Another Day In Paradise

It’s a beautiful day and something in my soul that has been dormant for far too long is waking up.  The magic of the mundane is begining to glisten like the sunlight on morning dew and I am feeling renewed. For too long I have been sleepwalking through each day, ignoring the ordinary beauty and the wonder that makes up the patchwork quilt we call life. I don’t know if I became depressed because I stopped noticing the beauty, or if I stopped noticing the beauty because I became depressed, but somewhere along the road, I put my head down and  my blinkers on and just kept looking forward trying to find my way out of the fog. But today, I felt as if the fog was lifting.  I could see colour again, and feel, really feel…joy once more.

Never the sort of person that can just enjoy the moment for what it is, I started reflecting on this and why I was again able to tap into my happiness and what feels like a soul level. What was it?  Well, I think the catalyst that started this all off is I started to care about myself again.  My lovely friend Nicola started selling Bodyshop Products and I wanted to support her in her venture so I started buying bits here and there.  And because I’d bought them, it seemed logical that I should use them. And each time I used them, I was subconciously affirming to myself I mattered, I was important, I deserved love. So it took it a step further and intentionally directed loving thoughts towards myself when using my Bodyshop products and wonderful things followed.

As I started feeling better about myself I started taking better care of myself too.  I started eating better, cut out the junk food (not deliberately, I just stopped desiring it) and I’ve rediscovered my love for aromatherapy and all things hippy-dippy.  I’ve started wearing funky eyeshadow again and feeling like I like the person I am.  I’m reading books and going for walks and enjoying the colourful world that envelops me.

For the first time in a long time I feel as if I am recovering from this depression as opposed to just adapting to it and it feels wonderful. For the first time in a long time I feel like I could possibly get better, and thrive, not just survive. I feel like I could have a life filled with confident happiness, not fear. With our without the tablets (we’ll see) I feel like I have a chance of a great future and it all started with a bit of pampering and TLC.

Love yourself, because when you do, amazing things can happen.

 

 

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Ponderings

I look around at everyone else and wonder if they struggle as I do. If this is normal? If I am normal?

I hadn’t planned on writing about Mental Illness again for a while but I’ve been having a bad couple of weeks and it got me thinking…what if I’ll never be rid of this?

People live with conditions that can’t be cured, only managed, all the time.  What if this is one of those?

What if this is just how I am, forever?

The tablets, that seemed to be a miracle cure, have stopped being quite as effective as they were.  Is this just a bad patch?  Am I going to be able to climb back up again?  Or actually, is this just a normal thing that happens to everyone? I get confused as to what I should be feeling while I’m taking my medication.  Should I be feeling happy, elated, sad or desolate?

Should I be feeling anything at all?

I look around at everyone else and wonder if they struggle as I do.  If this is normal? If I am normal?

I feel things too deeply, I think too much, I go over and over it all in my head until I’ve forgotten what exactly it was I was worrying about in the first place.

I want to stop taking the tablets, I know that isn’t going to happen.  I’m not well and this is a real condition, it’s not in my head (except it is) and I need medicine to help me control my intensely low mood.  But, even with it, the self-doubt creeps in.

I’m not good enough, I don’t do enough, I can’t cope with enough, I am not enough.

And it feels so ridiculous that I would feel this way because my life is wonderful.  I am happy, I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful dog and wonderful family and friends.  I enjoy my job (save for the moments when I lose faith in myself and start to believe I’m no good at it).  I have no justification to feel the way I do and that’s how I know it’s an illness, because if I was well, I wouldn’t feel this way.

Life is a tightrope between tears and laughter and it’s hard to stay balanced.  Ultimately, this is me and that isn’t going to change any time soon but I’ll keep treading the rope and moving forward.

I know I’m not the only person to feel this way.  I know there are so many of us out there.  Perhaps this IS normal. Just needed to get that out there. Keep on keeping on guys, we got this!

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When You Assume You Make An Ass out of You, Not Me!

