Monday, 31 May 2010

That Eureka Moment

I think I know how Archimedes felt when sitting in his bath he realised that a body immersed in water displaces its own volume of water from the container in which it is placed.

For me, my 'Eureka Moment' came this afternoon when I realised that the latest version of my sock design was actually producing the effect that I wanted. After a number of false starts, I had finally got the stitch pattern right so that I was able to produce something that resembled a club such as those found on a playing card.

I know that I still have more designs to create, but the club symbol was always going to be the most difficult to produce for my planned series of patterns. This means that I can now press ahead as fast as my fingers, and mood, will allow me. I shall make one sock of each pattern as quickly as possible and write up the patterns complete with their charts so I have them all ready to submit. I'm going to ask if it is necessary to submit a pair of each design so as to allow me as much time as possible for the lace scarf design.

Despondency had started to take over last night when I realised that the design that I had hoped would look okay, in fact did not and needed to be redrafted. Mr Smiley often used to tell me that I should persevere when I found things difficult to do because of depression. And that is what I have done over the last few days; I have persevered and kept working at it until I had achieved what I wanted.

The sock will take a couple more days to complete, but knowing that the most difficult design has been nailed means that I can knit with renewed vigour. After this design the others will seem pretty simple and take only a few minutes to draft onto the graph paper. And they will actually be easier to knit too.

I didn't shout 'Eureka', but I did think it. Oh yes, Archimedes, I have an idea of how you must have felt at that moment.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Trying To Beat Depression

I had hoped that with the additional medication that I would have started to feel better by now. Yes, I am getting the sleep that I need, but my mood does not seem to be getting any better. I do have occasional short periods when I am actually able to feel that things are going well but they are interspersed with long periods when I continually question why I bother with carrying on living.

I have been concentrating on my knitting in the hope that will help me through this difficult period. Having decided to enter some designs in the I Knit design competition has given me a focus. I am not just following somebody else's pattern, I am trying to create my own. And it isn't easy.

I am not a naturally creative person. Yes, I am able to follow a pattern to make whatever I want. I can knit, crochet, do cross-stitch, embroider, sew my own clothes (although I haven't done that for some years), make cards, and scrapbook. Lots of things that might be called creative, but for me creative also means making something from scratch; not following a pattern or a guide.

Creating a few sock patterns has been a major challenge for me, and I have not found it easy. I know what I want to do but actually being able to translate that into a finished article has proven more difficult than I thought. I think that part of the reason for this is because I am unable to draw anything so that the result I produce is recognisable as what I was aiming for.

This has meant that I have had to create a number of drafts of the chart for the second of my sock designs. I have had to make the design much larger than I had originally intended for it to become obvious what is being represented. I have probably chosen to do the most difficult one first so I am hoping that the next three designs will be a little easier to draft and then knit.

This afternoon I have started to knit the design that I have been working on for the last three days. Even as I have been knitting it I have thought of a way in which I can give the pattern more impact. I am hoping that I will be able to do enough of this first sock today to be able to show whether the pattern is viable as an entry in the knitting design competition. If it is, then I shall finish the sock as quickly as I can and complete its pair so that I can move on to the next design. I am hoping to be able to enter six sock designs in the competition, and that is a fair bit of knitting, but I also want to enter a lace scarf and that is going to be a much harder item to complete as it requires much more knitting and a lot of concentration while doing that knitting. I also have to create the pattern for this scarf and that is going to have to be done as I am knitting the first half of the scarf. I have about seven weeks to do all this knitting and it is going to be quite a feat to be able to complete it all in time.

To do this means that I am going to have to set aside a period every day where I knit like there is no tomorrow and I am hoping that this will help me to get through the next few months and not have depression dictate how my days are spent.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Back To The Drawing Board

Having drawn up the four charts for my 'Full House' sock designs, yesterday evening was spent knitting a trial swatch to see if the charts produced the effect that I was looking for. Unfortunately, I have failed at the first hurdle for although the draft charts looked fine, when they were transformed into knitting they didn't have the impact that I was looking for.

This morning I have done another test using just one of the charts, this time testing whether the design looked better as stocking stitch against a reverse stocking stitch background, or reverse stocking stitch against a stocking stitch background. Again, the effect was disappointing so it was back to the drawing board.

For my third attempt I am going to increase the size of the motif in the hope that it will look better when knitted up. I have redrawn one of the designs in this larger size and I am about to knit the test swatch to see if this version is any better.

