Alert! May be too much information …

I have made no secret of the fact I have experienced episodes of depression over many years. I have found lots of strategies to assist me to deal with life on a day to day basis – most recently, Stoicism and other philosophical ideas. Alongside these strategies I have been taking prescribed medication (tricyclic antidepressants) for around three decades. I noticed over the last 12 months that they were having a negative impact on my memory and mental functioning. I decided it was time to get off them!

I sought medical advice and am pleased to say that I am no longer taking the tricyclics but it was really tough coming off them – it took about 4-5 months. As part of the transition I met a doctor who is studying to be a psychiatrist. I was asked if I would be willing to take part in psychodynamic psychotherapy with him over 40 weeks (once a week). He is required to do this work as part of his studies.

This was an interesting proposition as:

  • I didn’t believe I needed therapy
  • I wasn’t too keen on Freudian ideas but was more inclined toward Positive Psychology
  • I was concerned it may unravel my relatively peaceful and happy life.

However, I agreed to go ahead and we have had 7 sessions so far. By the way, it is provided free due to it being part of his study requirements. So far it has raised some significant issues from the past but I feel I have the strength, wisdom and experience of a longish life to be able to handle it.

So, what would you do if you were in my situation? I am interested to hear what people’s thoughts are on psychotherapy today.

I promised I won’t go into the nitty gritty of the sessions as they are very personal but hopefully I can share a little about the overall experience.

My Survival Kit for Christmas/New Year/anytime!

Sometimes I find life overwhelming. I don’t think I am alone in that experience! Just thought I would put together a list of some easy things to remember when feeling stressed/depressed etc.

  • Remember there are some things in my control and others are not (inspired by the Stoics)
  • Remember that it is not things that upset us but our beliefs/judgements about them (Stoics)
  • Be grateful for life, health and the many good things in my life
  • Be in the moment, as in “when doing the dishes, just do the dishes”
  • I sometimes break the day down to hours or minutes e.g. “for the next hour I will shower and make my bed” I can do more if I want to but the goal is to just get one or two things done. (works for me).
  • I try to remember that others are fighting their own internal battles (we don’t know what it is like to be them) so try to be compassionate and try to see where they are coming from.
  • I find something to do that lightens my mood – I love taking photos of flowers or editing photos so I can set up a small project (go out to the garden and snap away and them come inside and edit the photos) and it can help me lift my mood.
  • Listen to a podcast. I am currently into learning about Stoicism and there are heaps of podcasts and YouTube video to watch or listen to.
  • If every thought in my head is coming out bleak I need to consider it might be my thinking that is out of kilter and not the rest of the universe!
  • Sometimes I write in my journal and maybe do a mind map (in my journal) to get a more objective picture of where my life and thoughts are at the moment. See what I can change and what I can’t.
  • I try to resist making big decisions when stressed. I sometimes want to do something straight away but encourage myself to review the idea at a later date – maybe three months, depending on the issue.
  • If all else fails, I go and have a rest for a while. Often I feel better afterwards!

Stop rowing the boat!

I have been thinking about persistence, perseverance, resilience and the like. All good things, I am sure you would agree.

Do you remember the Olympics a few years back when one of the rowers actually stopped rowing and caused her team to lose the race? She received lots of negative publicity. My question is, is it ever okay to say ‘I can’t give anymore energy to this’ ?

Today I was pulling out some weeds in the garden and decided I would be happy to get the job half done. But then I thought I would do some more but couldn’t quite complete the job. Of course, I could have kept going but I chose not to. It wasn’t that important to me and the weeds will still be there tomorrow.

But what about more important issues such as a work situation or a big challenge you have taken on? Is it weak to quit? Or is it healthy to know when enough is enough? When I have experienced periods of depression in the past it is usually my first inclination to want to quit doing just about everything. In a case like this, is it weakness to give in to the urge to quit?

What I find challenging about this topic is that in the past I thought it was okay to quit but now I wonder if I could’ve been tougher! I know there are many layers to the questions I have asked and there are many strategies to consider but the main issue for me is to not rush into quitting too quickly as I may find I can actually achieve what I want if I stick to it for just a little bit longer!

Time to write!

It is weeks since I wrote anything on my blog! Not necessarily a bad thing. Instead I decided to start a hand-written journal to capture some of the experiences of living through a pandemic. A strange experience for all of us and continues to be pervasive one way or another.

