-

Latest Event Updates

Goodbye 2014

Posted on Updated on

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.

SONY DSC
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.

2014-12-18 12.31.37
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: 😀

12.50
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!

Funks, update and esteem challenge day 2

Posted on

Half 5 in the morning. Been sitting here most of the night trying to write and not being able to.

I’ve been in a funk all day. I woke up not knowing what day of the week it is and just haven’t gotten back on track since. I’ve done productive things. Went to the shops with the hubby, fixed a light to wall outside (2 stories up and remembered whilst up the ladder that I very much dislike heights!), cleaned a fish tank, made dinner, did laundry finished knitting a project, just ends to weave in. In between each of these I sat down to write and nada. Nothing. Zilch.

Do you ever get that? Brain just refusing point blank to work? Really wanted this chapter submitted on Sunday, but it’s technically Monday now so that is gone. *shrugs*. I’ll get it done, it’s nearly there. I think this chapter is brought to the world by Tupac. I got some good writing done whilst listening to a youtube playlist of his music. For some reason it’s the only thing that is getting this brain into gear for this chapter. Gotta say I’m getting a little sick of the songs now, listening on repeat for so long. So hoping this is chapter will be pretty good once I get this version in.

Other than slight writers block things have actually been going well for me. I’m cooking a bit again and that feels so good. To go into the kitchen and coming out with something that was cheap to make, will do more than one meal and tastes damn good. Have to admit many of my meals have been containing courgettes recently, as we have had a glut from the garden. But I’m making it work.

I’m a lot happier. A lot less depressed. I did have one breakdown the other day, missed my CPN appointment because of it. But considering how I had been, I’m doing really, really well. I’m starting to look at my physical health again, I’m getting back on top of the house (so much laundry to do!), thinking about the garden, making good progress on the PhD, chapters really coming together now, the knitting is still going well. I just feel better in myself. I am so glad. It was such a long, dark, summer.

Really hoping I can get some posts up soon about things I have created, other than this thesis, but it must be done, and there will be time for posts after. Bear with me!

I majorly sucked at doing that 30 day challenge, so will do day 2 today.

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

This one is very apt for how I have been feeling.

1) My husband. His childishness, his love, his geekyness, his humour. Have really felt like a newly wed recently, just looking at him can make a sh*t-eating grin appear on my face. He’d say that he should be worried by that, and just hearing him say that in my head has me smiling again.

 

2) My cats. Their stupidity, their cuteness and their personalities.

 

3) Good food. Certain food items. Just noms. What can I say I like my food!

 

4) Crafting. Whether it be cooking, knitting, growing, crocheting or brewing, it makes me happy to create something good.

 

5) My future. Looking at my future, with my husband and my cats, all the good food that I can eat, all the time I will have once the PhD is over for me to be crafting. That makes me happy and makes me smile.

 

Until next time.

 

Dans

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?

 

Getting back into the swing

Posted on

I’m back but I’m not back.

I’ve been knitting and loving it. I can’t post the pictures here yet as it is a surprise for a friend’s baby, but I’ve also taken an old hibernating project out of the drawer and started on it again. It’s a jumper I started back in 2012, but hibernated as I was having trouble with the pattern repeat. I was still having trouble, and was daunted by the idea of knitting the front and the back and then stitching up so I frogged it. I then had a look at the pattern and decided to convert it to be knitted in the round. Fingers crossed I can get the pattern right this time. It may just work out to be a jumper that I have to focus on 100%, not a knit whilst watching TV project.

 

The evil pattern repeat
The evil pattern repeat

 

I’ve tackled the brewing a bit and done a mass sterilisation of bottles and demijohns. The Midsummer Elderflower Mead has come off and been bottled, all 5 gallons. Feeling very proud of that and I am itching to put the next wine on. I think I might do step by step posts when I do it. This mead is a bit sweet for my hubby, but the MIL really likes it and I think a fair few others will too. Think I might reduce down how much honey I use to the gallon on the next one though.

Getting somewhere in the garden too. We hadn’t been on the ball with our courgettes and they have all gotten huge so it has been marrow based dinners! They have really grown well though. Also had a good run with the strawberries too. Problems with the tommies, in that they keep splitting. And I have no idea what I am doing with the sweetcorn, but I’m sure it’ll be ok.

