livingwithablackdog

sit. stay. good boy.

Eject! 29/07/2016

I want George Jetson’s bed.George Jetson

The one that stands him up and deposits him on a conveyor belt when the alarm clock goes.

It then takes him straight to the shower to be washed (and wake up properly!) before it progresses through an area where he is dried and finally, his clothing put on.

It’s the hardest part of starting any day.

The most impressive thing is that this idea is universal enough to have become a very popular part of the opening theme of a television cartoon series (… at least for all you generation X-ers out there).  Everybody could identify with it.

Getting out of bed and preparing to face the day is not easy.

It’s not just George who needs a bit of help.  How many shows and movies show people being “encouraged” out of bed in the morning by way of a bucket of water? A swift removal of the covers? Somebody violently shaking them and calling their name?

How often do you see people portrayed stumbling to the shower in the morning, still half asleep?

Sometimes I think that its easy to forget that difficulty in the mornings is not just something that came with the onset of Depression or under the influence of medication.

It was always hard for me – since my teens.

It has always been more appealing to stay in a nice, warm bed than to move and get to the point where I am heading off to work or school, to uni or some appointment somewhere.  Especially the things that are compulsory – even the ones I enjoy.

Sure I think it’s sometimes harder than it used to be – but sometimes, when I’m not really depressed, I wonder just how much.  I just have another reason to add to the others when it comes down to it.  The reason is real … but the issue itself isn’t new.

Sometimes I wonder if I look at the period before I was hit with depression wearing a nice and sparkly pair of rose-coloured glasses.  After all, if I have gotten to the point where the idea of “normal” is strange, who’s to say that I’d even recognise what was once “normal” for me if it hit me on the head.

The truth is that despite the fact that this illness does affect my energy levels; despite the fact that my medication can slow my system down and make me drowsy; despite the fact that there are days where I feel really unmotivated (and by the way I, like most people had my share of those before I had Depression); despite the fact that I have less in my day …

I’m not sure that I could say with any confidence that getting up and ready for the day was ever something I greeted with enthusiasm …. beyond perhaps birthdays, Christmas and special events as a kid.

I don’t struggle with mornings because I have depression.

I just struggle with mornings.

… a little like a big chunk of the rest of the population.

 

But I still want a bed like George Jetson.

(… and I’m not the only one!)

 

 

Renovations & Powa Toolz 25/11/2011

 

Regulars might recognise some familiar faces in the photos below.

 

 

 

 

 

The latest news is that the house is being renovated. Construction of the new wing has progressed thus far:

The house extended

 

 

The rear wall is to be replaced with the potential addition of windows. The new wing will include a front door and windows.  The indoor walls remain unsecured and no front wall exists because I failed to purchase the correct type of nail (bullet head 25mm) last time I was at the hardware shop.  I need to return sometime over the weekend to collect further supplies for another project so that should be corrected soon …

The roof as planned - notice if you will the beautifully level 45deg cuts at the edge of the eaves!

The outside shall be repainted a resplendent shade of white, while the roof the product of many hours of problem solving and labour shall need to be redesigned (original model included eaves which limit opening area for the house) and will eventually be painted a lovely cottage green.  The original stain and varnish mix ran out and there is not enough to paint the extension.  As a point of trivia, the main house was constructed principally by two boys, aged 10 and 12 who took sheer delight in wielding (with their mother’s comfortable permission and my trepidation) my power drill and hand saw, PVA glue, hammer and nails and delighted in painting on the stain.  Their 8-year-old sister and 5 1/2 year old brother undertook the interior decorating (neither their mother or I were brave enough to entrust them with the bigger tools). The indoor walls yet unpainted could wind up any one of a number of neutral to more warm happy colours or be covered in wall paper (the lower half of the green room that usually serves as a kitchen will almost certainly be softened by a half-length of wall paper.  Beyond this … we shall see.

Curtains are as yet unplanned and await decisions about window placement and paint.  Carpet and tiles await in readiness. The Black Dog and populace await their new home with bated breath (while I look forward to watching visiting kids play with the doll house.  My niece is especially fond of removing the mermaids from the bath toy collection and populating the house with these).

