Friday 4 November 2011

A little light frivolity

Yesterday I caught a falling leaf, no biggie theoretically, but it made me realise how long it is since I last laughed out loud. (Edinburgh a month ago, assisted by the marvellous @Shequeen, @AndreaGillies and some Viognier) This state of affairs must not be allowed to continue. Pleasure will be taken in small things.

My beautiful Zero teapot, which reminds me of a stout penguin

The view out of my window to soft golden sunshine, despite the fact the glass is smeared with kitten's paw prints

Knowing my purple suede boots can come back into use

Getting £3 back from the Halifax because I was brave enough to check my account and saw they had overcharged me, ditto my credit card company who I then convinced to pay for my call to complain about their service (I count this as a double-win)

Tiny, tiny pots of sparkly nail varnish

Baked beans on buttered toast, I'd forgotten how delicious they are. Similarly crumpets toasted in front of a fire with my fingers scorching because I haven't got a toasting fork.

In fact life isn't bad at all. Wish me luck, I'm going back in

Friday 15 April 2011

The Real Me ?

A few weeks ago Twitter started a hash tag to raise awareness of Mental Health Issues. It was neatly listed as #WhatStigma.

What stigma indeed ? The world and his wife know about me, in my own self-indulgent way I have never hidden my problems, if anyone hangs around long enough I will self eviscerate, I have a tendency to over-dramatise, to "show off" as my mother used to say. I delight in making myself "look interesting" by telling tales of my bad behaviour or fragility and I think, when things aren't too grim I do it with some humour. It is a coping mechanism though, most of the time I'm scared, scared of doing something wrong *smile, laugh*, of being rejected *smile, laugh*, of fucking up in some way I don't even understand.

When I was in my teens the simple answer was a cocktail of Librium/Valium/Diazepam et al because if I was quiet I was OK and that seemed to be the accepted method of dealing with mental health issues. By the time I went to Uni I had learnt a bit more about coping with the black pit as it crept towards me, keep drinking, stop thinking and it seemed to work pretty well.

The the real world intervened, I graduated, got a job and despite ending a long term relationship I kept myself together fairly well, there were, of course, ups and downs, but they were manageable. The times that a good night out or a long chat with a friend would sort out, although the fear of "the pit" was always there. Then I met my husband in 1981, a man of infinite patience he worked hard to keep me on an even keel, coped with the ongoing symptoms of bulimia and picked up a lot of the scary credit card bills that my "feel better" shopping trips generated. I knew how lucky I was and how hard it was for him to understand me.
In 1989 I had our first child, I gave up work and became a mum, except I wasn't, I was numb, felt nothing and beat myself up about it. Every day I had to prove I could do everything, not as a competition with anyone else, but with myself. Fail and the doubt kicks in. After months of a bouncy high suddenly all you can do is cry, hide, hibernate. Weight loss, weight gain and self loathing, feeling you have failed everyone. Oh great, let's add post natal depression into the mix. I was beginning to feel like a text book. "Loons for Dummies". Second child, more pretence, more sobbing, more ranting, much, much more medication, the miracle cure all that is Prozac.

This became the norm for the next 15 years, in the end the mask became the real me and only if things became particularly stressed was there a public falling apart. Then I was given a diagnosis of cyclothymia and prescribed Venlafaxine which has been a huge help, my husband no longer wonders if he is coming home to Tigger or Eeyore, but that doesn't change what has happened. Inevitably the temper swings, introspection and self pity take their toll on relationships with friends and family, the risk taking behaviour can destroy trust and hope.

I had meant to publish this post a while ago, while the hash tag was in peoples' memory and with a positive and upbeat conclusion, but unfortunately I have been skirting depression again recently, glancing at it sideways, rolling my eyes like a worried racehorse. I think that I have hidden it reasonably well; in real life I have stayed at home as much as possible, smiling and socialising seems an effort. On Twitter how I feel is protected by constraints of space, it is much easier to be chatty, glib and give nothing away when you only have 140 characters to express yourself. Chat without repercussions, chat, that if you feel fragile you can drift away from without offending anyone. Eeyore is the racehorse's stable companion.

