Categories
Mental Illness To You

A love note to myself {and I encourage you to do the same}

Below is a love letter to myself.  It is Day 12 of the #reverb14 and this was the task for today.  I found it incredibly difficult to write.  It felt narcissistic and wrong.  And yet, by doing so I was able to acknowledge the value of myself as a person.  As a person with depression I find this almost impossible to do.

It ended up being reflective, encouraging and extremely cathartic and, dear friend, I truly encourage you to do the same.  It will feel strange.  We are taught from the very outset that any self love is really vanity which is wrong.  It isn’t vanity or wrong.  It is something we don’t do often enough.  We don’t visit ourselves and acknowledge our strengths and gifts.  Perhaps if we did, the world we live in might be a little nicer and kinder place to be.

 

Dearest Sarah,

Today is Friday, 12th of December 2014.  This time a couple of years ago there was much hype about the impending end of the world due to someone in the Mayan culture not continuing their calendar, silly person.  It worried you though.  You were only 44 years old and there was so much you felt you had not done and it scared the crap out of you to think you may never get to do them.  What frightened you most though was the fact that you knew you had all this unrealised potential inside of you and you didn’t want to die without getting some chance  to put it out into the world.

It would take you another two years to start to work towards realising your full potential.  And you are still very much a work in progress.  That is okay.

It was a fortuitous day in January that you met with that art therapist who urged you to start your blog.  Even as you felt you didn’t know what you wanted to blog about, or what you wanted to say, or what niche you should have, or if indeed you had anything to say at all, you knew deep down inside that all you had to do was show up and start writing.

I want to thank you for doing that.  For just showing up, week after week, and just writing.

So often you would have no idea what to say, but somehow as your fingers danced across the keyboard, the words would tumble out.  Sometimes your life seemed so dark that all you could write about was that darkness that inhabited your soul on that day.  

What you didn’t know is that by answering the call to write, by spilling your guts out onto the page and into the cyber/universe, you were healing the toxicity that had inhabited your soul for so very long.  That writing was allowing the light to shine through those cracks of that damaged heart of yours and it was beautiful.

You had no idea the people you would touch, or the people you would meet, and your instinct was to withdraw.  History had taught you not to trust.  But you didn’t withdraw, you ignored your head, you listened to your heart and you took a deep breath, mustered your courage and went to those gatherings, and online meetups, you made your contributions and with it amazing connections.  

I know you still struggle to see what goodness people see in you, how surprised you feel when someone says how kind you are or what an amazing writer you are.  This is because us creatives never believe our own self worth.  Which is why we have to look at our craft as an act of service, to put some goodness out into the world, expecting nothing in return.  That way, we safeguard ourselves from disappointment and anguish.  The irony is that once we start to do that, as you have started to do this year, the universe responds.  It starts to give back in ways you never imagined, as you now have begun to see.

Please do continue with your kindness bombs.  The world needs them.  I know you doubt yourself and wonder if the words are just frivolous noise in a sea of online noise.  I know you wonder if they mean anything.  Let me say this:  Anything that is positive and kind and nurturing is worth putting out into the world.  There is so much negativity out there that anything that counters that is a good thing.  People let you know that they love them, so please do continue with them.

I want to thank you too for your resilience.  I know you don’t feel that you are resilient, but you are.  I know how hard it is for you sometimes when the black dog comes to call, how you want to slink away, how you convince yourself that no one cares, how sometimes just drawing breath seems more effort than it is worth.  But you do, you draw that breath, you get out of bed, you meet with your friends, you go online, you write.  You show up every single day and my dear dear Sarah, that is worth celebrating.

You are just beginning to realise that life is something that is for living.  You are just finding out that you are a good person who has something to offer the world and believe me when I say that 2015 is going to take that momentum and catapult you even further to find more joy, more happiness, more peace and contentment than you ever imagined would be possible.  So much so that when the world is in fear of ending again, you will be able to hold your head up high and say “That’s okay, I’ve lived a good life, I’ve given the world all I can”.

Look back at this year, Sarah, and see how far you have come.  Know how proud I am of you, how proud your family is of you.  Know that you are well loved and valued for what you bring to this world.  Know that you have so much more to give.  As you head into 2015, continue with your courage and your tenacity, your kindness and your love.  The world truly does need it.  And do not stop writing.

In closing, I want you to know that I love you.  You probably don’t know that, but deep down inside I value you and I cannot wait to travel with you as you realise that full potential you have burning inside of you, and to live a life of self worth and inner contentment.  Let’s walk those 500 miles together and then 500 more.

Lots of love,

Sarah x

Categories
Ramblings

Out with black and white, in with shades of grey

 

The world is not black and white.  It is in fact full of shades of grey, with a good heap of colour, definitely not black and white.

Yet, as humans, we are committed to this notion that life has to be exactly that – black and white, right or wrong, yes or no.

