Bird’s eye view

[Written 15th October, 2015]

Apologies for my two week break. I’m calling it my school holidays! It’s just been busy busy lately and I’m struggling a little (read: more than a little!) to keep afloat. I tried to write for both Monday deadlines but I ended up with rambling, vague, long and somewhat pointless essays that I’d lost touch with and couldn’t relate to anymore. But now I’m back 🙂

Today a fellow birder from one of the several bird photography groups that I’m a member of on Facebook posted something that I could connect with. It’s a quote from a very famous author.

“I never saw a wild thing feel sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself” – D H Lawrence

I wanted to call this post perspective, again, but I’ve done that at least twice, so time for a new title. I looked up synonyms and one that was listed under prospect was bird’s eye view. It’s a unique outlook that humans mostly never get to enter into. We often imagine what a bird’s view is, and project onto birds our human emotions and thoughts.

There’s a whole animal welfare section of society that campaigns for different animals in different situations. As far as I can see, which might not be well or far, we can assess an animals pain based on what would cause us pain, or by the animals behaviour and reaction to the pain. Then we can treat the pain.

The rest of the industry I don’t know about, and I’m not sure if we always do it right. These are just my questioning thoughts; I’m not basing this on any evidence or proof.

We campaign for cage chickens and want them free to roam the open green grass paddocks. But as long as the animals aren’t being injured by too close proximity to each other or the cages, does the chicken feel sorry for itself? Or was it bred for this and in this environment, and doesn’t know the difference and is actually quite content? Are we thinking of ourselves and how we like open, green spaces, and don’t like being too close to each other in physical distance and housing? Are we projecting onto a creature that doesn’t even have the kind of human thinking that gets us worried about other life forms? I don’t know. I just wonder. How about overseas where high density living and family groups are crowded into one house? Do they think about free range chickens? Doubtful, because it’s exactly how they are living. Hmmm. Feel free to comment.

The picture posted on the bird photography group that prompted this quote was of a Silver Gull, commonly called a seagull. If you glanced at the photo, if you looked at it, you wouldn’t think anything of it. It’s a photo of a seagull standing on a stone border. Nothing particularly notable.

Until you read the comment that the person posting the photo had written:

“Silver gull with no feet. While it is sad, the bird seemed to be doing okay. And it shows just how adaptable the species can be” – Jade Craven, Bird Photography Australia.

That makes you look again. And this time you notice that instead of standing on two  three-toed, webbed feet, the bird is standing on stumps. Remarkable!

But looking at it you would have to agree with the description. This is a healthy Silver Gull.

Clean, healthy, perfect-looking plumage; healthy coloured legs, eye and beak; looking well fed.

Our instincts would be to protect this somewhat disabled bird, but actually, it’s doing okay.

We’d want to take it in, feed it, keep it safely enclosed from predators, care for it.

In doing so, we’d give it our idea of appropriate food at our idea of frequency, we’d make it dependent on us for food and water so that it would be lost or dead without us, we’d keep it in an environment where it couldn’t fly like normal and it might lose the ability to do so making it prone to attack. Being in a safe environment could make it unaware to danger and threat, so that it becomes an easy target.

I’m not saying this in any criticism of animal rescue professionals who are trained in animal welfare. They know what they are doing, and they take animals only if they cannot be left in the wild by any means possible, and give them the best care that is known by humans to give.

But I’m trying to look from a bird’s eye view and see how they see. Of course it’s impossible; they don’t talk so they can’t tell us. But I’ve seen a LOT of humans lately, in the groups that I follow, rush to take birds, especially babies into their care when in some circumstances, nature was taking its course as the fledglings left the nest and made their way to the ground. Taking them in is the worst thing for them, now that they are separated from their family. In my opinion.

I was always taught to leave well alone. Just because you’ve stumbled across a situation at a certain time and it looks a certain way, don’t jump the gun. Nature is incredibly smart! Birds and all the other creatures are incredibly well regulated and well designed and they know what they’re doing and are more resourceful than we are, I reckon. Of course this is all opinion but I’ve been interested to think about this.

People have tried to enter into a bird’s perspective. I’ve seen Go Pros strapped to the back to eagles before they are released to fly and soar so that we the humans can look down on the world like they do. Something that astounded me was that I couldn’t see the ground! Not in any detail at all anyway, of course I could see it but I couldn’t make out anything. And eagles can not only see the ground in detail but they see tiny animals in amazing detail and they dive on a pinpoint spot to capture and get away with their prey. They’re way ahead of us!

