Monday, 28 September 2009

Project 20 : Sea Foam Scarf


I haven't been so hot on posting all my projects, especially the relatively small ones - scarves and booties and the like. I am not good at solely working on one project at once, I am much happier to have 3 or 4 things on my needles at once. Ideally, one will be crochet, one will be a long term project and one will be a quickie. That means instant gratification depending on my mood (although I do have storage issues!) I am good at going back and finishing things off, so I don't give myself a hard time about being unfocussed. Knitting / crocheting is sheer pleasure, afterall.

This Drop Stitch Scarf pattern by Christine Vogel is free on Ravelry (you need to sign up for an account and it may take a few days for your password to come through but my, oh my, is it worth it.) I loved this pattern, it was sheer knitting porn. And the end product looked pretty good too.

I made it for my Mum, whose birthday was on 12th September. She wears a lilac coat in the autumn and the colour really suits her. I thought this lightweight, purple scarf would complement it. She seemed really pleased and said that my knitting was becoming "really professional" (yay! high praise indeed from my Mum!) and that is one of the nicest comments anyone has made over the past couple of weeks.


Cost: £7.00 2 x balls Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, purchased from Ebay

Time taken: 2 days

Lessons Learned: Don't be limited by what you perceive as difficult. This was as easy as pie and I was convinced I couldn't do it for the first few rows.

Satisfaction Rating: It's high on up there. 9.5/10. I am itching to make it again, but may very well choose a Clapotis instead for a similar but different experience.

In other news, I have a new girl crush. In addition to the fabulous Kirsty Allsop whom I want to possess/be in equal measure, and Nigella Lawson (ditto, known in our family as our children's "other mother" - i.e. they one they would have had if Dominic had complete free choice. My only condition in this is that it would have to be a three way affair), I have today discovered the fantastic 'Some Girls Wander By Mistake' blog. I want to possess/be Emily Martin <deep sigh> That is all. Go, look. I dare you. Tell me she is not amazing.

In depression news, it's not been an easy couple of days although I suspected that might be the case after overdoing things on Friday. I am mainly suffering with night wakings after vivid (often frightening) dreams and it is then I feel suicidal. Without wishing to be melodramatic/poncy I think the french expression "Je suis désolée" sums it up well. I am desolate.

It's hard to explain because the depression has changed. Once it was just a barren wilderness, like a desert as far as the eye can see, all the same. Now I have good times (rarely more than a couple of hours) and then really harsh, sharp downs. During those moments I keep having to repeat over and over in my head why I should want to be alive. I am not always convinced, I'll be honest. The thing that keeps me going is thinking how ungrateful I am. I have the most wonderful life, really. Why can't I enjoy it more? Do these desolate nighttime waking sessions really count?

My medication is causing me some problems - I appear to be itching a great deal, all over my body but especially on my scalp and neck. At first I had no reaction, then I thought it was because the heating has started to come on and my skin was drying out. But the skin feels different from normal dry skin, and it's getting worse every day even though the heating is not coming on proprotionately more. Do I go back to the doctors and explain, and go through the miserable two weeks of new medication again? Or do I put up with it, as the medication is helping on the whole? Also, I stiull haven't heard from psychological services. I am 11 weeks into a breakdown and I have no support yet. I can't ring them because of my phone phobia. I have written and my friend has phoned. My doctor thinks I am getting better and I am afraid I am being left behind. Dom seems to be losing patience as I am not the same every day and he's getting more and more tired with work.

<deep sigh>. Sorry for the brain dump. I have never had a breakdown before and I don't know what to expect. In a lot of ways I would like to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital because then I could take my feet off the pedals for a while. On the other hand, the very thought frightens me to death.

I'll leave it there I think. I have a couple of episodes of Midsummer Murders recorded, so I will snuggle up on my sofa under my crochet blanket with a coffee, home made carrot cake and some knitting and make the most of it. If nothing else, I have created this comforting, warm little woolly world I can retreat into when I need to. I just wish I could be as sparky, in control and unique as my girl crushes. Oh well, c'est la vie.

Love and hugs, I hope your day is good

Claire xx


Friday, 25 September 2009

Good Days


Hello lovelies. I hope all is well with you, and you are managing to keep a smile. I have had a BONZER couple of days!

