All posts tagged Well

Happy Box

Image via Flickr user ex.libris

Would you like to hear about my Happy Box? It helps me feel better on the days I feel blue. Are you smirking and sniggering? Don’t be filthy!

I think everyone should have a Happy Box, depressed or not. It sits on a shelf in the kitchen where I can see it every day, and even without opening it I am reminded of the good things in my life.

How to make a box of happiness.

  1. Find a medium sized box. It doesn’t have to be special. You can decorate it if you want to.
  2. Find 5 or 6 things that make you feel good just from looking at them. They remind you of something you did that was wonderful, an award that you received, a card from someone telling you are awesome.
  3. Add to your Happy Box over time.

I open my Happy Box on the days that I need a deeper reminder of the goodness in myself and in my life. When the black voice inside me is drowning out the rational one.

I created my Happy Box because I didn’t want to rely on the people around me to cheer me up when I felt down, but I can’t always remember the good things when I feel shit. I can remind myself when I need to. I can find it within myself.

All the things that have happened

All the things.

A few months ago I realised I’ve been living my life like I’m a victim of it, rather than grabbing it by the balls. I become quite good at seeing the challenges I face now as opportunities for growth rather than problems or dramas, but somehow hadn’t been able to embrace that attitude towards the things that were in my distant past.

I’ve been challenged to list the things I used to see as horrible, life altering problems and find the silver linings. This isn’t an exhaustive list – they are the moments I thought defined me, turns out they don’t.

Here goes.

 

The thing On the surface Silver lining
Born prem, very sick. See how well I’ve performed despite this shaky start? Couldn’t wait to bust out and get stuck into the world. Head start, yo.
My father tells 5 year old me that I’m a dunce, stupid, sit in the corner facing the wall and think about what a dunce you are. This moment completely fucked me up. It is your fault I am the way I am. This moment has shown me how to be a loving, compassionate and caring parent. This moment ensures my child will never hear words like this from his parents.
My parents are divorced. This is so unfair, why did this happen? This has destroyed my family. My poor Dad would never had been able to cope with a teenaged Ms Optimism. She was way too much woman for him.
By the time I left highschool (early), I’d changed schools 14 times. This robbed me of the opportunity to meet and have lifelong friends. I have had the opportunity to meet so many people. Everywhere I go I (no really, everywhere), I see people I knew in another life. I make new friends easily.
My family moved right at the moment my social life and band were experiencing success This prevented me from having success with my band. My life is as wonderful as it is because of this choice. I would not have been able to resist the temptation of drugs. I don’t know where I would have ended up. This was the best path for me, even if I didn’t know it at the time.
At the age of 18 I felt so overwhelmed by my financial and self esteem problems I saw entering prostitution as my only way out. See how bad things were? Please feel sorry for me. I’ve lived a full and interesting life with many experiences most people only read about. This has provided me with a great sense of perspective about things that happen now.
Relentlessly bullied through early high school. So unfair, everyone hates me. I’m horrible. I have a great capacity for empathy, and understand that those that bully have a lower self esteem than they would have you believe.
GP warns 19 year old Ms Optimism not to marry CF sufferer Mr Optimism due to life expectancy concerns. How dare you he this? Maybe he is right, he is a doctor. He knows what he is talking about. I can listen to my intuition and make my own decisions. Listening to learned authority is not always right.
My husband has a chronic illness. This is so unfair. Why can’t he be normal? Why can’t our family be normal? I am grateful that we always have a reminder to treat each other with love and respect. This challenge helps us maintain perspective.
Depression Why must I experience this, why can’t I be normal? Through my illness and recovery I have learned so much. Through my illness and recovery I am whole. Through my illness and recovery I contribute to the lives of others.

PS This is an opportunity for you to X all the Y or check out Hyperbole and a Half.

Dear Dad

Image via Flckr user difei

You might not have noticed, but over the past few months I’ve not phoned you to say hi. I’ve decided the time has come (again) for me to just pretend you’re not there, because trying to have a relationship with you, however superficial, is just too painful for me.

I used to think it was just me – that I was too much like Mum, or I’d done something else horrible to make you not love me (like being a girl, or not strong enough). Now I realise you treat pretty much everyone the way you treat me – even your own family.

As I’ve wised up/recovered in the past few years, I’ve come to realise a few things. First and foremost is that it’s not all about me. None of it ever was. For years I thought the reason you didn’t want me at Pop’s funeral was because you were ashamed of me, or you were worried I’d say something wrong. Now I understand you were ashamed of what you had done in leaving us the way you did. And having us there would be an all too visible reminder for your family of that.

I still don’t know why you left us, and maybe I never will. That’s ok. I have Mum’s version – maybe that’s how it happened, maybe not. It really doesn’t matter, it happened so long ago. It doesn’t define me, I’m no longer a child.

I’ve decided not to chase contact with you anymore. Maybe I should have told you why. Maybe I should actually send this to you.

