Wednesday, 28 April 2010

A Long Day

It's been a long day today. I know that is a stupid thing to say because days are all the same length (give or take the odd millisecond). But I am sure that you understand what I mean.

I have been out of the house for about 12 hours (almost unheard of for me) and I have been out and about to a new shopping centre (well, one that I haven't been to before) and I've spent a fair bit of time in my new favourite knitting shop (and I even had an alcoholic drink while knitting in there).

There's lots to tell you about and some photographs to show some of my work, but they will have to wait for tomorrow because I am absolutely worn out. So come back tomorrow and I'll tell you all about my long day.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Best Foot Forward

Well, I'm afraid that I didn't do as I said I would. Last night I did not go to bed early and I didn't get much sleep. And it wasn't just my knitting that was to blame.

I managed to finish the leg part of the sock and I did a few rows of the heel flap and then put my knitting down. I then got myself ready for bed and actually climbed into bed, but sleep was unfortunately on the agenda. I tried reading but that didn't work, so I turned to Sudoku puzzles in the hope that they would do the trick. Unfortunately not. Sleep just would not come no matter how hard I tried, and the harder I tried the more awake I seemed to become. I did eventually manage to drop off only to be woken by the alarm after what seemed like only a couple of hours sleep. It was probably more than I thought, but it wasn't really enough to allow me to feel refreshed.

But having got up with the alarm, I ensured that my bed didn't call to me by taking a cold(ish) shower, then washed my hair and towel dried it. This meant that I had lost that lovely warm bed feeling that makes it so difficult to get up when you don't want to and I was soon ready to leave for my psychotherapy appointment.

Psychotherapy was really hard today. It was both physically and emotionally overwhelming at times, but for all that it was a session where a great deal was achieved. The session finished with my therapist asking me about last week's assessment appointment. He asked what had been talked about, whether I had been given any indication as to whether I would be accepted for group psychotherapy (I was and I have been), and whether I had learnt anything from the appointment (yes, I had). We then talked for a few minutes about how hard I was likely to find group therapy. Then the ordeal was over and with a goodbye, see you next week, it was time for me to go.

I then went to do a bit of shopping (lots of vegetables for some more vegetarian dishes that I want to try), lunch and then the bus home. Since arriving back home I have been trying to relax and recover from the effects of psychotherapy. I've read a few blogs, read a few emails and written one, made a telephone call and received one in reply to my call, but most of all I have been knitting. The heel flap has been completed, the heel has been turned, and now I am working my way towards the toe. I won't finish the sock tonight, but I will do as much as I can before tiredness overcomes me, and I am sure that it will overcome me tonight.

Tomorrow, I am going to go shopping for a new mobile phone and then I am going to join a knitting group for a few hours in the evening. Not the same group that I was with last week; this time it is going to be a group that meets a couple of evenings a week in the shop where I have been buying wool for the last couple of months. And the shop has a drinks licence too.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Turning The Heel

Today has been a strange day. I seem to have done a lot of things and yet not really accomplished anything. That is until this evening, where progress has been rather good on my second sock.

One of the benefits of knitting two identical items is that the second one invariably gets done quicker. I started the second sock yesterday evening but only did a few rows before I got engrossed in something else so it was put down. Late this afternoon I picked up my knitting again and finished the rib and started on the pattern on the leg of the sock. It's a very simple pattern which only requires that I be able to count to 3. This is something that I have been able to do since I was a very young child, and as the requirement is only required on alternate rows, I do get to knit half the rows without having to count at all.

Knitting in the round, as you do when making socks, does have its pitfalls nevertheless. The main one is that you have to be aware where each round starts and finishes and if possible it is best to have the start and finish on different needles. I use a small brass safety pin to indicate the end of the round, and to count the number of pattern repeats. I have to complete 18 pattern repeats and then I start the procedure for turning the heel. Hopefully, I will get that far this evening.

Turning the heel always seemed an incredibly difficult thing to have to accomplish when I was younger, and it seemed so difficult that I avoided knitting socks for many years. Having knitted a number of pairs of socks over the last couple of years, I now wonder why I thought that it was so difficult. It is simple enough that anyone who can follow a pattern can do it.

So, I am going to pick up my knitting and based on how long it has taken me to knit the pattern repeats that I have so far completed, I think that I can reach the point where I start work on the heel while watching a film tonight. But then I will put my knitting down, much as I would probably love to continue because I don't want to be too late to bed tonight. Tomorrow is psychotherapy day and that means having to get up early, and a late night because I have become engrossed in my knitting is not a good idea.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Trying To Focus The Mind

Now that Spring is finally here I ought to be feeling better. The days are longer, there is now some warmth in the sun, the birds seem to be tweeting like mad, yet I am still in the doldrums.

One thing I am sure about is that there is not a seasonal factor involved in my depression. Seasonal affective disorder it is not, and yet there is a very definite pattern involved in how I cycle through the bad times and the worse times. It's birthdays and anniversaries that signal the rise and fall of my mood and no matter how hard I try to stop this happening I seem to be powerless.