Yesterday started off badly, I felt really low. But, I had a doctor's appointment in the afternoon so I struggled in, hair untidy and no make up, feeling pretty glum. Then I had such a lovely chat with my GP - I absolutely love her to bits. I have no idea why I always get so nervous when I go to see her. We chatted - her son started school last week, so we compared notes. She told me she was bought up in our house virtually opposite ours. We talked about expectations of life - I told her that I had lost my job and Charlie had started school in the last couple of weeks, and both had made me feel very emotional. But that I could see I needed time to reflect, unwind and think about what was important to me. A year ago I ran my own business and had a part time professional job, now I was unemployed. She declared that I seemed brighter than before, and decided not to make any changes to my medication. I have to go back in 4 weeks rather than 2.

I don't know what it was about her validation that made me feel so good, but it worked. I explained, nervously, that I wasn't back to my old self and she said, quite shocked "goodness me, I wouldn't expect it" and that made me feel good too. Knowing that I am doing well, for this stage, was a nice reassuring feeling.

To break up the l-o-n-g text (sorry, I can waffle), I thought I would share some pics I took of the flowers Charlie and I bought in our local town - £2 for two huge bunches of dahlias. And, oh, they're so pretty. I often buy flowers as they bring me so much joy and make my little cottage look a treat. However, I was inspired by Lucy at Attic 24 to try putting flowers all over the house - and what a joy that has been! They have made an appearance in the lounge, the kitchen, the dining room, the downstairs loo and our bedroom. I thought I would share their cheerfulness with you. Thanks Lucy. They look so much better in little jam jars and mustard pots (recycled, obv)


So, to today! I went to my first ceramics class! AND I WORE MAKE-UP! I haven't been out on my own like this for about 10 weeks, let alone looked half decent. I was very nervous, but I had a good time. I am completely knackered now though! I made something that resembled a bowl, although I don't have any pictures yet. It's inlaid stoneware don'tcha know! It uses a technique where a pattern is scratched into the wet clay, and then painted with slip (coloured, watery clay) that looks something like this (please note, mine won't, this is just one I found online!)

Inlaid bowl

I developed a heart and spots pattern which I liked. The humble, wonky pot is waiting for me to return next week, when I will scratch back the slip and add more layers, apparently. I'll remember to take my camera next week.


After this, I went into Hull - something I haven't done for months. I had a good walk around in the sunshine which was lovely. I eventually went to the Job Centre, something I was dreading, but it was OK and the two people that interviewed me were lovely. There wasn't anything suitable, but I am being sent on a course for executives and professionals (ooh get me!) All I will get is my national insurance stamps paid, but I figured I may as well as I have worked since I was 13 (22 years! Don't I sound old!)


This weekend I intend to knit a pair of socks. We will undoutedly visit the inlaws, and pick gorgeous apples from their laden tree. It's the local open studio scheme, so I hope we can pop out and have a look at some other local artists. I also want to take Jonny pottery painting tomorrow - he has to do a school presentation on Art Deco and I persuaded him to produce something in the style of Clarice Cliff. We are both so excited.

I hope your weekends are restful, happy and fun. Lots of love xxxxx

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Flapjacks and Home Grown Veg


Good afternoon, how are you today? Well, I hope? Enjoying the warm, autumnal sunshine? It's glorious here today, I would have taken myself for a walk down the lane to enjoy the last of the year's good weather, but Dom accidentally took both sets of keys to work, so I couldn't lock the house! Never mind, an uneventful but pleasant day passed, with some surfing, baking and plenty of knitting. And a measure of Murder, She Wrote.

I wanted to share with you some of the pictures of our garden. We have quite a small vegetable garden and an 8ft x 6ft greenhouse, but we like to put every inch to good use. For example, here are the runner beans scambling up the fence by the children's swing and slide


We've not seemed to do so well with any sort of beans or peas this year - last year we harvested 22lb of runner beans! I'm not sure whether the new location is too dry, the weather was unfavourable this year, or whether some other force is at play. I intend to research over winter to inform our planning next year.

The courgettes, pumpkins, squashes and marrows have been brilliant. I just love their rotund confidence, their bright, brassy yellow flowers and the fact that scramble over one another in such a disorganised way. They went in a new bed at the back of the garden; our cat TC was often seen curled sleepily around a pumpkin dozing in the warm sunshine.


We have made every effort to enjoy the fruit we've grown - including the six blackcurrants and two raspberries! Again, this was not an area of success, although we had wild blackberries growing in the hedgerow and these have done very well indeed.


I haven't got any pictures, but carrots, onions and beetroot seem to have done well again. Our perpetual spinach looks like it's starting to grow; that kept us going most of last winter. Fingers crossed it makes a reappearance. All our herbs and salad leaves were disappointing this year, though.

Finally I wanted to show you our tomatoes, a hybrid called 'hundreds and thousands.' Like the name suggests, you should be able to harvest hundreds and tiny, grape sized tomatoes from each plant. At the moment we have about dozen from six plants, but I haven't given up hope yet!


