Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Madsadgirl Is Two Today

Madsadgirl, my alter ego, is two years old today.

When I decided to start this blog one of the first things that I thought about was whether I wanted to be anonymous or to write under my real name. It didn't take me long to realise that I would probably be more honest in what I wrote if I was not easily recognizable. Yes, I would probably tell some people that I wrote a blog, but it would be my choice as to whether I told them the name of the blog, which was also the name that I adopted for myself.

I had been writing the blog for about three weeks when I told my GP that I had a blog. A few weeks later, while having lunch with Mr Smiley, I told him about the blog and he became a regular reader, and occasional commenter although always anonymously but I knew which were his comments nonetheless.

I thought that the blog might become a sort of therapy for me in my battle against depression. I was right. Originally meant as somewhere to write about how I was or wasn't coping with depression, it immediately became something more than that. I started writing about other things that were important to me and then about knitting, one of the things that has kept me going over the last few years.

I have tried to write every day, but sometimes the muse just wasn't there, and then there were the times that I was in hospital and therefore without my computer so the posts dried up. One of the things that I wanted to make sure I didn't do was write each day saying how awful I was feeling, so this led to posts about the strange, and sometimes funny, things that I saw around me. Writing about my experience of psychotherapy was another thing that found its way onto the blog, and was responsible for me being invited to give occasional lectures at one of our universities on the patient's perspective of therapy.

One of the biggest bonuses that I have derived from writing this blog is the array of virtual friends that I have made within the blogosphere. And some of them are not so virtual because I have actually met them and correspond with them outside of our blogs. And the support from other bloggers when things have not been going too well has meant a great deal to me too.

So, my third year of blogging is about to begin. Thank you for reading, and commenting. You have no idea how much it means to me.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Like A Drowned Rat And Feeling Stupid

After a period of hot weather which has left me flagging at times, this morning there was torrential rain in my part of London.There was no clear blue sky to wake up to, just unremitting grey clouds and a substantial amount of rain pouring from them.

The rain was not altogether unexpected, but it wasn't the light shower that had been forecast, something that would not have bothered me too much, and it was fairly obvious that I was going to get wet on my way to the bus stop. And I was right to expect to get wet because just after I had left the house it started to rain even harder and my waterproof jacket was finding it hard to cope with the rain.

By the time that I got to the bus stop I had a very wet jacket, rather wet trousers, and the toes that were peeking out of my sandals were both wet and covered with dirt from the splashing rain. Fortunately my jacket has a hood so I was at least able to keep my hair dry otherwise I would definitely have looked like a drowned rat. I looked at the electronic board at the bus shelter to see how long I was going to have to wait for my bus and found that one was due in just a few minutes and another was about five minutes behind it.

I like to make sure that I have my Oyster card in my hand before I get on the bus so that I am not scrabbling around in my handbag for it while other people are waiting to get on the bus. I'm pretty good at putting it in a place in my handbag where it is easy to find whenever I need it, but this morning it wasn't in its usual slot in my bag. Panic set in. What had I done with it? I had used it yesterday and although I had removed quite a few things from my handbag when I was looking for something in it yesterday evening, I was fairly certain that I hadn't taken it out of my bag.

There was only one thing for it, I was going to have to take things out of my handbag systematically so that I could find the card. Unfortunately this was easier said than done because there was nowhere for me to put the things as I took them out. My bus arrived and I still hadn't found the card but as I knew that there was another imminent I decided to let this one go without me so that I could search a little longer. I did eventually find my card as a bus arrived at the stop.

With card in hand I leapt onto the bus (well, perhaps I didn't leap on) and found myself a seat. These days there are a number of different seating arrangements on our red double-decker buses, and this should have alerted me as I got on, but it wasn't until the bus was moving and the speaker system on the announced its route and destination that I realised I had got on the wrong bus. And I only had one more stop that was shared by both this bus and the one that I should have got on. So, I quickly rang the bell to alert the driver that I wanted to get off and a minute later I was back out in the rain waiting for the right bus.

I really cannot believe that I boarded a bus without checking to see what number it was. I had to wait for about 10 minutes (the bus wasn't quite as imminent as I had thought it was) for my bus to arrive getting wetter by the minute. By the time that I had arrived at my destination the rain had stopped but I was still looking like a drowned rat and feeling a stupid one at that.

Monday, 28 June 2010

I Knew Things Were Going Too Well

I started working on a lace shawl just over a week ago. It was started because I needed a break from knitting socks which had been taking up all my knitting time for some weeks. The first hundred or so rows were completed pretty quickly but as the shawl grew it took longer and longer to knit each row until it got to the stage yesterday where each row was taking something like 20 minutes to complete. But even though the rows were taking longer to complete, the actual pattern over these stitches was very easy to follow and soon became imprinted on my mind so that minimal viewing of the pattern charts was necessary.

