Life on the edge

‘Normal’ people have normal reactions to what life throws at them. The pain of losing your best friend whether through death or other circumstances, perhaps the anger felt at having your house broken into, the bottom of the pit feeling when a relationship breaks up and you didn’t see it coming. We have all felt these feelings of loneliness, distrust, anger, being disheartened; you don’t understand what you did to deserve having what life is throwing at you and quite often they seem to come in 3’s. Don’t ask me why they just do. Feelings of sadness are normal and can last quite some time. But you know deep down, rationally, that things will get better, you will once again survive and you have family and friends to help you get through. Perfect scenario.

For a person with deep emotional problems, anxiety and depression they don’t need catastrophic events to set them off. Sometimes it can be the way someone spoke to you, or the way ( you think) someone ignored you at the shopping centre or the fact that they haven’t made contact with you for some time. God forbid they have a life…..lol For a fragile person these small things can build up and seem insurmountable. If the person was already feeling overwhelmed with life the simple act of losing their car keys can set the day up to be a rough one. Then as each small inconvenience or problem pops up as they do through your day the fragile person see these small events as catastrophic. To ‘normal’ people the fragile person seems a little ‘over the top’, overreacting, you know, when you feel like telling someone to take a chill pill. To a normal person, the fragile persons reactions seem way out of context to the situation and in truth they are, but not if you are that fragile person. To you your whole world is imploding and you feel like you are drowning.

For many of you, you will not understand these feelings and how lucky you are. I hope you never have to deal with the Black Dog of depression either personally or through a friend or family member. But for the person suffering, they are constantly on the edge. They want to be happy and live a full life just like everyone else. They look at people and wonder what is actually going on in their lives. Are they putting on a brave face just like you? Do they just pretend to be happy, the old fake it till you make it just like you? How does one be happy? What the heck is happy anyway?

I’ve started writing todays blog to distract myself and to help me put life into perspective. It’s open, it’s raw and it’s real please don’t judge me on this. I’m too honest for my own good, but writing always helps. I can’t actually talk to anyone about how I feel…….they’d think I was crazy……lol

Having struggled since last October with a depression that just won’t seem to lift I found myself at the very bottom of the barrel today. I have managed to have a shower, but haven’t managed to eat anything today, it’s now 4pm and I’ve only just had my first cuppa of the day, I feel like I’m in shutdown. Again I’ve had next to no sleep, which normally I can cope with, but not today. A good nights sleep would be more than 2 hours straight, I haven’t managed that since before October. I can’t really blame the medical profession as I’ve been so bad that I find it too difficult to go out. So a trip to the doctors is a living nightmare, I did however get myself there to ask for help and I’ve been on a waiting list for counselling for the past 6 weeks, I’m guessing they’re pretty busy with others just like me, but in the mind of a depressive person who catastrophises things I see this as I’m less important than others. ( in my right mind I know this is not true, there could be many reasons for no contact, yes they may be extremely busy, they may have lost my forms, I could ring and find out but I haven’t as I really don’t want to leave the safety of my home to go visit anyone). There are days like today that you feel like you are the least important person in the world. You don’t even like yourself so how could anyone possible love or care for you. Today people, you are my counselling session! Well actually this blank page is my counselling session. I’m hoping to bring some raw awareness into the mind of someone in crisis, I actually don’t want and am definitely not looking for sympathy or comments and I don’t want to alarm anyone, I am safe, I have made sure of that by writing this.

Getting back to normal people. When a normal person loses a pet, they do all they can to find them. Put up notices, walk the neighbourhood, check the lost and found and they have the normal feelings of anxiety wondering what’s happened to their beloved pet, they may grieve and they may be sad for a time. But in the end their response is normal. My response as I’m sure others with depression will recognise is one of a catastrophic nature. Having already lost one pet to a snake bite just over 12 months ago, my immediate feeling was why me? Why can’t I have a cat? When she hadn’t turned up for dinner or breakfast my immediate thought was she’s dead. She would have been home for a feed if she could, so she’s definitely dead. From there was the slide to the bottom of the pit. Actually I didn’t have far to fall, as I said it’s been pretty rough since before Christmas and seeing as no one loves me anyway, no one would miss me if I was gone. (Another catastrophic unreal thought) Yes I’ve got a husband, but most husbands remarry pretty quickly ( Over generalise get) and for my poor husband it would be a relief not having to deal with this shit daily. ( that’s the thought, but the reality is quite different) There’s the kids, but they have their own lives and partners, I have nothing left to impart on them ( the thought, once again, not the reality, parents are supposed to stick around long enough to annoy the kids and spoil the grandkids). There are grandkids, but they actually don’t know me other than being a face on a screen as they live overseas. ( the thought, but not the reality, they know me, they love me and all because we have such wonderful technology) Life would move on and my being would soon disappear. 