Pottering about in the garden is one of my favourite ever things to do; our whole family gets a great deal of pleasure. It makes me very excited to be able to share the fruits of our labour with you! 

Finally, yesterday I promised to share my made-up-on-the-spot recipe for lemon and honey flapjacks. A whole tray lasted two days in this house, which is testament to how they tasted, I believe. I love cooking 'off piste' but rarely is something made-up as good as these.

Lemon and Honey Flapjacks


250g porridge oats

150g butter

75g honey

75g sugar

75g sultanas

2 lemons, zested and squeezed


  1. Heat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease a baking tin approx 20cm.

  2. Melt the butter, sugar and honey in the microwave, or in a pan

  3. Mix the oats into the liquid and stir well.

  4. Add the sultanas, lemon zest and juice ensuring it is evenly combined

  5. Put the mixture into the tin, and press down firmly with the back of a spoon to ensure the flapjack sticks together.

  6. Bake in the middle of a pre-heated oven for 25-30 mins. It should be golden and brown around the edges when it is done. It may still appear quite liquid, but will solidify as it cools. Cut into pieces whilst still hot, but leave to cool in the pan.



Monday, 21 September 2009

Some reasons to feel proud


My lovely kitchen knick-knacks that cheer me up every day.

Hello my lovelies, how are you all doing?  I hope you didn't miss me too much over the past six days. I have been thinking of you all, and hoping that you're finding the light at the end of the tunnel.

It was one heck of a week for me, my feelings were flying round like a cloud of gnats, and I wanted a bit of time to reflect and get my head together. Thank you so much to those of you who emailed to say that you didn't think the blog was showing off, the encouragement really helped.

So... last week was a week of big changes. For some reason, at the moment, I am not very good at change. The first weekend back after the start of the school term was tough for me, as I think I said before, because I slipped straight back into 'Mum' and, for the first time since the start of the summer holidays, I didn't make any allowances for the illness. That was a mistake and I started the week feeling somewhat overwrought.

Monday and Tuesday I had Charlie at home with me full time - it sounds like nothing, but I have not looked after him from 6am to 7pm on my own for a long time. He was full of beans because he was excited about starting school, prone to emotional outbursts and, if I admit it, a bit naughty because he, too, was overwrought. I was depressed and needing peace and quiet! Not a great combination, you'll have to admit.

Monday we went out to a few shops - Asda, McDonalds, we took some old clothes to the charity shop and by the time I got home and did the housework (why?!) I had done too much. Tuesday I could barely get off the sofa, and felt horribly, awfully guilty for squandering Charlie's last day at home with me. I spent a lot of the time in tears, including the evening when I cried in bed. Dom was shocked and worried, but wonderfully patient.

Wednesday was the big day. Charlie was so excited I thought he would burst. I was really anxious about taking him to this new institution, nervous about what to do and where to go, worried on his behalf, sad that he was leaving the nest, excited for myself and my new freedom - a whole muddle of feelings. Anyway, suffice to say he was fine, in fact he's had a lovely time. And I have quickly got used to my new routine. Shall I share a picture? He is a very good Reason To Be Proud this week.


Isn't he just adorable? That's Billy with him, his teddy bear that has gone pretty much everywhere from birth. Of course Billy needed his hand holding as he was nervous about starting school, and the teachers made every effort to welcome Billy to the classroom and even let him come in and listen to the lessons. Charlie was very glad he was there, I think.

I have been trying to gain inspiration from my little man - he's taking on the world because he's not worrying about too much at once. I could do the same. Good enough is good enough, nothing has to be perfect. So I thought I would share with you some of the things bringing me happiness at the moment, if not because it balances the days when I am having to run through in my head the list of reasons I should not want to die.

You may wonder why I seem to gravitate toward the homemade/craft blogs. As well as being something that I love doing, and just.... well, I can't express it easily... feels right and as though it will help me get better, I am in awe of those wonderful women, so full of character life and creativity. I need their warm domesticity, I guess I need to be mothered myself. And I also want to me that sort of mother.

So, here are some things I have been proud of doing this week.


Look - cables and shaping! I mastered short rows! Yeee-haw! I'll ignore the fact that I have been knitting this jumper since May, that this part literally took weeks and, when I sewed the whole thing up the gauge was wrong and the jumper made me look like Barbapapa. Who cares, when you've made something curved, with cables?! <does happy dance> I am making it into something funky, so watch this space....


I invented a recipe! These are lemon and honey flapjacks and, believe me, they are divine. I will post the recipe tomorrow. Made from honey from our very own bees! sadly, the lemons were from Tesco (wouldn't it be lovely to be able to grow those too?)


