Sunday Summary

Dear friends,

It has been a busy week! For me, I mean; probably not what you would call a busy week. I didn’t work at all, I didn’t get many chores done, and the most I did daily was get out of the house for an hour or two. That’s busy, for me.

I’m so happy that it worked out to be that way!

When I finished work three and a half weeks ago I was worried that the naturally “depressed state I was in about finishing work, together with my ongoing lethargy and tiredness, would result in me becoming a bed bound vegetable again.

Well again isn’t fair; I’ve never ever not gotten up at one point or another during the day. But with no definite reason to get up in the morning, my lack of motivation to get up unless there’s someone waiting on me, and the general listlessness of having no set purpose, I thought that there was a fair chance of me lounging around all day.

And it turned out to be that way for a few days. With nothing planned, with accumulated tiredness from keeping up with my shifts at work for six weeks when they consumed about the last ounce of my energy, and no reason why not to get up, I had some pretty massive sleep ins.

Until I missed my tablets one Sunday night! This happened in spite of the careful routine that I have built into my days after I had previous missed doses to prevent the same thing from happening again. Obviously there’s still a loop hole somewhere that I haven’t found but I’m working on it.

My routine is to weekly make up a medicine box with all the medications that I need to take both in the morning and at night. My pharmacist brain cross-checks the directions on the bottles and boxes with the number of tablets I put into each slot and then double check that I haven’t missed anything by comparing what I’ve packed with my complete list of medicines printed on the bottom of the box. My triple check is when I take each group of tablets and I count again to make sure I have it right.

I set this medicine box right next to my bed on my bedside table so that I should see it when I get up and when I go to bed; this should give me a visual prompt to take my tablets. But I don’t trust this system so I have set a morning and evening medication alarm in my phone. This can only be snoozed three times so I also have a medicines app that generates a reminder at 7am and 9pm for me to take my tablets. This can be snoozed to infinity I think, but the fact that I missed a dose makes me wonder if it actually does have a limit to being snoozed. I’m looking into this.

So the missed dose. You wouldn’t think it would make that much difference; it’s only one dose right? But it does make a difference, at least for me at this point while we’re still fine tuning the medications. Most times when I miss my tablets I end up getting upset over some little thing or teary for not much reason or get in a fight with my hubby! Poor hubby, he has to bear the brunt of everything! I think this reaction has been when I’ve missed my morning dose, which means I miss my antidepressant and my morning lithium dose.

This time I missed my evening dose. That means my evening lithium and my other sedating mood stabiliser. I’ve only ever done this once before. It’s never fun, because it means there’s nothing putting me to sleep! This time was terrible! I’m sure I had a maximum of 4 hours sleep but who knows. When you’re tossing and turning and can’t sleep and want to sleep, time loses all meaning! Poor hubby again, every time I tossed or turned he turned! But I physically couldn’t bear the sensation of lying still! It was awful! I just had to move and move and move and move!! I woke at 5am and tried to exist as quietly as possible til hubby was ready to get up. Then, so out of my recent character that it was laughable, I jumped out of bed fresh as a daisy at just after 7am and left the house before hubby! I was in my runners and leggings and I was off!

Compared to my recent sluggish, only-move-if-I-have-to, and even then moving snail’s pace, I was striding off to the park like I haven’t since I don’t know when, and paced out two laps! It was ridiculous to me even as I was doing it! But it was a fabulous feeling! I could move as fast as I physically wanted to for a change, instead of how fast I physically could through mud bearing heavy weights!!

Incredible! And so friends, this is mania. Or a sub form of it. You won’t see me like it often, unfortunately or fortunately, but you’ll know it when you see it. I’ll be smiling at all and sundry, grinning, laughing, putting out a decent amount of physical effort, having a great day! I’ll be chatting flat out, possibly jumping topics or getting distracted. I’ll be super effective and get many tasks done. I’ll be physically active and able to do a lot more activity than usual.