Unless a woman is holding a picture of an ultrasound whilst pointing at her belly and saying the words “I am pregnant”, don’t ask her because, odds are it’s only a matter of time until you’re wrong and you get a slap.

I’m in two minds about what to write here today so I’m going to go with both because both points are important and both points are valid.

So, where to begin?  Well, I was recently (and not for the first time) in the rather undesirable position of being asked by a well-intentioned stranger when my baby was due. Great, thanks for asking, except I’m not pregnant, nor have I ever been. God It upset me. I was inconsolable.  At the time I awkwardly laughed it off with a brave face and a throwaway comment about just being fat, but when he had gone I sat and I cried.

I went home and I cried some more. Then I had a couple of glasses of wine and I cried into them until it was time for bed at which point I cried myself to sleep.  I woke the next morning and cried some more, until finally at around 10 am I snapped out it and started to realise his words didn’t matter.

Until I had processed everything and cried it out of my system, nothing anyone could say was going to make me feel any better.  I felt ashamed, ugly, worthless, unattractive and grotesque. Not that I think pregnant ladies are any of those things but their bellies are swollen with human life, as opposed to burgers and trapped wind.

I decided I needed to write it all down but I wasn’t sure if I should write about the power of your words and how you should be thoughtful and kind when choosing them, or, if I should write about the fact that we are the ones who give power to other people’s words by choosing to let them hurt us.  Well, after some thought I’ve gone with both, and here’s why.

They are both true.

You, as a human being have a moral responsibility to not be an arse. By all means be assertive, insist on being treated fairly and demand good service, but don’t be an arse!  Saying hurtful things out of spite is not big and it’s not clever and your words can do real damage, so cut it out, immediately.  That’s not the issue here though.

Thoughtlessness can be more damaging than horridness.  In my case, a person asking me if I was up the duff, with child, had a bun in the oven, was having a baby, was hurtful on many levels. It made me feel like I must look bloated and fat for somebody to assume this when the only bun in my oven are the Belgian, and from Gregg’s.

If you are commenting on somebody’s appearance keep it polite.

“You look nice” – Safe

“You look pretty” – Safe

“I like your hair” – safe.

“Are you storing small human in your distended abdomen?” – RISKY!

If somebody is pregnant and they want you to know, they will probably tell you. So, unless a woman is holding a picture of an ultrasound whilst pointing at her belly and saying the words “I am pregnant”, don’t ask her because, odds are it’s only a matter of time until you’re wrong and you get a slap.

On the other side of this though, is the thinking that I could have chosen to just say, no, this is just me and I’m me shaped. I am no different to how I was in the seconds before this inaccurate assumption was made. I was happy and confident(ish) and generally feeling good about myself. Why should this person’s opinion affect or alter anything? I’m exactly the same person. Literally NOTHING has changed!

So, I can either cry into my wine or I can hold my head high and say, actually, I’m awesome.  Quite frankly, life is too short for watered down wine.

Cheers.

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Look Who’s Back…

You may or may not have noticed I’ve been somewhat quiet on the blogging front of late.  I very deliberately took a bit of a break from it all as I was putting too much pressure on myself.

Now I’m at a point I feel ready to get back on the proverbial horse and carry on with my journey.

So, what’s been happening with me in the two months since I last checked in?  Well, I wrote a book (actually I wrote it about 14 years ago but who is counting) and then I got it published via Amazon as an e-book, with a paperback version to follow shortly.

I became an auntie!  My brother and sister-in-law have a beautiful baby girl who is the motivation I needed to get my book published and I cannot tell you how happy I feel to be Auntie Claire.

I’m still taking Sertraline and for the majority of the time it seems to be helping immensley.

I’m gradually ticking off my 40 by 40 which is both surprising and impressive.  Those who know me know how flightly and whimsical I tend to be.

I’ve been asked, and have agreed, to take part in a video about mental health and the stigma around it. Watch this space for that one. I’ll put up a link as soon as it’s finished.

That’s about it for now but I’m happy to say I have the urge to put pen to paper again and I promise I’ll make sure I write more often.

