Wednesday 27 June 2012

Diaries of 'Down' - Part 2

I've had quite a few responses to the last post.  Which actually made me kind of embarrassed even though I know they were written out of concern.  It's funny isn't it, because on the one hand I want people to know the truth, but at the same time the idea of people feeling sorry for me makes me feel awkward.  And it's so easy to believe that it's not OK to not be OK.  I think that's what makes this whole business about being weak, and less than 'fine', even more difficult.  There's a shame about it. And it's interesting the only reason I felt able to even write about this is that I am actually feeling a whole lot better now.

Anyways I wanted to write a bit about the side effects of the medication I'm taking... I was warned, but I didn't expect to experience such a range of them, and so quickly...

Day 1
I took the pills when I woke up - what with contraception and antihistamines I feel a bit like my Grandfather who I always remember taking lots of pills in the morning!  After just a couple of hours I started to feel really nauseous, so much so that I left work early and wasn’t up to much for the rest of the day.  I think friends in the office thought I might be pregant!  Oof, if morning sickness is like that... wow.  It almost made me want to give up straight away.  But thinking of all the pregnant women who cope with morning sickness actually made me think I can do it too!

Day 2
Thankfully I felt OK today as I was doing care work and didn’t want to let them down.  My stomach was slightly dodgy towards the end of the day though.  Had a nice time chilling with husband in the evening, felt like for once I wasn’t bringing a cloud into the flat and laughed for what seemed like the first time in ages.  Llewellyn said he’d noticed I seemed happier. 

Day 3
Felt a little nauseous again, and pretty tired, although that might have been due to a bit of a late night but tried to ignore it.  Went to church with hubby for first time in ages and for once I didn’t cry!  At lunch with friends, and later on in the evening when hanging out with a group of people, I actually felt like I wanted to be there, and I laughed, and I felt like myself.  And it felt good.  I’m wary of saying they are working already, because been warned a lot of the side effects, and of the possibility of feeling very up and down (even suicidal) in first couple of weeks.  But I do feel lighter, for sure.

Day 4
Today I couldn’t stop yawning, like I don’t think I’ve ever yawned so much!  And I couldn’t keep still, I was jiggling around even more than usual. The warmer weather probably didn’t help but I these are all possible side effects.  I also went to the toilet quite a lot!  Fell asleep when I got home from work, but again I didn’t feel as down as usual.

Day  9
The looong train journey to Cornwall.  I hadn't really felt nauseous all week, until this morning.  Great timing with a 7 hour train journey South West on a very hot day!!  And no air conditioning in our carriage.  I spent most of the time with my head hanging out the door window and then eventually threw up (yup, details!) - and of course it was the moment I stepped out of the toilet and someone else went in.... thank God for plastic bags... but they do always have holes in them!!  To make things it caused blood vessels in my face to burst leaving me with what looks like a strange speckled rash on my face.  I looked pretty awful as we arrived in Cornwall and felt the need to tell our hosts I don't normally look like this!  I also told them about the medication I was taking, just so they knew, and they were really understanding and chilled about it which was a relief.

Week 2 and 3
Cornwall was, as I've said before, just what I needed.  After the vomitty train day, I didn't experience any more bad physical side effects.  And pretty much as soon as we arrived I was feeling happier, more relaxed and more 'myself'.  Perhaps a change of scene would have worked its magic without the help of the 'drugs', but I think it was probably a combination, and either way it's such a relief to be feeling different.  I barely spent anytime analysing the way I was feeling, I just enjoyed 'being', existing in the moment, which is more the way I want to live my life!  I think I only cried once in nearly two weeks.  Absolute miracle!!

Week 4
Back to Brighton and after a couple of days of continuing in the holiday spirit, I was hit by the post-holiday-blues.  I worried I was 'going down the tube' again until my sister told me she always feels crappy after a holiday.  Not been away in so long I'd forgotten that.  Plus periods are never that helpful in the general emotional scheme of things.  That plus other 'issues' meant me and Mr Q upset each other too.  So all in all a pretty rubbish week, but at least there were reasons for it.

Week 5
Made up with hubby.  Hooray!  Determined not to fall back in the rut we felt stuck in before going to Cornwall.  Managing to be more positive about work, and doing my best to come home to our flat with a smile.  I can say 'I'm fine' and mean it.