Some are to do with the way you’ve treated me. Some are to do with the way you’ve treated your family. Some are to do with the way that you’ve changed in the past few years – into a man I don’t really recognise anymore. Dad, you’ve made it really hard for me to be your daughter.

I don’t hate you. I love you very much – maybe more than you will know. I’m proud of my ancestry, and proud of who I am. If you’d like to keep in touch you can, though I am a little conflicted about that. There are a few conditions attached to that though.

  • Visit once in a while. Not often. Once or twice a year? Or invite us to you.
  • If my husband, my child or myself are in hospital, visit.
  • Don’t make me earn your love and respect. I have earned it already.
  • Treat me, and your whole family like you would your friends or neighbours.

I hope you can understand my decision and reasons.

Love,
Your daughter.

The good crockery

Image via InAweofGod'sCreation

So, I’m home! I am finding that hospital is a bit like London, or labour, in that now I am home I am blanking out all of the shit that I hated and just remembering the good stuff. Like not having to prepare meals, or take care of anyone else except myself. And having a space that I can hide in. The ever thoughtful Mr Optimism has suggested that I blog about all of the things I hated, so I can remember them, but also so I may use it as motivation to do the things that will keep me well when my motivation is waning.

Now that I am home, I am desperately trying to maintain the motivation without being hard on myself. This is a tough ask for me. I have had small wins: bed early, got my art stuff out (didn’t actually use it…), checked email without having a panic attack, meditated this  morning. Still no exercise.

At the risk of sounding all cliched, this moment right now, this very moment will never happen again. It is unique in all time and it is up to me, up to all of us to live it in a way that is true. Each moment is a moment to be treasured and lived in a way that I can be proud of. With this in mind I am declaring henceforth I will use the good crockery.

I never use the good crockery. I save it for later. I’m not sure when later will come, what defines the moment that it is finally ok to use and indulge in the nice things that I have available to me. Why must I use the horrible stoneware now. What will happen if I use the good crockery now? I might feel good?

True, I might break the good crockery. But it is also true that the good crockery might break later on when I use it too. Or it might get broken while moving house, or be discovered by a certain 3 year old and smashed. Then I would have to face that my good crockery had existed and been destroyed without me ever having experienced the joy of using it.

I am of course using my good crockery as a metaphor, for here is a list of other things I do not regularly make use of because this moment is not a special enough occasion…

  • Nice bath smellies. In fact I am more likely to throw out a smelly unused 12 months down the track after it has gone rancid. This totally makes no sense.
  • My Chanel make up. That I splurged on years ago, and is probably giving me cancer now because it’s so old.
  • My antique glasses. In case I break them.
  • My nice clothes. Surely I should enjoy and wear them out now, while they still fit. Shit will go south soon enough.
  • Nice paper. This I acknowledge is truly neurotic, however I personally know another creative who does the same thing. I have reams of lovely paper that I will never draw on in case I ruin it. I just keep on buying it, and drawing on the crappy paper because that’s all I’m worthy of. If my psychologist sees this she’s going to go to town on me, I know.
  • My fucking expensive Trek Madone. This is a bicycle that is worth more than my car, which I refuse to ride in inclement weather because I don’t want it to get dirty. I don’t even know where to start with that one.
  • Quiet moments with people I love. Because I’m so fucking busy. Am I really? Or is it just that I can’t bare to sit still. The tasks will never be finished, I need to learn to relax in spite of the tasks.

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy the good crockery, now. In this moment. Because I’m learning that enjoying the good crockery energises us, and reinforces the feeling that we are worthy of the good crockery. Worthy of positive moments.

Do you agree? Or am I expecting too much from the Wedgewood?

 

Soldier On

I detest this ad. There’s so much to detest: that plaid vest, the power suits, that HAIR.

But mostly, there’s the message – When you feel like shit, and are sick, take a tablet and soldier on (and take your bugs to work to share them around, but that’s another rant). Please, make sure you fulfill your commitments to all those that are relying on you!

Solider on, toughen up, they’ve been my mantras – and it hasn’t done me any harm… Except the minor point that I’m completely burned out from looking after everyone else except myself.

Balance, people, we need balance.

Energy is not a finite resource. Use some of it to look after other people, use some of it to look after yourself. By looking after yourself you might even create more energy. Do the nurturing lovely things. Rest when you are sick. Repair yourself. Ilness is your body’s way of saying for crying out loud slow down! Not pop a pill and continue.

And don’t go to work, because I don’t want to catch your bugs.

Have noted that this campaign is having a revival at the moment. No! Do not soldier on! Rebel – Sag out. Take it easy. Be gentle on yourself. Hide under a blanket. Do what you need to do to get well.

 

Celebrate

Image via Homies in Heaven

How often do you celebrate the wonderful things that you have done? The big and little achievements in your life. It’s a weird feeling, right? Do you feel a teeny bit jealous of people who seem to have no problem doing it? I do.

My previous psychologist once asked me to write down 5 good things each day, and it was tough to think of that many some days. My fabulous business mentor wanted me to tell her my strengths in business and I was reduced to tears. We are not taught to celebrate our successes in this country are we?