Claire xx

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Fast Food, A Cautionary Tale

 

“Fast food will be the death of you”
Proclaimed the salad eater.
She put another cardie on,
And huddled by the heater.

“Just think of the cholesterol,
The fat, and all that salt.
You’re sure to have a heart attack,
And it’ll be your fault”.

“The burgers and the curry,
And the Chinese takeaway,
They might taste nice, but wait and see,
You’ll pay the price one day”.

The salad eater smugly sat,
And munched another leaf.
She stared right at my burger,
With a sense of disbelief.

“Fast food will be the death of you!”
The salad eater said,
While she shovelled down some lentils,
And sighed and shook her head.

And that was when it happened,
Something no one could predict.
So shocking, it would make
A healthy eater feel quite sick.

“Just look at me, so healthy,
I’ll out live you all” she bragged.
Then she breathed a little lentil in,
And wretched and choked and gagged.

She turned a funny colour,
And I did all that I could.
But any effort made to save her,
Didn’t do a scrap of good.

The moral of this story,
(Just in case you couldn’t tell)
Is that, yes, junk food could kill you,
But a salad could as well.

And a life of healthy eating,
Could be seen as slightly mental,
If you end up dead aged 30,
Being murdered by a lentil.

Claire Lucia-Wright

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40 by 40

For those of you that don’t know, I’m 38. Time is running out before I hit the big 40 and there’s quite a bit I’d like to do before I hit that milestone.  A little while ago I put together a list of things I’d like to do before I succumb to the ravages of time. Then I put the list in a drawer and didn’t look at it again.  Given that I have recently (and am still) having a bit of a challening time mentally it seemed like good time to dig that list out, cross half of it out and re-write it (because frankly, the last one sucked).

So I’m putting it here and this time I’m going to get moving with it because 1 year and 9 months isn’t a long time.

