One Hundred Happy Days

It’s possible that my current mental health situation is making it hard for me to see the bright side of life.  Alternatively, it could be the gloomy weather we’ve been experiencing off and on for the last few weeks, I have been known to struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder most winters, preferring to retreat to my safe place (bed) and let Anxiety take over.  Problem is, I feel that this is being reflected in my posts (or lack thereof) of late so I’ve decided that it’s time to put the rose coloured glasses on, take stock of what’s good in my life and welcome some metaphorical sunshine.

Then she sat at the computer for ten straight minutes racking her brain, trying to come up with something good to write about.

I’m not sure what it is about me and so many of us that makes us lean towards pessimism, unable to see the good in things.  There are great things happening around the world every single minute, but we don’t hear about them as much as the doom and gloom.  Some of us are so desensitised to the bad and unsettling events that when we finally do hear something good we sneer at it, deeming it ‘not news’ or a waste of our time.  It saddens me that people’s lives can be so downbeat and serious.

I like to think that I’m a pretty happy person most of the time, depression drags me down a lot and anxiety tries to keep me there, but I’m pretty confident I have a reasonable sense of humour to be able to laugh at things and enough of a positive outlook to be able to smile at least a little every day.  I try not to take things too seriously where possible, but I do find it hard.  I’m pretty keen to see more of the cheerful side of life, especially with the world seeming so unstable at the moment.

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I think it was last year I saw a lot of friends and people I follow on social media taking part in a ‘100 Happy Days’ experiment.  The aim was to post a photo or update every day about something that made them happy that day, no matter how big or small.  I wanted to join in at the time, but I was so consumed by life that I never got around to it.  I think now is a perfect time to start though.  Am I busy?  Yes.  Do I feel like I have far too much on my plate?  Yes.  Are there days where I struggle to put on a brave face and get through the day?  Regularly.

Do I have time to post 100 photos or essays in 100 days?  Not at all, but I’m going to try.  Positivity is a powerful tool that has helped me immensely in the past and I often find the simple act of searching for the good in any situation makes me feel calmer.  Plus around 71% of people fail the challenge because they think they don’t have time to be happy but I don’t ever want to let that happen to me.  I’m hoping that after the first few days it will become a habit that I look forward to and in turn help me with my postpartum depression.  I’ve signed up with the 100 Happy Days Challenge

Today’s happiness is the knowledge that I get to go home each day to my family, the two men in my life who are ALWAYS excited to see me after work.  Bubble’s face lights up as soon as he realises I am home and he slithers along the floor as fast as his little arms can pull him along, making excited noises as he goes before trying to climb up my legs for a cuddle.  It’s at this point that we often have a family cuddle, something that the three of us just started doing after he was born and it’s definitely one of my favourite moments of any given day.

What made you happy or smile today?


Were you able to turn an unhappy situation around?
What are you looking forward to that makes you happy?

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

Denial, Ignorance or Wishful Thinking?

Sometimes things creep up on us unexpectedly, so subtle that we barely notice them until they have grown from a small niggle to a big deal.  Sometimes when they get to this point they smack us in the face, throwing us off guard but giving us a chance to deal with them.  Other times they tap us on the shoulder passively, trying to alert us to their presence but not firmly enough to get our attention so we ignore them.  Or convince ourselves that they’re not really a big deal or that we are in fact dealing with them.  Sometimes someone else has to point out to us that these things are no longer niggles.

All three of these instances happened to me this week and I think they’ve been a long time coming.

I haven’t written a lot about my post partum depression in this blog.  I wrote about it a bit at first, made a few Facebook announcements that I was struggling but dealing, took some medication, carried on with my life.  My posts became few and far between because I felt like I had nothing to write about, that I was just going to be whinging about my mental health.  I posted a few raw poems and conscious streams randomly without explanation and felt like my blog was becoming a negative space so I neglected it.

I wanted to be the blogger who had a hold on their mental and physical health.  That’s who I thought I was supposed to be.  The woman who lost the weight and kept it off, discovered the reason for her eczema and banished it for life.  The woman who tackled anxiety head on with little to no stumbling and who acknowledged her depression and then powered through it, helping others along the way.

That person doesn’t exist at the moment.  She definitely did, two years ago when this blog was only a few months old my life was under complete control, anxiety was at a minimum, depression seemed a distant memory and my physical health was the best it has ever been.  But then I loosened up on my diet, a little at first not noticing that it was becoming too regular an occurrence.  My eczema started coming back but not enough for me to be concerned about.  I started to stress out more, but found things to blame like how busy I was at work or how much was going on outside of work.  Then after a short period of trying I fell pregnant and things have never really come back up from there.

Don’t get me wrong, deciding to start a family was the best decision I’ve ever made, but the process has brought with it personal issues for me that nothing could prepare me for.  Food addiction, increased anxiety and post partum depression.  A depression unlike any I’ve had before.  One that lingers in the background each day, even the good ones, hiding from me but still radiating through me so sneakily I didn’t notice how bad it had gotten.  Or maybe I was in denial.