Can you see how stupid that all sounds? It’s what I was feeling, thinking and believing, but because I’ve had some pretty major counselling over the years I can see the other side, I can see I would be missed, I can see my thinking pattern for what it is. But for a fragile person, when you are feeling so, so low, it doesn’t take too much more to act, a split second decision to step out in front of that oncoming bus or train, to ram the car into the nearest big gum tree, to take that bottle of pills you have been saving. You don’t have the energy or inclination to shower, brush your hair, eat. A quiet dark place is where you feel safe, you don’t have to talk to anyone, you can just be. There is such a fine line between life and death. For a person with severe depression you stand on that edge and when life is throwing its curve balls, you try to duck and weave like everyone else but you just don’t have the coping skills like everyone else and someday maybe one those balls is going to hit you square on and knock you down and you react and make that one final mistake that devastates all you have left behind.

I’ve ducked a ball today, but only because I take regular medication, have previously had counselling that taught me some skills to really analyse my thinking and to recognise them for what they are. I will get up again, I will fight on again, I will keep ducking and weaving because I love my family, they keep me grounded, they give me hope and although most days I don’t understand why they love me, deep down inside I know they do. They know the real me, the one with all the scary bits and they still love me. They’re pretty amazing people and there my people. How blessed am I!

If you are struggling today and need some help and don’t know where to turn here are a couple of starting points. There is help out there, we just have to reach out.

http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

https://m.lifeline.org.au

https://www.beyondblue.org.au

What started this today was our 6 month old kitten went missing, she’s still not back and it’s been over 24 hours so I am absolutely heartbroken. She showed me such great affection and she was such a little character. But honestly as sad as the situation is, it is what it is and it’s not something I should be contemplating suicide over. But this combined with 3 or 4 other situations I’m ‘dealing’ with had tipped me over and for that split second and that’s all it takes, I was one of those people standing on the edge.
Our little Phoebe – 6 months old, March, 2016.

   
    
 

EDITED at 9.15pm

Some 28 hours after Phoebe went missing she waltzed though the door like nothing had happened. She wasn’t hungry, so somebody had fed her. But she was terribly happy to see us and extremely smoochie. We’re both so happy she turned up again.

So you can see how your thinking and your perception can screw up a whole day all for nothing really. What a difference a few hours makes. Thanks for listening. Sue

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This entry was posted on March 30, 2016. 5 Comments

Back to Basics in patchwork

The title says it all really, getting back to basics.  It was bought to my attention recently that we know what we know and just presume others know what we know….confused….lol?

In the following posts I will talk about things us more experienced quilters take for granted. We can babble on about Fat Quarter’s, Fat 1/8’s, binding, paper piecing, vliesofix, applique, BOMS etc. Stashes and  to some people it all sounds like gobbledie gook.

So I thought I would explain a few things over a few of the next posts.

So where do you start explaining patchwork terminology? Here is some of the terminology and some short explanations.

1⁄4in Foot This is a special foot for your machine. When you have the edge of the foot on the edge of the fabric it will give an accurate 1⁄4in seam. If your machine does not have one you will be able to measure from where you needle comes down and perhaps lay some masking tape down as a guide for your fabric. If your machine does not have a 1/4 ” foot you will be able to get one, even a generic one to fit.

Appliqué

A design made by cutting shapes from one fabric and sewing to the top of another fabric. Fusible web, which is like baking paper with a thin layer of glue on one side. There are a number of brands. To use you trace your design on the paper side (in reverse) roughly cut around the shape, place this on the wrong side of your fabric, quickly press (only long enough to melt the glue) then cut out on your drawn line. Now you  remove the paper and lay your piece onto your fabric within the design area and again press just long enough for the glue to take hold, then stitch using a buttonhole, blanket stitch, or even a zigzag will also work well.

Basting

The American term for tacking, this is mainly used in hand quilting. Today we mainly pin our quilts ready for stitching or if you’re like me, wrap them up and send them to a good friend with a long arm quilting machine…

Backing

The fabric that forms the bottom layer or back of a quilt

Batting

The American term for wadding. Wadding comes in many forms. Wool, Wool/Polyester mix, Cotton, Silk, Bamboo to name a few. Again there are many, many on the market. Once you find your favourite you’ll stick with it.

Bias

The diagonal of a woven fabric. This has the greatest amount of stretch

Binding

A narrow strip of fabric, single or folded, used to enclose the raw edges of the quilt top, wadding and backing once your quilt is fully quilted

Block

The pattern units that repeat across the quilt top

Chain (String) Piecing

A method of sewing a number of units at a time, thus saving time and thread

Charm Quilt

A quilt made with every piece from a different fabric. Usually all the pieces are the same shape as well such as squares or triangles

Colour Wheel

A tool used to help you plan your colours in the quilt

Colour Value

The darkness or lightness of a colour

Cornerstone

A square used to join short pieces of sashing at the corners of blocks

Cutting Mat

A special mat used with a rotary cutter and ruler to protect the work surface

Design Wall

A flannel or wadding panel on the wall. Used for laying out fabrics and standing back and checking the appearance. There is no need to use pins, the patches just adhere lightly to the flannel and can be moved easily

Echo (Outline) Quilting

Repeated rows of quilting a measured distance from each row, the machine foot can be used as a measure. Often used with appliqué

Embellishment

Extra embroidery or trims added after a quilt is finished

Fat Eighth

Half a fat quarter of fabric giving a small rectangle either 9 x 22in or 11 x 18in