My other project is something that I have undertaken just because I figured that I could make one and because I know I’ll use it.  I was sure I could.  I worked out how.  Then I even found a DIY leaflet at the local hardware centre that agreed with my plan!  So I am making my very first home-made book-case.  We shall see how it turns out! It should be extra good, because as an added improvement, while I have been building I have acquired a ROUTER (gotta love the power tools!) and so I shall be setting my shelves into the upright pieces of wood.  I cut the groove straight across both pieces side by side to make sure that I got them at the same height when I measured them all up – so it should work.

Learning....

Time will tell.  I now only have to get the pine lining for the back – they only had bendy bits left when I was buying wood the other day and that would have made slotting the wood together near on impossible – so I decided to go back when they got more in.  Plan is to do a layer of stain before construction so there’s no pokey little corners.  Construct, then one or two more coats of stain depending on what the pigment does.  Finally, I’ll finish it up with some estapol with a nice satin finish.

Next one I make I won’t space the shelves evenly though, I’ll make a couple taller and shrink a couple so that it will hold folders and such.  This one is just for books so it’ll do.

Shelves

 

What do you do with the Shockers?

Yes, I am still here.  Still living, breathing and blogging.  Just fell victim to a couple of very shocking weeks (interspersed with some lovely moments, but very few and far between).

This week I’ve barely been able to tolerate daylight, let alone the computer screen – migraine like I have not had in a long time since my medication includes migraine voodoo concoctions … but … amidst my Barry Crocker of a week the week before and the ensuing weekend I became a bit disoriented and missed a couple of doses of my meds, hence the hole in the firewall (just to mix some more metaphors).  Yesterday I went to the GP to get a medical certificate for work and stopped at the shopping centre on the way home.  Talk about sensory overload!  My world had not yet totally stopped spinning so I had this strange spacey kind of sensation as I was walking, the noises were louder and more jarring, lights and colours still bright, smells still sharp.  I couldn’t get out of there fast enough!

Work has been crazy and exhausting trying to manage the politics and dynamics within the office.  Don’t get me wrong – I like my job.  If only work could just be about going and doing your job and coming home again, what a relief it would be!  But there are systems and other people that one has to navigate to do one’s job.  Equipment that one and space one has to somehow get adequate access to do it.  Preferably in a way that lets you stay well without creating more stress than is necessary – which is where the battle lies at present for me.  At present it seems that I am destined to bang my head against a brick wall and progress nowhere and to endure life in the office that gets claimed by miscellaneous team members to serve as their staff room – while my office buddy and I are trying to work in it!!!

But alas!  These are not healthy things to dwell upon.  The goal is to work out how to attack and push through.  I had thought that we had had a strategy for the work one, but it is back to the drawing board on that one next week as it looks like this is rapidly fading into embers.

At present I am struggling not to dwell on the difficulties of the last few weeks.  I grew frustrated that my usual seasonal dip in mood was dragging on longer than usual, but didn’t really look beyond it for other triggers until much too late.  Sitting down with a friend a couple of weeks ago to go over what had been happening clarified things a lot more for me.  One of the reasons that I am so focussed on work issues over the past couple of weeks has come about because through sitting down and working through my usual triggers and warning signs with my friend revealed that my workplace is simply loaded with triggers.  There is little wonder that I have been struggling to emerge from my usual brief decline and regathering of mood.

It’s so easy to forget to go back to the basics when one gets busy.  I can sort of see why Mary Ellen Copeland, the woman who designed the WRAP suggested that going over triggers and warning signs should be something that someone should do daily to prevent relapse.  I’m not sure that I would ever go to daily, but I do know that I need to be going over my WRAP a lot more frequently than I do.  The whole point of knowing one’s triggers and warning signs is so that you can be alert to them.  It’s one thing to know them – but so easy to miss them unless you’re really watching.

So – What do you do with the shockers?  Do you beat yourself up over them?  There’s no point in that.  To me, it seems you need to do is stand back and detach a little.  Stand in the moment.  Not the future.  Not the past.  Just the moment.  Examine – and for me, it helps if I can find someone to help me stay in perspective … at least to get me going – and learn.  This helps me to see cause and effect relationships; it helps me to learn and relearn trip hazards; it helps me see things specifically rather than looming ghouls and it leaves room to remember that there were a couple of good moments in the last fortnight too.

