Like a circle in a spiral…

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“90% of the public I think now understands depression. But anxiety disorders are never just cottoned on to. Anxiety still has the hangover of ‘pull yourself together’.” – Gary McDonald

I don’t know that they understand depression so much as an acceptance that it is more than just feeling a bit sad all the time. I certainly wouldn’t wish the gaping maw of smothering emptiness on anyone. It’s not just sadness. It’s melancholy deep into your bones like coming in from the cold and feeling like you’ll never bee warm again. It’s hopelessness. It’s a lack of joy or interest in your most favourite things in the world. It’s not caring that your hair is plastered to your head with natural oils, or that you stink from not washing yourself or your clothes in weeks. It’s looking at the dishes in the sink and thinking that eating is too much effort anyway.
You’ve got a good life – happy marriage and family, your own home, a good income, cuddly pets, plenty of food – so you’re left wondering ‘why do I feel like this?’

Trust me, it is far more frustrating for the person with depression than it is to know someone with it. You might look at them and think ‘you’re *still* sad? Why?!’. But they’re thinking the same thing with the added bonus of blaming themselves and knowing they’re making everyone else sad/worried/angry/annoyed and that some people will just walk away from them because they’ve had enough (‘why can’t you just cheer up?!’) and just get over it all ready.

Cause no one with depression has ever thought of that before. We enjoy wallowing in a pit of despair.

That last paragraph was sarcasm by the way. Of course we’ve thought of it. No one with depression wants to feel that way. Well, maybe some do but I’ve never met anyone who enjoys staring unfocused at the wall for hours. I most certainly don’t.

But the general population is starting to understand this. We don’t want it. We aren’t just ‘sad’. We can’t just ‘get over it’.

Anxiety is the real bitch. It’s random. It’s pointless. It’s sudden but sometimes it creeps and you don’t know you’re feeling it until it’s too late to do anything but wait it out.

It’s like that buzz you get before performing on stage but it’s the bad sort of buzz – when you’re going out there unexpectedly and unprepared, and you’re pretty sure they aren’t going to ask you to do something you’re good at, like singing, and you know there will be unkind laughter and taunting from the audience and you‘re blindfolded so you don’t know what you’re wearing but it’s uncomfortable and noisy so you’re pretty sure it’s unflattering and cringeworthy and meant to make you look ridiculous.

The worst part though is that what you are actually doing is sitting on the sofa at home eating breakfast and watching silly cartoons with your kids on a beautiful, sunny day with nothing in your schedule but to enjoy it, so you’re left wondering what’s triggered these feelings and when you can’t think of anything from today, yesterday or tomorrow, you begin to wonder what the hell is wrong with you and then you start feeling anxious with a side order of mild panic because you can’t work out how it started or how to stop it, and maybe a bit sick because your gut is starting to respond to all of this so you can’t eat anymore but you still have to think about your family and looking after them and it all just winds tighter and tighter no matter how many breathing exercises or meditation techniques you try.

And still you spiral more tightly but now you’re getting angry with yourself on top of the anxiety and fear and helplessness because this is ridiculous! You’re an intelligent being, capable of logic and reasoning but this defies all of that and that leaves you clenching your teeth in irritation. And you’re starting to get a tension headache and your jaw is aching along with your tightened gut which is now starting to hurt because you’re taxing the muscles and you’ve put your breakfast aside but now just seeing the bowl is making you feel ill.

And the worry sets in – what are my kids seeing? How are they experiencing this? Am I hurting them in someway? What about my husband? My family? My friends? My pets? So many people you’re dragging along with you and you don’t want this for them because you like them, you love them and you want them to be happy and comfortable and you want to be a positive influence in their lives…

And on and on and on until you can’t tell up from down any more and your vision is starting to tunnel into nothing but you aren’t hyperventilating and it’s all trapped in your head, trapping you in your head and you *still* don’t know why it’s happening and that’s the thing that gets you more than anything else.

How do you stop the cycle when you can’t identify the beginning?

“Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel
As the images unwind, like the circles that you find in
The windmills of your mind!”

