Tag Archives: depression

Marking Time

Apparently we should write lists to get through our gloomy spells.

Hoping to achieve:

(1) Better artwork and photography.
(2) Avoiding living forever and turning into a sort of desiccated bat. (I should put at least one that’s achievable).
(3) More friends, casual or otherwise.
(4) Better writing and blogging.
(5) In time, a greater measure of peace. 🙂

Short-term goals.

(1) Get on with painting… will start again at the beginning as something wasn’t right.
(2) Rouse up new music for my collection. Will try anything except Pooh’s Top 40 and Duran Duran.
(3) Read more books… loads I bought for the Kindle and never got round to!

Long-term goal:

(1) Write a book? So many people are writing books, though. If I don’t, I’ll be the only person who hasn’t written one, which will be doing everyone a favour.

Things I’ve survived in life already:

(1) Loss.
(2) Irate hamsters, especially the Russian dwarf variety.
(3) Finding out I’m only average (that’s both depressing and a relief)
(4) Embarrassment (one of the worst indignities life throws at you).

What I love in life and what makes me happy:

(1) Family, friends (including iPad) and cats.
(2) Art and music.
(3) Comforting routine.
(4) Things beginning with C… comments, cadeaux, comedy, computers, cameras, chocolate, coffee, cream, cheese, coconuts, curry, chilli, cinnamon, cashew nuts, clematises, cherry blossom, colours, colouring books, creativity, comfortable slippers and conversation.
(5) Writing, diaries, blogging and haikus.
(6) Reading and books.
(7) Ideas and simple philosophies.
(8) Teddy bears and denim shirts (not necessarily together).
(9) Eggs, mushrooms, sausages and bacon at breakfast. (Not so keen at night).
(10) Roads of Rome, Northern Tale, Trolls vs Vikings and other iPad games.

What’s good about me:

(1) Curiosity and lots of casual research.
(2) Always improving writing skills and artwork.
(3) Trying to be fair even when people make me cross.
(4) Slowly cultivating a little healthy scepticism and caution!

What I’ve learned about myself from all of the above:

(1) There do seem to be a lot of Cs in my lists.
(2) I have no long-term goal!! Is that bad?
(3) No cake listed, but I don’t love it anyway. Especially not fruit cake.
(4) The things I love come together to make an acrostic. Is that to be my new goal in life? I’ve no wish to enter slanging matches with other Wikipedia editors, so can’t say I’m enthused.
(5) Simple living for me, please.

Deafness and Depression

I found this discussion on the BBC Ouch! forum about deafness and depression; I particularly liked the messages from Number 23 onwards. And Message 27 is depressing!! Black comedy, if you like.

Things are said there that I’ve thought a lot myself over the years. Even on the internet it’s so obvious that therapists’ advice is geared towards those without disabilities and communication issues. When I saw a cognitive behavioural therapist years ago, I really felt we were not on the same wavelength. She was trying to persuade me nothing was as black as I was painting it in my mind, and I was wondering how black couldn’t be black, and if she even knew what the picture was.

I asked her once if she thought that maybe my anxiety and ‘panic disorder’ (which she’d diagnosed it as at the time) was caused by my deafness, and she said “oh, I don’t know!” in a tone that seemed to say, “well, perhaps, but you don’t have to be deaf to have issues, and let’s not get into that anyway!”

I found myself thinking of that exchange much later, when I read that cognitive behavioural therapists are trained to guide their clients away from the probable causes… we’re supposed to focus on changing our behaviour and the way we look at things. How it all happened in the first place is apparently irrelevant (and, I grant, often impossible to untangle anyway).

I said to Mum recently that a therapist would advise one to go into a difficult situation with the intention of proving that yes, one can handle it perfectly well… but it’s not so simple when that you are deaf and have poor speech, and have to go through the wringer merely to get fish and chips from the local takeaway. Generally you prove to yourself all over again that any two year old could do it better and faster. I don’t see how the fact that one is deaf can be ignored.

Some of those taking part in the discussion thread say that of course we have these anxiety or depression issues — we’re all of us being shaped to fit in that round hole, whether or not we’re round.