From there I can start with a plan.  If the plan needs adjusting, then so-be-it, but perhaps – just, perhaps … next week can be a bit better …

Please.

 

Always a New Day 08/11/2011

Always a new day

Ever a hope

Dog on a chain now

No time to mope.

Look to the future

Too far to see –

Look to the past

Learn, go, move on, be.

Live in the moment.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.

Take hold of hope

No place for doubt.

The path isn’t cast;

Life is to live.

Strive for your hearts goals.

You get what you give.

Nov 2011

 

Black Thumb 06/11/2011

Habits.  My life is full of them.  Good ones.  Bad ones.  Helpful ones.  Ones that I have resolved to end a hundred times over, yet continue with.  I have things that I do because I like to.  Things that I do because I have to.  Things that I do because that’s just what I’ve always done.  Some I maintain consciously, some unconsciously; and some are maintained by failing to maintain others.  Habits.

I spent yesterday afternoon pottering in the garden.  Among my many little chores I spent lifted bulbs from some pots.

Now, I am very new to gardening.  My once black thumbs are currently oscillating between a brown and occasionally get a very slight hint of green (until I forget to water the garden for a few days in a row).  There is no science going on – it’s all experimentation … almost.  I do occasionally look things up on the net.  After I write this post I will be looking up what you do with bulbs after you lift them.

Which brings me to the some of the reflections that I had yesterday as I waxed poetical in my head and got very grotty at the same time.

I have never grown plants that were bulbs before.  So this year was certainly an experiment.  Some grew and some did not.  I believe that I probably planted some upside down, but can’t confirm that.  I probably over-watered some … they rotted in the soil.  Others grew and didn’t bloom.  I am not keeping bulbs of plants that did not bloom.  Some grew and missed a few days water and got hot wind and died while others did quite well.  Some even made it to bouquets for friends.

Yesterday came to the beginning of stage two of my experiment with bulbs.  I went to the pots that held the plants that had bloomed that I had liked and decided to lift the bulbs.  Not quite sure of the correct procedure I began to burrow.  Now the first pot was not so difficult.  They were tulips.  The second pot I did just to get rid of the bulbs because I still wanted to keep the pot, but needed to get the bulbs out.  They too, were easy to find.  The daffodils gave me no trouble.  And then I came to these other plants – whose name I do not recall – but the bulbs were in little nests that were distributed unevenly around the planter box and while the upper couple of bulbs in the nest were of reasonable size there were also bundles of little balls – I assume new bulbs – that would often fall free and needed fishing for.  It took a lot of work to sift through this pot to lift the bulbs.

While I was doing this it struck me that If I were this thorough with everything, much of my life would be a lot simpler.  I would not have forgotten to take my medication yesterday morning had I refilled my dosette box when I emptied it.  I would not get weary looking at the mess in the kitchen as often if I were in the habit of cleaning up after myself as I went  more regularly.  I would be exercising regularly by now instead of simply planning to start within the next month.  I would not grow weary from lack of sleep.  In short, I would be more scrupulous about my habits.  Certainly it’s laborious.  Yet, there is a purpose to these habits the same as there is a purpose to my clearing the pot.  I am seeking to be in the best of health so that I can get on with living and doing other things.  Just as I was clearing the pot so that I could plant something new in it that would grow over the summer months.  There is a purpose to maintaining habits that are mundane that is anything but.

The second reflection came to me while I was battling one-handed with my bush rose whilst watering it.  I was attempting to remove the spent blooms – I’ve been taught to do that, but don’t do it regularly enough so there are lots at present.  They’re all over the bush.  Some of them were impossible to get to without doing battle with thorns while working one-handed.  Others, within reach while able to be grasped and eventually detached, were not easy to remove.  I also managed to get spiked by the tree regardless.  Ouch.  How different the bush rose was from the geraniums which simply slip off the plant with the slightest pull.

