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Welcome 2015

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So 2015, it’s good to meet you. There is so much that I would like from you that I feel it would impossible for it all to happen.

I’ll try and start with the most important.

I would like to have a healthy baby in June, hopefully following a pregnancy and birth that doesn’t put me off for life. If we can do this 2015 I think you will go down in my life history as being awesome, nothing else required.

I would like to survive my viva, get through my corrections and graduate. I actually feel hopeful about this. I am pretty sure that this will happen ok. If we can then writing a couple of papers would be quite nice.

I turn 30 in February. Feb is always a hard month for me, my SAD is in full swing and I find birthdays depressing. It would be really nice to just celebrate this birthday. As a bit of a babymoon (last holiday without baby), a celebration of PhD finishing, and a celebration of my birthday my husband and I are hoping to go off for a long weekend to a sunny place, not sure where yet but somewhere new. Just to relax and be together. I don’t know if it will happen, it will depend on when the viva is and how the pregnancy is going, but it would be great.

Now that the thesis is out of the way I would like to move in 2015, find our ‘forever home’ and get settled, hopefully before baby is born. Again I have no idea if it’ll happen but it would be nice.

I would also like, with the free time I have to connect again. I have felt a real disconnect from everything recently. I would like to knit and brew and bake. I would like to grow food and cook. I would like to play boardgames again, I miss it. I would like to read more books, so many books to be read. I would love to learn how to sew. I hope that 2015 will see me using my hands and getting crafty again!

I would like to get into shape, sitting and writing a thesis does not make for a healthy body! I would like to maintain the health I have and build on it. That includes my mental health.

As I said at the top. So much that I would like from 2015. For now I sit here with my baby in my belly, my cats around me, a pregnant friend next to me and the sounds of my husband and our friend playing boardgames. You are off to a good start 2015. I raise my glass to you and welcome you!

Dans

Goodbye 2014

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Way back I when I used to use livejournal I would make two posts at new years, one to say goodbye to the old year, another to say hello to the new year. It used to be a fair few days after new years by the time I got around to it. I tended to be quite drunk at New Years.

This year I am stone cold sober, and fighting off the desire to crawl into bed so I figure now is as good as time as ever.

So 2014, what happened?

Honeymoon. Delayed by a good 6 months my husband and I set off to the Caribbean and to so many firsts. First cruise, first actual swim in the sea, first time in water where I can see my feet, first of so many foods, first time in a submarine, first time horse riding on the beach and in the sea, first time bareback, first time kayaking, first time in a rainforest or a natural hot spring, first time scuba diving or snorkelling, swimming with so many different animals. It was a gigantic adventure that I will always look back on with awe, not believing I actually experienced it all, wishing I could experience it again. Even though we found out I get sea sick easily! I would go back in a heart beat if I could.

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How can you not jump for joy being in the Caribbean?

Whilst on honeymoon we were able to go to Trinidad, my mother’s homeland and meet so many relatives that I had not seen since I was 5 years old. I wish I could have spent more time with them and really do hope it will not be another 24 years before I see them again. Unfortunately, the day before we arrived my Aunty passed away, she had been sick for a bit, but I had hoped I would see her one more time. I did not know her well, only meeting her twice and only one time that I actually remember, but she had a place in my heart and as the oldest sibling she was a central pillar for my family. She is missed, but that just shows how well she lived her life. I hope you are resting well Aunty Irma.

I had really really hoped to finish the PhD in 2014. At first I hoped before the honeymoon, then definitely by August, then by Samhain. I missed each deadline, only finishing lab work in September. I started to despair and think I would never finish but I handed in on the 18th Dec, just before Yule. It’s a bit of an end of an era but such a weight lifted from my shoulders. Just a viva and corrections to get through.

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Thesis ready for initial submission!

The PhD took a lot of my 2014 but we still brewed, still managed to get to Oakleaf, we had a good friend living with us for 8 month of it, still did some gardening, some reading, limited knitting and boardgaming. We also managed a short holiday to Finland in the summer which was nice. I really do love that country.

