Category Archives: News from depressionland

Mood swings


Arrived at the church weekend away in a foul mood, having just had a totally childish row with The Grouch because he’d filled the water bottle from the hot tap (and he’s just put in a water softener, and my mother says drinking softened water is bad for your heart, and who wants to drink hot water on a car journey anyway?). The real reason being that I couldn’t find my really good, really comfortable Austrian walking boots, which I will now have to go to Austria to replace (any excuse…).

Anyway we made it there and in the course of a weekend of good communal fun and non-cringe-making worship, not to mention very traditional British food (spotted dick, anyone? I’ll just have the custard), I gradually untangled and found myself almost gruntled – well, actually considerably gruntled – by the end of the weekend. Unfortunately after church weekends away one has to come back to reality with a bump, and I still can’t find my boots (last seen at Greenbelt or soon after), and it’s half term so I can’t do any writing (except that I have a column for which the deadline by tomorrow will be yesterday), but have to apply thumbscrews to get son to catch up with two missed maths assessments, finish a Film Studies essay, and go shopping for new jacket, jeans, T-shirts and trainers. Oh, and he needs a haircut too. Easy really…

PS It is son who has to finish an essay and go clothes shopping, not me, but I couldn’t get the grammar to say that clearly.

Crying again

Practically anything makes me cry just now. Is that the subconscious reason why I didn’t watch the Chilean miners’ rescue last week? I cried all through the Baptist minister’s leaving do last Friday, every time anyone said how marvellous she was and how sad it was that she was leaving. All I could think was that I am not marvellous and that I seem to be losing everything that’s important to my life.

Well, at least the infection in my arm from the flu jab last week, seems to be disappearing with the aid of antibiotics (even though I keep forgetting to take them an hour before food like I’m meant to). I can still see a large red patch about five inches in diameter on my arm, and it still itches a bit, but it is much less hot, itchy and red than it was. So much for obeying my Mum’s nagging me to get the flu jab. I’ll never do what she says again.


Have made some progress with the book this week, but mostly restoring the thousand or so words I think I lost from what I wrote for Chapter Three last week. And today I just had to give up and go back to bed, and when I got up, to go swimming to make myself feel better. It worked – sort of.

PS Still haven’t remembered the third thing I saw on my trip to town last week. Well, it can’t have been all that interesting…


Today on the bus back from the sleep clinic appointment, I spied a large and flamboyant young woman who used to go to my son’s school. As well as being – shall we say, voluptuous – she has always dressed very eccentrically, in bold colours and with large and multiple hair accessories: big bows, big bobbly hair ties, and today even a miniature hat which I think is called a fascinator. Actually when I saw her at the school I had always assumed she had some learning difficulty which caused her to dress oddly.

Today, however, she was in the company of not only her mother (who is not flamboyant at all), but a distinctly hot boyfriend of Asian origin. They were snogging so enthusiastically on the seat in front of me that I didn’t have the guts to say, ‘Hello, you used to be at [name of school], didn’t you?’ Instead I just reflected that people do get the most unexpected partners, and that one should never judge by appearance. My mother comes out sometimes with a German proverb meaning ‘every pot finds a lid’. Which is patently untrue, or there wouldn’t be so many people (including myself for years) who are unwillingly single. But the scene before me did make me think of that saying. I just hope he’s being good to her – she can’t be more than 19 and I would hate to think of her getting exploited.

Meanwhile the book, which I restarted writing two days ago, is going swimmingly. I’m now more than halfway through chapter 3 (of 10-12, I hope) and really starting to enjoy the process of writing. I’ve rediscovered something I had forgotten: that writing makes me happy. At least it does when it’s going well…


On the train on my way back from retreat yesterday (the retreat was, by the way, fabulous – spent a whole day just sitting out in the garden reading), I overheard the following snatches:

‘An aging housewife, that’s what he thinks I am’, followed shortly by ‘There’s no way you could ever get him to say…’ and then I couldn’t get the next bit. Intriguing, I thought, this sounds like a very intimate conversation to be having loudly on a train. But I caught no more. Getting off the train, I spied the speaker, an elegant looking woman of a certain age, accompanied by an equally elegant white haired man. No further clues. If you were the speaker or listener, or can suggest what/who they were talking about, please get in touch!

PS I am still pretty daunted by the huge pile of things to be done, not to mention the book, but a weekend of sheer indulgence in a beautiful place has made me feel generally a bit more able to tackle life. Managed to get various bits of admin done today, including the one which was causing me most anxiety (to do with National Insurance and Carers’ Allowance – I hate sorting financial matters). And it was solved with one simple phone call… I should know better by now, that things are never as big as they seem when they’re looming.

An explanation

I have to make an apology. To those of you who read this blog (if there’s anyone still here) yesterday’s entry must have appeared to have come out of the blue after a couple of fairly chirpy entries about our Big Trip etc. The fact is that this depression has been building up ever since we got back from America, but I was too low to blog about it. Actually yesterday I was even more low but I felt desperate to express it in some way. I have had a few bright spots during the last couple of months but they have been so fleeting, no more than a few days of finding life tolerable or even slightly pleasant. To tell the truth, I feel now as if this particular depression has been going on for years, but then in the midst of depression one’s memory is very distorted and tells one that things have never been anything but bad. If I listened to my feelings just now I would think I have been depressed continually a) for the past twenty years or b) continuously since 1972. Neither of which, I know objectively, is true.