  1. Overcome my fear of heights. I’m rubbish at heights and can’t even climb a ladder without feeling a bit sick.  I’d like to do something the make that fear go away or at the very least get up into my loft and find the Christmas tree.
  2. Swim in the sea.  Nowhere fancy, preferably shark and jellyfish free, and defintily no rouge poos please.
  3. Donate blood. I’ve been on tablets for so long and always assumed that it would mean I can’t give blood but apparantly being on antidepressants doesn’t automatically rule you out so I’d like to look into that and give a pint or two to do a bit of good in the world.
  4. Piece together a new outfit entirely from charity shops. I have no sense of fashion or style to speak of and it could be a fun way to try and get some.
  5. Have something published somewhere.  Be it a book (doubtful), a poem or an angry ranting letter to the local paper, at some point within the next 21 months I will be published.
  6. Try ten foods I have never eaten before. Nothing too weird here, I’m not going for snails or tripe or anything gross, but I would like to broaden my horizons somewhat.
  7. Do a car boot sale and make loads of money (or at least more that £20).  I’ve done one once before but that was ages ago and I’ve got better quality tat to sell these days.
  8. Sing karaoke without a drop of alcohol. This could be more of a challenge for those having to listen than for me.
  9. Have a family portrait taken and put it up in the flat.
  10. Buy a houseplant and keep it alive.
  11. Teach Dolly how to lay down on command. (Actually I’ve already done this one but I thought I’d leave it on the list so at least I can say I’ve made a start).
  12. Take a self defence class.  I’m always saying I’m going to do this and never quite manage to get round to it.
  13. Get a tattoo. This is a big one.  I’ve always wanted a tattoo but never really know what.  People say if you get one it should mean something and that way you’ll never regret it, so I’m going to get one of Dolly’s paw on the back of my shoulder.
  14. Have a go in one of those water zorbing floaty ball things. They look like fun and it looks significantly less dangerous than the ones that hurtle down hills.
  15. Bake a rainbow pinata cake (pretty).
  16. Learn how to say “Thank You” in 10 languages. I’m actually doing pretty well on this one and only need another 4 to cross it off the list.
  17. Have a massage.  Always wanted one, always felt a bit weird at the idea of paying someone to rub my body.
  18. Enter Dolly in a dog show and win a rossette. She’s so much better now than when we first adopted her, I’d like to show off how well behaved she is.
  19. Get one of my photographs printed on canvass and hang it in the flat. I love photography but rarely print any of them out.
  20. Eat something I’ve grown myself (this is going to be a tomato as I don’t have a garden and tend to kill most foliage).
  21. Be retweeted by a celebrity.  I probably need to tweet a bit more for that one to happen but we can work on it.
  22. Win something. I’m not sure what yet – maybe a tenner on a scratch card, maybe a Facebook giveaway, or maybe a nobel peace prize?
  23. Be organised for Christmas before the beginning of December. I’ve said I was going to do this for as long as I remember and somehow always find myself running around the shops in the week before Christmas trying to find something nice to give people.  This is going to be the year I get organised, food, drink, sweets and presents all sorted out by November (and if not, there’s still next year).
  24. Do a fun run for charity. I was going to leave this one out as I am not much of a runner but that’s exactly why it needs to go on the list.  If I was sporty there’d be no challenge her. I will get fit and buy clothes that have lyra in them and trainers that are aerodynamic and I will jog my way to victory.
  25. Write a letter to the young version of myself. I could give myself some very good advice, if only I could invent a time machine and deliver it.
  26. Drink a Jagerbomb.  I seem to be missing out on something here.  I’ve never been brave enough to try one mainly due to an irrational fear of Red Bull.  What’s the worst that could happen? It seems like a good time to try.
  27. Go camping with JJ and Dolly and spend a bit of time in the great outdoors (preferably somewhere with a working toilet).
  28. Have a holiday. It’s been so long since JJ and I had a break together, just the two of us. We’ve either been spending time with family or supporting disabled people on holidays.  All of those things are lovely but I can’t remember when we went away just the two of us (plus Dolly of course).
  29. Try as many different flavours of icecream as I can find.  I’ll aim for 20.  I always go with the chocolate option which is fine, I love chocolate, but there’s a whole world out there waiting to be discovered and icecream is a good place to start.
  30. Get a makeover.  Not a biggie but I do love makeup and the way it can change how you feel about yourself.  It could be fun to see what somebody else could do with this face.
  31. Drive a car. I’ve learned to drive and I have no intention of taking my test but it might be fun to have a go and see if I could be any good at it. I’ve got a bit of time so it should be achievable but if not there is always go-carts.
  32. Be on television. Preferably not the Jeremy Kyle Show or Crimewatch but I’m ruling nothing out. Might be fun to  go on a game show or be an extra in a soap or even just hang around in the background of a news report.
  33. Make gingerbread men.  Sounds odd but I’ve never made it before and always fancied it. I’ve made biscuits, cakes, merringues and even had a go at chocolates but never made gingerbread men (except when I was small under supervision).  I think I’ll make them some fancy-pants outfits to wear too.
  34. Do something spontaneous.  Obviously I”ve no idea what this will be or else it will defeat the object of it. You can’t plan to be spontaneous, just open to the idea of it.  I’m notoriously crap at acting in the spur of the moment (except when it comes to hair cuts) so at some point between now and 40 I’ll do something radical when the oportunity presents itself.
  35. Make something crafty.  This was originally going to be ‘learn to knit’ but I tried that and bugger me, I’ve no chance.  I almost lost my temper and threw the wool and needles at the nearest wall so I’ll leave that one and try something else.  If anyone has any suggestions please let me know but I’m thinking maybe decorating something with something else (like broken stuff I find on the floor). We’ll keep this one open to suggestion.
  36. Take a dog grooming class.  I’m not sure if that’s something that actually exists or not in a day course but if it does, I’m in! I don’t want to be a dog groomer but I do like to do Dolly’s haircut and it would be great to get some professional tips for how to do a good job.
  37. Find and watch the uncut version of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.  Until very recently I didn’t know there was an uncut version of this film, it’s long enough already, but apparantly there is and now I want in.  I loved this film as a hopelessly romantic teen and I’ve no shame in admitting I had quite the crush on Kevin Costner.  I will always be grateful they didn’t put him in tights.
  38. Write a poem.  I used to write poetry all the time, it was my thing. But then I stopped and for some reason never started again.  I’d like to sit and write a poem, just to prove to myself I can still do it. None of the tormented wistful stuff of my youth though, something funny and witty and entertaining.
  39. Lighten the fuck up! I overanalyze everything and constantly worry. I need to throw caution to the wind, jump in without looking and live for the moment from time to time.
  40. Watch the sunrise.  I’m 38 and have never stayed up all night or woken in time to watch the sun come up. I definitely want to see that.  Yes there’s plenty of time and if it doesn’t happen this side of 40 it’s not the end of the world but I’ve been struggling to fill this list and now I’m not!