My fantastic pumpkin patch. We now have pumpkins, squashes, marrows and still the odd courgette. More home-grown vegetable pictures tomorrow, but it feels me with such a thrill to produce food through love and nurture.

I'm going to come out of this depression one day, aren't I? One day I won't have to run through my lists of why I should be alive, or convince myself I won't attempt suicide today. One day, I won't feel stoned on my meds, or spend the day in a fluffy coma on the sofa. One day, I will be able to answer the phone and make calls without blinking an eyelid. One day I will again wear make up, get my hair cut, have a job (career, maybe), smile and not feel as though I am deceving people.

One day soon .... xxxx

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Windfall Apples


Windfall apples from my mother-in-law's garden that I made into blackberry and apple crumble.

I wanted to start this week by saying a heartfelt 'thank you' to those of you who email and message me, here and on Ravelry. I am always touched by your interest and well wishes, and I am always interested to hear your own stories. Thank you. It makes such a difference not to feel alone.

I haven't blogged for the past few days because I feel guilty to post and say I am happy (it feels like bragging) and posting to say things are not so good feels like whinging. I hope this is a symptom of the depression and that actually, you don't mind. I have been suffering the consequences of my usual status - thinking any small improvement makes me automatically "better" and then doing too much, and getting down again.

On Friday evening, we were invited out to dinner with a relative. Dom hadn't told her I was ill, so popped in on the way home from work to explain. I didn't want to cut myself off from her, but I feel a bit, well, naked.

Anyway, I went. I even got (reasonably) dressed up and wore make-up (the first time in 8 weeks). I felt very on show and rather uncomfortable, and I am afraid to say drank rather too much wine and spent the night being brittly jolly. I didn't know how a person having a breakdown should act. I felt bad for smiling, as though I was being a fraud, but also didn't want to spoil things by sitting there like a dark cloud. I guessed I hoped I would gauge their reaction to my illness, but that was too hard. They were clearly trying not to upset me, and I was trying too hard, so it wasn't the most honest of situations. However, the food was lovely and I genuinely enjoyed spending some time with my extended family.

The weekend was busy; being the first after the new term started, we all sort of slotted into the usual routines. I found this very demanding. However, I put on a false smile and did my best. I think it was telling that by Sunday night I was knackered and overwhelmed when Dom described the weekend as "very lazy." Whoops!

Charlie finished nursery on Friday and, even though the leaving was less dramatic than I feared, I still feel very sad. Bereft. The end of an era. He starts school tomorrow and is *so* excited he's been getting up at 5.30am and leaping up and down on the spot until he goes to bed. Yesterday I took him to the shops, which was very scary. I haven't done anything like that by myself since I got sick and, to be honest, it took me a little too far out of my comfort zone. Sunday night I woke up at 2.30am and didn't sleep the rest of the night, so I am absolutely dog tired. Charlie has been having all the usual tantrums and bad attitude associated with prolonged overexcitement and I have been finding it tough. Needless to say that today, despite wanting to mark his last day as a preschooler with some special and memorable activity, we have spent the day at home together knitting, watching television and chatting.

I keep telling myself that "good enough is good enough." Maybe that's the lesson I need to learn. I am naturally prone to over extending myself. At least the children are loved, well fed, clean, well dressed and shown genuine affection. Maybe the rest isn't so important?

I have to dash off and pick up Jonny and his friend from football training. I hope to be a bit more perky tomorrow. On a brighter note, I have the new editions of both Country Living and Coast, so I hope to find a bit of escapism later...

Hugs and love to all those who need a friend xx

Friday, 11 September 2009

Project 19: Dining Room Throw Taa-Daa!

Hello readers, how are you today? It's a lovely sunny but cool day in East Yorkshire and I can hear children playing and lawn mowers mowing in the distance. Everyone is looking forward to the first weekend after the long school holiday. It's Charlie's last ever day at nursery *sob* and I am going to be more upset than he is. The "ladies" at nursery are like extended members of our family.

Anyway, I'm in an up and down sort of mood. I've got lots of ironing done (yay!), have shined my sink and washed and dried clothes and dishes. I have finished Charlie's rainbow jacket this morning and read a book in 24 hours - On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. It was good - sexually charged and suffocating. It wasn't the cheeriest of reads, but worth a look if you fancy something quick. I got it for 99p from our local charity shop; I like that sort of recycling!

On Chesil beach

I got a letter from my employer this morning terminating my employment. Actually, there was no letter, just a form. I am quite hurt. I put my heart and soul into that job and it wouldn't have taken much to say "form enclosed, thanks for your hard work and commitment, we hope you're better soon." Still, lesson learned.

