‘Yes, it WAS worth it’

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Back around the New Year, Enise (uni MH advisor), asked me: ” I wonder, when you look back now, if you think it was worth all the stress and effort?!!”.

I finally had the confidence today to write as a reply: “It’s taken me a while to decide, but I think that it was worth the effort, if not the stress, last year! (sometimes even find myself missing university and the strange landscape architecture studio life!) Thanks again.”

It feels good: It took six months from my last appointment with her, last June, to feel I could reliably thank her for helping me feel more positive and sorted. It’s me taken a further six months to decide that yes, persevering with uni and staying where I was living was all worth it. It may have been a flipping long ‘blip’ (as my friend tried to reassure me it was), but it feels good to look back at the good memories of the last few years and enjoy them, and also know I’ve learnt a lot about what I can do for myself in the future!

When I read Celine’s CBT competion letter to me, I was at first a bit miffed that, despite feeling she got to know me quite well, she’d just sent me a bog standard letter: “continue to work on your new rules for living – getting better balance in your life with work and play, sleeping well and having fun”. Then I re-read it and realised quite simply she was speaking directly to me, referring to my own silly little saying she helped me make:  “Don’t lose heart, Don’t lose sleep, Put fun in wherever I can”. I’m grateful to have discovered that three such simple things (in idea at least) can have such a powerful effect. I haven’t perfected the art of it yet, but seeing how quickly I can slip when I stray from those three things is enough incentive to make a conscious decision to keep trying everyday.

With that, good night x


Putting things in perspective – a year ago

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As I sit at my work desk copying up my timesheet for last month, I’m quietly frustrated (a la silent tears and digging fingernails into face) by my obscene slowness. (A task for how to hide away the 9 or 9 ½ hours I can regularly spend each day being so slow when the client will only be billed for 3 or 4 hours max?). However, as much as I hate filling my timesheets at work now, I came across my old time sheet diary things I filled in when I saw Celine last year, and am refreshed and reassured to see the clear change in tone between then and now, and it helps put things in perspective a bit:

This time last year

Still messy but ticks at least give illusion of positivity

Last week.


‘Scuse me while I get my 9 hours sleep


For the past 366 days I’ve kept a mood and sleep diary (thanks to moodtracker.com). It might have produced some interesting data for a school maths project. But since I’ve obliterated all memory of statistics, here’s a simple graph I’ll keep in mind:


9 hours Good. 2 and 13 hours Bad.

An updated graph: When I looked at that graph last night I thought it wasn’t telling much of the story. (For a start I was surprised the figures were not more positive, after all 22nd March 2011 was after starting mirtazapine. The graph would have been more exciting if I’d kept it in the preceding months!) But averages are averages they’ll make almost any bump look flat.  This graph, which shows all the days, shows the relationship is a little bit more chaotic! Though the trend line did still find the pattern of my first graph:

One thing to conclude is a happier day requires 6+ hours sleep, but sleep on its own won't make that happen. Shucks that's too easy I guess.

Seeing the good: Week in Pictures – 12th-18th March


Pne of Dream Electric’s recent posts, ‘Three Good Things – The Positive Data-Log’ struck a chord with me – it was what Celine (CBT Lady) encouraged me to do back in June last year, and what I aimed to do by starting the challenge of photographing what I did or saw each day! I find have a tendency to automatically see the bad side of things, so challenged myself to end each caption on a positive note, regardless of how it started out. It must be a positive thing to be able to do that (see what  I did there?!)!

Monday, 12th March: I've been keeping an eye on the buds on the shrub by the office door,. Reassuringly they'd sprung open over the weekend.

Tuesday, 13th March. This photo is meant to represent my Tuesday night running activity (our club runs start and finish at this tennis club but). After feeling a bit knocked by one of my bosses telling me my drawings weren't good enough, I appreciated going running and being competently able to put one foot in front of the other!

Wednesday, 14th March - Juicy kiwi berries (basically what it says on the tin: grape sized very sweet kiwis, eaten whole!) were on a sale offer at Budgens today, seemed very exotic in a corner of Suffolk!

Thursday 15th March: My birthday! Went to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at the old fashioned but perfectly decent Riverside theatre. Although at 26 I have to accept that I'm more than a quarter the way through my life, the pensioners in the film made me feel young still!

Friday 16th: Hazy Sunshine. I tried to line the sun up as a light bulb on the mast, but then forgot and missed half of it from the frame! I hope you still get the idea.

Saturday 17th: Came back from three hours of rowing to find I'd 'locked' my bike like this! Though I was thoroughly frustrated with myself for being so inoompetient, I did sort of persuade myself to see the funny side of it (my post on FB got quite a few '*likes*) and to be grateful that I live in a fairly civilized town with an undesirable 10pound granny bike.

Sunday 18th: I visited the Beth Chatto Gardens in Essex. It's a quiet time of year for the gardens, but the woodland bulbs and scree garden sempervirens were worth the logistics of 3 trains and a cycle ride to get there!