I'm still having serious problems with my ability to concentrate. This means that I have not been able to read a book for weeks now, and while I am able to knit, it has to be something relatively simple otherwise I am constantly making mistakes (or dropping stitches).

One of the things that you are often taught in therapy are coping strategies. This is not something that I have ever been taught but I have often been complimented on the way that I find things to do when I am at my lowest. I have used studying, knitting, embroidery, reading, card-making and crocheting as a means of trying to occupy my mind at various times but none of them is completely effective at stopping the despair from its insidious creeping into my brain.

So, today I am knitting in an effort to stave off the negative thoughts. It's not perfect but it is helping, and I will have something useful at the end of it all. Today I am going to finish a sock and begin its pair. Having made one, I know how many rows I need to knit to complete each part of the sock and this helps to give me a focus. I have 19 rows of this first sock left to knit, and as they are rows that include a number of decreases to shape the toe, the number of stitches for each round will diminish and therefore become quicker to knit.

I am so grateful that I was taught all these old-fashioned crafts when I was young so that I have something to occupy my mind now when I need it most.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Hitting The Bottle Again

I don't drink alcohol very often. Okay, so I had half a bottle of wine when I went out for a meal last Saturday, but that was the exception rather than the rule. A number of the various medications that I take say that I should avoid alcohol, and I am well aware how easy it would be to turn to alcohol to try to help my depressed mood even when I am aware that alcohol adds to the depression rather than suppressing it.

Today, I have been shopping for vegetables (lots of them so that I could make a vegetarian casserole in bulk and freeze portions of it) and I added a bottle of sparkling wine to the shopping bag. I did the cooking this afternoon and portioned the casserole out and it is now in the freezer for future meals.

this evening I have enjoyed a homemade curry (something that I already had in the freezer) and I have indulged in the wine with the curry. I had a late breakfast so didn't have any lunch and having the wine with my evening meal has meant that it has gone straight to my head. I'm sure that the effects will soon wear off and then I will be able to do a little bit of knitting while I watch television.

My sock is growing and having turned the heel I am now working my way along the foot towards the decreasing for the toes and then the finishing of the sock. It should progress reasonably well once the alcoholic effects have dissipated. At the moment I am feeling somewhat light-headed and knitting is the last thing that I want to do as I am sure to make mistakes and having progressed so well I don't want any errors to creep in caused by knitting under the influence.

So this evening, I shall finish watching the DVD that I have running at the moment (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone; I couldn't manage anything more intellectual at the moment) and then I shall see how I am feeling and if I'm a little less befuddled then I will knit while I watch something on the box.

One thing is certain, I am likely to be able to fall asleep pretty easily this evening having drunk a bottle of wine. I must remember to drink plenty of water before I go to bed even if it means having to get up in the night, because I don't want to wake up with a headache from my little indulgence.

Friday, 23 April 2010

All Fingers And Thumbs

I've been all fingers and thumbs with my knitting this week which is a bit strange because I have been knitting socks not gloves.

I started knitting a sock on Monday while I was in the I knit store, and continued with it while at the Stitch London gathering. It was progressing quite well, but it wasn't suitable for working on when I was watching television as it was quite a complicated pattern with a 12-row repeat.

In order to have something to work on while watching television I started working on a second sock. This was a much simpler pattern with only a 5-row pattern repeat and only one of those rows required much in the way of concentration. The sock grew quite nicely and I was approaching the heel when disaster struck. I inadvertently pulled a needle thinking it was the spare needle when in fact it was one of the needles with stitches on. I tried to pick up the stitches but it was impossible, so I ended up having to pull all the needles out and unpick the sock.

That all occurred early this morning; it was too early to get up but I had spent much of yesterday sleeping and I'd slept pretty well last night so I had decided to do a few rows of knitting until it was time to get up. Having had to give up on one sock, I picked up the other one to work on. Big mistake. Within five minutes I had dropped some stitches and again they were impossible to pick up so a second sock had to be unpicked.

This afternoon I started work on a different sock pattern. I have knitted the cuff of the sock and I'm progressing well on the leg. It is a pretty simple pattern and hasn't caused me any problems. So far. I shall continue with this sock this evening while I am watching television and if all goes well I may get near to turning the heel this evening. But I'll probably leave that part until tomorrow. I don't think that I could face any more mistakes today without it affecting my mood, which while not perfect is certainly better than it was a week or two ago.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Psychotherapy And All That

I've had a busy week and it's only Wednesday. Other people probably wouldn't see it as a busy week, but as I rarely leave the house other than for my weekly psychotherapy session, to have been out for prolonged periods on three consecutive days has been almost unheard of for a considerable time.

I've already written about Monday's activities, so here is an update on what has been happening over the last couple of days.

Yesterday saw a return to psychotherapy after a two-week break while my psychotherapist was on leave. I have always suffered with terrible anxiety before my psychotherapy sessions but over the last month or so I have found Tuesday mornings less of an ordeal. I still leave the house far too early for my 11.15am appointment, but being early for any appointment is not something that I am really concerned about. On arrival at the hospital I got myself a cup of tea from the kiosk and went outside to the garden to sit in the sun while I drank my tea.