I am also surrounded by pregnant women and new babies at the moment and it makes me feel very complicated. I had terrible post natal depression after Charlie was born and I am convinced that I am in this situation now because I didn't seek treatment early enough then. So, in a week where my baby leaves nursery and starts school, regrets about his babyhood and the wondering whether I'll ever have another baby, whether I'll ever be able to make the hurt better and whether I even want another child are thronging my mind. Ho hum. I'm coming back as a man next time.

Anyway, let's cheer ourselves up. Fancy looking at my lovely blanket? I am very proud of this one. I love the feel of it, the colours (especially the edging), I love how much I enjoyed the project - the whole thing has been marvellous. Anyway, here you go. I present:

Project 19: The Dining Room Throw






Cost: about £100, mainly due to the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino. I eventually relented and started using leftovers from other projects and acrylics, just to keep the cost down.

Time Taken: 4 weeks

Satisfaction rating: 9/10 - an easy pattern that gave lots of opportunity for playing with colour. I joined the  squares as I went, then did the  rounds of edging before starting more smaller squares. This made the joining feel much less of a chore.

Lessons learned: sew in tails as you go!

So, do you like it as much as I do? This will always remind me of the summer of 2009, especially crocheting squares on three of the local beaches whilst Dom and the children played in the sea. It's been a difficult summer in lots of ways, but there are happy memories too. And I have a fab blanket to snuggle under when I am doing my winter knitting!

I look forward to hearing your comments. I hope to see you again soon xx

Thursday, 10 September 2009

So, I lost my job....


Lovely flowers Dom bought me from the local market last week to cheer me up.

Well, dear reader, I have certainly had a couple of days. Not long after posting on Tuesday, I received an email to say that my employers had met and decided not to renew my contract, because of my illness. Technically they can do this as my 12 month contract had expired and, even though they had promised a new contract verbally, nothing had been agreed in writing. Morally, it's pretty questionable. I wasn't asking for sick pay, just the chance to return when I was better.

When I last posted I mentioned that I thought losing my job  would be the best scenario. However, when it happened it really knocked me for six. I have never been sacked before, and I have never been unemployed. It really made me feel worthless. I cried a lot and stayed on my comfy sofa watching Diagnosis Murder, in my safety zone. When I think of all the extra effort, additional hours, late nights and sacrifices it makes my stomach turn.

I've done a lot of thinking since then. Maybe this is part of the lesson I need to learn. Maybe I need to give my all and get no respect, so that I become a little more careful about whom I expend effort for. The people who have stood by me have brought tears to my eyes. Those who have done the opposite have also brought tears to my eyes, but different tears, and it's been an important lesson. The people who have helped me are the people I wasn't spending enough time on/with.

One act of kindness that stunned me was an internet friend who phoned the local psychological services telling them she was concerned about me. She did it because she knew how scared I was of using the phone. I had written but got no response (it later transpired that the person I wrote to was on holiday). Hopefully they will see me sooner. I was touched and amazed at her actions.

Today I have just felt exhausted, to be honest. I'm not sure whether it's the illness, the emotional energy or the medication to be honest, but I could sleep at the drop of a hat.

I have been trying to push myself beyond my comfort zones everyday. Yesterday I collected Charlie from nursery alone (I haven't done this for 8 weeks). Today I walked to the village and went to the local shop. I am proud of myself but amazed how much effort these things take, they're so small! I also realised I have been sick for 8 weeks now, and don't really feel much better than when I first became ill, other than I have fully accepted what is happening now. I am also trying very hard to count my blessings, even though I don't believe that positive thinking is going to make much different. If I could get myself out of depression through willpower alone, I would have done it months ago. However, I am trying very hard and trying not to be too hard on myself.

I am working on Charlie's rainbow cardigan, and it's nearly finished. I just have the sleeves to sew on, then the side seams to sew up. I've not done sleeves before, so I am nervous. However, I also had to work on the collar and pick up and sew along both front edges and I am really proud of how that has worked out. Here's a sneaky peak of the colours. I hope you're well and happy today, Claire xx





Monday, 7 September 2009

The Brave New World


A much appreciated visitor to my garden this morning.

Well hello, friends. How are you all doing? I hope you are as happy as can be expected and the demons are not on your shoulders. It's a lovely sunny day this morning in East Yorkshire, really beautiful. There is a slight chill in the air; it's starting to feel quite autumnal.