With regards side effects, still feel a bit fidgety sometimes, but that might just be me.  'She never could sit still that one!' - says Mum.  Also my dreams, which have always been quite detailed and memorable, are even more vivid, and mixed up, and a bit more stressful.  Basically my mind combines all the things I've thought about/seen/read/etc even if just for a brief moment. and churns out some random story - that usually involves me being late and in a state of undress.  As I said, stressful.  But they could be worse!  One day I'll start writing them down...

Week 6
Where I am now.  Stressed sometimes.  Frustrated sometimes.  Sad sometimes.  But these are also a part of life.  And I'm not overwhelmed.

Monday 25 June 2012

Diaries of 'Down' - part 1

I said recently I was going to write something about weakness.  Here it is. 

So for most of this year, I've been feeling pretty 'down'.  That's the word I'd use.  Some would say low.  Or depressed.  The best way I can describe it is as if a grey cloud has been sitting on my shoulders, sucking the colour out of my world, and the cloud isn't light and fluffy, it's heavy and it makes my shoulders droop, and walking difficult and forces sighs from my mouth and tears from my eyes way more than seems 'normal' or 'necessary'.  And that's the problem, because although this year hasn't been the easiest, I couldn't really see why I was feeling SO bad, crying SO often, distancing myself and rarely smiling or laughing.  Every day seemed a struggle.  I didn't stay in bed all day, I didn't stop seeing people, I didn't slack off work.  Perhaps there's a sense of 'duty' in me that overrides everything else.  Not sure that's a good thing.  Although I kind of knew however much I wanted to hide away, it could quite possibly make me feel worse.  And being alone with those feelings is not fun.  So I carried on, but all the things that would usually bring me joy seemed tasteless and dull.  The things that wouldn't normally phase me threatened to break me into pieces. 

I know we all have 'down days'.  Or even seasons.  So i was waiting for 'tomorrow' but it didn't seem to arrive.  And this wasn't just hard for me - now there's someone I share my life with so of course the greyness rubbed off on him.  It's not the first time I've felt like this, but it was the first time - or at least since living at home with my family - that the way I felt and 'was' had such a strong impact on someone else.  And that is not easy.  Yes it's great to have someone who holds you when you cry, but they also worry it's their fault every time you are sad, and at some point you, or they, think they might drown in the pools of emotion that flood forth so often. 

So in the end, I decided to do something about it.  I've gone to the doctors before about depression.  I try to avoid calling it that - I guess the whole cynicism about it really 'existing' rubs off on me, even though I have often been able to tick off most of the list of symptons.  Last time they referred me to a psychologist but then I moved to Brighton and her telephone calls would stress me out more than anything so I ignored them.  I felt better with a change of location anyhow.  This time the doctor recommended medication.  To be honest this is not something I've ever really considered.  Again, there's some type of stigma, some worry about dependency, some very-slightly-hippy that feels I should try natural remedies first, etc, etc.  But at the same time, I felt willing to give anything a try because I was sick of feeling so crap all the time.  Before deciding I spoke to a few friends that I knew had taken anti-depressants in the past and they were helpful in encouraging me that it was totally my choice, that it's worth a try, and that actually quite a lot of people have taken them to get through a particular time.  No one put any pressure on me either way, which I was grateful for.

So I decided to try them, and see.  I hardly told anyone about it to begin with.  I guess I was a bit ashamed/embarrassed.  I thought people might assume I hadn't tried hard enough, like - Why didn't I just get over my emotions and put a smile on my face?  I know I don't need to tell people.  But something in me wants to be braver in admitting my weakness.  Because perhaps someone can relate.  Perhaps it might encourage you that we're all a bit broken.

I'll write more about this soon.  Like the not-so-fun side effects!!

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Race for Life

In just under two weeks I will be running 5km around Stanmer Park in Brighton to raise money for Cancer Research.  I know lots of people who've taken part in the Race for Life but never done it myself before.  In fact I don't think I've done a sponsored run since primary school.  And I haven't run 5km since secondary school, when I swam almost every day so had plenty of stamina.  These days... the only exercise I really do is the ten minute walk to work and back.  My bike was stolen recently so I barely cycle at the moment.  SO basically... I'm unfit.  And slightly scared.  Yes it's not running a marathon or cycling from John O Groats to Land's End, but it's a challenge for me, and the hope is that it's the first of many more to come.  You gotta start somewhere, hey?