This week was National Depression Awareness Week and I wanted to finish this post, however incoherent, trying to explain what depression can do to me, to any of us, that suffer from this debilitating illness. Please stick with us, believe we can be good friends, partners and parents and please forgive us if the mask slips.

Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

Monday 28 March 2011

Shhhhh, don't say anything............

but it might be spring.

I have just sat in the garden with a cup of coffee and found myself basking like a cat, there is sunshine. The sky may be that thin pale blue of an over washed shirt but there are no clouds. The swelling buds on the tree are reflecting the light, looking like candle flames and there are exciting fat leaves the colour of acidy green boiled sweets unfurling in the flowerpots.

Ah, it is definitely Spring. I have had to come back indoors. Next door are having building work done and they've just fired up the angle grinder, so much for the bucolic idyll.

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Small Happinesses

Sometimes the smallest thing can provide a ridiculous level of pleasure. Yesterday I bought myself a pie funnel, it is exactly the same as the one I used to play with in my Grandmother's kitchen 50 years ago, the one my mother had used when she was a child learning to cook. Sadly the original was lost when my grandparents house was cleared after their deaths. The memories weren't lost though and this morning I am lying in bed, catching up on my emails, making to-do lists and planning what pie to make.

Friday 4 March 2011

Curled Up on the Sofa

We are so lucky there are now many different ways to keep in touch with our friends and family. I know everyone still loves a "real letter" although I am a shamefully poor correspondent. "Thank you" letters were a purgatorial task for me and the once weekly, vetted, letter home from boarding school even worse. My poor mother, one scruffy page of Basildon Bond covered in unformed scrawl was the only way she had to piece together what my life was like. I'm pretty sure after seven years she knew that Wednesday was laundry day and I didn't like Latin. The telephone was only for high days or dire emergencies and you stood in a freezing corridor clutching your hoard of sixpenny pieces waiting for your turn, glaring at the Sixth former giggling with her boyfriend

Now there is email, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter and Skype. Everyone is just a keyboard away. Whoomph, message gone, news exchanged. Taptaptap, tweet sent, im on Facebook which can lead to some hilarious misunderstandings because of the time lag in the conversation or lack of nuance, never mind the gut wrenching embarrassment of sending a message to the wrong person when you have multiple "chat windows" open. Go on, admit it, I'm not alone in that.

This morning though I had a phone call with a good friend I haven't spoken to for far too long and curled up in the corner of the sofa with a cup of coffee we chatted about big stuff, frivolous fun and everything in between. As we talked I realised there is nothing to beat the human voice, the joy of actually being able to hear someone's happiness or, sadly, pick up from tone of voice that all is not well. Conversations run on without interruption, tangents can be explored and most importantly human contact is made.

This post isn't sponsored by BT but if there is someone you haven't spoken to for a while, ring. Life really does feel better.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

A New Discovery

I am a masochist, I had no idea of this before today, but it seems I am. Why else would I go to Ikea at half term ? The ninth circle of hell where parents go to loose their children, little old ladies turn into attack dogs and I empty my bank account.

This was meant to be a very quick run through, with a strict list to be followed, no deviation allowed.
2 additional shelves for my Billy bookcase
1 desk lamp
A plant
A pot for the plant
A waste paper basket

Unfortunately it appears that Ikea have changed the size of their bookcases and of course I hadn't measured mine before I left because I knew that I needed the long ones. Except the long shelves are now 80cms, not 60cms so they don't fit. I feel this adds insult to injury and I indiscriminately called down the wrath of all the Nordic gods I could think of ....
(Research suggests Baldur would be most appropriate of these deities as he was killed with a spear of mistletoe.We all know it was actually a splinter from a flat back) ...... sadly he was no help at all as I tried to ram the shelf into the offending bookcase.

And the list ? Yes, I fell off the list. In my trolley I found mini Daim, meatballs and some glasses, but that's the law, isn't it ?

No tea lights though.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

My New Hiding Place part II

I am really very happy up here in my eyrie, four hours work done and I'm pleased with, ooh, 20 minutes of it.

(The 4 hours don't include the Ocado shop, the Clarks order for swaggery boots which will enable me to dress up as Johnny Depp in "Pirates of the Caribbean", the long discussion with a friend about her wallpaper - the fact I haven't seen it didn't stop me giving a considered opinion - and watching the downfall of a dictator)