And guess what? Dom has gone back to work. I feel like someone who has just left hospital and doesn't know how she will survive. These are my first faltering steps into my new life, without my lifeline. It's exciting and very, very scary.

From now on, I have to function at a different level. I have to make meals, get the kids to and from school, dressed in the appropriate uniform and equipped for school. I have to keep the house clean and tidy. Do shopping. Live life. My coccoon has gone.

Today I am sacking my cleaner. Weirdly, this feels like a really positive thing. I hate the intrusion of having someone in my house one morning a week, even though she's doing a job that I would prefer not to do. I feel quite bad because my cleaner is lovely, but I really have the urge to stay on top of our own space and actually contribute something to the family now that I am not a businesswoman and school leader.

In this vein, I joined Flylady. I did this before a couple of years ago and it was really successful. I love the idea that just babysteps will have an impact on the bigger picture. It's really helpful to my current situation with the depression. What I am trying to do is think 'I'll just load the dishwasher then I can do some knitting' then, an hour later 'I'll go and sort out the kids toys.' This means I get more done without being overwhelmed and have had a couple of good days this way.

In other big news, I have signed up and paid for a 6 month ceramics course! I can't wait! I may also start AS Textiles, if there is a space for me. That's all day Wednesday. I really am very excited and optimistic about taking time to do some creative things, and give myself some breathing space to heal and work out what I can do with the rest of my life. In a lot of ways I really hope I am not offered any sort of contract from work, as I am excited about the direction my life may take.

Do you mind me putting mundane aims down in here? It would be helpful for me, I believe. It's the day-to-day things I am struggling with the most (probably because I have to do them most often! lol)

My aims for today are:

  1. To wash the bedding and remake the beds with clean linen
  2. To load and unload the dishwasher
  3. To plan meals for the week
  4. To do an hour of ironing
  5. To phone (eek!) about the AS Textiles course (will be very, very chuffed if I do this)
  6. To complete the sleeve of Charlie's cardigan.

I am feeling overwhelmed and the knot is back in my chest. But I feel positive and hopeful too. I hope you can find the light in the shadows today. Much love xx

Saturday, 5 September 2009

The Bonkers Blanket of Madness


I am really enjoying these colours at the moment, they're really hitting the spot. What do you think?


I am calling this my Bonkers Blanket of Madness - which I think is appropriate, although it's just a draft name and I may think of something more subtle. It's coming on well at the moment. I have crocheted 50 x 4 round squares; 37 x 2 round squares; 1 x 6 round; 1 x 10 round and 2 x 12 round. And I am l-o-v-i-n-g it. I don't mind a single second. I have even developed a bit of an affinity to the Alibi channel (especially Murder She Wrote and Diagnosis Murder!)

I had a good day yesterday. The knot in my chest seemed to forget to be there, and I just had a warm, fuzzy, lightheaded feeling. Today I am not feeling so positive, but I did loads yesterday, so I guess that is to be expected. I think I have overdone things.

One good thing is that I had an email from work. They will have to have a meeting and make a decision re my contract (which I would be surprised if they renew, to be honest.) Anyway, the tone of the email was friendly, they wished me well, which was a huge relief. HUGE. I hadn't realised how anxious I was about telling them I was sick. I don't really care what happens now, I would prefer to leave it to chance and not worry about it. C'est la vie.

Lovely Dominic is starting to get very frustrated with my illness and I completely understand why. He goes back to work on Monday and is in a mad panic trying to get everything sorted. However, to him this means refelting the shed roof, finishing the wallpapering in the annexe, painting the playroom and sorting out the house - in one and a half days. In order to get this done he wants me to: sort out all the clothes, put everything away for everyone, do the ironing; sort out and box up most of the office, so that he can move the cupboards into the playroom; move all the Ebay stuff into the spare bedroom that I will have cleared; take the stuff to the charity shop; sort out Charlie's toys; sort out the things Jonathan has put out to go to the car boot sale.

I *know* it's pathetic, but I literally have 20 minutes max of energy and, even in that time, I can't keep a thought in my head for more than a couple of seconds, so I find myself wandering from room to room forgetting what I am doing. So everything takes so much longer. I *really* want to tell him that his expectations are too high, and that is part of the general problem. He expects too much of us both; we're always striving for some ridiculous ideal, and I am sure that is part of the reason I have become sick. He says that he can't go back to work with the house in the state it's currently in. I despair.

I don't know how to deal with this, to be honest. I guess I should be getting on right now. My guilty voices are on full pelt. On the other hand, I recognise that he expects too much. If I rush around to meet that expectation, will things ever change? I think not.

