My life

Dark days 

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Today has not been a good day for me. 

All day I’ve had an itch to write here but the knowledge my brains been clouded and in a dark place has stayed my hand. You may or may not notice I have forgone my usual starter of ‘So,’ the reason being I didn’t know how to start it, and my brain couldn’t navigate an opening line.

For a little background, I suffer from anxiety, which occasionally manifests into depression. I have good days and bad days, mostly good but easily overwhelmed and then things get harder. My vision blurs, brain fogs and I sink into an emotionless malaise that I can’t just shake. For eighteen months I was on medication, varying doses based on whichever doctor I’d most recently seen, and then three consecutive doctors told me I ‘don’t present as a typical depressed patient.’ The ridiculous notion that everyone’s the same aside, there’s a good reason for this. It’s not constant, it fluctuates. I can’t plan a bad day to see them and sitting for half an hour in a waiting room is a good way of putting your life in order and restoring some calm, enough at least that when the doctors asks how you’ve been, “fine” springs to your lips without a moments hesitation. It’s then not easy to convince them there’s a problem. 

Nearly a year ago this happened, due to my inability to express the extent of my anxiety I wrote a list. It wasn’t exhaustive, just bits that came to mind in the run up to the appointment, so when the time came I sat down, responded to the “how are you?” With “I wrote a list” and put it into his hands. He scanned it, and immediately suggested that due to my ability to compile a list I clearly wasn’t that depressed. Hmm, ok. He went on to suggest the medication clearly wasn’t needed and/or needed and so I should look to come off it.

And I did. I weaned myself off the medication, which in all honesty had no impact on my mood (a few days of odd side effects aside), and I stayed away from the docs, ‘knowing’ they thought I was fine. In the run up to Christmas I went back with a new list, extended this time to include a few physical niggles. Anxiety was discussed, to which the doc suggests I was clearly dealing very well with it. This as aside from the fact I don’t feel fine. At all.

I’ve tried to take positive steps. I’m exercising more, I’ve lost weight, I’m eating better, I’m looking to get back to work soon, I’m trying to be more proactive and productive (not always successfully) and aside from being overwhelmed when the kids are screaming around me I felt I was moving in a positive direction. I was even considering referring myself to talking therapy- even if it does sound awful. And then today happened.

I’m not going to go into details, you don’t care and my brain hasn’t taken them in (a sure sign somethings affecting it). But I woke up knowing it was going to be a difficult day, I could feel the slight detachment I usually feel on a bad day and the kids fighting was digging particularly deeply into my patience. Rox was up late poking after the girl so aside from a quick mention to her that I wasn’t right today I left it, getting on with breakfast, albeit clumsily and a little dazed (bad days see, to affect my coordination and focus). Through the morning the kids were in bad form, fighting, screaming refusing to do as they were asked, this drained my already exhausted patience. Simultaneously, every time Rox spoke to me it felt that she was telling me off or criticising the things I was doing or the way I was doing them. I’m sure that wasn’t her intention, but a tired northern Irish girl can be quite abrupt.

By lunch I was ready to shut down, the fog descended and my tunnel vision pretty narrow. Unfortunately it was about this point the boys refusal to behave pushed Rox past her infinite reserves of patience (?) she went for a sleep and I spent the afternoon watching two kids who used to love each other fight and scream at each other.

Reading back through it doesn’t doing all that tough to deal with, but the fact is I’ve had one of the darkest days I can remember having, even now wishy the kids in ned and some peace in scrabbling for a grip on my usual place,I still feel detached and my emotions are conspicuously absent. The knowledge tomorrow’s a different day and likely not to start the same way isn’t a relief, this hasn’t been a good day for me at all.

Life, I’m not dead

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so, I remember a previous blog id been working on died a slow death, and at the time I read that you should never post to apologise for an absence. But that seems silly.

