A New Day

Fresh starts are such a good thing. I’m grateful that bad days come to an end, you go to sleep and wake up to a new day, a different day and hopefully a better one. Yesterday was the worst day I’ve had with depression in a long time. But today is a new day and it’s going to be a better one.

I’ve been realising that I’ve been using social media to numb a lot over the years. I don’t think it’s healthy. I need it for work but I had excess accounts that I don’t need so I got rid of a bunch of them – including the ones associated with this blog.

I didn’t start blogging to get a following. I love the little community that I’ve connected with on WordPress but the majority of the people I most enjoy reading and connecting with on here are not the ones I connect with on Twitter or Instagram so those accounts are gone. It’s funny because on Twitter I had built up a decent following pretty quickly but it felt so fake. Most of those people didn’t actually connect with me or read my posts. I guess I didn’t with most of them either. I get that others will have a different experience or want to use social media to promote their blogs and that’s cool. It just wasn’t for me.

Anyway – I decided to live in the real world as much as possible. I’ll still be here on WordPress though. I enjoy writing here and reading your blogs. There are several that I follow closely and connect with regularly and I’m happy with that; I don’t need thousands of followers.

Well I guess that’s my little update for today. I’ve deleted a bunch of apps as well. Seems like a good time to declutter my online presence. I’ll have to face all the feelings now if I’m not numbing them – will need to watch my alcohol intake doesn’t go up as that’s another go-to for numbing. Hopefully I can hack it.

What are your thoughts on social media? Do you love it or hate it? Do you need it for work? Do you use it to promote your blog? Do you think I did the right thing or made a big mistake deleting those accounts? Let me know your thoughts. 🙂

Random Thoughts During Social Distancing

Should I reset my alarm?  It’s normally set for 6.15am on weekdays and 8am on the weekends so I can get up and spend some quiet time with God before everyone else starts to move.  Now that everyone is working from home no one is really moving before about 8.30am so I could shift it a bit – or leave it and use the extra time for something else?  Thoughts?

I’ve never been more grateful for the sunshine.  In the midst of everything that’s going on in the world, it just makes me feel better.

Writing in my garden while social distancing

I wonder when my daughter will come home?  We were chatting through her options yesterday.  Her school in California has gone online and her two roommates are leaving to go home on Tuesday so she could come home too.  She’s not keen on the idea of being on her own especially with all the social distancing but she also has FOMO if everything clears up and goes back to normal quicker than expected.  I’d love her to come back but I also want her to be sure she’s doing the right thing for her.  I don’t want to put pressure on her.

I wonder if we’ll be able to go on holiday in July?  It’s hardly important in the current climate but just a thought.

Will I be able to claim any money back for lost business? I’ve worked out that with the bookings I had in the diary I’ll be losing out on something like 26 days if the schools stay shut until the summer break (which seems to be what is expected).  I’m going to try to use the time to do other things that I don’t normally get round to – like my website for example.  If necessary I could get another job though.  The supermarkets are looking for more staff right now.

Will I do more writing or less?  I’m having another wobble about writing at the moment.  I don’t know whether to keep going or quit. 

Should I try to get a telephone appointment with the doctor?  I’m not sick but I’ve been wondering about whether I should try coming off the antidepressants?  They don’t want us to bother the NHS right now unless it’s an emergency though, and it’s not that.  Does anyone know how you get off these things?  Can I do it safely without a doctor’s advice?  I’m on a very low dose.

I have a gift card to use up before June.  Not quite sure if that’s going to be possible?  It’s maybe my own fault for holding on to it so long but I was hoping to buy a couple of new outfits for this summer with it.  It’s for one of the nearby shopping centres.  Maybe I could use it for food shopping or just go to the clothes shops one day and keep my distance from everyone?  I feel bad for the shops and businesses that are losing out because of this virus.  I know we have to be sensible to avoid spreading it but so many people are losing their livelihoods too.  That could have a knock on effect that lasts way longer than COVID-19.

I probably should disinfect the door handles and surfaces again but today is Mother’s Day in the UK so it’s going to wait till tomorrow.  I want to relax today.  I got the sweetest card with the most lovely words in it today from my kids along with some beautiful flowers.  I am blessed.