Things were going smoothly until about 5.30 this evening when I discovered that there were some mistakes in the shawl. I started to unpick it stitch by stitch but with almost 500 stitches to the row, trying to find out where the errors occurred was going to take forever. So I did the unthinkable. I pulled the needle (I'm using a circular one because they are the best thing to use for shawls) from the shawl and started to unravel the whole shawl.

It may seem a somewhat extreme to do this but I really don't have the ability to concentrate on the shawl for the length of time necessary to unpick it a stitch at a time to find the errors. I often resort to this when knitting lace because it can be so easy to make a mistake which can take forever to find. Admittedly I have never managed to get so far with a shawl before making one of these catastrophic mistakes, but I know that the shawl will probably be better second time around and I am now more aware of the likely problem areas of the pattern.

I have already started knitting again and already have completed 13 rows of the first chart. It is likely that I may finish the first chart this evening and possibly even start the second one. Hopefully, this time I will be able to work on the shawl without having to resort to pulling the needle out.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Thinking About The End Of Psychotherapy

I'm not coping with this hot weather very well. I have lots of windows open but there is nothing much in the way of movement of air so it isn't helping me to keep cool. It's too hot to contemplate cooking which I probably couldn't cope with even if it weren't so hot, and I don't have anything that I can just throw in the microwave to heat up. Going without food is not a good idea so I have ordered a pizza to be delivered later when the temperature has hopefully gone down a little and the thought of eating something is not quite so unpalatable.

I think that it is unpalatable thoughts that have been part of the reason that I have started to go downhill into the depths of depression again. These thoughts invade my brain at any time that I am not actively concentrating on something else, and it is the difficulty of maintaining concentration that is inherent in depression that allows these thoughts in.

I live alone and spend most days isolated from the rest of the human race. Part of the reason for this is that I find it very difficult dealing with new people and have done for most of my life. The consequence of this is that I am alone, but that is not the same as being lonely. I don't feel lonely, just alone and as I get older this seems to get more difficult to deal with.

I have made efforts to change things. Recently I have joined the knitting group that meets at I Knit London a couple of times a week. It's not exactly local but close enough to home for me to make the journey at least once a week and sometimes twice. The ladies (and the couple of gentlemen) who meet at this shop for knitting, having the odd drink, and partaking in a lot of conversation, not all of it about knitting, are an incredibly friendly group and have made me feel very welcome.

My joining such a group would have been something unthinkable this time last year and I still find it difficult to believe that I have taken such a step. I still suffer great waves of anxiety when I set out to go to the group, but having to make a fairly lengthy bus journey to get to the venue does allow me time to try to relax. I know that I have most difficulty with group situations when I have to walk in on a group that is already present so I tend to arrive early so that the members join in ones and twos after I am already present and for me this is a more comfortable situation.

The strength to join this group has come about as a direct result of the psychotherapy that I have been undergoing since last December. This therapy was originally meant to finish at Easter but my therapist felt that further long term therapy, this time in a group setting, was needed so after having referred me to the mental health trust's psychotherapy services for assessment as to suitability for group psychotherapy, he decided that our sessions together should go on for longer.

This therapy is now approaching its conclusion. It will come to a close at the end of July, so with me being unable to attend one session because of my impending day surgery, I have four more sessions with this therapist. During our last session he asked if I was concerned about the impending termination of therapy. I replied in the negative, but I am now not so sure. I think that it is almost certainly one of the factors in my descent back into depression.

After such a difficult termination of therapy last year it is perhaps not surprising that the impending termination of therapy is playing on my mind. I know that it is going to be difficult, but I am being seen by a very experienced therapist, a senior consultant psychologist, within the mental health trust, and he is aware of how I was left feeling abandoned after my previous therapy. I also know that he is going to do everything in his power to ensure that I am not going to be left hanging as I was before.

I have made significant progress over the last few months. Psychotherapy is still something that I find difficult; I just don't like talking about myself and my feelings. However, we have worked hard on certain aspects of my behaviour and I am now much more aware of when I am moving into difficult territory and am therefore more equipped to deal with it.

I'm certain that I will still find the end of this therapy very difficult, but I know that it is only a matter of time before I enter a new phase of therapy, this time in a group setting. The talking therapies are regularly offered as the answer to so many of the problems that those with depression are faced with, but it is important that the therapist is well qualified, and because many of those who are most in need of such treatments have no means of paying for therapy and must rely on what little is available on the NHS, it is important that as many good therapists as possible work for the NHS.

In four weeks time I am sure that I will be sitting here contemplating my final therapy session with J. He has made a tremendous difference to the way that I am over the last six months and has helped me come to terms with so much that has happened in my life. I will, of course, thank him, but that seems so little when I consider what he has done for me.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Black Clouds Overhead

After a couple of weeks feeling rather better than I have for a very long time, over the last few days the black clouds of depression have loomed on the horizon and now are settled firmly overhead.

