Thursday, 30 April 2009

Another Early Start

After a poor night's sleep, I have another very early start today as I have to travel across London to listen to a couple of lectures. These lectures are going to be given by a world-renowned psychologist on the treatment of depression.

I have to admit that until I was invited to give the lecture about the patient's view of psychotherapy I had never heard of this person. However, over the last couple of days I have been reading up about her and I am looking forward to hearing what she has to say about psychotherapy and depression.

So having done my morning's ablutions I have now only to get myself ready to go out and then set off for the bus stop hoping that I don't have a repeat of the nightmare journey that I had last week when I went to hear 'S' lecture. I've decided to leave a little earlier than I did last week, so knowing my luck everything will go like clockwork and I will end up arriving far too early. Still, it is better to arrive early than to get there late. I'm afraid that I am a bit of a punctuality freak and the rush that I had to make it on time last week unsettled me a little.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

More Inappropriate Clothing

Following on from yesterday's post, I am going to have a moan about something else that I find somewhat embarrassing to see.

I am overweight; I admit it. Like many people who suffer from severe depression I have problems with eating properly, and I am also one of those people who unfortunately have found that certain antidepressants have caused weight gain. I pretty much remained the same weight throughout my married life. When my husband died I would have been able to wear my wedding dress without too much difficulty, which after a period of more than 20 years would have been quite an achievement. When my husband died I stopped eating; weight just fell off me and none of my clothes fitted me any more. After being diagnosed with depression I was put on an antidepressant, but after a few months it was making no difference to my mood, so a change of medication was decided upon. This was when my problems began. The new medication made a significant difference to my mood, but it also caused me to start putting on weight without me having changed my eating habits in any significant way.

At first the weight gain was not too bad; I got back to the weight that I had been for many years before, but the weight kept piling on. I joined a gym and went most mornings before I went to work, but this made no real difference; I still put on more weight. More changes in medication have meant that I no longer put on weight, but I find it extremely difficult to lose the gain that occurred all those years ago. Not working means that belonging to a gym is not financially possible, but then neither do I seem to have the energy or enthusiasm to undertake formal exercise. Perhaps this is in part to do with my advancing years, but I know that it is also due to my constantly finding it difficult to just get through the day, let alone get enthusiastic for something that is such hard work. So I walk; I walk wherever I can and I try to get out everyday if the weather is acceptable.

One thing that I have tried to do is to dress in clothes that are suitable for my size. This means that I am not going to be seen in something that is skin tight and skimpy. I try to wear things that I am comfortable in and that hopefully cover the parts that I feel most uncomfortable about.

I am not alone in being overweight. Much of the population shares this problem and we are constantly being warned that obesity is becoming one of the major health problems in this country. Unfortunately many of those who are overweight do not seem to share my embarrassment about the problem and therefore forget that they do not have a model figure and should not wear clothes that are meant for those who are slim.

Just as I hate to see men with alabaster-white legs wearing shorts, so I hate to see women with huge bums and thighs wearing skin-tight jeans, and even worse, leggings. What on earth possesses them to dress in this inappropriate way? Do they not realise just how ridiculous they look?

Monday, 27 April 2009

A British Phenomenon

Over the last week we have had some really lovely days. The sun has shone and at times the temperature has risen sufficiently for it not to be necessary for one to wear a winter coat, a scarf, hat and furry mittens. When I was out last Thursday it really was quite pleasant and I went out wearing a T-shirt and a light-weight jacket; it was probably the first time that I had been out without wearing a good jumper for months. Friday's weather was much the same and I was similarly dressed when I went off for psychotherapy.

It was while I was on the bus travelling to the hospital on Friday that I became aware of what I believe is a purely British phenomenon; the inappropriate wearing of shorts.

There are a number of factors that can make it inappropriate. First is the fact that its aficionados are wearing shorts when we have had but barely one day of sunshine and the temperatures are still low enough to cause goose-pimples to form on exposed flesh at the merest hint of a breeze. The second factor is that the shorts-wearer seems to be totally unaware of how ridiculous those alabaster-coloured legs look when being exposed between grey or beige shorts and short socks which are brown or navy blue in colour. But the worst factor is that most of the men wearing shorts really shouldn't expose their legs at all owing to them being thin, hairless, and shaped like matchsticks.

I don't mind a man with shapely calves, a well-shaped ankle and a little manly hairiness exposing his legs for the world to see. I prefer it if you don't wear socks, because let's face it looks silly when you do. But guys, if your legs don't meet these criteria, then don't embarrass yourself, and us, by dressing inappropriately, especially so early in the season. I bet you're not wearing shorts today in the cold and the rain!

