Day 123: Wyn vir die Pyn (Wine for the Pain)

If there was a Pandemic Prevention Olympics, South Africa would be on the podium taking gold medals by the barrel full. We’ve had the longest #Coronavirus lockdown in the world.

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Days 9, 10 & 11: A Three-Way to Meeting my Jekyll & Hyde

Days 9 and 10, Saturday and Sunday, or in my case Eat and Sleep…and Day 11: Moanday…

Aside from the delicious ravioli that I prepared; I made a focaccia pizza in the slow cooker. I was on a video call with Eliza, and completely forgot about the bread, which burnt to a crisp at the base and along the edges, so it was kind of flop-paccia. I think the recipe is meant for a large slow cooker, because mine rose quite a bit more than the picture on the recipe. Still, it tasted delicious. I’ll make it again as it is a superb way to use leftovers.

Before: Dough, Canned Tomates, Bacon, Feta, Mushrooms, Green Figt, Jalapenos, Fresh Rosemary and Grated Gouda Cheese

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Day 2 and Day 3: Already Mentally Challenging

Yesterday was Day 2 of #SALockdown, and I did my nut. As with day 1, I had the front door open, but the safety gate was shut tight. This is the only portal for fresh air, aside from a few small windows.

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See-Saw Happy-Sad…Am I Mad?

If jam equals sunshine as it does in my vocabulary, then this past weekend qualifies as jam-packed.

Friday night Melody and I went out for what was supposed to be dinner, but it ended up being a scallop starter each, a shared bowl of sorbet and countless Virgin Strawberry Daquiris.  As is almost always the case when we see each other, the restaurant started closing around us, but we just couldn’t stop talking.  It was so great to see her; she is tonic for the soul.  We’ll likely catch up again during the week, this time with her husband, Leonard.  I dropped her off shortly after eleven and headed home, only to be pulled off by the cops.  I’m never fazed because I don’t drink anymore, but it is a schlep, even more so when their handheld scanners are on the fritz.  A regular two-minute-routine-license-check took almost fifteen minutes and by then the Sandman had entered already.  It was too late to drink my meds, so I skipped them.  Not. A. Good. Idea.  I had the most awful nightmares, vividly memorable and upsetting as I woke up crying and covered in perspiration.

I had to be up early too on Saturday as Carla and I decided that we’d take a drive through to George as she was looking to buy some ‘not-blue-because-that-is-all-I-have-in-my-cupboard’ tops.  On the way, we picked up a friend of hers, Arissa, who was house-sitting for friends.  The house is stunning and the view left me breathless.  Shopping went rather quickly and I found myself two cashmere-like sweaters at Queenspark for R99 (about $6.50) a piece on sale.  I also bought a snakeskin-look belt.  So I now have a dress, a bodysuit, shoes, a handbag and a belt in the look, but they’re all different colours.  The irony is I don’t own a single full-quill ostrich leather item, and I’ve been in the industry for almost nine years.  I do have a leg-skin purse, so I’m not a completely bad example.

After shopping we spent the afternoon with Arissa, at the place she’s housesitting, chatting over snacks and freshly-brewed Java.  I immediately comfortable with Arissa – she is an open person, with an extremely warm and welcoming personality.  We walked round the grounds and I got to see adult miniature horses and a foal that is not much higher than the resident border collie.  I also got to see a majestic Waterbuck, some springbuck and teeny-tiny little ducklings.  It was such a lovely experience.

Headed off to spend the night with The Toppie and The Bean.  We had chicken, butternut and The Bean’s roast potatoes – as if my Saturday couldn’t get any better! By something to eight I was pulling amps because of the lack of sleep the night before.  My folks went to bed round nine and when I got couch all kitted out for sleep, I discovered I’d left my meds at home.  Skip night number two.  I tossed and turned and again woke up in a glistening film of sweat.  Aside from that, I didn’t feel off, until Sunday night, but I’ll get to that in a bit.  We decided on a whim to take a Sunday drive to Still Bay and Jongensfontein, which is about an hour away.