I did have one other major achievement in 2014 other than finishing the PhD. I’m pregnant, due June 9th. I’m excited and nervous and terrified. There will no doubt be a post soon about me and pregnancy and my mental health, my fears and worries etc. For now I will just say: 😀

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I’m having a bubba!

2014 was ruled by the PhD but I  am thankful for the memories that were made. I likely wouldn’t be human if I didn’t hope for 2015 to be better. I will always hope for less heartache and tears. I will always hope for better health for me and my loved ones. And whilst 2014 didn’t do too well on those aspects, an amazing honeymoon, making a baby and submitting a thesis will hopefully be the memories I take forward!

I raise a glass of spiced mead and wish you farewell 2014!

30 days self esteem challenge: Day 1

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I’ve seen a couple of people doing this and thought I would give it a go.

For the next 30 days I’ll try to do a short post daily following the challenge. The prompts for each day are below.

Day 1:  List 10 things that you love about yourself.

Ok this one may be a real challenge. Stumped at that, changing it to like and seeing if I have any more luck.

1) I like that I have compassion. I care deeply for others, humans and animals.

2) I like my hair the day after it has been washed.

3) I like that I can create things, wine, knitted things, rugs etc

4) I like that I try to share my skills.

5) I like that I try my hand at new things.

6) I like that sometimes I don’t give a fuck what others think.

7) I like the connection I have with the land sometimes.

8) I like the enthusiasm I have sometimes (that may be a repeat of #5).

9) I like that I have an eclectic taste in music.

10) I like that I can cook for people.

Fuck that was really really hard. Guess I really do need to work on my self-esteem. I think the only ones of those that I could stretch to loving about me would be #7. Well on that depressing note I’m going to go back to writing a discussion for a chapter.

Dans

Day 2:  List 5 things that make you smile or happy.

Day 3:  What is one fear or goal that you would like to conquer?

Day 4:  What do you do to feel better when your having a bad day?

Day 5:  What is your proudest accomplishment?

Day 6:  What are some obstacles that are preventing you from accomplishing your goals? What will you do to overcome them?

Day 7:  Do you think you care too much about what others think? If so, how can you change that?

Day 8:  What is a food that you enjoy, that makes you feel good?

Day 9:  Do you have genuine respect for yourself and who you are as an individual? If not, how can you change that?

Day 10:  Are you happy with your “inner person”? If so, why or why not?

Day 11: Is your self talk negative or positive? If it is negative what are some more positive ways to talk to yourself?

Day 12:  What is the last thing that made you feel proud of yourself? Why did it make you feel this way?

Day 13:  Share about the last time you felt confident in yourself? Why did you feel that confident?

Day 14:  Is there someone in your life who makes you feel good about yourself? If so, how and why?

Day 15:  Do you like your personal appearance? If so, why? If not, what are some ways you could view yourself?

Day 16:  Do you have make-up, clothing, or any accessory that makes you feel positive about yourself? If so, what and why?

Day 17:  What do you do to feel calmer when your stressed?

Day 18:  Do you like the way you talk if so why?

Day 19:  Do you have an activity that makes you feel alive and good within yourself?

Day 20:  Has your self-esteem improved doing this challenge? If so, how?

Day 21:  Name 5 things that your good at?

Day 22:  Which of your skills or abilities do you pride yourself on?

Day 23:  What is your ideal outcome of this challenge?

Day 24:  Do you compare yourself to others? How can you be more focused on yourself?

Day 25:  If you meet a person just like you, would you like them? If so, why? If not, how could you view that person more positively?

Day 26:  When’s the last time that you were to hard on yourself? What do you think you could of done to treat and comfort yourself instead?

Day 27:  What is the main barrier to you having positive self-esteem? How can you break free from it?

Day 28:  What do you consider to be a healthy self-esteem? Does this match the dictionary definition of healthy self-esteem.

Day 29:  What do you think of your teeth and your smile? Do you like them? Why or why not?

Day 30:  Rate your self-esteem on a scale 1-10 for right now? Has it improved?