It’s a feeling that is addictive actually, I never want it to end…to start with! By the end of the day I was pretty sick of it actually because I could hardly sit still or rest, and was just feeling irritable, agitated and like I couldn’t possible tolerate having another night like that. By then the frustration tears were pretty close to the surface, but let me tell you I achieved a great days work! All three loads of washing done, some of it off the line and folded! The kitchen was sparkling clean; I’d cleaned the grout and the stubborn grease on the splash back. Lots of jobs attended to, a family visit where I chatted away like a…like a crazy person! Chat chat chat chat chat chat chat!

But I was glad to put it away. Not glad to go back to lethargy and anergy (absence of energy), but after all it’s a balance. You can’t have everything, so you have to decide on the most important things. Which is not being a whirling dervish, but a calm reasonable person not prone to snap decisions and excess!

My short point at the end of that long explanation was that it broke my bed rest habit and got me out into the sunshine, and the outside world. I watched the ducks paddle, saw the swallows come out to swoop and feed, found a magpie nest without getting swooped and in fact saw the magpie partner watching from on high at a distance. And remembered that I liked the outside and wanted to be out there, not inside all day.

Add to this a pep talk from my psychiatrist AND my GP in the same week about just getting outside, no agenda, no pressure, no panic about how I was feeling, just enjoyment…and the message was clear! Just enjoy it.

So I have enjoyed it! What a glorious week it has been!

Monday started slowly, but a late afternoon trip to Blackburn Lake Sanctuary yielded a fabulous hour of the new Musk Lorikeets ( see earlier post) plus an added hour of delightful favourites. Then a sleepover with our great friends and delightful bubba!

I just love love love this gorgeous Galah eating wattle photo!

I just love love love this gorgeous Galah eating wattle photo!

This is the cutest Noisy Miner sequence I've ever had - mother catches moth, baby screams for it, baby gets moth, mother leaves :) eucalypt

This is the cutest Noisy Miner sequence I’ve ever had – mother catches moth, baby screams for it, baby gets moth, mother leaves 🙂

Tuesday didn’t work out how I had thought it would, but a picnic on the banks of the Yarra river in delightful Warburton with several girlfriends and their cute kids is a pretty fine day if you ask me! In addition I got to see two lots of adorable ducklings and a fun Kookaburra.

Cute cute cute! Discovering the innocent joys of crawling up and down stairs, green grass

Cute cute cute! Discovering the innocent joys of crawling up and down stairs

More cute! Fluffy Wood Duck ducklings huddling on a rock in the Yarra River at Warburton

More cute! Fluffy Wood Duck ducklings huddling on a rock in the Yarra River at Warburton

Wednesday morning was a return to Blackburn Lake Sanctuary, the top end this time for some variety of bushland and birds. What a day it ended up with a Kookabura flinging a metre long snake around and many cute tiny birds that were hard to capture.

The fabulous post and rail fence that completely encircles my favourite Blackburn Lake Sanctuary

The fabulous post and rail fence that completely encircles my favourite Blackburn Lake Sanctuary

I spotted this Laughing Kookaburra and stopped for photos, didn't realise it was in the process of killing a snake!

I spotted this Laughing Kookaburra and stopped for photos, didn’t realise it was in the process of killing a snake!

I just love being in the Sanctuary - so pretty and lovely

I just love being in the Sanctuary – so pretty and lovely

Thursday, oh Thursday! This was a bucket list day with a girlfriend and it was amazing! Glorious day, two brand new birds that I’d never seen before, loads of flowers, a couple of moths and some damsel flies! Some amazing scenery, the awesome Kuranga native nursery, Birdsland reserve and a flash trip through the Dandenongs (see previous post).

Friday was appointment day and catch up with my old work mates day and getting my favourite bacon and egg sandwich and eating it in the gorgeous Fawkner Park. A picnic above Yarra Boulevard with my fabulous hubby and some new photo ops over the city as the sun set…wow! Can you beat that for a way to see out the work week?