I have endured a very disrupted pattern of sleep. Sometimes I don't sleep at all and at other times I can't stop sleeping. Tears start flowing for no particular reason and the horrible thoughts are intruding whenever I am not focused on doing something.

Even though I have lived with depression for nearly 12 years, it still amazes me how quickly I can change from being able to cope with life to life becoming unbearable. I am finding it difficult to concentrate for anything longer than about half an hour so my knitting is being done in fits and starts. But even so I have managed to make good progress on the lace shawl that I started last Sunday. I have completed 208 rows and have 160 more to go. Each row is now taking about 10 minutes to complete so progressed has slowed considerably to what it was at the beginning of the week and as additional stitches are added (4 on each right-side row) it will continue to take longer to complete each row.

I have decided to continue working on the shawl over the weekend and then return to knitting socks on Monday. The break from socks has been good and will, I hope, enable me to get back to them with renewed enthusiasm.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Where Have My Followers Gone?

I have followers. I have more than 40 of them, but they seem to have stopped appearing on the side of my page. Yesterday they returned for a few hours and then they disappeared again.

The sad thing about not being able to see who is following me is that I have found quite a lot of really good blogs through bloggers becoming followers of my blog. Now it seems that I can see that I have followers on the dashboard, but not find out who they are.

Does anyone have an explanation for their disappearance and a way of getting them back on my blog?

Update: It seems to depend on which browser you use. I generally use Firefox for my blog because I had encountered some problems when trying to create posts using Google Chrome. If I view my blog using Firefox, then the followers are missing, but if I view it using Google Chrome then they are present. It looks as though I will be changing my browser to Google Chrome permanently if I find that the previous problems have now been solved. Thank you for letting me know that you were able to see the followers because that guided me to try other browsers.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Post 600

When I started this blog nearly two years ago I did wonder whether I would keep it up. There have been a few breaks in posting, the times that I was in hospital and again when I went through a really bad period of depression and just getting myself out of bed each day was a major achievement.

The blog was originally intended to document how I coped with depression, and to be fair it has continued to do this although I try not to make my posts depressing catalogues of how bad I am feeling. Instead I try to write about the things that I am doing to try to keep the depression at bay. And now I am writing the 600th post.

A number of posts continue to attract a lot of attention, even though they are now quite old. One is entitled 'Psychotherapy and Termination' (written in March 2009) and I can guarantee that there will be a couple of hits on this post each week. The post that is viewed most often however, is nothing to do with depression or psychotherapy. It is the post titled 'What is a Shetland Hap Shawl?' which was written as a result of a number of people asking me that question in comments to an earlier post that gave details of the Shetland hap shawl that I was knitting at the time. This post is viewed at least five times a week which is somewhat surprising considering its subject.

The posts that I am probably most proud of are those in the 'Tackling the Mental Health Minefield' series. Being admitted to a psychiatric hospital was never something that I had considered as being a thing that would happen to me. But it did, and I am just so relieved that I had enough sense to take myself off to see my GP when I started to do some really silly things that were putting me at risk. I tried to provide an objective overview of my time in hospital, the people that were supposed to be looking after me and the stupid rules that seemed to be there to make life easy for the staff with little regard to the effect that they may have had on the patients. Admission to a psychiatric hospital is never a nice thing but I hope that what I have written on the subject may help to give an idea of what to expect and how you can come out the other side without too much harm being done.

In eight days time the blog will be two years old. I think it is likely to continue to form an important part of my life for the foreseeable future, there are many things that I want to write about and I am sure that there will be more things that crop up as time passes. I hope that anyone who reads this blog will gain something from it, just as I gain something by writing it.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Lace Again

The shawl that I started (twice) on Saturday was finished yesterday. It didn't take long because it was the simplest pattern possible. Buoyed up by completing this project I decided to start work on another shawl. I prepared needles of the correct size and started work on this shawl yesterday afternoon.

While taking a break from knitting I spent some time looking at free patterns for shawls on Ravelry. There were hundreds to look at but one in particular attracted my attention. It wasn't the first time that I had looked at this pattern, but it was noticing that the pattern's designer had used yarn from one of my favourite yarn producers, Cherry Tree Hill, to make this shawl that decided me to take a closer look.

I had a ball of Cherry Tree Hill yarn waiting for me to find a suitable project so I decided to give it a go. Yesterday evening I cast on the five stitches that formed the starting point for the shawl and got stuck in to the pattern. I have now completed 94 of the 368 rows of the pattern and the stitch count has risen from 5 to 192.

There is still a very long way to go until I complete this shawl, and it will certainly have to take a back seat again so that I can get back to work on the socks for the design competition. However, it is a long time since I have worked on a complicated lace pattern such as this one and the fact that I am progressing so well has made me feel a little better today.