If you’ve got this far, thanks for reading my random ramblings.  Stay safe and don’t forget to wash your hands.  🤗

Yes I Will

I’ve been a bit quiet again – I know. It’s hard to explain. There are just times when I find it hard to ‘talk’. Sometimes it’s even hard to share with my closest friends. I just seem to clam up. It’s weird in a way because there’s nothing I want more than a safe place to spill out what’s on my heart.

I’m okay really – in the midst of all the craziness in the world right now. Everything feels a little surreal. Hubby is working from home for the foreseeable future. My son’s uni is closed and classes are going online. I’m taking business a day at a time and counting on nothing since it seems like schools could shut at any moment. My daughter’s mission trip has been cancelled and I’m just hoping that she’ll be able to get home from California okay when the time comes.

Friends are having their holidays cancelled and it looks like people of my parents age will be asked to stay at home soon. Many of the shelves in the supermarkets are bare, a Foodbank in my area was robbed and some self employed people are worrying about how they will pay their bills. Night shelters are concerned about homeless people who may come into contact with the virus and teachers are wondering how the children who rely on free school meals are going to get fed. Like my hubby says it feels like the plot of a movie.

Yesterday was a little unusual for a Sunday. Although our church was meeting we didn’t get up early enough to go so we listened to a message online about Kingdom in Mental and Emotional Health. I got pretty emotional listening to it actually. I guess a lot of things resonated with me. In the afternoon I went for a long walk in the countryside to make sure I got my steps in for my charity challenge. After dinner (and a little/fair bit of wine) I fell asleep just before the end of the movie we were watching. Then of course, during the night when I should have been sleeping I was awake! 😝

Photo from Pixabay

One of the things I enjoyed most about yesterday was listening to my music while I was out walking. There’s something about being in nature that makes it easier for me to hear God and there’s something about the lyrics of songs that has a way of getting through to me. Sometimes even when I’m having a difficult day singing at the top of my lungs or dancing around my kitchen can be enough to pull me out of the doldrums.

This song is one that has helped me out of a difficult place several times. I recommend turning up the volume to listen to it. 🙂

Yes I Will by Vertical Worship

I count on one thing
The same God that never fails
Will not fail me now
You won’t fail me now
In the waiting
The same God who’s never late
Is working all things out
You’re working all things out

Yes I will, lift You high in the lowest valley
Yes I will, bless Your name
Oh, yes I will, sing for joy when my heart is heavy
All my days, oh yes I will

I count on one thing
The same God that never fails
Will not fail me now
You won’t fail me now
In the waiting
The same God who’s never late
Is working all things out
Is working all things out

Oh, yes I will, lift You high in the lowest valley
Yes I will, bless Your name
Oh, yes I will, sing for joy when my heart is heavy
For all my days, oh yes I will
For all my days, oh yes, I will

And I choose to praise
To glorify, glorify…

Source: LyricFind

Unstuck!

I’ve been a bit quiet for the last couple of weeks. Truth is I’ve been feeling stuck. I was down after coming back from California (pretty normal after a holiday I guess) but I was also struggling a bit to look forward. It felt like I was bottling things up but I didn’t know exactly what. I needed to get some emotions out (possibly writing would have helped) but I was scared to let them out because I didn’t quite know where that would go. I don’t know if any of that makes sense to anyone else? Sometimes I think I’m just weird.

Something has shifted though. I think I’m starting to accept things. Things that have been difficult in the past, how things are now and how the future might look. I’m feeling more hopeful.

I was in two minds yesterday. I was really toying with the idea of just shutting down this blog. In fact possibly shutting down most of my social media. I’m naturally a sharer. When I’m face to face with someone I tend to be open with them but I guess I was kinda wondering what the point is in sharing for the sake of sharing – that’s how social media feels right now. I sometimes feel like I have friends on WordPress or on Facebook etc but I might never have met these people in person or talked to them face to face. Is that really a friendship? It feels real to me but I have no idea what the other people feel?

That wasn’t meant to be the point of this post though. The point is I feel like I’ve been stuck in the past a bit recently. Struggling to accept some of it. I can’t stay there though because I think it’s what makes me depressed? Or at least part of it. I feel like I might be starting to piss some people off with my ‘stuckness’ too. So I’m choosing to let go. To be happy with my life. To grow into the person Papa God wants me to be. I feel like He has so much more for me and I haven’t been able to move into that. Saying it like that makes it sound like I think that’s going to be easy. I’m sure it won’t always be easy but I have to start somewhere.

