a tax return reviewer. The UK tax return deadline is 31 January, and whilst many people say they will send us their information earlier, they never do so a large proportion get prepared, reviewed and submitted to good old HMRC in January. In fact, this year I was on “Midnight Duty” on Saturday 31 January and was still sorting out problems at 11.55pm!

So that was January. The first two weeks of February were spent tidying up loose ends before I started my 4-month break from work lasting until 8th June. A total of 114 days of freedom.

This is day 12 of aforementioned 114 and I am just starting to come round from a very busy period at work. I am on an annualised hours contract which, in simple terms, means that I work my butt off for 8 months during the busy time of the year, then have 4 months off during the quiet time. This works for the business and it sure works for me as it gives me an opportunity to recover my equilibrium and really relax properly for the first time ever in my working career. For someone who has periodic bouts of depression exacerbated by fatigue, this is an amazing arrangement and it’s a long time since I have felt so well mentally.

So far I have spent my time relaxing and being creative which is my natural bent but which I have to suppress during busy times as I just don’t have the time to indulge my inclinations. More about this in a later post.

In the meantime I am feeling much more communicative now that I have rested my brain and hope that I can resurrect my blog for at least the remainder of my “leave.”

2015

 

My new life

Jasper at 5 weeks

Jasper at 5 weeks

It’s been a while I know but I haven’t been idle. Far from it. I have been busy taking advantage of an amazing opportunity which has come my way out of the blue, but very welcome nonetheless. It’s funny how things just click together when the time is right and after a few years of long, depressing days, GCSE’s and A Level exams for my son Will, crippling fatigue and a 4-hour daily commute my luck has turned and I am on the cusp of a brand new life, and hopefully, a brand new me. Or at the very least, I get my old me back.

Firstly, I came back from my 3-week holiday in Iran back in July full of beans and determination to be positive and accepting of my illness. After two days of the dreaded 4-hour commute I was on my knees. I hadn’t realised just how exhausted I was before my holiday, as much mentally as physically, and how much the daily grind of the two-train-each-way journey to and from work ground me down.

I came home and in desperation posted on Facebook that I had had enough and needed a job which “feeds the soul, not sucks it dry.” In response to that post, a friend in another office suggested a role that would enable me to work from home. I couldn’t believe it and so I checked whether it was a truly viable option. Yes it was and (to cut a 3-month story very short) my new contract is finalised and I start my new role working from home on 1 October. What a difference that will make you cannot believe. I am still in denial but maybe after I have been up to Glasgow,where my new team is based, for two days next week, the reality will sink in.

One of the best things about working from home however is that I can, at last, have a dog. I love all animals and would have a house full if time and costs were no object, but I miss having a dog. The two cats we have are gorgeous and great company. Full of character and well behaved but I have wanted another dog for many years. It didn’t take me long to discuss this with hubby (who thankfully gave the green light) and after weeding out the breeds that are too big, too small, too ugly (!), too energetic and too high-maintenance I came down to two. A Cocker Spaniel or a Labrador. I am familiar with both breeds and felt that either one would suit us.

Whilst researching the Cocker Spaniel in more detail however, I came across a number of cross-breed options-posh-mongrels to dog snobs. Spoodles (Springer Spaniel/Poodle), Cavapoos (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel/Poodle) and CockerPoos (Cocker Spaniel/Poodle). There were also other cross-breeds with equally silly names like Labradoodles but the best one in my opinion is the JackShit (Jack Russell/ Shitszu cross). But who would want a dog called a JackShit?!

Anyway I digress. Again, cutting the story short, I homed in on a Cockerpoo and after a seemingly endless wait of 5 weeks, we pick up Jasper next weekend.

I’m sure that I will have lots of stories and photos of Jasper in the coming weeks and months but here are a few to keep you going until he comes to his forever home next Saturday. My life is changing that’s for sure and all for the better. Could this be the start of my real recovery after so many relapses? I hope so and from what I have read about Cockerpoos and seen from our pup so far, he will be the ultimate anti-depressant! Roll on Saturday- it can’t come soon enough.

 

 

Brain fog……

is so frustrating. One of my major symptoms of chronic fatigue/depression at the moment is brain fog. This has to be one of the most frustrating manifestations of my illness for me and it’s taking me a while to come to terms with it. Needless to say I won’t be applying for Mastermind or University Challenge any time soon.

Usually, I can recall information very quickly and at a drop of a hat. These days when asked a question, I realise that I know the answer and it is there “somewhere” but where and how long will it take to retrieve is unpredictable at the very least and bloody annoying every time. It could take hours for me to remember a name.

This must sound rather spoilt and insensitive to anyone who is struggling with far worse symptoms than mine, and I appreciate and understand that, but for me, my intellectual ability and agility has always taken precedent over financial success and monetary advantage so that if I am unable to function in accordance with my expectations, I have failed.

This is what I have to live with and moderate. Difficult as it is, I have to realise that if I can’t answer a question on University Challenge before one of the contestants, and have to search through my contacts to ascertain the name of the person I’m thinking of, then so be it. Grrr….I don’t like it and as the BUPA Dr told me 9 years ago ” you will have trouble growing old unless you moderate your expectations”……

Mmmmmm…I sort of get what she meant but I am not giving up just yet.

I have too much to give and too much to pass on to my successors to worry about slow performance. “

“It’s not how you start it’s how you finish” so the lyric goes and it’s absolutely right.

Keep going; keep challenging; keep on track; you will get there.

Where has she been?

Well, talk about the Prodigal Daughter……I’m back!

In the 3 months since I last blogged I have achieved so much that it seems almost obscene to write about it-but from someone who has at times been crippled by depression, I only hope that my turnaround and enjoyment of life as it currently stands will inspire others to sieze the moment as and when they can, and  give everyone hope that things really can and do get better in time.