Having to use larger motifs means that there will only be four on each sock, and the impact of the fifth sock design will not be as great as I had hoped but I will still be able to put all four motifs on one sock which means that I should still be able to create this set of designs as I had originally envisaged.

While there are many exciting sock patterns out there for anyone to try, sock designs for men are a bit more difficult to find. I am hoping that the 'Full House' set will be able to fill the gap in this area. It does mean that I am going to have my work cut out knitting all these socks for the competition, but I am hoping that the originality of the set of patterns will give me a bit of an edge when the judging occurs. Winning one of the prizes would give me some extra funds to spend on wool to add to my stash. And their stash is every knitters home for future projects and dreams of things to come.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Creating Charts

I went into WH Smith today to buy myself a small ruler and some graph paper. It's a long time since I have used graph paper (Madsadgirl left school a long time ago and didn't do maths during the last two years of school) but I needed some to be able to draw out the charts that will be needed for my knitting designs.

The charts will eventually have to be put onto the computer so that I can print out the patterns and create the electronic copies that are also required. But for playing around with designs and doing my test pieces graph paper is just the thing to use. I bought some graph paper on Tuesday but didn't look closely enough to the paper that I bought and it wasn't until I had got it home and tried to use it that I realised that 2mm squares just weren't big enough to allow me to put the various symbols into them.

The pad that I bought today has 5mm squares and I have already managed to draft out the designs for one of the socks that I am creating. Having managed to work out what stitches I wanted where to create the pattern, I then had to redraft the charts with the designs upside down because I am knitting the socks from the cuff down to the toes. Unfortunately I am unable to post photographs of the socks that I am designing because of the competition rules, but once the competition closing date has passed I will see what I can do.

I have also decided to design a lace scarf for the competition. This also requires lots of charts to be drawn up to work from. I have done the first chart and I have managed to knit this chart. As I want the scarf to be a bit like a sampler I have to work out a number of charts to provide a good range of designs but there must also be some form of linking between them, so I have decided to make it themed on butterflies and flowers/leaves. To ensure that the designs are the right way up when the scarf is worn it will be knitted in two halves and then the two grafted together. This will be a first for me as I have always knitted lace designs that could be viewed from either direction. I'm quite looking forward to the challenge.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


I'm sure that many of us have lifelines; things that help us to remember names, things that help us to remember important places or occasions, and for those suffering with mental illness things that are our coping strategies when things get really bad.

I have a number of lifelines that help me when I am feeling very depressed and I write about them often on this blog, another of my lifelines. Writing was an important part of my daily life when I was working, and when I was studying for my degree. As both work and studying stopped at about the same time (although I have continued to do the odd bit of studying in the intervening period) the loss of writing as everyday occupation impacted on me quite severely.

I don't know why I feel the need to write, nor am I always pleased with what I have written, but writing does help me to remain sane. When I started this blog, I had no clear idea where it would take me, nor what I hoped to achieve with it. I wasn't even sure that it was something that I would keep up. The loss of the ability to maintain an interest in things can be one of the first signs of depression and this might well mean that I would, like many other bloggers, fall by the wayside.

But I haven't fallen by the wayside. Yes, there have been periods when I found it very difficult to find the energy, or enthusiasm to write. Two periods being hospitalized meant that blogging stopped for a while. However, I have always returned and perhaps I am stronger for it.

This blog has always been a cornucopia of subjects. Originally envisaged as a forum for writing about how I dealt with depression, it has become much more than that. The need to write has meant that I would often write about the things that I have seen or heard, that I would describe some of my coping strategies so that others may also embrace them. I have written about the good times (not that there have been many) and the bad, about knitting, about psychotherapy, about strange things that I have seen, about places that I have visited and the blogging friends that I have met.

My blog was about a month old before I told anyone about it. It was about two months old when I mentioned it to Mr Smiley, who became a regular reader and commenter from that moment on and a great source of encouragement when I was finding it difficult to write for the blog. You won't find Mr Smiley's name on any of his comments; they were always made anonymously but because I knew his writing style I knew exactly which were his comments.

It is now more than six months since Mr Smiley's last comment on this blog. He was too ill to read it once he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, so he didn't know how well received the posts under the title Tackling the Mental Health Minefield had been, which is a shame because it was he who encouraged me to write about my experiences so that others might learn or derive support from them.

I guess that it would be true to say that Mr Smiley was another of my lifelines. I did wonder whether I would be able to continue without his support and encouragement. The fact that I am still blogging shows that I could, but it does grieve me that he is not here to read about my meetings with blogging friends, about the knitting group that I have joined (about which he would have been really pleased) and my new adventures in designing knitting patterns.