I think we all need to become fabulous trumpet players. We should take lessons and practice blowing our own trumpet. It feels bloody weird to start with, but I think it’s an invaluable skill. And while we’re practicing blowing our trumpets our inner critic (or Itty Bitty Shitty Committee) is silenced, even if it’s only temporary reprieve.

So I dare you: Blow your trumpet! Comment here about something great you have done, big or small. Or ring a friend, or tell your partner. Then ask them to tell you something great they have done. Have a toot every day and see how good it can feel. Check out the guy in the picture, he’s practically orgasmic with joy! Or drunk.

I double dare and physical challenge you, blow your own trumpet.

Today I ran for 30 minutes, when every fibre of my being wanted to make a cup of tea and sit on the couch. If you’ve ever experienced depression you’ll know what a major feat that was. I felt proud of myself for doing it – go team O.

Hi ho, hi ho

It’s off home I go. The week has flown by in some ways, and in others it has been a long and slow journey. I’m excited to go home, but dreading it too. It’s amazing how quickly a girl can get used to daily massages – perhaps a new duty for Mr Optimism? Wishful thinking indeed! ;)

I have learned many things about myself, not all of them positive. But with learning comes change, and change for the better.

I have one more night before I see my boys again, which means one night in my own bed (sans snoring and poking feet) to rest and grow even bigger into my own skin again before I am mother, wife and boss once more. But always me in my own skin.

 

Retreat

I’m on retreat, from the world, my family, my work, myself. A friend recommended Akasha to me, and I’m so glad she did. I’m learning things, like how to sit still. How to do nothing for a bit. It took me a good 24 hours to resist the urge to do something, anything. Is it any wonder I have been depressed!?

As previously mentioned, I narrowly escaped a stay with Nurse Ratchett and I think looking forward to this week was a big part of that. So far it has lived up to all my expectations.

Firstly, I wake after a night of sleep. A night of sleep. Not a few hours, a whole night – without feet in my back, or a cat walking on me. Bliss.

Next order of business is a walk or a run, then breakfast juice, meditation and yoga. Then some lunch juice and a spell in the sauna. After that it’s time for a reiki session or a massage. Then more juice, maybe a spot of reading before dessert juice and bed. It’s simply exhausting…

Each day I’m feeling a bit more healed. The fabulous Mr Optimism told me I shouldn’t feel pressured to be “well” by the time I got home, which was exactly what I was expecting of myself. I’m certainly more relaxed, I’m learning a lot, and I can feel the good bits of the old me returning. I’m missing my boys and looking forward to going home, but not just yet.

 

If you have a friend with depression

Today I thought I would write a guide for people who have a friend (or partner) with depression. My BFF who dared to leave me and live interstate for some years (the cheek!) is now home again, to my proclamations of depression. It has struck me that he is perhaps a bit confused about what has changed about me, if anything, or how I am expecting him to be. If I was brave enough, this is a conversation I’d be having with him.

1. Being depressed is not just feeling a bit sad.

I wish it was. It’s a biological thing, that can affect you even if you have a perfect life. So it’s not always a reaction to shitty things happening. It’s also not something you can just pull yourself out of.

2. There are some very physical symptoms of depression, including:

  • Complete loss of short term memory. When we say our brain is like a sieve it we are so not joking. I count this as a physical symptom!! If we forget things it’s not because we don’t care. It just fell out of our brain
  • Inability to problem solve effectively or make decisions – so you might want to suggest somewhere for coffee, because we can’t decide *stress*
  • Lethargy/Tiredness. Not being able to get out of bed sounds like lots of fun I know, but it’s not – trust me. Especially when you can’t just stay in bed, but that’s a whole other rant.
  • Word Salad. When your brain just can’t find the right word. Please don’t make fun of us.

3. We are the same person.

OK, that sounds like I have MPD now. I don’t. You know what I mean.

Speaking for myself personally, I don’t expect my friends to treat me any differently. You don’t need to blow sunshine up my arse, or take pity on me, I am also not a project that you need to fix – I have doctors for that. Just be there for catch ups and chats and hugs.

4. Education.

You might find it helpful to read up about depression, try starting at Beyond Blue – who have good resources for friends and families.

5. Thank you.

Know how important your friendship is. Even if we can’t express gratitude right now, it’s so important to have friends around.

x

Contradictions

The hell and the frustration of depression can come from the contradictions.

I am bored out of my mind, but I lack the energy to do anything about it.

I’m wasting my time sitting here doing nothing, but anything I do will be shit so why bother.

I’m isolated and lonely, craving contact, but don’t feel like going out or seeing anyone.

I have so much stuff to do, so many people relying on me that I am going to do nothing because I don’t know where to start.

I need to be close to you, but if you come any closer I will literally stab you with the nearest sharp implement.

I am hopelessly sad, really fucking angry, but I am numb and unable to feel.

And the best/worst thing is only being able to even see how pointless these contradictions are when I’m well.