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Taking part in this project highlighted to me what a difference a few months makes. In November I was on annual leave, but was still working. Now in February I am on sick leave, have been since mid December after becoming progressively more and more depressed. That week in November helped to keep me in work for an extra week or so.

I woke up at 1000. Impressed my body has become used to 1100 appointments and woke me at 1000. I snooze until 1130. I get up, washed and dressed. For once I find clothes to wear easily. It is now a struggle to decide what to wear in the morning, and I avoid choosing by wearing the same clothes for a few days. The reason is two-fold – I put weight on last year from stress at work, clothes in the cupboard, don’t always fit, (and now being on Mitazipine won’t help) the other reason is my depression.

My friend is coming for lunch, but I have time to wash up and put the bin out before she arrives. She is an amazing Christian Lady who also suffers with depression. She has told me not to tidy up for her, and she brings lunch!! Home-made soup and ciabatta bread. She makes the lunch and serves it. She has bought enough that I have a portion for another meal. She understands, she’s been there, she is so thoughtful. We have a catch up, we talk about depression, we talk about cancer!! She has cancer, she has just been diagnosed. I try to give her the room to talk as much or as little as she wants. She comments on the stark difference in the response from her cancer, than to her depression. She already has offers of meals and it was only shared in the church pray email yesterday!!

After she goes to do the school run, I spend a couple of hours distracted by twitter, I follow General Synod, and have a conversation with a vicar. At the weekend I tweeted – why am I here, and was amazing that this vicar replied – “To reach out to others who struggle with their faith? I for one am better off for your presence here.” Twitter is a supportive community, and you never know who reads your tweets and how they can impact people. Finally getting off twitter, I then find myself distracted by Facebook. I have a catch up chat on Facebook to an old friend.

I fancy roast potatoes, and am proud to say I managed to convince myself that chopping up some veg to roast in the oven was no harder than boiling some pasta. I have some roast beef out of the freezer (thanks mum) with Roast Potatoes, Carrots and Parsnips. I’m proud of myself, I don’t always manage to cook and several nights a week pop round to have dinner at friends houses.

I have a long tearful chat with my mum. I normally talk to my parents at least once a week, but haven’t managed to over the last few weeks. It just feels hard work to ring. I tell my mum I have felt suicidal recently – I think that shocked her. When I say suicidal, I mean, the only solution is to not be here, but I have no idea how to make that happen.

I try to watch ‘A Chef Abroad’ on iplayer, but my concentration is so poor and I’m easily distracted so I keep having to rewind and watch again. Anything over 60 minutes is not worth trying, and 60 minutes viewing is a struggle. A few weeks ago it took me 5 hours to watch StreetDance!!

I have been inspired by someone tweeting a photo of a giant granny square blanket. I am determined to start tonight and I manage it. I am going to use up lots of my acrylic yarn stash, and have a blanket from this episode of ill health. I love crochet, it is a great way to keep my hands busy while giving my brain a rest, but it takes motivation to pick up, and starting a project is the hard bit.

I’m tired. I don’t have any sparkle. I struggle to get up in the morning. I’m better than I was a few months ago, but living still feels like hard work on some days. I worry that if I tell you how I really am, you’ll just think I should be back at work. I’m managing to cook, to wash up and do laundry, but not every day. On good days I can do several activities in a day, on other days, I crawl back into bed and watch hours of IPlayer. I’m worried every time I think about the future; my statutory sick pay will be over soon.  Then will I be forced back to work, or forced to resign. Will I be able to get an alternative less stressful job, or will I be on Employment Support Allowance, and will the current government allow me on ESA long enough to fully recover, or will they kick me off it like 80% of people with mental health issues? My future is full of anxieties.

This week I’m on annual leave and spending the week at my parents, so this is not really a typical Friday for me.

Really tired. I slept and slept… Finally wake up at 12 midday – oops. Dad’s already gone to cricket. Mum’s around. I meant to get up earlier and head up to London for the day. Decide I may as well have lunch with mum, now I’m still at home…no point wasting money. Dad returns from cricket. They are driving up to London and heading in from an outer tube station… Trying desperately to exert my autonomy. Mum especially still sees me as her baby (aged 33!) and enjoys planning my time when I’m around. She’s planned and booked a special meal as a family in London, but I want to try to hold onto my independence so get the train up separately. On the way I try to take photos of things could be interpreted as letters – abcdef, I get stuck when I get to g, I mean what looks like a g…

I read my book on my train journey. I enjoy throwing the map away and wandering around cities. Walk out of Liverpool Street and hope to walk in a Westerly direction. End up wondering via Barbican  (where I decide a bike wheel could look a bit like a G) up to Islington… I walk past an art shop and wander in –  it has every type of paint or colour creator you could imagine…amazing..take their card so I can mail order. Carry on to Smithfield market, then along to Chancery Lane. Peckish now so start wondering where I can treat myself to a drink and a nibble without spoiling my appetite. Carry on down Fleet street and onto the Strand. Impressed by all the Kings College Alumni displayed on the boards. Find a Mexican Street Food restaurant. Have a non alcoholic cocktail and 1 plate of street food. Yummy and just perfect to fill the gap.