Fat Quarter

A piece of fabric that is cut 50cm (in the UK) or 18in along the selvedge and then cut again in half across the width to give a piece approx 18 x 22in (slightly larger if cut in the UK)

Feed Dogs

The part of your sewing machine that moves the base layer of fabric forwards as you stitch

Four Patch

A block composed of four patches or one that fits within a 2 x 2 grid

Free Motion Quilting

An advanced method of quilting with lowered feed dogs and where your hands move the fabric to create the pattern

Fusible Web

A paper based glue that is ironed onto the reverse of your fabric, often used with appliqué

Grain

The lengthwise and crosswise threads on a cotton fabric

Hanging Sleeve

A tube of fabric applied to the top back of a quilt, so that it can be displayed on a wall or at a quilt show

Half Square Triangle

A block that is square in shape but is divided on one diagonal to give two equal triangles

Hoop

A small hand held frame used for hand or machine quilting

In the Ditch

Quilting that is close to the seam lines of your blocks. traditionally it would be the side of the seam that did not have the seam allowances lying behind and thus would be lower and in the ditch

Labelling

Every quilt should have a label sewn on the back giving details such as name of quilter, date and reason made

Layering

The process of putting the three layers of a quilt together

Loft

The spring or fluffiness of the wadding – more loft equals more height

Machine Quilting

Stitching by machine that holds the three layers of a quilt together

Piecing

Several pieces of fabric cut and then sewn together to produce a pattern

Quarter Square Triangle

A block that is square in shape but is divided on two diagonals to give four equal triangles

Quilt Top

The top layer of the quilt. It can be pieced, appliquéd, or a combination of the two

Quilting

The sewing used to secure the layers together; it can be by hand or by machine

Right Side

The side of the fabric that you wish to appear on the top of your quilt. For design reasons some quilters use the wrong side occasionally if it gives the right colour value

Rotary Cutter

A circular, rotating cutter used with a cutting mat and ruler to safely cut layers of fabric accurately

Ruler

An acrylic measuring tool used with the rotary cutter, usually marked in 1⁄8in. There are many specialist manufacturers such as Creative Grids in the UK who have developed a wide range of rulers

Sandwiching

See Layering

Sashing

Strips of fabric that are used to divide blocks when the quilt top is joined into one piece

Seam

The point where two pieces of fabric are sewn right sides together

Seam Allowance

The distance between the cut edge of the fabric and the sewn line. Quilters usually use a 1⁄4in seam allowance, although metric allowances can range from 0.5cm to 0.75 depending on your country, but I would guess 99% of quilters do use the imperial measurements.

Selvedge

The edge of the fabric when it is on the bolt. This has a slightly tighter weave and should be cut off before you start measuring your pieces

Setting

The arrangement of blocks in the quilt top

Slip Stitch

A small, almost invisible, stitch used to secure a folded edge to a flat surface. Commonly used to finish the binding on the back of a quilt

Strip Piecing

Joining one or more strips together and then cutting them apart crossways to create new units

Tacking

A means of securing the layers of a quilt together loosely, using large stitches and thin thread

Thimble

Used to protect your fingers or thumb when hand sewing

Top Stitching

A row of stitiching often with larger stitches. Used as a decorative finish often near the edge of a garment or bag

Tying

A method of quilting, using small stitches and knots, with threads that can be left decoratively on the front or on the back of the work

Wadding (Batting)

The filling that goes in between the quilt top and the back to create warmth and depth to the quilt

Walking Foot

A special foot that is used when quilting to push the top and bottom layers of the quilt together at the same time. Is believed to give a more even result and can also be used for piecing borders

Fabrics

When buying fabrics most fabric stores sell minimum quantities of anywhere from 20 to 30cm pieces.

As a consumer I can understand you may only want to purchase 10cm but from a business point of view there does need to be a minimum to help cover costs such as payroll and rent. If everyone was purchasing 10cm strips turning over fabric in a quilt shop would take forever and would mean the shop owner was not able to purchase fresh new ranges for you to use. The shop owner is there after all to make a living so don’t be too offended when they insist on minimums.

When buying fabrics you can buy straight off the bolt, you can buy fat quarters, fat eights, layer cakes (10″ squares), charm squares (5″ squares), jelly rolls (2 1/2 ” strips, usually between 40 – 42 of them ) and many more ‘terms’.

Layer Cakes are 10″ squares showcasing a range of fabrics, there is usually around 42 pieces in each layer cake yielding approximately 2 1/2 metres. Layer Cakes were originally (I believe) bought out by Moda Fabrics, they are also available from other suppliers and may be known as 10″ Stackers, Tonga Treat Squares and 10″ Squares.

layer cake

Jelly Rolls   these are 2 1/2″ strips, again generally 42 pieces of a coordinated range.

jr

Dessert Rolls  Manufactured by Moda Fabrics, Dessert Rolls contain 20 different fabrics from a collection cut into 5″ x 44″ strips.

dr

Honeycombe Hexagons  Moda introduced Honeycomb Hexagons. These are collections of 6″ hexagons. Each Honeycomb hexagon measures 6″ from point to opposite point, with a horizontal measurement of 5 1/4″ and there are 40 coordinating fabrics.

