Sunshine after the rain 🌤

It’s been a reasonably productive day so far – at least as productive as they get these days 😝. I won’t bore you with details of laundry and food shopping but after a pretty busy morning and early afternoon I was treating myself to a little time out to read my book.

I was initially settled down comfortably in the living room but then my son came home with a friend and they wanted to play the PlayStation so I took myself off to my room for peace. Anyway, I was just lying reading when my flow was interrupted by a ray of sunlight coming in the window. Now remember I live in Scotland – and it’s February. Not to mention the fact that it’s been peeing down most of the day.

The sunshine after the rain – taken from my bedroom window.

That ray of sunshine lit up my room, and my heart in a way, and reminded me that the rainy seasons do come to an end. Things don’t stay the same for ever. If you’re struggling today this is for you – it will get better. It always does – eventually. 🤗

They’re not joking when they say it’s a battle…

Have you heard people talking about someone battling with cancer? Or depression? I’ve been blessed in that I’ve never had a serious physical illness. I have watched friends and family with cancer though. I have seen that battle, the struggle, the exhaustion, the fear, the hope and the hopelessness.

Today has been a rough day. I’m really struggling with depression. It is a battle and it’s exhausting. I don’t want to quit but I don’t want to keep fighting either. It’s hard work.

I have all these thoughts going around in my head. I know certain strategies to use to try to help myself physically, like exercising. (Did that.) I understand about mindsets and about setting my mind on positive things and even spiritual things. I’ve grown up knowing how to pray when I struggle and how to reach out for prayer support too. But even with all of that it’s a battle.

Lots of people want to give you advice on how not to be depressed but I don’t think they necessarily understand just how difficult it is to keep fighting.

I don’t know how it is for you – we all have our own battles – but if you’re fighting a battle today then know that I’m thinking of you. Keep going. You can do this. You are strong.

Goodbye 2019!

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a few days now and I keep putting it off. Partly that’s because I’m a little scared to look back on this year and go through some of the most painful emotions again… so I’ve decided to avoid those to an extent. It’s not that I don’t want to be real – it’s just that I need to work out when it’s helpful for me to look back and when it just makes the depression more difficult. Having said that there have also been some really good times this year and I’m grateful for those and don’t want to forget about them.

I’ve been to some cracking music gigs – Charles Esten; Country 2 Country (where my favourites were Lady Antebellum and Ingrid Andress); Cassia supported by Alfie Neale (twice); The Cactus Blossoms; Joseph and finally Emeli Sande supported by Ben Monteith. I’ve loved all of these for different reasons. I don’t have any more gigs lined up right now but there will definitely be more next year. There have been good books, meals out, trips to the cinema, mini adventures, board games and lots of quality time with great friends and family.

Some of this year’s highlights have been travelling to Belgium and Paris, Croatia and some places not so far from home like Edinburgh and Carnoustie. I had a bit of fun looking for the Oor Wullie models in Glasgow and Edinburgh in the summer – sometimes with little B and sometimes not. For those of you who have never heard of Oor Wullie; he’s a pretty well known Scottish cartoon character who’s been around since the 1930s so he’s a bit older than me 😂.

One of the Oor Wullie models in Edinburgh

I had the Best Surprise Ever!! when my son came home from Australia in the summer and a more difficult time when my daughter left for California. Can’t wait to go over there to see her in a couple of days. I finally took the plunge and left teaching – no regrets about that. I’m loving my new job even though it’s not exactly a viable business yet. I’m spending more time with some new friends and some old ones than I had been doing and that’s been really good for me. I’m still blogging! Not something I’d ever thought I’d end up doing but it’s been a useful processing tool for me and a way to express myself. I’ve also found the blogging community to be really supportive and friendly.

At the beginning of 2019 I had decided that my goal was to ‘be a blessing‘ but I’ve found this a lot harder than I anticipated. I guess it takes that bit of extra effort to go out of your way to be kind to someone or help them. One of my friends insists that I’ve probably been more successful at this than I think just by being there for people but I suppose it’s not what I had in mind. I guess I know that across the year I have managed to be a blessing to a few people and hopefully that will continue and maybe even develop in the future.