Once all the socks are completed then I will be able to devote all my time to the shawl, but until then I will content myself with doing a couple of rows a day so that it continues to grow albeit at a much slower rate than it has over the last 24 hours.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Taking A Break

I seem to have been knitting socks constantly for the last few weeks and yesterday evening I felt I needed a break from them. So after a brief foray on ravelry, a wonderful site for knitters and crocheters, I found a shawl pattern for one of the lovely yarns that I have in my stash.

It couldn't be more different from knitting socks if it tried. Although sock yarn is used for both, the socks are knitted using 2.25mm needles and the shawl is knitted with 8mm needles. It's like knitting with pencils after having spent so much time with very fine needles.

Work on the shawl progressed well last night and again this afternoon so that I was heading towards being at a stage this evening where I could start working on the ruffles edging. As I say, I was heading towards the final stages of the shawl when I found that I had dropped a stitch.

Dropping a stitch would not have been a problem had I been using needles more suitable to the yarn, but because the needles are so large it meant that as I watched the stitch just kept dropping down through the rows until it reached a point where it could go no further. Unfortunately that meant that the only way that I could retrieve the situation was to unpick much of the shawl. Having looked at it, and said a few choice words I ended up unravelling the whole shawl and starting again.

Second time around the shawl is growing. I am about half way to point where I cast off the centre stitches and start working on the front corners. I'm not going to get to the ruffle tonight as I had hoped, but work is commencing at a good enough rate that I can realistically expect to finish the shawl tomorrow.

I must be feeling a little better because had this happened to me a week ago I think that I would have gone to pieces and thrown the yarn and needles across the room. Instead I have just got on with things and started again. One thing is certain, I am going to keep a very close eye on the work and make sure that I don't drop a stitch again.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Ladies Who Lunch

Yesterday evening saw me at the knitting group. I have come to really enjoy the company of this group of ladies (and occasionally some men) on a Wednesday evening especially because it can be enjoyed with a bottle of wine or some other alcoholic beverage (I have acquired a taste for strawberry perry). It can be rather amusing to watch the expressions on the faces of passers by when they see 20 or more people sitting down in a shop knitting and chatting.

Yesterday saw me showing off my sock designs to a few of the people present and they received many favourable comments. When I showed the first design (the only one of which actually has a pair of socks at the moment) I was immediately asked if the pattern was for sale. When I showed my 'Cards' series of socks there was more encouragement and amazement at my creativity.

I explained that I had even more design ideas tucked away in my brain and that I had given up plans to submit a lace design for the competition so that I could concentrate on socks as my entries for this year. It was at this point that Lorraine the lovely lady who works in the shop and answers all my emails about competition entries suggested that this could be the basis of a book. This set me thinking and maybe she is correct. Perhaps this competition has given me the push in the direction that my life needs to move in to. They say that there is a book in all of us, and it is possible that my book is not a novel or a piece of historical research as I had previously thought but something for knitters everywhere.

As I was chatting with the lady who got me to join the knitting group she asked if I was doing anything today. When I said that I wasn't, she suggested that I might like to join a small number of the knitting group who lunch together on a Thursday and who then make their way to I Knit London for the Thursday knitting group. With nothing of any importance in my diary for today, that is exactly what I am going to do.

I am going to be a lady who lunches and who knits too.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Leaving On A Jet Plane (Actually It Will Be A Bus)

To quote a song from my younger years 'My bags are packed, I'm ready to go' and it will soon be time to walk to the bus stop to catch my bus rather than the aeroplane of the song.

I have sorted out all my competition socks and put them and the wool that I have used for them into one bag so that I do not have to search for them when the time comes for me to start work on the competition pairs of socks. This bag has been joined by scissors, my charts, and my pad of graph paper and all of this has been put into my I Knit London bag.

I'm hoping that I will finish the first of the 'Full House' socks this evening and then it will be full steam ahead with the twin that will make up the pair. The next task will be to knit the other four pairs of socks that make up the 'Cards' designs.

I am now pretty sure that I won't have time to design and knit the lace scarf for the competition. Perhaps it was being a bit optimistic to think that I would be able to manage that as well as six pairs of socks. However, I have had another idea for a sock design so I may well add this to my entries if I can get the idea to work.

Whilst I have always done handicrafts, I have never really considered myself to be a creative person because I have always followed a pattern. Designing these socks has shown me that I was wrong and that I do have a little bit of a creative streak in me and that I should see where it takes me. Socks are a relatively easy starting point, but I have become hooked on designing things so I think that lace designs are going to be the next area that I concentrate my efforts on. Scarves to start with and then if these work well I will turn my hand to designing a shawl. This will be a much more difficult area to work in so I may have to wait until my concentration has improved significantly from how it is at the moment.

Who knows where this may all lead to.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Down At Heel

Just a quick update on the 'Full House' sock.

