Day 30: A Simple Saturday

Today I slept until something past 11. I don’t even feel guilty either. The last fortnight has been riddled with troublesome sleep and nightmares. My duvet has been so twisted every morning, one would swear I was sharing my bed with a Boggart.

I cooked yesterday. A Cape Malay curry – with the spice mix out of a packet. The smells emanating from The Cave (because the stove is virtually in the middle of the place) were amazing. My white rice was finished, so I had it with a brown variety. It was delicious – and, there are leftovers for supper tonight. I’m looking forward to it because curry often tastes better the next day.

Lucy the lettuce continues to sprout new leaves, so I am happy. At some stage, when I can get a pot and soil, I will re-home her. For now, she appears to be thriving on the sink. Once I have some kind of setup, I will start keeping my food scraps for compost too.

The streets are quiet. So much so, that I can hear the neighbour’s TV across the road. The voices sound like they have a Southern twang. Every now and then there is trumpet music too. If I have to judge by the snippets of the soundtrack, I think it’s an old movie.

I didn’t listen to the Ministers’ addresses this morning, but I got the gist of what’s happening. One thing I don’t understand is Oom Cyril said we will be allowed to exercise under strict hygienic conditions, yet according to Minister Whatever-Her-Name-Is, we’re not allowed to walk, or jog. Guess I’ll have to have the tyres of the bicycles pumped, even though I can’t sit on the saddle and reach the pedals at the same time.

Tomorrow Eliza, Carmen and I have a video call scheduled. It’s been a while since. The last few days I’ve been thinking about my friends that have emigrated. It must be incredibly tough being away from your extended family. One friend I was at school with, Lana and her husband, Robert moved to Australia, arriving about three weeks before lockdown was imposed. Their pets have been released from mandatory quarantine in SA, but are not yet able to be sent over. It’s heartbreaking for them. Consciously, I don’t think some people realise just how much pets do become family members.

Shayla-Rae’s Gran has also been on my mind a lot of late. The Old Dame turned 100 (yes, you read right) in October last year, which means she was alive when the Spanish Flu riddled the world, and she’s alive today with the Coronavirus. She’s in a local old age facility in town. The residents were locked down a week before the rest of the country was. I wonder how she is holding up – whether she even knows what’s happening 😦

I’m keen to hear how we will be working, with the allowance of staff only allowed to be at a third of full capacity. I imagine shifts will be the answer. Our management is extremely communicative, so I’m sure that by Tuesday we will have concrete news. Part of me is seriously looking forward to seeing my colleagues again, while part of me is going to miss the freedom that flexitime has afforded to get more rest and learn more about myself. I am indeed fortunate to be returning to work – some many workers are not yet able to do so.

We’re in for a tough few months; where you can, support your local businesses that are operational, share from your pantry stores if you can, acknowledge unhappy feelings (because they will come up) but don’t dwell on them, drink water, and remember that you matter!

Years from now, when we look back with the perfect vision that hindsight brings, each one of us will smile and say, “We survived a pandemic. We were part of history!”

‘Til next time…

I (Don’t) Spy

I seldom dream these days.  I think it has something to do with the sleep meds I’m drinking.  On the odd occasion that I have not, I’ve dreamed.  Vividly!  So much so, that the morning after, I’ve woken up feeling like I’ve had a hectic night on the town.  A while ago, I wrote about a Sleepless Mindfield.  Today it’s all cloak ‘n dagger, except for the fact that I had no idea everyone in my dream was a spook – not the boo kind, but the type that is neither confirmed nor denied.  I am bloody exhausted!  And to crown it, my one incisor chipped.  There goes my fantasy of becoming a vampire.  Damn!

I spent the night at Eliza and Nathan’s place as I do every Thursday night.  We somehow got talking about cults, which is the same thing that set off a post earlier this year.

“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.”

For some reason the three of us sat at the kitchen counter last night, eventually talking in whispers, as if the house was being bugged by a sect trying to recruit us to do their bidding.  Later the subject changed to foreign words and their meanings, which had us all in stiches.  One in particular that stuck with me is schnapsidee.  I’m sure if you close your eyes and think hard enough, you’ll be able to identify at least one such idea from your own life.

Back to cults ‘n spies.  Almost everyone that is close to me featured in my REM-sleep kopfkino.

In my dream, I’m in familiar surroundings, a house, but it’s not mine.  Like a shitty-B-grade-no-budget-made-for-TV-movie, virtually everything happens in the dark, except one point where The Toppie and I are in search of a manuscript of sorts on a mountain top that is protected by Sumo wrestlers.  I’m thinking this last bit was his ikigai.