It is this notion that feeds our own critical natures – we are either good at something or bad at something.  It also feeds our opinion of each other – a person, or group is either right or wrong.  It feeds our tolerance levels – if they are in, we forgive the person or group a multitude of sins, but if they are out, even when we actually agree with their behaviour, we don’t want to admit it.

On a day to day basis I am extremely critical of myself.  I am too fat, too lazy, not active enough, not a good mother, not a good housewife, not educated enough. I reinforce the idea that I am a “bad” person and it is this opinion of myself that drives my depression.  My brain tells me I am not good enough, and to drive the point home, it points out all the things that I am bad at.

Yet, when I analyse it, a life lived is a journey and the skills we acquire are on a  spectrum.  Here is what I mean:

I am overweight yes, but certainly not to the point where my life is impeded except for circumstances where I choose to it do so.

I am not lazy – I do not enjoy housework and certain other tasks and I do put them off until I have to do them, but indeed that doesn’t make me lazy, it makes me human.  Some people are born for domesticity and good luck to them, I am not one of them.

On balance, whilst I do not run, swim, or partake in any formal activity, I can shop up a storm like nobody else and quite often my pedometer will tell me that I did over the required 10,000 steps just by moving from shop to shop.  I am active, just not in the conventional sense perhaps.

Being a mother is probably one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.  Being a mother of a child on the spectrum even more so.  Your sanity comes under fire almost daily.  Your confidence as a person capable of making sound decisions is questioned.  This is because you are acutely aware that you are bringing up another human being and that your responsibility to ensure that human is good, kind, respectful and happy to boot is enormous.  I find I question my ability to fulfil this task all the time.  However, despite my lack of confidence, I have never given up.  My own daughter now has a child of her own and my son, who is on the spectrum, has managed to make it through mainstream school and only has two years to complete his schooling.  He has dreams and aspirations of becoming a video game designer.  He has aspirations.  That comes from being a tenacious parent who may make mistakes a long the way (plenty of them), but who also is prepared to do battle on a daily basis for her children.  I may not be the stereotypical domesticated mother, but my children know I would do anything for them.  That makes me at the very least an okay mother (spectrum, remember?).

I am an okay housewife.  I hadn’t intended on becoming a housewife at all.  I intended on working in the corporate world.  Then Master J was born and his needs superseded my own need to earn money.  I do not clean house very often.  I, in fact, have a wonderful cleaner called Tom, who is my life saver.  I tell myself, as I have mentioned in another post, that I am boosting the economy by providing employment for him.  My house is neat and tidy and my friends tell me that they love coming over as it is a relaxed place to be where I am always with them, not rushing around cleaning up after everyone.  It is true, I don’t even try to do the dishes until everyone has left.  Largely because I hate doing dishes.  It isn’t uncommon for them to be sitting there a couple of days later.  But they do get done, eventually.

My feeling of being uneducated has dogged me for years.  At school I was considered very clever.  The problem is that I hated learning things that I didn’t like.  I loved English and Drama, and other Arts subjects, but as for the other required learning, that really grated me.  The upshot is that whilst everyone expected me to do really well, my school life ended with a mediocre result.  I then went to university to become a biology teacher, because that seemed like a good and noble profession at the time, not because I loved biology which I didn’t.  I hadn’t thought it through as I clearly had no idea how much science was involved.  Who knew biology was a science?  This “failure” set me on a path that would dog me for years.  I could not consider myself educated unless I had a degree – black and white, see?  Life experience and my wealth of knowledge garnered through extensive reading didn’t count in my book.

I am nearing 50.  I have learned that what we thought was absolute 25 years ago does not hold true today.  I have learned that there is no black and white, only greys and that life is smattered with colour along the way.  I have learned that life is a journey.  I have learned that as a species we evolve, that what the media tells us is true today is almost certainly not true tomorrow.  We make decisions in the absolute, but life is not static, it is dynamic and those people that “go with the flow” are the ones that are the most happy, the most well adjusted, the most able to adjust their sails for stormy seas.  I am learning to be that person.  I am learning to be the person that just bobs along on the ocean, not trying to control the direction, but allowing life to take her wherever it sees fit for her to go.  Yes, it feels counterintuitive at times, a lot of the time, but with practice, I am getting better.

How about you?  Is it time to let the black and white go and to finally love your shade of grey?

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

 

 

This post was written as part of #reverb14 – a blogging initiative hosted by Kat McNally.  The month of December is a good time to reflect on the year that was and for us to contemplate the reverberations that we send out into the world.  Please do hop on over to Kat’s blog and if you feel moved to do so, please join in.  Today is Day 9 of the initiative.
Categories
Ramblings

Connections

 

Master J finished school on Friday.

He bounced into the car, full of as much joy as a nearly 17 year old boy can muster.

I’m done.  I’m done for 8 weeks.

I smiled.  I love the school holidays.  It is just he and I at home.  Mornings are lazy.  No time frame constraints and we can do what the hell we like.

Today is Monday, the first day of our summer break.