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The sky was a cloudless blue and the sun was warm despite the wind.  We stopped at the well-known Lappiesbaai restaurant for a light bite to eat before driving to Jongensfontein.  Seeing the tidal pool brought back memories of a weekend I took away with Carmen, Ewan, Elena and Nick many moons again when Elena was still pregnant with her first-born who is now almost seven.

Sunday night after all the excitement wore off, the lack of medication and restless sleep hit me like a ton of bricks and I sat on the couch, in the eerie quietness of The Cave, with not a single light on.  I was overwhelmed by a feeling of immense loneliness and self-doubt.  I cried.  For how long I don’t know, but at some stage I got into bed and prayed for sleep so that the feelings of no companionship and being the girl that’s always everyone’s friend but no-one’s person could end, even if only temporarily.

What many people don’t realize is that a depressive ‘episode’ isn’t always a case of ‘going ballistic’, or ‘losing one’s shit’ requiring hardcore antidepressants or a stint in a psych facility.  In my case, it is sometimes just an immense moment of immeasurable sadness that has me wondering what my purpose on earth is, and if anyone aside from my parents would really miss me if I wasn’t here anymore.  The smile on my face in the photo is genuine, but in a moment, that smile can be erased as Sunday night is testimony of.

I know this melancholy feeling is something momentary; that it will pass.  I have so much to look forward to, and be grateful for.  I’m just in a dip at the moment.

I have since filled my prescription, and I have back-up meds in my handbag with me at all times now.  What’s that thing we learned as Girl Scouts?  Be prepared!

 

 

Bang, Bang! You Shot Me Down…

…Bang, bang! You shot me down.  Bang, bang! I hit the ground.  Bang, bang! That awful sound…

Today I’m going to talk about triggers.  Not the thingies that you pull to fire a gun, but the ones that fire something in your brain that leave you feeling explosively emotional, whether happy, sad, angry, overwhelmed, excited and/or (insert whatever you’d like to here).

Wood Texture Background. Vintage and Grunge style.
Wood Texture Background. Vintage and Grunge style.

I had two instances over the weekend that triggered negative emotions in me.  One was an altercation with a frog-eyed woman who was undecided about what cereal to put in her shopping cart.  She was standing on one side of the aisle looking at the variety on display telling another woman with dark hair to bend down and look at something lower down only to tell her “No, I don’t like that flavour”.  The Bean asked, “please can we get past?” and the brunette moved out the way.  She then said something about “just standing a little to the side” and Mrs. Frog Eyes got all in her face about “we’re all shopping here”.  The Bean replied with something in the line of “that’s why we should be considerate” and The Frog shouted down the aisle for her to “Shut up!”  I turned around, angry, and said rather loudly, “Excuse me?” and she carried on with “your mother is rude”.  I told her she was being rude, and she rewound to “we’re all shopping here!”  I think if I’d engaged with her a bit longer, her skin might have tightened so much she would have suffered an ocular proptosis, or worse.  I wonder if she ever told her mother to “Shut up!” or if she would allow her children to yell at her to “Shut up!”  Either way, I hope her fishwife behaviour left her feeling proud.

Needless to say, what was supposed to be a fun outing for The Bean and I had been rained up both literally and verbally.

Should I ever be in the unfortunate position of having to deal with something like this again the future, I’ll take a leaf out of David Sutcliffe’s books in the first episode of Cracked.  I imagine it would provide for some kind of entertainment.  Either that, or it could get me committed.

The other was a tv feature called Mighty Cruise Ships which is airing on Discovery.  Each episode deals with a different line, vessel and route.  It’s extremely interesting, but it left me feeling a bit empty, especially after watching an episode that dealt with various ports of call in the Med and Europe, which co-incidentally would have been the route I would have been on with Charlie for three weeks starting later this month, but life happened and that dream is back in the box.  Sure, I’m going to Victoria Falls which is something I’ve dreamt about since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, but part of me longs for the original plan that I was so excited about and looking forward to. I read today that people wanting to do The Devil’s Pool excursion in Victoria Falls need to be able to swim a portion of the Zambezi against the current, so I will have to start swim-fitness again.