I’m alone, unpacking dusty boxes, when I come across a photo album – an actual booklet-type one.  In it are photos of almost everyone I know (in real life), but they’re all in disguises:  The Bean a femme fatale of sorts, her mouth bright crimson and she looks deadly posing with what I hope is toy-gun, but my gut tells me it’s the real McCoy.

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The I come across another photo of my friend Allice.  She’s dressed in a technicolour coat, donning a Ziggy Stardust mullet and pointing at something off-picture with glittery gold nails.  She’s laughing, her mouth open wide enough to see her tongue-stud.  Judging from her demeanour, it appears that she’s at a party.  Halloween, perhaps?

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Just as I’m about to place the Kodak memories in my jeans’ pocket, a weathered note falls to the ground from between the photos.  The ink is faded, and the page is torn.  All I can really make out are the words Nothing seems, but it’s not betrayal and protect you.  Cryptic and mysterious.  Right up this wannabe-Nancy-Drew’s alley.

I head off to share my findings with Eliza.  She’s open-minded, and imaginative.  Maybe she will have a theory.  Turns out when I show her the album, her skin flushes.  She takes me downstairs into a dank basement and insists that we talk there, behind a newspaper.  Every conversation I have with her takes place behind a newspaper.  With Carla, clandestine conversations happen in an ornate, old church and every time we speak, it’s behind The Bible.  With neither do I ever find out what’s going on, but they clearly know something.  The only advice Carla gives me is to go back to where it started.

So, back to the boxes. This time I find a loose photograph of Nathan and Eliza in front of an aeroplane.  It looks like a model one, but upon closer inspection, I see the words In Service.  I swear I see Allan in the shadow too.

It takes me a while to unravel the mystery of the dream, but I realize that everyone in my life is in a cult of spies and I’m in the thick of things but not any kind of agent.  Even as I trek up rocky slopes with The Toppie to find the ancient book, I find myself wondering WTAF is going on.

Good thing the alarm went off when it did, because if it hadn’t, I may have found out that I’m related to 007.

Talk about convoluted…

Here’s hoping tonight’s sleep is deep and dreamless again.  I’ve come to prefer it.

Sleepless Mindfield

Now, I am meant to be sleeping, but despite taking a full sleeping tablet (I usually only do half during the week) and my other medication, I’m still awake. Charming!

My legs feel like lead. Steve pushed me to leg press another 10 Kg more than last week. That I could still handle, but hip lifts… Good Lawdy, them things are in a league of their own! My thighs are going to probably be stiffer than a corpse tomorrow.

Tarryn, my hairdresser (aka The Fairy because she was the most beautiful pregnant fairy ever) was at the salon on Tuesday when I went to Elena for my nails. She asked me quite bluntly, Where’s your ass. I told her it’s there, but because all my clothes are getting a little baggy, it doesn’t look like it. Truth be told, I don’t really have a well-rounded derriere, because my butt cheeks are on my chest. I’m very aware of (as Charlie put it) my great rack or as my Capetonian friend, Allan refers to them, The Girls.

Anyway, my bustline wasn’t originally what I planned on writing about when I started this post. Love was. Or rather the sacrifices one makes for those we love. When faced with a situation where you would have to either cause- or suffer heartbreak to save the one you love, would you really do it? And I’m talking about relationships between two adults here, not a parent for their child because that’s on an entirely different plain.

On the subject of plain, why is plain yoghurt apparently healthier than its flavoured counterparts? Is it because it’s free of colourants? Or is it just because it doesn’t taste pleasant? Like Chaimberlain’s cough medicine – tastes like battery acid, but my Grandmother swore by it. That, and cod liver oil. Blegh!

Personally, I believe almost any ailment can be fixed with warm salt water. Sore throat? Gargle. Sinus? Inhale. Constipated? Drink a glass of warm salt water and you’ll be shitting through the eye of a needle in no time. Guaranteed!

Okay, so this post went from tits to shit in just a few paragraphs, but at least my eyes are starting to feel heavy. Here’s hoping for some REM because if I don’t get any soon, I will not only have lost my mind, I may very well be Losing my Religion too.

Zzzzzzzzzz

An Update on the Road to my Recovery

I’ve been tasked at work with something creative:  (Digital) Visual (Mood) boards.  They take some time to do, but I’ve found them to be a form of therapy.  What’s more is that I got “Good work!” from my boss.

There’s often the question during an interview: “What do you value more? Money? Or recognition?”  In the few times I’ve been asked this (it’s come up in about 80% of the job interviews I’ve had), I’ve wanted to reply, “Technically, that’s three questions” but have always opted for “there’s no right or wrong answer to this question.  Both money and recognition have their merits; it depends on you as a person, your value system and how you personally measure your worth.  Sure, money can make life easier, but recognition makes a person better.  I’m on the fence really.  Some days I would love a raise, other days I’d prefer acknowledgment of a job well done.”

