One of those things

[written sunny Saturday 9th July, 2016; updated 12th July, 2016]

Today I brushed my teeth.

It shouldn’t be a big deal should it, but it is. No one can remember the last time that I brushed my teeth…last year? It’s terrible I know, and doesn’t exactly match my pharmacists’ health promotion ethos, does it? And it’s not something my husband relishes! Or others, possibly; I haven’t heard! But it’s just gotten to be one of those things. You know, those things? Things that you should do, but it’s just a bit too hard. So they’ve slipped down the priority scale, and dropped off the to-do list. I know I have new cavities from being so slack; I can feel them on the lower left side of my mouth when I eat hot food, drink cold drinks, eat something sugary etc. It’s going to need some attention and I’m happy to give it that, but I’ve got an insurance situation to sort out before I can afford it. Soon. Interestingly, or not, I pack my toothbrush every time I go away. I even pack my dental floss, the same dental floss that I’ve had since no one knows when! That’s extreme optimism for you, right there! I don’t know why I think it’s going to be different on holidays, why I think I’ll get it done. I guess it’s something to do with believing I’ll have more time on holidays, that I’ll feel differently on holidays, that everything will fall into place on holidays. But that’s not how it works, is it? What you have at home, your routines, your schedule, your habits, you take on holidays with you. So it just gets put off a little longer, and a little longer. I’ve never been great at this, but I’ve been a heck of a lot better than this, even committing to daily bleaching my teeth for 3 weeks once! It’s probably one of the bigger of those things.

Today I washed my hands.

That, of all things, should NOT be a big deal but washing and drying my hands has become a stand off with myself! It’s like a rebellion against something, I don’t even know what. But you’re supposed to wash your hands, yeah? Well I won’t! Terrible, childish thought process, I know. But it’s there, and it takes a lot of overcoming! Every time I should be washing my hands, this something rises up in me and I just sneak away without doing it. So silly, yet it persists. Obviously because I work in a hospital there are safety limits but a pump of alcohol or chemical based cleaner is a lot easier to me; maybe I should install a couple of home! It’s just one of those things. It’s not that I never wash my hands. If I think an activity warrants it, like dirt from gardening, dusty or greasy hands from my bike, food matter etc then yes they get a good wash; or a good rub down on a hand towel that will disguise it! I’m practically a kid when it comes to this! It’s the little times when my hands aren’t dirty, but its tradition (and probably hygiene!) like before a meal, after a meal, little things. In my mind. Probably not in others minds, but it feels like unnecessary energy that I can’t afford to waste, so I save my efforts for something more essential, as least to my way of thinking. It’s one of those things which seem like why wouldn’t you just do it, but I feel like it will take too much energy. It’s a fight with myself.

Today I walked one kilometer.

Walking, any walking, has become a big deal since I got sick. I never used to think about the things I asked my body to do. I walked as long as I needed, I ran for exercise, I loved swimming for fun, weights were my favourite form of exercise, I’ve done a couple of bootcamps including one at a boxing gym, pilates was my relaxation, and so on. But now, I struggle a lot with it! For various reasons, I suppose: I’m fat and heavy, I’m slow and sluggish, it takes energy and effort and motivation, I’d rather catch ANY other form of transportation, my legs rub together and chafe til they’re red raw unless I wear undershorts or leggings, it drains my mind and my body, and I’ve come to associate it with pain and suffering. I know, a little over dramatic! But there you have it, it’s one of those things! This walk in particular was slow, and it wasn’t for exercise; it was for bird watching and photography. But hey, it was outside in the sun and breeze, and it was a kilometer. I take it however I get it, and don’t sneeze at the little bits of exercise however they come. I’m meant to be exercising more. Well that was more than yesterday, more than the day before, and more in one go than I’d done for the whole week and probably longer so I’m counting it as a win!

Today I rode my bike.

And it reminded me that I do love my bike! I’d forgotten that. I quickly forget the joys, and never-endingly remember the pains; it’s not a good way to be! I keep planning to ride with Wheel Women and sign myself up for rides optimistically hoping I’ll feel like it by the time they comes around. But then I pull out closer to the day as it becomes clearer that not having left the house or changed out of PJs for 2 days, it really isn’t going to be likely that I’ll be up and dressed by 8.30am ready to drive 45 minutes across the city! Or I heave a sigh of relief when a planned ride is cancelled due to rain, path flooding or wild weather. Then I roll over and go back to sleep. Well that’s been the pattern lately while I haven’t been well. Before today I hadn’t ridden or been on my bike even since the 3rd of June! Five weeks out of it! I think I’ve had 5 weeks out of a lot of things, to be honest. It’s been reasonably bleak for me and with me, and that’s when all of these things, those things, fall away because it’s too much effort to keep them going. But flying downhill brought on that high, that endorphin burst and suddenly I was in my zone, loving it! And I flew all the way home, even up the hills, and that was that, I was back, mentally. And when you’re there mentally, you’re there!

