Category Archives: mental health

Weekly Roundup

My emotional health is definitely not great at the moment and I am borderline depressed. Due to my isolated existence I genuinely didn’t think I’d be that affected by the pandemic and it’s come as a bit of a surprise. My bestie and I were talking recently and neither of us could work out why we are so fed up – it’s not like we go out much anyway or interact with lots of people as we are both largely housebound, and when lockdown ends our lives won’t be that much different! I think it’s the lack of choice which is getting to me. Spring has tentatively arrived, the weather is glorious and I just want to get out in nature with my camera, but I can’t as we’re still not allowed out for recreation. Roll on 8th March when the recreation restrictions end, though I can’t meet up with my friends until 29th March when the local travel ban is lifted.

I have now not had a period for 4½ months and think my mental health isn’t being helped by the total absence of my hormones. My emotions are up and down like a bride’s nightie and I am deep in hot flush land. They’re not too bothersome during the day, but being woken from sleep engulfed in a raging inferno several times a night is zero on the fun scale and is making me seriously knackered. This morning I’ve woken with a migraine and as I type this my brain is pulsating rhythmically against my skull. I am both weepy and irritated for no good reason. It goes without saying I am well and truly over my 9 years of menopause transition.

I was so unwell and MEish on Wednesday that I asked my Dad to take Bertie out for me in the afternoon. It’s the first time in 3 years I’ve had to get help with him, which shows what a shit day I was having 🙁. On the plus side, the fact that since my Dad’s double hip replacement he felt well enough to come and walk the dog is absolutely brilliant. It will do his flagging mental health the world of good to feel useful again, not to mention the fact that walking has been his life and for him to now be able to get out and about again doing what he loves is awesome.

My Mum still hasn’t had the results of her urgent CT scan which took place on 1st February. I chased it up a week ago and was told they hadn’t received the report from radiology and they would request it and post it to us, but clearly that hasn’t happened. I rang again and this time was told that as Mum is due to have a repeat endoscopy next Friday they usually wait and send all the results together, to which I replied it is totally unacceptable to make someone who may have cancer wait 6 weeks for scan results! The secretary agreed with me and said she would get a report sent to Mum’s GP asap. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Right, enough with the whining – I’m putting myself off my breakfast 😄.

I had a victory this week! In November, I bought an HP printer from the Curry’s website. It had an offer of 15 pages of free ink each month for the lifetime of the printer through the Instantink scheme, which is why I chose this particular printer over all the others. But when I came to sign up for the scheme there was no free option and it wanted to charge me every month. I spent several frustrating weeks talking via online chat to HP who tell me the offer of free ink was withdrawn in December. I argue that my contract of sale included free ink and I expect it to be honoured.

I get nowhere, so in January I send a snail mail complaint to Curry’s HQ (there is no email option) as my contract of sale is with them, not actually with HP, but I hear nothing. Then out of the blue this week I get a phone call from HP asking me if the issue has been resolved 😮. The customer service guy was absolutely lovely and took me through deactivating the printer and re-setting it up and I now have the free ink I should have been enjoying since last year.

Way too many companies are taking the total piss during the pandemic, thinking that customers will have no way of complaining or exercising their legal rights. But I won’t accept being treated unfairly and am like a dog with a bone, gnawing away until I get that to which I’m entitled. It shouldn’t be this way though – you should just get what you fucking pay for!

The biggest thing to happen this week, however, was delivery of a new mattress which has changed my life! I’m going to do a separate post on that, so watch this space.

My head is now banging, I’m starting to feel nauseous and my eyeballs are burning, so I’d better go and take some Ibuprofen and have some breakfast to see if I can get the migraine to calm it’s little self down. Before I go, though, I’ll leave you with a view of the sky snapped from out of my bedroom window last night. The moon was super bright, which made the clouds really pretty 🙂.

Until next week lovely friends, stay safe x

The Pep Talk

When everything seems to be going wrong it’s easy to become despondent.  Defeated.  Overwhelmed.  The pandemic hasn’t helped anything and when the very air we breathe has felt hostile and threatening it’s no wonder many of us are struggling.