The great outline of Melbourne city backlit by a cloud sunset, blue sky,

The great outline of Melbourne city backlit by a cloud sunset

The brilliant sunshine, the silhouette of a pretty tree and Melbourne - I love you

The brilliant sunshine, the silhouette of a pretty tree and Melbourne – I love you

Saturday was another girlfriend catch up and was great fun finding plover babies and getting swooped relentlessly by their parents! Then we went on a Loch Ness Monster hunt all around the Blackburn Lake and still aren’t sure exactly what was doing so much flashing and splashing and swimming…tbc, duln duln duulllln! We got a fabulous shot of a Spotted Pardalote by the path and had a great lunch at Gourmet Girl – what an awesome catch up! Over tea cooked by sensational hubby we heard and saw two Striated Thornbills in our minimal garden! I think they’re building a nest! Excitement!!

Mummy Masked Lapwing with tiny weeny baby - these must be very new because the plovers have been docile until this week; now they are savage!

Mummy Masked Lapwing with tiny weeny baby – these must be very new because the plovers have been docile until this week; now they are savage!

Not a clear shot but the beautiful front of a Spotted Pardalote

Not a clear shot but the beautiful front of a Spotted Pardalote

Sunday is rest day and I’m glad for that, but boy I am so glad for every bit of excitement and interest that has sprinkled my week and made it actually fun! And thanks to all my wonderful people who are there every day giving me a hand along, and making my life more amazing!

Funny side story. After looking back at the week in the detail above, it made me remember all the good things and I mentioned to hubby that I’d had an amazing week. His response was fascinating: “Really? Maybe the last couple of days have been okay but I thought you had a bad week.”

To which I, in the mood of putting all the good bits together and seeing them in clear focus and forgetting the rest, replied: “Really? But I’ve done all these amazing things.” So we had a chat and here’s another perspective moment – what’s in focus is really clear and the rest in lost in fog.

My hubby was remembering coming home to me still lost in my afternoon nap, to me not able to get my thoughts together enough for our weeknight Bible study, to him making dinner from scratch every single night of the week, to me as a blob instead of an enthusiastic lover, to me struggling to get enthusiastic about any physical activity; basically to him carrying the load of the relationship, the housework, being the bread winner and the carer for this weighty gal.

So yes, if you look at all the cool bits it was a great week. If you look at all the failures it would bring you to tears. If you see all that hubby did to get us both through the week, you like me would have overwhelming admiration for this great fella without whom I don’t know what awful state I would be in!

So my motivation for this new week is trying to even out the load for my good man, and continuing to have great days!

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Twitchers Thursday

What a gorgeous day in lovely Melbourne!

reflection, blue sky, Glorious glorious day! A lake on Monbulk Creek in Birdsland Reserve

Glorious glorious day! A lake on Monbulk Creek in Birdsland Reserve

From this end of the day it was a delightful day of friendship, flowers, birds, lunching, sunshine, shopping, driving, discovery and fulfilment.

I love this magenta and red flower, which is yes, surprisingly, a native!

I love this magenta and red flower, which is yes, surprisingly, a native!

Amazing how different it looks when compared to the other end which was a disappointed ‘oh it’s grey outside, it was meant to be sunny’, an exhausted-after-eight-hours-of-sleep ‘I’m so tired, maybe I’ll just keep sleeping a bit longer’, slow-and-fat ‘I don’t know if I’m going to be able to keep up with the physical demands of the day’ and just-to-give-me-a-boost ‘ooh chocolate, good I wasn’t sure what to have for breakfast’!

Perspective. It never ceases to amaze me! It really is everything!

Still a favourite but thought I was onto a new one! Never heard it call like that

Still a favourite but thought I was onto a new one! Never heard it call like that. From this side you miss all the pretty yellow that makes him striking.

Convincing myself to get out of bed for myself in the morning? Very easy to pike and say, well there’s no shortage of days – I’ll get up tomorrow, or the day after!

Knowing that someone else is waiting? ‘You better get up right now and get yourself sorted this instance Miss’!

In a good way, not a bad way. In a spirit of wanting to be with your friends and getting some motivation out of that, not in a spirit of ‘I have to because they said so’.

