Tag Archive | relationships

Why did I start my Blog?-Part 1

I wasn’t going to bore any more people by retelling my battles fought with depression over the last 30 years or how my life has changed dramatically in the last 8-9 months but, when confronted with this Blog topic suggested by WordPress and with my readership increasing daily, I feel it is time to put it all together so that you understand how it all started.  I hope it makes sense.

“From little acorns mighty oaks grow”

Apologies for the length of this post but if I’m going to tell you how Poppyposts was born needs must. I created Poppyposts as a result of everything that has happened in the last few months and the build-up is critical to understanding the initial purpose of my Blog.

My experience with depression started more than 30 years ago but my story doesn’t kick-off until Spring 2010 as you will see.

Last April I was lucky enough to attend a course for “talented women” run by Aspire. The course was an intensive experience and I spent two days with 19 of my colleagues being inspired, motivated and encouraged to fulfil my potential regardless of the barriers, real or perceived I felt were in my way.  Unlike some others I have never felt that being a woman, working part-time, or having children has been a barrier to my career progression. My biggest enemy was and is depression. I didn’t feel able to communicate this during the two days but I left the course with an amazing feeling of being freshly empowered with the endorsements of both the tutors and my colleagues ringing in my ears. I was truly humbled by their appraisal of me. I went into that course wondering what was missing from my life and how little me could possibly make a difference and I came out thinking I could rule the world!

To give you an idea how humbled I was here are some of the words spoken about me on the course.

Focussed, determined, driven, confident, open, strong, enthusiastic, energetic, committed, intuitive, giving, generous, a leader and a role model with a pioneering spirit.

I was advised to put all my previous concerns aside and to “Be who I am” and “Go for it”.

Having been emotionally repressed out of self-preservation for so many years I found this public outpouring of openness a little unsettling. Unbeknown to me at the time a chink had appeared in my armour and the floodgates were about to open. My defences were breached and I had no control over what was about to happen.

Soon after the course came a public holiday and I remember thinking that I was going to use that extra time to reconnect with old friends and focus on my relationships. Relationships and a strong support network are key to a happy life and I had neglected them for too many years.

Friends are the mirror reflecting the truth of who we are


Suffering with bouts of depression with mood swings, periods of self-induced solitary confinement, unpredictable behaviour and general lack of energy and interest resulted in a drop-off in the number of people I could truly call my friend. I must emphasise that this was at no time their fault or their responsibility. More, it was me feeling that I was an inadequate friend. I hadn’t the energy to help others with their problems. I couldn’t be bothered to make an effort. Sometimes getting out of bed in the morning was a major achievement.  If I couldn’t reciprocate or learn to live with my guilt therefore, then friends had to go. Some faded away gradually and some remained, understanding my quirks and foibles completely and accepting that I would help out and turn up when I felt well enough, but respected my condition so as not to put any pressure on me at times when I was more withdrawn.

A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be

That weekend along with others,  I traced an old school friend Colleen Henderson-Heywood who I first met when we were ten years old  trying to find our feet at boarding school. It is probably one of the most significant things I have ever done. You can find out more about Colleen here, but suffice to say she is an amazing person, inspirational, creative and ready to “kick-ass” at any given opportunity! I would not be doing this today if Colleen hadn’t challenged me to get off my arse and fight back like she has done against the Parkinson’s Disease that struck 6 years ago.

Cue Janet Street-Porter (JSP). I have often admired JSP for her outspoken approach and even if I disagreed with her opinions she was at least making an impact and stimulating debate about any number of important topics. That was until she wrote her incredibly insulting article about depression in her Daily Mail column. Her article was called ” Depression? It’s just the new trendy illness!” and you can read it here although I warn you that your blood pressure may rise as a result just as mine did.

After a few days of ranting and raving to anyone who would listen, Colleen suggested that instead of wasting my energy moaning and complaining, I might care to do something more proactive.

Aha! Why didn’t I think of that?

So, after work one evening I explained to my husband that I was taking my glass of wine upstairs to write my response to JSPs article-I remember saying that “I may be gone for sometime”. Unlike Captain Oates however, I was back within 20 minutes, article written. It was there composed in my subconscious just waiting for me to put pen to paper. I didn’t have to make any amendments. It appeared as if from a magic article-writing pen.

Unfortunately, I was too late to publish my response on-line as so many complaints were received that the Daily Mail had to close their in-box. But the process of purging my thoughts onto paper had been therapeutic and calming and since then I haven’t stopped.

That was only the start of my journey culminating in Poppyposts in November  but 8 months on, I still feel like a volcano that has erupted after laying dormant for hundreds of years with an unending flow of larva pouring from my core.