It is raining outside.

I’m ironing sheets and duvet covers (really exiting summer break this one!).

The holidays are so boring!” Master J has just emerged from his room.  It is 8am.  On the first day of our summer holiday.  The one that we love so much.  The one that, whilst our paths don’t cross that often (meaning he immerses himself in his computer in his room and I busy myself readying for christmas, then relaxing and pottering), we are acutely aware of each others’ presence.  His autism means he finds communication really difficult, but I communicate with him.  I communicate with him through silent connection.  I love that so much.  I love him so much.

What do you mean the holidays are boring,” I protest, “they have barely begun.

Then a few seconds later.

Do you want to go for a movie?

He shakes his head.  I knew he wouldn’t want to – no self respecting teenage boy wants to be seen with his mum in public, autistic or not.

We don’t have parties anymore.  Why don’t we have parties any more?  It is so boring in this house.

It is true.  We used to entertain a lot.  We bought this house for its entertainment value.  Then six months later we became sober, then six months after that my mom died.  I lost my desire to connect.

Then we had a couple of parties,  nothing as plentiful as before, but a few.

Then this year Mr C ended up in hospital.  And I ended up in hospital.  So we haven’t had any parties this year.

Children on the spectrum struggle to connect.

We have parties at our house, and Master J will not move from his room.  But the other children will seek him out and sit with him.  This is him connecting with the world outside.

What he was really saying to me is that he feels isolated, that he needs to connect.

Which may seem weird to people who don’t understand autism, to people who have a stereotypical view of children on the spectrum.

The truth is that whilst anxiety drives them and their subsequent isolation, like any human being, like EVERY human being, they desperately want to connect, even in the smallest way.

I, on the other hand, am driven by depression.  I do not want to connect.  Not right now.  It is christmas and I am sad.  I want to stay indoors with just the two of us.  He in his enclave, me in mine, aware of each other, connecting in our own way.

I look at him.  “It’s really late in the year, Master J, people won’t be available for a party.  But we are going to The C’s for christmas drinks.

It wasn’t what he wanted to hear.  That will require effort – to get ready, to travel, to meet people he won’t know.  His face drops.

I tell you what.  How about we have a New Years party?  I don’t know who will be around, but no doubt some people won’t have plans.  Everyone can bring their children.

He nods, contemplating first, then accepting my offer.

I make a mental note to make sure I email everyone to see who might be around.  I also make a mental note to organise a few parties next year.

Connections are important.  They are important to Master C and despite my depression, they are important to me.  And it is important to maintain them throughout the year.  No matter how busy we are, or how ill we may be.  It is too easy to hibernate, to isolate, to lose connection.

You see, we are all connected on this crazy planet we call home.  Whether we like it or not, we are all connected.  We all have a burning desire to belong, to have a tribe of our own.  Even, or perhaps especially, children on the spectrum.  And so it is that I will be working hard to maintain those connections.  And so it is I have written a couple of dates in my diary next year to hold a party or two.  So that I can feel connected.  So that Master J can feel connected.

And so it is that my “I can do what the hell I like” summer holiday has now turned into “who the hell is around on NYE?” summer holiday.

Connections.  They drive us no matter what.  And that isn’t a bad thing.

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

This post was written as part of #reverb14 – a blogging initiative hosted by Kat McNally.  The month of December is a good time to reflect on the year that was and for us to contemplate the reverberations that we send out into the world.  Please do hop on over to Kat’s blog and if you feel moved to do so, please join in.  Today is Day 8 of the initiative.

 

 

Categories
Ramblings

Breakthroughs, hope and moving forward

 

I’ve been awake since 3am.

I am not going to be good company today, not least because it’s highly unlikely I’m going to be able to stay awake past midday.

And it’s my cleaning day today, because Tom the Cleaner comes tomorrow.  Because that’s what we do, we clean tidy for the cleaner.  Well you do if you are me.

Mr C woke up needing his asthma pump.  Both he and Master J have been struggling lately.  Change of seasons.  Anyway, he woke up, puffed and went straight back to sleep.  And I thought of the meaning of life.

Yep, that little sucker really got my mind going and then I was wide awake.

I knew I wasn’t going back to sleep, so I decided to read Danielle LaPorte’s book The Desire Map.  I only came across her when I came across Alexandra Franzen earlier this year.  And when I did come across her, she seemed way too woo woo for me.  I am logical and analytical and pragmatic and deep thinking.  That shit is not for me.

Except, it really is.

I have always had a spiritual bent to me.  Ever since I was introduced to Buddhism 32 years ago, aged 14, I have always felt that we were all connected, that a thread joined us somehow.  And I have been searching for that thread ever since.

When my mom died I decided the thread was a myth, that we were just biological organisms that evolved over time, not very nice ones at that.  Whilst we appeared to be the most intelligent, we certainly weren’t the most clever organisms in the box.  With our capacity for creation, origination, evolution and beauty, we constantly insist on annihilating each other.  Nope no golden thread going on there.  At our core we are just animals with intellect.