I’ve also been writing again. No don’t get excited, it is boring writing, the PhD kind. But it is important that I do it. So yes, something down for all results chapters, working on discussions for 2 results chapters, 1 results chapter is an utter mess and needs rehauling but all the results are in, and the fourth results chapter is with a supervisor, complete. Little bits to add to materials and methods chapter. And I need to add a hell of a lot more to introduction and I’ve not put anything in my overall discussion. I am feeling good about all that though.

Managing all that has pretty much meant very little sleep. I don’t seem to be writing during the day, so that’s when the practical things happen, then at night I stay up and write. Energy drinks and caffeine pills have been my staple. Not ideal but I just want this PhD done with, so if it works, it works.

But I’m tired. I’m emotionally frayed. I’m physically shakey. I’m seeing things out of the corner of my eye. And right now the whole world is hazy. Some of that is due to me coming down with cold/flu. I always have 1 or 2 bad days of dizzy head, fuzziness, aching bones, burning eyes, freezing cold then boiling hot etc. Then I am ok again.

I don’t have time though. I haven’t pulled an all nighter since Weds night, I’m pretty sure I even slept 8 hours last night. But my head is lolling and I am getting increasingly pissed off at it. My right eye won’t stop blurring, but the optician said it is fine. My legs are restless. And I just want to shout and scream at my body to pull itself together so I can write what is in my head.

I will finish this chapter discussion tonight. It is a small chapter, the discussion is already in bullet points. I just need to snap out of whatever cold induced funk I am in right now. Caffeine tablets again I think. And maybe a shower whilst I wait for them to kick in. I am so looking forward to giving you a lovely post about courgettes and the things I am making with them, or my lovely jumper and the positive progress I am making on it, or the next batch of wine that goes on. But I need to get further on my thesis before I can take the time to do any of those! Right, pills, shower, write like a boss!

 

Dans

30 days self esteem challenge: Day 1

Posted on Updated on

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?

What does paganism do for you?

Posted on Updated on

Half Moon

I had an appointment with my CPN yesterday and we finally got around to filling in some forms, which included what my religion is what I do to cope. She asked me if anything in my religion helps me to cope, like some people pray, or go to church, some meditate etc. I also read a post by a fellow blogger SoTiredOfMe which made me think about paganism and practicality.

My answer to my CPN was that my flavour of paganism was more a way of life or world view than what a lot of people would consider a religion. I speak a little about my flavour of paganism here. I explained that my worship is in stopping to watch the sunset, or dipping my head in respect to a full moon, an animal or even a hill that calls that response from within me. I am comforted by the cyclical nature of the land. There is life and death and life from that death. Decay and growth. Nothing is truly stagnant in life, ever changing. When my mental health allows, I take comfort in that fact. As the land changes constantly so too can I, what I go through with my mental health is cyclical. Life is never all light and happiness. You need storms and dark clouds and death. There is fear, bleeding and pain in Nature. Just as there is joy, laughter and happiness. Life for all aspects of nature can be cruel, Tooth and Claw, but it can also be wondrous and magnificent, a warm embrace. So that is I guess the answer to my CPN of what paganism does to help me cope. Sometimes the black clouds in my head are too thick and too dark and there is no comfort to be found in anything, but as I said, life isn’t always comfort.

Another thing I draw from my flavour paganism is practicality. The blogger I mentioned earlier said how they consider themselves to be a practical pagan. As I’ve said before there are many flavours of paganism. Different paths suiting different people. But that phrase of practical pagan stuck with me. I suppose you could call me a hedgewitch of sorts. My flavour of paganism is all about being practical. It is hands on with Nature, outside get the hands dirty, it’s trying to find ways to incorporate a respect and stewardship for Nature into modern day living, the way I run my house. It’s about learning what the different plants can be used for, in cleaning, cooking, healing and even in dying yarns. Not just plants but in how so many things can be used from Nature into our daily life. Upcycling is a wonderful way of practising my religion. Bringing re-use to things. Buy less, throw away less, reuse more and in all have the utmost respect for the world.