I haven’t made any resolutions as such but looking forward to next year I have thought of a few things that I’d like to do more or less of. I’d like to try to restrict the time I spend on social media and spend more time reading books. I want to spend more time living in the present and being grateful for God’s blessings in my life now. To help me with this I’ve bought this cute little diary and I’m going to try to write down some things that I’m grateful for every day. I want to find a new freedom to be myself and say what I think (I don’t want to allow myself to be silenced any more). This one will probably be the hardest for me as I’ve trained myself to keep quiet over the years. I guess it’s taken me a long time to realise that it wasn’t good for me. I want to grow more as a person and in my relationship with God. I want to grow my business too – a lot easier said than done but I’m hopeful that as I feel stronger in myself I’ll be able to do what it takes.

That’s a lot of things to work on and if I plunge straight in to trying to do all that I will probably feel overwhelmed and fail miserably so I’m going to start first with the little diary and take it from there.

What have you been grateful for in 2019?

Is there anything you want to do more or less of in the New Year?

Thank you to everyone who has stuck with me through this year; reading my posts and sending lovely comments. I really appreciate you and I hope that 2020 brings you good health, prosperity and joy.

The Gift of Tears

I had a conversation yesterday that kind of impacted me so I wanted to tell you about it. I was driving to our friend’s funeral along with another friend B whom I’ve only started getting to know better recently. B also used to be a teacher and she has a very similar personality to me (at least we both have the same MBTI and Enneagram types).

We started off talking about funerals and how we feel about them. Neither of us are scared of sad emotions and we both cry quite a lot and have a lot of empathy for others. Sometimes that means that we get emotional at funerals even if we don’t know the deceased that well because we empathise with family members who are upset.

I mentioned that I sometimes feel like I cry too much and she told me a story. She said that her mum had once said to her mum (B’s gran) that she cried too much. B’s gran told her that she didn’t cry too much; she had the ‘gift of tears’. I think that’s a kind of beautiful way to look at it. Not everyone finds it easy to express their emotions I suppose.

There are some people I know who seem to struggle with emotions. It seems as if they don’t know how to process the more difficult ones or what to do with them. They also find it difficult to watch others who are emotional and it can seem like they think expressing emotion is a weakness. I don’t know if that’s what they really think but it can come across like that. Sometimes the only emotion that you really see them express is anger.

As a child and a teenager I rarely cried; but after I got married and had kids I seemed to become a lot more tuned in with the sad emotions or maybe I was just more empathetic? These days I cry at all sorts of stuff – movies (happy or sad), adverts, the news and books. Sometimes my family laugh at me when I cry at movies. I cry a lot with song lyrics or when people share their stories, like when people share testimonies in church that often gets me.

The funeral service yesterday was very emotional. All four of our friend’s sons and his wife and his brother and other friends and family shared about the impact he had had on their lives. They spoke about the kind of man he was and what he had taught them. It made me wish that I had had more time to get to know him. One of his sons had even written a beautiful song for his dad. It certainly got my ‘gift of tears’ flowing.

When I first went to the docs earlier this year about depression I was crying so much that it was interfering with my life – I don’t think that was healthy – but sometimes a good cry does make you feel better. It releases oxytocin after all so it’s bound to help. I think I’m doing a lot better now and I’m crying a lot less but I’m not afraid to cry. Sometimes I think the right thing to do is to let those emotions out.

How do you feel about crying? Does it bother you when other people get emotional? Do you have the gift of tears?

Self-medicating in my PJs

I started writing this yesterday (Saturday) at quarter past three in the afternoon in my time zone. I was still in my PJs having had a lie in in the morning and having done very little with my day (unlike me – or at least unlike the old me 😝). My son made me breakfast at lunchtime and then I spent my time reading posts by other bloggers and drinking wine. I probably should have been more motivated and up and doing stuff – especially as it’s getting closer to Christmas and I have plenty to organise. But there I was lying on the couch writing this post (and not even finishing it). (In my defence I was feeling a bit under the weather with this cough/cold that’s not quite shifted over the last few weeks.)

So this one is a bit of a confession really. Over the last few years I’ve gradually been drinking more and more alcohol. I used to drink only occasionally. Maybe that’s partly because when I was younger alcohol was a luxury I couldn’t really afford. I was also responsible for looking after children more often than not so I always tried to be sensible about my intake. When I started teaching I could afford to drink more and I did (stress of the job maybe?) ‘cause everybody did – not usually on a school night though. Since I started really battling with depression I’ve noticed that I’m drinking sometimes to take the edge off my feelings and recently I got to a point where I was drinking almost every night. It scared me a little bit because I don’t want to become dependent on it so I’ve made a conscious effort recently to have at least a few dry days every week.

It’s Sunday now and I’m at it again. My day has been more productive though. I went to church this morning (first time in a few weeks as it happens) and I’ve made a good start on the Christmas decorations (early for me but I felt like I needed some fairy lights). The Christmas tunes are on and I’m feeling a lot more positive today.