Weekend in Pictures

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I’ve got to admit I surprised myself with an impressively full, for me, weekend! After several slumpish weeks I decided I needed to do something to change things, so on Tuesday, before the middle of the week crawl hit, I planned a weekend of activities in London. Though there were a few times when I tempted just to stay at home and hibernate (but knowing I’d berate myself again for being a useless hermit) – my aunt aptly described the logistics of organising my friends: ‘like herding cats’ – everything fitted together nicely like a jigsaw.

I travelled to London on Friday night.

By their nature I think rail stations are pretty grim places, so I appreciated this cheerful little touch in Ipswich station as I made my way to London.

Spotting this on one of the trains in London made me smile. Almost made up for the fact I'd jumped on the wrong train!

On Saturday morning I took my Granny out for a wheelchair walk along the Thames. We watched these scullers by Hampton Court. She later reported she had a very nice visit from her daughter-in-law. I guess she got it close enough, though I'm interested to know who she thinks her son is!

In the afternoon I visited Wisley. Though my friend thought it would be a washout to the point of not bothering to come, I still found a rainbow of colours and lots of textures. I also hope my company’s clients have generous budgets when I get to design their planting plans, I have made long lists of plants I’d love to include!

Colours and textures at Wisley

Saturday evening I met up with friends at an Iranian restaurant. Pomegranite and walnut sauce stew highly recommended!

Sunday morning went to see the Wildlife Photography exhibition at the Natural History Museum. I had lots of favourite photographs, though none of them were the winners actually selected by the judges!

Tern Style by Ilkka Rasanen. In a children's category no less! I would say it is well worth visiting, but Sunday was its last day! I think it will be touring the UK now, so in fact not too late to see it. It has inspired me to plan more photography focused outings, as well as just carrying my camera around for opportunistic snaps.

One of my own much more boring photos:

Exhibition Road, by the Natural History Museum, V&A, Royal Geographic Society and close to the Royal Albert Hall, has recently undergone a makeover, turning it into 'shared space'. With reduced road markings and no pavements, it is meant to be more pedestrian friendly and less car orientated. Its had mixed reviews, but considering that I was with two other landscape architect friends and none of us could agree on the 'rules of the road' in this scheme, I don't blame the general public for being a bit confused too! General consensus is that, unless its a very quiet Sunday afternoon, as it was, it is probably still best that pedestrians don't cross the road with a blind fold on!

We came across a nice Lebanese restuarant where we were talked into ordering far too many, but equally delicious, mezze dishes. I must have been inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine weekend (by chance I’d bought a carrot-coriander-houmous sandwich at Wisley too!) as I absent mindedly stocked up on houmous today in the supermarket.

Feeling well stuffed, had time just to dash back to pick up my stuff and start my mission of a journey to get home on Sunday night (thanks Greater Anglia, your rail ‘improvements’ had better be worth it!)

One other positive thing from last week:

7th March: Leaving work in the daylight for the first time this year!

Lots of knits

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On the one hand I feel like I dropped off the face of the Earth these past few weeks. On the other hand I have quite a bit of knitting to prove my presence!

I first learnt to knit at an afterschool club at my school when I was about 7 years old. That just served to irritate me, so it wasn’t til I was living/volunteering in Peru after I left school that I was inspired again to try. Often shop keepers would be furtively knitting away with their hands beneath the table. It wasn’t uncommon to drive past girls walking along the road in the middle of nowhere, spinning wool. Most interesting was on Taquile Island, where the knitters were the boys and men. I figured if they could do it, so could I, so I spent quite a bit of time watching and examining the insides of sweaters. The friendly wool shop señora thought it was hilarious selling to a Gringa, though I’m sure I wasn’t the first!

Taquile Knitters and Spinners

These are the things I’ve made from the past three months (ones against blue are past three weeks)…I’m impressed by how long it’s kept my interest this time round!



Door Handle

For strange reasons I hate having my bedroom door shut, this cover stops the latch clicking, and the door from banging. The pattern was meant to be of snowflakes!

Wrist Warmers

The first time since the first time I tried knitting cables.

( The result here was rather tidier than my early attempt [which incidently was almost 6 years ago to the day. Gah it doesn’t feel that long ago!], though having proper needles helped a lot!)

The last time I knitted, a few years ago, the phase ended when I attempted knitting in the round. This time though I managed it, and made these sock!

I finally bought some more wool!

My little chill pill


Using up the scrappy bits of pink and green wool left over from my first projects. I thought it would also make a decent holder for tampons to keep in my bag. Unfortunately that's the only thing I can think of that would fit in it, so it's a bit of a give away!

Neck thingie

More socks. These are all in ribbing and the wool is a mix of real wool and acrylic, so a bit warmer, and fit better, than the first pair I made.

I tried following directions for spiral ribbing on socks. Unfortunately though the straight ribbed cuff was tight, the rest of the sock was getting really baggie. Before I faffed with the heel I decided it would make a very good cover for my spare camera lens. Possibly the degree of protection it give is giving me a false sense of security!