I was trying to deal with my depression.  I was taking medication, I talked to a few people about it, went to my support group a few times, I tried to make positive changes in my life, such as diet and exercise and to some extent I was doing okay.  But I became good at ignoring the fact that I wasn’t myself anymore.  I was busy at work, busy at home so figured that was the reason I lost my shit a few times, cried, yelled, slammed doors, slept all day or felt angry at stupid little things but these quickly became the norm for me so much so that even Anxiety couldn’t bring the guilt on for some of my behaviour that wasn’t particularly pleasant.

I’m making it sound like I’ve turned into some sort of psycho.  I havn’t, I’m just moody, nervous, a little irrational at times and I overcompensateby talking too much or being silly or a little over the top with my interactions with people.  Sometimes I silently cry to myself.  Not because I recognised that I’ve been lying to myself, but because I’m terrified that something bad will happen to Bubble, or Zombie, or my family, especially after a special Aunty died.  I even worry that something could happen to me and that Bubble will have to grow up without me.

On Tuesday I spent the day secretly crying to myself at work.  My brother was leaving for a two year OE the following day and I was sad and worried but also excited for him at the same time.  I started thinking about Bubble growing up and all the things that I was going to have to let go of and I got myself a bit freaked out.  Thoughts about where my life was at started whirling around my mind and I started to feel trapped.  I was having a tough day at work without this going on in the background and I could feel myself heading into panic mode.  My breathing was getting shorter and I was having trouble controlling my temperature.

But something in me snapped.  There was no way I was going to have a panic attack at work again.  Not if I could help it.  So I stopped working and sent Zombie a text.  I told him that I felt like my life was spiraling out of control and that I didn’t know why since there my life is actually pretty good at the moment.  I said I was scared and that I needed him to know that I was not in a good place.  It was the first time I had admitted to myself in months let alone someone else that I wasn’t going to be okay just yet.  I felt clearer almost instantly.  I’ve since had it confirmed by a friend who took the time to ask me how I was doing because they had noticed that I’d been really stressed out every time they saw me for a while and that I looked worn out.  I’d been trying so hard to hide the depression from myself I forgot about hiding it from others.

My motivation to kick the depression

I wanted to be the woman who left her mental illness in the past and kept her eyes peeled for any hint of it creeping back.  But I’m not and I don’t know if I ever will be.  As undesirable as it sounds, depression and anxiety are a part of my life and it’s becoming clear to me that I need to get a lot better at recognising it.  I want to get better.  I’m stuck in a catch twenty two cycle at the moment, depression fueling my bad eating habits and laziness, these in turn giving depression more power over me.  Some days it’s actually easier to just be depressed instead of fighting but when you give yourself a day off from fighting, you give yourself permission for another, and another until you stop fighting and let the denial take over.  It’s a vicious cycle and one I desperately need to break.

I’ve got an appointment to see my doctor tomorrow about my depression and I’m still going to try and reach my health goals.  I think it’s important and will help with sorting out my mental health at the same time.  I’ve at least got the drive to keep starting over which means I never fully gave up the fight.  It reminds me a lot of when I quit smoking.  It took years.  I tried and failed, tried and failed, I started most Mondays and usually failed by Wednesday, but I got there in the end.  I never quit quitting and one day it just happened.  Hopefully it just doesn’t take as many attempts this time around.

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

What Happened To Determination?

It’s been a big day for my wee man today.  His third tooth came through this morning after what seems like months of threatening to, he ‘escaped’ at daycare today, got out the door and almost down to the yard where the other kids were (my little adventurer) and tonight he has wanted to do nothing more than pull himself into a standing position and stay there.

It’s an exciting but nerve-wracking time for me as a mother now.  It is so special and amazing to watch my baby learn how to be a human.  The rate he progresses is phenomenal, it seems that no matter the skill, be it learning to clap or learning to stand, that from the moment he attempts it for the first time to being able to completely achieve it is a very short space of time. But it’s also terrifying.  My baby is growing up far too quickly and is a lot more at risk of hurting himself.  I’ve spent most of the afternoon sitting on the floor as close to him as possible without getting in his way so that I can catch him before he donks his head.  I know that falling and hurting ourselves is part of growing and learning but I’m just keen to minimise the head trauma.

Bubbles determination is unwavering.  He is not interested in anything getting in his way of achieving what he wants.  He’s been pulled away from a lot of places that aren’t suitable for climbing yet he continues to head back to them.  He’s not interested in climbing the couch, he wants to get to the turtle tank and onto the game machines.  He’s fallen a few times and landed on his bum which resulted in tears and me telling him that he was alright and “falling is a part of learning to stand up, you didn’t hurt yourself but you weren’t expecting it but it’s no reason to be upset.”  I know he doesn’t understand a word I’m saying but it calms him hearing me talk to him so normally and I think not getting upset or scooping him up helps him realise it’s no big deal too.  Well I hope so anyway.

