HOPE

We took a family holiday, just a week in Cornwall. It was fun, and the kids loved messing about on the beach but it didn’t really deliver everything I’d hoped it would. I hoped it would give me some time, some perspective, some time to talk things through, some time to breath the fresh sea air, to heal and become stronger but this thing is tougher than I’d ever imagined. Perhaps I underestimated what those pills were doing for me, because right now, at this moment, I feel wretched beyond belief and drained. So drained.

At these times it’s important to remember that every day the sun rises anew.  You’ve just got to keep on getting up in the morning, keep trying to make things better and one day, they will be. Or that’s what I keep telling myself. It’s not much, but it’s all I really need. Here’s hoping.

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Breathe more deeply

Aren't they pretty. So many times I've thought about these colours and what they mean.

Aren’t they pretty? So many times I’ve thought about the significance of these colours and what they mean.

For a very long time (years now) I have been taking one shiny little green and yellow capsule before bed every night. A simple act designed to help me not-want-to-throw-stuff-at-other-stuff so much. Depression – though I am not sure I really want to call it that, because that word just doesn’t feel real to me for some reason – has bothered me from time to time ever since I was a kid, but back then it was just called ‘moodiness’.

On a good day I am a perfectly balanced and normal human being. I can laugh and dance and feel joy as keenly as the next person. I have lots of good days. But on a bad day I am disorientated, confused, lost, tearful, sad, irritable, angry.

A handful of times it’s been more or less impossible to function. I’ve stood rooted to a single spot in a busy supermarket completely paralyzed and unable to speak, because I didn’t understand what was going on in my head and felt scared to move in case I was forced to interact with another human being. That day I almost walked out into traffic. That was the worst day. Most bad days don’t get anywhere near that bad because I keep my family close and they give me all the love and support I need to stay on the pavement.

I haven’t had a bad day in ages. The pills have worked. They’ve worked well, but sometimes I have felt a bit… numb. The lower register of emotions hasn’t been as apparent, but neither have the upper ones. I haven’t cried at a wedding, or a birth, or at Eastenders, or cried at all, it seems, for an eternity. Recently my lovely Gramps died and I knew I felt very sad, but it was a bit like straining to listen to someone speaking from inside a soundproof booth. You know someone is saying something, you can see their lips moving, you just can’t quite make out the words. It’s like that dream you have sometimes when you go to run or punch someone but your limbs won’t move and when they do finally stir it’s like you’re dragging them through quicksand. Solid air.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not coming out against Antidepressants – I believe they’re useful and necessary in a lot of cases, but there is a price to be paid for pharmaceutically-imposed tranquility and I was no longer sure I wanted to pay it.

So last week, at the advice of a doctor, I started phasing out the drugs. Quite suddenly things began to feel more raw, more alive again. I shifted gears. I’ve found myself saying things and posting things on social media that, in retrospect, sound like the ramblings of a frazzled and cranky old cat lady. It’s quite possible that this post is one of those things. This is NOT ideal because I rely on my ability to communicate for my living. But, and this is a big but, I figure I’d rather live as a flawed and slightly damaged human being than as a fabulous and shiny, wipe-clean robot. I need to find a way to embrace this weird and inconvenient element of my identity and learn to work with it rather than drug it into submission. Maybe it’s all about yoga and meditation, perhaps it’s about CBT and crochet (which, by the way, I’ve always found extremely helpful), perhaps I just need to breath more deeply. I’ll let you know how it goes. xx

LOST: ONE MOJO

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I don’t know what it is about this time of year, this season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, that makes me feel blue. When I was a kid, this was a time of excitement and fresh starts, a new school year, new challenges to be overcome, new shoes, glorious honeyed autumn light dancing in the trees. Maybe it’s a pitfall of working alone, perhaps it has something to do with all this particularly dreary weather we’ve been having, but this year all I can see is a long, dark winter stretching before me – ugh. It’s true I suffer from the occasional bout of  – dare I say it – depression. It’s mild, thankfully, and not to debilitating, but still, it effects the way I feel about my appearance, my work, my ability as a writer, as a mother. I imagine (at least, I hope) that few people outside of my immediate family would notice if I was in the midst of an ‘episode’. Not because they aren’t close to me, but because over the years I’ve developed ways to camouflage it. I can still laugh, and smile, and joke around as usual, I just feel a bit… tender, is all. Quiet moments are the worst.

My making is a primary tool for avoiding melancholy, especially in those quiet moments. The things I make are always jolly, often silly, sometimes faintly ridiculous. I find it helpful to surround myself with as much colour and humour as I can lay my hands on, and although I often wish the things I made were more subtle and beautiful than they are – there’s nothing like a great big hunk of brightly coloured, cheap-as-chips yarn to put a positive spin on a crappy day. Buttons too, no matter what way you look at it, buttons are cheerful, and ribbons. In fact the whole field of textiles in general – it’s hard to feel fed up when you’re surrounded by soft, colourful, snuggly, wafty things, especially if you can forget about how good, or bad you are and just make, regardless.

What do you do to keep the blues at bay? I’d love to know.

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