braindribbles

Posts Tagged ‘Depression

rainbow daylight front

 

The blurb you need to read first

First of all, apologies. I have literally run out of original photos since the monster montage of the previous post, so other than the top picture, you’re going to get text only on this occasion. Second, this’ll be more serious than before…but not that much more serious. Third of all, it is very, very long. I nearly broke it into two posts, but it didn’t seem like the right thing to do. Make yourself a cuppa before settling in.

Basically, three things have been happening concurrently that have had a major positive impact on me this last year or so. One is doing the hair thing. Another is the major increase in paid work as a musician. And the third thing is regular visits to Joy, who is a CBT therapist with many other qualifications to boot.

I have to admit, whilst I think I get which way round things went, and which things had an impact on the success of what, I’m still not 100% sure. I don’t really know if I can say that any one thing had more impact than the others. Have a read and see what you think. It’s still a little fresh and under-edited, but hopefully you’ll make good sense of it.

 

Back Story

In the spring/summer of 2014, while I was unwittingly rather high on the anxiety/depression scale, I also had an opportunity on the music front. The first in many years. The chance to sing professionally. I’d sung at a professional standard before, but never been paid for the privilege. So when I was asked to sing at a wedding ceremony, I jumped at the chance. I didn’t know if that was going to be it for several more years, or if it was the start of things to come. But somewhere deep inside my subconscious I knew that that was what I wanted to do more than anything else. It set me on a path. So there was that going on.

Soon after that, I got to a point where things were just awful. And guilt-ridden…I had a good life, didn’t I? So why wasn’t I enjoying it? Why wasn’t I coping? I eventually realised that it wasn’t going to get better by itself and got in touch with Joy. That set me on a road to recovery and fixing my thought patterns so that they weren’t constantly berating me for not being good enough.

After a couple of months I had a fragile kind of happy going on. It wasn’t easy, as family life had to continue, and I had to keep earning. But then more music was happening. It turned out it wasn’t a one-off. I could actually sing and make some money out of it. And that boosted my happy factor big time. Nothing better for your self-esteem than being paid to do the one thing you love more than anything else in the world.

And then I was ready. I had arrived at a point where I realised I was properly OK again. And it was at around the same time that my thoughts kept turning to hair colour.

Now, if you know me well, I’ve not been one to particularly want to tread the beaten path. I’ve always done my own thing, and if I get really into an idea, no matter how strange or crazy, I will still just go ahead and do it. Hence the marathon. And that’s kind of what happened with the hair thing at this point. I couldn’t let the idea go. So I figured I’d better scratch the itch, satisfy my curiosity and deal with the consequences. (You can read about that here.)

loved my new hair at the time. It was a huge deal. In hindsight it was a little nuts, but I’m so glad I did. I look back at those early photos now and I have to admit I’ve eyed them up with suspicion, as the colour then was very simple and I wasn’t that keen on the rest of my appearance….but what I do love is how it changed me on the inside.

 

Reflecting back

Yes. Flattering or not, having hair that bright meant that I would no longer be able to shrink away and hide. It still felt like me, but it felt like the bold, brave, confident version of me. Which was always part of me; it’s just that I sometimes had to dig down and find it. Now it was there and out on display all the time.

Fake it till you make it

There’s a brilliant TED lecture somewhere. I’ll link it as it’s hugely significant for me. Here you go.

I found myself in a very similar position. It took a few weeks to get used to having the bold me on display all the time, and it did feel pretty weird for a while, but as described in the video, it just became normal. And once it had, it was transformative in everything that I did. It felt like the me that had been fighting to get out, but simply hadn’t had an outlet. Changing my hair forced the issue. I was this person, and most importantly I loved being this person. It was the me that came out occasionally with the kids when other grownups weren’t looking, or when I was really relaxed and happy. Only now it was…just me.

There’s more to it

Of course there’s more to it. I still have hang-ups about my body image, guilt about whether I’m parenting my children the right way, and major issues with screen addiction that lead to very little sleep. There’s a whole load of grey. Only now I feel happy and confident most of the time in spite of all those things. Even when I’m really tired. Even when I’ve got too much going on and I feel like I’m on an endless treadmill. Also, I’m dealing with all those things bit by bit. Not least because I still see Joy once a month. Seeing Joy helps get everything into perspective. Is it just my mind playing tricks on me? Is it something I can do something about? Also, she’s fun. She always has me in a good mood even if we’ve dealt with some emotional stuff.

Why colour and why hair?

It’s funny that it manifested in colour, isn’t it? If I’m honest, I’ve always loved colour. It’s just that my mum loves colour too, and the rebellious teenager lurking within me even now still hates the idea of having such a similar trait. So it’s quite convenient that I found a way to express my love of colour in a very different way. The subconscious is pretty sly, isn’t it? And I have to admit, I’ve only realised that tonight. Blogging is good for things like that.

The slight catch

So now I’ve realised all this, doing crazy things to my hair has served me incredibly well this last year. And I feel that if I wanted to I could still keep the happy, confident me and go back to a more conventional appearance.