It’s glum I know.  Hey, it’s my story and I’m telling it.

Except I haven’t been able to shake this feeling.

This feeling that we are all connected, that my self imposed isolation from humanity is making me miserable, that I am not living the life I was meant to be living, that I am not answering the call to live my highest self, that I am not being the person I should be, that I am not listening to the universe banging down my door, instead opting to sit in a cold, dark room with a locked door rocking myself in the corner whilst covering my ears.

And it is really lonely in here.

The last couple of days have seen me be really reflective about my stance on the world.  What is it I am trying to prove?  That we are just animals with intellect?  That’s not a theory.  That’s just pure cynicism.  And that level of cynicism makes for a very miserable existence.  Believe me.

I have been wondering how I can let go of all this cynicism, how I can sever the ties that seem to tether me to my past, that enable me to make excuses for the non-changes I am going to make for my future.  I have been to a number of therapists over the years and each time I have mentioned that I feel that there is an invisible wall, like a mile thick wall of frosted glass in front of me.  I know on the other side that there is a life of contentment, self confidence, emotional freedom, but I can’t see it and I can’t push past the wall to get to it.

And that is the point, I can’t see it.  I have no idea where I want to go.  I had stopped setting goals for myself a long long time ago.  What was the point.  My life, my choices, my past, all kept me hog tied to the misery I felt on a daily basis.

Yet, inside of me, somewhere really deep, is a part of me that refuses to believe that is my destiny.  It is almost certainly why I am alive today, why in those moments of suicidal thoughts, I didn’t go through with it.  Instead of being the pessimist people may mistake me to be, I am actually an optimist.

So, I picked up Danielle’s book (which I haven’t finished reading) and within seconds nuggets were flying off the page at me.  The cynic inside of me was fighting with the part of my brain that wanted to just go with it.  Whilst reading these nuggets, an internal struggle was developing.  I googled Danielle LaPorte to check her credentials.  Nothing bad came up.  In fact, her story, whilst different of course, was similar in that she was of similar age and did not get a university education.  She sought the meaning to life, her life, and had travelled to India, studied eastern philosophy, moved on, studied other things, evolving, constantly evolving and moving forward which finally brought her to where she is today.  My logical brain felt foiled.  Here was a woman who could give me hope.  But the cynic in me still said this is all woo-woo crap.

Surrendering was never going to happen at 3am.  So I flipped over to Facebook, because you know that’s the perfect sleep remedy at 4am.  And who is staring me in the face but Elizabeth Gilbert.  Now, I was not a fan of Eat, Pray, Love.  Despite the odd nugget, I felt at the time I read it, that it was a bit unrealistic (I mean how many of us can take a year’s sabbatical, get paid to do it and come back renewed people – puh-lease!).  But I am a fan of Liz.  Her words of wisdom with every post she puts up on Facebook make me want to be a better human being.  And that kind of writing speaks to me, which means I should probably revisit the book.

Her nugget today:

Attroversiamo: Readers of EAT PRAY LOVE will remember this as the last word in the book. Italian for “let’s cross over” — the most elegant way I can imagine to remind myself to let it go, to put it all behind you, to face the future rather than dwelling in the past, to stand up and try again.

Another way to say it, I just realized, could be: ONWARD — my other favorite word.”

And those of you that read my blog with some regularity, will know that just a short time ago I posted about this with an image of these chalk boards that I created for myself:

vintique_image

I am seriously trying not to get all woo-woo here, but honestly, I’m human.  It’s natural to look for symbols, patterns, to make sense of my life.  We all do it.  We see these things and we ascribe meaning to it.  Even pythagorus did that when he developed Numerology.

I’m seeing connections.  I’m seeing a way forward.  I can’t see on the other side of that frosted glass wall, but I can feel myself chipping away at it.  I can feel that I am surrendering, that I am choosing to move forward, to allow myself to feel the goodness that this world has to offer and to allow myself to be, dare I say it, happy.  I am reading the book and I am allowing myself to look at and take in the wisdom that is clearly speaking to me.  I am allowing myself to “cross over”.

It’s a process.  I know this.  Two steps forward and three steps back and all that.  That’s okay.  Today, at 5am, I am okay.  I am daring to hope for a better future for myself.  I am daring to believe that I am about to embark on a journey that will enable me to live my best life.

And that is an exciting prospect.

How about you?  Are you on the precipice of a new beginning, or have you made the leap and are well on your way?

Much love,

SHW Signature

Categories
Ramblings

Creativity – the cure-all for feeling crap

Hello my friends,

How has your week been?

I want to tell you that mine has been awful.

I want to tell you that poor Mr C has really struggled with his spinal surgery, that things just have not been going right for him lately.  I want to tell you how Master J has struggled this week with hay fever, and stress of school, and has been all over the place emotionally.  I want to tell you that all this stress has been playing havoc with my depression despite my best efforts to give up sugar and take better control of my health.  I want to tell you that I have thought so much about drinking this week that for a moment I forgot why the hell I became sober in the first place.  I want to tell you that I nearly, very nearly, crumpled in a heap on the floor and just gave up.