I completely understand his frustration with me, I feel the same. I wouldn't leave the house yesterday to go to the Post Office and he got quite cross. He's not mean to me, he's frustrated with the illness. But I just couldn't do it. Right now, he's taken Jonny to football and is visiting his Mum. I said I didn't want to go because I couldn't face being there when he told her about my illness. I'm a chicken, aren't I? He left without saying too much.

I'd better get on and get something done. Thanks for listening. I hope you are getting on well too, and your day is a positive one xx

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Not believing I am ill

Blimey, two posts in one day! I thought this deserved a little post of its own as it's something that has crossed my mind several times over the past few days.

I find it really hard to accept that I am actually ill. I feel very guilty, lazy and unworthy, but not ill. My brain understands that depression is an illness, but my heart doesn't feel it. My heart doesn't feel much, to be honest.

I'm not sure how common this is, or how to give myself an easier time. I understand that rest is the best cure, but I almost can't allow myself to rest. Each time I sit crocheting or knitting, I feel as though I am wasting time, and I suspect that everyone is pissed off with me. And that makes me feel bad.

Is this part of the illness or am I going mad?

Big Changes

Hello, friend. I hope you are well and getting on OK on your journey through depression. I do think about the people who visit this blog and wonder about their stories. I hope you are doing OK today.

This morning I had another appointment with my doctor. She's very kind, and I feel certain that she understands, but I still get ridiculously nervous - silly isn't it? I have scratched the base of my left thumb until it bled, by digging my nail into the flesh there. I don't realise I am doing it, but it seems to help express the anxiety. I also often find myself gritting my teeth too. Does anyone else do this?

Anyway, having put myself through the indignity of having to explain to the doctor again how I am feeling, she has signed me off work for at least 3 weeks, and has changed my anti-depressant to escilatopram (Cipralex). I am on the maximum dose and, reading the patient information leaflet, am reassured that it's a strong anti-D that hopefully will help. However, I have to go through the 'breaking in' fortnight and that really scares me.

The Babette blanket is a helpful distraction through. I have now completed all 50 of the 4 rounds, and 35 of the two rounds, out of 49, so it's going well. I am still loving the colours and, if anything, I am getting bolder and bolder. Hell, why not?! It makes me feel a bit better and it's for the children, so who cares? I keep thinking of Kaffe Fasset saying "be a slob with colour, and find your own voice." I kind of like that. I also find great comfort in other people's blogs, especially the craft ones. It's a wonderful gift to be lost in someone else's world for a while.

I have had to make a phone call relating to work and found this to be extremely stressful. I have also sent an email to my boss to explain about my illness - again I found this very tough. The weird thing I find with depression is that I worry about doing something, hate doing it, but then find no relief in the fact it has been done. I just feel the same level of worry as before. I smiled to myself as my profile on Yahoo is 'invisible to others.' I wish I could choose that option in life too.

So, essentially, I am signed off work (big relief) and I am taking new medication that might help (which is very positive). I have to wait a couple of weeks for things to improve, but improve they will, I am sure.

I just wanted to take the chance to review to book 'Depressive Illness: The Curse of the Strong' by Dr Tim Cantopher.

Depressive illness the curse of the strong

I don't know Dr Cantopher personally, but this book has been a real comfort to me whilst I have been in the depths of depression, and it's never very far away. I re-read short excerpts in a regular basis. Dr Cantopher is kind, wise and sympathetic; the book is authortitative enough to not patronise, but isn't indigestable for those in the throws of a depressive episode. He feels like a sort of Depression Buddy.

Dr Cantopher takes the view that depressed people become ill because they persist in difficult situations when others don't and this leads directly to them "blowing a fuse" in the limbic system of the brain. He argues that depression is a physical illness caused by the lack of two chemicals and these control mood. People do not get clinically depressed because they are lazy or weak; quite the opposite.

I have re-read chapters 1 and 5 so many times I can almost quote them parrot fashion. I have read the rest of the book but, to be honest, most of it hasn't sunk in. I find his advice to only read a few pages at a time very comforting.

This is a fantastic book, and I would highly recommend it for anyone undergoing clinical depression, or anyone who wants to understand the illness better.

Okey dokey, I'll leave it there for today I think. Big hugs to all those who are suffering. See you soon xx

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Colour Therapy

If I had a little welcome mat, I'd put it here (actually, I Googled and found a funny one that made me smile. And smiling is positively encouraged around here. In fact, I might actually buy one of these for my hall!)