Today I climbed hills on my bike.

If you know me and my riding, you know about me and hills; we have a difficult relationship! Frankly, right now, I’m not built for going up hills! My weight is very much against me when trying to defy gravity by going up. Nevertheless, the hills are there and they do come across my path, and at the end of the day I do have to get up them somehow. So when Wheel Women ran a class on climbing, cornering and descending, it sounded like exactly the skill set that I could benefit from! So how did I get to that class when I hadn’t gotten to any other rides? My innate cheapness!! I put down money for this class, little though it be, but it’s a powerful motivator in someone with Scottish blood, however diluted it be! And I did learn some super helpful tips to help me up those hills. And then I flew down them again, but that’s the fun bit, the bit that gives you a rush! The other bit, the climbing is different, but I guess it’s a means to an end if you like. It’s still hard. But I did it today! I conquered one of those things, at least for now.

At the end of the day, what a day?!

Better than I’ve had in quite a while! I’ve been struggling with depression lately and it has sucked, but suddenly on Thursday night when I woke up from my nap, something shifted! I was high, elevated in an energetic and motivated frame of mind. Just like that! If only I could click my fingers and get that result! Who on earth knows what it was that tipped me over, impossible to figure out. But YAY!

So what you’re seeing here is the chemicals in my brain giving me a booster shot to actually manage to do some of those things. I even cooked tea one night this week! Rare event these days! When the chemicals all line up, life is good. It’s easy, way less effort, far less forcing myself around. It just happens and we’re all relieved. And vice versa, you understand. But for now, for however little time I have this little break, it’s nice to use it to do something. It’s not perfect. My ride was still hard! The hills still hurt. My walking was still slow, although that was more for the sake of finding birds, and it wasn’t far, but still. I washed my hands but not all the time. And I brushed my teeth.

What I didn’t do today was shower. It’s probably the hugest of the things. To get into our shower you have to climb into the bathtub. Every time I think of having a shower, I think of having to hoick my leg over the side and it just seems like too much effort! It’s such a small thing, right, but it literally seems like it’s impossible. Once I’m in its great; I love a nice hot shower and feeling clean again, once I’m there. It’s just the getting started, which is after all, the issue with all of these things; getting started. It’s pretty much classic depression: issues with motivation, energy, self care. It is amazing what lengths I’ll go to not to have a shower, and how long I’ll go between showers. And by amazing, I also mean embarrassing! After Bali, I had a mega battle and I almost lost count but I think I went more than two weeks and no shower, and unwashed hair! You may have noticed! I still used deodorant and perfume so hopefully I didn’t stink, but it wasn’t a nice episode and finally my husband had to drag me to the shower and make me get in. And it was delightful! All that fuss and bother and argument, vanished, and I had a lovely time and came out feeling wonderful! It’s one of those things!!

That’s today [read: Saturday 9th July]. Tomorrow we have to wake up and do it again so we won’t get too carried away, but today those things have had a bit less hold over me.

So, the next day: Sunday morning, the hardest morning of the week. Mainly because I ideally would aim be up and going earlier than I may have done for the other 6 days of the week. But today I was up by 9am and actually feeling like I was up and going, not sluggish or doped out. My anticipation of the coming Sunday can mean that I go to bed late, and so not take my tablets til late just before I go to bed, and so I can be a bit sedated by the effect of my tablets lasting well into the morning. I have this contrary thought process that not going to bed will prolong the next day’s arrival…obviously it’s just the opposite. But it’s another reason why waking up Sunday is a complicated thing. Sunday morning is also traditionally when I wash my hair. I should really change that, if common sense prevails. It’s just another thing to get past to get to church: waking up, clearing my head, getting fed and watered and tabletted, showering, dressing and getting out the door not long after ten.

But today was pretty successful. I actually had a shower, and even dug out some moisturizer and did my legs! A miracle of a day! I’m energetic but not irritably manic, the best way to be. Touch wood for more days like these. I’m active, I’m wanting to fill in my day instead of hiding from it; I’m like a normal person!! YAY!