It was very apparent that Spring has finally arrived in the hospital's garden. When I was last there the trees were still barely in bud and only a couple of daffodils had managed to force themselves into bloom. Yesterday, the trees were covered in fresh green leaves and in addition to there being many more daffodils, there were tulips and several shrubs in full bloom.

Eventually it was time for me to make my way up to the 4th floor for my appointment. At this moment I was still calm but the moment that I took a seat to await my psychotherapist calling me to his office, the anxiety started to begin. I had a few minutes wait, all the time willing myself to relax and being partly successful. But it was all wasted because the moment that my psychotherapist said hello and I walked into his office anxiety swept over me in painful waves. And as I sat it my usual chair my therapist was aware by my body language and the pained expression on my face what had just happened.

What was to follow was even more difficult to deal with. After a brief discussion of how I had been since I had last been for therapy, the intensive work began. The probing, the answering of questions, the raising of emotions and being encouraged not to suppress them as I have done for most of my life but to allow them to come out was painful both mentally and physically. It was a hard session yet at the end of it there was a vague sense of success in that I had allowed these feelings out rather than having used them as a weapon against myself.

The session ended with a brief discussion of my feelings about the assessment appointment that I was to have today to find out whether I am a suitable candidate for group psychotherapy. I said that I wasn't particularly concerned about the assessment as I had been through this process before, but that I was aware that some difficult things could come up and that I felt that I would be able to deal with them.

Today arrived and after a bad night with only a couple of hours sleep I was very anxious. I arrived for my appointment about half an hour early and having reported to the reception desk I sat in the waiting area and attempted to read to take my mind off what was to come. Eventually the psychologist with whom I was to have the appointment came to meet me and after saying hello and shaking hands we went to her office for the assessment to begin.

I had been sent a very long questionnaire to fill in in preparation for this appointment some weeks ago, and armed with this, and all the other records that the mental health trust has on me, the psychologist had a lot of information, so some of the most difficult things in my past did not need to be gone over again. There is no doubt that this was probably the less emotional assessment appointment that I have ever had, and while there were tears when I was asked about the circumstances of my husband's death and at a couple of other points in the 90-minute appointment, it was not the traumatic experience that the first assessment appointments had been just over two years ago.

The result of today is that I have been put on the waiting list for group psychotherapy and hopefully in a couple of month's time I will be invited back for a couple of appointments with the psychotherapist in charge of the group before actually joining the group for regular therapy.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

You Don't Notice Them Until They Aren't There

Regular readers will be aware that I live in south-east London. What they may not be aware of is that my home is almost exactly under the flight path into Heathrow Airport. In fact, it is not uncommon for aircraft to fly over the back of the house and then make a turn to line up for final approach. When aircraft are flying this way passengers on board the aircraft will be given a wonderful view of London as they fly over the Thames heading westwards for landing.

In the days when Concorde was in service, it could be heard long before it came near the house, and I never tired of running out of the back door to watch it approach and then turn over the house to make its final approach. I miss Concorde; it may have been noisy but it was a joy to watch. However, even though there are aircraft flying over the house most hours of the day, I hardly ever notice them; they are just part of the general noise and are less invasive than the sirens of police cars, ambulances or fire engines.

With the lack of flying from British airports over the last few days due to the volcanic ash, I have been aware that it was quieter than normal. Even though I don't usually take any notice of the aircraft flying over every couple of minutes, I had been aware that the noise wasn't there and I had begun to miss it.

But about 20 minutes ago there was a strange sound to be heard. Aircraft have started arriving at Heathrow again and I had become so used to there not being any flying over, that the first one that did sounded much louder than usual. I expect that I will get used to the sound again in a few days and I'll go back to not noticing the aircraft flying over.

My Day Out

I had a day out yesterday, something that I haven't done for a while. And somewhat unusually for me it was planned.

I tend not to plan days out because something invariably crops up which puts an end to it. Yesterday I got my chores done reasonably early and set off for the bus stop and my day out. A few minutes wait for the bus that I wanted was a pleasure rather than a pain, because the sun was shining and the air was warm.

The first stop on my travels was at Pizza Hut on The Strand. A buffet lunch would see me stoked up for the day and the activity ahead. After lunch a leisurely walk across the road to the bus stop for a bus to take me to Waterloo. I wasn't in any hurry so I looked in shop windows as I walked past and dodged the tourists more intent in looking at their maps than with looking out for other pedestrians.

One of the things that is likely to happen when you are walking around this part of London is that you will see somebody famous. Sometimes it will be a politician, on other occasions it will be a well-known actor on their way to whichever theatre they are performing in. Yesterday's celebrity was spotted as he made a swift entrance into the Adelphi Theatre, possibly to buy tickets for the play that is there at the moment. The reason that I can make this suggestion is because the celebrity was not an actor. So who did I spot? One of the great rock guitarists of all time and astrophysicist, Brian May.