Lifelines are important to us and we should never underestimate the impact that they have on our lives or on what they allow us to achieve. I will continue to use my lifelines to help me keep my head above water and to make the most of every day that I have.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

I Did It ... And More

Yes, I finally managed to cast on the stitches and complete the 10 rows of rib for the cuff of my sock. I am now halfway through the first repeat of the pattern in the leg part.

I actually managed to get the sock properly under way before going to bed last night. Perhaps I shouldn't have done that because it was pretty late when I eventually settled down for the night and I had to be up early this morning because being Tuesday it was psychotherapy day.

My night-time medication certainly puts me to sleep these days, but it also means that I am very drowsy in the morning and when I have to go out I have to make sure that I set the alarm to wake me up. When the alarm goes off, I force myself out of bed immediately because I know that if I didn't I would quickly go back to sleep again.

Today's psychotherapy session started with us discussing when this therapy is going to end. This was always intended to be a short period of therapy, but it has gone on for longer than originally planned. The end of July has now been set as the time for ending this therapy which means between six and eight more sessions. I know that I will have to miss one session because I am due to have the surgery to deal with my delicate problem on 13th July.

After this initial discussion we moved on to the therapy proper. We focused on how I find it difficult to express my emotions. Suppressing one's emotions meant that it can be very difficult to deal with normal reactions to things like bereavement. Being unable to show grief, or anger, or any of the other emotions that one might expect to exhibit at difficult times in your life, has meant that I have done a lot of damage to myself mentally. Painful, and difficult, as this period of therapy has been, my therapist has helped me to start to experience emotions that I have fought to control for most of my life.

After my therapy session I had a quick lunch and then caught a bus to take me to Waterloo and a quick visit to I Knit London. Having decided to enter the knitting design competition I have started to design four more sock patterns that will be based on a common theme, and I have also decided to have a go as designing a lace scarf too. With all these projects on the board, some more yarn was required and that was what I was going to the shop for. I have managed to find four lovely yarns for the socks, and a wonderful lilac-pink laceweight yarn for the scarf.

It looks as though I am going to be busy for the next couple of months.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Sheer Frustration

One of my character traits is that I show a great deal of patience. Most of the time any way. I admit that when I am very depressed, patience is one of the things that disappears along with self-confidence, self-esteem and my ability to concentrate. I'm no different to anyone else in these circumstances and when these things happen frustration creeps in when anything that I am doing goes wrong.

This afternoon I have drafted the knitting pattern for my sock design and I have started knitting the second sock using the pattern. Three times I have started this second sock, and three times I have inadvertently pulled at the wrong needle of the five that I am using and ended up having 16 stitches not on their needle.

The fact that I have done this three times is an indicator that I am not concentrating on what I am doing. I can't blame it on watching television because I don't have it on. I'm not at a difficult stage in the pattern, its just working the rib that forms the cuff. But for some reason I just keep trying to transfer a needle that is in my left hand to my right hand and I keep moving the wrong one. The result being that I have two needles without stitches instead of one.

Sheer frustration!

Am I Really A Depression Hero?

Today I am being featured as a "Depression Hero" on this blog. It's very flattering to be considered a hero by someone, but do I really deserve the title?

One of the things that I have learnt since beginning this blog is that there are some really nice people out there in the blogosphere. There are people who have encouraged me to keep writing when I was finding it difficult, people who are worried when I don't write a post and will send me an email to make sure that I am okay, people who are kind enough to comment, people who love to hear about my knitting exploits, and people who just read the blog because they like what I have to say or the way that I say it.

Perhaps the best thing to have happened to me since I started this blog is that I have made a number of virtual friends as well as a few who are no longer virtual but who I meet on an occasional basis. The fact that I am old enough to be mother to each of these new friends doesn't matter. I offer a virtual ear to listen to their problems and they offer support to me when I am at my lowest. It is a mutual help function that is somehow missing in much of life today.

One of the things that I have learnt from blogging is that there is much that we can do to help someone who we don't know and who may be located in a town or city, or even a country, far away from our own. And much help can be received from them. Mental health bloggers are wonderful at supporting other mental health bloggers when things are not going well. It is because we have some understanding of what the other person is going through, that we can empathise and offer support that is based on experience. We won't ever tell a fellow sufferer 'to pull yourself together' nor will we ever allow a fellow sufferer to feel alone when a few words from us can make the difference that shows that there is someone out there who cares.