So I was just thinking about birds not feeling sorry for themselves, but just getting on with life in whatever way they can. Most times they don’t need us, and we can certainly make things worse for them, and maybe sometimes a little better.

But I can keeping thinking this: birds don’t seem to feel sorry for themselves. They just go, just do, just be without considering whether they are hard done by, or its unfair, or someone else should do something for me. So can I, if I am prepared to make the effort to change my thinking, and I hope I am!

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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!

Tired

Tired. Being tired. Feeling tired.

This is still the hardest thing of all for me to deal with. Especially so because I can’t really see that much of an end to it coming up with any haste.

Being or feeling tired, is pretty much the physical equal of being or feeling depressed, mentally. In fact I think they are different ends of the same condition. I’m sure that every depressed person feels tired; I’m not sure if every tired person, who is tired from some other cause that is ongoing and continuous, feels depressed but I’m guessing the percentage that do feel depressed is pretty high.

Most of the stereotypes are exactly the same.

You know, all the old favourites: “you don’t look tired”, “you don’t seem tired”, “I bet if you pushed yourself you would find that you’re not that tired”, “if you just tried a bit harder I’m sure you’d be fine”, “exercise is good for people when they’re feeling tired”, “if you were really tired you’d be sleeping instead of just laying around”, “are you eating properly because if you were I’m sure you’d find you weren’t so tired”, “are you sure you’re not just being lazy”, “are you sure you wouldn’t feel better if you did something for the day instead of sitting/lying there”, “are you sure quitting is good for you? If you pushed yourself I think you could keep going”, “everyone gets tired, you just have to push through it”.

Yawn! Surely it can't be time to get up! bed

Yawn! Surely it can’t be time to get up!

Really?! So let me get this straight. It’s not bad enough that I’m suffering with tiredness, but now you get to judge me for the affliction which I would never have wished for, and condemn me for however I somehow manage my way through it. Hmmm. Yep that sounds reasonable.

Rant over; that’s not what this is about. But I will make a side point here before we move one. Every single time that you want to ask someone a question that subtly suggests they are being useless and not helping themselves, think about this.

If that person had cancer and was suffering from whatever-it-is, in this case let’s say tiredness since that’s the topic, would you still ask the question? Would you still hint that they could do better and be better?

If that fails, try, and I mean REALLY try, to empathise with the subject, in this case, let’s say me. How about, as a mental exrcise, you imagine you were me? You may be a friend who knows a little about me, family who knows a bit more about me, or a stranger unmet that knows only what’s written here…but try. And if you can’t imagine it, or have insufficient information to really get into my shoes, then maybe it would be appropriate for you to consider that you also have no right to comment.

And please don’t take this as a rudeness or a get-out-of-here sentence! It’s meant only as a demonstration because I’m certain that most people commenting on health and mental health these days are not the people who have an inside and intimate view of the various conditions that exist.

So; being tired.

Here is the 50 million dollar question: is it physical or mental?

Here is the 25 million dollar: does it matter?

And here’s the question that I want answered that I’m not sure there is even an answer to: what the ……. am I supposed to do about it??? Fill in the blank yourself.

I have no idea what to do about it. No clue.

Everyone else has a lot of ideas.

Who has the answer that is best for me?

So here’s my systematic approach.

Why am I tired?

First cab off the ranks: I have depression, bipolar depression that comes with lack of motivation, lack of energy, lack of stamina, lack of feeling. So there’s that.

Second idea: medications including quetiapine (Seroquel) which literally puts me to sleep at night and possible hangs over a bit the next day; lithium which is known to slow you down a bit, so there’s a bit more.

Third thing: I have underactive thyroid which was caused by lithium and we’re still working on getting the thyroxine (Oroxine) dose right. I started on half a tablet, now I’m on a full tablet of the lowest strength and we’re waiting the 6 weeks before we can take a blood test to check if we need to bump it up again. Also I’ve had iron deficiency anaemia over the last year and while my iron levels are finally okay, my iron stores are still low so I’m still getting that sorted out with iron tablets and I’m also enrolled in a clinical trial to help with iron levels. None of that helps.