Whether my diplomacy has been the reason I’ve landed the jobs I’ve had, I’m not sure.  What I do know is that of late (since my relapse) hearing “You did well”, “Nice work!”, “Our agent is so impressed with the mood boards you’ve done”, “Well done on bettering your skills” is worth more than any amount of money, regardless of the currency.

I am trying hard to get back into some kind of routine which entails (in no particular order of priority):

  1. Doing something creative
  2. Doing something non-creative, but that’s still relaxing
  3. Exercising
  4. Socialising
  5. Eating & drinking water
  6. Seeing my parents
  7. Less screen-time
  8. Sleeping
  9. Setting goals
  10. Doing something for “me”

On a scale of 1-10, I’m averaging about a 7, maybe a 7.5, which isn’t bad at all considering everything that’s happened, happening and possibly going to happen [I’m not overthinking things like I used to (but I am still aware of reality)].

Creativity is important to me because I’m predominantly right-brained. I am trying to blog more (granted it’s not necessarily creative per sé, but it can be), and I am doing the mood boards for work and I’m doing the adult-colouring-in thing too.

Self-awarded grade: 6.8/10

f9505e33a4540d8ed19cb87786fe50c5Doing something non-creative, but that’s still relaxing: For the most part I’m trying to read more.  Nothing too emotional, although The Tattooist of Auschwitz is on my TBR pile.  I’m busy with Queen Mum by Kate Long at the moment and when I’m finished, I’m going to read The Woman who went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend next.  Besides the fact that the title sounds like something I sometimes feel I could do, her Adrian Mole books got me through my teenage years.  I also try to do a home-spa Sunday at least every fortnight.

Self- awarded grade: 7.3/10

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Exercising: Personal training with Steve twice a week is gruelling, but the burn is so worth it!  Last night I managed heavier weights with an additional set of reps which means I’m already a bit stronger than I was last week.  Steve told me a few times, “Well done!” which made me feel good about my achievements (as small as they are). My abs are stubborn though; they still don’t want to make an appearance, and that after I did 80 sit-ups and 80 crunches.

Self-awarded grade: 7/10

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Socialising: When I’m in remission, I’m quite the social butterfly – always up for a get-together of some sort, and no need to mentally prepare myself. Now it’s different: I have to logically consider the impact a social engagement is going to have on my energy levels, both physical and emotional, and if there is a polite exit strategy should I need to use it.  If I look back at the last six weeks, I’ve been out to various gatherings.  All of them have gone well, even those where I’ve been amongst crowds of people.

Self-awarded grade: 7/10

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Eating: The theory behind my getting back into the gym is that it would accelerate my appetite. I’m eating, but not as frequently as I should.  On the flipside, when I do eat, I opt for healthy, protein-rich foods that aid muscle recovery.  Drinking water:  It’s getting colder now, so I am consuming less water, but a lot of rooibos tea, which is loaded with antioxidants and health benefits.

Self-awarded grade:  7/10

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Seeing my parents:  I used to spend a portion of every weekend staying over at my folks, on the couch, with half my body in the kitchen and the other half in the lounge.  Since my stint in the hospital, I have been to visit them, but not stayed over.  It felt strange in the beginning to be in The Cave on a weekend, but it has proved to be good for me because I rest as and when needed.  It has also allowed for me to be able to treat my folks to some time out, even if only for a cup of tea.

Self-awarded grade:  6.5/10

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Less screen-time: Blue-light addiction is a real thing.  One of my favourite things to do is binge-watch a series on a rainy day, or a Sunday, so when the doctor told me I’d have to refrain from this pastime for a while, I was disappointed.  He explained his reasoning and medically, it makes sense.

It also allows for more time to read, take a walk or do something else that’s relaxing.  I also no longer have my phone next to my bed at night.  I often used to wake up during the night, to “check the time” on my phone and end up scrolling through Facebook, reading a Kindle book, chatting to one of my night-owl friends or playing some mindless game for hours.

My phone is still close, in the kitchen, and only set for certain important people to be able to get hold of me during the night in case of an emergency.  I’m pleased to report that what I though was going to be one of the most difficult tasks on the list is the one I’ve fared most well at.

Self-awarded grade:  8.5/10

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Sleeping: One of the signs of depression is either sleeping too much, or not sleeping at all.  Before my episode I suffered both these afflictions.  About a month before I finally cracked, I spent as much time as I was able to be awake during the day, asleep and vice versa.

I told Elena one evening while having my nails done that I’d turned into the proverbial dormouse and she said, “It’s not healthy. And you’re getting so thin. Something is wrong.”  I knew there was truth to what she’d said, but rather than admit something was amiss, I waved my hand and said, “It’s nothing, I’m just tired.  This too shall pass.”