Instead, I’m going to show you stuff I made.  Because creativity helps me when I’m under stress.  Because I need to do something with my hands that isn’t housework when I am living so badly inside of my head that it feels like it is going to explode.  Because, I just need to feel like I have some control over something in my life.

They aren’t perfect, but someone somewhere in this world is going to get them anyway.  And who knows, they might inspire you to get on your bike and do your own creations.

 

PicMonkey CollageIMG_0436

Kaiser Craft christmas calendar

Kaiser craft christmas calendar 2Kaiser craft christmas calendar 3Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

Categories
Mental Illness

Don’t judge the depressive person – be their seratonin buddy

A friend of mine and I were talking the other day.

We were talking about depression.  She hates that I can reach such deep lows.  She hates that I can even have a dalliance with the idea of suicide.  She sees the beauty in me as a person, the value in what I am and what I bring to the table of the world and cannot understand how I can’t see it myself.

In reality, most days I do see glimpses of it.

I know that I am very much loved by my family and the increasing amount of friends I am making.  I know that my craziness, as evidenced by my bald lip-syncing decision, is brave and courageous and that every day I try to live my truth as best as I can.  I know that my daughter adores my creativity, that my husband cannot possibly imagine a life without me in it, that my son does love me even if he can’t express it,  that my grandchild adores sitting with me on my settee whilst we chomp our way through a mountain of grapes.  I have much to love, to be grateful for, to be positive about.

But the dark days exist.  Despite knowing how devastated my family would be at losing me to suicide, those thoughts do cross my mind.

I wish they didn’t, but they do.

And the most awful thing anyone can say to a person in those times is to tell them to buck up, to think positively, to be grateful for what they have.  It is terrible because, for the depressed person, it is an impossible thing to do.

And let me tell you why.

A person who is depressed has a fundamental chemical imbalance {at its most basic, a lack of seratonin}.  This chemical imbalance causes negative thoughts to predominate in the brain.   Asking a depressed person to “think positively” and to “buck up” or “chin up” is like asking a blind man to see.

Of course, depression is {largely} treatable.  There are a few things that have been proven to address the chemical imbalance.  By embarking on these things, seratonin levels rise and it is this that helps treat the depression, not just “thinking positively”.

In a nutshell they are eating correctly, exercising, sleeping well, doing something for someone else being altruistic and feeling connected (yes, this actually raises seratonin levels in the brain), getting outside into the sunshine (low vitamin D levels cause a decrease in seratonin), meditation and putting all of this into ACTION.

The problem with the depressive is that to actually act, especially when you are in the grip of a crippling episode, is really difficult.

Facing life on life’s terms is really challenging.  Us depressives tend to get caught in a loop of self talk, driven by that pesky low seratonin level, that immobilises us.  Rather than face a world we have convinced ourselves don’t want us, we remain indoors, we stay online (as this give us the illusion of being connected) and we get caught in a feedback loop of what alcoholics anonymous calls “stinking thinking”.  And so the cycle continues.  To the point where it can become so severe that the pain of that existence, the pain of living a life in so much pain becomes unbearable and suicide can feel like the only option.

Of course, we are all responsible for our own destinies.  We have choice.  But we need to be very careful about how we bandy that concept about.  As I mentioned, a biological chemical imbalance is at play here and those around the depressive must remember that.

A more helpful strategy would be to help the depressive address those things outlined above.  Phone them and offer to take them outside, to go for a walk, to ask them to come along to something you are doing.  Work with them to help them set up a routine with them that will get them exercising and sleeping well.  Become their “seratonin buddy“.

They will baulk at the idea, but gentle perseverance is the key here.  Choose moments where they are having a better day, and just sit with them when they are having a bad one.  Eventually better days will shine through.

Whatever you do, please please please don’t tell them to “just think positively”, to “stop with the pity party”, to “stop being a victim”, to “buck up”, to “put their best step forward”, to “just cheer up”.  I can tell you from personal experience that these comments do not help at all.  They are judgemental and end up making the depressive feel even worse than they did before.  They victimise the victim, assuming that being so depressed that they consider taking their own life is a choice.  Because that is what we do as humans, we wilfully choose to devastate those around us, we wilfully choose to end our life and with it all of our possible potential.

When Robin Williams committed suicide, a number of articles emerged as a counter measure to the amount of empathy he received for the tortured life he seemed to have lived.  These articles placed the blame for his suicide firmly at his feet.  “He had a choice,” they said.  They were ill informed.  They were judgements written by the authors, not one of which mentioned any of the research that proves that low seratonin levels (and others) drives negative thinking.