I'm just about to turn the heel. This is the part of sock knitting that I like most because it means that I am half way to completing it. It just so happens that the pattern that I have designed has approximately the same number of rows before the heel as it does after the heel.

Once I have turned the heel and picked up the stitches along both sides of the heel flap I will find out which of the suits comes next. I know it sounds daft but I have absolutely no idea whether the chart that I have used for the leg part of the sock will be used for the foot part (albeit only half of the pattern) or whether I will have to draw up a new chart.

My intention is that the vertical view of the sock will show all four suits. I'm just going to have to keep knitting to find out what will happen. I'm quite pleased with how the sock has turned out so far and I am sure that I will be pleased with the finished result.

It's time to get back to those knitting needles.

Monday, 14 June 2010

A Long Way To Go

I'm having real problems with depression at the moment and I'm finding everything difficult. This means that with my not being able to concentrate on anything for very long even the simplest things take much longer than they ought to.

For me, it's not the continuously feeling very low that is the worst part of depression, but the lack of ability to concentrate. Lack of concentration means that reading a book becomes very difficult because I have to read the same paragraph several times for it to make an impact on me. It's at times like these that I resort to old favourites; that is books that I have probably read many times before so I have some idea of what the book is about while trying to concentrate on the page. At the moment I am working my way through the Harry Potter books because children's books are usually easier to follow although that is not necessarily true of the later books in the series because they are much longer and far more complex.

Knitting, the hobby that has kept me going over the years, is also causing me some problems at the moment. In part this is being caused by the fact that I am trying to design sock patterns for the design competition. I have completed one pair of socks and I have knitted one sock of each 'Clubs', 'Diamonds', 'Hearts' and 'Spades' and I am working 'Full House' at the moment. This sock seems to require far more concentration than the others, probably because I am trying to work two symbols at a time on the sock ('Clubs' and 'Diamonds' at the moment).

I had asked whether it would be necessary to knit a pair of each design for the competition and today I have received the reply to my query. This means that I have to make a pair for each design so I have a lot more socks to knit before I am ready to enter the competition. Having to knit the additional socks means that it is now less likely that I will be able to enter a lace scarf in another of the competition categories.

Perhaps this is not such a bad thing because trying to do too much does put pressure on me at a time when I am less able to cope with it. Although I have already knitted the four 'suits' individually, I had knitted each of these socks as a kind of sampler. This means that I have to knit a pair of each of the designs as a finished product so as well as the pair that I am working on at the moment, I have to knit four full pairs for the competition. This is going to require some more wool so I will have to see about buying that later this week when I have a bit more money.

If I were to win one of the prizes in the competition, the prize money would ensure that I would be able to add to my wool stash to keep me going for some considerable time. And the possibility of my patterns being offered for sale would also mean that I could create a little revenue to supplement my hobby.

Although I have a long way to go to complete my entries for the competition, I am glad that I have decided to take on this challenge. So, keep your fingers crossed for me that the judges like my designs and award me one of the prizes.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Socks And Suits

I've not been feeling great for the last few days and this has resulted in me spending a large part of the last three days asleep. Fortunately I can sleep now thanks to the additional medication and getting plenty of sleep does seem to help me cope with things a little better.

I have now completed one sock for each of the four suits. I am happy with the socks for 'Diamonds', 'Hearts' ans 'Spades', but I have made a few alterations to the chart for 'Clubs' so a new sample sock will have to be knitted. However, rather than work on this single suit sock, I have drafted the chart for the 'Full House' sock and I have started knitting that. I've only done three of the 10 rows of rib for the sock's cuff as yet, but it shouldn't take me long to complete the cuff and then I can move onto the leg part of the sock and I have to admit that I am looking forward to seeing how this sock turns out.

I've done a bit of preparatory work on writing the patterns but I shall need to sit down and work on this earnestly over the next couple of weeks. I still have plenty of time before the designs need to be submitted but I also have a lot of work still to do. I am still hoping that I will have the time to create a lace scarf for the competition but it is going to be touch and go whether I can achieve this.

I am hoping to treat myself to a new book this week once my pension gets paid into the bank. This book is full of charts for lace patterns mainly of Estonian design, and it would be a wonderful resource for creating my own designs. So I will be doing a few calculations and if things look okay I shall be buying the book on Thursday and no doubt spend Thursday evening turning the pages slowly and trying to decide which patterns to include in my lace scarf.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Feeling The Strain

It's been a busy week for me. Okay, so it's not been busy like it was when I was working full-time and studying for a degree in the few spare hours that I had, but busy for how my life is now.

The problem with depression is that it saps what little energy you have. I know that I don't eat properly which probably doesn't help much, and while I am at last getting a reasonable amount of sleep each night due to the addition a month ago of 400mg of Seroquel to the 45mg of Mirtazapine that I was already taking, I still find that doing many things really takes it out of me.