Fucking up and question answer free for all

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I write this under the influence of 10mg nitrazepam and 6mg diazepam. I apologise in advance for typos and non-sense.

My mental health is fucked up. It causes me to fuck things up around me. Negatively affect those around me.

I realise today that there is a lot that people don’t know about my mental health, important things.

A fellow blogger recently started an ask.fm account for people to ask questions about mental health anon.

It inspired me to do the same. The questions don’t have to be mental health related. Can be to do with my various crafts or anything.

I had thought that ask.fm was a kids thing, but I see its value now.

I am at: ask.fm/Danscrazycatlady

I can answer one straight out.

Q. What;s your biggest fear?

A. I have 2. One that everyone I love will die and two that my mental illness will kill me one day.

Bah think that is ne out.

Dans

Coping with limitations

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I seem to subscribe to the Superwoman school of womanhood. As such I don’t cope very well with having limitations. I feel I should be able to grow and cook my own food from scratch, make my own clothes, do the washing up and cooking, nurture creative skills like knitting, crochet, weaving etc, expand my knowledge through reading, both fiction and non-fiction, volunteer, hold down a full time job, be there for my husband, my family and my friends, keep fit and healthy and maintain a cheerful disposition throughout. Even a non-limited person (if such a thing exists) would struggle to do all of those. As such most of the time I live with feelings of guilt, shame and worthlessness for not being the superwoman I should be.

Despite that, on good days, I still managed to do an awful lot of what is on that list. On the really bad days, when getting out of bed, reading and comprehending something longer than a sentence or doing anything that requires an ounce of brain power without collapsing into tears is just asking far too much of me, I really struggle with my limitations.

My husband says part of dealing with any disability is to find out how it limits you, accept those limitations and work around them. As such I have been telling myself repeatedly over the last week or so ‘Do what you can, when you can.’

I’m still trying to write this dammned thesis. In the last week I have hit a major depressive block. Thinking about anything is difficult, everything in my head is a disjointed mess, not the best when working with data. Today has been slightly better and I’ve returned to my data finally with the hopes of getting moving. I’ve stumbled on some papers that may hold the answer to a data analysis problem I have been having. But no matter how I try I cannot comprehend them. I read it, and then nothing. So I read again, one line at a time, taking pauses. Still nothing, the eyes glaze over but keep moving down the page, the head starts to pound and things go fuzzy. I know that on a good day I could understand this all fine. I’m fairly sure that the answer to my problem lies in this paper. But I need someone to sit next to me, slowly read it out to me, pausing for me to comprehend and then, maybe after a try or two at that, I’ll have understood what it said.

I truly hate being so helpless. I cannot find a way to help myself here, and all I hear is the clock ticking down. I need to understand this and I need to have understood it two weeks ago. I am so behind it is laughable and on days like today I really think it is time to throw in the towel. If I need someone to hold my hand and read to me in order to complete a PhD, do I really deserve that PhD? Is it truly mine? I see myself getting more and more ill, first in body and now in mind too, all to try and get this done and it seems to be going nowhere.

I know it shouldn’t be easy, but every step of this writing process is mental agony. One of my supervisors told me if you really put your head down a thesis can be written in 3 months. I’ve been going since about Feb and it doesn’t look likely.

The ‘sensible’ part of my head says, do what you can when you can. Today is today and tomorrow is a new day, hell with my illness now is now and the next 5 minutes may see a totally different me. But this persistent treacle in my brain feels never ending. Today, that is my biggest limitation.

I’d post a funny comic but I tried reading some and honestly couldn’t follow them…

Body image

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I’m not overweight, I’m obese. My thighs rub together, my armpits have flappy bits and I carry a lot of weight on my abdomen. For years I have struggled with my body image, not just the weight but even down to the skin colour and texture, the hair on my body. I have numerous scars from picking at things and plucking hairs in an effort to be ‘perfect’. I may well have body dismorphic disorder but I tend not to share this information with therapists and doctors.

In the last 5 or so years I’ve started to embrace my body. When looking for a new swimsuit for a holiday my now husband said I looked better in the bikini than the tankini. I doubted him but trusted him, I bought it and felt horribly self concious in it but I wore it. That was my first milestone.