Friday, 24 April 2009

A Bit Of An Apology ... And More

I seem to be spending all my time apologizing at the moment. I didn't write a post yesterday and I had said that I would endeavour to write every day. In my defence I did write two on Wednesday, but I really did mean to write about what I got up to yesterday; however, I was so tired I just couldn't summon up the energy to write about it. And I was having a little bit of trouble with my Internet connection, but that is now sorted and here I am.

I travelled north London yesterday morning to listen to a lecture being given by 'S'. When I gave my lecture a few weeks back he said that if there were any that I particularly felt like attending then I should feel free to come along. So I did. I found it very interesting and gave me a perspective on various different psychodynamic theories; ones that I had not really looked into before. It has interested me enough to look at the work of Klein and Winnicott in more detail so that I can see where they were coming from.

My journey to the university was horrendous and at one stage the bus that I was travelling on took more than half an hour to travel a distance of about a mile. I sent 'S' a text message saying that I was still south of the river and that I hoped that I would arrive in time; he sent a reply indicating that I should not worry if I was a little late. As luck would have it when I eventually arrived at Victoria and made a dash for the Underground I did not have too much of a problem getting through the ticket barrier and down to the platform and a train arrived almost immediately. On arrival at my destination station I set off for the university building as fast as my legs would carry me. I do walk a fair bit, but while I generally use an average walking pace, yesterday I needed to get my legs working rather hard to get to the building in time for the 10am start. After booking in at the reception desk, I made my way upstairs and found the lecture room without too much difficulty and walked in just as 'S' was finishing his brief introduction on the subject of the lecture.

After the lecture 'S' and I had a discussion about how well my lecture had been received and that the students had talked about it for a few weeks afterwards. We also discussed the short course that it is hoped that the university will be running in the summer and what the dates for that would be. I have been asked to lecture again, so I will need to think about updating my lecture a little in readiness for this.

I had decided that I would do a bit of wandering round Oxford Street after the lecture, so I headed for the Underground to make my way to Oxford Circus. Just as I came out of the station the police were closing off a large section of Oxford Street, in the direction that I wanted to go, because of a major gas leak. I could not believe that this had happened to me on top of the problems that I had already suffered on my earlier journey. So I had to turn round and walk in the opposite direction to that which I wanted to go in order to get on the Underground again. I walked to Bond Street station and got on a train to Tottenham Court Road and then turned into Charing Cross Road and started walking down towards Trafalgar Square. I love looking in bookshops and Charing Cross Road is just the place to do this, but it is nowhere near as much fun as it used to be. So many of the specialist bookshops have now gone although Foyles is still there and I had a most enjoyable hour wandering round Blackwells.

By the time that I got home my legs and feet were aching and I needed to sit down and put my feet up for a while. So that is my excuse for not writing a post yesterday, and I am sticking to it.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The Benefits Of An Occasional Nap

One of the recurring themes in this blog is that I have problems sleeping. This is not that unusual for people who suffer with depression. For me the problem is normally that I can get to sleep at night but not stay that way for more than a couple of hours before I wake up and then can't get back to sleep again. After a few days I start to feel like a zombie and grumpiness is added to the feeling of being very low.

Sometimes the sleep problems manifest themselves in another way and I can't stop sleeping. I will sleep through the night and then keep sleeping through the day too. The problem with this sleep pattern is that nothing gets done; sometimes even eating is beyond me.

I have recently been cycling through these states which culminated in me not sleeping at all on Monday night. This meant that by about 9.30pm yesterday I could hardly keep my eyes open and I fell asleep almost immediately after my head hit the pillow. That would have been fine had I then managed to sleep through the night but I didn't I woke several times although I did manage to get back to sleep fairly quickly after waking. However, it did mean that while I had enjoyed the benefit of almost a full night's sleep, it wasn't necessarily good quality sleep, and this is what we need to enable us to function properly.

I have just woken from a nap. I didn't intend to have this nap, siesta, 40 winks, call it whatever you like, but it happened. After eating my lunch, I had this overwhelming urge to close my eyes so I lay on the bed and I was asleep in moments. I have woken again some three hours later and I feel refreshed, and my brain feels much clearer than it did after last night's sleep.

Lack of sleep was often a major problem for me when I was working and I developed the habit of switching the light off in my office (fortunately I had my own office) at lunch time sprawling out in my office chair with my feet on another chair and sleeping for half an hour or maybe a little longer. I found that I could manage the rest of the day so much better after this little nap and it allowed me to keep working for a number of years even when the depression was very bad. Had I not taken these occasional naps I would undoubtedly have had to give up working far earlier than I did.

