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

 

Arch-Enemies 02/11/2011

Do you have arch-enemies?

I do.  Mine haunts me.  I can never seem to beat it.

There are the odd occasions when I do really well against it and I win.  It feels great.  I could walk on air.

Sometimes they last for a short stretch of time – a few days, a week – two if I’m lucky.  I could fly.

And then

it all comes

crashing

down

in

a

great

big

thud.

OUCH!

And it’s not just me who is affected.

It’s not a small thing with small consequences.

What happens, you ask?

Okay I’ll ‘fess up.

I don’t wake up.  Or if I do – I drop right off back to sleep before I can haul by backside out of bed.

Then I am late for anything that I have on for the day – visits, appointments, ….work.

And we’re talking regularly 30 – 40 mins late during the mid spring and autumn – and every now and then it’s a couple of hours.  It affects other people when that happens – workers, patients … if I don’t get my work done it slows down the process of referrals going through, information getting to people in hospital and their treating teams for planning, people going home.  It means groups can’t run or other people have to cover me.  I nearly lost my last job over it.  Even when well I’m often 10 – 20 mins behind my start time.  I survive because I start before my boss and I always work back – but I can’t keep it up.

And it doesn’t seem to matter what time I ‘m supposed to start – I’ve adjusted starting times.  It’s simply the process of getting out of bed and waking up in the morning.

Once I’m up, my sensory routines are helpful.  I’ve started to experiment with some mindfulness exercises when I get time – which help a lot.  But actually waking up and getting out of bed is jolly hard work.

The other thing that happens to me is that I lose time in the mornings.  I do.  Even when I’ve gotten up on time and have been running on time something happens – I space out in the shower or getting myself a drink and meds and time just vanishes.

I started a new experiment earlier this week that I think holds promise for the latter issue – I’ve started using a mindfulness breathing meditation exercise as soon as I get up that goes for about 10 mins to raise my level of alertness.  If it keeps working at keeping me focused, I’ll be writing about that in a couple of weeks.  But for it to work – I need to get up in time to have time to do it.  It doesn’t need to be earlier – because I’ve worked out that I do everything else more efficiently when I do it.  But I need to get up.

Sleepy-head

At present I use two alarm clocks set 5 mins apart – one to arouse my attention if I am in deep sleep so that by the time the second goes off I won’t sleep through it even if I sleep through the first.  Part of me wonders whether it’s worth investing in a bed vibrating alarm clock – they make them for deaf people.  It might be uncomfortable enough to help me move out of bed more easily.  Has anybody ever used one?

I know the rules – go to bed early and get up and the same time every day.  I’m awfully undisciplined at doing that.

Take your meds at the same time every day.  I tend to get lazy and just take them on the way to bed – which admittedly is probably half of the problem.  There are some very sleepy meds among my cocktail.

Every day is a new day with no mistakes in it – yet.  Thank you, Anne Shirley – but other people remember and I need to work out the best way to deal with their memories and keep myself focused on the present so that I don’t drown in fright.

So here it is.  My arch-enemy.  The alarm clock.  That moment in time that I’m supposed to get up.  To get moving.  To get started with the day.

Please – anybody with your own ghouls – what helps you haul yourself out of bed every morning?

 

Senses of Self Care 29/10/2011

There’s something centring about looking after yourself.  Basic self-care.  Hygiene and grooming activities.  There are things among them that have qualities that can relax and alert us if we are mindful of what we are doing.  A couple of posts ago I wrote about mindfulness and the senses in Send in the Senses .   Today I would like to show you some of the ways that these principles can be integrated into everyday activities.

Warm water over the skin is relaxing.  It’s soothing.  You can just stand there under warm water in the shower or sit in a warm bath and let it calm you.  (being conscious of your water consumption of course)

Or if you want to you can make it more soothing you can add a scented cleanser and smooth it on with your hands or a soft cloth.  Then again – if you want to jazz it up a little, you choose a more uplifting stimulating scent and a courser cloth or a loofah.  And okay – so the guys mightn’t be so into the scented soaps as the girls  – but the rest still works as well for them even without the scents.  On top of that are the sounds of the water and visual stimuli of the water running over you and the shower or lapping against the sides of the bath and the intricacies of your own bathroom and showering routine.

After washing, you think about how you are going to use your towel to dry yourself.  Vigorous rubbing will invigorate the senses, while gentle strokes with the towel are likely to be more soothing.  Alternately, you might wrap yourself in a towel or terry towelling bathrobe and wander around the house until you dry naturally.

If you’re looking for a basic activity that is inclined to stimulate the senses, then look no further than brushing your teeth.  A toothbrush in decent condition with toothpaste on it brushed over the teeth and gums will arouse the senses of touch, taste and smell.  Flossing is great if you’re anxious or need to slow down or focus because you have to do it deliberately and if you want to do it properly, you can’t do it quickly – so it forces you to slow down and focus your attention but gives you a task to do it with.