In both instances I recognized that I was being set off into a spiral of sadness and also that these things are not a result of something I have done.  Still, it doesn’t make me feel less meh about things, so I did what my therapy dictates – I journalled about it, albeit only today, I drank water (because my brain doesn’t work properly when it’s thirsty), I read a bit and I had a (reasonably) early night.

Anyhow, tomorrow I start work for a new company (the one I’m with has merged with another, so it’s business as usual; only it’s not).  My social calendar is full for the next two weeks and work is also major-league busy with financial year-end.  It’s going to be an interesting last quarter of the year, that’s the one thing I’m certain of.  Let’s all keep our wobbly bits crossed that I don’t do my nut before the end of it again, because I am taking a bit of strain again.

I doubt I’ll be one hundred percent hunky dory tomorrow, but I’ll follow Dory’s advice:  Just keep swimming – both emotionally and physically – because #DevilsPool is on my #bucketlist

‘Til Next Time

 

(Emotional) Weekend Whirlwind

I am at the point again that when the phone rings and someone asks, “What are your plans?” I just want to hide.  Partly because I’m a little emotional, but mostly because of The Big Freeze that seems to have taken hold of the Sleepy Hollow Town I reside in; I’d much rather stay holed up in The Cave under my duvet with a book, or a movie.  Elizabeth was having none of it when she called with this very question on Friday last week.  She had been roped into helping a friend’s daughter (a young high-school learner doing photography as a subject) with her project on Saturday.  She’d also kind of already told her friend I’d be more than willing to help too.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I was reluctant to get out of bed.  It was cold. And I was out of milk.  Not a good start to my day.  Anyhow, I did the no matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up thing and went to Elizabeth’s house.  I’d arranged for a friend, Joy, to do our make-up.  Hell, if I was going to have to be in front of the camera, I didn’t want to look like a washed-out ghost from the 1920’s.  Joy was quite excited to hear that the shoot was Gatsby-themed, because she has always thought of me as “the perfect Gatsby girl”.

My confidence boosted, and my lashes ab-so-lutely gor-geous, Dahling, Elizabeth and I set off the the venue, Deja Vu Vintage House,  where we dressed up in real vintage clothes from the era, right down to pearls, feather boas and cigarette holders.  Once I was all flapped out in my purple frock, it was as if I underwent a complete personality change.  My inner Gatsby-girl took over and I ended up having so. much. fun.

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Elizabeth, the two other ‘models’ and I laughed till our stomachs ached as we waved to random strangers driving past.  The student taking the photos also had quite a few giggles at our antics.  I’m sure the photos are going to be a-ma-zing!

Elizabeth’s elder sister, Olive, had made a delectable curry and rice to ward off Jack Frost’s spell.  I love Indian food, so it was a given that I would stay for dinner.  With a full tummy and a happy heart, I went back to The Cave and slept incredibly well.

Sunday I met up with Charlie at his place where we had a bite to eat, and I showed him how to make a killer fridge tart with 4 ingredients.  I’m a firm believer in few-ingredient cooking, because I deteest pantry shopping almost as much as I hate doing the dishes.

Afterwards we watched two episodes of Elementary followed by a movie called called The Book of Eli.

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One scene (of an attempted rape) triggered a minor anxiety attack in me.  I’ve become increasingly aware that my friends and some family don’t understand my condition, and as a result, don’t know what to expect, nor how to react around me.  The reading I’ve done on high-functioning depression states that sufferers become ninja-level-experts at hiding things.  I surreptitiously (I hope!) popped a chill-pill and curled back on my comfy kick-out chair, snuggled under a blanket.  Barring the upsetting scene, the movie is quite brilliant; with Denzel Washington in the lead, and Gary Oldman as supporting actor, how could it not be?