So why do I now feel guilty about taking advantage of the opportunity of a little afternoon nap when it is obviously what I need at times, and my clarity of thought this afternoon is evidence of that?

Perhaps it is because we are British. Taking a siesta is a Continental thing; something that occurs in countries with a hot climate and is used as a means of getting through the hottest part of the day without exerting oneself.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I can tell you that I feel significantly better for having slept for a few hours and I am going to continue doing this if it helps me to feel better. I hope that I will still be able to sleep tonight (I think that I will) but even if I have another night of broken sleep, it is good to feel more alive at the moment than I have done for a long time. And it has meant that I have managed a second post to the blog today; something that hasn't happened for a long time.

New Medication And A Growing Shawl

Yesterday's trip to see my GP has resulted in a change of medication to see if this will help to improve the way that I am feeling. The problem is that it always takes a few weeks before the drug has been in the system for long enough to start to make improvement possible, and in the meantime the bad feelings remain. I've been on so many antidepressants over the last 10 years that it seems as though I have tried them all. I haven't, but it sometimes seems that way.

Today the fifth clue for the Shawl KAL has been posted, so I have this evening's knitting already planned; I might even start working on it this afternoon. The problem is that the number of stitches on each row is well up past 400, in fact it is approaching 500, and it is taking longer to knit each row. From being able to knit a couple of rows each minute in the early days, it now takes in excess of 20 minutes to knit each row. But the pattern unfolding as I knit is so beautiful that it makes it all worthwhile.

One thing that I know is that it will be lovely to sit watching television, or knitting something else, in the winter with this shawl arapped around my shoulders to keep out the effects of the winter chill.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Am I Manic?

Tuesday morning, barely past 7am and I have already received and replied to two emails, written two more very long emails (one to Mr Smiley and one to There and Back), answered another email that I received last night that may involve me being filmed for something (more about that when I have more information) and now I am sitting here writing a post.

Am I being manic?

Off to see my GP later so he can decide!

Monday, 20 April 2009

I'm Going To Try Writing Every Day

I'm feeling guilty. I shouldn't really because not writing to this blog isn't something that I should be guilty about, but somehow I do. As each day has passed without me being able to write something I have become more frustrated with myself and it has probably added to my feeling low.

So this evening I have decided that I am going to try to write something everyday. Sometimes the posts will be short I have no doubt, but I need to make myself write even when I am feeling down because writing is one of the things that has helped me over the last nine months. And if I am going to make the best of the courses in Creative Writing that I am going to study with the OU, I need to get myself into the habit of writing something every day.

I will be honest and say that I'm not at all sure what I will write about, but then I have never really planned anything that I have written to this blog before, so there won't be any change there. But I will promise one thing. I will not keep telling you how bad I am feeling; however, I may well tell you what I am doing to try to raise my spirits and they do need raising at the moment.

I have a post half written; it is something that is quite different from anything that I have written before and its content may well prove to be quite controversial with some people, but I am entitled to my point of view and this is the only place that I have in which to put it forward. So I shall polish this half-written post over the next few days and if I am reasonably happy with it, then it will appear here. It won't be earth-shattering, but it will question the way that some people think and why they think this way.

Anyway, I need to say thank you to all of you who have kept faith with me during my relative silence over the last few weeks, and your comments and messages have meant a lot to me in my darkness. As the saying goes, normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

A Difficult Easter

I know that I have said it before, but I am having a really hard time of things at the moment. Just surviving day to day is difficult and there are often days when I wish that I hadn't woken up. I'm even finding it difficult to make comments on my favourite blogs although I do read them and know that I want to say something. So I am making an effort today and I am going to write this post and possibly at least one more.

First of all I would like to say thank you to alhi at Random Musings of a Wannabe for her Easter email, and to apologise for not writing back to her. She also sent me a comment yesterday hoping that I was okay and that I would be back blogging again soon. Anyway, here I am.

Someone else who has remarked to me about my lack of posting to the blog is There and Back. We correspond on a daily basis and she has been having a difficult time too the result of which was that she found herself in hospital again and she has said as much on her blog so I don't feel that I am betraying any confidences here by mentioning it.

There and Back decided that she was going to do what she could to try to cheer me up a little over Easter and very kindly sent me an Easter egg. There are thousands of eggs to choose from and I have to say that the one that I received was absolutely amazing. The egg itself was made of the thickest chocolate that I think that I have ever seen on such an item, and it was the most delicious too. One half of the egg was milk chocolate, the other half was a mixture of milk and white chocolate. What made it so delicious was that while the milk chocolate was made from 40% cocoa and the purists will say that you need at least 70% cocoa to make a good chocolate (and I do indeed like such chocolate) the amount of sugar that it contained was much less than is normal in milk or white chocolate, so you had all the flavour of the chocolate but not the sweetness that is usually associated with it. But what made the egg really special was the additional contents packaged with it. No it didn't have the usual mixture of small chocolates or mini eggs; its contents were like none that I have ever seen before so I thought that you might like to see them.