And there is another problem too.  Chemically dealing with this chemical imbalance is tenuous at best.  I have tried, believe me.  I have been on prozac, cymbalta as well as others, all of which represent different ways to deal with the same problem.  There are a myriad of drugs available, all attempting to increase seratonin uptake.  For some, they find the drug that works for them.  For a lot of people, however, they really struggle to find that chemically induced sweet spot.  I fell into the latter ground and eventually the side effects far outweighed any small benefit I might have been getting.  So I stopped taking them.

That decision brought with it issues of its own kind.  Some people saw it as an act of finally taking control of my own mind (because to them that is a choice I have), some saw it as being irresponsible.  None, it seemed, saw it as me making a conscious decision for the quality of my own life.  It is difficult I know for people to understand.  I live day by day without knowing from one day to the next how my seratonin levels are going to impact my thinking.

In this day and age of ra-ra positive thinking it is easy to assume that is all we need to get over the depressive hump.  It isn’t.  This movement has been the death knoll for many a depressive.  It has sparked a litany of guilt, which drives even further the stinking thinking I spoke of earlier.  Despite all the positive-talk rhetoric, suicide rates are on the increase.  Positive thinking on its own just does not work.

I urge you to please be that “seratonin buddy”.  Just be with your depressive friend/family member.  That alone will help them feel more connected, which we know helps raise seratonin levels, which we know helps to drive more positive thoughts.  You see, just being with them can have such an amazing impact.

Here at Sarah’s Heart Writes, I encourage you to come and just be.  Us depressives need to stick together, we need to know we are not alone, and more information needs to be disseminated about the ins and outs of depression and I can promise you, you will never ever be urged to think more positively, to stop playing the victim card or to stop being a martyr.

Much love from your fellow depressive,

SHW Signature

 

 

 

If you are feeling suicidal, please please talk to someone.

Lifeline 13 11 14

Beyond Blue 

Black Dog Institute

 

 

Categories
Mental Illness To You

An ode to the rainbow and the uniqueness of its colours

I’m going to struggle to find the words.  I know I am.  The words to describe the warmth I feel right now.  The words to describe that despite still feeling dark in places, the light is beginning to find its way through.  The words to describe what it feels like to find a group of women who have enveloped me, hugged me so hard that indeed it seems my broken bits are being mended back together.  The words to describe having hope, and the strength to work toward, a future full of life, love and living.

But I am going to try.

After 8 or so years of being clinically depressed and having gone through a number of psychologists, I had given up hope of ever finding light with any regularity in my life.  I had simply resigned myself to a life of existence.  No living.

My sister, God bless her, suggested I try an art therapist.  I baulked at the idea.  I am no artist.  But she encouraged me, saying it wasn’t about the art, it was about being creative and the toxicity that gets released through that creative process.  I took her advice.

After a few sessions it became evident that I love, well live, to write but fear with a capital F had stopped me from ever letting anyone see my work, bar a couple of blogs that I never told anyone about.

She suggested a blogging course, where I would be ‘published’ through a guided, supportive environment, with very little risk to my self esteem.  I chose the Blog with Pip course at her suggestion.

I enrolled on this course with trepidation.  I had no niche, no craft, no particular skill.  Immediately I didn’t feel like I fit in.  But I persevered.  I started off with this blog, realised it didn’t fit me and so started Sarah’s Heart Writes.  Without realising it at the time, I just kept showing up.  I re-evaluated and adjusted, and I just kept going.

However, my lack of belonging dogged me.  I wanted to belong so much, to be part of a tribe.  All across cyberland, you will find tribes.  It is the beauty of it.  No matter what you are into there will be someone out there who is into the same thing too.  And no doubt a few others too.

You know that here I write about my life mostly battling depression, recovering from alcoholism, being bald, being a grandmother, parenting a child on the autistic spectrum.  I couldn’t narrow it down.  I am a whole person and so I write about the whole of me {and please, dear friend, you do the same}.  My tribe seemed impossible to find.

But without realising it, I was looking in the wrong places.  Without realising it, I didn’t need to look at all.  Without realising it, I needed to be found.

You see, I met a group of women who just seem to get me.  They accept me for who I am.  They don’t care that I am melancholic, prone to more bad days than good, am extremely overweight, live a pretty boring existence, struggle to see my own value in a world that seems to have no place for me.  What they care about is that I show up as their friend as much as they are mine.  This is because they value what I have to offer and they remind me constantly what it is that I do have to offer.  This is such an incredible gift.

A gift that is in itself a lesson.

I was looking for someone just like me.  Someone whom I could hold up to the light to say “Look, they are just like me and they made it, so can I.”  What I didn’t consider is my uniqueness.  By virtue of everything about me – my upbringing, my life experiences, my genetic make up – I am unique.  As are you.  I had never really come to grips with that.  My uniqueness felt so isolating somehow.  I needed a tribe.