After my little bit of celebrity spotting I got to the bus stop and then it was off to Waterloo to visit I Knit, the wonderful wool shop that I first visited a few weeks ago. I had a look round and then settled on two hanks of sock yarn from Cherry Tree Hill, one of my favourite American yarn companies. These hand-dyed yarns come in a wonderful range of colourways and both that I had chosen are a riot of colours. The first is called Peacock and is a mixture of the colours that you might expect to see on a peacock when it is displaying at its best. The second is called African Grey, presumably after a parrot, and is a combination of grey, brown, orange and purple.

I had gone armed with some sock patterns which I had printed from the Internet before I left home. I had selected four patterns as likely contenders to be knitted and having decided which patterns I would knit with each of these yarns I decided to look for the needles necessary for the patterns. I like to knit socks on double-pointed needles but there can be problems with metal needles dropping out of the knitting when there are only a few stitches left on the needle. For this reason, I had decided to invest in some wooden needles which would mean that this would not be a problem.

While I was looking for needles in the sizes needed for the patterns that I had chosen to work, I saw that I Knit had some square needles in stock in the size that I needed for one of the patterns. Now square needles may sound a bit strange but I had heard of their existence a couple of years ago and had been intrigued by the idea. They are more expensive than standard metal needles but having tried them I am now a convert.

Knitting with these needles has been a real joy. I found that I have no problems from my arthritic fingers, even though the needles have a very small diameter, and they seem to facilitate more even working. No matter how hard you try to knit evenly, you can usually discern a difference in the appearance of the stitches in different rows and sometimes even in the same row. This doesn't seem to be the case with the square needles and I am now considering buying more and making them the mainstay of my needle collection.

Anyway, having selected the wool that I wanted and found the needles for the two patterns that I had decided to knit, I paid for my purchases and sat down on the lovely old sofa that is a feature of the shop. You are actually encouraged to sit and knit in the shop and I was going to do just that. But before I could start knitting I had to convert the wool from a hank into a ball. Much of the wool that I buy these days comes in this format because I tend to buy wool from small independent companies who hand-dye their yarns. As I have to do this on my own when I am at home, I didn't hesitate to sit down with a hank across my knees and start to wind it into a ball.

The female shop assistant was having her lunch break at the time and was also sat on the sofa doing some knitting. She asked whether I wanted to use the ball winder that they have set up in the shop, or if she could hold it over her hands for me, but I said that I was used to doing it by myself and just got on with the job. So the African Grey was wound into a ball and once done I started work on a pair of socks using my new square needles. The knitting progressed well and it was lovely to sit and knit and chat with both the shop assistant and the various customers who came to browse while I was there.

A little later, I decided to have another look around the shop and rather naughtily bought myself another hank of sock yarn, this time from a different American company. It is a lovely mix of greens and is absolutely perfect for a pair of lacy socks that I want to knit. It was at this point that I decided to avail myself of the ball winder and shuttle (the frame that you put the hank on for winding into a ball) to translate my two remaining hanks into balls that would be ready for use. I have to admit that this was a lot quicker, and easier, than my usual method and I think that I will do this in future when I buy yarn in this shop.

As 6pm approached, I said goodbye to the lovely lady in the shop and set off for the venue of Stitch London's meeting. I knew from looking at a map that it might be difficult to find the location, and so it was. I knew that it was up past the Young Vic and was situated in a side street, but as I could not see anywhere with the name of the road that I was looking for, I began to wonder if I was going to have a wasted trip. However, at that moment I saw someone walking along the street with a small bag in her hand from which a pair of knitting needles could be seen protruding. Without further ado, I decided to follow her and just a minute or two later found myself outside EV Delicatessen which was where Stitch London were meeting.

I spent two hours with a lovely group of ladies and we sat knitting and chatting with the opportunity to indulge in a little food or drink (alcoholic or otherwise) if we felt the need. There were about 30 knitters arranged at tables and the group that I was with comprised three seasoned members and three of us who were at our first meeting. We chatted about what we were knitting and what sort of things that we liked to knit. While all were fairly experienced knitters, it seemed that I was probably the most experienced and adventurous being the only one knitting socks, and who was experienced at knitting lace.

I enjoyed my day out, and the opportunity to sit and chat with other knitters. Next week Stitch London are meeting at another of their regular haunts, the Royal Festival Hall. I may well venture out to this meeting, but I am also looking to see if there is a group that meets a bit nearer to home.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Too Tired To Write

I've had a day out today, so I haven't had time to write a post. I could write one now but I need to wind down for about half an hour and then hit my bed as I have an early start tomorrow because it's psychotherapy day.

So, tomorrow there will be something new from me. I hope that you can wait.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

A Bit The Worse For Drink

If this post does not make sense, I can only apologize and lay the blame on drink. The usually stone-cold sober Madsadgirl has been out for a meal at the local Italian restaurant tonight and in honour of the occasion decided to treat herself to a half-bottle of Valpolicella.