If that is what makes a Depression Hero then perhaps I am one. All I have ever wanted to do with my blog is to give others an idea of how I cope with long-term severe depression and perhaps hope to do something to help to reduce the discrimination and stigma that is associated with mental illness. I am really very proud, and a little embarrassed, at being Wendy Love's first Depression Hero, and I look forward to reading about more of her heroes as the weeks pass by.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

A Sense Of Achievement

Well, I've done it! The first sock that has been of my own design has been completed. I now have to sit down at the computer and write out the pattern and produce the two charts that are necessary for the design to be worked. One of the charts is going to be pretty simple to complete, the second a little less so but I have already half completed it so it shouldn't take me too long to finish.

Once the pattern is written, I will have to knit the second sock using the pattern as my guide so that I can make sure that the instructions are clear and correct. If everything works out okay, and the second sock matches the first then I will have achieved what I set out to do.

Having created this design, I have had an idea for some further patterns. This first one has diamonds as its theme, so I have decided to see if it would be possible to design some similar socks to incorporate hearts, clubs and spades, thereby creating a set of patterns under the name 'A Full House'. I'm not sure that it will be possible, but I'm going to have a go. This time I will create the patterns first and then try knitting them to see whether the patterns work or not.

Having something to focus on, as creating this pattern has done, is proving helpful in keeping me from dwelling on how bad I am feeling. I think that the fact that the socks are knitted in the round helps a great deal because I can just keep knitting one needleful after another and the sock keeps growing without me really noticing it.

I have to thank my Mum and my Grandma, who taught me to knit at a very young age, for giving me a skill that has done so much to help me deal with depression over the last 12 years.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Life Is Topsy-turvy

All my life I have been a morning person. I have never found it difficult to get up in the morning, and once up I was always raring to go for the day. By 9pm I would be starting to flag and 10pm was my bed-time for many years. I might not go to sleep straight away, most nights I would read for about half and hour and it was not uncommon for me to fall asleep with my book in my hand and still wearing my glasses.

Over the last year or so, I have found that I am becoming a night owl. I no longer find it easy to get up in the morning and it is not unusual for me to still be awake in the early hours of the morning. I know that part of this is caused by depression, but I don't think it explains it completely because even when I am not in the depths of depression, I am staying up later and sleeping well into the morning.

So, it seems as though my life is becoming topsy-turvy, that I am able to function well into the evening where just a couple of years ago it would have been impossible. This means that I am often still knitting at midnight, and it has meant that my eating habits have changed too. I rarely eat breakfast in the morning; my first meal of the day is more likely to be a kind of brunch taken at about 11.30am. My next meal will probably be in the early evening, and if I have a large meal this will be my last meal of the day, or if I have something more akin to a snack then I will probably have something else to eat at about 10pm.

This change to how I spend each 24-hour period is being reinforced by the medication that I am taking for depression. I have recently had an addition to this medication and it has meant that I am at long last getting a decent night's sleep most nights. But it also means that I am finding it even more difficult to get up in the morning. I seem to wake at about 7am to answer the call of nature but I have to go back to bed again because I am so sleepy. I will fall asleep almost as soon as I am in bed again, and will usually sleep for several more hours.

I'm hoping that this extreme sleeping will become less of a problem as my body gets used to the new medication. It makes me wake up with a very dry mouth but while at first that dryness would last throughout the day, I have realised that today that dryness was gone by mid-afternoon. And the extreme sleepiness that I have been experiencing well into the afternoon is now staying with me for far less time. Now I just need to see if I can experience an improvement in my mood so that I don't feel depressed all of the time.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Knitting Design Competition

When I was at I Knit on Wednesday I started work on my own sock pattern. It was the second design that I had tried because I realised very early on that the first one that I was knitting just wouldn't work because the yarn was too dark a colour for the pattern to be visible.

While I was working on this new design, Lorraine, who works in I Knit, told me that they were running a design competition so yesterday I emailed her for the rules for entry and this morning I received them. There are three categories, a knitted lace shawl or scarf, a full-size garment (for either an adult or child), and accessories (scarf, hat, mittens, gloves, socks), and each of the categories has three prizes, £250 +wool, £100 + wool, and £50 + wool.

Entries don't have to be in until the middle of August, so I have the opportunity to create more than one design. The knitting of the items is the easy part, the difficult part will be writing the pattern. One of the good things about designing socks is that I can knit one, then write the pattern, and use the pattern to knit the second sock, hopefully spotting any problems or errors as I knit the second sock.