But then I found this group of women, and they found me, and together, we expect nothing more of each other than to show up with our uniqueness.  We celebrate our uniqueness with zest and love.  We champion it like knights on steeds carrying banners for all the world to see.  We are each individual colours of a rainbow, coming together to encourage each other to shine.  Yes, I have found my tribe, but it is based on something completely different than I ever imagined my tribe would be.  It is based on acceptance and love.  Nothing more, nothing less.  They don’t expect me to be something different.  They expect me to be, well, me.

We need more of this in the world.  We need more women championing each other, not tearing each other down. We need more women encouraging the uniqueness of others, celebrating them for it, not trying to pigeonhole them into something they are not.  Mass media makes its living out of trying to get us to do just that, and we conform, doing their job for them, tearing others down.

Albert Einstein apparently once famously said that if you try to get a fish to climb a tree, it will always feel stupid.

Don’t be a tree climbing fish.  Be a unique colour of the rainbow.  Own your truth and I promise you, your tribe will find you.  I will find you.

Much love,

SHW Signature

Categories
Ramblings

HALT – you need to take care of yourself

 

When I became sober, one of the things I learned at AA was an acronym called HALT.  It stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.  These are the things that can be the death knoll for the recovering alcoholic.  Those things that put our sobriety at risk.

I have learned that the same applies to depression.

I haven’t been sleeping well.  Mr C had his spinal operation and there are other things going on in the background, and I have been feeling very out of sorts and this has had the knock on effect of me not being able to get to sleep, and then, once finally asleep, remaining asleep.

After three or four nights like this, I have woken up this morning extremely tearful.  Poor Mr C thinks it is him.  I feel guilty that I am not being the strong one, taking proper care of him.  Depression is like that, it robs you of the ability to look after yourself, never mind someone else.

I have been ploughing through though, doing what I can, but come the night time, when my body desperately needs to wind down, I find my mind goes into overdrive.  It has been almost 2am before I can get myself off to sleep.

I have been trying to meditate, but it isn’t working.

I am exhausted.

I had plans to keep going with the decluttering, to do something creative, to create some purpose.

I have had to let them go.

I have to rest.  There is nothing for it other than to rest.

There are times when you just have to listen to your body and take care of it.

The dishes can wait, the housework can wait, everything will just have to wait.

My body needs time to recuperate.  It needs me to take care of it, so that it can find energy which will feed my mental state of being.

I need to let the tears flow.  I know what it causing them, so that helps.

I need to just be.  Just for today {another AA saying}.  Just for today I will give in to my exhaustion, and let myself rest.  Just for today I will take care of myself.

By investing in myself today, tomorrow hopefully will be better.

Remember if you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired it can have a terribly adverse affect on your mental state of being.  Remember to take care of yourself.  You are so worth the investment.

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

 

Categories
Ramblings

Pictures of me hang upon the wall for the world to see

“What is wrong with you?  You are so grumpy!”  Mr C’s words sting me.  Mostly because they are true.   I am grumpy.

This is what I hate about depression.  The emotional roller coaster.  It sucks.

For a couple of days I have been travelling really well.  I have had hope.  I have dared to hope – of a life of meaning, of waking up and feeling light, of having direction, of living instead of just existing.

Then it creeps up on you and hits you squarely from behind.  BAM!

And suddenly you feel sad again.

Someone tagged me in a photo.  It was a photo of me.  Taken probably when I was 14 or 15.

This is me aged 14 or 15.
This is me aged 14 or 15.

 

It was among a whole series of photos taken at school.  At first I felt all warm and fuzzy.  Looking at those pictures was like having markers to a bygone era.  A time when life was more carefree, less complicated.

But a horrible feeling started to gnaw at me.  I tried to ignore it.

I am trying so hard not to see the negative in everything.  Trying so hard to see more of the light, less of the dark.

I posted the photo of me onto a private group to which I belong.  There were comments along the lines of “Wow, so carefree, so gorgeous.”

I looked at the photo.

It belies so much.

This time in my life was when it was the most chaotic I have ever known it to be.  It was taken probably a year before my dad became sober.  A year before some calm managed to find its way into our family.   A year that was hell on earth.

If my dad reads this, he will hate that I have written it.  Us alcoholics do not like to be reminded of the chaos we cause during our inebriated states.

But this is what alcohol does and it is my reality.  Just as what my drinking may have done to my children will be theirs.  Perhaps one day they will be writing to make sense of their lives too.

And now, I am in my forties.  A life time from when that photo was taken.

That photo that has me looking so young, so carefree, so gorgeous.

I hated myself then.

I thought I was fat, not pretty and I felt like I never fitted in.

I looked at those other school photos and thought “I just never belonged.”  I was so desperate to belong.  But alcoholism, and a mother who relies so heavily on you to make sense of her own world robs you of your own sense of self.  I could never find my tribe.  How could I possibly let anyone in to become my tribe?

I don’t remember having dreams either.  Do kids that age have dreams?  I think I toyed with wanting to become an actress.  Being someone else who wasn’t me.  Don’t we all?