I admire his determination.  Then I think about my own and wonder what happened.  What is it about growing up that makes us lose that drive we had as babies and children to make sure we achieved what we set out to do.  At the moment, Bubble wants nothing more than to stand up and not be stuck on the floor.  A few weeks ago all he wanted to do was blow raspberries which was a hilarious mixture of fart noises, giggles and spit and soon all he will want to do is walk.  All I want to do is get 100% on track with my healthy eating and exercise and yet it’s taken me months to even get started and that’s nothing new for me.  There are so many things I want to achieve, writing a novel, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, buying a house and yet I put little effort into making these things happen.

Sure, my circumstances are different than Bubbles.  He has all the time in the world to reach his dreams.  I have to earn a living  and watch most of it walk out the door as soon as it comes in.  I have to help take care of my family, make sure everyone eats, help with the house and garden, try and maintain friendships (I need work in this department) and so much more.  I’m exhausted.  I’m constantly on the go, out and about, busy… I don’t have a lot of time spare.

It always comes down to time doesn’t it?

I get the impression that Bubble wouldn’t let time get in the way of reaching his goals.  He is so determined and unwilling to be distracted.  Even a nap doesn’t get in the way with him trying to stand up in his cot as soon as he wakes up.  He will stand up, and he will be so proud of himself and then he will realise that there is something else he wants to do and he will move onto that.  Anything that gets in his way will get pushed aside as soon as possible.

I need to take a leaf out of his book.

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie

Like No One’s Watching

I danced on Friday night.

I had friends come over and we played. We played games, talked shit and we laughed. We laughed until our sides ached, our cheeks red with mirth, we were breathless and yet we still laughed. 

Then we sang songs, songs with meaning, songs that touched us and gave us hope. We sang songs with feeling that reach deep and warmed us from the inside out, brightening our faces and relaxing our souls. 

Then I danced. And danced and danced and danced. The music was inside me, lifting me up, taking me far away. Washing the stress from my mind and body, I danced to forget, I danced because I couldn’t not. I danced because I wanted to, more than anything in the world. 

I was alone, my friends gone, my family asleep, my turtle my only witness. Throwing my arms limply, my feet tripping to the rhythm, the beat an extension of my heart, sending shivers through my veins, bringing them to life, making me one with the music, setting me free, if just for a while.

Apparently I Like Gardening… At Dusk

When Zombie and I moved into a new house recently it came with a massive yard and a reasonable sized garden.  The garden basically borders the property, which I’m pretty sure is a quarter acre.  The backyard was part of the appeal for me plus having a nice garden with pretty flowers to look at.  I’d lived in places with gardens before, but someone else had always taken care of them, Mum, flatmates or the owners, so I’d never really had to deal with one before, but for me it was one of those ‘am I an adult now?’ moments, finding a place with a garden and realising that we would have to deal with it ourselves.

Zombie kept the lawns up and did a bit of weeding here and there, but I never touched the garden.  Between work, being a new mother and my mental health playing up, it just wasn’t something I could muster up the energy to do.  So despite Zombies constant nudges that we should get out there and spend an hour or so a week picking away at it, I never got around to it.  It had gotten to a point where it was just another chore I had no desire to do.  Of course the garden got out of control pretty quickly and then came the letter in the mail: House inspection, less than two weeks time.

I spent an entire day in the garden, working my way around it, pulling out weeds, turning dirt to make it tidier and pushing as hard as I could on the weeds to make more room in the tiny green bin to get rid of it all.  It was exhausting, but oddly satisfying.  Seeing an area go from being inundated with weeds and littered with dead leaves to a nice patch of soil with a bush or flowers growing out of it made me feel like I’d actually achieved something that day.  I was surprised to discover that I enjoyed gardening.

Since then I’ve gardened every week.  Some weeks more than others depending on how busy we’ve been, but always after work, especially on stressful days.  I’ve found pulling out weeds makes me feel good.  Some people like running to de-stress, or boxing, art, music, the list goes on.  I thought writing, singing and dancing (I’m a terrible dancer but hey, who cares) were my ways to relieve stress, but I’ve found gardening to be more effective.

Especially when it’s starting to get dark.

What’s that about?  I don’t know.  

Maybe I’m crazy, but  I don’t get a lot of time to myself these days and often by the time work, dinner and errands are done the sun is starting to disappear.  Instead of flopping down on the couch and staring at my phone for the rest of the night I’ve taken to sometimes donning my gardening gloves and heading outside for an hour or so to pull weeds and enjoy the time to myself.  The world is pretty quiet at this time of the night but at the moment still warm and pleasant. Some nights the only reason I stop is because it’s too dark to distinguish the weeds.

It’s my new Me Time.  So many of us have so much on these days that our lives are whirling by, leaving us behind and we run the risk of waking up one day wondering where the time went and wishing we had spent more time enjoying it.  It occurred to me last night that it might be strange to head out into the garden at 8.30 at night and work up a sweat, but it makes me feel good.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who does things at strange times just to get a break.  I’m just not sure what I’m going to do in winter!

Smiles and Sunshine
Katie