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I am trying to bring over some old posts from earlier this year (February/March) that I had floating in other areas of the interwebs. Looking back at them, it makes me realise how I much I went over and over the same fears, worries and anxieties about my work. No wonder I always felt so exhausted, I exhausted myself!

Anyway, my post timeline will probably be out of sync and a bit bumpy for a bit.

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Week in Pictures 19th – 25th August

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This week was quite productive, filled with useful fun things like food projects, and useful boring things like appointments.

Friday, 19th August

Yummy banana bread

A rainy day, so I spent some of the time making banana bread. They’re deliciously naughty with some slops of black rum! One batch also had walnuts, the other had ginger.

My cat also recognised the rainy weather, so this time she spent the day in many (mostly) curled up positions on the dog bed

Saturday, 20th August

Hot Pepper Jelly made using peppers from my parents' veg garden

Another afternoon in the kitchen, this time making hot pepper jelly.

Then went fishing in the evening, just around sunset. We caught some silk snappers and a sailor’s choice. They’re really good to eat as fish (duh…) or in fish pie. They freeze well for eating though out the year, and the cats like the scarps, so not a single morsel is wasted!

[small image in case anyone’s offended]

Silk Snappers & a Sailor's Choice

Sunday, 21st August

Some photos of live fish this time! They were poking about some sea urchin shells and were more interested in those than the giant lumbering through their watery home (me). Some must have liked the reflections on my lens, and were looking intently into the camera in a quizzical kind of way!

Curious live fish!

Monday, 22nd August

Today I made labels for the hot pepper jelly I’d made earlier at the weekend. My mother commented while looking over my shoulder at my laptop that the labels looked awfully formal, and couldn’t they be more fun? I decided that cutting the pink paper into a giant doodle, gluing it to the yellow and printing straight onto it was  a good way of adding some fun into the labels, while keeping the font and layout which I’d already worked on.

'Fun' Labels

That was a success, and my dad asked me to make similar doodle labels for his marmalade:

Doodle cut labels

Tuesday, 23rd August

A productive day of appointments/meetings, though no photos: doctor’s appointment, with a locum who I was assured was ‘super duper’, though she’d only vaguely heard off the word mirtazapine, and subsequently spelt it wrong anyway on the prescription. She also didn’t want to be drawn on when I could begin tapering off the dosage, just fobbing me off with, ‘well you know some people need to continue to take it just as diabetics take insulin’. Where I’m from doesn’t do mz’pine very well: the pharmacy only had half of what I needed and had the order the rest in. Anyway, I ended up with all of the right medication, eventually.

The second meeting was more exciting: I went back to the landscape architecture office I’ve worked in during previous summers. There’s a freeze on all jobs at the moment, which I was already aware of, but they’re hopeful they’ll be able to advertise an assistant position by December. It’s nice to know I may be able to apply for that if my job hunt in the UK during the autumn isn’t fruitful.

Wednesday, 24th August

Glimpse of sea from the road

Went into town today with my parents to sign some lawyer papers. I’m rarely in a car being driven, so tried taking a couple of photos of the water. It’s times like this when you notice how many bushes, trees and houses actually block the view! (The lawyer trip was to sign the transferal of ownership for a sliver of land from my grandfather to his children and grandchildren. It’s just beginning to dawn on me that I actually (part) own a tiny piece of this Earth…kind of cool!)

Thursday, 25th August

Cut (extra points if you can actually tell!) & Highlighted hair

Went to the hairdressers, had hair cut and highlighted. Should do me for another year (and it had better, as it took for.ev.er [3 hrs])! Hairdresser said all the right things, was very impressed my hair looked as good as it did, considering the last time it was cut was by her, last summer. I guess she was pleased that at least my lack of showing up at her salon wasn’t because I’d defected elsewhere!

Wildcard

How about an illustrated guide to making hot pepper jelly?

1. Grow some hot pepper plants. About 3 plants is enough. These are 'Super Chilis'

2. Collect about 40 hot peppers.

3. Chop 1/2 cup of hot peppers

4. Also chop 2 small sweet green peppers (1 1/4 cups) and 3/4 red onion, put everything into a big saucepan

5. Add 2 cups apple cider vinegar

6. Stir in 6 1/2 cups sugar and 1 packet pectin, then bring to the boil for 1 minute

7. Once mixture begins to cool and the bits don't immediately float to the top when stirred, pour into sterilised jars. Done & Enjoy!

Another wonder pill

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Following on from the supposed wonder pill that is Omega-3 rich fish oil, I wanted to give a mention to another wonder drug I’m on at the moment: Mirtazapine. It seems to take a lot of flak, but I’ve just been reading the small print on a new lot of just picked up from the pharmacy (I must be bored!), and found some rather interesting things:

“Mirtazapine is a potent antagonist of histamine (H1) receptors”

I had secretly been noticing, though not wanting to say it aloud for fear of putting a jinx on myself, that since I arrived back home at the beginning of August, I haven’t had a single stuffy or runny nose for the first time in the longest that I can remember! Now reading that factoid, that essentially I am taking a pretty strong antihistamine, I can understand why this is the first trip back that I haven’t felt like divorcing my nose because of the ubiquitous mould and mildew of my warmer clime homeland.