Songwriters: BERGMAN, MARILYN / LEGRAND, MICHEL / BERGMAN, ALAN
The Windmills Of Your Mind lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

The Great Cataloguing Adventure 2015 – Colouring Pencils Edition

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In case my absence hasn’t made it obvious, I’m struggling at the moment. My head is not a happy place right now and my son has just gone back to his grandmothers after the summer holidays. I miss him. It’s lonely here after 6 weeks with his constant company.

My husband took him on the coash (no car!) yesterday so I decided to finally sort out a final, expandable version of the Big Book Of Colour (BBoC) for my pencils. This is the third version because I keep adding to the collection and the book isn’t big enough to hold everything anymore. Also, I want to record the colours in their brand groups as well as in their colour groups.

There are many swatch books/colour charts available online but they all either have space for colouring but not for colour names or are for ‘grown-up’ pencils and I don’t have any of those so I had to make my own. I used an Open Office document to create a simple table with squares for colour and space for colour names and numbers beneath. As I’ve said before, I flit between crafts which means I have a lot of things that can be repurposed and this time was no different. I knew I had an A5 folder on a shelf and was preparing to cut some printer paper down to size when I found some A5 sized card and A5 plastic sleeves, which was perfect because pens won’t bleed through card and watercolours won’t warp it either.

Print your own blank pencil swatch chart – A5. Check that your printer is set for A5 sized paper (half an A4 page) and that your borders are at 1.50cm for top, left and right and at 1.3cm for the bottom. You can also print this 2 to a page.

It took me about a day to finish but with a total of 492 colours (336 coloured pencils, 83 watercolour pencils and 73 markers & pens), it was a big job (set up the printer, print 50 double sided pages, sort pencils that aren’t already sorted, label and colour as appropriate).

Faber-CastellWant to see more?

This is the third version of the BBoC I have made but because this one is expandable and easily added to, I am unlikely to need to make another version.

I have pages for each of the brands/lines that I have and will be making a section for the coloured pencils that shows the colour groups. When I have more watercolours and more pens/markers, I will do sections for them too.

I’m also going to make laminated, oversized pages as dividers but I want to make them pretty so they won’t be done quickly.

And of course, I hadn’t finished this post before my husband got home so I get to tell you how awesome he is – he brought home a set of 12 Inktense watercolours and 24 Polychromos. So very very delighted! I have a few Inktense already but there are only 2 repeats so I now have 16 individual colours. And Polychromos… sooooo beautiful! They are my first set of proper ‘grown-up’ colouring pencils and they are even more gorgeous to use than I thought they would be.

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There is a lot of hype about Prismacolours and Polychromos, and there are many of each but they are also prohibitively expensive. And you know what? I love my Crayola pencils so as much as I wanted to try the fancy pencils (and they are fancy) I was ok to wait for them. But now I don’t have to!

I am very very spoiled. My husband will say I am very very loved. He’s awesome and I love him regardless of the fancy pencils.

Today is my birthday (Well, Sunday was)…

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Since I last wrote, I have been tweaking the Lilia design so all that typing made me think I’d already blogged this week. Obviously, I hadn’t. Oops.

But I finished version 2 of Lilia today and thought I’d share.

Veronica-Lilia2 - collageI’ve named this particular doll Veronica. No particular reason, she just looks like a Veronica.

I made a couple of minor shaping changes and added ears with this version. I doubt anyone else will notice the changes (except for the ears) and that’s good. I’ll make another doll to check that I’ve recorded everything that is needed in the pattern and that my maths works.

Bad maths in patterns is a pet peeve so I make an extra effort to be sure it’s right, no matter how simple the pattern. Having worked with a friend on a knitting project recently, I realised that not everyone even bothers with the numbers. I don’t get that. I don’t want to rip back so I count to make sure I have the right number of stitches as per the instructions. I am grateful that I have enough experience with patterns to be able to make corrections when things don’t add up.

It’s been a peculiar week, emotionally. Sunday was my birthday and for the first time I can remember, I spent most of the day asleep. I love my birthday – it’s the one day in the year I can justify insisting everyone pay flattering attention to me. Husband and Son were here and there was yummy breakfast and a roast for dinner and presents (one of which was delayed and only arrived today).