Look at my hair.  How the fuck did I lose all that hair?  I miss my hair so much.  Knowing I will never be going to the hair dresser again really yanks at my soul.

I used to tease my first husband about going bald.  About how he would have to wear a wig on our wedding day.  I never meant it maliciously, just a gentle tease, something to lighten the load in a relationship that was fraught with tension.  Someone in the karma department clearly didn’t get that part of the memo.   So now I am bald.

The road to self-love is so damn hard.  You travel along so well and then a photograph lands in your inbox.

A photo so loaded with emotion.  A photo that does not represent one shred of the truth.  A photo that is just a snap shot in time, a snap shot that is a lie.  A photo that represents a life that could have been, that might have been, that perhaps should have been.

And so you mourn.  You mourn the choices that you made.  You mourn the losses you have had to endure.  You wonder how on earth you are going to put it all back together.  And you wonder what on earth it is you have to do to keep moving forward.  But keep moving you must.

It’s just a picture.  A picture of me hanging on the wall for the world to see.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7QWZBiNTMc]

Until next time,

SHW Signature

Categories
Mental Illness

How to organise your laundry

 

I don’t usually do how-to posts.

I’m all about the emotion of living life, not necessarily organising it.  There are far more better qualified people that talk about organising than I ever could.  For one, I can’t be bothered with the relentless photo staging and taking.  Who has time for that?

However, you will recall that a while ago, I spoke about how decluttering my life is really helping me to get on top of my depression.  Shortly after that post, I signed up for The Organised Housewife’s 20 Days to Organise and Clean Your House challenge.  I admit.  I was a bit dubious.  I really don’t like being told what to do.  But, as I have also mentioned, I am a course-collector/hoarder.

To say that I have been inspired is a complete understatement.  I have no idea how long it will last, but this past week, I have found a new found purpose to my existence.  Cleaning and organising is as boring as crap, but not if you couple it with a bit of creativity and this is where I have become inspired.

I have shown you my pantry, so this week, I decided to tackle to my laundry.

That puppy was a mess.  We have lived in this house for three years now and to be honest, I have never really sorted it out from the day we moved in.  It was the most uninspiring place to be.  I would literally gather up all the laundry dotted around the house, chuck it unceremoniously into the basket, do the washing,  pop it in the baskets, where it would sit for days before I finally got around to putting it away.

Before the big makeover!  What a mess!
Before the big makeover! What a mess!

Of course, that just made for a mind full of jobs that were not getting done.  This is not good for clinical depression.

So when the laundry came up as a task to be done in the 20 day challenge, I did not need any convincing.

First of all, I took everything out of the cupboards, and I ditched everything I had never used or not used in the past year, nor was ever likely to use.  I want to be able to tell you that I sorted through it, donated what I could, recycled and the like.  I didn’t.  Everything just went into a big black bag.

Before you write to tell me how irresponsible that is, please bear in mind that I have clinical depression.  Just taking this step of decluttering my life is a massive step in the right direction.  Once all the decluttering is done though, I promise you that going forward I will be heaps more “green” responsible.  I just needed to get this done.

I knew that I wanted my organisation to be creative, but I was struggling to come up with ideas.  I looked through some posts on The Organised Housewife and came across this guest post by Jess from Forever Organised.  It was perfect.

Admittedly, I didn’t so much as feel inspired as just copy what she did {why try to improve perfection}.

And here is the result.

This is the laundry after the cleanup
This is the laundry after the cleanup

The first thing I did was to get new hampers for the laundry.  These are just $15 ones from Kmart.  I could have opted for more expensive ones but didn’t have time to shop around.  I’m pretty pleased with the result.

These are the laundry baskets, labelled Linen, Lights and Darks. These are just cheap $15 baskets bought from Kmart.
These are the laundry baskets, labelled Linen, Lights and Darks.

Then I started tackling the cupboards.  What I did was sort everything into groups and then labelled the baskets according to that.  My groupings may be a little weird.

This is the top right hand cupboard.
This is the top right hand cupboard.

Inspired by some people who have made their own washing powder, I decided to make mine with my Thermomix.  I used Thermofun’s recipe which you can find here.

I love these jars and the labels make them look so pretty!
I love these jars and the labels make them look so pretty!

Finally, we have a fair whack of medicines.  This year hasn’t been a particularly good one for us in terms of health and I was really struggling to keep them all organised.  This $15 drawer set from the Reject Shop was just perfect.

Here is the new medicine chest.  So easy and organised now!
Here is the new medicine chest. So easy and organised now!

And there you have it.  I have to say a massive shout out to Kat who runs The Organised Housewife.  The program is amazing.  It is hard work, but she very much encourages you to do what you can, to keep the lists and go back to those tasks that you couldn’t quite manage at a later date.  The Facebook group is amazing too (very private so you aren’t airing your “laundry” to all and sundry).

Have you done some decluttering lately?  Has it helped your frame of mind, even if you don’t suffer from depression?

Until next time,

SHW Signature