Fabulous red and orange kangaroo paw - gorgeous isn't it?

Fabulous red and orange kangaroo paw – gorgeous isn’t it?

The same goes for the level of exertion I can put out by myself versus with someone else, or for something else. Yesterday I slow walked 1.5km in 2 hours…not exactly race speed! Today we covered 2.5km in the same or less time, with multiple stops and pauses for birds and beautiful scenery gazing. Still not race speed but a good deal quicker than it would have been if I’d set the pace myself. Again, this is a good thing – it helps me get going to have someone by my side. It might wear me out, but that’s good too 🙂

Tadpoles! Millions of them! Haven't seen them for years, very alert little tiny things, lake, reeds

Tadpoles! Millions of them! Haven’t seen them for years, very alert little tiny things

Something to keep in mind for myself.

As they say, it’s all in the mind! Great saying that, encompasses everything and is both positive and negative at the same time!

Fluffy headed Laughing Kookaburra preening high in the sky over Kuranga Nursery

Fluffy headed Laughing Kookaburra preening high in the sky over Kuranga Nursery

So today we checked out the fabulous native Kuranga Nursery in Mount Evelyn which was a pure delight! Masses of flowering wildflowers and a real education for me in what exactly is meant by the term native plant…so much more than I had thought! So many types of eucalypt, huge numbers of banksias and every colour of Kangaroo Paw. Fascinating! Plus ferns and other plants which I had always assumed were English or European.

Every possible colour of Kangaroo Paw - forgive me for thinking there were two!

Every possible colour of Kangaroo Paw – forgive me for thinking there were two!

They have an AMAZING cafe onsite and we had a fabulous outdoor table in the shade overlooking the nursery and ate a delicious lunch with delectable dessert! They use native ingredients in their cooking and we thoroughly enjoyed every bite!

Our fabulous view from lunch on the most perfect Summer day, colourful

Our fabulous view from lunch on the most perfect Summer day

Pretty flowers attract pretty butterflies and moths - not sure which this is, green leaves

Pretty flowers attract pretty butterflies and moths – not sure which this is

Our next stop had been debated and was decided mostly based on my ability/inability to actually make the most of the originally planned destination: Cranbourne Botanic, or Australian Native Garden. We decided to skip it, we were running shortish on time anyway, and instead we checked out a brand new area for both of us: Birdsland Reserve, Belgrave.

Playing Peekaboo with a Sulfur Crested Cockatoo!

Playing Peekaboo with a Sulfur Crested Cockatoo!

Early into the piece we discovered that this reserve was named Birdsland after a family named Bird who used to live there – its literally named Bird’s Land after them. I thought that maybe this diminished the chance of us seeing birds…but I was wrong! It is also aptly named for the birds there.

I was with an insect enthusiast today...and I think it's starting to show in my photos!, dead log

A long shot to a Dragon Fly, or Damsel Fly – not sure which

Here’s a handy hint if you’re planning to check it out (which you absolutely must if you’re a walker/runner/cyclist/nature enthusiast/bird watcher!). You’ll get to the sign for this reserve and find a car park. Don’t park there – turn up the gravel road and drive in for a few kilometres first; this will take you to the start of the good track (in my opinion, having visited once!).

This is a Damsel Fly - I can't really tell them apart from Dragon Flies so I'm going on trust, green grass

This is a Damsel Fly – I can’t really tell them apart from Dragon Flies so I’m going on trust what I’m told

It was such a beautiful day, weather-wise! Blue sky after lunch, warm sun, cool breeze, dry conditions. Could hardly have ordered a better day for being out and about. Much better for hot, sweaty me than the expected 30 degrees of tomorrow! I do need to look into getting a visor, though; may have gotten a touch too much of the sun.

Nothing nicer than sitting in companionable silence on a shady seat watching the perfect day roll by!