Fourth: the weight gain thing. The last time I ran around and got excited about jumping up and down, I was 30kg lighter! Thirty kilograms. It should surprise no one that a person carrying a bag of 30kg moves slower than they used to! It’s logical maths.

So actually, when I see it all written out on paper in detail…I realise maybe I could be giving myself a break.

Hmm. That’s actually quite a lot of reasons to be going slow…maybe I need to go back to psychology basics and re-frame my life these days. Maybe what is desperately needed here is some of that self compassion that I blab about but forget to apply, and a new perspective.

The perspective that says, Danika, whatever you can get done today is excellent. Congratulate yourself for getting up out of bed, for having breakfast, for getting out of the house, for getting through a shift of work, for whatever activity you do.

Forget about wondering why you can’t this and that, why you used to be able to do this and can’t now, why it’s hard to get through what you want to get through.

Try being excited and satisfied and happy about whatever you can get done. Give yourself a break. Don’t just say it, give it! It’s not a theory, it needs to be a practice. Give yourself a break!

And remember that you have hope of improving in the future: the plan to eventually wean you off sleepy quetiapine, your intention to slow weight slowly but steadily, your commitment to your medication that should correct your thyroid function and anaemia.

RIght now, it doesn’t matter what the tiredness is; could be anything off the list. Just take each day as it comes, and try not to have excessive expectations of yourself in your current state. You aren’t last year, you aren’t later this year; you’re right now, so just handle what you can handle, and leave the rest to another day.

And seriously: take your own advice! Don’t just right these easy lines for someone else’s benefit; read them and believe them and check in on them again each day. Every day. I don’t want you getting into a state about this tiredness thing anymore; give yourself a break!

On Wednesday I got excited…

[Author’s note: written two weeks ago]

The last three weeks have been a bit tedious, and boring, and uninteresting, and flat, and sleepy, and just hard to enjoy!

On the 19th May, after 5 days in the manic sphere having a fabulous super productive and energetic time, I collapsed! Literally collapsed into bed, fell into a coma (*exaggeration*) and hardly got up for week (*not an exaggeration*)! I left the house 3 times – Thursday, Friday and Sunday. A friend’s birthday lunch, a mother’s club that I nearly cancelled on, and the gospel meeting. I showered once. It was rough!

The last week of May was slightly better, I got out of bed every day and left the house a couple more times. I did next to nothing but I ate most meals and had a couple of laughs.

The first week of June I had a couple of ordinary days, an intermediate day that I thought might crossover into mania but didn’t (thank goodness!! Can’t take another huge mood swing!), and a couple days that felt like regular good days 🙂 I’ve had a bit more energy and for the first time in three weeks I actually feel like I could hit the gym! I’m even almost excited to go; to run, and jump, and lift weights, and be part of my fitness group again. This is great!

I mean I felt like it, I didn’t actually go; but I felt like it. So that counts, right?

So Wednesday. June 4th. Not a great day; an intermediate day. I left the house because I had an appointment with my psychologist/counsellor. Probably wouldn’t have left it otherwise. Got up late, showered – sad that this is noteworthy! I started well with a good breakfast, then had another good breakfast, then a couple of mandarins and it was starting down a slippery slope of sour straps and peanut butter that luckily got interrupted cos I had to leave for my appointment!

Getting out of the house makes a HUGE difference to how much I eat. This is something to always keep in mind. Having something productive or useful or purposeful to do in the day significantly reduces how much I eat. Mainly because I’m distracted from sitting and staring at food, and actively doing something else like driving or catching public transport or using my brain!

So off I go to the psychologist. Trying to think of something to talk about, and coming up with nothing! Nothing had happened in the week since I saw her last; no improvement, no gains. My brain is not getting exercised and can’t think of anything that we can work on. Luckily, she is a psychologist and counsellor and her job is to know these things.

So we got chatting about the week that had been, and things that had happened and how everything was going. Then about strategies to improve the days, to give me something purposeful to achieve, to help fill in the gaping hours. And it kick-started something in my brain. It jogged my memory again. It gave me flash backs of useful and interesting things that I had done, and plans I had had for other things that I hadn’t done yet, and which my mind hadn’t been able to access for the last few weeks.

It is amazing and fascinating that in down times I really can’t use my brain as well as in better times. There’s actually evidence to show that the pathways to creative and imaginative parts of the brain are diminished and much harder to get to when a person is in the midst of depression. The absolute opposite is the case with mania; the pathways are much easier to access and the creative brain is firing on all cylinders.

