You Know it’s Samhain When…

Your husband can’t get out of the house because things keep randomly falling over, mostly on him.

Stuff keeps disappearing and then turning up in odd places.

You go into a room and something scuttles away into the corners, My Neighbor Totoro style.

You mournfully wish our loud that your lost slipper would appear and it does, where you already checked, several times.

The volume on the telly seemed to shoot up for no apparent reason.

The spirit world is supposedly closer at this time of year- we’re certainly feeling it today!

Enjoy today, however you’re celebrating.

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Curry Night

Stepping back into my kitchen

Which smells of

Fenugreek

Curry leaf

Happiness

A potato heavy

Vegan affair

That does surprisingly little

To soak up

Two shots of whiskey

And a glass of homemade

Cherry wine.

Step out again,

Wobble around the house

Check for the moon

Check for the fox

What does it say

Only the shrill wheeze

Of my own breath.

World Mental Health Day

Trigger warning: suicide.

It’s World Mental Health Day 2019. The focus this year is preventing suicide, and the scary fact is that someone loses their life to suicide approximately every 40 seconds.

The campaign encourages everyone to take 40 seconds of their time, to raise awareness, speak to a loved one who might be struggling, or to speak to someone yourself if you’re the one that’s struggling.

This last point is one I find challenging. I’ve often had my mental health conditions belittled and mocked, by employers and medical professionals, but also by friends and family.

The way I explain it to my nine-year-old is, “You wouldn’t see someone with a leg in a plaster cast and go kick them, would you? So with someone with mental health issues, you have to listen and pay attention to their needs.”

My concern has always been that my needs weren’t as important as the needs of others. There are reasons for this low self-worth, and I’ve recently hashed it out with an incredible and patient therapist. I’m now starting to put my own needs first. It’s difficult, especially when those who have always been able to “rely on you” suddenly find you saying “No” or not being available.

Here are a few ways I’ve changed how I deal with my mental health:

  • If I need to take time for myself, I take it and try not to feel guilty
  • I say “No” if I’m unable to do something
  • I don’t judge if I’m able to do something by the amount of time I have available but by my own energy levels and capacity to deal with things
  • I rest when I need to rest
  • I give myself lots of extra time if I need to leave the house, especially when going somewhere new, to avoid panic attacks
  • When I notice my mood dipping, I try and do something positive like writing, singing, making music, playing with the kids
  • When this doesn’t work, I confide in my husband

I’m definitely not anywhere close to recovery. I still struggle with many of these points, and am considering discussing with my GP going back onto anti-depressants for a while, as things have been tough recently.

The main thing I struggle with is how well I “mask” my problems. I am excellent at putting a brave face on and just getting on with stuff. It’s worth remembering that many people you know might also do this. Just because someone seems fine, it doesn’t mean they are. A quick message or call can make the difference between someone feeling entirely alone and knowing someone cares.

Losing someone to suicide is shattering. It can come out of the blue, or it can feel like something that’s been looming for years. If you know someone has had suicidal thoughts, no matter how flippantly they may have mentioned it, check in with them. The Black Dog Institute has advice on looking out for warning signs of suicidal tendencies here.

And if you’re the one struggling, don’t let your mental health problems trick you into believing no one cares. You absolutely matter, and the world is a better place for having you in it.

Find information on World Mental Health Day 2019 here and support hotlines from mental health charity Mind here.

There’s always someone to talk to at The Samaritans too.

October

october pic

It’s the first of October

It’s a rainy day

It’s rescuing birds from cats

It’s snuggling in a blanket while writing

It’s letting the kids binge on films

It’s not worrying about hanging the washing out

It’s piles of procrastination

It’s thinking about putting the heating on

It’s fallen oak leaves and conkers and getting stuck in brambles

It’s slick mud

It’s switching my ASMR feed to crackling fires

It’s the approach of Samhain

It’s bats and spiders and ghost in shop windows

It’s darkening and deepening

It’s October.

Autumn Equinox and the GLAD Study

The autumn equinox is a time for pause and reflection. It’s that moment of balance; darkness is about to take over, and before too long, the nights will noticeably outweigh the days. It’s a time to take stock, just as traditionally, the equinox would have been a time to ensure stocks for the winter were sufficient to survive until spring.

My reflections this autumn equinox are focused around my mental health. This year, in particular, has been challenging. There have been plenty of trials and tribulations, but even when times have been joyous, my depression has left me achingly low and my anxiety has left me crippled with indecision and panic attacks.

With that in mind, I’ve decided that doing something potentially positive is the way forward. I’ve joined up for GLAD, a study into the genetic links between anxiety and depression. Many medical professionals have postulated different ideas to me about mental health issues. Some state that it’s all to do with chemical imbalances, and give coping mechanisms. Others say it’s to do with trauma, and we talk about that and try and pull it to pieces whilst putting me back together.

I don’t have the answers. I’m not any better, although I’m perhaps a little more confident and sure of myself after my last run of therapy. So, by providing my DNA sample (saliva) to this study, I hope I can help provide answers for others.

Anyone interested in the study can join up here. Have a wonderful autumn equinox.

Autumn Colours

A link back to last autumn, and the bright colours that entranced us.

Merry Equinox!

via Autumn Colours

Intermittent Cloud, Some Showers

I need to take inspiration

From the one year old

She is a joy storm

Crashing delight

Like waves against

My sinking ship

Lightning smiles

Hurricane howling laughter

My stress

My tears

My depression

Feel worthless

In the sight

Of her happiness

I want to give

The gift of peace

Tranquility

A calm day

And balmy sunshine

Or at least

Intermittent cloud

Some showers

Not that she’s never upset

But her tantrums come and

Go

Gone

Like cumulus nimbus

In a gale

Massive yet fleeting

At only one year old

She has learnt the art

Of letting go

While I can only hope

To tip my barometer

To intermittent cloud

Some showers.