I got a Derwent Carry-All and a pair of extra leaves taking the potential capacity from 132 pencils to 220. Because some of my pencils are extra thick I have fewer than that but all my favourites are in there.

derwentcarryall3Well, they were until my delayed present arrived today.

I lovelovelove Crayola pencils. The colours are vibrant, the coverage is good, they sharpen well, the ‘lead’ can take a lot of abuse before shattering in the pencil, and they aren’t expensive. I already have a set of 36 but several of the colours are more rapidly shrinking than the others (red, green, pine green and black in particular). So today Hubby brings home a set of 50 new Crayola pencils!!! Sooooooo happy!!

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Of course, now I have to reshuffle the pencils in my case. It’s such a chore to play with organise my colouring pencils.

So, emotionally peculiar week. 6 years ago, our dogs produced a litter of puppies. All but one of them went to friends and family. Late last week I was told that one of them had been taken to a shelter because his family couldn’t keep him anymore. Then on Monday I was told that he had been put down because it had been decided that they wouldn’t be able to rehome him. He was only 6 and there was nothing wrong with him and I’m struggling with irrational guilt. He was one of my fur-babies.

My human son is 13 nearly 14 now. It’s starting to show. I don’t do shouting but trying to get him to wash or eat or go out… well, I’d rather have teeth pulled. It’s emotionally taxing. He’s awesome and the worst I can say about him is that he’s stubborn. It’d be nice if he could be stubborn about things I don’t ask him to do though 😉

It may not seem like much but it’s been an unpleasant rollercoaster. For example, finishing the doll feels awesome, but then I crash hard because it’s done and now I have to choose a new project. Birthday = high, no phone calls = low. This is among the worst I’ve been. The highs are so short, and the lows are so deep. I’m ok and I can get through each ‘episode’ but it wears me out. I’m doing the things that help – colouring, meditation, crocheting – and they do help so I’m doing something right.

On the subject of things that help me feel better, this week I coloured one of my most favourite pages in the ‘One Year Wiser’ book.

the mountains are calling

All The Things!!! or I am a Collector of Crafts.

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I obsess. It is something I do unwillingly. I obsess over my family. I obsess over my thoughts. I obsess over actors and movies. I obsess over crafts. I think even my anxiety could be deemed obsessing in some ways.

It happens when I am mentally well. Sometimes it causes the lows. Sometimes I can exert some sensibility over my behaviour and thoughts. Other times I have to ride it out.

For example, I will watch a movie I like until I never even what to look at some of the actors again (or friends and family want to choke me with the dvd). After the 3 months in hospital last year, I obsess over what certain pain means. When I take up a new craft I must have ALL THE THINGS!!!!!

You saw the spinning fibre, the pencils, the colouring books. You haven’t seen the yarn stash yet. When it comes to crafts, I am a collector.

Though I didn’t need the additions, I got three new colouring books this week and they’re lovely but I am trying to finish some incomplete pages before I start on anything new but I have collected a lot of downloaded pages and will be printing them out soon so really, it’s moot.

The thing is, I do eventually get through these obsessions. The heat of obsession will cool off and the new crafting collection will slot itself into the ever expanding rotation – beading, cross-stitch, knitting, crochet, loom bands, colouring, bobbin lace, spinning, sewing, etc. (You’d be surprised how often the materials for these crafts cross boundaries.)

The downside to this personality trait is that I go through extended periods of not wanting to do any of them, which is accompanied by a weighty feeling of dissatisfaction because I have all these things, and I’m good at them, and I don’t want any of them but I don’t know what I want. I just know that I don’t want to do the things I’ve done before and I don’t want to seek out something new.

It’s a whirlpool of irritation. I don’t like these feelings. I don’t like being unhappy and I don’t understand why it happens.

Maybe it’s a control thing. I don’t know.

Right now, I have some knitting and crochet need to finish and I don’t even want to look at my yarn; my electric spinner is finished and I’d rather use my handmade (chopstick and bathroom sink stopper) handspindle; I want to colour but there are too many lines on the page to make sense them.