Only thing is, I’ve kind of developed an obsession. It’s going to be a very long time before I get to a point where I’ve had my fill of all the possible colour combinations out there. If I have a moment of idle thought that isn’t taken up with some aspect of family life, or a piece of music I’m working on, it’s fairly likely I’ll be pondering hair colour. Right now I’m dithering when and how to do Christmas hair this year – it’s proving to be a real dilemma.

And there’s another thing. I suspect after all the colour, I’d find conventional hair terribly boring. Yes, I love it on other people. I love it on my children and my husband. I’ve even tried on wigs once or twice to see how I feel about it. Here’s the thing. I look in the mirror and it feels like I have lost part of my identity. Which is just bizarre, but there you go.

 

How I feel now

Writing this was quite a learning experience for me. I didn’t quite appreciate how differently I would feel about it now compared to a year ago. I felt superb a year ago, but somehow, today I feel miles better still. The confidence thing is innate now. The fun that felt inhibited, well, it’s on display. The sense of adventure in the everyday. That’s normal now.

If I had known I could love my life quite this much a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have understood that it could be possible, let alone believed it. I thought I was muddling through OK, as long as we didn’t have anything hugely difficult to deal with at the time. I didn’t recognise that I could be so much happier.

So I’m very thankful for how those three major changes in 2014 came about. For people who don’t know me well, it probably looks like a mid life crisis. I am 41, after all, and the timing fits. Though of course, for me it feels like the exact opposite of a crisis. Cheesy though it sounds, for me, it feels like God decided it was my time to shine. 🙂

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Well, hello again. I do hope you are all keeping well.

I have to confess, last year was something of a washout for me. Mild depression and major fatigue were significant elements, but I worked through it, felt just fine on plenty of occasions throughout the year, got some proper sleep after Christmas and the world righted itself. Being an optimistic person, these things often do work out fine in the end. Once you have worked out how to crank the handle and put your life back into gear.

Anyhow, I’ve been itching to blog again for a few weeks now. I thought you might like to know where things are at chez Braindribbles.

Oldest one is 9. He’s just at the point where putting everything into mock inverted commas is a major part of his humour. Thinner than a beanpole and hungrier than a mammoth, I am starting to question the laws of physics. Or biology. Either way, it’s a mystery.

The photo below is from our trip to Snowdonia last spring, at a moment when he turned around to find the Easter Bunny right there and offering him a small Easter gift. He was rooted to the spot with embarrassment for a full minute. It was hilarious. For me, anyway…

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Middle child is 7. She is loving finally being at the same school as her brother. It has solved so many issues for us. She’s also been industrious artistically – her recent paintings have merged her two favourite things: Hello Kitty and Star Wars. I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do.

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Smallest one is 2. She’s completely out of nappies, thanks to the most sensible potty training book I have read so far. Her favourite song right now is ‘Three little monkeys’, often sung whilst jumping on my bed, while I’m still in it. Here she is, kidnapping my teaching dolls. Again. (Photo credit to middle child, by the way)

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All of them are providing me with many many delightful cuddles through the day.

Loved one is being lovely as usual. He works so hard that he doesn’t feature much in the blog. Maybe that will change one day. He has something exciting in the pipeline and I may one day be allowed to tell you more about it…

As for me, well, I did qualify and I have a shiny diploma certificate to prove it. Somewhere. Buried in the piles of clutter I am still trying to work my way around. I’m loving my work, still getting used to the extra dynamic it brings but feeling more settled about it after 9 months of regular teaching.

I’m much more involved in my music too…more on that another day, but it’s all good.

As for the house move and settling in, well, we have the loveliest bunch of neighbours you ever met (they don’t read this blog so I’m not just saying that to humour them!), and have been so, so helpful in a challenging year and also become good friends. We intend to let the builders loose on our home in the next month or two, so we hope they will stay good friends in spite of the disruption!

And my general wellbeing has been restored by, would you believe, hypnotherapy…? Yup. I went on a Natal Hypnotherapy study day back in May as part of my ongoing training, and realised the possibilities for both my work and personal life. Of course, I didn’t take any steps to sort this out till Christmastime, but when I did, and did it properly, wow, what a difference. I’ve been using the CDs from Trance Solutions, an Aussie clinic that had the thought to make their work available on iTunes (a heap better than some of the other choices up there) and now I drift to sleep to a soothing antipodean voice and soft unintrusive music. And, after a couple of weeks, I started to feel like a completely new person.

Things are just as busy. I am just as forgetful. Things are just as messy. But they are slowly improving and, most importantly of all, I am feeling the way I ought to feel once more. Life is good.

Next post? Well, don’t hold your breath. But no doubt the itchy fingers will be back to give you a glimpse into my brain dribbles again soon 🙂

Hi folks.

These last couple of weeks I’ve been doing something I don’t seem to have been managing much recently. It’s the Easter holidays, and I’ve been enjoying spending time with the children.

And I mean properly enjoying them.