I started to get excited. I remembered my knitting, my drawing, my bird watching, my photography. I remembered how I’d been planning to join a choir, that there were pharmacy continuing education sessions I could go to during the day, that I had meant to go back to the zoo, to do a bush walk, have a bike ride, visit some gardens. It came to mind that I could call the pharmacy counselling number and have a chat to another pharmacist about where I’m up to and how I can proceed from here, that I could visit friends, finish my half-done quilt, sort some boxes from the shed, get involved in life again.

And I guess that’s why they pay psychologists the big bucks. This is why I definitely need my psychologist sessions. Just someone professional looking at how I’m going and offering a different perspective and some guidance on how to proceed.

I went into this session unable to think of anything to talk about, to discuss, and unable to see how I could be helped.

I came out of the session inspired with a long list of things that I could do if I wanted; interests re-remembered, hobbies re-energised and feeling more optimistic about the days ahead of me. I had things I could do, I had reason to get up in the morning, I had plans for spending the days. I had hopes and ideas and inspiration.

For that, I owe great thanks to my lovely psychologist. What would I do without her?

Perspective

On Monday I had one of those epiphany type thing-a-ma-gigs.

‘How the day has gone’ is entirely a matter of perspective.

Bazinga!

We look over the day and decide whether it was good or bad, but the moment that we’re in when we decide that, and the pros and cons of the day as they appear from the moment greatly influence whether we feel good or bad about the day.

Monday was a great example.

I have been having a terrible time lately. Since my last up it has been a solid month of downs, and since last Thursday it’s been getting downer!

By Friday night I was shedding desperation tears unable to see how anything could change that would ever make me feel better. Saturday and Sunday I largely spent in bed, using sleep to avoid having to sit up and let my brain start functioning. I was very keen to avoid my brain; it was such a mess of hopeless, bleak, awful terribleness that I just didn’t want to know it.

On Monday I had my psychiatrist appointment. To be honest, since last Thursday the only thing keeping me from total desperation and despair was that appointment and the hope that there was something, anything that could be done to get me feeling different from this!

So, not a great day Monday. Basically hanging out on the hope that something would improve once I’d seen the psychiatrist. Nothing did improve; I actually had a meltdown, but a new plan was devised which helped me to feel that at least something was going to change, and hopefully for the better. At least there are people who care and who are trying to fix me in whatever way is needed.

As I was heading into the city for that appointment, I found myself walking out from the underground car park into cold slanting rain and a stiff easterly wind without an umbrella, or raincoat, and wearing flats instead of boots and not wearing any tights!

Typical! I said to myself. Isn’t this typical of my luck? Doesn’t this always happen to me? Of course I’m always the person unprepared! Now I’m getting rained on, how frustrating! And I look like a crazy lady wearing my red wool scarf over my head to half soak up the rain and stop my hair going completely horizontal!

I waited in the tram shelter with rain blowing through a gap in the side and wetting me. Couldn’t even stay dry in the tram shelter! And I knew I would have to change trams and wait in the rain for the next tram with no shelter. At that moment I felt that the day was a failure! I felt like my brain was mush; that it had let me down, yet again! How could I have forgotten to bring an umbrella? There are several umbrellas in my house that I had walked right past to get out to the car AND one umbrella in the car that I’d just gotten out of!

How could I have gone out of the house on a cold rainy day in just a top and skirt and scarf? Why wasn’t I wearing boots and stockings?  How could I have forgotten a rain coat when they are kept in the cupboard next to the front door? What an idiot! How could I be so stupid?

So I called my husband to tell him my predicament: wet, cold, no rain jacket, no umbrella, bare legs, no boots, no jumper, have to change trams. And he said, ‘but remember this morning, you did…’ and suddenly I realised that I was letting a few small things taint my whole day as wasted, hopeless, pointless, stupid. I was allowing myself to put myself down by telling myself that I was always this stupid, useless, disorganised and unprepared person. Which isn’t true when I put the whole day into context.

For a week that wasn’t great, and a day in it that I didn’t have high hopes for, I did okay. And I need to remember to give myself credit for that!

I got up out of bed, got dressed and had breakfast before making it to a 9.45am appointment on time. That in itself was impressive; often I don’t get out of bed until 9am or 9.30am! So well down me for that.