Going out to a local restaurant for a meal was something that my husband and I used to do most weeks. When we were both in the RAF and he was serving at a base on Salisbury Plain we used to go out every Friday evening when he got home for the weekend. In those days we used to go to an Indian restaurant in a nearby town where they would always find a table for us, no matter how busy they were. We were regulars, known by name, and they valued their regular customers.

When my husband died, I found it a bit awkward going into a restaurant on my own, but eventually I started going to an Italian restaurant on a regular basis and it became first names there too. I would always go there for a meal on the day that I did my OU exam and used it as an opportunity to celebrate the end of another module. But having an alcoholic drink with my meal was not possible because of having to drive home afterwards.

Since having moved back to London, regular restaurant going has not been on the agenda. This is partly because I don't have the money to spend on it that I did when I was working, but perhaps surprisingly more because there aren't so many good restaurants to choose from. I could go up to the centre of London and have more of a choice, but that would mean having to get a bus there and back, and the prices in those restaurants would probably be like spending a month's food money on a single meal and that is just not an acceptable position.

However, there is a more than passable Italian restaurant just a 5-minute walk from home and that is where I have been tonight. I feel bloated from having eaten 3 courses, something that I would never dream of doing when cooking for myself, and a little bit tipsy from drinking the wine. It will probably be months before I do this again, but for now I am going to enjoy the sensation of fullness and the slight fuzziness in my head and watch a little bit of television before going to bed.

I don't think that I should have any problems sleeping tonight.

Daisy Livingstone Fairy Mark 2

Yesterday I had lunch with Lily and I was supposed to be giving her Daisy Livingstone Fairy. However, on Thursday evening I had a visitor and Daisy Livingstone Fairy walked out the door with her.

An old school friend popped in for a quick chat before taking her 3-year old granddaughter home. Unfortunately I had left Daisy Livingstone Fairy sitting in an armchair ready for me to pick up take to Lily on Friday, and granddaughter saw her and started to play with her. When the time to leave arrived she just did not want to leave Daisy Livingstone behind. So Daisy Livingstone went off to a new home, just not the one that she was meant to go to.

I apologized to Lily and explained Daisy Livingstone's non-appearance. Fortunately I am able to rectify this because I can make Daisy Livingstone Fairy again. And that is what I have started to do. After a lovely lunch together and plenty of chat when I left Lily yesterday afternoon I called in at the local wool shop and bought a few balls of wool to supplement that which I have left over.

Yesterday evening I started work on Daisy Livingstone Fairy Mark 2. I am getting used to following the basic doll pattern now, after all this is the third that I have made, and so far I have completed her feet, the main body section which comprises legs body and head, and her right hand. Her left hand will take about half an hour to knit and each of her arms probably less than an hour so it is likely that this evening may even see me sewing Daisy Livingstone Mark 2 together and stuffing her, assuming that I have enough stuffing. then work can begin on her clothes.

Having made one version of this doll already, I know where the pitfalls are and can avoid them. It is probable that by this time next week I will be adding the finishing touches to Daisy Livingstone Fairy Mark 2 so that I can wrap her up in a bag and put her ready for me to take when next I meet Lily.

Toy knitting has turned out to be quite an enjoyable experience. I like the fact that the pieces knit up so quickly, but I'm not quite so keen on all the sewing up that is required. However, one has to take the rough with the smooth and I can cope with that little problem.

I have decided that my knitting need not be a solitary experience too. After much deliberation, I have decided that I am going to join Stitch London, a group that meets at various locations in London on a weekly basis to knit and chat. It is going to be difficult for me to go somewhere and meet a lot of strangers. But as we will all be knitters, we will have something in common and I am hoping that I can make this a regular thing for the future. Mr Smiley would have certainly approved of that.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Slight Improvement

Yes, there has been a slight improvement in my mood. Although I didn't get to sleep until gone 2am, once I was asleep I stayed that way and slept through most of this morning. That may seem like a waste of a good part of the day but when you have been surviving on a couple of hours sleep (or less) for a week, it is well worth losing those daylight hours.

Yesterday evening I managed quite a few rows on my latest lace shawl. It's a triangular shawl which starts with just 4 stitches and grows with an increasing number of stitches on alternate rows. It's not the most difficult pattern that I have ever knitted but it does require careful watching and I'm afraid that last night I was paying a little too much attention to Midsomer Murders and not enough to the pattern and I have made a mistake.

Making mistakes is an occupational hazard when knitting lace with its combination of knitting stitches together and yarn overs which create the lacy texture and the pattern in the lace. It looks as though I forgot to make a yarn over so I am a stitch short and the only way to correct it is to carefully unpick two rows stitch by stitch. If I was near the beginning of the shawl then this would not be too much of a problem but there are now just short of 200 stitches on the needles so unpicking those two rows is going to take quite a long time. I was going to do it last night so that I could pick up the knitting today and just move on, but I realised that it was probably a task for when I was a bit more awake so I put the knitting aside as a task for this afternoon or this evening.