I didn't do much on Monday other than what was necessary. I had a misfortune with the sock that I was knitting and had to pull it off the needles and unravel it, ready to start again. I decided to draft out the chart for the next of the sock designs, and 'Spades' quickly took shape on paper to be followed a short time later by work with needles and wool.

Tuesday was psychotherapy day and this week was one of the most intense sessions that I have ever experienced not only with my present therapist but the others who had preceded him. I know that I have sometimes talked about feeling like a limp lettuce after psychotherapy when the session has taken me to difficult places in my mind, but Tuesday's session was different; I didn't feel like a limp lettuce, I just felt mentally and physically drained from the effort that I had put into the session as well as somewhat exhilarated by what had been achieved. When I got home I found it difficult to settle to anything and consequently lots of things got started and then stopped again as my mind couldn't cope with what I was trying to achieve.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I went to the knitting group. Although the group officially meets from 6-9pm, it is usual for some of us to be there before that time. I arrived at about 4pm and sat chatting with the girls in the shop and with a couple of other members of the group who were also there early. I still find it difficult being in a room with a lot of other people, but I have learnt through experience that if I am there early and the room fills up around me that I can cope with it quite well, but if I am required to enter a room that is full of people already then I know that I am going to find the situation much more difficult and I am likely to just stay on the edge of the group rather than joining in. I managed to get a fair bit of knitting done at the group, finishing the leg part and creating the heel flap and starting the turning of the heel.

Today, I had an appointment with my consultant psychiatrist this morning and this afternoon a visit to the CMHT. Dr M was his usual kind self, although today he had two medical students in with him and he was concerned that I may not be happy for them to stay during the consultation. A few years ago I would never have accepted anyone else in the room, but I know that it is very difficult for medical students to get a real feel for the various specialties if all the patients refuse to allow them to stay. These days I am more likely to agree to them remaining with the proviso that if I start to become uncomfortable with the situation that they can be asked to leave. We talked about how I was coping day to day, how my mood has been, and whether I was able to write regularly on the blog. I also told him about going to the knitting group and working on some sock designs for the design competition. We talked about my medication and it has been decided to leave it as it is for the time being to see how I get on over a longer period with the present drug regime, so it's 200mg of Sertraline in the morning and the Mirtazapine and Seroquel at night.

From the hospital it was a bus ride to the CMHT and a meeting with the two workers who are going to be helping me over the next few months cope with the things that I just haven't been able to face for a long time.

This evening I have been taking it easy. I've played a few games on my DSi and done a bit of knitting and I'll probably do a little more before taking my medication and heading for bed. I'm tired, and I don't have to get up early tomorrow to get anywhere so I can have a lie in if that's how things turn out. I guess that I have to expect that I won't be able to do all the things that I did 20 years ago, but I'm just not happy with admitting that I am getting old as well as being depressed.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


It's knitting group at I Knit London tonight so I am about to pack some wool and needles in my bag and head off for an evening of knitting and chat.

My 'Hearts' sock was progressing well until I found that I had dropped a stitch and it had run down many rows. There was nothing for it but to pull out the needles and unravel the sock. A bit heartbreaking but that's the way it goes.

Instead of restarting that sock straight away I decided to have a go at drafting the chart for 'Spades' and start knitting that instead. The chart was fairly easy to draft and I am reasonably happy with how the Spade-shape looks on the sock. I'm working this one in shades of brown. I have almost completed the leg part of the sock so will be knitting the heel flap and turning the heel while at the group this evening.

I will start 'Hearts' again once 'Spades' is finished and then probably start on 'Full House' although I think that having worked on the other suits I am not so happy with 'Clubs' any more and may consider redrafting the design and knitting it again.

At least it keeps me off the streets!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

How Did We Manage Before ...?

I can remember a conversation with my husband, before he was my husband, about watches. The conversation was about how complex watches had become (digital watches were still an expensive item and not very good) with practically all analogue watches having a date function by that time. My yet-to-become husband said that he remembered the strange looks that he got when he first came back to the UK after a posting to Germany and someone asked what the date was and he (hubby-to-be) looked at his watch. Watches with a date function had not yet become commonplace in the UK hence the strange looks when hubby-to-be looked at his wrist.

Mobile phones when they first became available were difficult to actually call mobile. Yes, you could make a call without recourse to a fixed line, but coverage was patchy and the phones themselves were the size of a brick, and somewhat unsurprisingly that is the name that became attached to them.

Once it became established that this was the way ahead for mobile communications, more companies climbed on the bandwagon and offered a mobile service. Some providers had better coverage than others so you needed to do a bit of detective work to see whether the network provider that you were thinking of getting connected to would give you a service that did at least mean that most of your calls would get through to the person you were trying to call.

It was about this time that I got my first mobile phone. It came free with my new car. Ford started to give a free mobile phone with new cars because they could see the benefit to the driver having a mobile phone in case of an emergency. And I managed with that free mobile phone for several years because I did only use it on rare occasions. My husband liked me to have it with me when I went on long journeys on my own and it was handy for letting him know that I had arrived safely.