Deciding to enter the competition has also given me something to focus on. There is some purpose in my knitting rather than it being just something to do to pass the time. So this evening I shall focus on the sock and hopefully get to the stage of turning the heel, maybe even completing the manoeuvre. The foot part of the sock is going to be the more difficult part of the pattern because I have decided that rather than have the pattern repeat across the width of the instep part of the sock, it is going to form a single line of moss stitch diamonds from ankle to heel. I think that this will give more impact to the design, but only time will tell.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

A Bit Of Success (Hopefully)

Having had a disaster with my first attempt at designing a sock, I started again and I think that my second attempt may turn out better. I have gone for a yarn that is much lighter in colour, comprising blues, lilacs and green, and a stitch pattern which is based on moss stitch diamonds. I have completed one full pattern repeat and so far so good, but I know that the real test will come when I start work on the second half of the sock, that is after I have turned the heel.

I have also made a start on a shawl using the very fine yarn that I bought a few weeks ago. I had decided on a pattern, then changed my mind but having started this second pattern I have decided that the yarn is just too fine for the pattern that I had chosen and there was a serious risk of me breaking the yarn when working the little bobbles that were an intrinsic part of the pattern.

So this afternoon I have started work on the shawl using the first pattern that I had selected. It begins with eight rows of garter stitch before moving on to the lace border that surrounds the sampler design that forms the centre of the shawl. The garter stitch rows were easy to complete and didn't take me very long, then I started on the first lace chart. I had almost finished the first row when I realised that I had gone wrong somewhere because I didn't have the right number of stitches at the end. Now I have to carefully look at the row to find out where I went wrong and unpick to that point to get it back on track. This is a job which requires a degree of concentration that I am not sure that I have at the moment.

My concentration has not been good for a while now. I am finding it impossible to read a book and it has also been quite difficult to concentrate on my knitting which is why I have been spending much of my time knitting socks recently. Over recent weeks I have been able to blame my lack of concentration on the lack of sleep that I was also experiencing. However, with the addition of another form of medication to my already long list I am no longer having problems sleeping. Now I am having a problem staying awake.

I had hoped that getting some sleep would help me to start to come out of this period of depression, but it doesn't seem to have happened. I am still feeling very depressed and, at times, finding it difficult to carry out even the basic functions of everyday life. But, I shall persevere as I have for almost 12 years now and hope that it won't be too long before I am able to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

A Dismal Failure

Well, the sock has been unravelled. I opted for a rather simple stitch pattern which I was sure would translate well for use on a sock but unfortunately the wool that I was using for the sock had too dark a base colour so the pattern did not show up particularly well. My only course of action was to take it off the needles and start again.

Fortunately I have a reasonable range of sock yarn in my stash so I am going to start my exercise in design again, but this time with a yarn that is much lighter in colour and which, because of this, will allow me to choose a more exciting stitch pattern to incorporate into the sock. So, armed with my book, my knitting needles and my new choice of yarn, I will be setting off for the knitting group and some serious knitting and knitters' chat.

I'll let you know how I get on later.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

A Girl's Gotta Do

There are many so called quotes that were never, in fact, spoken by the person to whom they are attributed. Frank Spencer never said "Betty, I've got a problem", Humphrey Bogart didn't say "Play it again, Sam" and it is probable that John Wayne didn't say "A man's gotta do, what a man's gotta do" even though it is a phrase beloved of those trying to do a John Wayne impersonation.

However, this girl has decided that the thing that she has "gotta do" is try her hand at designing a knitting pattern. As an avid knitter it is perhaps surprising that I have never done this before. I have adapted patterns and I've knitted a cardigan without the aid of a pattern, but it was a very simple design and was meant for wearing around the house or in the garden and not for public exhibition. But having got the sock knitting bug, I thought that it was perhaps now time to give it a try.

I bought a book yesterday that has 300 stitch patterns in it. There are simple combinations of plain and purl stitches, twists, cables, bobbles and leaves, lace, and complex patterns involving the use of colours. Many of the patterns are only suitable for flat items, such as a cardigan or pullover, but some look as though they could be adapted for an item that is knitted in the round, as socks are.

To start with I am going to use a sock pattern that I know produces items to a given size as the basis for my design. I have nearly finished the rib of the cuff of the sock and now I have to make a decision as to which of the designs in the book that I am going to use for my first attempt at designing a pattern that others may also like to knit.