I’m planning to go into town tomorrow (for heavier printer paper), maybe that will help get this under control a little. Sometimes it’s just restlessness.

I don’t really know where I was going with this. Sorry.

For the betterment of my mind

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Three months is a long time to spend in hospital and it messes with your head. Since coming home in January, I have faced a deeper type of depression than ever before as I try to reestablish myself. I will likely always be susceptible to pain in my abdomen from the damage my pancreas took. I will likely always live with the fear of the return of the indescribable pain that sent me back to the hospital. But in the more immediate future I am dealing with the frustration of waiting for my gall bladder to be removed. I have heard nothing from the doctors since February, despite my efforts to the contrary and this is amping up the fear that I will end up in hospital again with the same problem. It also means that despite increasing discomfort in my back, I won’t be going to the osteopath to get it sorted (it was immediately after my last appointment that this all started and though I’m not saying the treatment was the cause, I do worry that it shifted something that acted as a catalyst).

Logically, I know that I’m giving this all too much space in my head but emotionally… well, it’s not great. I find myself staring for hours at blank walls on bad days and there are more of those than ever. I find that often, any positive event is followed by a disproportionately low period. My ability to focus and concentrate is sporadic and very short. And worst of all, I find it difficult to enjoy my crafting in the same way which takes away most of my personal productivity.

I’m working with a therapist on CBT but I’m not sure, in fact I’m fairly certain that now is not the best time for this. I am already vulnerable and unsettled, and the trigger is something that I cannot resolve on my own.

I don’t know where I’m going with all of this, or even what it all means but I’m hoping that venting here will help me some.

I have a new long-term project. A friend in my knitting group showed us a crocheted blanket she was working on and my friend G and I decided to get the kit and make our own. She’ll need some crochet lessons but it’s a simple pattern repeated several times on every row so the paper pattern is really only needed for the colour order. It’s this pattern/kit by Attic24 (I have no affiliation with Wool Warehouse but can tell you that my order with them was a smooth transaction and arrived quickly).

I’m 2 rows in but have crocheted as much as three – I missed a stitch at the beginning of the first row but didn’t notice until I’d reached the end and I’m enjoying it a lot more than I expected to. 200 stitches is a lot more than I usually work with.

Things I’m trying to do to regain some control over my scatter brain :

* daily journal/planner that allows me to record mood, craft/education, tasks, cleaning and eating/medication.

* limiting the number of projects I work on for any given craft. For example, in my work bag I have 1 knitted shawl (Solar Flare), 1 knitting design (a headband and it’s variations), 1 art therapy colouring page, 1 large crochet project (ripple blanket). This is enough to keep me entertained and give me some choices but doesn’t overwhelm me (and some days, just choosing which coloured pencil to use is too much).

* going to therapy

* going to my knitting groups

* spending time with my friends outside those groups.

It probably looks like a pretty regular sort of plan to most of you. It’s a lot of hard work for me. Trying to rein in my attention is exhausting.

Day 187

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Not much to say today. There’s been a low swing in my mood this week. As much trouble as I occasionally had with being constantly surrounded by people for 3 months in hospital, I’m finding being on my own so suddenly equally difficult.

At least I can identify a starting point for the down swing. There is little more irritating than being sad/angry/etc and not being able to work out why.

Turquoise rectangle and Alanna Myles’ ‘Black Velvet’ finish our update today.

Day 187

Day 186

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I’m not sleeping well. It’s worrying my husband and, if I’m honest, it has me a little worried too. But I don’t know what to do. I just don’t want to sleep and I’m awake later and later into the night but still waking at 7am. Some days that means only about 4 hours sleep when I need at least 7. Do I wait it out or try going to bed at a reasonable hour and hope it doesn’t result in hours lying awake?

And before you ask, I am taking my medication every day.

An orange square brings us closer to the end of this phase of the blanket today.

Day 186

Have I shared this song with you before? It’s Gym Class Heroes featuring Adam Levine (from Maroon5) singing ‘Stereo Hearts’. I really like Adam Levine’s voice. I like how it works in counterpoint to Travie’s rapping.