I was expecting two visitors in the afternoon coming to stay for a few days. I made up their beds, brought in a lamp from the shed and got it cleaned up for the substitute bedroom, cleaned out all my junk from the substitute bedroom. Good job me. The bedrooms look lovely and welcoming and they’re all ready in plenty of time so I don’t have to stress later.

I’d made two appointments for Tuesday and needed to cancel them since I had guests coming. I hate cancelling or re-scheduling appointments! I always feel awful and think I have to have some big excuse to justify myself. I always avoid it as long as possible! But I did it!! I just said to me, just do it now and got it done with no unpleasantness. In fact they both thanked me for calling to reschedule. So congrats on getting that done, me.

I had some hand washing to do; I also hate this! A jumper that I needed to hand wash sat in my laundry for eight months recently!! I really hate hand washing! But I did the hand washing in my laundry; self kudos for that! I didn’t drag it out, just got in and did it and although my hands are now dry and tight at least the washing won’t be staring at me every time I go into the laundry.

I’m really not in the cooking mood but need some food for my peeps coming to stay. So I go out in the car right across town to my old favourite cooking cafe from when I was at uni and get some soup and a quiche to serve up instead of cooking stuff myself. Good for you, not being embarrassed to say it’s too much to cook for 4 people for 4 days; that’s big of you. And now you’re sorted for the week.

I also drove out to Brandsmart to change over a purchase; another not favourite task! Again I feel like I have to justify and explain myself over a simple size swap. Thanks me for doing it and not letting it drag out for days! And that’s three car trips, I know you’re not feeling up to doing that much driving but now it’s all done and you don’t have to leave the house tomorrow.

I needed to get a script dispensed so I did that. Another task that I dilly dally on. While it was getting dispensed I got some last minute groceries for the week. And a frozen yoghurt as a treat; well done on giving yourself a break and a treat.

My weekly medicine box was empty and needed repacking so I did that, and found I needed another script dispensed. I put that in my bag for later when I go to the psychiatrist.

Last week I found a myki card and have been dilly dallying looking it up to see if it was registered; finally got around to it! It wasn’t so now it’s my spare card; yay!

A braces company had contacted me by messenger for a free consultation so I got in touch and arranged a free appointment for next week so it doesn’t disrupt this week and hopefully I’ll be feeling more like driving by then. Thanks me for giving me a few days break before scheduling in new things.

So if we are going on accomplishments and failures it’s clearly a good day, despite how I’m feeling right now and the annoyances of the failures. In the scheme of things they are greatly outnumbered but it’s only in taking the time to remember all the good things, to be grateful for them and to realise how much I have accomplished that I get the benefit of those things.

A good and timely reminder not to let the little things get in the way of a good day.

This isn’t a brag list, a boast, or self-congratulation (other than when I’ve actually congratulated myself that is!) but just a demonstration of this idea that struck me, that I seem to have to learn over and over and over. A day is not doomed because of one or a few negative things that happen. Life is a blend of different experiences so just take each one as it comes and try not to make such a big deal out of any one or two.

Also, read this post at least once a week because you will forget this and you do need to learn it again and again. In fact set a reminder in your phone right now so that you read this again at this time next week. Good, well done. Now go and enjoy the day.

The faces of depression

I was walking around the back of the gorilla exhibit at the zoo and saw this excellent lowland gorilla out of the corner of my eye and it really looked like exactly how I feel some days!

That made me look differently at all my photos when I got home from the zoo. I’ve put together a few pictures that look like how depression feels, at least to me.

Silverback gorilla

lowland gorilla, bushes, grumpy

‘I’m sad and tired and sulky and just want to sit here and mope! Please leave me alone’ pose from this lowland gorilla

gorilla, eating, grass

‘I’m up, I’m eating breakfast but I’m still not convinced this is a good thing’ says another lowland gorilla

Seal

seal, water, rocks, zoo

This is a seal perfectly doing my ‘do I really have to move an inch today? Please tell me I don’t have to go anywhere!’ face!

seal, rock, water, posing

And here’s a seal doing my ‘please just go away and stop being helpful, I can’t take it today!’ face

Penguin

penguins, wooden bridge, zoo

This penguin is doing the ‘weighed down with the weight of the world’ pose

fairy penguin, beach, boardwalk, water

This fairy penguin is doing my ‘please tell me the day is over and I can go to bed? Please?’ pose!