I am torn between a simple combination of plain and purl, a rather attractive and unusual design based on cable techniques, a simple lace design worked over a small number of stitches and rows, or a twisted stitch design. It is important to find a pattern that has the right number of stitches for the repeat that is possible for the base sock pattern that I am using. This means that the pattern has to be based on a 4-stitch, 8-stitch, or 16-stitch repeat. This reduces the number of designs that are available to me, but there are still sufficient variations to make the choice quite difficult. An additional difficulty is that not only is it important to take the stitch repetition into consideration, but it is the number of rows needed to complete a pattern repeat that needs to be entered into the equation.

I am going to knit the last couple of rows for the cuff and then I am going to have to make my decision. I know that it is likely that I will end up having to unravel the sock because the design just doesn't work in the yarn that I am using. But I might be lucky and the design that I choose may look really good. If things go well, it may be possible for me to post a photograph here of the first sock designed by Madsadgirl.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Three Girls At The Fountains

Okay, so I know that isn't really the name of the film, or its title song, but the meeting place for Faye, Lily and myself on Saturday was Trafalgar Square just a few yards from one of the famous fountains there. Saturday brought my busy week to an end and was a lovely day spent with two lovely young ladies. We met at about 12.45 and made our way to the restaurant where we were going to have lunch. This turned out to be a very leisurely affair. We took ages to order our food because we were so busy talking (I think the waitress had three attempts at taking our order) and we also managed to save some money because I had found a discount voucher online which meant that one of our pizzas came free. After lunch we walked across Waterloo Bridge and made our way to I Knit London, the wool shop where I go to my knitting group. Faye bought some wool and a circular needle to make a blanket for her young cousin, and Lily bought a crochet hook which has a light in it so she can crochet in the dark. After making the purchases we headed across the road to a small park which is situated opposite the Old Vic and sat there talking for several hours. Eventually it was time for us to go our separate ways; Lily was going to meet her sister, Faye was off to meet another friend at Greenwich, and I was to wend my way home.

I can't remember the last time that I had such a busy week, and things have started in a similar vein this week with me spending all morning at the hospital for my pre-operation assessment. The operation is to deal with the little problem that I have that is not mentioned in polite society and I can't wait to have the operation because life is just so uncomfortable for me at the moment. I'm hoping that I won't have to wait too long for a date for the surgery.

Tomorrow is psychotherapy day and I must go and do a bit of shopping afterwards. I need to buy some food and a dressing gown. At home I don't bother with such a thing, but I have been told that I need to take one with me when I go for surgery to cover up my nether regions owing to having to wear a wonderful hospital gown that probably will leave everything open for anyone to see.

I may actually be able to spend most of Wednesday at home, although I will be going to the knitting group Wednesday evening and it makes sense to go a couple of hours before it actually starts because it means that I can then miss the crowds at rush hour.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Apologies Again

I must apologise again for not posting. Life for me is still very difficult and not being made any easier by almost certainly having to look for a new home. This is something that perhaps may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, but it doesn't make it any easier when at the moment it is as much as I can do to drag myself out of bed each day.

Tuesday's psychotherapy session was difficult. I have a half written post about it and about the meeting later that day with the guy who got the job that I applied for at the beginning of the year. I will finish it and publish it tomorrow. Yesterday I was feeling so awful that I couldn't face going out to the knitting group, which was a bit of a pain because I wanted to look to see if the shop had some more of the fabulous yarn that I bought a couple of weeks ago. Today I had an appointment with my psychiatrist, the nice Dr M, and as a result I now have to go to see my GP tomorrow to get a prescription for another additional antidepressant. Dr M is really concerned about how depressed I am and that I am not sleeping, which is probably making the depression even worse.

I'm hoping that Saturday turns out to be a nice day because I am meeting Lily and Faye in Trafalgar Square and we are going to have lunch together and possibly go looking at knitting supplies. I won't need to buy anything because I went to the knitting shop after I had been to see Dr M today and manage to secure the yarn that I wanted to add to that which I had bought a couple of weeks ago and I can now knit the shawl that I had hoped to be able to make with it. It's going to be a project for the future because I really don't think that I am in the right frame of mind to start working on it at the moment. If I can't even manage to read a book because my concentration is so bad, then there is no chance that I can knit a complicated lace shawl which requires me to follow several charts at the same time. When I do eventually get the shawl started I will post some pictures of my work of art as it progresses. It is not going to be a quick project, but I am sure that it will be worth the effort in the end.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Anxiety And A Busy Day Ahead

For the first time in several weeks I have woken this morning in a state of anxiety. Anxiety is nothing new on psychotherapy days, but in recent weeks it has remained at bay until I am actually waiting to go into my therapist's office. Today, I am back to the old feelings of a lurching stomach and uncontrollable shivering.