I have been busy, with various things going on so my long list of prewritten posts all published and I hadn’t found the time to write more. Fear not though more stuff is on the way this week 
If anyone has specific posts they want written then comment below and I’ll get them done this week 

Life, what next? A follow up part six

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so, Iv spent the last week or so reading a list of aims I wrote last year and am slowly coming to the conclusion I’m a complete failure, my list for the future is going to look very unoriginal.
Watch all Star Wars films with girl

An immediate failure for this list so far. We watched The Phantom Menace which she enjoyed a lot (unsurprisingly) but she got bored by The Attack of the Clones (again unsurprisingly) due to all the talking and lack of entertainment. With a new film out at Christmas we do have a new target for it though.

Watch x men days of future past

I think I put this in specifically to help catch up on the hero films, unfortunately though Iv now watched this one (quite good, though I wish they’d stop using Wolverine as the frontman all the time) Iv fallen well behind on many other hero films.

Rewatch firefly

I did, over just a couple of nights. It hasn’t lost anything with its age, though I think the clamour for more has reached a point in excess of its quality.

Watch a life of pi

I read the book a few years ago now, and still haven’t watched it. I own the DVD but due to the quality of the book I haven’t quite got to the film.

Watch the hobbit desolation of smaug

I did, and even got to see the Battle of the Five Armies at the cinema. Desolation was enjoyable, though the ending was too abrupt, whilst the five armies was entertaining but really not very good. 

Learn something new

A few new painting techniques, rules for some new games but nothing completely new yet. 

Have a ‘dinner evening’ with friends

We still haven’t managed to make many friends, so this hasn’t happened yet. We’re beginning to make friends which is of course nice, but aren’t quite there yet.

Invite one of the girls school friends to play

This was about helping her to make friends and it has happened several times now. We also took some of her friends bowling for her birthday which was fun for her.

Drink whiskey without watering it down

I had a bottle over Christmas. I managed one drink neat, but couldn’t enjoy it a great deal without coke to dilute it.

Buy a bottle of wine that isn’t gone in an evening

I’m getting very good at this. Rox was using it in cooking and I would occasionally have a glass, but I can also now buy a bottle and have it last the weekend.

So that’s everything covered. It seems I haven’t done very well so will have to have a scan back through before writing a new list for the remainder of this year.

Life, what next? A follow up part five

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so, Iv been looking at just how much I failed at achieving a list of planned achievements by the end of 2014.

Maintain my blog, including scheduling future posts

Finally, one Iv achieved with little fuss. There have been gaps and absences but for the most part my future scheduled posts have covered those until Iv caught up. At present I have about three weeks of daily posts scheduled so I’m well ahead. I’m considering dropping the daily post for a less frequent yet more interesting post every few days or so.

Make friends with a school parent

I haven’t. I haven’t tried because I haven’t seen a kindred spirit or even anyone ‘open’ to chatting to, and it hasn’t happened naturally either, which is unfortunate as it would be nice to have a friend with children for the kids to also play with. I think Rox has managed better, at least having someone to chat to occasionally but we do seem to have failed slightly.

Get my body sorted

Hmm, no. I have recently started running again, but the aches and pains seem more frequent now.

Read 4 ‘classic’ books

I tried To Kill a Mockingbird but couldn’t get through it, beyond that I have a few stacked up in my pile hit haven’t got to them yet.

Watch 4 ‘top 250′ films I haven’t seen

This is almost too easy as new films seem to shoot into the top 250 very quickly, but I have managed The Avengers (was ok), Taxi Driver (not bad, a little dated) and LA Confidential (average). Hopefully I can get a few more of the classic films in the near future.

Watch 2 foreign language films

I haven’t, I have four or five sat there waiting for me, but since university have lost the ability to just sit and watch a film, the subtitles mean I can’t look away and I haven’t had the attention span for them.

Rewatch Jodhaa Akbar

Not sure why this wasn’t in the foreign language film bit, but no.

Play a game of chess

Iv played many games but not chess, it’s been a few years now.

Get boy off dummies

Another no, though I wouldn’t want to force it on him until he isn’t ready. He’s starting to make progress in using a potty though which is nice.