Then I was at a pagan camp which had a spiritual sweatlodge. We were to go in naked and it was pitch black (it’s a clothing optional camp). I very quickly shucked my towel and dove into the darkness. When we came out some time later I was hot and sweaty, I was given the complimentary bucket of cold water over my head. I was handed my towel but was so hot I had no desire to wrap it around me. I’ve always felt more comfortable in loose clothing and sleep nude but was always too concious of my body to go without clothes at this camp. I went to the fire and dried off and didn’t put clothes on again until the night air was too cold. The next day I was approached by people at the camp telling my how beautiful I was and how they wished they had the confidence to do what I had done. I wished I could tell them the shame I felt over my body, how it had led me to harm my body, but I was too ashamed of that. I shrugged it off and decided that these people were crazy to think that. But the comments kept coming. I went without clothes at times at the camps that followed over the years. Partially because I feel better without clothes, partially because it felt spiritually right at that moment in time and partially for those other women at camp who felt about their bodies how I often feel about my own. To show them that they didn’t have to feel ashamed of their bodies.

I got married last year and went on honeymoon early this year. I dieted for the wedding and tried to lose weight but damn I love my food. Come the honeymoon I did not have the ‘beach body’ I had hoped I would have and again felt terribly self-concious. The first day on the beach in my bikini I headed straight for the water despite being a nervous swimmer, at least that would hide some of me. Building on those steps of wearing my bikini before and going naked at the camp I started to feel more confident in myself. My husband thought I was beautiful and sexy, other people hadn’t thrown up at the sight of me. These were encouraging points. Towards the end of the honeymoon we found ourselves on a beach eating lunch whilst taking a break from snorkling. I was in my bikini and snorkling boots and my lovely husband wanted a photo of me. I duly posed and started dancing around which he wanted to video so I did an encore. I did a ‘belly dance’ of my own making. I really felt happy in my body and it was a moment I had meant to post about but hadn’t got around to. I’ve shared the video on my facebook and made it public (I’ve still not worked out how to embed a video into these posts, if someone can tell me how I’d appreciate it). I still cringe slightly watching it. I see all the faults, but then I look at my smile and feel better about it. I wasn’t going to share any pictures of myself on here, but I feel that this is a just cause to break this rule. I hope by sharing it maybe it’ll help other’s feel less self concious. Even if it’s due to them thinking ‘I don’t look as bad as that belly slapping crazy lady’.

My belly dance

A couple weeks ago my house mate and I were looking through a Bravissimo catalogue and she commented on the slight muffin top one of the models had, saying it was reassuring to see that they got that too. We then flipped to the swimsuits and she mentioned something about tankinis not looking right on her because of the midriff gap. I’ll mention here this girl has a belly, waist line and hips that I long to have, and was one the first things I remember noticing about her and being insanely jealous of. I told her we can either hide away all our lives or we can dance on the beach slapping our bellies.

Today an article went around on facebook about a lady who had done a tremendous job losing weight but did not have a perfect beach body, as such photos of her ‘after’ in a bikini were refused by a magazine that had wanted to publish her story. It reminded me again how much society says to be beautiful we have to be skinny and flat bellied. Now I like looking at a ‘hot’ beach body in a bikini as much as most girls, well probably more than most girls, but it’s the photos we don’t share that are harming other women. We are only showing one side of the picture to young girls and letting more and more grow up with the idea that skinny = beautiful when the truth is that so many things make up beautiful.

Now I’m not saying I don’t need to lose weight. For health reasons I do, I want to live a long life, I want to have children and see them grow and then hopefully see their children grow. To do that I need to be healthy. But I don’t need to lose weight to be beautiful, to be sexy or to be accepted. No-one does.

I’ll leave you with a sentiment of another post that has been doing the rounds lately:

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Silliness and friends -11th day of happy

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Simple things today. Sitting and just being silly with house-mate and husband. Mostly bursting into the baby monkey song in random voices.

Here’s the video for those not in the loop.