Archive for July 2011
I haven’t blogged much lately. I’ve wanted to, but I just haven’t been able to get organised/haven’t had enough energy/wasn’t quite sure where to start. The past few weeks have been busy and stressful and I was thinking that I would return at the beginning of next week with a fresh start. Then I read The Fear by Sarah at Mum’s the Word and her heartfelt post inspired me to write.
If you had asked me a few weeks ago what an emotional break-down or depression looks like, I probably would have described someone who simply can’t stop crying, someone who is negative about everything or some crazy hysterical woman who flies off the handle at the smallest issue.
In the past weeks, I’ve had to acknowledge that these aren’t the only faces of depression because I am none of these things, but I can no longer deny that I am depressed.
Now that things have reached this stage, I can look back and see all the warning signs. Honestly, the depression itself is a new issue and, because I am dealing with it as soon as it has become a problem, I am hopeful that we will be able help things get back on track without too much trauma. What is more significant is that I have been on the path to this destination for such a very long time and despite the warning signs and despite the times I have told people that everything wasn’t right in my world, I still arrived here. Depressed. Lonely. So very tired and sad. Soul weary.
I’m the kind of person that people expect will simply cope – practical, pragmatic, sensible, no-fuss. I’ve always been organised, a compulsive multi-tasker, punctual, involved. Over the past few years, I have progressively withdrawn from many of my commitments. As I’ve found it harder to keep up with everyday activities, I’ve gradually reduced my volunteer work, removed my name from rosters, helped out less at school. I’ve gone from multi-tasking to barely managing one task at a time.
I’ve also withdrawn from many of my social groups. I’ve never been the kind of person who is recharged by spending time with large groups of people, but I’ve always invited friends around for lunch on weekends or organised morning teas to catch up.. Now I simply can’t be bothered. It all seems like too much work and besides, having friends over would involve more than the general household tidying, right? That sounds like way too much effort.
I think that’s what I resent the most. That things that I enjoy – spending time with my children, writing, spending time with friends, even reading – often feels like too much effort. Don’t get me wrong, the house is still clean and meals are cooked. I even managed to conquer the ironing pile a little while ago. I just don’t seem to be able to organise myself anymore and I struggle to prioritise things so that I can catch up on the backlog of tasks that I have put aside in my mental lethargy.
If I had to explain my depression, I would describe a cloud in my mind. Thinking clearly is an effort. I have always prided myself on being a clear and organised thinker and I guess I more or less define myself by the way I use my mind, so not being able to think clearly has been a big issue for me. It hasn’t just been a loss of clarity, it’s been a loss of self.
I feel very blessed that I have found help quickly and that I have a few good friends who are being incredibly supportive. My children have been wonderful too. I am getting lots of hugs and their love and encouragement has made a huge difference.
I agree with Sarah’s comment in her The Fear post that depression is something that is misunderstood and a topic that many don’t want to talk about or are uncomfortable talking about, especially when it relates to a specific person. I’ve had my share of people giving me a hug and telling me that everything will be okay if I just get a good night’s sleep and cut back a little on my commitments. Unfortunately, no matter how much sleep I had or how few commitments, the cloud didn’t dissipate. I simply became less and less connected to the world outside my family and home.
Where to from here? I’m not entirely sure. One step at a time, I guess. I’m clearing some of
the physical clutter, which I think has aggravated my mental clutter in recent years. I’m trying to spend some time thinking about what I want to be a priority in my life. I’m spending time in prayer and I’m trying to spend time with the friends who have stood by me and kept me connected despite myself. I’m giving my children lots of cuddles.
My counsellor suggested that I take time each day to do something just for myself, something that would recharge my emotional and mental batteries. I went out to see Bachelor Girl perform on Tuesday night and bought an insane expensive pair of red sparkly shoes (more about that another time), but I don’t want to get caught up in buying things or going out to make myself feel good. What I’ve decided to do is write. I’m going to making writing a priority again, which it hasn’t been for some time. There always seemed to be something more urgent or important or meaningful that needed to be done. Now, blogging and writing will be what I choose to do for myself simply because it is something I love.