I am much more like the bush rose than the geranium when it comes to surrendering my bad habits.  How much simpler life would be if when I noticed that I needed to change I were able to simply let go of the old ways like my geraniums.  But, no.  For me it is work.  It requires effort and often shakes up the petals of some of the other flowers during the process.  Occasionally, not just the dead rose came off with the pulling, but some of the good ones beside as well.  I think my roses are very much like my habits.  They grow without effort and bloom.  Often they serve a good purpose, but then are no longer needed.  Other times they just are.  But when they are past their usefulness and deadweight, burdensome – they do need removing.  Sometimes it can be done while I’m doing other maintenance like the watering, but I think that I am going to have to go out soon and pull them off myself deliberately.  One at a time.  Not a job that I see as stimulating, but to encourage the bush to be productive and to keep it looking healthy it needs to be done.  Now I just need to take the same path with my troublesome habits and learn to tackle them one at a time and replace them with helpful ones.

Will I be as meticulous in dealing with my dead habits that are no longer blooming as I work at being with my flowers?  Will I dig and sift as thoroughly as I looked for my bulbs when it comes to removing them?

Again I set my resolve to commit to tackle my environment and not let it get out of control  (The kitchen, living area and study are cluttered again and the floors are past cleaning time).  My dosette box should never be left empty – I used to be good with that.  There are a number of other things that I need to sit down and map out.

Which plant holds the flowers that are hardest to remove in your garden?  Just how carefully are you prepared to dig out your bulbs?

I think I still have black thumbs in the habit garden and it’s time to green up.  What colour are your thumbs?

It's loaded now!

 

The Best Bucket For Fishing In 27/08/2011

I have been cleaning out my study over the last couple of days – no small job – I have been putting it off for a long time.  I unearthed a lot of rubbish, a tonne of reading, receipts, filing, thankfully nothing that should have been included in my tax (which I have done already this year – yay me!) and my bucket list that I did for my Psychologist earlier in the year.

Why a bucket list?

I had been depressed on and off for years.  When I was well I had only just been coping with no room for anything but putting one foot in front of the other.  It had been a long time since I had really allowed myself to cast my eyes very far into the future.  It was hard to do.  My life had become so tied up in looking after the dog and keeping him out of the way so that I could manage walking that it was hard to picture anything else.  This is not a healthy way to live!

Maybe not – but everyone knows that we need to get through each day – so what’s the point of looking any further?

My first response to this would be to give you a reason to stick to the fundamentals that feel so arduous when times are tough.  The healthy lifestyle, the sleep, the medication, the self management strategies that you’ve chosen to compliment your medical treatment (see my post Beyond Medicine) can feel like such a chore at times, and there are days when you question if your daily struggles are all that important.  Things that have some value and potential to motivate you are important.

My second is that a routine is strongly recommended, but often hard to fill out.  An exercise like doing a bucket list may give some clues to your interests or things that you could start even now to use time doing something that you are more likely to consider worthwhile.

Thirdly, if you are getting well and your health is stable, but you’re a bit lost about what you want to do – this is a great way to brainstorm ideas that you can later use to figure out what direction you want to work towards and what sort of goals you want to set for yourself.  You can also look at the different sort of things you have put on your list and use it to try to make sure you keep some balance to your goals so that you can target a balanced lifestyle that reflects you.

Fourthly, if you are struggling to stay well and all that you are focussing on your health or perhaps your health and keeping your job – perhaps you can use it to choose one thing to help with relaxation and/or re-energising.  Often – and I speak from several years of experience here – this is neglected to our detriment when expanding our support network and finding opportunities elsewhere for success would improve our workplace performance and keep the dog in his place much more effectively.

Not sure what you’d put on it?  Try meeting up with a friend and do bucket lists together (I met up with a couple of different people).  This helps stretch your ideas until you start freeing up your mind.  Read past journals if you have some if you used to write about things you’d like to do one day.  Be as vague or specific as you like – it’s your list.

Here are some of the things on my list:

Bushwalking

Make a pretty garden

Redo a house

Teach professional practice skills

Overcome Depression and Anxiety to the point where they no longer require any intervention – even meds

Stay well

To make sure I keep up friendships and make new ones

To grow wise but be humble

To be physically fit and able to run without getting puffed out

To get good at being organised and reliable

To learn lots of interesting things eg Ancient Greek, Ancient & modern History, Latin, Languages, Leadlighting, Aromatherapy, Sciences, making things, gardening, writing and publication industry, professional development and research, theology …

Write a book and publish it

Write a children’s book, get it illustrated and publish it

Go to Scotland, Ireland and Canada and see lots of other places too

Learn Piano

Write a song

Learn to play Cello and/or an alto/tenor woodwind instrument

Research and develop useful intervention strategy for use in Mental Health Recovery – meaningful to and valued by consumers – well weighted by evidence

Learn to tap dance

Build a doll house

Act in a stage performance

There’s a tonne of others that I’m not going to share and I’ve simplified a lot of these.  But they have made way for goals and routine and positive steps.