I will admit, I was feeling drained on Monday, and yesterday still, but today I’m feeling on the up-and-up again.  I’ve learned not to beat myself up when I’m not feeling sprightly, but to continue with one-baby-step-at-a-time.  I’m staying with Eliza and Nathan tonight, and I’m cooking (something I love, but don’t do much of at home, because the stove in The Cave is cursed – every time I cook on it for guests, it cremates the contents of the oven, making them a burnt offering!) On the menu tonight is (you guessed it), a few-ingredient, creamy seafood marinara pasta.

Catch y’all on the flipside!  Have a Wonderful Wednesday 🙂

 

 

 

Direction = Up!

I watched an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles on Sunday at Harriet’s place.  It was about a cult called The Church of the Unlocked Mind.  I’ve been told that watching TV is not conducive to my recovery, but I didn’t think forty-five minutes would do much harm. Well, I had nightmares the entire night about being held captive- and attempted to be brainwashed by an inescapable sect that I was quite exhausted when I woke up on Monday morning.  I decided that reading is a more suitable pastime.

Today marks my one-month anniversary since I was discharged from the hospital.  For the most part, I’m feeling better and I’ve been likening myself to a Phoenix.  I even had Elena do my nails in the theme.

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I’ve shed many tears the past thirty days, but I remember in the second Harry Potter book that Professor Dumbledore told Harry that Phoenix tears having healing properties.  My own tears have contributed to my rise from the ashes; granted, crying isn’t the only thing that’s been a catalyst to the improvement of my mental health, I’ve also changed my ringtone to Katy Perry’s Rise.  But that too isn’t all:  It’s a combination of factors – the medication, going to sleep with the fowls and people respecting my boundaries.  At some stage I will make a concerted effort to get back in the gym, but not to become obsessed like I did the first time I did my nut.

I’ve also reached a point of tossing my hands in the air with a screw-this-I’m-over-itattitude if things beyond my control start to get me down.  Sometimes it takes a day, sometimes a week, sometimes a month and sometimes it takes literal years, but it happens.  When it happens, it is like something within me awakens and I have an urgent need to do something that will enhance my self-esteem or better me in some way.  I think that makes me human?

One thing that is a clear indicator of me being on the mend is that I’m starting to get excited about things again and I’m planning.  I love planning – whether it’s a meal, an outing, a party or a trip.  One of my colleagues has a milestone birthday coming up, in August, and I’m already thinking of something special that can be done to surprise her.  I’m also making photobooth props so that everyone in attendance can join in the fun and I’ll make a nice collage for her as a keepsake.  No, I’m not letting the cat out the bag here, because I know she doesn’t read my blog.

There are also plans in the pipeline to attend a bachelor auction at the end of May (I won’t be bidding on any would-be suitors though because the tickets are a bit steep), but it’s for a good cause and it’s a proper formal affair, and a night out on the town with my girl friends will do me good.  Shayla-Rae and Rowena have both hauled out formal dresses for me to try on, so I’m spoilt for choice.  I forgot home much fun playing dress-up can be.  I also realize that I look amazing in the colour green.  Maybe there’ll be more opportunities to wear evening dresses down the line, who knows?

In short, if I look back at where I am now vs where I was a month ago, renewal is clear and that’s good news.  One step at a time…

Depression: The Storm that Rages Within

* Note:  This post is a jumble, because my mind is mishmash of emotions, but if it can help one person to know they’re not alone, then my making myself vulnerable on such a public forum will not be in vain*

Something I haven’t talked to anyone about for almost a decade if my disease; the one I’ve been in remission from for almost as long. Without meds or any kind of treatment.  I bet almost of you made the leap to the Big C, but no, I’m not talking about cancer.  I’m talking about depression.  I know that I shouldn’t be ashamed of it,  but there is still a stigma attached because you don’t look ill, or if you just think positive thoughts, everything will be easier, or there’s nothing wrong with you or you really need to just learn to cope better, or I listened to a motivational podcast which said you only really find true strength when you’re alone.  I can list hundreds more of these snap out of it! things people say because they’re either plain ignorant, or  think they’re being supportive. In the case of the latter, I get that they mean well, but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Looking back, the signs have been there, all through the remissive period.  I just did well to hide them from everyone, even those closest to me.  For a long while my blog entries have leaned towards something being off, but I never thought it could be that I was spiralling downward into a relapse.  It had been almost ten years, for goodness’ sake!

