Some new and (dare I say it?) quite exciting things (read scary things) have been happening in my life of late! From the depths of depression and anxiety, with great amounts of therapy and inevitable medication adjustments (the absolute pits!), I am once again emerging from the change rooms, to put a toe back onto the playing field that I call life.
Each time I re-emerge from the perceived safety of my depressive hibernation, I experience a period of reflection as to what occurred to push me into that cave? While depression doesn’t always have a “thing” or event that triggers my bouts, it is impacted on by life going on around me. For example, if financial matters become so real that I don’t know how I am going to pay my bills … that will definitely effect the way my depression takes hold in my life. If it looks or feels or is perceived as too hard … AVOID! AVOID! AVOID! … becomes my mantra.
If there is one constant in my many years of depression – it is my innate ability to find ways to avoid anything and everything that I think might hurt me. I am only now learning to recognise these behaviours. With recognition comes the ability to choose to control them or allow them to control me. The former is the ideal but often times I find myself hiding away from life having let the latter occur! Then it isn’t long before I am deeply ensconced in a depression so deep I can see no way out!
So what is it that brings about a change for the better? For me, I have been able to identify a few things. Firstly, the weather – as I age, I am coping less and less with the extreme high humidity in Brisbane. So when Autumn/Winter arrives with clear blue skies, bright sunshine and cool dry air, I immediately feel better. I would rather the comforting snuggle in a blanket on the couch at night than turning on the heating. It has, however, taught me that I need to prioritise my finances to allow me to more widely use the air conditioner during the oppressive Summer months, if I wish to be able to function at all.
Next, a newish lesson learnt this time round. The benefits of self care! Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Well in my case – not so apparently! I’ve discovered that when I get low, I look to others to give me the care I need or to motivate me to care for myself. I need to be able to self administer care to me before I need it, preferably or at the very least when I do need it. I have been having a fortnightly massage with Ying but I am also learning the art of hugging myself, or placing a compassionate hand over my heart and the words “don’t be so hard on myself” have become my internal monologue. Of course, this does not mean that you, my friends and family, have been relieved of your job of greeting me with a hug! Not at all … it just means that I have a capacity to supplement my supply with my own stash, when necessary!
I have been walking that tightrope of being eternally grateful for the time and effort my family and friends have given in unreciprocated care towards me. And the abyss that is falling off and thinking I don’t deserve it or even worse, I do deserve it when it doesn’t come. I have often been left feeling hurt and alone as I grapple with the fact that, my boys need to lead their own lives and concentrate on their own careers and relationships without feeling weighed down with me and all that comes with me! They are truly caring and giving men but I am well aware that they cannot and will not always be available when I need them! I have been greatly blessed to have had them, in this capacity, for as long as I have. It is both necessary and timely, for me to, learn to love and care for myself! Mind you, the care shown by my boys towards me, can never be totally replaced.
Sleep has always been an interesting riddle for me. I have been a night owl for many years but when this is coupled with extreme early waking – thinking 4am – I have been living a sleep deprived life for the last 5 years! It is impossible to function in a safe way with no negative consequences. It has been necessary to do a complete stocktake of my sleeping habits and other contributing factors. In some ways this has been the most difficult of all the things I have been changing. It has meant breaking up with Foxtel and getting rid of it completely. Can I just say – free to air is absolute shite … thank goodness for Netflix at an eighth of the cost!
My screen / electrical device time has also had an overhaul. I am still struggling with aspects of this but when I do it properly – no phone in the bedroom, no computer for an hour before bed and a change in the type of programming I am watching at night – my sleep improves dramatically. I have rediscovered the Rom-Com as a pre-bed entertainment. These tweaks coupled with healthier eating more regularly, a large dose of melatonin, a new mattress and listening to audio books have actually seen me sleeping in some mornings until 8am. It’s truly a miracle – one that Fev is not so keen on! I am often woken by a gentle paw to the face!!
So that’s what has been going on in my life!
Oh yes there is one more development – I have begun volunteering at the Queensland State Archives, 2 days a week. I’m very thankful for my dear friend, Robyn, for helping me secure the position and also volunteering with me. It is interesting work in cleaning, preserving and data entry of old documents. The staff are friendly and fun and completely new to me, which is great for widening my social circles and building my confidence. At the moment, the hours volunteering have meant that Centrelink are content to keep paying me for the next 12 months, releasing me from job seeking for the year! I feel as if a pressure valve has been opened and that I can breathe easier for awhile.
Much about life continues to be hard – with my weight and other general health issues but there is good also. I am dipping my toe back into church and bible study – extremely confronting for me but it really is time to deal with the hurts from 25 years ago and a small group of people who cared about our family when we were treated so poorly, are once again showing strength and commitment to me in attempting to find real peace through forgiveness.
Writing has been hard for me during these months. I have felt my life has been very inward looking and I question if it is relevant to you, my readers? But I constantly return to my initial reason for blogging – to give me an outlet to write for myself, firstly and then to perhaps make some worthwhile connections. For those reasons, I will continue to publish as often as I feel like writing a post. I used to do most of my writing late at night into the wee small hours but my new found sleep programme doesn’t allow for that anymore and I haven’t yet found a comfortable rhythm but I’m sure I will eventually!