Find a new hobby

I haven’t strictly speaking found a new hobby, but Iv been enjoying painting again so it feels like a new hobby.

Find a geocache

The local church (fifty feet away from home) has one, but a cursory check has turned up no results. I keep checking the website but just haven’t got round to it yet.

Learn to use washing machine and tumble dryer

Yes, a definite yes. I probably couldn’t wash anything weird, but I now know what some of the numbers mean and can guess at the arcane symbols.

Listen to four ‘top 250’ albums

I’m slowly rediscovering my love for music, so far I can’t think of any ‘top’ albums but I’m getting closer.

So again, I’m mostly a failure.

Life, what next? a follow up part four

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So, Iv been looking over a list of things I wanted to achieve before the end of 2014. So far Iv not done too well.
Try some food I haven’t tried before

A nice easy one to start here, I take every opportunity I can to try something new and In recent times Iv tried crocodile that I can remember. I also apply this to beers I don’t know.

Approach someone I don’t know and start a conversation

In the pub for definite, thought it hasn’t had a lasting effect. I’m also getting quite good at doing it at my geek club, almost as though my time with games workshop developed my ability to interact with people (including socially limited individuals).

Plan bigger better targets for next year

Given my failure to complete this list I haven’t just yet, though I do intend on writing a new list soon.

Reestablish routine in my life

This was in there as a way of breaking the chaotic day to day events that were disrupting my state of mind. It’s definitely getting better.

Decide where I want to go/what I want to do with life

Not yet. I don’t know and barely have an inkling. Reassuringly the majority of my peers are in a similar place, almost as if this is the lost generation.

Make a plan to make it happen

Hard to make a plan without a destination, but things are in motion to at least get myself moving until I do decide where I want to be.

Pre thirty bucket list

This one ties in with the other, and so I haven’t managed it. I’m not worried about turning thirty (I feel much older anyway), but I remember seeing a list of things that if you haven’t done before thirty you’ll never do. This is probably because you settle into family life and take less risks, but I’d still like to get a list together, perhaps to extend slightly behind thirty given the timescale.

Find a way of making more money

I haven’t, my junk clearance has made some, but it’s not a permanent thing. Unoriginal I know, but I do intend to return to work soon so that would help.

Persuade my partner to join something

In the end I didn’t persuade her, she just did it but still it gets her out of the house.

Fill my days with more activities, less vegging out

I’m getting there, me and the boy get out more and I’m doing less TV watching in the evenings.

Discover a new band

I hadn’t, that I recall but just this morning I heard a decent snippet from a band called John Coffey who I intend to look into over the next few days.

Music magpie my DVDs

I have done some, but not all yet.

At this rate my next list is going to be a lot of copy and pasting.

Life, what next? a follow up part three

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So, about 9 months ago I wrote a list list of things I wanted to achieve before the end of 2014, so far I haven’t been doing particularly well.

Play a game of warhammer

This was written as a nod to the fact I hadn’t played it in an age (including some time as a games workshop store manager), I haven’t because my interests have shifted towards skirmish games and warhammer just isn’t that (yet?).

Play a game of something new

Haha, what a stupid idea this was. Iv picked up several new systems over the last year as everytime I play something new I get hooked.

Inventory my wee men collection

Things are more organised than previously, but not inventoried. It’s something I will need to do soon as I have to reorganise and find a suitable storage solution for bits and pieces.

Do a car boot sale

Hardly a key moment, just a way of speeding up junk clearance, hasn’t happened, but the junk is clearing slowly.

Do something amazing for the kids

Christmas I think was. It’s hard to define but Christmas was definitely an ‘amazing’ moment for the boy.

Do something special that makes my partner say ‘I love you’

Again, I can’t think of a specific, but it does happen frequently so clearly I’m doing something right.

Get better at tolerating morons

This wasn’t ever going to happen.