When I was diagnosed, I didn’t have psych therapy – I was merely given anti-depressants for six months (told I’d drink them for at least three years) and left to my own devices.  I grew to a whopping almost 80 Kg’s and I didn’t care.

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The photo on the left was taken in April 2012 and the one on the right was August 2018.  I’ve subsequently lost about another 9 Kg’s since then as a result of my illness.

I was a happy, fat person (and I mean no disrespect to anyone that is overweight), until one day I was brushing my hair and I saw my mom’s reflection in the mirror.  She had tears in her eyes because her daughter was gone.  The girl in front of her had a smile, but it was empty and she her size was exacerbating other health issues.  In that moment, my brain dropped a gear and I made a change.  I started gymming (which I am now able to admit became an addiction) because the endorphins replaced the meds which I cut cold-turkey shortly after.  For reference, this is not the right thing to do, because it can have immediate, dire effects.  It may also give the prescribing physician a heart attack.  In my case it didn’t, but it could have.

This round I’m seeing a psych (along with taking meds – different ones than before), but will have to stretch the consultations out due to constraints on my medical aid benefits.  I have an amazing support structure, so I should manage.  If I can’t, I will seek help; that is one promise I have made to myself, and I will keep it. I can’t speak for all people suffering from this silent, often invisible disease, I can only speak for myself.  I want to be heard, I need to be heard – with understanding, empathy and no judgement and the psych is helping in a way my well-meaning friends are not equipped to.  He gives objective advice, with practical tools that I am learning to apply in my life.  Some days I win, some days I lose, but I’m trying.  Friends sometimes offer ill-informed-although-well-intended-advice, but sometimes I just want to say please don’t, because I’m confused enough already.  Platitudes have their place, but for me in a fragile state of mind, hearing something in the line of life is a metamorphosis, or nobody determines your happiness except you or you have a life some people could only dream of, you should be grateful is enough to send flames flaring out of my nostrils because I didn’t choose this!  I would give anything to be the person I know is somewhere inside this shell that comes to work every day.  It’s not like I want to be on this emotional rollercoaster, but I am, and for now, the machine operator doesn’t seem to be slowing this (not)funfair down any time soon.  I have to just ride it out.

I’ve been told by many people that my personality and sunny disposition are my best traits; that people gravitate towards me because I’m open.  Truth be told, I don’t make friends easily; If you are my friend, then as arrogant as it may sound, you can count yourself lucky.  As Harriet so rightfully pointed out the other night over a cup of jasmine-infused-rooibos, (my) friendliness costs nothing, but (my) friendship is an expensive gift.  Once I’ve let you close, I am probably the most loyal person you will ever meet, often to my own detriment, because I often allow people to get away with murder, but I’m working on saying “No!”  Despite what many people see as a friendly, outgoing person,  I’m awkward and shy and I either hide behind humour when I’m nervous, or I sit at a vantage point where I can merely observe, until a polite amount of time has passed and an “out” presents itself.

I’ve never thought of myself as attractive, and after being told by my first ex-boyfriend, “You’ll never be a pretty woman”, the picture I had of myself was cast in stone.  It’s been extremely hard for me to accept compliments about my appearance and it’s been going on twenty years since those words stung my soul.  Last year at Sarah’s wedding (my first time ever as a bridesmaid) I was told you look beautiful and I had to fight the noise in my head telling me anyone can look beautiful with professional make-up and hair and an expensive dress, but it’s only for a few hours.  I’ve come to realize that the debilitating voice of depression is always there, even when I think it’s packed its bags and buggered off to the Bermuda Triangle.