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Remember…?

I was recently recruited/volunteered for a babysitting gig.

That sounds more official than it was. Really it was just a favour for friends to be a nanny for a couple of days so that both parents could continue to work without disruption while one parent got sent away for training.

I was hesitant. After all, I’m the child that needs an afternoon nap most days, and I can’t even get my own hubby and I dinner, let alone dream up what kids would like to eat and convince them to eat it! I haven’t changed a nappy since I was ten and my baby sister was two, and my stamina for game playing or activity of most kinds tends to be non existent.

But I’ve been having a good run lately. Some days without naps, some mornings without exhaustion, some periods of up to days with no tiredness. Almost like it used to be before I got sick. Almost like an adult human, almost like I could live life without every move being an effort. It mostly has to do with my psychiatrist changing the time I take my tablets. Seem like such a small deal. As a pharmacist I never even thought of it, because I didn’t think it would change much. But it has changed a lot, so I said yes!

And it was exciting! To say yes. To say yes to responsibility, to effort, to what you know will require work and stamina and endurance, even though you don’t know if you have what it takes. So I packed my bags and went.

This isn’t about that, but it’s something of a progress report as an introduction. What it’s about is kids, and the things that make them happy. Watching them play and the kind of things that satisfy them is fascinating! And poignant, because it reminds me of all those things that I enjoyed as a child, and would probably still enjoy, that I haven’t done in years, but maybe should give a go.

Here’s the list from the three days we had together:

*drawing pictures with textas with great abandon, letting the mood take you and drawing everything that comes to mind, not hesitating in case it doesn’t turn out, but drawing free

*riding bikes up and down the drive way and through the puddles, and setting the intention to ride all the way to the end of the road, regardless of how far that might be

*Walking around, then toeing into then walking and stomping through puddles because its satisfying to make things splash and jump out of place like you’re a giant

*making tents that you can crawl into with your dress-ups and fake food supplies and torch and teddies, and sleep all night in the loungeroom because its better than your bed

*reading the same book over and over and over and over just because you like it, and you like how it goes and how it ends and you want to hear it again and again

*drinking anything out of a sippy cup because it tastes better!

*playing with the kitten, getting scratched and bitten while you learn how to hold it gently then playing games with it all day

*filling up the plastic pool and splashing around for hours so that water gets everywhere but it doesn’t matter cos you’re outside, and pretending you’re swimming on your back and your tummy and blowing bubbles underwater and wetting everything within cooee

*playing dress-ups with tutus and tiaras and Mum’s shoes and pretty things that sparkle and shimmer

So its time.

Time to get in touch with having fun like a kid.

Riding my bike, splashing through puddles, playing with pets, dressing up, and I think I might just have to go buy a sippy cup! It’s time to let go just a bit and have fun with abandon like kids know how. Drawing, pools, swimming, playing. I think I would have less stress and more satisfaction in life if I thought and played a bit more like a child.

Of course I’m not going to actually become a child, or do things that are unbecomingly childish. I just want to get into the spirit of childish play, and away from adult structure and rules of play for a while. So hopefully, if you’re looking for me, I’ll be biking, drawing, swimming or wearing my prettiest clothes just because!!

I can’t seem to find my balance

I can’t seem to find my balance, by Danika Sanderson, written 28/1/2014

I can’t seem to find my balance.

Between living and dying, between singing and sighing,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

Between coming and going, from keeping to throwing,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

Between laughing and crying, between loving and fighting,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

From grinning to frowning, from swimming to drowning,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

I’m here and I’m there, “have to” be everywhere,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

I’m up and I’m down then I’m flat on the ground,

I’m carrying the weight of the world around,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

From gorging on food to soothe my mood,

From guilting myself about eating that food,

From kicking myself to the curb and back

For eating too much and getting too fat,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

From “too tired to care” and “life is not fair”

To “how lucky am I to have such a great guy”

To “what if I fail?” and “what if they hate me”

To “I am so happy” and “they must all rate me”,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

From being a friend to hiding away

And avoiding the customary “how was your day?”,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

From confident speaker to introvert girl,

From stomach of steel to wanting to hurl,

From conscientious to “that’ll do fine”,

I’m “stressed out I’m late” but still never on time,

From anything for anyone to “sod them all”,

From standing up straight to curled in a ball,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

My logic says go but my heart rate is thunder,

My sane brain agrees but the renting asunder

Of nerves once so stable but now run amuck,

Is leaving me feeling like one sitting duck!