Painting your nails is great for the same reason.  There is a need for controlled movement – so you need to slow down and focus your attention.  Great for regulating anxiety.  It is also something that can make you feel nice after you’ve finished.  So nail painting incorporates controlled touch, slow and controlled movement, a stimulating smell – which is not necessarily why you’ve chosen the task – but it won’t put you to sleep.  I was stuck in one city while the rest of my family were in another when my Grandfather died and I couldn’t be with them.  I was very unwell with depression at the time and quite distressed.  In the end, painting my toenails is what I did to calm myself down to a point where I could think reasonably.  Then I could start to deal with my situation and emotions more logically.

For those who like a face mask – this is a beauty.  Deep touch is relaxing, so you apply the mask with a firm touch.  You follow the directions and wait while it sets, then when it is done you rinse it off.  Now to rinse it off, follow the directions on the packet but remember: warm water – calming, cool water – alerting; and soft cloth and/or gentle strokes with firm pressure when rinsing will be calming, while a courser cloth and/or more vigorous or uneven strokes while rinsing will be more alerting.  My own preference when using a mask is to rinse with a course cloth but gently with firm, smooth strokes in warm water.

If you need to shave, this is a good example of an activity that involves slow, deliberate movement.  Focusing on the movement and the sensations of the shaver on the skin can be very effective.  Most would find that this would alert touch and movement sensations, potentially smell also depending upon things like shaving creams and so on.

Another one – very touch and movement based that I find therapeutic at time is waxing.  Great for anger management.  Rip into the leg waxing.  It’s systematic.  You have to regulate it.  You eventually slow down because the waxing process requires you to.  But it’s also a useful buffer for stress, a way of alerting the senses to wake up when you’re weary or just getting rid of unwanted hair…  Waxing is rich in touch (temperature, pressure etc), it involves controlled movement and you are using your sight to inspect your work.

Brushing or combing your hair can be either relaxing or alerting depending upon how you go about it, although if you use a comb it is more likely that the result will be an alerting sensation.  When using a brush however, if one uses long smooth strokes the effect is quite different to brief, sharp strokes.  The former is calming, the latter more alerting.  Experimenting with different styles of brushing can be a great way to explore ways that touch influences the senses.

Think about all of the self-care activities that you do on a regular basis.  Washing and drying yourself, washing your hair, styling your hair, cleaning your teeth, washing your hands, washing your face, moisturising, using deodorant, brushing your hair, shaving and/or waxing, cleaning your ears, dressing, cleaning your nails – anything you can think of … Take some time to think about what sensory qualities there are to the tasks.  What movements, use of vision, scents, smells, touch, sounds, tastes are associated with them?  How are you positioned for them? Where is your balance? Your centre of gravity?  Which of these have alerting qualities? Which have calming ones? Are there qualities to any to the tasks that you do regularly that could be useful to you in other ways?

 

The Wall with a Hole in it … 30/09/2011

And I’m not talking ATM.
Have you ever felt yourself to be up against that dragon that you were never destined to slay?  That worm you’ll never be early enough to get? The one that leaves you feeling like the Emperor in all his glory when he set out in grand style to show off his ‘new clothes’ just when you think you’ve gotten a hold on it.

My nemesis is time.  Not just any time – although we have a slippery time keeping pace with each other continually.  No, the ultimate battle is drawn around the time of sleep and waking.  Here I am repeatedly mauled by my dragon, eaten by the worm and left with nothing but the Emperor’s new clothes to show for all the effort that I have made to conquer the struggle.  I feel as though I am beating my head against a brick wall.

What happens you ask?

I set an alarm clock.  Actually I set two alarm clocks ten minutes apart.  I do not trust myself with one.  I have been known to turn one off in my sleep!  I set one to raise my level of consciousness and the other to wake me.  For most of the year this is adequate.  But then comes the changing of the guard – it starts to get light earlier or later in the spring or autumn and for several weeks my dog hides the alarm clocks.  He must.  Some nights anyway – because they sure as hell don’t wake me.  But then I also have trouble in getting to sleep – so maybe it’s not all the dog’s fault.  At times I sleep no more than an hour or two a night.  Others I may get to sleep and then wake up at two in the afternoon – ON A WORK DAY!  This year I thought that I was winning at work until the seasonal sleep monster set in.

Right now I feel like I am beating my head against a brick clock.  In getting to sleep.  In waking up.  In getting to work.  My psychiatrist has given me something to try for the short-term (ie 4-6 weeks) as it’s a regular pattern and struggle and part of a bigger picture of short-term seasonal change in my mood.  It’s not a relapse – just a dip.  But oh so disappointing because its been so stable for so long.  In lots of ways I think I could handle it if the sleep didn’t go out the window.  It’s started to affect my work though, so I’m taking the medical option this time.  Maybe next time I’ll be able to have the personal strategies down strongly enough to manage it without boosting my meds for a few weeks – but I need to prioritise keeping my job over my pride for this time.  I may have to wake up and phone in to work in the Emperor’s new clothes.  I do not have to parade through the streets in them.