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If you see what I mean.

Now, I love those kids, and I, even recently, regularly have little moments of heart-glow several times a day, especially as smallest one has been doing so many new cute things recently. In spite of my numerous low moments recently. But what I haven’t been doing is engaging with them on any level other than making sure they go to school clothed and fed and making sure they go to bed fed and teeth brushed. I haven’t had any room to enjoy them. Not emotionally.

Instead, I have been shutting myself off. Unable to handle any more than the bare minimum, I have been using the iPad loved one gave me last year. I have hidden myself away and frittered huge quantities of time finding an unsatisfying numbness in pointless games. Games that don’t need anything from me but my eyes, fingers and reactions.

But now we are on holiday. In a cottage in North Wales. Lovely. Rainy. Lots of green with lots of sheep. Waking up to the sound of bleating. Simply fabulous. And most importantly of all, all five of us are here. For two weeks.

Two weeks! I may have mentioned this last post, it’s such a rare event. And I have been given a chance to stop worrying about the daily grind, thanks to a lot of input from loved one. We have slept lots, been out in the fresh air lots (and in the rain a lot too, of course). And, whilst my now-rather-difficult-to-break habit of retreating into my games has some way to go, at least I have felt alive. And more to the point, able to cope.

And the kids have been WONDERFUL. Extra cuddles from the lot of them. Extra jokes cracked by oldest one. Extra pictures drawn for me by middle one and heaps of new words and actions from smallest one.

Or maybe it’s not extras. Maybe it’s just their wonderful normal selves, and I am only just noticing.

Gotta try and savour that once the holiday is over…

Was it really my very last post that I promised to blog regularly enough for you to read some wittiness every Monday? Was it really in January that I said that? I also promised it would mostly be rhyme. Well, nothing rhymes very well with itself…but I can’t imagine anyone would be convinced by that poor excuse.

So, if you still believe anything I say, read on and I will catch you up.

I have managed to spend the last few months looking outwardly cheerful. Coping with the new situation…move, schools, completing my diploma. Outwardly…all seems fine. We are managing.

Loved one and I know, though, that the underlying reality, whilst nothing particularly terrible is happening, is that I have been pretty depressed throughout.

There is nothing in particular to put my finger on. Everything is kind of OK – children are still as adorable as ever; loved one has had the work piled high but has somehow managed to remain as doting as ever; school problems are a logistical nightmare but an amazing neighbour has helped immensely to make sure nobody is sat outside the school office for half an hour every afternoon waiting for me to get there; we fixed a whole heap of problems with the new house and we are planning our 10th anniversary holiday quite soon.

In a way, it’s really helped me to understand how inexplicable it can be. Going from being OK to being far from OK with no good reason. None at all that I can think of. It just goes to show that it can be a hair-trigger that takes you from one state to the next. You think you’re having a bad week, and that it will be fine again once you catch up on sleep, or get a bit of fresh air. Those things help and stop things from being utterly unbearable, but the bad week turns into a bad month, turns into a bad winter, and so on.

That’s kind of why I didn’t blog for a while. I couldn’t sum up the cheerfulness; it was all used up on the kids and the smiles I was thankfully still able to give to neighbours and passers-by. Even now I feel a bit mean inflicting a non-cheerful post on you all.

But then I realised that if I couldn’t at least try to articulate how I felt in my blog, my pouring out of little secrets about myself, my ‘dear diary’ place to go whenever I needed to think something through, then that would be worse. After all, if it’s the kind of thing you don’t like to read, you can quietly close the page and I won’t know any different.

So, this time, I am not going to make any promises. Furthermore, I am officially taking back any promises I made from regularity to poetry. When I can, I will do those things. I still like blogging. I still love writing in rhyme. I still like to be cheerful! I just need to know in my own mind that I can use the blog as therapy from time to time. And I know you will understand.

I also have a few positive things to mention.

Firstly, I feel like the trough of depression is now behind me. I am still climbing up the steep hill to fully fledged happiness, but the moments of misery are considerably less frequent.

Secondly, I am getting fitter! Walking 6 to 8 miles a day twice a week (yes, the outcome of our school shenanigans) is great.

Thirdly, in spite of the new house throwing up a fair number of urgent problems, we love it, and even more we love our new neighbours who couldn’t be more adorable if they tried. I know every single person in our road and met them all within a month of moving in.

Fourthly, I have joined a choir at last and sing every Friday evening.

Fifthly, I have submitted my diploma portfolio! Five years of study is coming to a close and once it comes back from its final marking, I shall be a fully fledged antenatal teacher. I can’t wait.

Sixthly, the kids are thriving in their new schools and have had glowing feedback from their class teachers.

And finally, loved one and I have just celebrated our tenth anniversary. I love him so, so much. Even more than ever for helping me through this tough time. In the words from the excellent Moulin Rouge (let’s hope I misquote correctly), the greatest thing I’ve ever learned is to love and be loved in return.

Thanks for bearing with me folks. The razzmatazz will return before too long!