I'm running with my friend Shonagh.  I'm running partly to challenge myself, partly to accompany Shonagh, and partly of course to raise money for Cancer Research.  I doubt there's anyone who's not lost someone they love to cancer.   I remember as a child dreaming of finding the cure.  Doesn't look like I'll be doing that, but at least I can do my little bit.  My Granny died of bowel cancer.  It went undiagnosed for a few months and by then it was too late.  She lived a great life, and wasn't young when she died, but I miss her a lot, so I'm doing it in memory for her.  I'm also running it for the friends I know with parents who have or are fighting cancer.  They are so brave.

If you'd like to sponsor me I'd so appreciate it.  My Justgiving page is HERE

Friday 15 June 2012


Read my friend Kath's blog post on Weakness.  It's really good.  I've felt pretty weak this week.  In so many ways.  It's been quite hard being back.  But there has been people to chat to who 'get it' when I've gotten desperate.  Hooray for that.  And I just had a bit of a dance, which helps a lot too. 

I've been meaning to write too about a certain aspect of being 'weak' that affects me.  Just working up courage to be really honest.  It'll come.

Sunday 10 June 2012


Can't put it any better than to say our time in Cornwall was a GIFT.  An unexpectedly brilliant, spot-on, GIFT.  Now we were pretty sure it was going to be good, but we didn't have much of clue about we were going to be doing, what the people we were going to be helping out were going to be like, etc.  And althought we went as volunteers, and we did help out, we received so much more!!  We had time to rest and relax, time to be alone and time to be with people who welcomed us with opened arms.  Time to sleep and time to explore.  Time to be outside, time to hide away.  Time to be quiet and time to talk.  Time to dance, time to surf, time to eat!  Time to be challenged and time to be encouraged.  Time to pray, time to question, time to learn.  Time to dream....

Some of the highlights were:

Bodyboarding at Sennen Cove near Land's End
Sitting in the sun chatting to some elderly neighbours at a Jubilee BBQ that we put on
The view of St Michael's Mount from our caravan window
Hugs from the most cute and clever nearly-two-year-old girl living next door
Helping lead some creative workshops with a great bunch of open, creative people
Dancing in the House of Prayer
Seeing our friend Becky in Truro (and going to a random salsa lesson!)
Calzone in Falmouth. mmmm
Surfing at Praa Sands
Walks exploring the land around where we were staying
Plenty of time with hubby
Meeting some awesome people and having lots of great conversations

So hooray for all that!  We left feeling refreshed and in a whole different place emotionally and spiritually to where we were when we'd arrived.  It sounds bit crazy but I think we were both the happiest and most 'ourselves' that we've been in quite a long time.  I can't say I was excited about coming back to Brighton, but it's been OK, I've been back at work, and still keeping positive, and have really enjoyed catching up with my family and church family. 

Monday 4 June 2012


The butterfly’s wings flutter so fast they are almost a blur.  So fragile they work hard to stay aloft, uncertain as to whether they can finish the journey.  The journey has been hard.  And long.  The butterfly appears weak – almost transparent in appearance.  Looks as if it might disintegrate on impact.  But the butterfly has persevered.  Has fought.  There is more to it than meets the eye.  A faded beauty that might not be the pick of the bunch.  Might not capture anyone’s attention.  Not many people know where this butterfly has been; what it has seen; as it moves from branch to branch.

Maybe there’s also an anticipation in the fluttering.  A new excitement that it barely dares to believe possible.  Is strength really returning?  Is a new day coming?  Something is stirring in the leaves, and rustles the butterfly wings...

The butterfly needs to know that it’s OK to be delicate, and fragile sometimes.  The butterfly longs to be stronger and braver.  The butterfly’s wings hope to rise and fall to a stronger beat that resounds from somewhere deep within.    The butterfly longs for the heart of a lion.

Maybe she already has it.

Sunday 3 June 2012

Cornwall - the view from here

Surfing at Praa Sands

The view of St Michael's Mount from our caravan

top of the hill

the House of Prayer garden