Sad songs

This has been a pet project of mine for ages, in my head and on my Shazam app at least. Finally I’m getting around to sharing it with you. This isn’t going to be an in depth discussion of songs, so much could be said, but this is just my list of songs that help me.

Music-is-my-escape-saying-quotes

Since I got sick I’ve wanted to put together a collection of songs that have spoken to me about being ill. Songs that have resonated with me about being depressed, being manic, being anxious, being unwell, being out of touch with the rest of my friends and peers, about not being very much at all!

singing to the radio

By calling this sad songs, I’m not suggesting that this is a bunch of depressing songs to get you down and make you more miserable than you are at the moment. I’m planning this to be quite the opposite; a reel of songs that you can turn to when things are a bit bleak. For me these are songs that get me singing and bopping and nodding in agreement. These songs make me feel that I’m not the only one out there feeling off and poorly and badly used. They make me feel part of something, and they make me dig out my would-be-karaoke-star voice, my rapper’s beat and my drummer’s tapping of my feet, or of my hands while I’m driving in the car. They breathe something into me that changes me from how I am in that moment to something better, happier, more alive, more active, more confident and braver to face the world, and every one of those things is a miracle in itself!

Avoiding silence

Every time I go out in the car I turn the radio on. Many people advocate silence and mindfulness and I get that, I do. But a lot of times I just wanna blow my thoughts right out of my brain and listening, singing along and pretending I’m killing it at karaoke (which I’ve never done) and “talking” with someone who gets me, is important to me. Sometimes it’s the only way to express awful thoughts and it can be like a cry for help when you don’t know how else to find the words. Sometimes, it’s just music.

thunder inside

I believe that music can be and is very powerful at reaching into people and making something happen in them. If you feel that way too, then check out these songs and I hope that they inspire you like they inspire me 🙂

My playlist:

  1. Bom Bom by Sam and The Womp, if nothing else in the world can make you dance, this will! “As I go bom, bom, bommm!”
  2. Forget You by CeeLo Green, a great beat and another one to get you dancing
  3. The Middle by Jimmy Eat World, “it just takes some time”
  4. Firework by Katy Perry, “do you ever feel you’re paper thin”, “scream but no one hears a thing”, empowerment plus
  5. Wake Me Up by Avicii, “wake me up when its all over when I’m wiser and I’m older” – this talks to me of suicide and why people do it, to go to sleep for a while
  6. Sea of Air by Portugal. The Man, “when the time comes around, I’ll be brave”
  7. Cheap Thrills by Sia, “I don’t need no money as long as I can feel the beat”
  8. Comfort You by Eskimo Joe, just lie back, close your eyes, this is all you need right now in this moment…
  9. All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor, the right amount of girly sass to shout aloud
  10. Hands Open by Snow Patrol, bop, nod, tap along like a sick percussionist 😉
  11. Something In The Way You Move by Ellie Goulding, bop bop bop away
  12. Are You With Me by Lost Frequencies, lie back close your eyes you’re on holiday
  13. One Call Away by Charlie Puth, “Superman got nothin’ on me I’m only one call away”
  14. Apologise by Timbaland ft. One Republic, great singalong song
  15. Never Be Like You by Flume ft. Kai, “I’m only human can’t you see I made a mistake, please just look me in my face tell me everything’s okay, I’ll never be like you”…apologising for the insufficiencies that mental illness brings about and asking others to tolerate us, and acknowledging that we’ll never be as good as them
  16. Cry Me A River by Justin Timberlake, an oldy but a goody for a personally rainy day
  17. Lush Life by Zara Larsson, clap clap your hands! “Gotta get back in the groove!”
  18. It’s My Life by No Doubt, “it’s my life don’t you forget”
  19. Brokenhearted by Karmin, just a fun tune and love the rapping, “Cheerio!”
  20. Domino by Jessie J, just a good beat
  21. Livin’ It Up by Ja Rule, I’m a sucker for a good rap/R&B
  22. Valerie by Mark Ronson ft. Amy Winehouse, love love Amy Winehouse’s voice
  23. Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots, reminiscing about easier earlier days
  24. I Love It by Hilltop Hoods ft. Sia, I love rap, I love Sia, and it’s all Aussie 🙂
  25. Brave by Sara Bareilles, “I wanna see you be brave”
  26. Reality by Lost Frequencies ft. Janieck Davy, a good chill out tune
  27. Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis ft. Ray Dalton, a nice beat and a great rap, way faster than I can actually understand! Just sit back
  28. My Sunshine by Mashd N Kutcher, a remix, “Don’t steal my sunshine”
  29. Here by Alessia Cara, sums up my avoidance of socialising since I’ve been sick
  30. My House by Flo Rida, I don’t know why but I just love bopping along to this
  31. All My Friends By Snakehips ft. Tinashe and Chance the Rapper, another song about why I don’t want to go out
  32. Hotline Bling by Drake, great beat, fun rap, just an entertaining song
  33. Stay by Kygo ft. Maty Noyes, don’t like the lyrics but the beat is nice
  34. Higher by Hilltop Hoods ft. James Chatburn, rap plus that voice! “HIgher”
  35. In The Night by The Weeknd, “dancing to relieve the pain”
  36. Summer 2015 by L.E.J, 3 talented girls and an a capella summer mix tape
  37. You Make My Dreams by Hall and Oates, bop bop bop along to the beat!
  38. The Hills by the The Weeknd, “when I’m f*&*^% up that’s the real me”
  39. Habits (Stay High – Hippies Sabotage Remix) by Tove Lo, “can’t go home alone again need someone to numb the pain”, “I gotta stay high all the time”
  40. Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys, “this girl is on fire”
  41. Good Girl by Carrie Underwood, turn it up and sing along with Carrie!
  42. Downtown by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, hilarious!!
  43. For The First Time by The Script, just easy listening
  44. Demons by Imagine Dragons, a good sad day wallowing type of song, “don’t get too close it’s dark inside its where my demons hide”
  45. May It Be by Enya, turn it up and let it wash out your mind and bring peace
  46. Sax by Fleur East, sassy singing and a great beat for your steering wheel tapping
  47. Ex’s and Oh’s by Elle King, blast it through the speakers and sing your loudest!!
  48. Hall of Fame by The Script, always convinces me I can do whatever I want!
  49. Her Diamonds by Rob Thomas, “her tears like diamonds on the floor”
  50. Shake It by Taylor Swift, the ultimate I don’t care what you think song
  51. What Do You Mean by Justin Beiber, sometimes I just can’t express what I want
  52. Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera, “mooooooves like Jagger”
  53. Lips Are Moving by Meghan Trainor, “lips are moving, hey, your lips are moving”
  54. Hello by Adele, that strong powerful voice and my amazing singalong prowess!!
  55. This Ain’t Love by Jessica Mauboy, “cos I made it through the night!”
  56. Wild Ones by Flo Rida ft. Sia, rap and Sia!! Need I say more!
  57. Young And Beautiful by Lana Del Rey (Cedric Gervais Remix), “will you still love me when I’ve got nothing but my aching soul..I know you will, I know you will”
  58. How To Save A Life by The Fray, for the obvious reason of how to save a life
  59. Faded by Alan Walker, a nice voice and soothing tune
  60. Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol, “would you lie with me and just forget the world”
  61. Fire And The Flood by Vance Joy, “everything’s fine when your heads resting next to mine”
  62. Out Of The Woods by Taylor Swift, “are we out of the woods yet?”
  63. Be Together by Major Lazer ft. Wild Belle, THAT voice!! “Maybe if the stars align…”
  64. Never Let Me Go by Florence + The Machine, sad day anthem played at painful loud
  65. Mad World by Vintage Vaudeville style cover ft. Puddles Pity Party & Haley Reinhart, “the dreams I have of dying are the best I’ve ever had”
  66. On Top Of The World by Imagine Dragons, a groovy beat and great happy day anthem
  67. Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself by Jess Glynne, for the obvious
  68. Ain’t Nobody by Felix Jaehn ft. Jasmine Thompson, another great voice and fun beat
  69. Riding Solo by Jason Derulo, “I’m feeling like a star you can’t stop my shine”
  70. Gold Digger by Kanye West ft. Jamie Foxx, a fun rap by 2 hilarious guys, beat along
  71. Chandelier by Sia, my original song because it speaks to me about being suicidal
  72. Happy by Pharrell Williams, because in the depths of my depression I would still light up and clap along! That’s powerful!!
  73. Titanium by  David Guetta ft. Sia, “I’m bulletproof, nothin’ to lose, fire away, fire away”
  74. Better Now by The Vespers, because I’m better now 🙂
  75. Team by Lourde, that voice and “we’re on each other’s team”
  76. Pompeii by Bastille, “how am I gunna be an optimist about this?”
  77. Elastic Heart by Sia, “you did not not break me, I’m still fighting for peace”

music is therapy

Obviously I’ve been at this project for a while! You won’t be listening to these all at once; maybe you won’t listen to any of them ever. That’s okay, it’s for me as much as anything.

music as painkiller

A great piece popped up in my Facebook newsfeed while I was writing this blog, music for the body and mind, article from BUPA. It’s just another perspective maybe with a bit more oomph than what I’m spouting. And then this article, from Lifehack about how heavy metal music influences your mood. Lastly I like this article about making music and our brain. Maybe they mean something, maybe it’s just more noise but I like the idea. Music therapy I’m sure is a whole other fascinating field of health professionals.