All the Really Cool Dead People

One of my favourite Frasier episodes was on recently.

(Spoiler alert).

Eddie the dog was depressed, so they called in a pet psychiatrist, (“a charlatan,” said Frasier), who suggested that dogs are very sensitive and Eddie had probably picked up the mood of one of the humans. At first the people in the house laughed scornfully, then they gathered together and admitted they had their individual reasons for being down in the mouth. Martin said he lay awake at night and brooded about death and loneliness, and the loss of everyone he loved. Frasier said “we all have those thoughts, Dad.”
His dad said, “do you also lie very still and pretend you’re already in the ground?” and Frasier said “nope, that’s just you.”

The subject of the afterlife came up, and Niles said he just knew that all the really cool dead people would refuse to hang out with him. “Mozart would say he’s too busy, then I’d see him out with Shakespeare.”

Somebody found an old doll down the back of the sofa, and realized it was Eddie’s dog toy, so they cast it aside… of course Eddie came to life and tossed it about delightedly. “Oh,” they said, “so that’s why he was depressed!”
“How shallow,” they said. “Dogs are not like us. WE know for whom the bell tolls.”
A bell rang and Daphne disappeared into the kitchen, then came back and said the cookies were ready. Everybody jumped up and hurried to the kitchen, their glum mood cast aside.

The bit that made me laugh the loudest was Niles and his gloomy prediction that he would be spurned by cool people even in the afterlife. I always rather wanted the future to be something like Star Trek, but I just know if I was one of the members on the Starship Enterprise or the Starship Voyager, the crew would treat me how they treated Lieutenant Barclay… times 20.

I’ve just found this: Death and the Dog. It’s interesting that the quotation given there is: “Mozart’ll tell me he’s busy but then later I’ll see him out with Shakespeare and Lincoln!” I might just have misremembered, but I don’t think ‘and Lincoln’ showed up in the subtitles. Maybe I did forget, though.

No, they would never have let me anywhere near the Starship Enterprise.

Available as wallpaper here.

Battling the Blues

I’ve been trying to get over my case of the winter blahs.

Yesterday it was bright and sunny, so I went shopping… but it didn’t help much; just made me realize how lethargic and fed up I still felt. I was tired of visiting the same old shops, and there wasn’t anything I was looking for, especially now that my house is set up and inventoried – still looking for someone to rent it.

Stumbling across the road, yawning, I suddenly thought how different my attitude was from some months ago when I was feeling distinctly agoraphobic – unable to go anywhere without wobbling slightly. And now I was bored with the entire place. It’s an improvement! That Chinese saying “may you live in interesting times” is supposed to be a curse.

Feeling flat, tired, and bored out of your skull is another type of curse, however.

I’ve got these lovely kittens, getting friendlier and more playful by the day; I’m getting very fond of them but you would think I would be brighter than I am. I feel guilty because I know one day I will be looking back to now and wishing I could have these days all over again. Fear of the future…

Today I got a letter, tore it open, and it was an invoice from the animal hospital reminding me that I still haven’t paid for the last item on the list… ‘euthanize and cremate cat – quantity: 1.’

Looking at that, I didn’t feel as though I’d received a nasty shock out of nowhere – it was more as though someone had pressed a fist into a sore that was already there. It convinces me that what I have is not purely the winter blues.

One way or another, I was saying to Geosomin that one might as well give in to this listlessness – relax, read books and watch TV. Unfortunately my Freeview set top box has gone phut. Again.

There are still books, of course – I’m currently reading Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. It’s very good, and I’m impressed and engrossed by the amount of detail – except that there’s a touch too much detail here and there that causes my attention to wander. I bought it from a charity shop for £1, and there’s a slight tear on the margin more than halfway down p79. Looking at the content of that page, I have to say it made me wonder…

The paperbacks I bought today:
The Mask of Ra – Paul Doherty
A Winter Book – Tove Jansson
Brother Odd – Dean Koontz
Don’t Bet on the Prince – Jack Zipes (ed, I think)

They were £2 each (except for the Jack Zipes, which was £1.99 from another shop), and each of the £2 ones had a big yellow sticker on the cover saying something like “read then return”. I peeled them off, saying crossly to Mum that part of the money they get from us is probably spent on these stupid stickers. I suppose my peeling them off doesn’t slow the money burn, but I don’t like stickers on books. When I return them to the charity shops, I’ll choose one that doesn’t do that.