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Carry on through Trafalgar Square. Love the Remembrance day installation. On along Pall Mall and  up Haymarket to Piccadilly Circus. Mum’s given me the address of a pub to meet them in, before our meal. Looks like the pub doesn’t exist as street is closed for a new development. SOS call to mum and dad to ring me… Try going down Regent street but no entry to pub that side either. Meet parents back at Piccadilly Circus…give up suggestion the Costas and Whittards I’ve just seen…dad has fixed ideas and refused to go to either of them…easier to just follow his lead…eventually we find a restaurant that is happy to serve drinks only. Its freezing…I have a coffee. Catch up with parents – they’ve been to see the Poppies at the Tower of London. Already we are grumpy with each other.

We head to the restaurant on Piccadilly Circus…its posh…apparently lots of famous people have eaten here and it opened in the 1800’s. Mum finds all kinds of special offers so we have a table booked for the £25 menu. My sister is late – held up from work. Gorgeous posh meal. I have Mussels in a creamy white wine sauce, Posh Bangers and Mash with red cabbage and onion marmalade and dark chocolate tart with mango sorbet and some fancy powder…could it be some kind of freeze dried berries powdered up? We also get a free champagne cocktail in the price.

After the meal we head straight back to the tube and out to where dad left the car. Dad and sister introvert. I get my crochet out to pass the tube journey. Back at the station car park dad asks if I want to drive. Pleased to get to drive mum’s car, and on fast road as well as through our town but very concious that if I crash the car, I hurt my whole family. Drive very carefully – dad says I’m over the right hand line….but I’m scared of clipping the kerb. We get home in one piece. A really enjoyable day, both time alone and with the family. Shame I slept the whole morning though.

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The Sunday School Scenario

  • 18 kids ages 4 – 13
  • Including 2 kids with special needs
  • 2 adult leaders per session
  • No shared vision
  • No behaviour management guidelines
  • No training or advice on what works for the special needs kids
  • No meetings as a team to encourage, share ideas or pray together
  • 1 A4 page outline of what to deliver in session

pointed-656184_1280The Mental Health Relapse

  • Diagnosed with burnout due to work pressures
  • 9 weeks off work followed by 12 weeks in work before becoming unwell again
  • Current sick leave of 4.5 months and ongoing
  • On 2 antidepressants
  • Anxiety and Depression remain unstable
  • Variable ability to manage household task,
  • High levels of fatigue
  • In group psychotherapy

The Result

  • Following helping in Sunday school fell asleep for 4-5 hours and would have slept through without dinner, were it not for medication alarm going.
  • So far 3 day relapse in functioning and energy levels.
  • Email relating to Sunday School Triggered abnormally high levels of anxiety, agitation and insomnia despite being on sedative antidepressant.

The Alternative

Resigning from the rota(s) until over relapse even if if does make me feel guilty and like I’m letting people down.

It would be so much easier if only I didn’t care about kids and about helping them to be a valued part of the church of today and not patronising them with a watered down powerless version of the Gospel.

However as someone said today, It is sometimes wise to take a short term measures that mean that I am more likely to be available in the long term.

So my twitter friend @imillnotcrazy‘s has blogged today on the Mind website her reflections after being asked “What are you like when you’re well?” Here is my answer…

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When I am well I work a 30 hour week for a charity. 6 hour days help to minimise fatigue and manage my depression. I work from 0930 to 1530. I will often rush from work to have a coffee with a friend, or dinner with a family. After that I might do a second activity…dancing on Mondays, Home group every other Wednesday, Crafting with my friend, PCC/Deanery Synod meetings, meeting another friend for the rest of the evening, babysitting.

When I am well I teach in the Sunday School, deliver the kids slot, help plan the women’s breakfast and serve the teas and coffees at church.

When I am well, the only activities I can guilt free decline to help with at church are the night shelter and gardening.

When I am well I create, I play with paint, I crochet, I sew, I spin, I dabble in many crafts – jack of all trades, master of none!!

When I am well I cook, not just to live, but as an expression of creativity. I entertain friends ranging from other singles, up to families of 6 kids. One year I invited all the members of the PCC for dinners in order for them to get to know each other better.

When I am well I can look after myself and maintain a home.

When I am well I get a veg box every 2-3 weeks.

When I am well I am healthy weight to overweight, but I am not obese.

When I am well I sleep.

When I am well I study. I completed the Bishops Certificate in Children Ministry in 2013. The Professional Aware in Community Development in 2014. Before that I did training in counselling skills (2007/2008), before having to pull out of the Level 3 course as I needed to be the helped, not the helper.

When I am well I go out of the City to visit friends around the UK.

When I am well I ask others how they are doing, I maintain the friendship, I serve them as I am able when they are finding life tough. I listen.

 

When I am well I book myself on to attend conferences about the Holy Spirit such as the Third Person Conferences, events by Catch the Fire, even conferences on faith and health .

When I am well I go to dance workshops like those run by the Christian Dance Fellowship of Britain or Movement in Worship across the UK.

 

When I am well…my life runs at 100 miles an hour…and sometimes I just need a break…

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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…

View original 960 more words

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.

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