“Mirtapazine is a potent antagonist of 5-HT3 receptors”

When I looked up that receptor, it noted that antagonists are sometimes an anti-emetic. ie to stop nausea. It turns out that is also a ‘side effect’ of histamine antagonists too! At this point I must apologise to my fellow crew members last month when we were sailing: I was happily bumping up and down on the waves telling others (who were getting greener and greener) ‘ah you haven’t seen proper waves! I know I get sea sick, but I haven’t yet, so this must be nothing!’. It seems, that without knowing it, I was on some ‘potent’ anti-seasick tablets already!

Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, that same receptor is also antagonised by a drug called Memantine, which I recognise as the medication my grandfather is current trying in a bid to reverse his Alzheimer’s Disease symptoms. The jury is still out on the usefulness of that medication for that, but it’s interesting to think it is affecting the same thing that my mirtazapine also affects. Though I may be getting a bit ahead of myself to think I could also be staving off the Alzheimer’s that seems the inevitable ending of my family!

On the other hand, I was sorry to read:

“Mirtazapine is a potent antagonist of 5-HTreceptors”

as I just read that psychaedelic drugs like LSD are agonists at this receptor. Shucks! I was still waiting for that trip!

Now if I could just find something that will make me a bit less sweet to mosquitoes, I will be a very happy bunny!

“The Things You do that Mess You Up”

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A few nights ago I decided to forget my fear of being overheard while listening to the Living Life to the Full computer modules, and watched/listened/read the 6th module in the Little Book cCBT course entitled, ‘The Things you Do that Mess You Up’. In the end, no one questioned me on what I was doing at my laptop, and I could concentrate on the module in peace.

When I saw the name of the module I laughed a bit as it was just what I had been thinking about: I seem to be pretty stable at the moment, even, dare I say, enjoying some things, like sailing a few weeks ago, and working on little bits and pieces that don’t require brain work and can be finished in an hour or so. But as soon as I try to tackle something longer or try to fix up my uni work again, I realise I’ve just been dancing round the edges of the things I really need to do, and then I feel like I mess up.

So back to the module. It begins by listing a load of things that might ‘mess you up’, and tells you not to ‘kid yourself’ when thinking about them. Some where fairly stereotypical, like comfort eating, drinking alcohol and overspending. Thankfully these aren’t too much of a problem for me. (I’m probably the most miserly girl I know. That gets me down more than anything, that I can’t even go windowshopping to brighten my mood. I couldn’t think of a worse pastime actually!)

It also had some less obvious messing up things. I felt these applied to me more. Like ‘setting yourself up to fail’ – I don’t know how many times I’ve teetered between being over optimistic and defeatist. Still haven’t found the realist’s middle ground with my planning. Another one was ‘hitting out at people’ – while I’m not a violent sort of person, I sometimes snap at people unintentionally and then feel awful afterwards. It finished up with a few more simple ones that I could also identify with. Including ‘hiding away’ (check. Been home 2 weeks and still haven’t met up with non-family yet. And this is me supposedly ‘stable’!) and ‘putting things off’ (check again, that’s the blunt way of saying I’ve only been ‘dancing round the edges’).

Other things included: taking risks, self-harm, being clingy, bullying, shop-lifting, being impulsive about important things, tv/internet addict, doing too much, wanting others to sort out your problems, caffeine, oversleeping, overworrying.

After identifying the particular things that mess me up (setting up for failure, hitting out, hiding away & putting things off, are all current things for me. I recognised myself in a few others, but happily I think I’ve worked those out), the module asks you to pick on or two to tackle using the *naff alert* E4SP (Easy 4-Step Plan – had been introduced in the previous module, ‘How to Fix Almost Everything):

  1. break it into chunks
  2. brainstorm the first piece
  3. plan to do it
  4. put plan into action.

So, I figured the ‘hiding away’ would be a good one, and easy, to tackle, especially as I’m running out of time to actually come out of hiding before I have to go back to the UK to job hunt!

Emailed friend (preferable to phoning) to try to meet up for Friday Happy Hour (a specific limited time with chance to bump into other friends).

The emailing worked ok, but then it turned out my friend is away on holiday this week. We’ve arranged to go out next week.

In fact I’m happy to report that was all quite harmless, and I’m looking forward to Friday.

Now to tackle the things with realism that are properly making me upset at the moment…

The module also gives some ideas to help not become messed up. A lot of them are things Celine was also trying to get me to work on. It’s reassuring that the same things she talked about are also mentioned here, though that shouldn’t be too surprising.