Anyway, enjoy or don’t enjoy, this is my music and I’ll be singing along!

Advertisements

Perspective

[Written in 2014, finally finished today!]

One of the techniques that I’ve been working on is looking at life differently.

My psychologist first got me onto this with a technique called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which tries to redirect thought processes.

For example, people with anxiety and depression often catastropise. I would have a thought like, I’m not working at the moment, which would then lead to, I’m not contributing to our finances, my husband is looking after everything and I’m doing nothing, and, what if I never work again and become a vegetable, and I’m totally useless and live forever with other people having to take care of me, and hating me!!

Obviously, to an outsider this is a drastic way of thinking and a rapidly snowballing thought process! Which is not even factual, as I’ve never had it suggested to me even once that I will be doing anything but returning to my previous active, contributing life. Neither is it at all likely! But depression just has to nut out the worst case scenarios and get you to think, ‘what if’?! And the thing is, at the time, you can’t see it for what it is. It feels totally real, and scary, and awful even though other people may dismiss it as illogical.

Depression, does not have logic.

But depressive thoughts can be changed. It isn’t easy, but if you work at it in the right way, you can slow or stop the snowballing and start to prevent the catastrophising.

Around the same time as I started to see my psychologist, I was already involved in the 100 Happy Days photo challenge that I’ve talked to you about before. Happy. Depression. The two don’t naturally go hand in hand. They’re kind of opposites. Making this a real challenge! This involved, every day, taking a photo of something that made you happy. I knew I was suffering generalised anxiety when I took it on, and during the course of the challenge got diagnosed with depression and bipolar.

Finding something in the day that makes you truly happy takes a real change in thinking. It takes noticing the detail in the day, the little things that are often overlooked, appreciating what is often taken for granted.

These were not the happiest days of my life! Needless to say. In fact, some of the worst days that I have ever experienced were smack bang in the middle of the challenge. But did you know that it never once crossed my mind to not go on with the challenge? I never once considered not doing the challenge, even when I was sitting in the emergency department beside myself with suicidal thoughts and in so much mental pain that I didn’t know how I would live. My happy day photo that day? I was wearing my favourite dress with the huge rosettes around the hem and I was eating my favourite Snickers bar!

There’s always something. That’s what the challenge taught me before I was even conscious of it.

Depression is called depression because it’s depressing.

It lowers you down, it lowers your mood, it lowers your mind. It’s the mind version of walking along in life looking at the gutter. All you can see is the dirty, the trashy, the boring, the bleak, the wasteful, the dead, the mundane.

I’ve always been a stare at the ground in front of me and watch for snakes kind of girl. You know, just in case. But now, instead of physically looking down and stomping along to the train to go to work, I started looking up, casting my eyes around me and began to see all kinds of things in that 10 minute walk alone. The wood ducks nibbling on grass beside the path; never even knew they were there! How beautiful the pond looked shimmering in the morning like. How green was the grass, how blue was the sky. How beautifully kept that lady’s roses are so close to busy Box Hill Central!

And it got me mentally looking up. Instead of snoozing my alarm until the last possible minute, and dragging myself begrudgingly out of bed, I started to wake up wondering what I would see today that would make me happy. There is no mistaking that my mental health was in a dire situation, but at least for a few moments of the day there would be something that I found that would give me a glimmer of a smile, a bit of satisfaction because I found it! That thing that could make me happy. And the memory of it could be taken with me throughout the day. It truly proved to me that if you put yourself to the effort of looking up, mentally or physically, you will surely be rewarded.

So in an effort to lift one’s mind’s eye to a more beautiful view we try this technique of purposefully, intentionally looking up. Some call it mindfulness, some call it practising gratitude, some people call it thankfulness; doesn’t matter what it’s called, it’s a thing. A method to get out of the grunge and into the pretty meadows, or paddocks since this is Australia.

Probably this is the most powerful method of changing perspective, although I’ve way under used it! I came to it as a compulsory part of my insurance, and having someone tell you that you have to do something that you think is stupid is never a good starting place!! But I had to change my thinking. I had an amazing logical sensible teacher who was on my wavelength, and the lessons I learned were incredible!