I’ve taken the first step.
I am so very, very tired. Not just the ‘I have three children who have been on school holidays for three weeks’ kind of tired, although any parent will tell you that is a significant level of fatigue. It’s not even the ‘I planned to spend 5 minutes on Twitter but now it’s 2am and I should have been in bed hours ago’ kind of tired. Not that I would do that. Ahem. Moving on…
For the past few years I’ve been trying to find ways to explain and deal with my fatigue. I’ve lost track of the number of blood tests I’ve had and I have been slowly working my way through a list of –ologists as my GP has searched for answers.
I even took the drastic step of joining a local gym working on the theory that if you have to spend money to make money, perhaps you need to use energy to have energy. Sadly, working bored me to tears and the extra effort of having to fit gym visits into an already busy but disorganised weekly routine was more than my tired, muddled brain could handle. I was also more than a little freaked out by the woman who spent 15 minutes working out full speed on the step machine. I’m still not entirely convinced that she was human. I think she might have been a robot planted there to make the rest of us feel inadequate.
After years of chasing physical symptoms, several events in the past few weeks have led me to realise that my exhaustion isn’t actually physical but rather emotional and mental fatigue. I’ve simply run out of reserves. A series of challenging events in the past couple of months have proven too much for me to manage. I’ve somehow morphed from ‘I can deal with anything’ to ‘Hand me the tissues will you? I’m feeling a little emotional because I’ve run out of milk’.
I probably should have realised sooner how close I was to reaching my limits. A case of hindsight being 20-20, I guess. It seems that I have fallen victim to my own PR. I’m intelligent, competent, pragmatic and capable, certainly not the sort of person who would allow themselves to become exhausted to the point of becoming ill, right? Right?
I’ve finally admitted that I’m not coping. Yesterday I visited my GP for advice and next week I will have my first appointment with a counsellor. There are some underlying issues to deal with, but our first objective is to help me regain some sense of perspective. Hopefully it can also help me regain my sense of humour. I’ve had so much I’ve wanted to write about recently, but it has been a struggle to write without becoming very serious and sober regardless of the topic. I want Living Upside Down to be a blog where I can share real issues and challenges related to family life, but I also want it to do so in a way that is enjoyable to read. I hope that posts in the coming weeks will gradually become more light-hearted and entertaining, as much for myself as for anyone who reads this blog.
In amongst my posts about getting organised, recipes, product reviews, giveaways and general family chaos, I will hopefully be able to post about my efforts to deal with the exhaustion that has in the past few months finally crossed over into depression. I want this blog to be a real record of my efforts to declutter my life and dealing with the chaotic emotional mess is as much a part of that journey as clearing out my wardrobe and finding a way to stop train tracks and Lego taking over my loungeroom floor.
This isn’t quite what I envisaged when I started this blog, but I think in the long run it’s going to be a journey that will be worth taking. Thanks for keeping me company on my travels.
Sorry. Three hours of ironing this afternoon resulting in NO MORE PILE OF IRONING has clearly gone to my head. I can’t remember the last time this happened (it’s entirely possible that it never has). Of course, within 48 hours I’ll have to wash again and the Vanquishing of the Ironing Pile will become the stuff of legend, a story told in hushed and reverent tones. It’s entirely possible that within a month my children will be convinced that the whole story is simply an urban myth.
But I will always know the truth. I will know that on a cold, cloudy winter’s day in 2011, the ironing pile was conquered, albeit briefly, and my soul rejoiced.
What are you grateful for this weekend? It’s too late to link up to the Maxabella Loves… Grateful meme, but it’s always fun to check out the Grateful posts. You can find all the links here.
Hazel was a dear friend, mentor and inspiration whose role in my life extended way beyond the time when we were in regular contact. Hazel touched my life with her faith and wisdom and beautiful spirit and I know that some of the best parts of who I am today are there because of her influence.