I'm hoping that having managed to get some sleep last night the same will happen tonight. I hope that the vicious circle of not sleeping so I get depressed and because I am depressed I don't sleep has been broken. And I have something to look forward to tomorrow because I am meeting Lily for lunch and a chat. And I will be delivering Daisy Livingstone Fairy, too.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Just Another Day

Last night I managed to get some sleep. Not a lot, but sleep nonetheless. This has meant that I have not felt quite so awful today and have managed to do a little bit of knitting and some reading.

This afternoon I have been to see my GP. This was for my monthly visit so that he can ensure that I am okay and to get a prescription for my antidepressants. He is not very good at keeping to time with his appointments, but today I was seen five minutes early and gave us something to laugh about when I went in. Usually his opening remark is an apology for keeping me waiting, but today it wasn't necessary.

He asked whether I had received a letter for my appointment at the hospital to see the consultant about the little (actually not so little) problem that makes sitting down uncomfortable. I told him that I had been a couple of weeks ago and I'm now waiting for an appointment for the surgery that is necessary.

Then he told me that it was necessary for me to have my blood pressure taken. As luck would have it, I was wearing a short-sleeved top under my fleece so attaching the cuff to my arm was easy. As this was being done he checked that I had taken my blood pressure medication this morning and I had to think about it. Had I taken it? I have to take four different medications every morning and for the life of me I couldn't remember whether I had taken them this morning. Then I remembered. I take aspirin, and this morning when I had put the various tablets in my mouth and taken a good swig of water, four tablets had gone down but the aspirin had stuck to the roof of my mouth and had started to dissolve there. A second swig of water had taken care of that. Anyway, I was told to sit back in the chair and relax. I needn't have worried; my blood pressure was fine, perfect.

We talked about my depression, the support that I was getting from my consultant psychiatrist, and my psychotherapy. Then it was just a case of printing off the prescription for my antidepressants and I was done.

Since I have been back from the appointment (and collecting the medication from the chemist) I have managed to do two rows of my knitting (I have started knitting a lace shawl) and read a couple of chapters of a book that arrived from Amazon today. The book is The C-word by Lisa Lynch and is based on her blog which is one that I have been reading for more than a year now. For any of you who haven't read the blog, I would recommend it to you all and if you can't be bothered to work your way through the blog, then get the book. It is the amazing story of how Lisa found herself suffering from breast cancer at the age of 28 and her fight with 'The Bullshit' as it was to become known.

I shall get back to the book when I go to bed tonight, but I shall pick up the knitting after I have finished this post and written an email to There and Back.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Plummeting Down

I'm having problems at the moment. I'm still not sleeping properly at night and I'm not even able to catch a few minutes sleep during the day. All of this means that instead of slowly sinking into depression I seem to now be plummeting at speed.

It's at times like this that I really miss being able to talk to Mr Smiley and benefit from his words of wisdom. He would tell me that I have been in this position before and I have got through it. He would tell me to focus on what I can manage rather than try to do things that I can't and that will only make me feel worse. He would tell me that I was strong and that I will come out the depression even stronger. He would tell me that and much more.

The problem is that although I know exactly what he would say to me, how he would encourage me, it doesn't make it any easier. It can be so much more difficult for you to convince yourself, even when you use the same words, as when someone that you trust says the words to you.

I know that these feelings will pass. I know that things will get better. But knowing doesn't make it any easier to cope with depression.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Passing The Time

I didn't manage a nap yesterday afternoon, nor did I get a good night's sleep last night. I am already starting to feel more depressed than I have for a few weeks and I'm finding it difficult to concentrate on anything for more than about five minutes. And that is a really bad sign.

Not being able to concentrate makes it impossible to read a book because I find that I am having to reread the same page several times just to have a vague idea of what was written on the page. Not being able to concentrate means that knitting can be a problem if it requires me to follow a pattern. Knitting toys such as the dolls and teddy bears that I have been working on recently requires constant reference to the patterns and careful counting of rows; both things that have been impossible today.

I have never been a person who can just sit down and watch television. It's something that is nice to have as a background to my knitting and to give the feeling of not being in the house alone. I've tried watching a DVD and I just couldn't keep my mind on it, so I have decided to give that up too.

I have decided that I am now going to search the web for some sock patterns. Not that I am going to start knitting any socks today (although I do have a couple of balls of sock yarn that are just crying out to be knitted up) but I want to find some nice patterns for when I do feel in the mood again. It might not be anything too exciting, but it will keep me occupied for an hour or so and help to pass the time until I can reasonably take my medication and take myself off to bed for what I hope will be a better night's sleep.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

I Knew That I Shouldn't Have Said It

The other day I was talking about what a difference the increase in medication had made to me being able to get a good night's sleep. Okay, so some days I had real problems waking up and it could take me hours to get going, but at least I was not suffering night after night of just one or two hours of sleep and consequently feeling worse as each day and night passed.