So what does paganism do for me? It reminds me that life is not black and white, and trying to live exclusively Tooth and Claw or Happy Fluffy Bunnies will not sustain me. It also grounds me in a practical way of life.

If you are pagan what does paganism do for you?

Dans

 Moon photo courtesy of my lovely husband

The mind is willing but the body is weak.

Posted on

Bipolar of BPD I am on an up right now.

For the first time in about a month my brain seems to have come on line! Whoop whoop.

It ramped up with fairly easy fiction reading and knitting to reading papers and finishing off a chapter that I haven’t been able to work on for over a month.

Last night I stayed up. I got some good work done. Took a 2 hour nap during the late afternoon when I realised I felt like I was floating away and actually talking rubbish but got going again. I’m meant to be going in to work tomorrow to do some lab work that requires focus, but I got an email from my supervisor today saying they had expected some chapters, really wanna get on and sink my teeth into this next chapter. I know I can do it. But my eyes are closing, and the small voice in the back of my head is saying I won’t have focus tomorrow if I stay up too late tonight. But I will. I know I will I can feel it. It’s if I go to sleep that it will all go bad. If I go to sleep I might wake up not thinking clearly again, with a brain full of fog and have to wait how many months to have a clear head again.

I don’t have that many months. I have two months before we are hoping I submit, and sooooo much work to do. I have 7 chapters to my thesis and as of today only 1 that has all sections filled in with something, even if that something is the ramblings of a crazy woman. No where near ready to submit.

The Dr signed me off sick for two months from today. We are going to try me on the fluoxetine again. I suggested it, I agreed to it. I thought it would help. But I’ve made no moves to take 2 months off from the PhD to settle into the meds again. I’ve also just realised that I’ve not started taking the meds yet. I should have. After I got off the phone I should have. But I didn’t. It’s that same thought that says I shouldn’t go to sleep tonight, it’s saying that I shouldn’t pause the PhD, I shouldn’t start the meds again. 

Yeah I am up. My brain is working. And my stupid body wants sleep. If I wasn’t driving someone else in a car tomorrow I’d say fuck it, stay up and work, write, think, and leave the lab work for another time. Captialise on this focus while I can as I never know when it will go or come back again.

Ok now is not the time to get caught up in this. Deep breath. Feed the fish, tidy away and save my work, have a drink and take the medicine, have a shower and go to bed. Tomorrow go to work, do the lab work, in between work on this new chapter in my office. Go to a friend’s celebration as she has finished her PhD. Be healthy. I can do this. Oh and take the medicine tomorrow as well. Gah head is still telling me I’m making a mistake in all of this.

I hate my body for being so tired and I hate my head for being so confusing.

Bright side, draft chapter handed in today. If nothing else that counts as awesome.

Dans

In this moment

Posted on Updated on

I was asked on my ask.fm to write a blog post. I had hoped that my next post would be about the gardening, about the knitting, about successful steps in the phd, about feeling better, about something pagany, about something cat or geek related, about anything other than this.

I’m not doing well. There, I said it. What do I mean by not doing well? I’m drowning in a sea of fuck-ups of my own creation. I’m struggling with intrusive thoughts, with copious amounts of anxiety that just makes me want to hide under my duvet and see no-one, not even my husband. My CPN (community psychiatric nurse) asked me how I dealt with anxiety I said that sometimes I try and knit, go out in the garden or read very short stories, but recently it’s been too much of that, and more than likely I will take a diazepam or go to sleep. She explained that sleeping isn’t dealing with the anxiety, just avoiding it. I guess I should have discussed that more, as none of my arsenal actually deals with the anxiety, after each one of them it just comes back. I can distract my mind from it for short bursts, but as soon as that distraction is gone I’m drowning again.

I used to think I didn’t have anxiety. Hell even now I question my anxiety as well as any other labels I have on me. I’m not hyperventilating right now but I am what I would describe as anxious. Maybe that’s why I don’t use the term panic attacks. Right now my skin is crawling on my forearms and hands, my throat feels like a balloon has been inserted into it and it is being inflated, whilst it is also being squeezed from the outside, I feel like something is clawing inside my chest, in the centre; just above my breasts but below my collarbone, the pit of my stomach wants to throw up, so much so I can just about taste it in the back of my throat. Even my nose feels like it is being pinched so I can’t breathe through it. My breathing is shallow but not fast.