Trying a spiral again, this time in normal stocking stitch and just using colour to give the effect of a spiral. This is going to be a birthday present for my aunt (promise I'm just trying it on for size here!). She asked for store-bought navy blue socks. I can't think of a more dull present to give or receive, but I feel a bit better about it if I'm giving hand knitted socks with a dash of pink!

Back online and eventually all is good!

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After more than three weeks of no internet, I haz it!

Well nearly no internet, I was able to snatch glimpses of my emails at work, but even during my lunch time or after work I felt awkward enough pulling up Gmail or BBC webpages, let alone Facebook or blogs.

I should be re-christened Bag Lady

I moved into my own little rented place the last weekend in January and finally everything feels set up and me more or less settled in.

It’s the first time I’ve ever lived on my own, previously I’ve either been at home with my parents or at university sharing with friends/others. Then the past few months I’ve been staying temporarily with my aunt and then her friend. While I’ve really appreciated being able to stay with them while settling into new jobs, I’m pleased to feel a bit more permanently in a place I’m renting myself, and, touch wood, seem to be coping with it too! It’s seriously helped me that the place is furnished  and nearly all the bills are included. All except for the internet, which has taken several weeks to sort out. I’m just glad it wasn’t the heating I was having to sort myself! I am so spoilt here with the heating, although so far I’ve only needed the heaters on at 2 or 3 (on a dial of 10). It makes such a difference coming home to a warm house. I can actually look forward to coming home, rather than putting it off to the last minute, dashing in under the covers, sleeping and leaving for uni again, which is what I had to do rather than the freezing hole of the place I was in the last two years. I always said ‘it was so cold I could see my breath inside’, but in reality I could see my breath there even before it was properly cold! Student life was strange…

It’s been an odd, slightly topsy turvy three weeks without internet.

First I was excited at the prospect of a weekend liberated from the interwebs. Then reality hit and I the slight irony of needing the internet to get the internet, but not having internet to get the internet to get the internet! I did manage to access the BT Open Zone wifi signal, which tantalised me with a  page selling internet, but I could only catch a hazy signal while scrunched up in the corning of the living room (/hall/breakfast room/TV room/storage room/kitchen), and it was too cold to wander out into the street to get it stronger. In the end I enlisted the help of my parents out in the Atlantic to set broadband up for me back in England. It felt quite ridiculous having to go the longest route round for something supposedly as modern as the internet! I might have laughed if I wasn’t feeling sorry for my tech ineptitude when I was then given a date 25 days later in February for an engineer to come round, on a week day when I should be at work. So much for the high tech age!

That first week was quite hard, I missed not having my blog or Twitter as an outlet to say how I was feeling. Simple ‘how are you?’ questions from co-workers had me in tears as I knew I couldn’t say how I felt (lost, loser, incapable, idiot etc the usual stuff). They didn’t comment on me dashing out of the room frequently, either they didn’t know what to say, or maybe they just think I have a very small bladder! Actually most likely they didn’t notice and didn’t give it a second thought. In reality I probably wouldn’t have gone onto Twitter or written anything, but the option would have been there. There wasn’t even the possibility of bottling up til I got home to tell someone, as I didn’t have a way to tell anyone at home! Perhaps it was that feeling more than the lack of internet that was bothering me, but at least internet would have been a compromise.

The next week I spent some of it working in the London office, helping out with deadlines there. While I was sorry I didn’t get a chance to meet up with friends there, it also meant there wasn’t time to miss not having the internet, or even give much thought to my feelings! Then when I was back home, my lack of internet made a reasonably legitimate excuse for not trying to be sociable over the weekend, when what I really needed was to catch up on sleep and continue to ignore feelings.

By the third week, perhaps the ‘fake it til you feel it’ is finally starting to have some truth in it. After being upset that I didn’t have anywhere to say how I felt, I began to ignore how I felt. I wouldn’t normally be convinced that that would really mean that I feel ok, or that ignorance is a sustainable tack to take, but if I’ve been relatively calmer this last week than the first week, then maybe there is some truth to it. I like not being constantly on edge or having days of frequently having to dash out of the room.

And now I have internet! I can say admit how I feel, I don’t need to bottle it up! What’s better still is, after watching myself these past few weeks, I’m pleasantly surprised to find I can say I’m honestly fine (and not FINE either!). I’ve managed to cope with a fairly big deadline and a couple of smaller ones at work, fingers crossed I’ve got the standing order all set up for my rent, with a family team effort I have the internet, and I haven’t been sulking around at home too much by myself, or staying too late at work. Last night even I was out til after 11 with the running club and its AGM, and then tonight I was home by 6 and I’ve enjoyed relaxing, poking through the internet, catching up on blogs, news and shizz, I’ve got as far as the first week of February on my Google reader! Happily it sounds like lots of you have good news too, hope the rest of February is kind to all. xx



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