More about the detail in good time but until then, have confidence that things can change, and do change for the better, but you have to help to make things happen…………………………

XXXXXX

“Everybody wants to be a cat..

because a cat’s the only cat, who knows where it’s at”  And who would argue with that? Not me for sure. I’m happy being a cat just now. A lucky black cat by all accounts and it seems that not only do I still have some of my 9 lives remaining but like all good cats, I’ve even managed to land on my feet. For the time being anyway.

This week for the umpteenth time I have escaped the clutches of the dreaded Redundancy Monster which has reared its very ugly and unwelcome head again and whilst I live to fight another day, some of my friends and colleagues are not so lucky. Times like these are unsettling for everyone and no one wants to see people worry not knowing what to expect. The uncertainty is painful and damaging to all concerned and I can only hope that those who eventually leave will go on to bigger and better things. The evidence from speaking to those who have already been through this process is that they will and instead of being a disaster, it is an opportunity to reflect and move on. Not one person has regretted the enforced change.

All this is easy to say when it’s not you that’s directly affected but I don’t take my job for granted and count myself very lucky to have the surety and stability for a little longer. I don’t know how many lives I have left but if the Monster returns to get me in the future I still want to be a cat. Independent, feisty and adaptable. Cats will stay loyal to the hand that feeds them whilst the going is good but are quite capable and content to find another provider should their munchies dry up.

Go cats!

 

Free time……

For anyone fighting the symptoms of depression and mental illness you will appreciate that “free time” is at a premium.  By the time you have argued repeatedly with yourself that you need to get up, shower, clean your teeth and get going on the day’s activities, forced yourself to go through the motions of eating, working, cleaning, the school-run or just staring vacantly out of the window all day, you have probably used up all your energy and find that day after day, there is no free time. It is such a negative cycle to spin round in but it’s hard to escape. Depression saps your energy and enthusiasm. It dulls the senses and days seem to merge into weeks and months seamlessly.

I know how that feels but I’m lucky. I have managed to shake off the shroud of doom and gloom and am now enjoying life as I’ve not known it for a long time.  So what does this mean for me?  It means that I now have “free time”. Time to enjoy my hobbies, relax, sleep well and recover between work days. Weekends can be spent with friends, planning activities for next week and I actually found time to do some ironing and sort my wardrobe out today. This may not sound like much, and these are things that folk take for granted but being preoccupied with negativity and suffering from mental exhaustion 24/7 leaves no time to spare. A vicious circle indeed.

I am much more discerning about how I spend my time and who I spend it with. I can do that now I have the time to think about it rather than stumble along “making do” and my life is much richer as a result.

I don’t have the answers to depression. I only know that from my experience there is hope. There is light at the end of the tunnel and things will and do get better.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers

By Emily Dickinson1830–1886
 
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day……

it’s the same life for me. But I’m feelin’ good.

I’m not at work. I’m not racing up and down the UK on a train and I can chill out and enjoy the company of the “Willster” who never fails to raise my spirits and make me laugh.

It’s also hair-cut day. 30 minutes of pure unadulterated  me-time when I can just sit and be pampered. I always say “yes” to the conditioner so I get the 2 minute head massage that goes with it and I have a cup of tea whilst discussing the ups and downs of Man City and the Villa with Paul my hairdresser. A small piece of heaven in the usual chaos.

Celebrate-by Patrick Lindsay

Life is too short not to celebrate
Too often we concentrate on our failures,
or the negatives we encounter.
Enjoy the successes.
Savour the victories, big or small.

Make them memorable and worthwhile and you’re more likely to repeat them.

“Laughter is wine for the soul”     [Sean O’Casey]

Jigsaws and Jenga

At almost 50 years of age I am now finding the missing pieces originally hewn from my family’s history which hopefully will enable me to complete my life’s jigsaw.  Over the years I have dilligently collected the straight-line edging  along with the pieces relating to the memories I have since 1963 the year I was born. However, I always knew that there was much more than this and, whilst I may not have been around to witness those happier days, they did exist. Now, thanks to my wonderful cousins, I have the opportunity to fill in the missing gaps and complete the puzzle. At times this is surprisingly emotional and makes me realise that my views about my parentage and “family life” are very much tainted purely because I was born late on and certainly after the cracks  started to appear in my parent’s relationship. I never knew the “happy couple” as they clearly were on their wedding day.  I only remember  the arguments and turmoil that blighted my childhood and ended in a bitter divorce and me being sent away to boarding school. At the time this was a relief but over the years I realise that I would have swapped my experience at school any day for a “normal” family upbringing. This has been hard to deal with.

For me, doing a jigsaw represents my life-long quest to piece together the missing bits.

But, would you rather try and complete a jigsaw over a period of time and enjoy a pastime which can be picked up and put down at your leisure , or play Jenga. The game played “on the edge” and is a challenge of physical and mental skill. Jenga to me conjures up images of  pressure, deadlines, decisions, chance and fear of everything going wrong and falling to pieces.

I liken my depression to that of a jigsaw. I want and need to complete the picture. My dear friend however who suffers from anxiety likens his experience to the game of Jenga. Always living on the edge; believing that the tower will tumble regardless of which brick you extract and once demolished cannot be rebuilt. Despair, despondancy, distrust and disbelief prevail. Stomach churns; head spins relentlessly. There is no respite and exhaustion follows. Jenga represents all the characteristics of his anxiety and it must be draining.

Whilst there are differences between jigsaws and Jenga, there are also similarities. We are both fed up with feeling as we do. Few people truly understand and appreciate the effort needed to maintain an existence of any sort and it seems like there is no end to the struggle. But, jigsaws can be completed and Jenga can be beaten.

We just need to find the secret key.