Red panda

red panda, tree, hiding away

Here is a gorgeous red panda doing the ‘if I don’t show my face maybe everyone will leave me alone and I can just hide in here all day’ pose

Giant tortoise

giant tortoise, crawling along, heavy feet

A giant tortoise moving a slow ponderous step every few seconds, just like me dragging my feet on a glum day, heavy, slow, effort-ful!

Quokka

quokka, sleepy, grass, posts

This fluffy sleepy quokka is showing my ‘there is no way that I am opening my eyes or acknowledging in any way that its daytime’ face

Lemur

lemur, striped tail

Grumpy old lemur showing my ‘don’t mess with me today, I dont have the energy to be nice’ face

Pygmy hippopotamus

pygmy hippopotamus, swimming, zoo, blocked in

‘I’m stuck. Everywhere I look there are only obstacles. I can’t do anything. There are walls and stones blocking me at every turn’ says the pygmy hippopotamus after swimming into the corner!

Mandrill baboon

mandrill, rocks, zoo

The ‘please just let me sit here for as long as it takes’ pose by a mandrill

Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo

Goodfellow's tree kangaroo, zoo, trees

This Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo says you can talk to the back cos the face just can’t take it today!

Coati

coati, south america, zoo, next, tree

‘Should I get out of bed today? It doesn’t look too promising out there; maybe I’ll just stay here for a while’ says the coati

Sumatran tiger

sumatran tiger, leaves, zoo

‘I just don’t want to talk about it’ pose from the Sumatran tiger

Apologies to the gorgeous animals that made my day at the zoo so awesome for afflicting them with depressive characteristics!

Perspective is an interesting thing I’ve found. It can make all the difference. It can shade anything black or white into shades of grey. It can confuse things, complicate things, and completely change things.

A lot of work that I’ve done with my psychologist is around perspective, or the way I view the world, and trying to change that for the better to improve my mental health.

Identifying when our perspective is blacker or darker or sadder or angrier or bleaker or “more depressed” is step one to changing perspective. It’s interesting to me to see how a thought can change perspective on a larger part of life.

Seeing this gorilla, who is probably in fact happy and satisfied and just mulling gently on life, from my perspective as grumpy and sad and depressed, led on to thinking about my whole experience in a difference, “more depressed” light. I’m sure none of these animals are really depressed; it was just an exercise to demonstrate perspective (and gave me an excuse to share all my great animal shots!).

If I can notice this negative perspective and stop it in it’s tracks, that’s a great step. If I can then take away the negative glasses and see events in a neutral way that is a second and bigger step. If I can overlay the whole experience with a positive vibe, that is the third and greatest step of all! And it’s with these steps that depression can be beaten!

A big claim!! And it comes with a catch. It’s HARD!! It takes effort, motivation, concentration, self awareness, insight, persistence, energy. And these are the things that depression takes away. So that’s a complication right there.

This is why depression is attacked with a multi-modal approach.

One: medications to increase serotonin, reverse some of the effects of depression, and bump up the energy, motivation and effort.

Two: psychologist or counsellor help to identify negative thought processes and find ways to change them

Three: self help – learning all you can about your condition so that you can find ways to help yourself. And being willing to do these things!

Some people don’t like the idea of medication. Maybe they’ve had a bad experience, maybe they’ve had side effects, maybe they have misconceptions, maybe someone has told them something that has put them off. Interestingly people believe talk amongst themselves more than doctors; even though it’s illogical.

All I know is, without medication I would not be anywhere near as good as I am today. Without it, I was a sobbing blob on the floor, unable to move, do anything, see anything but pain and blackness.

And without the medication, everything is so much harder. Because you are fighting an uphill battle against your own self. Against a state of demotivation, lack of energy, unable to enjoy things, difficulty concentrating, sadness and pain that is serotonin deficiency.

Adding in the missing serotonin is so logical and such a necessary step in getting a person back on track. It’s helps so much, gives you such a boost along the path to recovery. Without it I can’t fight the depression. I can’t get up, go out, live life, work, shop, shower, do my daily tasks. Even with a massive dose of it I struggle sometimes, mainly due to swinging moods. That’s a whole other thing.

Serotonin replacement, or anti-depressants give the needed ingredients for me to make somewhere better in my head for my life to live. They enable me, help me, boost me, push me and give me the strength to help myself. To help me change my perspective, to improve my mental health, to make a better life. Here’s to it!!