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Originally posted on Juggling Spoons:

I’ve been quiet here of late, but I’m not going to apologise for it. Back when I first started blogging, I’d be endlessly apologising for leaving it a few days/weeks/months between posts, begging my readers to bare with me despite my failings as a human being. Thankfully, I’m older and wiser and I don’t feel the need to grovel at your feet.

The lapse in content on Juggling Spoons is for a simple but important reason: I’m back working Full Time. I keep forgetting that I haven’t told everyone this and get moderately annoyed when every friend I see for a catch up asks if I’m back full time yet. Of course I am, I mutter impatiently, forgetting those months where I was so ill I required 24/7 care from my friends to keep me alive. I do tend to try my best to not think about all of…

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A dark weekend

So everyone headed back to school and work after the Christmas break, and I seemed to decline further into the sick role. Off on sick leave I planned one event a day, ensuring I wasn’t isolating myself and just spending the whole day on the sofa.

On Monday I saw my  GP at 0855 and made a number of phone calls, before collapsing on the sofa by 1030. I tried to watch a film (my GP had suggested not just limiting myself to short programmes as I could always watch in sections). I tried to watch Street-dance – not a taxing film, and only about 90 minutes, but It took me around 5 hours to watch!! A lot of the time was spent lying on the sofa, doing nothing, just watching my life tick away.

Tuesday I met a friend for coffee, although it turned into lunch. I was awful company, not very chatty, then came home and collapsed on the sofa.

Wednesday was a morning on the sofa followed by  group therapy, followed by dinner with my friend, including baby cuddles.

Thursday I had an meeting with a benefits advisor, a hair cut, a coffee and reflexology before collapsing on the sofa.

Friday i tried to complete a job application, then visited a friend and was joined by another friend and her kids, then collapsing on the sofa.

You get the picture, this is the context that this weekend falls into. A week of not doing that much, spending lots of time collapsed on the sofa. A week of not reading emails, not opening post, even exciting food and craft magazines lie on the floor unopened.

On Friday evening I realised that I had booked 3 events in for Saturday. The first a guild meeting from 1000 – 1600 with lots of people, most of which I didn’t know, or if I did know then only as acquaintances. This was followed by a Church new years party from 1600 – 1900 – making small talk, watching and taking part in entertainment. Then a quiet cuppa with a friend. 2 out of the 3 were long events with large numbers of people. I had only been doing 1 activity a day with a couple of people and only for a couple of hours. I was a bit concerned as I went to bed. However my subconscious must have felt very anxious about it, I eventually fell asleep after 0430 after focusing on listening to an audio-book about cycling around Ireland!!

I gave up the idea of getting to guild in the morning, the goal post moving, first to in time for the talk, then for lunch, finally just to arrive in time for the AGM. I had such a massive struggle to drag myself out of bed but I arrived just in time for the AGM. I had a lovely time, with warm and welcoming people. I wondered why I had been worrying.

From there I went to the church do. I was so grateful for out kids. They crowded the table I sat on and made gentle conversation with me, a couple of really safe adults also sat and kept me company at different points in the evening. I picked at the food. Lots of space on my plate. Then the ‘entertainment’ started. It was mortifying. First play your cards right, followed by a quiz, then singing the 12 days of Christmas with actions. By the time we got to the singing, I had had enough, trying to decided at various times whether I could walk out, I instead zoned out and headed onto twitter. Thankfully the party finished a bit early.

My friend didn’t want me to come early, so I went to a supermarket to get my God-daughters birthday present. I walked up and down all the aisles, looking for bargains. I found lots of Christmas craft kits for very cheap. (TW) Walking through the car section, a brief though of what would happen if I was to buy some of the fluids on offer and drink it, flit through my mind. Back in the car, tears came as I sat in my car, apologising to my friend by text that I was now late and lousy company. We had a cuppa and a lovely catch up. She was really understanding.