I was later than I wanted to be in going to bed last night. I think that it was because I got engrossed in my knitting and I didn't notice the time pass by. It was only when I got to the stage of grafting the stitches of the toe together that I realised that it was nearly midnight. When I did go to bed it took me almost an hour to get off to sleep, and then I was awake again at 5.40 this morning.

So, now I am about to get myself ready to head out for the day. First to the hospital for my psychotherapy session, then into town to get some lunch and then off to see the chap about record access. There will be some hanging around because I could not get the things more closely timed, but I will go equipped to do something constructive.

Mine is not a large handbag, but thanks to the ingenuity of the designers at Kipling, it is a bit like Mary Poppins' carpet bag. It can take an amazing array of items and there still be room for more. This means that I can make sure that I have my purse, my pocket organiser, a hair brush, a two-way mirror, my Oyster card, my building society book, some chewing gum, a packet of Polos, my GTN spray, various letters for forthcoming appointments (if they are in the bag already then I won't be looking for them on the day), a large bundle of tissues (always needed on psychotherapy day, and even though there are always plenty of boxes of tissues in my therapist's office, I much prefer my soft ones to his NHS issue rough ones), my DSi in its hard case with 6 games to choose from, and my knitting.

Yes, that is right, I have managed to get the wool and the five double-pointed needles into my handbag so that I can do a bit of the second sock while trying to pass the time. I have started it this morning and managed to do a few rows to get it started, now it is there for me to do if I get the opportunity.

All that remains for me to do before I set off for the day is to finish getting dressed and to take my morning medication. I have been a bit lax with the medication just recently. Sometimes it has been lunchtime before I have remembered to take it and some days I haven't taken it at all. So, I shall do that now and then get on my way.

Monday, 10 May 2010

It Was A Rhetorical Question

Okay, so it was a bit stupid to entitle yesterday's post "Why Do Socks Have To Be Made In Pairs", but my point was that having knitted one sock, I always hate having to knit its pair rather than starting a new project.

I am also aware that it is possible to knit both socks at the same time if you use circular needles, but having tried it once and having found that I didn't know whether I was coming or going, I will stick to knitting socks on double-pointed needles and one at a time.

So, as we are on the subject of socks, I have progressed on the one that I am knitting at the moment. Heel was turned yesterday, stitches picked up on both sides of the heel flap, and the necessary decreases have been made. I am now about half way to where I need to start the toe decreases. I don't suppose that I will get to that stage tonight, but I will certainly do my best to get as much done as possible.

Tomorrow is psychotherapy day, so that means having to get up early and the morning being taken care of. Then I shall go into town for lunch before going off to the meeting that I wrote about last week. That pretty much takes care of most of tomorrow, so I will be glad to get home to do a bit of knitting to unwind from what will probably be a quite traumatic day.

Then on Wednesday I shall be going to the knitting group again. I am really enjoying going to the shop and sitting with a group of knitters, who chat while they knit and have a drink or two, too. I'm going to take my socks with me (I should be well on the way with the second one by then) as well as the lace shawl that I am working on. That way I can have a choice of what I work on. If I manage to finish the socks, I will make sure that I have some wool with me so that I can start another pair if I want to. Socks are definitely easier to be working on when you are chatting; lace knitting is not always the best thing to be working on if you are chatting while you are knitting.

I also have a day planned for Saturday. But more about that later.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Why Do Socks Have To Be Made In Pairs?

The sock progressed well yesterday evening. I finished the leg part and actually did a few rows of the reinforced heel area before putting it down for the night.

I was very tired when I went to bed but I couldn't get to sleep straight away. I knew that I needed something to distract me and which would help to encourage the sleep to come. So I sat back in bed with my DSi playing the game that I got on Friday. It worked because after about half an hour I could actually feel myself falling asleep as I was playing the game. I put the stylus back in its slot, pushed the power button to switch the DSi off, put it down on the bedside table and the next thing I remember was waking up several hours later.

This afternoon I have been working on the sock again. The heel has been turned and I just have to pick up the last few stitches along the side of the heel flap and then I can start working on the foot of the sock and start heading towards the toes and the grafting at the end. I know that I won't get the sock finished tonight, I will probably keep stopping to watch Lewis when it starts in a few minutes time, but I will do as much as I can so that I can get to work on its pair as soon as possible because I have so much lovely sock wool waiting to be used and so many patterns to try.