The thing is I know I’m not alone. I know lots of my friends are drinking more than they ever did too. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism? Maybe it’s just more socially acceptable to drink with every meal or even without a meal? Maybe it is simply that alcohol is more affordable when you don’t have nappies to buy? I’m also aware that it affects me more while I’m on the anti-depressants so I probably should really be drinking less.

Anyway, I’d like to hear your thoughts. Do you drink more or less than you used to? Do you think it’s an issue? Is it a bigger issue in society in general than it was in the past? Do we need to do something about it?

Blah blah blah…

Meaningless, meaningless everything is meaningless…

B O R E D

What’s the point?

Does life even make sense?

Apologies for this post – feels like my brain just needs to throw up. Don’t feel obliged to read on – especially if you’re squeamish.

I’m fed up.

T I R E D

Don’t know what I want to say. Do I even have anything worth saying? Does anybody care? Do I care?

Why am I here?

Does anybody need me? Does anybody want me? Does anybody love me?

Sorry to subject you to this pity party.

Wait a minute I’m not subjecting you – you were warned!

I have no right to be miserable and feeling sorry for myself actually. I need to focus on His blessings. I have some friends who are going through really sh*tty stuff right now. I feel bad for them. I have it good really. Just need to give myself a good talking to.

There are some blogs I follow where the writers have been through horrendous stuff and they still find a way to show gratitude and find the sunshine in life. I used to be good at finding the silver linings. What’s happened to me?

Is this the depression? I mean it does feel better than it was… but some days… Do I just need to snap out of it? Stop being a miserable git? Maybe. Yeah probably!

Okay I’m going to leave this here. Don’t worry. I’m okay really. Just needed to get that out of my system.

I’ll be my sunny self again soon – especially if I get a couple of gins into me. 😝

Actually my work is pretty good 😉

The Bottom Line

The last few days I’ve been pretty hormonal. I always struggle more with feelings of depression when I’m hormonal. On the whole I think I’m doing better with that but there are always some days that are harder than others. Sometimes when I’m really struggling all I can say is ‘Jesus I need You’ over and over. That’s the bottom line for me. When everything feels too much and I can’t cope on my own I know He’s there and somehow He’ll get me through it.

In February 2018 I was reading a devotional On the YouVersion app called ‘Jesus I Need You’ by Thistlebend Ministries and came across this prayer. I saved it on my phone and I’ve read it over and over since then. I even printed it out and stuck it in my prayer journal. It’s covered in highlights and circles, underlines and outlines, hearted and triple underlined – you get the picture. Anyway I thought I’d share it here in case it’s helpful for anyone else.

JESUS I NEED YOU

Jesus, I need you! You are my Lord, my God, my King. You are worthy of all of my worship. Help me, by your grace, to know you and love you so deeply and dearly that the things of this world fade away and grow strangely dim.

I want to worship you and you alone. I don’t want to be forged by the culture. I am in you; I want to be one with you. Bind my heart to yours, and place your truth deep within me. I not only want to know you and your Word, I want to have the desire to forsake sin and follow you and your Word. Enable me to worship you in spirit and in truth.

I need your power, your grace, and your love so that no matter what life brings my way, I can respond to each situation, each person, and each trial the way you would respond—all for your glory. I don’t want to respond merely outwardly, but rather from within, from the river of living water. I want to be so close to you, Jesus, that your Spirit flows forth from me in all I do and say. May I find all of my joy in you.

May I glorify you in all I say and do. (Psalm 42:1-2a; Galatians 2:20)

No matter where I am, what I am doing, what Scripture I am reading, or what song I am singing, I want my mind, my energies, and my heart focused on you and not on me and my circumstances. I want you and you alone.

No matter if I succeed or fail, win or lose, am rich or poor, am included or excluded, am known or forgotten, may I be content knowing that you are mine and I am yours.

May my chief aim be to love you and be loved by you, to please you and serve you. Help me to see my sin, mourn it, and forsake it, by your grace. Help me hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Lord Jesus, grant me your grace, your mercy, and your lovingkindness to enable me to see you, know you, love you, and be one with you. Thank you that your Word tells me if we ask anything in your name and according to your will that you will do it. Amen. (John 14:13-14)

New Routines

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with routines. We all have them, even if they’re as simple as going to sleep at night or brushing our teeth in the morning. I love them because I feel more productive if I follow a routine but I hate being tied down to them and feeling like I can’t do what I want to do because of BORING routines! There have been times I’ve got so bogged down in them I’ve felt like I HAD to follow them and that just made me feel caged.