In time I’m hoping I’ll be able to get off the antidepressants too. I’m sure they sap my energy and they seem to make my tremor worse. (It’s not dangerous – it’s called an essential tremor apparently – seems totally unnecessary to me.)

For now it looks like the blog will stay too. It’s been a helpful way for me to process so if that’s all it is, there is a place for it. So it looks like you guys are stuck with me in the meantime – and I’m getting myself unstuck. 🙂

Photo taken at Finnich Glen

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.

A Present to Remember

I hope you enjoyed reading about my first few days in California in my previous post. On the Sunday (our third full day in the States) we picked up the hire car and left San Francisco for a motel in Napa. We didn’t go straight there though as we had an exciting stop on the way.

For Christmas our (adult) kids bought us a present to remember. While videoing the moment for our daughter to watch later, our son handed over a rolled up piece of paper; like a scroll. When we opened it out it said this: You are going Skydiving over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco! My jaw almost hit the floor. I don’t know if our kids were trying to thrill us or kill us 😅. Amazingly, since I’m pretty scared of heights (or at least looking down from a height) my reaction was actually one of excitement. I might have mentioned this when I wrote about facing this fear in Croatia last summer but I don’t even like looking over the rail on the first floor at the shopping mall so jumping/diving/falling out of a plane at 10 000 feet is just a little bit terrifying! 😱

We arrived earlier than expected at the skydiving centre and were quickly handed a four page form to fill out. It was pretty repetitive but required a lot of signatures. In effect it said ‘I understand that I might die doing this and my estate cannot sue the company for any reason’ over and over. Almost seems like they’re trying to talk themselves out of business? Obviously though, many people like us, are daft enough to go through with it despite all the warnings.

I was a little nervous walking out to the tiny plane (we were literally squashed in like sardines) but not as much as I thought I’d be. Maybe it’s one outcome of having struggled with depression for a while but death doesn’t feel like the worst outcome these days (not that I actually thought I’d die). I don’t mean that to sound morbid, I’m not suicidal and I don’t want to die but it just doesn’t feel like it would be that terrible any more if that makes any sense? Anyway, I did also pray heading up in the plane. I literally told God that my life was in his hands – which it was. Well that and attached to a guy, with the same name as my son, by a harness.

The views from the plane were stunning. The Golden Gate Bridge was visible in the distance (we weren’t actually skydiving over it) and we could see San Francisco and the coast and lots of lush green countryside. Hubby and his instructor were nearest the door while I was squished in with my instructor behind the pilot. This meant that they left the plane first. I didn’t exactly have time to think though before we were getting into position too.

They had given us brief instructions while on the ground about how to position yourself for the dive etc and one of those instructions was to keep your head back while exiting the plane. This worked out pretty well for me as I had decided that I just wouldn’t look down until I was actually falling. My reasoning was that the instructor I was harnessed to was about 6’5″ so I knew that if he decided to leave the plane I was going too, like it or not 😂. Right enough that’s pretty much how it happened. We got into position at the door with our legs dangled out of the plane (my heart was definitely in my throat just a bit at this point) and without much further ado we exited the plane and were falling at break neck speed towards the ground.

The initial free fall was an equally thrilling and nerve wracking experience. I did feel a bit panicked when I couldn’t catch my breath but I knew it wouldn’t last. There was a sudden jolt as the parachute was deployed and then calm. I could breathe again. As soon as the chute was open it was a really cool experience looking down at the earth and floating towards it and before I knew it it was all over and we were back on the ground. I have to admit that I was slightly relieved, but what an experience! Incidentally my hair looked hilarious when we landed; it was sticking up all over the place 😂.

There’s something significant happening with me to do with taking risks I think. It feels like I’ve started taking more risks like this one in life and I think it has some spiritual significance too. I started going to a study group at church just about a week ago and there was a lot of talk about taking risks in terms of growing your faith and also of not allowing fear any place in your life. When I heard that it resonated with me and I have a feeling I’ll be having to take some risks in my spiritual life too.