So it is time to publish this post and pick up the needles so that work can progress.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Knitting Socks As A Coping Strategy

I finally managed to get a sensible amount of sleep last night after nearly a fortnight where the best that I have been able to manage is a couple of hours a night. I'm never sure whether the depression causes the inability to sleep, or the lack of sleep causes the depression. Whichever it is, there can be no doubt that for me the inability to sleep is always the indicator of a period of severe mental unwellness.

I have always had a number of things that I use as coping strategies when I am feeling depressed. For me it is important to try to ensure that I keep my mind occupied so that I don't have time to think about how bad I am feeling. Sometimes I am successful, but often it feels like I am fighting a losing battle and the bad thoughts invade my mind and are difficult to control.

I haven't been able to read more than a few sentences for some weeks so reading a book, one of my favourite pastimes has not been on the agenda. I have managed to while away the odd hour or two playing games on my Nintendo DSi. I don't have many games for it, but the ones that I have do keep me occupied and help me to focus on things other than the depression.

But it is knitting that I turn to most often, and at the moment I am knitting socks as a coping strategy. One of the joys of knitting socks is that as a garment they are fairly quick to knit. A sock generally takes me a couple of evenings to complete, so a pair can easily be knitted inside a week. And there are literally thousands of sock patterns on the Internet to chose from, many of them absolutely free, so it is possible to make every pair completely different to anything that you have knitted before.

But I am a bit predictable because I tend to use a few patterns that I have used before and which I know will give me the results that I want. I like to use hand-dyed yarns because of their unpredictability of colour and the colour mixtures that the dyers select. There are almost as many different sock yarns to chose from as their are patterns for socks. This means that even if you use the same pattern for each pair of socks, by using a different yarn for each pair you can have an extensive selection of socks each of which will appear different from the others.

So I am in the process of knitting another pair of socks. I'm using the same pattern as I used for the last pair of socks that I knitted. They are less colourful than some that I have made being made in a yarn that is shades of one colour rather than being made up of several colours. I should be able to get to the stage of turning the heel this evening as it is an easy pattern to follow. That means that I should have the pair finished by either Thursday or Friday. And there are only a couple of ends to sew in which means that there is little finishing off, a job that I hate.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Continuing To Go Downhill

I am continuing to fall deeper into depression and finding life very difficult to sustain. I know that this is in part due to my wedding anniversary approaching and no matter how hard I try to ensure that I don't think about it, the fact that it is another year alone keeps invading my mind.

But this is not the biggest factor affecting me at the moment. Unfortunately, the thing that is causing me most of my problems is something that I have brought on myself by agreeing to do something, without first giving sufficient thought to the possible affect it may have on me and my mood. I think that I have a strong sense of duty and I believe it is that which led me to agreeing to the request without considering the impact.

Last week I received an email asking if I would agree to meet with the person who got the job that I applied for earlier this year. The request was somewhat vague and I have had rather conflicting information about what it is that is hoped to be achieved from the meeting. I know that I have to write to the person who asked me to attend this meeting for more information on what he hopes will be achieved, but I also need to let him know that I am now having serious reservations about this meeting because of the effect it is having on me.

Tuesday's psychotherapy session focused on my having agreed to a meeting that was obviously having a very detrimental effect on me. My therapist sought to find out why I agreed to the meeting so quickly after the request was made. He thinks that I have made a mistake because of the effect that it is having on me; I think that he is probably right. He thinks that I do these things because I don't want to upset anyone or to let them down. The result is that I end up punishing myself when simply saying 'No' would have stopped that from happening.

Although it is difficult to string two sentences together at the moment I am going to see if I can manage to get back to blogging on a daily basis. I'm not sure how interesting the posts will be, but it can be good for me and I think that I need to make the effort, not least because I have been very heartened by the fact that people are still looking at the blog on a daily basis and because I have had some lovely messages hoping that I will soon be back to regular blogging. Special thanks to Little Feet who wrote an email hoping that I was okay and who prompted me to write the previous post which explained that things were not going well.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Not At My Best

I'm sorry that I haven't written the post that I said I would after my adventures on Wednesday. Life has taken a bit of a nose-dive again and I am having problems with just day-to-day living, let alone writing the blog.

I am hoping that I will be back to blogging in a day or two and I promise I will tell you about the lovely group of knitters in whose company I spent Wednesday evening. They were so nice that I have decided to make this the group that I meet with regularly, so you will be getting regular updates about what we are all knitting or talking about.