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Charm Squares  Charm packs are one of the smallest and least expensive specialty cut. Their popularity stems from the fact that they are affordable, easy to use, and the size is very common in quilting. Charm Packs typically include one square of every fabric within a collection so the number of pieces included varies. The size of charm packs may also vary slightly by manufacturer. For instance, RJR Fabrics cuts their Charm Packs to 5.5″ x 5.5″, Moda is 5″ x 5″. But they are a great little buy.

Honey-Honey-moda-charm-packs2

We also have mini charms which are 2 1/2″ square and many more… desert rolls, mini jelly rolls, mini layer cakes… what will they come up with next.

For any newbies it’s a minefield of information and almost like learning a second language.

When I fist started out I had no idea there was a difference between the words patchwork and quilting… well, duh… there is. I describe these words now as: Patchwork is the process of sewing pieces of fabric together to make your quilt tops. Quilting is the process of sewing the 3 layers of your quilt together. Being the quilt top, the batting or wadding (whichever you wish to call it) and your quilt backing fabric. Quilting can be straight forward stitching in the ditch (ditch being where your two pieces of fabric have been joined and you now stitch over that stitching) or you may stipple quilt, which is a series of swirls and curls as per this picture or for the clever monkey’s among us there are many, many designs that can be used. See examples below.

          Stitch in the Ditch                                   Stipple Quilting

using-a-walking-foot-to-stitch-in-the-ditchthHKWRUBHK

Feathered design and other ‘fillers’

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So, this is just a small part of quilting. There are many techniques both in patchwork and quilting. There is a whole world to explore and learn. You can take specialty classes, you can teach yourself (YouTube is a great resource), or you can band together with other like minded people in quilting groups and learn from them. The patchwork family is large, loving, supportive, generous and a whole lot of wonderful. If you are looking to meld into a community then join a patchwork group, if you’re looking for friends, join a patchwork group.

Happy Stitching

Sue

 

So hands up, who knows their needles?

Well if you’re like me as long as it’s not broken or too bent it’s working….right? Well perhaps not. If you want the best stitching for you project you need great tools and your needles be they hand or machine are an integral part of your sewing kit.

First for sewing needles. The following information is thanks to Craftsy.com. and you can click through to find out more on their site.

needle-anatomy

It helps to understand the different parts of a home sewing machine needle.

  • The shank is the part of the needle that fits into your sewing machine, with the flat side to the back.
  • The blade is what determines the needle size. (For example, a size 75 needle has a blade that is .75 mm in diameter.)
  • The shaft is the “body” of the needle, and the groove that runs the length of the shaft holds the needle thread. Did you know that the diameter of the thread you are using should take up no more than 40% of the groove?
  • The point and tip of the needle refer to the size, shape and length — all of which vary based on the type of needle.
  • The scarf of the needle is an indentation on the backside that allows the bobbin hook to smoothly grab the thread under the sewing machine throat plate to create a proper stitch.

Needle types

There are three main types of needles that are used for the majority of sewing, as well as many specialty needles.

  • Universal needles have a slightly rounded tip, and this general purpose needle should be used on wovens as well as some sturdy knits.
  • Jersey needles have a medium ballpoint tip designed especially for knit fabrics because it slips between the knit fibers and does not break or damage them while sewing.
    • Stretch needles, often confused with Jersey needles, are also a medium ballpoint tip, but these have a special eye and scarf that are designed for extremely stretchy fabrics and elastic. Swimwear is an ideal application for this type of needle

In addition to the three most widely used needle types, there are also specialty needles for sewing with denim and leather, sewing suede, topstitching, needlepoint and embroidery, along with specific needles for quilting. Remember to select the needle first based on fabric type or usage, and then determine the correct size based on the weight of the fabric and the size of the thread you will be using.

There are many, many more. Here’s a link to Schmetz for a guide to their needles and their purposes. Click Here.

Close Up on Sewing Needle in Machine

Needle sizing

There are two needle sizing systems: American and European. American needle sizes range from 8 to 19, and European sizes range from 60 to 120. The larger the number, the larger the blade of the needle. Often you will see both sizing numbers on the needle package, such as 60/8 and 70/10.

Home sewing machine needles are also classified as the 130/705 H system, which means they are for use in home sewing machines rather than industrial machines. That designation means the needles have a flat shank and a scarf.

Needle lifespan

Needles are one of the least expensive components in a sewing project, so feel free to change your needle with each new project. Sewing machine needles only have a lifespan of 6 to 8 hours of sewing time, but that can be even less if the fabric is particularly tough to sew. In short, change your needles often! Whatever you paid for your fabric, it was certainly more than the cost of a needle. It’s not worth the risk of damaging your project by using a dull needle.

Mmm, so I guess that means don’t just wait for the needle to break……lol. I used to always get confused as to what size needles I needed to use, not really understanding the needle sizing on the packaging such as

Hand stitching needles

I have my favourites that I use for just about everything and they don’t have to be the most expensive available, but you do want a good quality. Don’t go using a literal ‘crow bar’ that’s going to leave a large hole in your fabric. The needle you choose should be (for embroidery or hand stitching) sharp and the shaft should be think enough to pass through your fabric allowing enough space for the size of the thread you are using to pass through easily. The aim is to not drag your thread through, thus destroying the actual thread.