As I go about my day I think of things to blog about but before I know it, the day has gone. One thing that struck me recently was the concept of ownership – a new perspective for me. I sometimes ‘google’ the addresses of places I used to live and quite often the houses come up from the most recent real estate listing. You can do a walk-through of at least two of my former homes. I have even found some homes where my grandparents lived in the 1920’s!

Getting back to ‘ownership’ – I look at my former homes with a sense of permanence even though I only lived in them for a short time. One house in Melbourne we only lived in for 12 months – 40 years ago! The people we sold it to still live there. Any yet that house appears in my dreams and has grown in my imagination.

I shared this rental home with another couple in the 1970’s

In actual fact these homes were just a roof over our heads for a period of time before the next family moved in and it became ‘theirs’. We can’t lay any claim of ownership on our friends or family either. We are just fortunate to share some parts of our lives with them. Perhaps it is a sign of me getting older and a sense of gratitude for the people I share my time with. Things we purchase can be useful and even beautiful but they do not last forever.

I got hooked on this song 6 or so months ago (it kept turning up wherever I went) and maybe it sums up what I am trying to say …

Stormy Weather!

I have been watching my palm trees flourish over about six years. We had some wild weather overnight and woke to find some carnage in the back patio. I was quite shocked as we are rather fond of our palms. After a few hours of thinking about what to do next (can’t find a replacement for the broken one) we have a little project on our hands – and we all need projects at the moment :). Maybe it is time to transplant four of them (the casualties) into bigger pots and rethink their colours and positions.

We are fortunate considering that some people had a lot more damage to their properties and long power outages.

Uncertain Times

Our World has faced an unprecedented time these last few months due to Covid19. Each country has been impacted differently and has responded in its own way. Only history will help us see what we could have done better and what were our good decisions.

My life hasn’t changed enormously but there have been some changes in the daily routines. We have missed the luxury of being able to go to the gym. I had been going regularly for about 18 months and found it to be really good for my mental health and well-being. I also feel a bit fitter too!

The retirement community where I live has been very quiet with very few guests passing through. The lock-down has created a feeling of solidarity among residents and greater desire to say hello and chat when the opportunity arises.

Now there is talking about relaxing restrictions. In many ways we do want that to happen, but not too quickly – for safety sake but also I have come to like the SLOW life and not sure I can pick up the fast pace again.

Anyway, I shall take each day as it comes and enjoy what it has to offer!

Photo by Sophie Xiang on Facebook

What does it mean to be a writer?

I haven’t really thought about this question until now. On completing a five week course in Creative Writing today I am almost ready to hang up my pen! I didn’t research the course in great depth as I just thought it would be great to do during this time of home isolation. In fact the course was geared very much toward writing fiction novels and the development of character, scenes, point of view, momentum etc.

I found that the only way I could develop a character was to base it on the character I know best – ME! That got me thinking and I quickly realised I am not in the least bit interested in writing fiction. I have often thought of the possibility of writing a memoir but I am not even sure about that now.

I have had this idea of “writing” in the background (the name of my blog for example!!!) for many years but maybe it is time to take a different path. After all, why do people write memoirs? Is it to reassure themselves their lives had some meaning and purpose? Or is it to reconcile life’s experience and to find peace at its conclusion?

Maybe it is the COVID 19 affect that is perhaps making me stop and think about where I am headed and to look at possible alternatives for the future. that can’t be a bad thing.

Just for Today (8)

8. Just for Today, I will have a programme. I will write down just what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I’ll have it. It will save me from the two pests – Hurry and Indecision.

Author Unknown

I am finding that having a ‘to do’ list is really helpful in this time of being isolated at home. I have done some really mundane tasks that were at the bottom of my priorities but it felt good to get them done. I also plan some leisure time and exploring hobbies that haven’t progressed much in the past. For example I have tools and guidelines for calligraphy but haven’t invested much time or effort. Today I decided to go back to basics and start afresh – take time to check I have the right pens, ink, instructions etc. It turns out I have all I need so I just need to practise.

A Favourite Beach

Needed to get out of the house today and enjoyed a short break at the beach. I took a few photos with my phone and edited (cropped) each of them a little differently. The bottom right was just taken from a different angle from where I was standing and the sun reappeared. What is it about the beach that is so calming – especially when there’s not many people about?