Once we were all safely back to the skydiving centre we purchased our videos and photos (have to have evidence since there’s a pretty good chance I won’t be doing that again 😂) and hopped back into the car to continue our journey as if jumping out of planes is something you do every day.

We drove on up to Napa where we ate at a lovely restaurant/cafe that reminded me of someone’s living room. After a decent night’s sleep we were up again for a slightly more relaxing kind of day – wine touring Napa Valley. We met a lovely couple from Vancouver on the tour and visited four different wineries. I have to say that I enjoyed pretty much all of the wines we tried – and there were quite a few. Thinking back I’m actually kind of surprised that I didn’t have a hangover after that. Maybe because it was spread out over the whole day? Anyway it was a gorgeous sunny day too and we had a fab time.

The first winery we visited (kinda forgot to take photos after this one 😝)

I guess I’ll leave it there for now and fill you in on the rest of the holiday (which was a lot quieter) in my next post. Talk soon.

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?

I just want to write

I had a rough night last night. Didn’t sleep well and then woke up late for the plans we had for this morning. I feel a bit flat today and I just wanted to write. I looked at the posts in my drafts (some of which are so near to finished) but I didn’t want to finish any of them. I just want to talk.

If you could be here right now you’d have to perch on the end of my bed. There’s nowhere else to sit in my room. The only chair is covered in clothes that have been worn once and discarded but didn’t seem dirty enough for the wash bin. It might feel when you’re sitting there like you’re visiting the sick but I’m not sick (at least not physically).

I could tell you about my week. It’s been quite busy. My in-laws were visiting last week and stayed till Tuesday so we had quite a full house with three extra people in it. On Monday I did a day’s supply teaching in Primary 7 at my old school – that was quite nice actually. The kids were really good and I enjoyed seeing them (I taught that class when they were in P1). We were planning to go into the city to see the Christmas lights in the evening but a few of the family were feeling under the weather so that didn’t happen. It was okay though. I’ve been reading a book by a fellow blogger Yeshiva Girl by Rachel Mankowitz so I was happy to get my nose stuck back into that. I’ve finished it now and would recommend. It’s a good read.

I had relaxation classes on Tuesday morning and afternoon and dropped the in-laws off at the airport in between. After work I met my hubby in the city and we went out for dinner and went to the Emeli Sande gig. That was really good. I love music gigs. One of my favourite things to do.

Wednesday brought more relaxation sessions in the morning plus some individual sessions at my favourite school to go to. It also happens to be in the most deprived area I work in. I had lunch with a lovely friend after that and then went to pick up little B for the afternoon. I took him over to the craft shop to buy some Christmas cracker kits to send to my daughter in the States. The evening became a little hectic because of cancelled trains so I was running about picking people (including a few strangers) up and dropping them off. I also had to shop and deliver a meal to our dear friend whose husband has just died. 😢

Thursday was a good day. I went on a training course all day to learn some new skills for my business. It was really useful and I met some nice people and did a bit of networking while I was there. We had a chilled evening after that.

It was my birthday on Friday. I decided I might just stop counting my age 😉. I don’t feel any older anyway and the number somehow seems irrelevant. I got my hair done in the morning. The girl who’s been cutting my hair for years has changed jobs so I have a new hairdresser but she’s doing okay and getting the hang of how I like it. After that one of my lovely friends treated me to lunch and then I had a chilled out bath before the guys cooked dinner for me and we spent the evening pampering ourselves (I made them wear face masks too), drinking wine and singing along to the karaoke version of The Greatest Showman.

Yesterday we went over to visit some friends in the morning/early afternoon and after brunch I spent some time building Lego with their kids while we chatted. We pottered a bit with stuff in the house in the afternoon and then went to visit other friends for drinks after dinner. We quite often go on holiday with these guys and we started exploring possible options for a holiday next summer. Talking of holidays I don’t think I’ve mentioned that we’re off to visit our daughter in California at the beginning of the new year. I’m looking forward to that.

I’m feeling a bit better now that I’ve shared my week with you. It was a good one really (apart from the death of our friend). Maybe now I can get myself up and ready for the day.

How was your week? I’d love to know what you’ve been up to. 🙂