Will it ever stop?

To be continued.

Yes we can!

Calling all control freaks. Let’s make 2011 the year in which we finally learn to let go and give someone else the chance to share responsibility for world peace, universal happiness and global success. Let’s make it the year that we realise we can’t do everything, in our own way all of the time without damaging our relationships and making ourselves miserable.

From today therefore I suggest that we relinquish control over certain areas in our life and regain control of our emotions instead. We need to trust our family, friends and colleagues and work with them to achieve a better balance of authority and reliance rather than try to take control and dominate proceedings. This idea may scare the pants off you at first but instead of feeling powerless you may experience a sense of liberation  freeing up valuable emotional energy. You might even enjoy this new-found freedom and have time to rekindle interests and passions previously subdued.

By being less controlling the chances are that your relationships will develop and strengthen, you will become more relaxed in your approach to life, and you can start to enjoy yourself again. How good does that sound?

Firstly you need to admit to being a control freak and to realise that it is not necessarily a weakness. It is however, better to be self-aware and realise that this is a trait that is dominant in you and manage its influence accordingly.

Can we fix it?

Yes we can!

The Control Freak’s Guide to Living Lightly

Be your own best friend

Everyone should have a best friend. Someone who knows all about you and likes you anyway. Best friends are loyal and care for each other. They listen but do not judge, they spend time together totally comfortable in mutual respect. They challenge each other but never expect too much in return and most importantly they accept you for who you are. All this takes time and effort but your best friend will be one of the most treasured people in your life. Best friends can be hard to come by so, once found, look after them.

All this sounds reasonable when life is good.

Depression however can not only rob you of your friends, but it can also turn you into your own worst enemy. You have to start learning to be your own best friend and this can be difficult. So how do you become your own best buddy and learn to love and accept yourself again?

I am somewhat of a perfectionist  so when I fail to live up to my expectations I can be harshly self-critical and fall victim to low mood as a result.  Do I speak to my friends in the same way that I speak to myself?  No I wouldn’t dare so my first suggestion is to stop telling yourself off and be more understanding. Don’t set the bar too high and don’t judge yourself on your “failures”. You can only do your best on any given day and that should be enough.

Secondly, start to accept yourself for who you are, what you look like and what you believe in. You cannot please everyone all the time and you shouldn’t try to do so by pretending to be someone you are not. Pretence can be exhausting and no one likes to live a lie. You are you and you should be proud of your uniqueness and individuality-revel in it.

Finally, spend some time with yourself. Find out who you are and what you enjoy and be comfortable in your own company.

You might find that you like yourself after all.

1 in 4..

One in four people suffer from a mental illness at any time. So, to have a household with 2 out of 2 adults diagnosed with depression at the same time may seem a wee bit unlucky. Our house is not the hive of activity and entertainment it once was with visitors staying over most weekends and lively discussions into the early hours, but neither is it a den of doom and gloom. We like to look upon the enforced change on our previously hectic social life  as a refocussing exercise. Instead of racing around all week like headless chickens catching up from the weekend before whilst at the same time planning ahead to the next one, we now have the time to be together, support each other and do what we want and have to do for the best of our health. In many ways we have become very selfish and now guard this extra time ferociously.

We understand that rest and relaxation is important. We also know that neither of us should sink into the  habit of doing nothing. Lists therefore are a big part of our lives. There are lists everywhere. Lists in the kitchen, lists in the bedroom. Coat pockets are full of receipts…and lists. Long lists (never a good idea) and partially fulfilled lists. In fact, there are so many lists lying around that we probably need a “List of Lists”.

I often wonder whether it is easier for two people with depression to live together in (hopefully) mutual understanding and support as opposed to a couple where only one is diagnosed. Depression is a difficult illness to explain to those who are lucky enough to avoid it, and it affects people differently. If you have depression and recognse that your behaviour and attitudes have changed as a result this may be an easier concept to grasp than if you have had no experience of the illness. In our case, this definitely resonates. Only when my husband became depressed and suffered the unbearable symptoms of apathy, distress, loss of confidence and insomnia, did he truly appreciate how I often felt. It is a shame that this understanding could only come about because of his own experience of depression but I like to think that he is a much more sympathetic and emotionally aware person as a result.

With this mutual understanding come the crucial coping strategies of tolerance, patience, support, encouragement, positive thinking, and hope.  All those qualities which I would like to think apply to all relationships where depression is a factor, but are difficult to put into practice. So, if someone you love is affected by depression, try to understand. Try to be patient and give them time. Depression can be cured. You may have to adapt your current lifestyle for a period but make the most of the changes. Think positively and remember that one day it may be you who needs help.