We were roaming round that same charity shop – I looked at the shirts and blouses, and there was a rather droopy, worn looking T-shirt on a hanger for £4.50. It looked as though it cost £2 new. As for the DVDs, I’ve always had my doubts about them – they tend to be about £4 each, but Woolworth quite often sells them for £3 each. They’ve probably had a bit of a price hike since hitting the charity shop shelves. Mum picked up a £4 DVD and said “that is definitely £3 brand new from WH Smiths – I saw it today!”

Caveat emptor. Or just go home to sleep. Both methods save money.

About a Scottish Poet

I quickly finished the biography of George Mackay Brown by Maggie Fergusson. It’s shorter than it looks because of the references at the back. I enjoyed it and found it more informative than GMB’s autobiography (From the Islands I Sing) but it was fairly dry in the middle, around the period when GMB was spending a lot of time with the other poets.

I suppose each person’s life is bound up with others and you really can’t separate them too much. These other people supported, influenced etc.

In his serious writing, GMB had a taste for the dark things of human existence (such as what happened to the local witches). But he also had his lighter, friendlier moments.

GMB suffered from periodic depression as well as agoraphobia. I wonder if many of the reviewers and critics really understood how that would impact on him. I was reading a review by someone who had read the biography who kept saying “but it was hard to work out why GMB [this, that or the other]“. In turn, it made no sense to me how anyone could read that book (or know anything about him) and not understand.

It’s true that some people think in black and white terms. They would imagine that if you have agoraphobia, you never leave the house. And if you leave the house regularly (like GMB going to the shops), you don’t have it any more. But as GMB found, it hangs around… sometimes it’s bad, and sometimes it’s barely even present. He stared at the island of Hoy and wondered how he ever found the energy and courage to go out there. I do that myself – I think about places I’ve been and things I’ve done, and marvel. It doesn’t mean I would never be able to do them again – I would just feel currently unable.

To come close to understanding another, you really have to join up the dots.

Minding Our Ps and Qs

I know the rest of you are probably well up on this already, but I haven’t been paying much attention to the gossip recently. Pure chance I came across the following article by TechDirt:

Yahoo Licenses Lyrics… Meaning More Pressure Coming To Unofficial Lyrics Sites

It’s worth following the links from there (and links from those links too) as there are some interesting articles along the way. And to the character in the TechDirt comments who said “all you have to do is turn up the music to hear the lyrics for yourself” – NOT true!

Today I’ve been feeling pretty flat – there was nothing I wanted to do, and all the things I had to do, I didn’t want to do. I did buy a green Furby in a charity shop for £1, and even then I was thinking “can I really be bothered to go to the counter and ask how much this thing is?” Though I did get a laugh when he turned it every which way before putting it in the bag, and its eyes (which were closed up till then) opened wide and rolled upwards with a shocked expression.

I fed a cat a pink pill who didn’t want to be fed pills. He realized what I was trying to do, and strolled casually away under the coffee table. I pushed the table to try and get at him, and he just moved around under the coffee table no matter where I pushed it. Finally he popped out again and walked away, and I got up and followed him, and he stayed *just* ahead of me without quite running. Finally I landed him by making a flying leap with the towel, which was when I got stabbed in the hand.

I think he swallowed the pill, but Fusspot taught me you can never be sure – cats are tricksy creatures and will pretend they have swallowed it, then quietly spit it out once your back is turned.

During the day my knee nearly gave way a couple of times when I put my weight on it, and I realized I had slightly hurt it when trying to get the cat out from under the coffee table.

I feel a touch sidelined at the moment. Usually there’s a project or two on my computer that I’m happily involved in, and you can barely drag me away to eat supper, but right now I’m running away from the computer and getting into bed (on the sofa) and watching TV instead, which is always a bad sign. I have to force myself to check my messages… usually I breathe emails instead of air.