And then back to the bird searching. We managed to find two birds we’d never seen or photographed and it was a great day before that! We heard the Reed-warbler early and my friend caught a few glimpses but so far I’d seen nothing! We really didn’t want to leave without a photo but he made use work for it! The other bird was an incidental ‘oh there’s an easy shot of a bird!” moment, but I’m pretty happy with it!

So here’s my two lifers! Not bad for one day! Thanks to my friend with the sharpest eyes!

A White-eared Honeyeater flitting around in the dead trees on a perfect day at Birdsland Reserve

A White-eared Honeyeater flitting around in the dead trees on a perfect day at Birdsland Reserve

An Australian Reed-Warbler that lives up to it's name to a high degree, confounding us often by disappearing into the thick reeds and singing his heart out

An Australian Reed-Warbler that lives up to it’s name to a high degree, confounding us often by disappearing into the thick reeds and singing his heart out

I also have to give a shout out for my friend for sharing her insect knowledge with me. I loved shooting them, but I think my head is too full of birds and flowers to add insects just now! But it added some fun to the day.

So, a happy day. How ’bout that? Didn’t think I’d have a great day like that this week so it’s pretty awesome! Cheers!

Magical Monday

New bird alert! New bird alert! Excitement, excitement!

And what a relief it is on a day like this, a week like this, to feel excitement!

I haven’t been having a very fun time of it, to be honest. Everything is a bit or a lot hard, tedious, effortful, difficult, troublesome, not worth it. Getting up is a drag, showering is a hideous ordeal, eating is just tiring, deciding to do anything is impossible! I’ve been sleeping a lot, avoiding thinking about my to-do list a lot, and just skimming through the days til bedtime.

It’s not fun!

But here is an effort, however tiny and minuscule, yet enormous and huge, to get out. Just for a little bit. Just to have done something other than be at home; unproductively, unsuccessfully, un-impressively at home.

It’s all in my new direction from the psychiatrist – getting outside, enjoying the sunshine. I’m trying to do my bit since he has turned my life around. I owe him that much.

I realise I also owe that much, or more, to my husband as well so here it comes Beautiful: I promise to try your caring suggestions and get a bit motivated and interested if I can!

Ah, IF. The stories you could tell…

So in the late afternoon on Monday I gathered myself up, stuffed myself into some clothes (hopefully matching!), got the car out and took myself down to my old favourite birding spot; Blackburn Lake Sanctuary.

I can’t believe how long it has been since I was down here last! I’m definitely going to make more of an effort to get here more often because let’s face it, in suburbia anywhere it’s a great privilege to have some green spaces nearby for an escape/retreat/sanctuary/reset.

And every time it rewards me so greatly. This time I didn’t even get past the car park for the first hour!

I heard some lorikeets, assumed they were Rainbows but then caught a glimpse and they had shorter tails and red on their head! New bird!!!!

They were truly beautiful, and fun, and acrobatic, and shrieky, and a challenge to get still enough for a decent focused photo!

Honestly I felt as much satisfaction from changing the settings to get a better picture as I did in finding a never-before-seen-or-photographed-bird!

I changed to shutter mode to still their actions after using the programmable mode gave me a too-slow shutter speed and was too slow to focus, and was too dark and too grainy! Then I had to keep adjusting the ISO and exposure as I followed the birds around depending on whether I was shooting up at the outside of the tree in full sun, shooting under the canopy up into the dark shadow or straight across at a neighbouring tree…etc.

I was pretty proud of some of the photos I got. I always recognise that chance and luck have quite a bit to do with the photos, but having purposely set the variables, I do take pride in the fact that the photo was taken by chance and the settings were perfect for that chance!

So here’s a few of my favourites! Hope you can enjoy looking at them as much as I did taking them!

We start in some gorgeous wattle trees where there’s some pretty fierce competition from cranky Red Wattlebirds and Noisy Miners, plus some quiet guests in the lovely Galahs.