There is literally a needle for every job. I probably use embroidery needles the most with my work, also known as crewel needles. They have sharp points and slightly elongated eyes. I especially look for needles that have larger eyes, since the ageing process has started and my eyes don’t work as well. These types of needles are used widely throughout embroidery work where piercing your fabric is necessary.

For tapestry, drawn thread work and counted cross stitch you will need tapestry needles these have long eyes and are blunt as you don’t want to be splitting the fabric such a aida cloth when using. Don’t get these confused with Chenille needles, they look similar but chenille needles have a sharp point, these are used for crewel work and wool embroidery or basically any surface work where a longer eye (which holds a thicker thread) is desired.

Straw or Milliners needles these needles are made with the eye and the shaft made the same size so from one end of the needle to the other its equal in thickness, which is what is recommended for doing French and bullion knots. Mind you, I quite often cheat and use a normal embroidery and make a colonial knot in lieu of French knots. Naughty I know, but I was put on earth to break all the rules.

Now here’s where machine and hand stitching needles change. The sizing is opposite. Machine needles, the higher the number the larger the blade. Hand sewing, the higher the number the smaller the needle.

Threaded Embroidery NeedleThe thickness of your thread or yarn will determine the size of your needles.  For example, if using a wool embroidery yarn you will need a much larger needle for the thread to pass through your fabric, alternatively if using a fine sild thread you’ll need a much finer needle. Remember the needle needs to be large enough to carry your thread through your fabric without destroying your thread on the way through. The thread should just follow the needle, not have to be ‘dragged’ through.

Japanese hand-made needleAs you would imagine needles are made on machines. When the machine punches out the hole for the eye of the needle it is actually smaller on one side than the other. So here’s a tip, if you’re having trouble threading your needle from one side try the other.

I have already shared this tip on my Facebook page but did you know you aren’t supposed to lick your thread when you thread your needle?  The primary reason for this is that the wet thread can cause the inside of the eye to rust, which can quickly fray your embroidery threads while stitching. .

You can find further information for hand embroidery needles here on Needle ‘n Thread!

 So I hope this has given you a little insight into the business of needles. Their history is interesting and lets face it we just couldn’t live without them and there are so many different brands. As I said earlier you don’t have to be using the most expensive. Find needles of good quality for a reasonable price and you’re set.
Happy Stitching
Sue
Mallee Country Craft.

 

 

 

 

 

Donations

My husband just requested I go online and donate something for him and what he wants to donate may surprise you.

We donate many things throughout our lives. We donate money, time, goods for the poor, toys for toy runs and when we’re decluttering we have many used items to donate to secondhand  shops, op shops and the like.

In life we’re also exposed to the possibility of donating our organs. Darren and I are both organ donors. My hope is that all our bits will be way too worn out and old to use, but should we die young enough to help others then so be it. Made round to go round I say.

Like money, your body is no good to you when you’re gone. The family may have issues at the thought of your body being interfered with after your death, but I would hope our family would not interfere with our decision to help someone else or to help in the progress of science and learning. Whether that be that coroners in training or young doctors get to practice on a cadaver, or your body is used in some other way. Because after death all that’s left is skin, bone etc 90% of which is water. It’s no longer where you are. You, after death are in the heart and souls of your family. You are part of their memories. You body was just the vessel that carried you around. I’m not going to go into religion here, many religions have differing ideas on what happens after death, what I’m saying is if you can still be useful to the world after you’ve taken your last breath then why not help others. Heck some people may be more helpful after death than they ever were in life…lol

Darren has Multiple Sclerosis, a disease that affects neurological functions. It’s a disease that affects many people and if you spoke to them all they would all have differing symptoms. At the last CT scan Darren had 5 lesions on his brain and a number of them on his spine. These lesions are scars of sorts, MS is an autoimmune disease where the body is attacking itself.  There are many different types of MS and luckily for Darren he probably has the better, Relapsing/Remitting. This is not to say that next week this couldn’t progress into the next stage, but for now, to look at him you wouldn’t realise there’s too much wrong with him.

One of the lesions is on his optic nerve, so this affects his eyesight. His cognitive functions have also been compromised, in that his short term memory is poor. Things like remembering his home phone number are beyond him. He gets confused very easily and when put under pressure the confusion worsens. Physically he fatigues very easily. Most afternoons are spent in a chair either reading or napping. If he wants to do anything physical like go for a walk it has to be done early in the morning. He manages to walk twice a week most weeks, under the theory of ‘use it or lose it’, but these walks leave him extremely tired, so he has to managed his time well. If we have a market to attend on a Saturday he would only walk on a Tuesday to give himself enough time to recover so he has enough energy to get through.

Darren is a member of the SA Multiple Sclerosis Society and receives their newsletter/report. In there this month they were talking about donating your brain to further the education into this insidious disease. Darren asked me what I felt about him donating his brain. I said I had absolutely no problem with it at all. I guess when the time comes, if he should go before me, it wont be a nice ‘thought’, but that’s all it is, it’s a thought about what is happening to your loved one. But in actual fact, as I previously said, this is only the body where your loved one once was. They’re not there now.