To add insult to injury, having poddled along in my menopause journey for a good 7 years now and prided myself on doing OK emotionally for the most part, the past 2 months everything has turned to crap and I have become a blubbering wreck.  Nearly all-of-the-time.  And the times I’m not crying I want to wreak vengeance on anyone who crosses my path, preferably by causing them intense bodily harm.  Neither is good for my mental health.

beating shit

So, having allowed myself to wallow for several weeks which we all need to do now and again I realize it’s time now to get up off the floor because it’s not good for my soul to feel this miserable.  I can’t do much about my hormones, so I have to let the guilt of being a raving loonatic go and just be forgiving and understanding of myself even if others aren’t, but I can do something about the rest.  And this is how I do it.  It might not be your way, but it works for me.

1. Happiness is a choice

Twenty years ago, if someone had said that me I swear I would have punched them in the face.  There are times in life where it is impossible to be happy and if you are currently in that place I send you love and hugs.  You can’t be happy in grief, poverty, turmoil, fear, intense suffering or huge loss and no-one would expect it.  If that’s where you are now, simply be kind to yourself.

For me, however, I thankfully live in a space where happiness is a choice.  The question is……………what makes me happy?  Which is a post for another day.

2. Count your blessings

I’ve been struggling to keep up with housework and meals recently, due to feeling ridiculously tired, and it’s got on top of me.  However, 15 years ago I couldn’t even clean my teeth and would have sold a kidney to be able to cook anything.  The fact I can scrub my toilet, hoover my lounge carpet, or change my own bed is nothing short of a miracle and I need to focus more on how lucky I am that I am able to self care at all.  The majority of my M.E. friends from 25 years ago are still severely affected and I should never, ever forget my privilege at being able to function.

3.  Remember the law of physics

I am not religious, but I am spiritual and do believe that this existence is not all there is.  Too many “coincidences” have happened in my life for me to not believe in miracles (for want of a less biblical term) and I truly believe our souls are made of energy which never dies.

I have gone round this year grumpy, whiny, angry, confrontational, judgemental………….and the universe has responded in kind.  I have been on the receiving end of anger, judgement, resentment and negativity and it’s no wonder.  The law of physics states:

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  The size of the forces on the first object equals the size of the force on the second object.” 

In other words, what you give you receive and I need to switch the energy back to abundant, loving, kindness.  It’s not easy when you’re a raging hormonal psychopath but I’m trying and I can’t ask more of myself than that.

4. The Universe has my back (to steal a phrase 😉)

The Universe knows my soul’s purpose and the Universe knows what my soul needs.  Things happen as and when they are supposed to, and in the meantime I just have to keep the faith.

When the bungalow fell through in February it felt like the end of the world.  But it turned out to be a HUGE blessing in disguise, because 3 weeks later we were in lockdown and living in a one room annexe with no kitchen or proper bathroom, on my own in a village where I knew no-one for months on end, would have been a total nightmare.  That the house didn’t go ahead after lockdown ended just proves it wasn’t meant to be for me and the person whose home it has become obviously needed it more than I did.

I do believe we receive signs which give us guidance and point us in the right direction.  Whether we choose to believe them, or just brush them off as ‘coincidence’, is up to us.  This week I’ve asked the Universe to give me a sign on the house situation and will let you know if I receive it.  If I don’t, that too is a sign – that I’m not moving this year and will have to be patient a bit longer.

Update: Less than 30 minutes after writing this I received the sign I’d asked for on my walk with Bertie yesterday afternoon.  I now excitedly wait to see which house is going to become my next home 😊.

5. Offer it up

Sometimes, despite my best efforts, life gets on top of me.  I can’t raise myself up no matter how hard I try and life seems utterly overwhelming.  It’s then I admit that I can’t do this on my own, and offer up my burdens to the Universe.  It’s amazing how freeing that is and I invariably feel lighter.

6. Live with intention

IF YOU WERE GIVEN A WEEK TO LIVE, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

I ask myself this question a lot.  And while we can’t go through life ignoring the dirty dishes, questioning what we truly want and what truly makes us happy and then striving for that every day can only lead to a joyful life.

7. Live with integrity

Which is my guiding principle and a must for my soul to be at peace.

However, I forgot that this weekend.  All my neighbours have been torturing me with their various noise for months and showing me no consideration whatsoever.  So to get back at them I hoovered my car at 9am on Sunday morning with the radio blaring at full volume.  But it didn’t make me feel good.  Quite the opposite.  It’s not who I am.  I’m not vindictive in any way and am always very considerate of other people’s feelings and spaces.  I need to stay true to myself, regardless of the provocations which come my way.

Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” – Oprah Winfrey

Having said that, this doesn’t mean I lie down like a doormat and let other people walk all over me.  Living with integrity also means setting boundaries and expectations for others’ treatment of you, which is why it was important for me to let my ‘friends’ go last week, as neither of them had my best interests at heart.

integrity

8. Know your purpose

I am by nature an open book.  I share my life easily, even the bad bits that most people want to keep hidden.  I believe that part of the reason for the many negative experiences I’ve encountered is so that I can share these with others so they feel less alone and can take strength from the fact that I have not only survived but thrived.

I am also a bit bolshy.  I remember a friend saying to me once “for someone who hates confrontation you seem to encounter it a LOT” and that’s because I will not allow behaviour which negatively affects me or others to go unchallenged.  I will stand up for my rights and for what is fair.  Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but I can always sleep at night knowing I tried my best.

I do strive every day to be authentically me.  I am by no means perfect, and am always a work in progress, but to quote Maya Angelou:

maya angelou

9. Miracles happen every day

My chances of any kind of recovery from M.E. were 7% and my chances of spontaneous recovery from severe M.E. were zero.   Yet here I am.

In 2008 I had a car crash.  My car flipped twice at speed and was so badly damaged it was written off.  I walked away without a scratch.

In 2011 I went to small, local, rural kennels to choose a rescue dog for adoption.  What are the chances I would find a dog with the same name as my Dad and who was born on my Nanna’s birthday?  The signs couldn’t have been clearer if they’d been written in 6ft neon letters.  And if it weren’t for adopting Bertie I would never have become a photographer.  Speaking of which…..

I live in the middle of absolutely nowhere.  I am chronically ill and spend a minimum of 17 hours each day in bed, alone and invisible.  At the age of 45 I didn’t even own a camera let alone know anything about photography.  Yet in the past year I have won my 10th international gold medal, was exhibited in London, been on the cover of a leading American photography magazine and won a global competition beating photographers from 90 countries across 5 continents without barely leaving my house.  Photography feeds my soul and the Universe has my soul’s back.  Enough said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s (not) good to talk

It’s been a tough year so far with one thing and another.  There really was no need for a global killer pandemic on top of being bullied and publically slandered, losing the desperately needed house I’d searched for for 5 years, and spending months being bitten by vampire bugs while I slept.  Add the final stages of the menopause to the mix, not to mention all my pre-existing health bollocks and my 8 years of non-stop caring duties, and I think I’ve earned my recent mini melt-down.  When it got to the stage where I started to cry the second I opened my eyes each morning, however, I knew I was in trouble and something had to change.

I’m usually pretty good at giving myself a rallying pep talk, re-aligning my state of mind and counting my blessings, but the past couple of months I’ve just been too tired.  Way, wayyyyy too tired.  Instead, I did something rare for me and reached out to other people.  Admitted I was struggling.  Hoped for some loving support and guidance.  I might as well have put my mental health in a blender.

I told my GP, not for the first time, that I was struggling and feeling overwhelmed in a recent written review I have to do each year for my insurance company.  Being as though I call her by her first name, she’s been my GP for years and she knows how strong I usually am, I thought she might at least be concerned enough to pick the phone up and speak to me.  Just to check I wasn’t going to slit my wrists in the bath.  Turns out all the lovely caring doctors you see on the telly are just actors and the ones in real life don’t give a shit.

I reached out to my disabled friend, to tell him how stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted I was.  And he told me to cheer the fuck up and get over it.  Helpful!  And needless to say we are no longer friends.

I told my ‘nice’  neighbours and friends of 16 years that I was really struggling with all the increases in noise where we live, particularly as I’ve been feeling so exhausted and it was affecting my ability to sleep, and was told it didn’t bother them, the world can’t stop turning for me and to basically get over myself.   I’m no longer friends with them either, particularly as I was crying when I was telling them because I felt so down and unwell.

I’ve also written several posts here on my blog recently about how low I’m feeling and out of 900 followers less than 10 people have reached out to me.  So to Melody, Guinevere, Livvy, Eirlysgwenllian, Jane, Elaine, swinkie34, Jill and Daniel I have one thing to say……………… 🧡 🧡🧡🧡🧡.   And to Linds and jen6girls “thank you from the bottom of my heart!” for offering (and in Linds case getting at huge cost to herself) me some famotidine.  And to those of you who I know are going through stuff much, much worse than me (artfulblasphemer I think of you often) and are too unwell and exhausted to comment, I understand totally and send my love and hugs.