But I got everything correct when watching (rats, what do they call that programme again, the one hosted by Julian Fellowes? Never Mind the Full Stops?) I also got something that nobody else seemed to get – “What is cacography?”

Maybe that’s the point of life – oneupmanship! Don’t burst my bubble too quickly. Let me enjoy feeling smug for a while – it’s good for me.

Comments for this entry (during its previous life on Blogigo):

1. Buttercup2 wrote at Apr 28, 2007 at 16:40: Hi Diddums. The cat swallowing pills reminded me of when our cat Jordan was very sick with a bladder infection and needed antibiotics for 2 weeks and he had to be given this nasy tasting stuff via a little dropper. Hubby use to have to open his mouth and squirt the med in there then grab his mouth shut as we would try to gurgle it out before swallowing it. For 3 months after this 2 week procedure Jordan wouldn’t give hubby the time of day he was so mad at him, lol. Now they are best buddies again and hope he stays well cuz he really can cop a ‘cattitude’ hahahahaa, Have a good weekend, Hugs, Aly.

2. Diddums wrote at Apr 28, 2007 at 18:31: Thanks, Aly – hope you have a good weekend too! Cats can take this quite personally, can’t they – which is probably why Fusspot fought so hard.

3. Iain wrote at Apr 29, 2007 at 22:52: Re the audibility of lyrics, and giving the lie to the ‘just turn up the volume’ oaf, http://kissthisguy.com/ can be very entertaining, a website full of misheard lyrics.

And proper folk music academics and buffs even have a proper word for it – mondegreen. See Wikipedia for info on that word (although the article’s not a great one, slanted muchly to pop examples).

Iain

4. Diddums wrote at May 1, 2007 at 17:06: Sounds like there are more than a few of them pesky mondegreens – I grew up with some myself. They are really hard to shake once they’re well ingrained!

Seeking Motivation

How to bypass your brain and get motivated is great stuff – I need to do something like this as I’m a terrible procrastinator. Well, there’s already some external structure in my life – if I don’t walk the dog (getting exercise) I don’t get paid. Meeting the family in town for coffee stops me from skulking at home thinking “I can’t be bothered to go to the bank today. I will definitely do it tomorrow. Unless it’s Saturday. In which case I’ll go on Monday.” And then on Monday morning I fall over and break my foot and can’t go anywhere.

That sort of thing always happens to me! At least if I know that I WILL be in town once a week to meet the others for a coffee, I can do my town-going things then. To make sure of it I tell them “after coffee I have to go to the bank,” and they factor it into our plans for the morning.

The other day I was reading a blog where someone said she had trouble even getting up for a shower, and she thought it might be depression. This sobered me as I’m just the same. Some days I stand in the shower with the water streaming through my hair, staring dully at the tiles. After about five minutes I realize to my consternation that I can’t even be bothered to soap myself! But you can’t stand shrivelling up in the shower all day, so eventually you creak into life and fumble for the shower gel and shampoo.

I don’t think it’s depression, as I’m not unhappy – I’m content in my own way. I’m happy with my family, my house, my pets, where I live. I’m happy with my work, though I could do with more of it. I laugh at what I read in books or see on TV, and I enjoy my hobbies, which have not turned to ashes in my mouth. If one day you couldn’t care less about things that you used to feel strongly about, you know you’re in trouble. I’m not in that place.

I just seem to lack energy and motivation.

The other day, out of the blue, Mum said “I think… in fact I’m almost sure… you have an underactive thyroid.”
I was so surprised I laughed, as I hadn’t been discussing my problems with her. But she said “I’m serious – it might explain why you’re so tired all the time.”
“Well,” I said, “I assumed that would be poor diet – eating too many convenience dishes from the supermarket, and not enough ‘healthy’ stuff.”
“Maybe,” said Mum, “but you should still get it checked out. It IS in the family.”