Welcome back friends, I have missed you. I am touched that so many of you checked in whilst I was away in Bromsgrove - I usually convince myself that the page opening figures are actually just mine, but I didn't check in at all for the whole time away, so I am now *finally* convinced that other people are reading. I am getting quite a few people come from Google and other search engines - if you are Googling depression, then please let me send you my love and warm wishes ((hug))

It's been a really weird week, bloggers! But, before I start to talk about the depression, I want to show you what I am working on at the moment:


Aren't the colours an absolute joy?! Now for some, admittedly, they may be a little migraine inducing. However, I have so enjoyed working with colour this week. I'm crocheting the Babette Blanket, inspired by Kaffe Fassett, whom I love. Every second of creating these brightly coloured jewels has been enjoyable, even in the depths of depression. I started by doing a lot of plain black and grey squares and they didn't help my mood any. The colour, however, has worked it's magic. I wonder whether there's anything in that? I don't know much about colour therapy, I'll have to do some research.

The blanket is for the playroom. My boys both really love blankets and are as tactile as I am (as in, we enjoy the feel of things as much, if not more than, the look of them. Not that we invade your personal space, no sir. I hate that too.) The other fun thing is that, as this blanket is for the kids to play with, and will hopefully be dragged on the floor, into the garden, be played on and under, be made into a den and so on, I've not felt bad about buying cheap acrylic wool. In fact, it's perfectly sensible. Which is a let up from the cost vs provenance yarn debate that wrangles through my head most days. Please tell me I am not the only one that has this?

So, the weird week. I have felt quite unwell all week, which was strange and uncomfortable at someone else's house when all your behaviour was observed. I slept as much as possible during the day - but the beta blockers helped, as I felt tired and dizzy at first. I also had chest pains, dry eyes and headaches, although these have passed now. Nights were difficult as I didn't sleep - the first night I got up, and my Dad was most concerned at I sat on the floor and not the chair. You could see that neither of them were in their comfort zones.

Dad was lovely. He didn't say too much, but he did offer to sit with me at night if I couldn't sleep (which, although a lovely gesture, felt horribly intrusive.) He conveyed his love with the odd look or squeeze of my shoulder. He respected my space, didn't ask questions and, on the odd occasion he noticed me looking lost, he silently offered me one of his toffees. He's ace, my Dad.

Mum, on the other hand, found it much harder to deal with. She was clearly irritated at times - she rolled her eyes and chewed her finger and tutted under her breath, and made comments about women who had everyone "run around after them." She was convinced that I don't have any sort of mental illness, that it's a thyroid problem. Sadly, it isn't. Clearly, though, the belief that it was a physical illness rather than a mental one was easier for her to deal with - or, as she suggested more than once, it was just a few "down days" that everyone experiences, including her. She really found it hard to accept that I couldn't use the phone and, when I said I didn't feel up to meeting certain relatives, she was incredulous. However, to give her her credit, she didn't force me to do anything at all. She looked after Charlie, and she cooked us all meals, and generally gave everyone (especially Dominic) a break. I am very grateful to her.

I had a lot of strange feelings over the time - and felt quite seriously suicidal each day. I even worked out how I would do it. However, it still felt like a detatched part of me thinking these thoughts, so I didn't take out any action. I do wish this part of the illness would pass; I frighten myself.

I re-read an amazing book - The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath. I originally read this when I was 21 and at university. I related to Esther Greenwood on a very deep level and found it a powerful read. What was especially interesting was re-reading the notes I had made at 21 and realising that I had completely missed the point, in a blithe and rather arrogant fashion. I critiqued her rejection of the female roles offered to her (housewife and mother, fashionable young thing, bad girl, lesbian) and didn't realise that I was critical of her opinion of the roles of women because I was still full of optimism about them. I thought I would be enhanced, saved by motherhood. Actually, much as I love my boys (very much) I have found it the opposite. I have felt restricted.

Moments that stick in my mind are when Esther tries to drown herself, but she keeps bobbing back to the surface; wearing the same clothes and not washing for three weeks because 'what's the point, we're all going to die?' (I completely relate to this: I do wash, however, dear reader, but no longer wear make up or make any effort with my clothes, or shave my legs etc etc.) I was appalled when Esther's boyfriend, Buddy (a rather flaccid but ultimately all-American boy of social standing)  asked "I wonder who you will marry now?" (that she had been into a mental institution.) It still shocks and upsets me. I cried when Joan hanged herself and Esther sat in church and realised that it could have been her. I was also grateful that there was no obtusely happy ending; I realise that success is choosing to survive rather than to die and working at it. More than anything, I was amazed that someone was experiencing something so close to what I am.

I recommend it as a thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking read about mental illness, although it is extremely dark and deals frankly with mental illness, prejudice, expectation and suicide.

I'll see you tomorrow. Take care x

Bell jar