I’m so full of what I call anxiety but I’m not panicking. I can’t panic. It’s 8:30pm now and I’ve been like this since I woke up this morning at 9am. I’ll likely stay like this until I go to sleep and wake up the same tomorrow. It’s been like this for a while now, more than a week less than a month probably. I lose sense of time when I am like this. I’m not crying either. I am sad that this state of physical sensation has become something that doesn’t panic me, has become so commonplace that I am used to it, but I’m also grateful in a way. Because right this minute there is no rage, no urge to self harm or impulsive need to escape it all, and that means that I am safe.

Right now I am not doing well, but I am safe. 

I had a bad few weeks recently, which saw the diazepam being used with increasing frequency, the nitrazepam being re-introduced but as a sedative rather than a sleep aid, and the zoplclone being used as a sleep aid. Things have gotten better since then, so while I am not at my worst I am avoiding all sedatives, also trying to avoid alcohol. The benzodiazepines aren’t meant to be used over a long period of time. I’ve been prescribed them on an as-needed basis for 11 years now. I like to think I’m not addicted or dependant as I can go over 6 months without having any, indeed one new Dr sent me to a drug dependency clinic following my request to have my prescription filled. They said that I have no signs of dependency, although they did diagnose me as BPD. I know that after intensive use they make me more anxious, my anxiety level will be low but I’ll want to ‘pop a happy pill’ to make that feeling go away. Indeed, if I took one now I would feel better. I’d be able to focus on my work. But I’m not going to. If I do then I will just keep taking them, and right now, although it would help I don’t need it. I am not doing well but I am safe. I keep the diaz and nitraz for when I am not doing well and I am not safe.

So other than a whooping case of ‘anxiety’ that I won’t treat with medication, I also seem to be suffering from incredible self doubt (which made me put the anxiety in inverted commas, because come on I’m not really sick am I? I’m just putting it on surely), a terribly short temper, a minimal ability to concentrate on things, a phd that needs doing and time is ticking away, a garden full of crops that are rotting and being eaten by slugs, a house that is being utterly neglected, a social life that is being utterly neglected and intrusive thoughts that tell me there is no way to put anything back together.

I’ve asked to see my psychiatrist again. I don’t know if he’ll even see me. Last appointment he said that I could come off of the fluoxetine as it isn’t doing anything and he didn’t think I was clinically depressed. In a slightly manic week I went cold turkey off the prozac (and all other medications I take, because drugs are bad and if I just stop them all I’ll be able to think clearly again and everything will be nice and happy and rainbows again right???), that was maybe June-ish. I’m now doing a lot worse than I had been then. I might ask my GP for the menopause again, that was the one treatment I was given that actually worked for me. Or at least I think it worked. I don’t trust my memory at the moment, I don’t trust much at the moment. Maybe I should be adding paranoia to my list of current symptoms. Fuck.

I wish I could know what was a symptom and what wasn’t a symptom. What is my flavour of crazy. I wish I could know what was wrong with me so I could treat it. So I could be ok. So I could just be a normal girl, with life stress, a dysfunctional and broken family and body image issues. But I honestly don’t think I’ll ever get there. I don’t think that I will ever not blow up in rages, not run away and hide, not be a self harmer with suicidal tendencies, ever not need to have a bottle of diaz in my bag in case I flip out, ever not have to be constantly distracting myself from the horrors that play inside my head on loop. I honestly don’t ever see a future where that will be. 

But for now I just have to worry about today, this hour, this moment or I will be overwhelmed. And in this moment I am not doing well, but I am safe, so let’s call that a small victory.

Dans – off to try very hard to read some very boring research papers from the 90’s and try to get this PhD one tiny step closer to being done

No idea if that was the kind of post the questioner was after. As always, if you have any questions you would like to ask anon: http://ask.fm/Danscrazycatlady