Having told Dr M that things were going well as far as sleep was concerned, it is just typical that since then I have had a couple of bad nights. Thursday night, as I said yesterday, seemed to consist of me waking every hour. Last night was much worse. I could not get to sleep at all. I eventually managed to drop off at about 4am but I was awake again just after 6, and it was wide awake so I could not just turn over and fall back to sleep again.

The problem is that even just a few years ago I would have been able to shrug off a couple of nights where I had not slept and still keep going. But these days, that is not the case. I don't consider myself to be old, but I think that my body is starting to tell me that I am not as young as I once was.

I can remember a visit to my GP in Cambridgeshire some time before my 50th birthday. He told me that once I got to 50 my body would start to fall apart. He wasn't so far off with that statement either. I had recently been diagnosed as having Prinzmetal's angina, then just days before my 51st birthday (and my trip to Corfu) I was taken from work by ambulance and had emergency surgery to remove my gall bladder. Then a few months later I had to give up work and I started to suffer from an arthritic hip.

So, although I should be doing lots of other things, this afternoon I am going to try to get a couple of hours sleep. It might happen or it might not. If it does then I will undoubtedly feel a lot better than I do now, if it doesn't then I will just have to hope that I manage some sleep tonight. It may seem a little thing to many, but anyone who suffers from depression will tell you that it can be a very fine line between enough sleep and not enough. I may not be full of the joys of Spring at the moment, but I am better than I was a couple of months ago and I don't want to slip back to how I was feeling then.

Therefore, I will take sleep whenever I can, and blow the wasted hours. My health, particularly my mental health, is important and I need to do whatever is necessary to maintain the improvement.

Friday, 9 April 2010


I have a guest post over here.

Tiny Hands

After having had an appointment with Dr M yesterday and telling him that I was at long last managing to get a decent night's sleep, last night I didn't. I had a terrible night waking up almost every hour and although I managed to get back to sleep fairly easily each time, today I am not feeling at my best.

Anything too energetic is out of the question. Not only am I too tired, but my hip is playing up at the moment so bending over doing things in the garden is off the agenda today. This means that I can spend the time doing more enjoyable things and I have decided that means that I shall spend today working on Daisy Livingstone Fairy.

All the components are knitted and many of the pieces are sewn together so it is not much more than a case of dressing her. But there are a couple of vital components that needed work on them and I have just spent an hour working on them.

The vital components were Daisy Livingstone's hands. They may be tiny but they each have four fingers and a thumb and sewing them up is both time consuming and extremely fiddly. However, I have persevered and they are now completed and ready to be attached to her arms. Once that is done I will be able to join them to the arms and then join the arms to Daisy Livingstone's body. Once that is done, I'll need to create her features, attach her hair, and then dress her in her finery.

They may be tiny hands but they are going to help with Daisy Livingstone's character and I am sure that she will be a really beautiful fairy who will undoubtedly try to grant a few wishes.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

I Must Have Been Out Of My Mind

I really don't know what possessed me to make an appointment to see my psychiatrist at 9am.

I did manage to get myself to bed early last night and I fell asleep pretty quickly but the I kept waking up every couple of hours. I had remembered to set the alarm so as to allow me plenty of time to shower and get dressed. But the alarm didn't go off so I overslept and had to leave the house in a rush. I walked up the road to the bus stop as quickly as I could but before I got to the top of the road a bus went by so I knew that it might be a close run thing getting to my appointment on time.

There are three different buses that use the stop at the top of my road, but only one of them would take me to the hospital. I had to wait for about 15 minutes for the bus to arrive and having boarded it when it did arrive it was a case of waiting to see what the traffic was like. It was amazing; the bus just seemed to whiz along the road, often not needing to stop at bus stops as no-one wanted to get on or get off.

It just goes to show that even though school children in London get free travel on buses, there must be an awful lot who are still being taken to school by car, because with it being the school holidays there was much less traffic about.

Anyway, I made it to the hospital in time for my appointment and Dr M called me in bang on 9am. We chatted for about half an hour covering the usual subjects of mood, sleep, emotions, etc. We made a joint decision to leave my medication as it is for the time being as it seems to be having some effect. Certainly I am now managing to sleep reasonably well at night (and sometimes during the day too) and I am not constantly in the depths of despair. So, with all the bases covered, Dr M suggested that we meet up again in 4-6 weeks.

I had to wait while P the outpatients administrator dealt with a query and then made my next appointment. P decided to have a look at what Dr M had free in 5 weeks time and we found a suitable appointment. It's going to be at 10am, a far more realistic time for me to get to the hospital easily, although I was offered 9am again.

I've learnt my lesson. I won't be opting for an early appointment again if I have to travel to it. I can't cope with having to rush about that early in the morning.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

It Will Have To Be An Early Night

As I sit here writing this post, it is almost as dark as night outside. It seems as though we still haven't actually moved into proper Springtime weather. I'm having a lazy day as I can't get out into the garden and after doing some Sudoku puzzles on my DSi (how I love that little gadget) I am about to pick up my knitting to help to pass the time.