    There… list finished.  Now all that’s left to do is get off my backside and start ticking them off.  Watch this space!

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    Agitation

    One of the tell-tale signs that I’m heading for an anxiety attack is an intense feeling of agitation.  Everything is heightened and everything is irritating.

    Sounds are amplified to an unbearable level.  People breathing, chewing, speaking. Children crying, all of them claw at me as the noise swells and swells until I can hear my own heart beating and the blood rushing past my ears. I can’t concentrate as the noises swim around in my head. Voices competing to be heard and are lost in the din. I’m stood in the middle of a motorway surrounded by swarms of traffic, trying to find a safe way to cross but never quite finding a gap.

    I can’t walk quickly enough. I’m desperate to escape but unsure where to go or what exactly it is I’m trying to flee from. I want to run but I’ve nowhere to go because wherever I went, this would surely follow.

    Everything feels more intense.  The heat is too hot, the cold is too cold, my skin feels sore and flush and electric and painful.

    My eyes struggle to focus, not really knowing where to look. Everything is unbearably loud and yet, muffled and unintelligible. I can’t pick out the sound I am supposed to be hearing from the ones that are imposing and chaotic.

    My brain rattles in my head and I want to lash out or run and hide. Fight or flight is kicking in and it’s only a matter of time before a full blown panic attack invades my entire being, knocks me out of the way and takes over without me being able to do a thing to stop it.

    But sometimes I see the signs and the patterns and I can step in and intervene on my own behalf. I’m getting better at this, feeling it coming like a wave and stepping out of it’s path before it knocks me over.

    It happened yesterday while I was in town and I managed to stop it. This was a huge victory for me, but more amazingly than this, nobody else seemed to notice.  I could have told them and perhaps I should have, but I didn’t and instead of focusing on all the things and feelings that were driving me to distraction, I breathed.  I breathed deeply and I sipped water and took a bit of time to be silent and to focus on something other than where I was and I came through it unscathed.

    Next time I might not manage it and that’s okay because this time I did and that’s something for me to feel happy about.

    Anxiety is a war, not a battle.  Sometimes we win, sometimes we don’t.  It’s all okay as long as we keep trying.  Trying to win back the terrain that is our true self.  That is the real victory.

    Never give up.

     

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    Now, Not Later

    When someone dies, there is always the inevitiable outpouring of grief and wonderful things are said about the person who has passed away.  This is beautiful and heartfelt and painful and cathartic but also, I think, a missed opportuntiy to say these things to a person while they are still alive to hear them. What if instead of waiting we tell our loved ones and friends now, exactly how we feel and how they are special while they are still alive to hear it.

    I get that not everyone is comfortable with praise, some of us aren’t, but maybe it’s simply because it isn’t the social norm and they aren’t used to hearing it.

    Maybe all we need is a little bit more practice?

    Wouldn’t it be better to celebrate our loved ones while we have them, to let them know how much they mean to us and what a difference they make to the world around them. Show them how their smile lights up a room. The time for beautiful tributes is now, not later, because the sadest thing in the world is to lose someone and wonder if they really knew how incredible they were and how much they were loved.

    It can be as simple as “I love you” or as in depth as you care to go.  List all the wonderful atributes they have.  Let them know they are appreciated and that they matter and make a huge difference to your life and the world around them.