On the other hand, during the brief periods of mental sunshine, I am convinced that I am now cured and that depression will never hit again. Which is equally untrue.

The facts on the ground, to sound like a newscaster, are that I have managed to contact two possible sources of counselling or psychotherapy, and booked myself a retreat this weekend, as well as buying my train tickets online and ringing up to book both my taxi from the station, and my return taxi on Sunday. All of which has to be better than yesterday. I just have to remember that while the retreat will undoubtedly make me feel better, it will not be a magic cure and nor will I return from it with a brilliant idea that will totally transform my life. Or with a poem I can enter into the poetry competition whose deadline has been extended. Although the latter is possible.

I have to tell myself that change comes slowly and that I can do little things every day to improve the immediate circumstances. Such as going down the road, which I did this afternoon, to buy some dental appliance sterilizing tablets. Which the dentist didn’t have but has ordered for me, thus ensuring that I will have to make another trip down the road next week. Of such small things is sanity made.

And again…

Woke at 8.00 this morning, feeling OK. Got up to go to the loo. When I came back, my bed was so tempting that I went straight back to it and dozed till 11.00 am. Another day messed up. And I didn’t manage to get out of the house either, even though I had a bona fide errand to do at the bottom of the road. Instead I had another sleep this afternoon. I am so demotivated and full of apprehension about all the things that need doing – in particular my book. I suppose this is called ‘writer’s block’, but I’ve never had it before in 30 years of freelance writing. It seems totally insuperable. However I did, by forcing myself, manage today to ring up two organizations that offer counselling, and then to book myself a retreat for the coming weekend. It will mean I miss the first session of choir, but I am singing tonight (back to my old group) so that will have to do. At the moment, giving up on belly dancing and going back to my old singing group feels like a defeat, even though it’s a choice I made when I was feeling OK.

This too will pass, this too will pass. I just wish it would pass quicker.


I just can’t believe how utterly my mood is dependent on the weather. This morning it was sunny – and I felt good and got some things done. This afternoon it was grey again (like most days for the last – oh, about a year) and I messed about playing Solitaire (which I still call Patience – surely Solitaire is a peg game not a card one?) on the computer and listening to my iTunes collection. Even if I remember to put my lightbox on, it doesn’t make as much difference as proper sunshine, and since my lightbox is on my desk and you have to sit in front of it for at least 90 mins, it is yet another temptation to mess about on the computer all day.

Yesterday was a good day though, with lots of things at church seeming to be addressed directly to me (which has happened a lot lately), This was followed by two hours watching a series of ‘Dad rock’ programmes for Fathers’ Day on BBC4 – first archive material of Eric Clapton from the Yardbirds days on, and then a great programme on 40 years of Glastonbury (though I started to flag two thirds of the way through that and had to go to bed). The Dad in our family was bemused by all this since his interest in and knowledge of music is almost zero – it’s entirely ‘Mum rock’ in our house. Did I mention I have a fantasy of being in a band called ‘Mumrock’ and bringing out an album called ‘Girls Play Air Guitar’. I probably did.


So I start a blog which is, at least partly, focused on depression. Trouble is, when I’m depressed I can’t face posting on it and can’t think of anything to say, and when I’m not (roughly one week in four, it seems at the moment) I’m too busy trying to make the most of the brief good time. Which usually means I tire myself out and bring the depression back quicker.

I’m coming out of a big low at the moment, which started a couple of weeks ago, so my perspective is probably distorted, but the cycle does seem to be swinging to higher highs (though not clinically manic) and what feel like lower lows, but probably aren’t, they just look lower in contrast with the greater height of the highs. Hope that makes sense. However high the highs are, I’m not yet ready for the four years’ worth of filing and ten years’ worth of decorating that are awaiting me.

Meanwhile, my husband is up a ladder at the back of the house replacing the down pipe, and having stuff transported from below in a bucket on a rope held by his assistant. I went down there to make some tea a little while ago and I heard the assistant saying ‘Would you prefer a longer screw?’. I had to laugh. Yes please…. (but not from his assistant).

PS I have just mistaken the noises my son is making at the computer, for our very vociferous cat. Perhaps my son is turning into a cat.

PPS I’ve just, via a stats search, looked at a blog post of mine from two years ago and found it refers to ‘four years’ worth of filing. That’ll be six years now, then.

Breaking down is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Major low over the last week, ending up with my crying buckets all over a couple of people at church on Sunday. If only I could learn to let the frustration out in little bits instead of storing it all up for one big outburst. Have made a doctors’ appointment for a couple of days’ time but I don’t see what the doc can do other than increasing my meds even more, which I really don’t want because the side effects are worse on higher doses.

In the middle of all this I think I did get a tiny glimpse of God’s love for me, but it is so hard to go on believing. On top of the general stress of deadlines to meet and son doing his GCSEs (with almost zero revision) we are facing the possible, indeed probable, loss of the Mennonite Centre in Highgate which has been a major second home for us and our church. The likelihood is that it will reopen somewhere else, but maybe not near us. I don’t know which is worse: being bereaved unexpectedly, or knowing a bereavement is about to happen but not knowing when. Actually, that describes my whole life at the moment: all I can see ahead is loss.