New bird! The gorgeous Musk Lorikeet - vibrant red forehead, cheek and tip of beak, wattle

New bird! The gorgeous Musk Lorikeet – vibrant red forehead, cheek and tip of beak

Musk Lorikeets are apparently notoriously hard to find because like other lorikeets the only time they’re quiet is when they’re eating! Add to this their preference for eating on top of the canopy where they not only blend in with their green underbelly but are hidden by layers of branches and leaves! So I feel pretty lucky that they choose these low growing trees to feed from.

Pretty pretty pretty! I love the yellow patches just above the wing and the blue head!

Pretty pretty pretty! I love the yellow patches just above the wing and the blue head!

I always appreciate it when my birds kindly move to the dead trees and branches – it’s very convenient to me! Thanks for the photo op!

The perfect camoflage - despite the colourful patches, when the lorikeet turns its back it becomes invisible!

The perfect camouflage – despite the colourful patches, when the lorikeet turns its back it becomes invisible!

This is a photo that makes me really proud of what I have achieved! To shoot past all of the sticks and leaves to get a clear focus on the bird is a very tricky thing, and something I wouldn’t have been able to do before my photography course – kudos to Master Your Camera’s Wendy!

This is a photo that makes me really proud of what I have achieved! To shoot past all of the sticks and leaves to get a clear focus on the bird is a very tricky thing, and something I wouldn't have been able to do before my photography course

The dangling upside down antics of these Musk Lorikeets are so delightful! In this shot you can make out the brownish yellow patch on its back

This photo is typical of my excitement when I find a new bird. At first I just snap away furiously to get a shot, any shot. Then I realise they’re not going anywhere and slow down and start adjusting the settings. Then I can take a breath, stop and actually look at composing a shot for the best photos of the day – this is just about it!

This photo is typical of my excitement when I find a new bird. At first I just snap away furiously to get a shot, any shot. Then I realise they're not going anywhere and slow down and start adjusting the settings. Then I can take a breath, stop and actually look at composing a shot for the best photos of the day

Always dangling for the best bite to eat! Love all of the different colours.

One downside of shooting through the exterior is that you can get foggy patches in your photos!

I love this photo for the underbelly of the bird, something that isn't always photographed but I find it fascinating!

I love this photo for the underbelly of the bird, something that isn’t always photographed but I find it fascinating!

Then the Red Wattlebirds and Noisy Miners got too overpowering and my new friends all flew off squawking and squarking! Luckily they didn’t go too far and settled in a nearby eucalyptus and a different wattle tree. This was perfect as they were in the clear path of the afternoon sun which always makes everything look beautiful and good as new!

And towards the end I get this shot! Love it, this shows so much character of this bird!, gum tree, eucalypt

And towards the end I get this shot! Love it, this shows so much character of this bird!

Kindly

[Written 31st October, 2014]

“What I’d like you to do is try to get outside every day; enjoy the sunshine” – my psychiatrist, yesterday.

Well, that doesn’t seem too bad! That list of things to do is a whole lot shorter and easier than my list! Having only directions to do that one simple task feels like such a relief comparing to the humongous growing beast that is my list of things I should do but most likely won’t be able to do and so will keep snowballing onto each subsequent day!

Go outside; enjoy the sunshine. Pretty straight forward, pretty simple. Okay. Cool.

What about the rest of the massive list I had? What do I do with that?

My GP: ” Pretend you’re a patient with diabetes. You don’t blame yourself every time you get a high or a low, it just is what it is – its the condition. You do what you can: take your insulin, have some sugar, exercise, check it again later to see where it’s at. You complain to your doctor – it’s my job to fix it, not yours. Don’t blame yourself, don’t start a forensic examination of what you did wrong. This is different to physical tiredness that you brought on by exercise. This is being down; it’s just the condition, you can’t do anything about it except what you’re already doing – medications, personal development, psychiatrist/psychologist/GP, self monitoring. Nothing you do or think can make you high or low. But if you’re feeling off, come and tell me about it early so I can do something to fix it.

