Canberra Day 64

[Monday 14th November]

A friend of mine from my Wheel Women cycling group in Melbourne has a gorgeous rain coat that she wears on a lot of rides. Anytime I ride behind her when she’s wearing it, the slogan printed on the back catches my eye: shower’s pass. How about that? Shower’s pass. They don’t last. I’m sure it’s intended as merely a marketing slogan but each time I read it again it resonates with me on a deeper level about life. Shower’s pass. Bad things won’t last. This not so nice phase you’re in? Just wait, it’ll blow through. In the meantime wrap yourself up in something to protect you from the wet and the cold, and don’t despair; there’s hope. Maybe it’s silly of me to think so much into a jacket, but it makes me feel more optimistic and hopeful which can only be a good thing, so I’m sticking with it. Shower’s pass.

Like the much less metaphorical shower that I’m waiting out right now on a bench seat in a bus shelter sized space at the zoo. Medium chance of showers in the morning and afternoon, said the forecast. Well we had morning showers, we had lunchtime showers so I thought I’d push on and do something with the day, pick up the momentum again after last week’s slow slog. And I nearly got it right. I’ve had sunshine and a nice breeze most of the time, it’s been lovely and cool after the rain, perfect weather for walking around the zoo! There was one light shower when I arrived so I ate lunch under shelter watching the capuchins get up to mischief, and then it was time to meet the boa constrictor inside the reptile house so it didn’t bother me; it was over by the time I came out. I’m nearly done at the zoo actually, but the rain set in. It’s been 10 minutes now; hope it clears soon cos me making a dash for it on slippery paths is nobody’s fantasy! I was so pleased that in stead of sitting home waiting for showers that may or may not come, I got myself out of the house and resumed ticking off my list again. I was thrilled that I’d got around the whole zoo and aquarium except one new section without any rain…bum bah, spoke too soon! It occurs to me now that at some stage this morning I did plan to bring my own new raincoat and this would have been the perfect use for it! Oh well, I remembered everything else: house keys, car keys, under shorts, tablets…you know, the things I typically forget!

And what do you know? The sun is coming out again! The drips are getting further apart in time and space, the dark clouds have passed, and it’s onwards and upwards! Off to see that new section then home for a nap. 3.5 hours of walking around is enough for one day.

Here’s my new favorite creature. I don’t know if the photo really shows what appealed to me but the otter is on its back, twisting and turning and rubbing it’s back on the floor with all 4 feet in the air just loving a good old scratch and stretch on its blanky. It looks like bliss!

IMG_5929.JPG

Could you just die of love looking at this adorable otter rolling around on its back in its bed, totally carefree and just luxuriating in the feeling of its rug rubbing on its body?

In other events, the moon being the closest to earth that it will be for another 20 years or so event was saved from being a wash out due to an overcast sky by the wind pushing the cloud cover on. So at 11pm when I couldn’t sleep because it was too bright outside, I got up  and found that the moon was clear in the sky and took a few shots. I don’t think they’re anything special, it was just being part of the event. I hadn’t done any research about the best place to be, what time to view it etc so my shots probably aren’t anything different to usual…but I can say I was there when, isn’t that what people go for?

In other news we had our annual interview by Living In Australia study tonight. I’ve been doing this for 13 years now so it’s fairly straight forward. If you haven’t heard of them check it out online; they’re always recruiting and you do get a cash payment for your time. The questions are abut your health, finances, future plans, how satisfied you are with the different aspects of your life and this year some fun number and word games. All the data is kept anonymous and presented as a summary at the end and used by different organisations for statistics. Anyway, hubby went first and I went second and I tell you by the time it got to me there were nail marks imprinted on my palms and  my stomach was churning and I was stressed! What am I going to say for occupation? How do I explain what I’m doing now? How do you explain why I changed jobs? Or why I don’t have a job? Or about my health? Or about where on a scale of 1 to 10 I think lies the likelihood of us having kids? Or or or…??? Argh!! AARRGGHH!! And right then and there, like a cornered wild animal, I got defensive fast and furiously!! I mean I didn’t attack the interviewer or anything, it was defensive inside myself, reacting internally to every question and justifying myself and defending myself and fighting fighting fighting with myself about why I am where I am and where I “should” be and yada yada. Oy!! Just a bit exhausting and is it really necessary? It feels necessary, but I’m not an impartial judge so…still some work to go there. Have I mentioned that I’m thinking of going back to my psychologist? Might be time. We ran out of things to talk about before, but they’re stacking up again, wouldn’t you say?

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!!