I personally think that everyone born into the world should be a donor and if you wish to ‘opt out’ then you be given that option no questions asked. It is quite a personal thing, but it’s a huge thing to those who need it. I bet if you had a child who was dying of heart failure or kidney/liver disease you would be feeling the same. I’m hoping that our donations will bring about some change, that maybe after death our lives will still be valuable.

Pleasure and Pain

I thought I would share something of a personal nature in the hope it will help other sufferers or help someone understand what someone with anxiety and depression goes through on a day to day basis. This is my story this week, but I have many weeks like this.

Looking at me from the outside you wouldn’t think there was a thing wrong with me. I appear confident and capable, I run my own business and I care for my husband who has Multiple Sclerosis. I appear to be a strong woman. But appearances can be deceiving. Outwardly there are many people who look ‘normal’ but have inner turmoil going on or a whole world or hurt and pain that is unseen, whether that be mental or physical.

My husband has a physical disability that you can see, he walks slowly, he trips a lot, his cognitive functions have been affected, his eyesight is affected. For him, making a decision is difficult; put him under pressure or try to rush him throws him really off guard. Simple decisions like whether you’d like a tea or a coffee can take a minute to decide, where for most people it’s a simple question. I find I get so frustrated at the situations we find ourselves in, but I have to take a breath and remember it’s not him, it’s the MS. But he’s not the same man I married 25 years ago and that makes me angry at times.

For me depression set in after postnatal depression. It’s come and gone in that time but over the past 20 years the black dog of depression has stayed close to my side. Along with that, anxiety stepped up and as at time taken over. So I find I spend much of my time isolated within our home as this is where I feel safe and comfortable. Having people to come the house throws me into a spin, me having to go anywhere usually ends up with me not sleeping for days with the worry of going out, even down to answering the phone get set me into panic.

So many negative thoughts run through my mind. Why are the negative thougths so easy and the positive so difficult to find?

This weekend I’m looking forward to going to a stitching weekend. I’ve never been to anything like this before. So as usual I haven’t slept for the past week, which only adds to the anxiety. When I saw I haven’t slept, I mean I’ve slept for 2 hours here an hour there, but not enough for a person to really function well with. There have been thoughts of not going to this weekend, but I know I must. I know once I get there I’ll enjoy it. I’ll put on my ‘happy’ face and no one will ever know the turmoil within and the difficulty that I have gone through to get there. It should be a breeze, right? It should be just pack your bags, check you have everything you need for two days, fill the car with fuel and make your way there…..Not for this chick.

For me it has meant as I said not sleeping, chest pains through panic attacks, calling the accommodation place 4 times to make sure I’m booked in. Checking the map a number of times so I know exactly where I have to go. Checking how long the drive will take, then checking how long the drive will take from my motel to the venue. Going on Google to ‘see’ what the places look like so I can recognise them when I get there. Packing and re packing. Worrying what will happen if the car breaks down on the way there, will my phone work if something goes wrong. I don’t know anyone there, what if no one wants to talk to me. Am I even someone that anyone would want to talk to.  Will I be wearing clothes that will be suitable. Will others be dressed up more than me. Will I look a slob. Then we get into the thoughts of ‘you’re useless’, you’re worthless….. you’re pathetic….. All this inner turmoil and pain and no one but me knows what’s happening.

So anyone else looking at that disastrous list will notice that most of what I’ve worried about are totally out of my control. Why would any normal person worry about things that haven’t happened or are very unlikely to happen. If the car breaks down I have roadside assist. If the accommodation is booked out, there’s other places I could go to or I could sleep in my car… people at the event don’t know me from Adam, so they actually have not formed an opinion of me and wont be wasting any of their stitching time thinking about me at all. Who cares how long it takes me to drive to the destination, as long as I get there….

It’s called a ‘loop’, your thoughts create feelings, these feelings create behaviours. I need to turn those negative thoughts into positive thoughts, these in turn will change how I’m feeling and then create better behaviours. Simple really. But it takes oh so long to learn. It’s so easy to fall back into the negative way of thinking.

So my bag is packed. I’m still worried and I can’t concentrate on work, or stitching (I find writing a wonderful tool to help calm me down, I don’t have room for other thoughts when I’m writing) so I will spend the rest of the day either writing or I also want to learn more about website development, so I may spend some time resourcing that, which in turn will take my mind off of the worry about what tomorrow will bring.

Depression and anxiety can’t always be seen, but if you know someone who is suffering, just let them know you care how they feel, let them know that no matter what they are still valued and loved and if they need a hand to hold please hold their hand. Help them step outside, encourage them in their efforts to get their lives back in order, but don’t push them or try to force an issue, it’s definitely a gently, gently approach that’s required.

Having written this down has helped me ‘see’ things more clearly. I know I can do this. I know I will have a wonderful, fun filled weekend with beautiful like minded people and who knows there may be someone there struggling just like me. I guess right at this moment I feel lonely, but tomorrow I will meet and make new friends so I am truly looking forward to that.

I’ll let you know how I go.

 

Have a great weekend people..