Get off the anti depressants

Yep. Done. Now, I should say officially I’m not ‘off’ them as its not a discussion I’ve had with the doctor, but given every appointment was a different doctor telling me I don’t present as a typical patient therefore I’m probably not depressed/ suffering anxiety I took on the challenge of getting off them. Several months later I feel ok, sometimes I’m overwhelmed- more than the past- but I’m coping ok without them.

Get a friend to visit

After a several year gap my friend Gareth from university visited for a few days. The kids terrorised loved him.

Get in touch with some old friends

I did try, I fired off a few Facebook messages to some people I haven’t spoken to in years but either they didn’t see them, they ignored them or after the niceties it tailed off to nothing. It’s not as easy as just starting to talk again, I suspect bumping into them in a pub would be an easier way of doing it, but Facebook just doesn’t work that way.
A few things achieved isn’t awful, but I’d like to be able to remember the ‘special’ things. There’s also a few failures there.

Life, holiday in Wales arrival and day one

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So, we’ve just returned from a weeks holiday in Powys Wales on Papworth Trust’s Kerry Farm, a working farm offering supported holiday opportunities to disabled people and their carers. The Papworth Trust are an excellent charity who look to provide opportunities for disabled people Website here.

In the run up to the stay I hadn’t been given much information from Rox, despite being the ‘carer’ who is supposed to get the support and have a ‘break’ from caring, but finally got the details from her a few days before we left and had a chance to look into it. I anticipated animal feeding and farm work, so potentially lots of exhausting activities for the children.

Arriving at Kerry Farm, near Newtown in Powys, Wales the farm was peaceful and quiet and we were shown our cottage for the week 

With the weeks activities not starting until the Monday we got settled in and then headed into nearby Newtown to find somewhere nice for dinner, after wandering around for a while we finally found somewhere open- Mirrens, which annoyingly specialises in fancy foods and exotic meats but was running a Father’s Day menu of fairly standard pub grub. Settling on a steak and ale pie I was pleased to find it was at least a good quality meal, even if it wasn’t zebra or kangaroo meat.

I also discovered Montys brewery of Shropshire   

On this occasion I tried Old Jailhouse and Masquerade. Jailhouse was a pleasant bitter, which went down fairly quickly leading me to quickly ordering the Masquerade without realising it was a Gluten free beer. Nevertheless it was tasty enough to accompany my cheese board.

We headed back to the farm and settled the kids to bed ahead of some farm activities in the morning.

A meet and greet was scheduled Monday morning for the families to meet each other as well as the staff and to learn the weeks schedule. This was set at 10am to allow for a lie in and relaxed morning however the kids decided this was an awful idea and were up at 6, sprinting up and down the hall excited to be somewhere new, apparently a stair gate not being present at the boys door allows for plenty of freedom.

Finally it was time to head across, and I will admit to a little apprehension. The charity caters for all forms of disabilities and whilst Rox’s isn’t a minor disability, I was concerned the other guests would be more severe. It wouldn’t have been an issue really, more guilt regarding perceived need for help. As it turned out both other families were parents with children of comparable ages to ours, so I presume guests are allocated in similar situations. A quick breakfast provided pain au chocolate, croissants and muffins and everyone seemed friendly. It turned out autism and similar ‘spectrum’ issues accounted for the other disabilities, which was a curiosity to El and allowed for (hopefully) a better appreciation of some of the children in her class.

After the breakfast it was back to the cottages for private talks with the staff as to our needs for the week before a planned health and safety session for the farm. It turned out Rox had spoken extensively with a member of staff in the run up to the week, however, that staff member was on holiday and so our care needs hadn’t been communicated to the rest of the team.

The health and safety session was fairly straightforward, don’t go into the maintenance shed, don’t let the goat eat your coat etc, and then we were able to feed the animals. The kids really enjoyed it, Myles getting very excited about A duck ‘eating’ his fingers and Eleanor taking advantage of an opportunity to touch animals (allergies normally preventing it).

After this it was a roast dinner and two tired children were bundled into bed and quickly snoring. Rox watched TV and I got an opportunity to read a book and have a few beers.