Eventually phones became smaller; they truly were mobile and could easily be carried in a handbag or a pocket. Small was beautiful and the smaller your phone the more impressive it seemed to be. Then cameras were added to the phones and if you had a mobile phone you always had a camera with you to take that spur of the moment, once in a lifetime photograph. Then a video facility was added and while the photographs and video that you may capture with your phone were never going to win any prizes they provided hours of fun for some people. And then there was the 'hands free' boom achieved first with and earpiece and microphone attached to the phone and later with a Bluetooth-enabled earpiece that looked like something that you might see Lt Uhura in Star Trek sporting in one ear.

Mobile phones have started to become larger again. Now it is not sufficient to have a phone to make the odd phone call or send a quick text message, you need to have a phone that allows you to access the Internet, that allows you to listen to your entire collection of MP3 tracks, that allows you to listen to the radio if that is your thing, that provides an alternative facility for sending and receiving emails, gives you GPS capability so that you need never get lost. And all of this means that those dinky little phones of a few years ago are now a thing of the past and your credibility seems to be determined by how many 'apps' you have on your mobile phone.

You are probably wondering where this is all going. Well, just as my husband got strange looks when he looked at his watch to see what the date was, so we are now living in a time where it is not unusual to see people walking along the street talking to themselves. Just a few years ago if you did that you would be considered a suitable case for a quick admission to the local mental hospital, now it seems that you have to be seen constantly talking into a mobile phone or you are a loser, someone with no friends. And many people are not content with just one mobile any more. A few years ago anyone with two mobile phones would be likely to have his collar felt by the local constabulary as a possible drug dealer, but today it does not seem to be unusual to be seen with a mobile in each hand.

Considering that this has all happened in a relatively short a time period it begs the question, 'How did we manage before we had mobile phones?'

A Crowded Mind

For the first time in ages I have posts for this blog queueing in my mind. My memory being what it is at the moment I will have to jot down some notes for each of them so that I don't forget what I want to say.

Today has been psychotherapy day. I had what my therapist described as a good session. He worked me hard and I responded to it in a way that he has not seen from me before. As we chatted at the end of the session he told me how pleased he was with how hard I had worked today and that he felt that the therapy is making a difference to me. He's right; I am seeing some benefits from it as I am not blaming myself for everything any more. But I have a long way to go yet and it is unlikely that we will be able to deal with all my problems before the work with this therapist ends in July.

I am feeling a bit mentally battered and bruised from the session but at the same time there is a certain calmness about me that has not been there for some time. The racing thoughts are still there but they seem to be easier to switch off for short periods of time rather than being there every waking moment.

It's going to be a busy week mentally-speaking because I have my next appointment with my consultant psychiatrist, Dr M, on Thursday, then straight after this I have to go to the CMHT to meet my new care coordinator and key worker. This will be something new for me as I have never been in this position before. I am hoping that they will be able to help me with some of the things that I need to deal with but which I find it impossible to face on my own.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

A Sneak Preview

Bippidee asked in a comment to yesterday's post when you were going to get to see some photographs of my sock designs. The rules of the design competition are quite explicit on the fact that the designs should not have been published anywhere prior to the competition, however, I have managed to take a few photographs with my phone and I am going to publish them here. I must apologise for the quality of the photographs but I needed to make sure that I wasn't giving too much away. The socks also need to be blocked so that they lay flat, but that is a task that I am saving until I can do them all together so you will see that they are a bit puckered at the moment. However, I am sure that you will forgive me when you see what I have been working on.

Sock No 1

Sock No 2

Sock No 3

Sock No 4

As I say, the quality of the photographs leaves a lot to be desired, but proper photographs will be taken in the future and will eventually be published here once the date of the competition arrives.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

From Diamonds To Hearts

I finished the 'Diamonds' sock last night and this morning started on 'Hearts'. It didn't take me very long to draft a chart which I thought might work and started knitting the sock. This was fairly early this morning; I didn't take my night-time medication last night so I managed to wake up fairly easily without any lingering sleepiness this morning. It didn't take me long to realise that it was going to be a very hot day and doing anything work-like was not going to be pleasant. So, I decided to go out for the day.

A walk to the bus stop and a short wait for the right bus to take me to Waterloo. I knew that if I carried on knitting the socks at the rate that I have been this week I would soon need some wool for the last two designs. I walked to I Knit and soon managed to find some wool in the same range that I have been using for all the socks in colours that I had not already used. I bought them and having put my knitting in my handbag before I left home I decided to sit in the shop and do a bit of knitting.

It was nice being able to sit in the shop knitting and chatting with Gerard (the shop's owner) and Coral who was manning the shop today. It meant that I spent a fair portion of the day in the company of other people rather than alone as would have been the case if I had not decided on the spur of the moment to go out .