The first bag of goodies contained three white chocolate bunnies in baskets. Then (clockwise) a smiley-faced egg shape which was described as being 'chocolate brownie' and that is what it was like eating; the egg shape with the darker chocolate pattern was described as strawberry mousse which was made from real strawberries which was evidenced by it not only tasting of real strawberries and not some synthetic flavour, but also had strawberry pips in it; and finally the lighter-coloured smiley-faced egg shape was a smooth praline that melted in the mouth.

The second bag of goodies was no less delicious. Starting at top left and clockwise again, the first smiley face was an orange praline. Like the strawberry mousse it was obvious that real fruit was used to flavour this and the mixture of chocolate and orange is always a winner. The egg shape with the 'fried egg' was vanilla mousse and again was full of flavour. If I am honest anything that is vanilla is going to be a winner as far as I am concerned; for me it will always be a vanilla milk shake or a vanilla-flavoured coffee that will get my vote. The lighter-coloured smiley face was described as praline with crunchy biscuit and that was exactly what you got; lots of lovely little crunchy bits in a lovely smooth praline. And to finish off the selection there were three little chocolate chicks.

What was so amazing about all of these lovely goodies was that each of them was a joy to eat and left you wanting more; and they weren't small either because amazed at the size of them I actually got a tape measure out to see how big they were. Each was about 5cm in height and the egg shapes were about 1.5cm in depth. There was no way that you were going to pop these in your mouth in one go.

And even though I had a torrid Easter weekend, I couldn't help but raise a smile when I looked at the smiley-faced egg shapes. Thank you There and Back, that was an Easter egg that I am never going to forget.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Knitting And Surviving

It's been a week since I forced myself to write a post for this blog, and I do mean forced because if it had not been for Mr Smiley making a comment about me not writing and knowing it was because I didn't feel great, I wouldn't have done anything about it. This time I am writing because I feel I ought to to explain that I am still feeling low but I am still here reading my favourite blogs and occasionally writing a comment when I feel moved to. Even though I have been feeling down I have tried to focus my mind on things other than how I am feeling so knitting has been filling many of my waking hours, which have been occurring at any time day or night. In my last post I wrote about the projects that I was working on and I felt that it was time to show you that it wasn't just a case of working on things; some of them were even being completed.

This is the first of the projects that I wrote about last week. At that time I was getting close to completing this blanket and I actually finished it last Tuesday evening in time for the second clue for the mystery shawl KAL to be published.

This only shows a small portion of the blanket which is circular in shape and approximately 6 feet in diameter. There are seven distinct pattern elements to the blanket and a lace edging. I have to admit that knitting it was addictive and I found myself staying up late into the night occasionally because I wanted to do just one more row so that I could see how the pattern would turn out, but of course it never was just one more row.

Wednesday morning saw me switching on the computer and somewhat to my surprise finding the second clue for the KAL shawl already available for me to knit. I wasn't expecting it to be available until Wednesday evening. After about five hours of knitting, and only one mistake which was easily rectified, I had finished the second clue and had another wait of seven days for the third clue to be posted.

This is the first time that I have ever knitted in this fashion. It seems strange to have to work in fits and starts and to have absolutely no idea what the finished article is going to look like. However, from little snippets that the designer has posted to the KAL group site, we do know that each of the seven (or possibly eight) parts or clues will lead to a new feature being added to the shawl so it should be quite interesting to look at when completed.

I also wrote that I had a myriad of knitting projects on the go. One of them was a cardigan for which I had literally only managed to cast on the stitches for the back and knit a few rows. Well being so low has meant that when I haven't had the energy for anything else I have sat with my knitting and I have managed to finish the cardigan. It just needs the last of the seams to be sewn up and then it will be ready for wearing. The picture shows some detail from the right front of the cardigan and the lacy panel at the centre front is repeated on the cuffs of the sleeves. It is a long time since I have been quite so productive with my knitting and I still have more projects underway or on the planning board.

I have been feeling a little better today than I have for nearly three weeks. I'm hoping that this will see me starting to climb out of this deep depression but I know that it is probably going to be a long climb back to something that makes life more pleasant than it has been just recently.

Mr Smiley sent me a card a couple of weeks ago and I have it propped up by my bed because the words on the front of it are important. It says:

A Little Pep Talk

Repeat after me:
I am strong.
I am special.
I can do anything...

I am trying Mr Smiley; really I am.