  • Eating regularly and healthily (check)
  • Giving yourself time to sleep (check)
  • Keeping up with routine things (mostly)
  • Doing things with other people (starting to)
  • Doing things that give you a boost (trying)
  • Sharing problems with trusted friends & family (not working out too well with family so far…don’t want to scare off friends either…)
  • Find out more about how you feel (writing this blog is helping)
  • Letting upsetting thoughts just be (good in theory…)
  • Facing your fears (starting)
  • Doing exercise (good til I’m exhausted = more easily upset)
  • Using your sense of humour (good for easy things)
  • Medication (check)
  • Relaxation (good in theory. I can relax when I’m already relaxed, harder when I’m not!)

Fish Oils

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So my mother came into my room a couple of days ago, proudly announcing she had consulted Dr Google (since saw her search: “depression””crying”) and had found the solution to all evils: Omega 3 fish oil.

A while ago I’d looked up health supplements and noticed that Omega 3 sounded possibly helpful. But all the the different acronymns of EHS, ALA, DHA (probably got those wrong) were confusing, as well as the discussion between Omega-3, -6, 88 and 101’s (or whatever) was too much for me to follow a few months ago. I’d thought I’d pop into Holland & Barrett to take a look at what they had, but never managed to get into town at the same time as having on me, my scrappy little note of abbreviations and random symbols.

I was also a bit pleased that my mother had at least vaguely understood and accepted my explanation that I completed agreed that whatever I was upset over was a silly thing to be upset over, except that being upset at it upset me more for being upset at something so silly!

So I took her up on her offer of trying the fish oil capsules full of omega-3 goodness, and she duly rushed out to buy me a bottle of them.

I am really not into the homeo-herby stuff, but I’m willing to try something that might help. I’ll see how I get on.

(also found this fun little graphic: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/play/snake-oil-supplements/. The bubble for fish oil/omega 3 regarding ‘depression/mental health’ is floating next to ‘conflicting evidence’, just below the ‘worth it’ line. )

Note to self

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Note to self: do not sound so negative when summing up a weeks’ activities.

Otherwise I will be proving my mother correct when she complains I am being so negative/cross/irritated (delete as appropriate according to her whim).

This week has basically been great, and feeling like a good summer holiday!

Week in Pictures 11th-18th August

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I used to always have a camera with me, ready to take a photo whenever there was the opportunity, or making them up by giving myself random challenges like ‘photographing something green everyday for a month’ (this was during a February-harder than you might think!). But in the past couple of years I’ve got a bit slack.

To get myself back into the habit, and to document my efforts to ‘Don’t lose sleep, don’t lose heart,  put fun in wherever/whenever I can’ I’m going to try keeping a mini diary mostly in pictures.

Thursday may seem like a random point to start, but ever since my sessions with Celine, which were always a Thursday, I’ve always thought of Thursdays as a time to reflect and start more goals.

11th August

Finished tidying up my room. A mammoth task as do the past few years I’ve always been cramming in uni work or paid work to make money for uni, so my room’s been neglected. Came across a few stacks of old photos which were fun to look at. Found one of me gardening in my school uniform! I’d like to get my hands dirty again sometime soon, though I’ll wait for the weather to cool off a bit.

Gardening mini-me

12th August

Out in boat to watch the sunset. Observed my feet and noticed they summed up my recent activities well.

Summary: boating, fridge painting, running

Sunset, 12th August

13th August

Helped my dad clean the rowing boat. Waded about along the rocks photographing fish and squid (just holding my waterproof camera below the water while trying in vain to keep my shirt and shorts dry!) As well as the fish and squid, also found a zebra nudibranch (Hypselodoris zebra). Sort of rare, but eye catching when there is one about.

Squid, fish & Zebra Seaslug

14th August

Invited out by my cousins in their sailing boat, on the premise to find dolphins. We didn’t see any, but the sailing was fun and we got a bit wet while dodging rain clouds.

Sailing for Dolphins

15th August

My parents’ 30th wedding anniversary. We had steak on the barbeque. As it was their Pearl anniversary, I made a card using pearly nail polish. Looked more like a 3 year old had made it, but they seemed to like it. As I was painting their card, I also made the effort to paint my own nails too (see earlier photo of scuffed toenails)!

16th August

Went for a run in the morning. Supposedly fun but left me exhausted for the rest of the day, so didn’t do so well with the ‘don’t lose heart’ bit of my mantra re: fridge work (coats of paint peeling up, rust showing through again. Trying to remind myself that fridges are not worthy of tears!) and portfolio work (as soon as I opened the file on my laptop, I remembered all of my issues with it this past year, all too vividly)

Made another attempt to ‘put fun in’, by taking my dog out for a walk late in the evening. Very muggy and nearly dark but tried to take a photo anyway, only to find I hadn’t put my camera card back in. Sort of an appropriate end to an irritating sort of day.

17th August

Finally finished painting the fridge. Had to take a photo quick before the rust and mould comes back…

Sparkling clean, painted fridge!

18th August

Run early in the morning. Lazy rest of day. My cat sums it up well:

Cat naps

Wild card for the week:

Ants!

Ants are everywhere. As is so typical, the shops have all sold out of decent bug spray too. To spite us further, they’ve even taken to skating on water!

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