#Moodboard Monday: Orange

I can’t actually believe it’s #MoodboardMonday again already.

Let’s talk orange today. This colour has many positive associations and is perfect to get in the mood for the warmer weather (here in South Africa, anyway). I can’t wear orange, it just isn’t suited to my skin tone, but I decided that it might be a good idea to wear different shades of it on my nails. Every time I look at my hands, I feel a pang of enthusiasm and energy. I need both after the downer-week I had last week.

The photo below may not be a #moodboard, but it is the essence of one thing I love: A perfect reflection #nofilter It is also one I took during my holiday to #VictoriaFalls last year. I got up before 04:00 every morning I was there to capture the sunrise. Few things have taken my breath away and calmed my spirit at the same time.

My Own Photo. Taken at Old Drift Lodge, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. November 2019
#nofilter Copyright: Reflections of a Misfit Image may not be used without permission

May each one of you reading this post experience something orange this week – and may it fill you with happiness, energy and optimism.

Nothing Particularly Earth Shattering

This is a run-of-the-mill-one about what’s happening in my life.  Some of you might likely find it boring, but I’m trying to write at least three times a week as part of my therapy and frankly, I can’t be witty and all sparkling-unicorn-personality all the time.

Tuesday night I saw Elena for the last time as my nail therapist.  Seeing as I was officially her final client, I decided to have my nails done in tribute to her.  I give you all The Final Curtain, the Encore being the sushi we had afterwards.

Nails

As with Chanté, Elena and I have made a promise to see each other at least once a month.

While the rest of the world refers to May 1st as May Day, we South Africans refer to it as Workers’ Day.  Ironic when you think it is a day where (most) gainfully employed folks don’t actually work.

Yesterday was a day spent with good company.  Harriet treated me to brunch at a place in an obscure little side street that I’ve been wanting to go to for ages called Carola Ann’s. The menu is not extensive, but Oh. My. Word, the food is incredible! And as an added bonus I had the best spiced Chai Latte of my life, which I didn’t take a picture of.  When I go back, I’ll remember.

Even though the selection was limited, I had a tough time deciding what I wanted.  In the end I opted for a Green Veggie Bowl and Harriet for a Carola Ann’s breakfast, and a Mocha.  Few things satisfy this Misfit as much as a properly poached egg and while this one still doesn’t beat The Silvertree Restaurant in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens; it ranks second on my list.

Green bowl

H Mocha

H Brekkie

The late afternoon was spent with Eleanor and Nathan as I haven’t seen them in a while.  Nathan braaied some chicken and chops for us and I made us an interesting green salad.  After we’d eaten (Yours Truly way more than she should have!) Nathan went to play tennis with a mate, and Eleanor and I caught up on what’s been potting the past fortnight while the boys kept themselves entertained with Lego with babysitter Wreck It Ralph keeping a close, watchful eye.  Somewhere during the evening Eleanor also made a quick lemon cheesecake.

Tonight, it’s another legs session with Steve.  After only 6 PT sessions (and this is the only gym I’ve done), I can already see a difference in my arms and thighs.  Harriet says my posture has improved too, which I’m glad about. Next week I have my final two sessions and then I’ll have to take a decision as to whether I will continue PT or not.  I’m honest though, I don’t push myself hard enough and I sometimes give up too easily.

On the subject of giving up… If I don’t stop writing now, I’m going to be late for gym.

Cherio! 😀

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.

IMG-20190401-WA0041

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.

2019-02-22_16.12.31

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.

images (62)

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.

IMG-20190318-WA0028

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?”

face

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  😀