 

Sue

This entry was posted on May 23, 2014. 4 Comments

Something a little different

Hi all, Long time no talk. I guess like many I get caught up in life and forget to sit down. I find writing very relaxing, I’ve been told many times I should write a book….. But what would I write about and who the heck would read it?

Today I’m going to talk about self love. I was talking to a friend a few days ago and we were talking about self esteem or lack of it and got around to the question ‘what do you love/like about yourself’? I was totally stumped. I honestly couldn’t come up with one thing that I liked about myself. I felt terrible. Then when I thought about it some more, I couldn’t see why anyone would actually like me, when I don’t like me.

Then i considered it might be something that we would all struggle to answer, so I thought I’d write about it and ask you the same question.

The question was in relation to self esteem and where self esteem comes from. To have a good self esteem one really has to like ones self. It’s a simple enough question, but one that took me literally two days to come up with an answer, but at the time my thinking was limited to  physical attributes, not what is within.

Now I know this is a fairly deep and personal post, but I think it’s terribly important to talk about I don’t think any of us value ourselves as much as we should. I think we all live with a level of guilt and question ourselves far too often as to whether we are doing the right thing. I know when I had two kids in school, I was forever questioning whether I should be at home or out working. You were damned if you did and damned if you didn’t. Nowadays I don’t think it’s possible for young families to purchase a home and not have two parents working. So mums out there everywhere will be constantly questioning whether they are doing right or wrong by their children and family, which will in turn possibly lead to low self esteem.

So, what do you like about yourself?

Now if you’re having trouble answering that question don’t panic, just sit and ponder for a while about what is good about you. What characteristics are there within you that help you manage your world and help you work with those around you.

After the conversation with my friend I just couldn’t let go of the thought, I actually went home feeling quite miserable. There had to be at least one thing I liked about myself. So, what do you do in this situation? You ask someone else. In this case I spoke to a very dear friend, who came back saying very nice things about me, which was lovely but not helpful. I needed to find something that I liked about myself . Not learning the first time around I then turned to my eldest daughter and asked her the same question, she laughed at first asking was she helping me with homework of some sort…. She said a few things that got me thinking, then a light came on.

As I said I had been thinking about physical characteristics like my hair, my personality, my laugh…. what I ended up finding that I liked about my self astounded me. I didn’t think I possessed as many attributes that I actually liked about myself and once I had identified  these things I felt fantastic.

I found that I liked my sense of humour, I like my common sense approach to life, my ability to keep a cool head in tough situations, my problem solving skills, the fact that I have good instincts and always follow my ‘gut’ feelings, I like that I’m no one’s fool, I call a spade a shovel, I never hold grudges, I’m not argumentative, I’m honest to a fault, faithful, loyal and I’m easy to get along with, I am a strong woman and have coped with many of life’s ups and downs and survived. I survived a stage 4 cancer against the odds and somehow I’ve managed (with Darren’s help) to raise two beautiful, independent women to boot.

As I said, originally I had thought I needed to find something i loved or like that was physical but that’s not the case, mind you after losing my hair through chemotherapy a million years ago, when my hair grew back it grew back with a nice wave in it instead of the unruly frizz that it used to be, so now it always sits nicely, and also now I’ve decided to stop colouring my hair the greys that are coming through look like I’ve had them put there. So I guess if I had to pick a physical aspect I would say my hair. Prior to chemo I had longer hair that had totally uncontrollable curls. In fact people used to have perms to make their hair curly like mine. I used to go and get it straightened. Now, I’m happy with it just the way it is.

Anyway I’ve digressed. What do you like about yourself? Think about this for a while, it took me two whole days….lol but I think it is a very positive exercise, I personally felt a lot stronger and felt more valuable once I had pointed out my good qualities to myself and I hope it does the same for you.

Thanks for reading my blog, I’ll be back later to talk about something else that’s caught my attention.

 

Bye for now

 