There are six major themes among the things in my bucket:

Creativity

Learning

Relationships

Social Responsibility/contributing to others

Travel/adventure

Growth (language, fitness etc)

My challenge is to have something – one thing at a time among my goals that touches on each of these areas.  I also try to include something of each – at least most – in my routine.

The steps to some dreams are appealing.  The way to others not so much.  The keys are choice, balance and timing.

Never let the dog stop you from dreaming.  Sure, be careful not to get stuck in them – but be careful not to lose sight of the things that you’d like to do or some day.  These are the things that give you a reason to put your next foot forward.  These are the things that make it matter that the dog stays out of your path.  These are the things that help you choose which direction you walk in.  These are the things that make it matter that it’s you and not the dog that does the choosing.

Look where you are going.  Move deliberately.  Walk one step at a time if you must during the hard times, catching your balance and calling the dog back to heel in between.   Don’t let him draw you down to wrestle with him while you walk.  When you stop looking where you are going, the dog has the upper paw.  Shorten the leash.  Keep him close.  Don’t give him an inch.

Heel, Dog.  Heel!

 

Planning with Purpose 21/08/2011

In my last entry I wrote about going back to work.  I also made brief reference to having a need for some kind of productive activity if I wasn’t.  One of my regular readers made a comment that spoke directly to something really important.  The need for purposeful activity.  Not necessarily work – but activity that is goal directed and meaningful to you.  Activity in which you are setting out to achieve something that you are interested in achieving.  It doesn’t need to be paid activity, but it needs to provide you with a sense of purpose and achievement.  This reader suggested that – but for the expense of living, she would not even care so much about paid work as long as she had purposeful activity.  I have to say that I agree.  Sound odd?  It’s one of the biggest problems people have when they retire.  Not having planned for their need for purposeful activity.
The thing is – people have an innate need to do something.  Preferably something they value and something that is purposeful.  All you have to listen to one of the things that we complain about.
“I’m bored”, “There’s nothing to do”
“What’s the point of this?”, “This is a waste of time!”, “I hate doing this.”, “I’d rather …”, “I’m sick of doing this”, “None of this does anyone any good”
“When am I ever going to use this?”, “No-one’s going to look at it …”, “All I did was sit and look at the …”
Examination of research into the presentation of people with long-term unemployment and people with Depression actually show a lot of similarities.  Things like loss of routine, beginning to neglect personal appearance, poor diet, lack of activity, sedentary lifestyle, poor sleep habits, loss of motivation, social isolation, loss of self-esteem …
Of course for many there are possibly crossover elements of situational depression, however it is interesting to note that the lack of purposeful activity can have such a strong effect.  A study that I heard presented followed up some people some of whom pursued work – some full-time, some part-time; some of whom pursued volunteering.  The outcome – purposeful activity made an enormous difference to quality of life.
But other studies show that it does not even need to be work related.  Simply valued and purposeful – and it will improve quality of life and wellness.  Take up gardening.  Build a doll house for a kid.  Join a gym or walk somewhere every day.  Volunteer at a local charity, Church or club.  Write a book.  Go to a local community centre and check out the programme.  Do a course on something that interests you.  Join a book club.  Start meeting a friend for coffee regularly.  Take up cooking.  Invite a friend over for dinner.  Try that sport you always wanted to try – talk a friend or family member into coming with you if you like.  See if you can find some old friends you’ve lost contact with – you might be surprised how many want to catch up.  Try that hobby you always wanted to take up.  Research your genealogy.
Purposeful activity.  This is what forms the building blocks.  This is where a healthy routine can be built.  This is where a healing routine can be built.  Research says it works.  My training says it works.  My observations of the people I have worked with as a mental health worker say that it works.  My experience of healing says it works.
 

 
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