Do what you can, and if you can’t do anything and its a bad day, that’s fine just don’t panic and think you’re falling off the rails. This is a mood cycling disorder. It wouldn’t be called a cyclothymia if it didn’t cycle! That’s the nature of it. It’s not something gone wrong, or you did something bad, it just is that way because it is that way. If you can do stuff, do; otherwise just take it easy and try to keep a positive attitude”.

Do what you can, and if you can’t – don’t. Pretty logical. If you can’t do anything, by definition…you can’t. If you can’t you can’t – so why are you still expecting yourself to do something? Why do you still have a list of shoulds and must dos and have to dos? A list of want to dos; sure. You can always have that. Motivation is always helpful. But stop forcing it.

I guess the reason this is hard for me is that I expect a lot from myself, and I’m still not convinced that I have the authority to say, I can’t do that today. Or this week. And I’m not sure of what I can’t do versus what I don’t think I can do, what feels like it will be a huge effort, what feels hard or awful and what I don’t want to do. But then if I have any of those feelings it’s probably an indication that I can’t, right? Or is it? Maybe if I tried a bit harder, maybe if I pushed myself…and here we go around again! What’s the right answer? Will I ever know? Or will I forever doubt myself and my own judgement, my own feelings and thoughts, my own authority, my own ability and commitment, my own conviction?

Don’t blame yourself. What a liberating statement. Every time I hear it said to me by someone that knows what they’re talking about or who I feel is qualified to give that as an instruction, it lifts so much weight of my shoulders! It’s almost a literal bodily feeling of weight and responsibility being lifted and taken away. It’s magic!

When I say someone who is qualified, it gets tricky. Mainly I mean my GP and my psychiatrist, sometimes my hubby (but I’m afraid he’s going easy on me!} and sometimes other people who have been through mental illness themselves. My brain works in this way that if anyone else said it, I couldn’t rely on or trust their words because I don’t know why they would be qualified to tell me not to blame myself; how would they know?

So I apologise if you are the kind hearted person trying to be consoling or comforting but for some reason my brain needs evidence of your qualification to give advice before I am able to give myself a break of any kind! I do wish it wasn’t like that; it was make life much simpler and easier for me.

I think some of this way of thinking is because we were brought up to believe strongly in the consequences of our actions. I couldn’t take bits of bark out of the garden to write on the concrete with the other girls because if every one in the school did that, there would be no bark left. I needed to get up early enough to make my lunch for school otherwise I wouldn’t have lunch. If we stayed outside too late after school we would get the coughs (which I finally realised in my university studies was asthma!). I was a big girl and I needed to remember to bring my jumper home every day. If I forgot to feed and water my canary he would die. Etc.

That’s just how we were raised. And in lots of ways it’s been good. Almost every school report from prep to Year 12 had the word ‘conscientious’ or the phrase ‘helps people’ or ‘thinks of others’.

But it’s been very problematic for me while I’ve been sick, because my default setting is blaming myself. This sort of thinking also stopped me from getting medical attention for my moods and anxiety for a long time because I instinctively thought that the reason I wasn’t functioning well because I wasn’t eating well enough, exercising enough, drinking enough, sleeping enough, keeping myself in a good routine enough etc etc! So I made a deal with myself that when all of those conditions were perfect then if I still wasn’t okay I’d go to the doctor.

This is a very bad idea! Any condition of any kind is better treated as soon as possible and that is certainly true in regards to mental illness. Delaying only leads to potentially poorer response to therapy, likely worse outcomes in terms of suicide attempts and more pain and sorrow to be endured. Plus, getting every one of those conditions perfect is something that takes a LOT of time and effort and really isn’t a very nice way to treat yourself. It might not even be physically possible!

I saw a great quote the other day:

“Treat yourself kindly. Because what has being mean to yourself ever gotten you?”

I’ve been so glad for my treating team who repeatedly and patiently and clearly and helpfully explained to me, Danika, this is not your fault!

I know I’m slow to take it on board, but I’m so glad they persist with me! And insist on me being kinder and easier and less judgemental on myself. Which I’m trying to do….

So, outside, sunshine, no blame. That’s the plan; wish me luck!