Sue

Charlotte Dawson and the Black Dog

As a person who suffers with chronic depression and anxiety I have been deeply affected by the loss of Charlotte Dawson this week. Her friends and workmates need to know there was no ‘knowing’ that there was anything ‘wrong’. We sufferers are great actors. We put on a face that we think others want to see. We are usually jovial, fun loving and funny, poking fun at ourselves and others to hide the pain inside. There are of course days where this is not possible and for me those days are the days I hide myself away from the world and try to heal myself with peace.
Depression is very complex, there’s never one particular trigger, it may be several and not everyone with depression gets suicidal. Suicide is not something a sufferer takes any great time in reasoning with; you may have fleeting thoughts that this would be a way out but then slowly one little thing after another gets on top of you to a point where you are drowning in your thoughts. There is a very fine line between life and death and suicide is a split second decision of will I or wont I? Trouble is when you decide yes I will, it’s usually too late to turn back. For poor Charlotte it looks like she was trying to live a life of ‘what others would expect’ hoping that things would turn around for her. But there comes a time when you get so tired of putting on ‘the happy face’. When things just get too hard.
Depression is not just a word to be bandied about and unless you’ve had it, have it or have lived with someone with depression you will NEVER understand it truly. It’s not something you can just snap out of, it’s something you have literally no control of. Even with medication and experts to help you the big D never leaves you alone!
I personally have forgotten what real happiness feels like. I just keep putting on the brave face and hope beyond hope each day that I find reasons to stay on this earth. It’s a battle. I too have a loving family and people that love me, but unless you truly believe in yourself, love yourself, none of that makes the slightest bit of difference when you’re at the bottom of the black well.
Some believe that suicide is a cowardly, selfish act. If you feel that way then you have never been (and I hope you never do) that low where you believe everyone would be better off without you. It’s an act that happens when you feel there is absolutely no hope, an act when you become so weary of ‘trying’ that it becomes an answer to all your perceived problems. Perhaps with some it’s not even really about them in particular, it’s about how much they love their family and friends. You could argue if you loved your family you wouldn’t do it, but when I attempted this act (more than once) it was done out of love for my family, for they would then no longer have to suffer alongside me, they could grieve a little then get on with their lives and not have the constant worry of me and how I was feeling, it would be over for all of us.
Depression takes away the ability to feel happy. You can’t concentrate. You can’t sleep. You have very little if any drive left. You feel like curling up in a ball and hiding from the world. You take less and less care of yourself. You forget what makes you happy, for me, that was sewing and stitching. I became so depressed all I could do was sit and stare. The road to recovery started with a plan as simple as 1. Get out of bed. 2. Have a shower and get dressed. 3. Make breakfast and that was it for the day. If I could make it through those 3 steps then I had at least achieved something in the day.
When asked what makes you happy? What do you like to do? If you could do anything what would it be? I had no clue. I had forgotten what made me happy. I knew something was wrong because I had no inclination to pick up a needle and thread.
It affects others where they will go and spend, spend, spend, trying to fill a void inside. Others become too afraid to leave home. There are so many aspects to this illness. These are just a few.
For those that have lost family or friends through depression you have to realise there was NOTHING you could have done to prevent it. For Charlotte Dawson, she was the one in control, she was the one that had to learn to love herself enough to realise she was a valued member of society and that she mattered. For those left behind it’s hard to fathom how someone could think killing themselves was the answer, but you have to remember, the sufferer is not in a place where thinking rationally is a happening thing. I guess for those left behind you would be angry both at yourselves and at the person who you have lost. But for whatever reason the sufferer is no longer suffering. It was their one and only way to stop the pain of life itself!
Again, we’re not talking about someone being a bit ‘down’, everyone gets down at some point. Depression is the DEEPEST down there is, it swallows you up and paralyses you mentally and physically.
I continue my fight daily and as you may tell through this blog the news of Charlotte’s passing has profoundly affected me even though I didn’t know her other than her appearances on TV. I look at Charlotte and feel she was so beautiful, she had fame and she had what looked like a great life, but that’s only what she allowed us to see. I wondered how could someone like her feel similar to the way I do, then I looked into her eyes and see she’s just like me, pretending. She was trying to live life until she just couldn’t try anymore. This was no one’s fault, not even Charlottes, it’s an illness, but it’s not an illness that’s recognised like cancer and the like, no matter how many advertisements there are on TV, there’s still a stigma attached and as a sufferer you know it.
The R U Okay campaign sounds like a great idea. It may help others feel like they are doing something to help but in truth if you ask someone with depression – Are you okay mate? The person with depression is going to smile and say ‘yeah I’m fine’ and as a non-professional how are you really going to know? Only the professionals can see through the façade. More money needs to be allotted to mental health care, it needs to be taken as seriously as cancer, as it can certainly take your life as quick as any of the other diseases we raise money for.
I’m sorry this is such a ‘down’ blog this week. But as I said Charlottes death deeply affected me in a week where I was already particularly struggling. I’m not looking for sympathy, far from it. I guess awareness and understanding of the big D is the aim.
I have so much to be grateful for and I am believe me. But the ‘black dog’ of depression hangs constantly over my life and of those around me. It has seen friendships diminish and some end as it totally wears down your friends and family. So hence you tend to keep yourself and your thoughts to yourself, not wanting to bother anyone else and this is where the problem emulates. It’s a vicious cycle. There are ups and downs and there are okay days, I hope for more okay days.
I hope if you read this and feel you need help that you will talk to your local doctor and ask for a referral to a psychiatrist, I know there is a stigma attached, but these doctors are the best. They have the ability to listen without judgment. They have spent years studying mental health. They care about what happens to you. They have the ability to prescribe medication that is specific to your needs, so you’re not trying this or trying that like a guinea pig. I have great faith in them. Mind you, you have to find one that you’re comfortable with. I’ve been very lucky both in Adelaide and now in the Riverland to have found wonderful doctors. Their ongoing care is essential to my wellbeing and I believe that I will be okay. Maybe there is no cure, I believe my mental illness is hereditary, for others it may have started with abuse or a traumatic event. But I’m happy just to believe that with help I can live to see my grandchildren grow up and that is what will bring me happiness.

Again, I’m sorry for the ‘down’ blog, Darren just said it’s a bit personal isn’t it. My answer was yes, but people need to know, otherwise we go on hiding something that needs to be outed. I’m no longer ashamed of having an illness, I want to fight and talking openly is a great start.

Till next time

Love and hugs to all who bother to read this.

Sue