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

Can’t walk in the dark, but running’s okay,

“Just push through the barriers and all’s well”, they say,

“Just exercise, eat well, sleep well and drink tea”,

“Avoid caffeine and sugar and alcohol’s three”,

“Just keep a good attitude, you’ll be alright”,

But what if they’re wrong and I lose this huge fight?

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

“What if…?”, “What then…?”, “What next?” I wonder,

The evils, the outcomes, the dark side I ponder.

I can’t see the good, the pleasant, the happy,

But then all at once, I become happy chappy!

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

I’m inspired; I’m keen as mustard to learn,

Then gloom, disappointment, my hopes they burn,

Again motivated; success I now yearn,

But failure still looms at every turn.

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

Why cannot I just for ONE day be level?

What would it feel like to sing and to marvel?

Instead of dwelling on doom and gloom

And walking around restless from room to room,

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

I can’t seem to find my balance.

I remember now often the days gone past,

When balance was normal, expected to last

All day every day and all life through,

I’d never have thought I’d be like this, did you?

I can’t seem to find my balance.

 

And yet there’s still hope at the bottom of the jar,

That “one day”, “ONE day”, maybe not far,

Maybe real close, maybe real soon,

I’ll be singing my song to a different tune.

 

A tune that thrills, and lilts, and strains,

To glorify One who holds the reigns,

Who shows to me His Love and Care

And helps me realise the burden’s to share.

Who shows me that balance is always found,

When God comes first and is followed around,

By everything else, that’s solid ground

For finally gaining my balance.

Copyright Danika Sanderson, 2014 – reproduction only with written permission from the author.

I wrote this poem all in an afternoon on my way home from work one day.

I was getting sick of my mood swings, of depression, of anxiety, and was dearly wanting to go back in time to when life was running on an even keel.

I’d never realised what a privilege it was just to live life with regular emotions, regular response to stress and plenty of serotonin and noradrenaline.

So I started thinking this thought in my mind; I can’t seem to find my balance.

I can’t seem to find my balance. Sometimes I’m full of life and running around, sometimes I’m suffering from suicidal thoughts and wanting to escape life. But I seem to be missing the middle ground where life is straightforward and easier.

I started thinking, I can’t seem to find my balance – I’m up and I’m down…what rhymes with down? Around, ground, mound…what works with I’m up and I’m down? I’m flat on the ground! Boo Yeah! I’ve got myself one verse.

And so it went on. I raced home and grabbed out an old school book and started scribbling. I wrote most of this poem exactly as it appears here; somehow I just got on a roll. Some verses needed some tinkering to make more sense. Some verses got put together, some got taken apart.

I’m really proud of this poem. Not only do I find it a fun rhyming scheme, based partially on limericks and partially on Dr Seuss-type rhyme, but I’m really pleased with how the lines came together to tell the story of where I was at this time. The fun rhyming contrasts with the serious content, and helps me feel better about how I’m feeling.

I’m still kind of in this space now, even though it’s nearly 4 months later. Balance takes a long time to achieve, as it turns out. I have good days, I have bad days. I had a couple of weeks up to last Sunday when I got ahead of myself with how well I was feeling and how much I was achieving and thought I was cured! Then the last week sucker punched me and landed me in bed for most of the week, having 2 naps a day every day!!

So balance, a tricky thing to achieve. Elusive, delicate, difficult, like walking along a fence or tightrope. A fickle wind blowing one way, a strong breeze blowing the other way and off you go smashing down and breaking apart on the ground! Then it takes time and effort and emotion to get back up, brush off the debris, clamber all the way back up onto the fence, gather together your scraps of confidence and faith that there is a happy ending awaiting up ahead, and take the first step again! Nursing your injuries and disappointments, carrying baggage from previous attempts, trying hard to have hope and enthusiasm again.

So today is Day One after that long week of tiredness, total lack of enthusiasm and motivation, crippling lack of energy and a fat lot of blergh!!

We’re putting that behind, pushing on to find a new plan, a new way forward to try to get up on the fence, hands out balancing my weight, eyes fixed forward, trying for hope.

A great friend gave me this awesome print to go with my poem that I now have framed next to my dining table:

just balancing, girl on rocks in heels

A gorgeous print that I have framed in my living room

Onwards and upwards!! Balance, it’s time. I’m here waiting, I’m ready. Let’s go!!