Bloody Dog.

Damn Clock.

So for now I get my sleep under control.  I keep my mood stable with a little extra help than usual until the season settles.  At least I will be able to keep the dog in his place.  At least I will stop messing things up so badly in getting to work.  It will only be for a few weeks and then its back to the normal cocktail that I’ve accepted will be a part of everyday.  Back to using my ‘personal medicine’ or lifestyle strategies to manage life and its stressors.  Then I get summer to strengthen my other skills and to be ready for autumn when it comes.  Perhaps I will plan a short increase in meds again.  Perhaps I will plan time off work.  Perhaps I will be enough on top of my sleep to manage it with flying colours.

My Dog loves the twilight of the seasons.  He thinks its play time.  He loves the dawn.  He dances while I wake.

Oh to be able to open one eye and say in my firmest voice.

“Sit. Dog.  Sit!”

And have confidence that he’d obey.

One day.  One day he will.  One day I am determined to slay that dragon.

One day.

 

I wanna be a … 18/09/2011

Jetson!

Are you old enough to know The Jetsons, I wonder?  Most are, surely.

I’m not after the groovy little space-sedan.

I’m not even in it so much for the robot house keeper – although I would certainly NOT turn her away …

I want the bed that tips you out when you need to get up, stands you up and puts you on a conveyor belt to the shower and gets you started for the day.

I swear, that has got to be the hardest part of the day!  I’m okay once I’m showered and dressed for the day – but until that point it is all up hill.

On work days I don’t trust myself with less than two alarm clocks.  I’ve been known to turn alarm clocks off in my sleep.  I figure that one will at least bring me out of deep sleep and the second can wake me if the first doesn’t.  I don’t keep at least one near my bed.  I make sure that I need to touch floor to turn it off.  I also make sure it’s a really noxious sound so that I don’t just let it keep going.

One thing that I don’t do that a lot of people say works well for them is put out my clothes the night before.  I have tried it a few times, but tend to finish up thinking that I don’t feel like wearing what I put out and finish up dithering over what I do want to wear.  That said – it would probably work fine on work days if I kept it up – so I should try it again.

I also tend to waste a lot of time putting off getting to the shower (especially in winter) puttering around the house.  Alas! This just makes me late.

Oh for an alarm clock that tipped the mattress 45 degrees and dumped me on the floor with a bang if I reached for a snooze button!

Drat the need for motivation, will power, decent routine & bedtimes, discipline in lights out and organisation in the morning.

But then again, if I have been eating well, doing exercise, working, and going to bed at a decent hour I am likely to have been refreshed by sleep and find it easier (note that the word here is “easier” and NOT necessarily “easy”) to wake and rise.  Perhaps key to my struggle with rising in the mornings is my lack of discipline in other areas – most obviously in getting to bed at a decent hour reliably, but also exercising regularly.  I would also have more energy if my diet included more fruit and vegetables.

So many things to fine tune.

I still envy George Jetson.

 

My Pyjamas 07/09/2011

I know better.  I really, really do.  There are good reasons why it’s not uncommon to find me in my pyjamas long after I get up.  Really …

Firstly they are comfortable.  Soft fabric, loose, warm, cosy.  In summer soft and breezy.

They’re warm (it’s still cool down here in the Southern hemisphere)

I’d need to take them off and be unwarm for a little while to get dressed.

I don’t feel like having a shower and all that yet (today is my day off).  Too much effort.

I’m not sure what I want to wear later today and am not that motivated to choose at the moment because it really doesn’t matter.

I’m at home.

They’re home and relaxing kind of feeling things.

Nobody else is going to see me.

I LIKE my pyjamas!

It saves washing???

Smell? What smell? …  ohh! you mean the one that’s following me when I do this for three days in a row without changing?

But that’s not me today.  Today’s my day off.  Lots of people mooch around in their PJs late into the morning on their day off.  Yet, only last week I was recalling that this behaviour – when habitual is one of my warning signs.How do I know the difference?  In truth – I don’t.  At least, I’ve missed the warning signs until too late enough times that I know that I’m not yet able to reliably spot the difference.  What can I do?

The first option is to not let myself stay in my PJs after getting up whatever the day – rather to go straight for the shower or get dressed as soon as I get up.  Reality is that I don’t really put a serious start to the day while I’m still in my PJs – and I need to move past the ‘getting up’ phase of the day earlier than I do much of the time.

The second is that I time limit it and say that I need to be out of my PJs by a certain time.  I’m thinking of taking this one up.  Which means the next thing that I need to do is head for the shower because it has passed that time already.

Wish me luck.

 

 
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