On the whole, though, the reaching out thing has been about as successful as Boris Johnson’s Covid response .  On the plus side, not spending half an hour each day talking to my disabled friend on the phone to ease his loneliness plus half an hour each day talking to my ‘nice’ neighbours who are isolated due to Covid has freed up a whole hour of my time, so at least I’m managing to keep on top of my laundry.

I’ve discovered that it’s not that good to talk (only Brits will get the joke 😉) and it’s solely up to me to pull myself out of the mire – no change there and the story of my life.  So I scraped up the energy to give myself the pep talk.  To re-focus my intentions for my days.  To raise my vibration.  To keep moving forward by setting myself new goals and challenges.  Which might involve me being substantially more selfish and which will come as a shock to most of the people around me who take my care of them, and the generous donation of my precious time and energy, for granted.

It’s at times when we feel at our most weak, that we have to be our most strong.  Onward and upward Warriors!

Check on your strong friend

I had a chaotic, lonely, emotionally confusing childhood and was systematically bullied at school for years.   Because of the strain of all this, I suffered from both depression and anxiety throughout my teenage years.  Depression also runs throughout my Mum’s side of the family and is obviously something my Mum has struggled with most of her life and probably the reason she is now an alcoholic.  My Mum’s sister had depression so severe she had electric shock therapy and several of my cousins suffer with mental health issues.

I got help for my depression and by my mid twenties was on top of it, but it’s something which continued to lurk in the background.  Just at a low level, nothing to worry about, but it was always there.  Anyone with a chronic illness which lasts for decades is going to be at risk from depression,  no matter who they are.  Amazingly, though, going on a low histamine diet and getting on top of unkown but life-long mast cell disease helped enormously and during my forties I was happier than I probably had ever been in my life.  But now I’m going through the menopause my brain chemistry is off again and I’ve been feeling low for quite a while.  Weepiness comes over me in waves, or I’m irritated by every little thing – a bit like permanent PMT.   The joy has gone out of my days and the future stretches ahead like a deserted and dusty road.

I’ve had a rough 12 months.   There was all the horrendous stuff at my previous Camera Club which was genuinely emotionally traumatising. There’s been all the house moving situation – one of the most stressful things anyone ever does in life.  I’ve spent 8 months in a legal battle with my neighbour.  I had the bed bugs, which nearly drove me demented.  Then the pandemic arrived, during which I had 2 very negative experiences including being screamed at by a random strange man which was really quite scary.  I had the responsibility of trying to food shop for 5 vulnerable and elderly people, having to stay up til midnight to try and book delivery slots even though I was beyond exhausted.  It was also physically draining as I had no cleaner and my parents had no cleaner and my dog walkers couldn’t do their usual shifts.  Then because I did too much I’m still in a huge pain flare 3 months on.  Any healthy person would be struggling, but on top of all of that I’m sick and live on my own.

Thankfully we can now openly talk about mental health issues, and despite being someone who usually just soldiers on I have mentioned, repeatedly, that I am struggling.  That I’m tearful.  Lonely.  Overwhelmed.  Utterly exhausted.  Finding it difficult to get out of bed some days.  No-one seems to give a shit though.

I’m the STRONG one y’see.  I’m the caregiver.  I’m the ‘bubbly’ person that other people rely on to lift their spirits.  I’m dependable.  And capable.  Creative and successful.  I’m the person everyone else leans on.  Only no-one is strong all of the time.

When someone like me takes their own life the world is thoroughly shocked.  Why didn’t they say something?!  Tell someone!  Only, maybe they did and no-one was listening.  Or maybe no-one gave a fuck – I mentioned in a recent letter to my GP (and not for the first time) that I was struggling and she didn’t pick up the phone or even reply.  Maybe the people in their lives had their own stuff going on and couldn’t cope with anything extra?  When someone is suicidally depressed the signs are always there.  It doesn’t surprise me at all that seemingly strong people end their lives because by the time they admit to anyone that they are struggling they are literally teetering on the edge on the precipice.

I’m not suicidal before anyone panics but I am at the lowest ebb I’ve been in for years and years.  I feel altogether alone and it’s “aloneness” which often appears to be a thread running through the seemingly unexplainable suicides we read about in the paper.  If someone tells you they are feeling lonely sit up and take notice because what they’re actually saying is they are lacking love and support.

The moral of the post is check on your strong friends.  And when they say “oh, I’m fine” but you know they’re not, dig a bit deeper.  Spend some time.  Show you care.  Make them feel less alone.  You might just save a life.