I’ll admit, for a very long time, I was the proverbial ray of sunshine, living in my oblivious little bubble – I refused to watch- or listen to the news because it affects me negatively and sometimes I hear things that trigger bad memories for me.  I am extremely sensitive too, with the memory of an elephant.  It’s a blessing and a curse.  As far as I’ve been able to, I have tried as far as possible to have the mindsets of be grateful, count your blessings, live and let live and everything happens for a reason or everything that is happening to me is taking me to a higher level of consciousness.  It is only now, for the first time ever that I am seeing a therapist that is helping me understand that through almost the entire time I thought I was fine and over it (because that’s what people expect of you), the depression was still there, just well hidden.

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At this stage, I am not going to go into what triggered my relapse, or just how deep the degeneration is, partly because I’m scared of being perceived as weak and because I feel like I have failed myself and others.  These are things that I must work through (and my support network is being amazingly patient and caring) but until I have, the story of my setback will remain mine.   Maybe down the line I will, maybe I won’t.  I’m not going to make promises, unsure if I’ll be able to keep them.

Someone I know through work, Ida (or as she’s known Awesome Ida) popped in today.  She has a debilitating disease of her own, so understands what I’m going through.  I haven’t shared much with her, but somehow, she’s always touched base with me when I’ve needed it most.  She said to me this morning, “You need love now girl, and you need to love yourself.  If you have a good day, celebrate it!  If you have a bad one, remember that it’s okay not to be okay.  You have to have the same love and patience with yourself that you do with others. Some days will be easier than others.  If you need to take things ten minutes at a time, do it.  And remember that you are loved.”

Last night I went to have my nails done; something many people question because it’s a luxury or it’s expensive or surely you can just paint your own nails.  Not that I need to explain myself, but it is something I do for me.  For my self-care.  It makes me feel good about myself and the art is representative of what I’m feeling.  And I’m supporting a friend’s business, which on some level makes me feel like I’m contributing to a bigger picture.

Once Elena’s previous client left, she took one look at me, having last seen me before I was admitted to hospital following the Major Depressive Episode that resulted in my relapse and my resolve crumbled. Completely. I spoke, she listened. I cried, she squeezed my hand.  She asked me if I have suicidal tendencies, because I told her I don’t want to be awake, but I was honest that while I’ve thought about it, there is still a sane part of me that knows I have a purpose (even when it feels like I don’t); I explained that the reason I don’t want to be awake is because when I’m asleep, it’s the only time my thoughts are silent.  She was awash with relief and I was comforted to know that she had the courage to call me out on something potentially fatal.  In that moment, her care touched me very deeply.

I already had an idea of what I wanted to do with my nails, a thunderous sea-storm because I feel like I am in a storm being tossed by the waves.  This was the final result.

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I’m glad I opted for the lighthouse, because even though I’m up and down most days, when I look at my nails, I will be reminded (for the next fortnight at least), that there are steadfast beacons in my life that will guide me to safer shores.

As is custom I sent the photo of my nails to a number of my friends, and Carmen replied with this zoomed-in screenshot, caption with “Do you see the face, Misfit?”

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I did see the face (on the finger next to the lighthouse) and I sent it to Elena.  It wasn’t planned, it just happened.  I like that it looks distorted, almost alien-like, because it’s how I feel – a foreign creature in a familiar pod, a lost Misfit in her bodily shell. On some level I think maybe God, or The Universe or Some Other Higher Power is telling me that the storm is indeed raging within, but that light will drive out the darkness eventually. I just have to keep taking things as they come, even if it is just ten minutes at a time like Ida said.  Time, it’s said, is a healer.  I know this to be true.  I just need to have grace with myself and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Will you look at that?  I just platituded myself  😀