    So I invite you all to take a moment to send a message to a friend, or tell them face to face all the wonderful ways they are loved in this moment. Perhaps a friend you’ve not connected with for a long time or maybe someone  you see every day.

    None of us know how long we have on this merry-go-round that we call life, but it would be a much better and more joyous experience if we learned to express our feelings to those that matter while they are still here to receive them.

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    Suzanne

    My lungs feel as if they are full of sand and my heart is heavy today but I’ve come outside regardless. I’ve come to spend some time in nature, alone with my thoughts, a note book and a pen because life is fleeting and tomorrow is never promised.

    A few days ago a lady lost her life.  She passed away, totally unexpectedly, in a car accident. She was young with her entire future ahead of her and in an instant that future was taken away without warning.  Her light went out and now we are left in a world that will shine a little less brightly without her warm smile and kind heart. I didn’t know her well, we weren’t close, but I did consider her a friend.  She was one of those people you just loved. Her heart was huge, her personality serene.

    We met when I was learning British Sign Language at college.  The tutor had recommended we attend the local Deaf Club to practice our conversational skills.  Suzanne didn’t know me but made me feel so welcome. From that moment on we would always say hello and I’d struggle to come up with something interesting to sign with my limited sign vocabulary. We’d muddle through and have conversations.  A few weeks ago she told me about a holiday she was planning.

    Now she’ll never get to go. It’s so hard to make sense of this tragedy.

    The frailty of life is astounding, the non-permancence of it is something we should not take lightly.

    I’m going to try to procrastinate less, and to make more plans with the people I love even when anxiety makes it difficult. Even when I’m frightened of the what ifs and the maybes because I’m more scared of not really living than I am of dying.

    I’m going to live my best life in the memory of my friend, a lady who touched so many lives and so many hearts and always lived her life to the fullest.

    Rest in peace Suzanne, I’ll never forget you.

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    Everything Changes

    I hate change, or at least I’m not very good at it.  I’ve never liked it and have always found it unsettling.  Whether it was starting at a new school, a new job, a new relationship there would be the anxiety, the tears and the sure and certain knowledge I’d fail. It would disorientate me and knock me off my feet leaving me swimming, unable to find the ground beneath me.  I would flounder and gasp and try to swim until I was able to grope and grapple my way back to the surface and clamber back to solid ground.

    Those are the hard parts, the moments where the ground starts to shift and I have to try to rediscover my surroundings, keeping my head above water, trying not to let anyone down and never letting anyone see that I’m flailing.

    I’m not sure if it’s genuinely change that scares me or the likelyhood of failing but either way, things do change and that’s life. Without change there’d be no progress and no growth. As scary as it is, we have to try and move with the current or we’ll drown fighting against it. The question is how?  How do we do the thing that scares us most?  

    I’m coming to realise in the bits in between that the way to deal with it is simply to do what comes next.  Don’t worry about the distance left to travel, focus on the next step. Do what needs doing now, the rest will fall into place in time (and if it doesn’t you can deal with that when it comes along).  If you just keep doing what’s next, not looking forward beyond that, you’ll be amazed when you look back and see how far you’ve come.  I know, because I just looked back and realised that actually, despite a minor setback I’m doing okay.  My head is what it is and I may struggle in areas but in others I’m good at what I do. I just need to give myself the space to do it.

    A caterpillar doesn’t sit and fret about how it’s going to transform into a butterfly. If it did it would drive itself mad with worry.  After all, how exactly does one grow wings and fly?  The caterpillar just caterpillars along doing whatever it is that a caterpillar does and it lets life takes care of the rest. 

    Life can seem very overwhelming but I think that’s partly because we jump from here to there in our mind in one giant leap, not allowing ourself time to grow into the changes, expecting a caterpillar to fly.

    Everything will be okay, it always is. We just need to worry less, swim with the current, fly when we’re ready, take the paths to unknown destinations one step at a time and trust that the details will work themselves out.

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