I went home and looked up ‘hypothyroidism’ on the internet. All of the symptoms fit, including apathy, poor memory, feeling the cold, dry skin (which could be due to hot shower and central heating?) and brittle nails. My nails are normally as hard as iron, but I broke three only the week before. They’re wishy-washy symptoms that could be due to other things such as poor diet and late nights, and I wondered at what point does one go to the doctor saying “I’m tired, cold, broke my nails and can’t be bothered half the time – am I ill?”

I still don’t know the answer to that question. I suppose I should ask the doctor what she thinks. My Reader’s Digest medical book warns that if I’ve got it and don’t treat it, I’ll lapse into self-neglect, coma and death. So I’ll go tomorrow. Or the day after. Or sometime next week – unless I’m busy.

Warring Moods

On the 23rd of December I was in the middle of wrapping my presents, thinking about people, events, the past, my relationships etc etc. I started feeling sad, and it seemed wrong to me that I was wrapping gifts in gaily coloured paper for family and friends in this kind of mood.

What set me off was reading a note that reminded me of a person no longer in my life. It was hardly a great tragedy – but I started thinking about failed relationships and how difficult it is to compete with the rest of the world, or to live up to people’s expectations. Getting things right seems to come naturally to some, but others are constantly on the wrong foot or a little bit lost.

My heart grew heavier and heavier – finally I left the rest of the gift-wrapping till Christmas Eve. I’m glad to say I was a lot more cheerful by then and had zapped such depressing thoughts!

The thing is, I have a feeling this has happened before. I was wrapping Christmas presents and got pretty depressed. Mixed up with all the gift labels and cards are old ones from Christmases past, so you pick up a card that says (for example) “To Diddums with lots of love from Tom and family.” Then you pick up an old card from a completely different person, and your thoughts charge off in another direction, not much happier. Eventually gloom descends. And yet I love Christmas. It’s hard to make sense of those two opposing reactions.

“Christmas is a time for family and friends.” I suppose that’s a double-edged sword, as family and friends can bring mixed feelings, especially when you’re thinking about all of them at once, in combination with people you never even met, like Tom’s family – and yet somehow here you are writing Christmas cards to them every year.

Apart from that short spell of depression, I have really enjoyed my Christmas. Maybe I should remove all those old Christmas cards from my Christmas box; in future I won’t be triggered to these gloomy thoughts!

“It’s Not What I Had in Mind But I Tried”

On Christmas Eve, as usual, I was rushed off my feet, having left everything to the last minute. Except the tree, for a wonder – that went up good and early. Still, I was on the go constantly, washing things, hoovering, checking lists, nipping out for must-haves, feeding pets as part of my small pet-minding business (I have four cat households under my wing this Christmas). The thing with Christmas is that we don’t just have to do these large sweeping things, we have to do all the small niggly things too – it’s the fairy on the tree; the pretty home-made gift labels; the icing on the cake.

I expect we all have different niggly little details that we feel should be a part of Christmas Day. There will be a particular lovely decoration that has gone up in the same place every year, a particular food or sweet that must be on the table, a particular record that must be played (or film that must be watched).

And above all, everything must be perfect. Nothing must burn. Nothing must undercook, otherwise we get the same stupid TV advert every year. It shows a man dressed as a turkey attacking someone sitting quietly on the sofa watching a Christmas film. “Don’t let your turkey ruin your Christmas.” Presumably if people stop undercooking their turkeys, we will not have to watch these ads. The lights must twinkle, the presents must be liked (preferably marvelled at) and the icing certainly shouldn’t slide off the cake.

This is the time of year when, planning ahead, we see ourselves writing flowery messages to our loved ones, hand-crafting our own greetings cards. I know exactly what I’m going to say. I’m going to slip a note inside this parcel or that, saying something like “to keep my favourite XXX warm.” I decide on these cosy details a month or more ahead of Christmas.

Somehow there’s always something more pressing that has to be sorted out first – and when Christmas Eve arrives, it’s midnight and you’re exhausted, and you still have to do things like change your bed linen and stick the rest of the cards on the doors and (aargh) you still have half your parcels to wrap.

So you settle down with some sherry (for energy) and a cat immediately jumps on the table, coming close to upsetting the required drink. The cat wants to curl up where you have to wrap the presents, so you put him out of the room, ignoring the look of hurt affront on his face. Turning to the matter in hand, you find you don’t have any fancy home-crafted gift tags or cards, and your ribbons are all scrounged from the parcels you received last year.