I’ve learned that there is nothing wrong in admitting that I’m not strong all the time.  I’m sleeping a lot better – at least 8 hours a night.  Granted, the sleep meds help, but I am slowly weaning myself off them, because less screen-time, more exercise, healthier eating habits and relaxation hobbies are aiding rest too.

Self-awarded grade: 8.2/10

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Setting goals: This is one thing I’ve always abhorred, because I feel like I’ve failed if I don’t reach a goal by the deadline I’ve set.

Sure, I got my Internationally Accredited Qualification in International Trade, but it took me 12 years to finish a course that should have taken only three.

I had a goal to be driving a Mercedes or a Lexus by my fortieth birthday, so unless something miraculous happens, that will be another thing that will be on the “crashed” list.

I had a goal that by the time I was thirty I’d have travelled to London (because I have a weird fascination with the Union flag – and before anyone stones me, it’s only the Union Jack when hoisted at sea (Thank you Dr Who!).

The Steel Magnolia and I also had a goal to go to Verona in Italy before she turned sixty.  Neither of these goals has been reached because life happened.  I’ve become so used to virtually everything not going as planned, that setting goals is something I try to avoid as far as possible.

Therapy dictates though that I must set goals, so I have a list of daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annual and annual ones.  I feel disappointed in myself when I don’t achieve the really short-term ones, but I have to look at the bigger picture.

It’s easily said, but it’s a struggle, so I decided to do a digital visual “goal” board.  I’ll post it when it’s finished – that way I’ll be accountable to not only myself and my doctor, but to you, my loyal followers as well.

Self-awarded goal:  6/10

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Doing something for “me”: I’ve always joked that I’m high maintenance.  I’m probably one of the most low-maintenance women God ever created.  I’m not big on make-up, my hair is long, but hardly ever gets close to a hairdryer, not to mention a straightener, and I wear whatever I feel comfortable in.  Some days it’s a dress, some days it’s shorts, some days it’s sweats and sneakers.

Part of it stems from having never been seen as pretty.  This is something that I’ve finally admitted with the help of therapy; that I attach my worth to how people have seen me in the past.

As an elementary school child, I always wore my hair short and I hated wearing a dress.  As a teenager I had bad skin (so much so that Shayla-Rae bought me acne concealer cream for my 16th birthday) and the worst overbite imaginable which earned me the horrible name of Cliffhanger.  I was brainy too, which didn’t help matters.  Suffice to say, nerdy, pockmarked, haasbekke are not popular. I will say this though, when I do have to “clean up”, I do it well and I am a right stunner, but part of me feels a little false.

Again, this is something that will be dealt with in detail as psychoanalysis continues.

Forgive me, my brain went off the rails for a while there…

Something I do for “me”:  Every fortnight I have my nails done, and twice a year I have my hair properly tinted, highlighted and trimmed.  On the odd occasion I treat myself to peanut butter in some form or another.  And cheesecake.  And ice-cream.  And every year, I buy a book.  I don’t necessarily read it, but I will – one day!  Maybe I should put the title of a book on my goals list, and set a date to have finished reading it?  Yes, I think I’ll do that 😊

Self-awarded goal:  7.8/10

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Crazy, Dumb Belle?

I’m starting to feel a bit like a Dumb Belle because it’s been ages since I’ve even held a dumbbell, but I’ve got to start somewhere again, right?

In the words of Alanis Morrisette, Isn’t it Ironic?  I haven’t had (well, I still don’t) an appetite for almost six weeks, yet I’m craving sugar. In the form of cake.  Cheesecake, to be specific.  And carrots – not in a cake, but not raw either. And leeks, so much so that I went to buy some yesterday. And a pepper steak pie – a borderline-food-poisoning-garage-pie.  And no, I’m not pregnant. What I am, is tired.  It’s a damn catch-22 situation because if I drink a full dose of the sleeping tablets the psychiatrist prescribed, I sleep for a good eight hours, but wake up tired because the meds have not entirely worked out of my system and if I drink half, I wake up between three and four AM regardless of what time I lay my head down and fall asleep to the beat of my heart thudding in my ears.

In an attempt to entice some kind of hunger for food within me, I’m going back to the gym, under the watchful eye of my friend (and personal trainer), Steve.  I have my first session with him tonight, in thirty minutes in fact.

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If I don’t post something, even a one-liner, tomorrow, check the local papers for my obituary.  I imagine the headline will read something like Crazy Woman Cardios Herself into Cardiac Arrest with the byline Heavenly Heartrate Reached.

Besides the possibility that I’ll want to fill my stomach with more than just rooibos tea, I’m hoping that physically exhausting myself will allow me to sleep through without the daily aid of the sleeping tablets and that I’ll wake up feeling normal (whatever that is). I’m still a far cry from bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but I’ll get there.

Wish me luck!