This week, Hazel passed away and I am devastated.
Hazel was a blessing in my life beyond measure. Her words linger with me and her example continues to inspire me as a Christian, as a mother and as a friend. I think of her whenever I see a rose in bloom and I picture myself in her glorious garden whenever I need to find peace for my soul.
I know that Hazel is in Heaven, bypassing the streets of gold to stand amongst gardens of perfumed roses, hands and voice raised in worship. I rejoice knowing that she is at peace even as the tears fall and I mourn our loss.
Rest in Peace Hazel and know that my gratitude for our friendship goes beyond the power of words to describe.
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12 NIV)
Sometimes, the thoughts spiral around inside my head until I feel like my brain might explode.
I’ve had trouble finding time to write recently thanks to lots of social commitments and the general distractions and busyness of school holidays. I think that has added to my general issue with swirling thoughts and cloudy thinking. None of the thoughts have been able to escape and they’re getting a little rambunctious all squished in together inside my head.
I could give you a deep and meaningful discussion of my fuzzy thoughts and lack of mental direction, but why should I when I can offer you a visual equivalent that is far more entertaining. I give you the world’s greatest philosophers – The Muppets:
I love the Muppets. We have the DVDs of the Muppet Show and my children love watching it. It makes me smile when they ask me sit with them and watch certain segments, excited to be sharing the moment with me and totally oblivious that I can remember watching the same show many, many years ago. Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Scooter, Animal, Statler and Waldorf in the balcony, the band, Rowlf, the Swedish Chef. They are all awesome.
I always enjoyed watching Professor Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker, early signs of my geekish tendencies I guess. Pigs in Space, Veterinarian’s Hospital, the Swedish Chef, Statler and Waldorf heckling from the balcony and Rowlf’s piano recitals were always favourites too. The songs, the skits, the drama, the comedy. The special guests were just an added bonus. The Muppets themselves were the real stars.
The Muppets haven’t lost their touch either, as this performance of Bohemian Rhapsody from 2009 demonstrates.
I’m not sure that I can pick a favourite Muppet sketch or character. There are just too many to choose from. Do you have a favourite Muppet moment?
A random conversation on Twitter this afternoon about passionfruit (started by the ever controversial @AlTait of Life in a Pink Fibro) inspired me to share this family recipe for Passionfruit Slice. The recipe comes from my husband’s Nanna and is actually for a passionfruit tart, although we always make it in slice form for family gatherings.
When my mother-in-law asked what she could bring to my husband’s recent 40th birthday party he didn’t hesitate before requesting this slice. Negotiations about who would get to take home the leftovers went on for some time. It is easy to make and absolutely delicious. Eat as a slice with tea or coffee or add whipped cream, double cream or ice-cream if you are eating it as a dessert.
The slice is in three layers – a basic biscuit base, a creamy condensed milk centre and a passionfruit jelly topping. It works equally as well with tinned or fresh passionfruit. A word of warning – the passionfruit layer does take some time to start to thicken. The first time I made this slice I was starting to wonder if I had done something wrong. Eventually small clear flecks appeared in the custard mix and then suddenly the whole mixture cleared and thickened. Be patient.
Nanna’s Passionfruit Tart
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1½ cups SR flour (or enough to make it press together into soft dough)
1 tin condensed milk
½ cup lemon juice (use ripe yellow lemons)
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons custard powder
1 tin passionfruit pulp (or pulp from 6 – 8 passionfruit)
Mix all ingredients together to form soft dough.
Press into slice tin and bake in moderate oven for 10 – 15 minutes.
Remove and allow to cool.
Mix well together.
Spread onto cooled pastry base.
Mix water, sugar and custard powder together in a saucepan.
Stir over low heat until thick and smooth.
Add passionfruit pulp and mix well.
Spread over first filling.
Refrigerate slice until set.
If doubling mixture, use only generous ½ cup of sugar for base.