When it comes to the crunch, you can’t remember all those little finishing touches you were set on – the loving notes and flourishing signatures in gilt pen. (What gilt pen?) Above all, you’re so tired that your hands are shaking and your creative imagination has curled up and died.

Instead of changing from one gift paper to another to keep the heap of gifts bright and interesting, you find yourself drawing on the same roll of thin but goes-on-forever giftwrap for all the gifts. You write a gift label that should have been important – “To XXX with lots of ocean-deep, transcend-the-boundaries-of-time love from Diddums, please have the best Christmas yet,” and you find yourself scrawling untidily “To XxX, MeRrY ChRiStMaS fRoM DiDdleoopsUms.” Then you draw a sad little doodle that goes wrong. Well, sometimes the doodles work, but not at 2 a.m. in the morning.

“Well,” you think comfortingly to yourself, “people who love me won’t care – anything I do will be beautiful, because I did it for them.”

Christmas Day comes, and you are receiving gifts… many are done beautifully, much better than your own, but a few have gift labels in wobbly hand-writing. “tO dIDdumS with loVe fROm xXX.”
“Awww”, you think, smiling fondly. “I wasn’t the only one wrapping gifts at two in the morning.”

Slough of Despond

Feeling unexpectedly depressed! My faith in the system is at an all-time low. My hearing gets worse and worse, and I’ve been on the NHS waiting list (to be assessed for new hearing aids) for over a year. While putting up the Christmas tree, I was trying to listen to Mary’s Boy Child by Boney M, and realized I couldn’t hear the singing voices, just the beat. I don’t know if that’s because it was a CD instead of the records and tapes I used to listen to. The frequencies are possibly different.

Space Cadet (on TV) is not helping. I looked in for 20 minutes and felt angry. At least one of the young people swears every time he opens his mouth, even when he’s being affable. He probably thinks it comes across as vivid and expressive, but that’s a mistake a lot of people make. I’m hardly Miss Goody Two Shoes when I think no one’s listening, but tonight I was feeling pretty dismal already. And whether I watch it or not, I feel we are all affected by the principle of the show. It reminds me of the fable about the boy who cried wolf. Credibility is important – yet so many people give their credibility away without a second thought. Then we wonder why we struggle and why the world is so cynical.

While I’m on this tack, I’m reminded of when I asked people on a message board what the key to happiness was. To my surprise, take-up was slow to start with, and there were comments like “what a heavy topic!” It seemed to me perfectly straightforward – perhaps it’s ‘heavy’ because we wish to close our eyes to other people’s state of mind, or to the inadequacies of the system. Eventually the ice was broken and more replies came in, often along the lines “don’t compare yourself to others – be content with what you have.”

I’ve considered it – there’s some truth in it; for instance, it would be unrealistic for someone to be unhappy because he couldn’t paint or draw while people around him could. His skills are just different. His unhappiness might be understandable if the system determined that it was especially desirable to be artistic, or that all those who are not artistic must be abnormal or ‘not trying hard enough’.

When it comes to being happy, I think our greatest need is to ‘fit in’ and be accepted. Part of that involves looking around, seeing what the others do, and working out what we can do ourselves in order to fit in the best we can. We also look to see if we’re being appreciated. We need to feel of equal worth – maybe have a little bit more so that we can feel slightly smug!

The problem arises when individuals and businesses assume that the security and happiness of others is less important than their own strivings to do well. It’s not realistic to say “relax, you’re fine with what you have” – it’s impossible to relax when you know something has gone wrong in the scheme of things, and it’s even worse when you see people taking their relative prosperity and stability as an excuse to feel superior. I’m comfortable with what I have but I don’t feel secure – and not everybody is so fortunate. And it’s not because ‘the less fortunate’ couldn’t (or didn’t want to) do better. The problems we have are much bigger than any failure to pull our weight.

Perhaps I’ll feel brighter tomorrow morning, though of course nothing will have changed. Human nature is nothing if not resilient…