I got a fair bit of knitting done while I was in the shop. With the first pattern repeat completed I was able to see that my first draft of the chart had been perfect and the heart shape seems to be perfectly proportioned on the sock. I wasn't sure that this would be the case, so I was prepared to have to unpick the sock and start again from scratch; a bit soul-destroying but the only way to get the design right.

I've managed to do a little more of the sock since I have been back home, but my indelicate problem is causing me a great deal of pain at the moment and it is difficult to find a comfortable position for sitting. I'll be glad when the middle of July arrives and I have my operation.

I have found that the pain is causing me to also feel a lot more depressed. When I am knitting I am able to forget how I am feeling, but while not concentrating on my knitting my brain has the opportunity to start the disturbing thoughts.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Forging Ahead

Knitting is probably the only thing that is keeping me going at the moment, so I can report that the latest design is progressing well.

This sock seems to be growing quicker than any so far. This may be because I am familiar with the basics of the pattern now, but is probably, in part, due to the fact that the 'Diamonds' design is easy to work and has not required me to keep looking at the chart. This means that each round seems to have been completed in record time and consequently the sock has grown at a very fast pace.

I have turned the heel and I am now starting the foot part of the sock. There is a good chance that it will be finished this evening so I will be able to start on the next design tomorrow.

asked in a comment on my last post if 'Hearts' and 'Spades' were to follow and I can report that they are. 'Hearts' will be next followed by 'Spades'. When the four suits have been completed I will be working a design which employs all four of the symbols, and this is the design that I have tentatively named 'Full House', although 'No Trumps' is another possibility.

I have decided that I will spend part of Sunday actually typing up the patterns for the socks that I have already completed. Fortunately the socks are all based on the same basic design so once I have typed up the first pattern, it will just be a case of changing the charts for each pattern and altering any details that are specific to each sock.

It's a lot of work, but I am quite enjoying the opportunity to create something of my own design. And all this knitting is keeping my mind from dwelling on how I am feeling.

Thursday, 3 June 2010


I have finished the first of the socks in my 'Cards' series of patterns. I deliberately chose the 'Clubs' design first because I knew that it would be the most difficult to get right. And the number of times that I had to redraft the design and start the sock again shows that I was correct in that assumption. I am quite pleased with the resultant sock.

Today I have started on the second in the series, 'Diamonds'. This is definitely the easiest of the designs and seems to be turning out quite well as I am almost half way to the heel already. I shall do some more work on it before I go to bed and hope to get to the heel before I go to bed.

I still have to get some more information regarding the design competition itself so I must send an email to Lorraine tomorrow asking about what the standard list of abbreviations is, and asking whether I have to actually produce a pair of socks for each entry, or if one of each design will suffice. I am hoping that this will be the case as it will give me more time to concentrate on the lace scarf which is certainly going to be the most time-consuming of the things that I hope to enter.

I also have to sit down at the computer to write the patterns for each of the designs. Although the socks are all based on the same pattern it will be important to make sure that the instructions are clear for each of the designs and that the charts are correct.

There is a lot of work still to do but I am quite enjoying it and it helps to keep me occupied and stops me from giving in to the racing thoughts in my brain.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

A Bit Of Navel Gazing

I have been having problems in recent weeks in sticking to my declared intention to write a post on this blog every day. It wasn't really a New Year's Resolution, more a desire to write whenever I could on whatever subject came to mind.

When I first started this blog I seemed to have no problem writing something for the blog, often producing more than one post a day. As time went by the quantity of posts may have diminished a little, but, I would like to think, the quality did not. Then towards the end of last year there was an enforced break when I went into hospital. My stay in hospital led to me writing the Tackling the Mental Health Minefield series of posts and to a lot more people finding my little corner of the blogosphere.

Nothing shows the reduction of posts like looking at the 'blog archive' list on here. I started this blog on 30th June 2008 and wrote 218 posts up to the end of that year. Last year, 2009, saw me writing 227 posts in total, clearly showing that I was slowing down with my output, but that I still found plenty to write about. So far this year I have written 140 posts, including this one, so it is fair to hope that I should manage double that number for the whole year.

Another thing that has changed is that in the early days I would write most of the posts in the morning. Now I usually write them in the evening. One of the reasons for this during the last month is that I am rarely awake in the mornings, and when I am, I feel so 'spaced out' that trying to string two sentences together is beyond me. And because I am writing later in the day, I sometimes get to the stage where I end up thinking that I can't be bothered to write today I'll do it tomorrow. Unfortunately, sometimes tomorrow doesn't come.

But I shall keep on writing. I can't tell you what I will write about because each post may be different to anything that I have written before. And I hope that you will keep on reading and occasionally commenting. My 'virtual friends' mean a great deal to me and have done much to keep me going over the last year or so. You really are wonderful people.