I really must have an early night because I have to leave the house early tomorrow for an appointment with my psychiatrist. For some unknown reason I opted for his earliest appointment so I shall have to get up with the lark to get myself ready to go to catch the bus.

It will be good to be able to report that the increase in medication seems at last to be making a bit of a difference in my mood and in my ability to sleep. I'm not exactly filled with the joys of Spring, but neither am I in quite the depths of despair that I was when last I saw Dr M.

So, I shall shortly be making myself something to eat, I'll sit and knit for a couple of hours, and then I shall take my medication and take myself off to bed. One thing that I have learnt is that the night-time medication can work in a matter of minutes. Last night I got into bed, picked up my book to read a few pages, but I didn't even manage to open it before I was asleep.

It really can be possible to fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Empty Days

The long weekend is over and the working week has begun. Normally Tuesday morning means that I have to get up early, make myself presentable and set off for the hospital for my psychotherapy session. But my therapist is on holiday for two weeks so I have a break from psychotherapy during that time.

The last break that I had in this period of therapy was at Christmas and New Year. I had begun to sink into depression when I went for the first session of the year and my therapist wondered whether it was caused by the break in therapy. I don't think it was but it does make me wonder.

Psychotherapy on a Tuesday is the one real piece of routine that there is in my life. Without routine the days seem to merge into each other and if it weren't for the computer showing me the date and the day of the week, I would almost certainly lose track of time. I know that I need to find things to do that will occupy my time and get me out and about, but trying to find such things and actually making the effort to do them seems somehow insurmountable at present.

Perhaps, now is the time to start looking at doing something new. The problem is that I have absolutely no idea what it should be. It needs to be something that I can focus my mind on, so that I don't have time on my hands to worry about how I am feeling, but something that is not reliant on time or place so that I can do it whenever I feel capable.

For today, I shall spend this morning in a darkened room trying to get rid of a headache that has now plagued me for more than 24 hours. Once I have got rid of that then, perhaps, I can spend some time trying to discover something to occupy both time and mind.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Bank Holiday Weather

I don't know what it is about British weather and bank holidays, but yet again it is cold, grey and miserable on this Easter Monday. So instead of going out into the garden to do a little bit of work there, I am sitting indoors in the warm and doing my knitting.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Chocolate Free Easter

I'm having a chocolate free Easter. Yes, you read that correctly. It's Easter and not a single piece of chocolate will pass my lips.

Easter eggs are not the sort of thing that you buy for yourself, so I am able to be good and not indulge in extra calories. This is a good thing because after years of struggling with my weight after having put on about 4 stone courtesy of one particular antidepressant, I seem to be losing weight.

I don't possess a set of scales because I have become so self-conscious of my size over the years. But when my trousers start to be loose around my waist and have to be constantly pulled up so that they don't drag along the ground, I know that the weight must be going.

To lose all the weight that I put on is going to take a very long time, but if I continue to lose it slowly as I have over the last couple of months then I hope that I can look forward to a slimmer me. I know that it is unlikely that I will go back to my former weight because I am no longer as active as I used to be, but losing weight is a good thing and I am sure that doing so will do much for my mood too.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Therapeutic Doses

Antidepressants often get a bad press. Whether it is newspapers claiming that doctors dish them out like sweets or patients who claim that they don't work. I have been on antidepressants almost continuously for almost 12 years and I am absolutely certain that without them I wouldn't be here writing this today.

I wouldn't claim to have been on every antidepressant that there is but I have taken a fair selection of them over the years. Some seem to have made a difference, one or two don't seem to have worked, and one made me have hallucinations and feel very ill indeed.

At the moment I am taking two different antidepressants. I'm on the highest doses of both of them. One is taken in the morning and is the one that I have now been on for about a year. The dose has been increased twice; initially when I was in hospital the first time, and the second time was on my last appointment with my psychiatrist. The one that I take at night was prescribed when I had my first appointment with my psychiatrist. It's main purpose is to aid me in getting to sleep and staying that way; it's secondary purpose is as an additional drug to help with my mood.

The problem with antidepressants is that it can take quite a while for them to start to improve your mood. It is probable that many of those people who say that antidepressants don't work, haven't given them a chance. They are not like other drugs which allow you to see a difference almost immediately. Many antidepressants have to be started at low dosages and then increased over a period of time until a therapeutic dose is reached.

At long last it seems that things may be improving for me. The night-time antidepressant is now able to knock me out at night and I seem to be able to sleep the night through (apart from calls of nature). And the combination of the two antidepressants appears to be helping to lift me out of the long depression that I have been in.

It seems that the therapeutic doses of these two drugs have been built up in my body and I can hope for some respite from the darkness that my life seemed to have become. Mind you, I still don't feel full of the joys of Spring, but things don't seem quite so hopeless as they did just a few days ago.

I'm having another therapeutic dose today too. A therapeutic dose of films to watch on television thanks to it being a bank holiday weekend. the weather may not be wonderful, but at least I have something to help to pass the time.