Mindfulness teaches you to slow down, to take more time to take in the things that we usually just rush by. By doing this, you get greater fulfillment out of life.

I’ve also always been a person to try to scrape the most out of every second, minute, hour, moment. I always got up at the last possible moment, showered for as long as possible til I absolutely had to get out, dressed as fast as possible and left the house only when leaving a minute later would make me nine minutes late instead of eight! Because I was always rushing I’d often leave my lunch, my wallet, my phone, my brain at home! I always squeezed the most time possible into my breaks, felt jibbed every time I had to go back, put off going back to bed so I could fit more into the day. Etc, etc!

But anxiety made me realise that this is not a feasible way for me to live anymore. The extreme anxiety I feel when I’m rushing, late, overcommitted is so awful with the nausea, the sweating, the palpitations. And mindfulness reinforced this again. What if you could walk slowly and calmly without a care in the walk on your way to work? How would that be? Wouldn’t that be nice? Mindfulness is kind of addictive in it’s own way, because it’s highly rewarding to your brain. Of course then there’s the real world, but for a little while, you are in total control and that is amazing!

Mindfulness also teaches you how not to judge yourself and others!! Could there be a more powerful tool than this? In mindfulness, you sit with yourself, which sounds funny to start with, but you just sit with your thoughts and all you have to do is acknowledge each thought as it comes, without it being “good” or “bad”. Do you know how often we are bagging ourselves out in our head and we don’t even consciously know it? It’s terrifying! That’s the worst 3 second wrap ever, but I do highly recommend it, and not only for people with mental health disorders; it can help with a lot in life.

Changing perspective.

Looking for the happy, the good, the joyful things in life.

Some people call it being positive, but I’m not a fan of that description. I feel like being positive is ignoring the reality and the badness, and trying to paste over it with being chipper and perky and upbeat!! Maybe that’s unfair but I feel my arm hairs raise and my spine tighten when positive comes up!!

I prefer to fully acknowledge exactly what is present, what the problems are, and try to work with that to change it for the long term good, not for the short term glossing over it. I’m sorry if that’s offensive; but I feel that if the problems aren’t realised, the treatments won’t be effective so it’s important to be honest.

Changing perspective is hard. It’s hard. It takes effort. It takes perseverance. It takes time. It takes motivation. It takes emotional energy, sometimes physical energy.

Most of these are the things that depression takes away from you. Before you even have a chance to notice, depression whisks away your energy, motivation, ability to exert effort. And leaving you a blob sitting in a chair, staring at a wall wondering what to do next, and how on earth you’re going to do it?

Looking up. Changing perspective. Mindfulness. Gratitude.

The outcomes are so worthwhile if you can put yourself to the trouble.

I highly recommend engaging a psychologist, a mindfulness coach, a doctor trained in CBT because it’s much easier to be guided than to have to do it all yourself. If the session is pre-booked and all you have to do is turn up and be coached, you are already on an easier path, from someone who knows.

Of course you have to participate, and at some point in time you will have to do it on your own, but let’s focus on getting started and you will absolutely benefit from whichever path you go down.

100 happy days is different. You can do this on your own, and unlike me doing it all through Facebook, you can do it by yourself in a notebook and nobody has to know. I can’t recommend blurting everything about your journey onto Facebook like I did; it worked for me, but not so sure about all the poor readers, and it might just not be something you are comfortable with. It’s your call, and there are lots of other options out there.

I wish you well on your perspective changing journey!

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!

Wired

Today I spent four hours without looking at my phone.

It’s sad that this is a fact worthy of comment. I’m not proud.

This came about because I had the opportunity to visit with a lovely girl who I hope will become a good friend. I checked my phone before I walked in the door then put my bag containing my phone down, and never thought of it again til three hours later. Even then I left my phone in my bag untouched, and didn’t check it until I was about to walk out the door.

This is definitely some kind of record. Being home and somewhat unoccupied I have gotten into a bit of a phone checking habit…actually this was a good going habit from well before I stopped work.

I say stopped work in the absence of a better expression; I didn’t actively stop work, I just got so unwell that I couldn’t keep being and had to go get emergency help.

Throughout my experience with mental and physical unwell-ness in the last eighteen months my anxiety and distress have generated a number of habits, some helpful some detrimental some iffy. One of these is checking. Checking checking checking.

What do I check on my smartphone?