I slept fine Saturday night, but by Sunday couldn’t face the idea of going to my church, a church where for months I haven’t got anything out of the worship or the teaching. Having been brought up going to church, the idea of not going when at home is unthinkable. Therefore I decided to visit a church that I had wanted to visit for a long time. I got to sit with a friend, and knew about a third of the congregation. The worship was much more to my taste, I loved it and was really encouraged by it, in fact had I been less unwell I would have been dancing!! I loved the prophetic – something my church doesn’t give much room for. The picture they shared, felt like if was just for me. Bowed down and empty, God filling and helping them to stand. I cried through most of the worship and sharing of prophetic words. I understood and took in at least 25% of the sermon. I felt invisible that morning when I awoke, but about 5 different people I knew came up to welcome me and say hello!! They said not to go without getting prayed for if you felt the picture was for you, but I was scared to ask, and the people I would have asked were busy. Consequently a friend of mine ended up praying for me in the coffee time!! She had a wonderful picture for me, demonstrating God’s timing.

I went to the supermarket, figuring walking around a supermarket is a novel way of doing some exercise. Just as I was leaving, some friends from my church appeared and we had a brief chat. Later, back on the sofa, watching trashy TV, I get a Facebook message, “Are you ok?”. I am honest about being poorly.

Sunday night I sleep badly again, falling asleep around 0200, anxious about meeting my friend, the closer someone is, the more I want to push them away at the moment.

If you’ve got to the end thank you, but mostly this is written so that when I am well I can see just how bad things have been

New Years Resolutions

Happy New year!! I’m hoping 2015 is a better year as 2014 being up there as one of the worst – having spent the latter half having my life hijacked by depression and burnout.

Do you write new years resolutions??

I don’t!! Instead there are a couple of things I do try to do. I look back at the last year and journal. What am I thankful for. What were the good times and the struggles.

I also pray. I ask God what he plans for this year and write down the words I sense him speaking into my heart. I also look back at what he said last year, how did it work itself out? Were his words fulfilled in a way I wouldn’t have even imagined?

Last year I chose to have a journal for the year. I covered it in collage. I picked out the words and pictured that spoke to me.

Journal 2014 coverLooking back at this cover I can see how words came to fruition, cups of tea, sewing, worship, dancing…

Today I look forward to looking back, to hearing God and to covering a notebook. Already a verse has popped up 3 times over the last 24 hours making me wonder if it is for me.

And new years resolutions…new diet, better timekeeping, more bible study…well all those can wait until Lent, when the sun is starting to shine, the days growing warmer and when they will be just that bit easier to keep.

I’ve been on annual leave this week…I headed South to my parents home for some TLC. I had great plans…rest relaxation, lots of wool ready to make felted mobile phone cosies, a project shawl and a patchwork project, a couple of books. Plans to see people – new Godbaby in London, elderly neighbour, school friend with new baby. Plans to ‘borrow’ mums car and go on adventures around the county – time in the countryside,in pubs, cafes, shops. New clothes, decluttering my bedroom, getting my dental check up.

Once again I was over optimistic!! My shawl had a few rows added, but nothing else got made. My teeth got checked. I saw the new babies but didn’t get to see my neighbour. The only shopping was for my swap parcel…but the project bag I needed to make wasn’t started. I had coffee with my dad, but ran out of time to have a cuppa with my mum. I made a dent in the clutter of my room and gained maybe a metre more of visible carpet.

I can’t kick myself too much…for there are some visible achievements, but sadly I slept through several mornings…the alarm would go I’d hit snooze and turn over…the tiredness continues to overwhelm and given the chance I long to sleep for days.

After 9 weeks of sick with fatigue and burnout, I have now been back at work for 7 weeks. I have had a phased return and this week I did my full days, while still keeping Wednesday off. In the last week I have seen symptoms of burnout start to return…the sore throats, the brain freeze…also jealousy of others having holidays and being critical of other people’s work. To try and halt my leaning over the edge, I spent Saturday in bed, resting, listening to podcasts and allowing myself to snooze. I got up to go to a friends for dinner, then returned back to sleep. Yet although the progression has slowed, i still feel I am leaning over looking into the abyss. I don’t want to get ill again and to have time of work. For now I just have to get through 1 more day, before I have my first week of annual leave since returning. I hope it will be a chance to rest and recharge…but the question lingers…can I work in this job and stay well…or will I eventually need to give in…and leave.

PHQ-9

Score today 11 – Moderate depression

Maybe I’m improving…but I’m not yet convinced. After 2 busy weekends I spent yesterday in bed to try to prevent a relapse. At the end of last week I was getting more frequent ‘brain freeze’ and a sore throat.

Just about managing at work…but everything out of work is a bit of a mess – the flat is a pig sty, I’m not eating/cooking very well, laundry…what’s that?