One of my good routines has been exercise. Exercise is not something I’ve always found easy (See this post for more) but I got into a good habit with it. Then when I was at my lowest point with depression I wasn’t doing as well with that routine although I’ve mostly managed at least a couple of times a week. I’m getting myself into a new routine with exercise now just to change things up a bit. The last couple of weeks I’ve gone to a class with my friend A on Tuesday mornings and gone swimming on Thursday mornings and I’m still trying to do some weights in the house too on other days. I’m not as consistent with that as I was though.

I used to be pretty good with my housework routines too. When my kids were little I discovered the Flylady (www.flylady.net). She has great suggestions about how to work short routines into your life to keep on top of everything. I never did follow all of her routines but I did try to do an evening and a morning one and did certain housework tasks on certain days of the week (like cleaning toilets on Thursdays 😂). I did struggle a bit with resentment at times when I felt like I was doing everything in the house and the rest of the family weren’t pulling their weight. In reality I put it on myself though. No one asked me to do it or expected me to do everything. Anyway my housework routines have gone to pot. I still try to keep the house tidy when I have the energy and the motivation but the routines are out the window on the whole. Maybe I need to try to work up to doing better with those again? While I’m on this subject I’d love to know your thoughts on this. What works best for you – cleaning a whole room at once or doing one job, like dusting for example, in all the rooms and then vacuuming all the rooms at another time?

The Flylady 😊

My work routine used to be pretty easy. Mondays, Tuesdays and alternate Wednesdays I was in school. On Thursday afternoons and Friday mornings I took relaxation classes. Now that I’m totally self employed that routine is less defined at the moment too. I do have some classes booked in on regular days but quite a few are still up in the air. I think routine is helpful in my work life so that I feel like I’m being useful and productive. I’m getting there with this one though. My latest decision is that Fridays will probably be my day off. 😁

The other really helpful routine I had was my devotional time. I used to be so good at getting up early and spending time reading the Bible and praying and listening to God. I’m not so good at getting up early now. I’m still reading every day and praying but it’s not like it was before. I miss those times. I know I benefited from spending that time alone with Papa God. I need to get back to this routine. This was highlighted for me at church today too. The pastor said ‘sometimes we get frustrated and disappointed rather than hungry.’ I think I’ve done that. I need to get hungry for God again. I know He satisfies.

Anyway enough of my random patter for now. I’d love to know what routines you find helpful? Maybe I could incorporate some of them into my week? Do you struggle with routines sometimes? What helps? I could use some assistance with this. 🙂

Silent Scream

Sometimes I just want to scream – but I don’t. I keep it all inside and maybe it drives me ever so slightly insane. I can’t process. My heart is heavy and sore. I have dark thoughts sometimes – I won’t do anything about them but they still torment me. I want relief. Maybe I’ll just have a drink and go to bed. Maybe I can sleep this sorrow away?

Silent scream,
Internal turmoil,
Listening to the demons telling me to
End it all.
Nowhere to turn
To find relief.

Silent scream,
Complex emotions,
Rage and frustration
Exhausted with life
Am I alone?
Maybe

Pain, pills and a panic attack.

The last week or two has been tough. Not sure why I got so low again just when I had started feeling like I was getting somewhere. I guess I wondered whether it might be at least partly hormonal. Anyway it got pretty bad and in the end I gave up trying to fight it on my own and went to the doctor (with a little encouragement from a couple of friends). Thinking about it now I don’t know why I waited so long. If I had a stomach problem I wouldn’t wait 8 or 9 months to see someone about it. Anyway the doc gave me a low dose of anti-depressants to take (probably for a few months) to see if it helps. It took me a while to think about whether I was up for taking them – again when I reflect on that it’s a bit strange. I wouldn’t be averse to taking meds for a physical condition so why for this?

I’m kinda glad it was a low dose cause already the side effects aren’t very pleasant. On Day 1 I just felt a bit squeamish. Day 2 and 3 I had quite bad headaches to go along with that and palpitations at one point. Then Day 4 I felt lower, more pain and more anxiety than I have done in a long time and even had a full blown panic attack. I really hope these side effects are short lived. I hope the pills do what they’re supposed to and I can start to feel more like myself again.

Today I have work all day so I’m praying that I won’t have any of these yucky side effects while I’m there (or at all). I’ll let you know how things go.