All my ‘things’: Ebay active selling, sold, unsold, messages and reminders; email inbox, social box and promotions box for my personal email; email inbox for my professional email; email inbox for my work email (uff! I’m exhausted already!); my calendar for events and things ‘to do’; Facebook in case someone or something has said or done or manufactured something of vague interest; the weather for today, tomorrow, the week just so I know; my mobile banking in case someone has unexpectedly paid me a million dollars in the last hour; my mobile service provider for my internet usage in case I’m close to the limit and they forgot the notification text; Words with Friends in case someone desperately wants to play me and again the notifications failed; Fitbit if I’m wearing and have charged my device to see how many steps I’m up to for the day; and of course I have to check my stats for this my lowly blog to see if anyone cares about my self centric postings!

Yep, ummm…I don’t have too much more to say about that! Sometimes I shortlist that to Ebay, calendar, Facebook, Words, WordPress; and I will justify the extensive list to say that it’s quicker to check these things than it is to write about or read about them!

Why didn’t I need to check my phone for that long, when at home I would be checking it almost constantly?
I just didn’t think of it. I was distracted, with new surroundings, a new friend, delightful pets, with hobbies and chatting and food and life. My phone alert was set to vibrate only instead of sounds which deprived me of (or benefitted me without) any audible reminders. And I wasn’t lacking in occupation; I was talking, laughing, photographing…instead of checking checking checking.

Amazing! Now how can I replicate this phenomenon at home…?

What did I find when I finally checked it?
Two missed calls, 4 messages, 3 notifications from Metro about train delays, a couple of Facebook notifications, a update reminder for some apps and a calendar alert. And an Ebay message and some emails and a Words with Friends game prompt.

A lot of stuff!

Any of it vital?

Well it was too late to do anything about the missed calls and most of the messages, one message could be sorted out tomorrow, the public transport notifications were irrelevant (I was driving) and this continues my gripe with the Metro app; that you can’t choose notifications for selected services only.

The Facebook notifications weren’t at all relevant, I updated the apps, the calendar reminder was for tomorrow, the Ebay message was easily answered, the emails could all be archived and so I wiped it all from my mind and got stuck into Words with Friends 🙂
So really, nothing that would be terribly missed…nothing vastly important; certainly not enough to fret over or to warrant fidgeting if I was unable to check for them.

But this all continues a theme that has been going along in my mind for a while, about how wired in I tend to me the majority of the time. And surely I can’t be the only one?

I have been participating in a mindfulness class over the last few weeks and I was initially quite daunted and still continue to be fascinated with the struggle it can be to let go of my white knuckled grip on the here and now, to just sit. Or lie. Or be, in any pose. To let the body come to rest and be still. Just quiet, doing nothing, thinking nothing, being nothing in particular; just resting.

I find it hard. My body wants to twitch. I want to roll over or change position. I want to wiggle my fingers and toes. It’s hard to just be still! And that’s just the body! Then there is the mind! Sitting quietly and having no other occupation than using your senses and paying attention to the mind ticking over gives a lot more room to notice all of the jumbled thoughts that are swirling around in my brain. I’m still sitting on the fence about whether this is beneficial or unecessary.

I initially started being so wired in because I didn’t want my thoughts. Particularly in the days when I was battling with anxiety I wanted to get as far away from my thoughts as possible.

I didn’t want to think about what it would be like if the global financial crisis hit us and we became homeless, or if the war spread and we were horribly mutilated in a bomb blast or if the end of the world came today at afternoon tea time or if all the children endured hideous burns in a fiery bus crash or if the global warming crisis caused my house that was built on a filled-in swamp to be completely inundated and we were swept away in the floods and watched horrified as relatives and friends drowned before our eyes or etc etc!

When you have anxiety or depression it is common to catastrophise. I wish I knew this a long time ago! I first heard the term with my new GP in October/November; can’t remember exactly when. By then I’d been battling with anxiety at least for six months or more and I really wish I’d known that this whirling dervish inside my head was just a symptom, perfectly normal for someone with anxiety, completely manageable, nothing to worry about.

Because when you start worrying about the worrying, everything turns pear shaped and gets out of control very quickly! So to avoid thinking about the thoughts or in fact noticing them at all I’d turn up the radio, try to force my concentration onto some reading, turn up a video, trying to override my brain with other things. Checking my things distracted me for a short while which was good enough for me; any kind of break from myself.

As I’ve gotten more well I’ve realised that these habits have become problematic and are kind of disrupting my plans for a new life. So there’s work to be done to wind back some of the checking, some of the background noise, some of the distractions.

It’s a work in progress. There’s a ways to go but every time I have a little success it’s nice because it gives me a glimpse of what could be, of life unattached to noise or distractions and just lived in full awareness of what’s around going on around me and able to cope with that!

And that looks lovely to me. Here’s to it!