I am soooo frustrated with church at the moment…of course it could just be depression and hormones speaking…but here is how I imagine church…please comment if you think it could be a reality.

Church is a community, a family and on that score my church scores highly, people support each other, my home-group even has an ongoing prayer message on Facebook.However does everyone get supported by someone? There is the lady with bipolar who has dinners covered for 3 nights in the week from 3 different families who have adopted her…but then on the other hand there is the 2 oldest members of our congregation, both in their 90’s can’t get to church and get much less frequent visits by anyone. Church should be about pastoral care…but should that come from the vicar/leaders, a team of pastoral carers or just run in an organic way, hoping that people were supported by their friends in the community. My vicar has in the past been really supportive to me…yet recently I text him to say I was feeling really low and suicidal…and he never followed up a day or two later so see if I was feeling any better…in fact 6 weeks later he still hasn’t.

I imagine that church should be a school, a place where we learn and grow, a place when we are challenged, a place where we can ask questions and wrestle with difficult issues. I imagine learning takes place in services, and also in small groups. That we are changed from year to year through it, rather than being bored and hearing irrelevant noise. A school that has something to feed everyone…the baby Christian to the experienced Christian, the auditory, visual and kinesthetic learner. Yet in my church to be fed…I listen to podcasts from other churches and go to conferences.

I imagine church as a place where we are hungry to worship Him and to spend time in his presence, I want to hear Him, and bless Him. Perhaps I need to learn to engage in this way regardless of the style of music…

I  imagine a church where people are known and encouraged to develop their gifts. Where people are released into new roles, not just the same people doing the same things. Where seasons are appreciated and where you might once have taught the children, now perhaps God is calling you to become a lay reader.Where new musicians are added to the music team. Where people are enabled to help in children’s work before being expected to be able to lead the whole thing. Where we build capacity and are less speedy to discount people. To enable people to do what they can…so you can’t do gardening on a Saturday morning…but you could after coffee morning…great, welcome on board.

I imagine a church where people who serve (who volunteer) are appreciated and thanked. That they are given the appropriate training, rather than dumped in it. That any changes are communicated clearly before the event, rather than once you are already doing it wrong because you didn’t mind read correctly!! Its soup lunch this week…so heat the soup and serve…before serving the teas and coffees, its cafe church this week, come early to set up, the drinks will be served at the start and middle, not at the end.

I imagine a church where ideas are taken on board, weighed up and nurtured into being. I went to a church where the leaders weren’t interested in suggestions unless you were willing to run them – that is fine. What is not fine is when suggestions fall on deaf ears, never encouraged, never permitted to start. People with ideas and passion for those ideas can be harnessed to make a difference. Ignoring them leads to stagnation and frustration. Again there are seasons…we might have always run Guides….but perhaps now we need to invest in a youth bible study instead. Perhaps the home group has got tired, but there is room for dance workshops or art based bible studies.

I imagine churches learning to work in partnership with other churches. We staff our night shelter by working in partnership with other local churches…but what about youth work, community projects…could we not work together at times, rather than against each other, making a better project, with the people who really have a heart for it, not just guilt tripped into helping.

What do you imagine the church to look like? Is there a church like the one I would like to imagine? Please comment.

Burnout and Avoiding it.

learning2float:

I had hoped to write more about burnout, but haven’t managed to yet…but this is worth a read.

Originally posted on Fighting Monsters:

I attended an event recently for newly qualified and student social workers. There were a number of speakers of which I was privileged to be one. Although it wasn’t a part of my ‘talk’, some of those speaking began by talking about how long they’d been in ‘social work’ and how they had managed to ‘stay fresh’ and counter burnout. It’s something I have appreciated more since I moved out of my social work job and moved into less intense, less stressful role. I don’t think I ‘burnt out’ but I do think I left at the right time. Things had been getting increasingly stressful at work due to the cuts and the increased workloads and a couple of incidents in the lead up to my applying for other roles made me realise it was probably a good time to take a step back.

While I can’t make the claims…

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PHQ update

PHQ today = 16 Moderately severe depression

Originally posted on Confessions of a Ridiculous Vicar:

vicardibleyIn response to a high profile figure being outed as having depression, sooner or later someone will say, “But he’s rich, famous and successful, what has HE got to be depressed about?

My shameful confession is – I have nothing to be depressed about either.

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