Breakthrough flash of insight!!

After having a dream last night that kept recurring in different forms, I’ve had a real breakthrough insight into what my depression is all about!! Amazing! Now this may be a real no-brainer to everyone else, BUT, I’ve discovered that [due to my upbringing] I know fuck-all about relationship maintenance!

My relationships become un-rewarding for me because I DON’T PROVIDE ANY RELATIONSHIP MAINTENANCE in the way of affection to my partners. I don’t put more than the slightest bit IN so I eventually find I’m getting nothing OUT. Gradually my poor bloke becomes more and more discouraged about his input efforts with me, ergo I feel the zip is gone and I shut down and get depressed.

Now I’ll have to set about being demonstrative and that will be difficult and may not work immediately, but it’s POSSIBLE, so I’ll give it a go.

Flash of insight

Flash of insight

How’s that? I feel quite proud of myself for sorting that one out after sixty years living in a black hole!

We need this program in Oz: Ruby Wax’s Mad Confessions

Ruby-Wax-Black-Dog-Tribe_1

Ruby Wax

Ruby Wax’s Mad Confessions | Channel 4 goes mad | Documentary | Blog | Time To Change.

Reading the summary and readers’ comments on this British TV program from their Channel 4 made me think about how I am coping right now with my own head.

Crepe myrtle from L Street

Crepe myrtle from L Street

In the midst of a few physical health issues I’m not doing too badly. As the people in the above program and the commenters pointed out, I could do with some company and a  bit of real-life support. I feel a bit stigmatised as people don’t invite me to stuff. Now maybe they’ve just forgotten about me because I’m not around much or maybe I DO make them feel uncomfortable. That must be the difficulty about having a mental illness that doesn’t make you think or behave in  unexpected ways – you can never quite tell if a drop off in friends is just chance or if they’re deliberately avoiding you.

As I’ve said before, I never really feel lonely and I AM alone during working hours; I just feel the need for different environments and social input from different human beings. Now I can’t drive or walk to the bus stop, my lack of regular company apart from Spotrick and the cats has become more salient. What strategies could I use, apart from spending even more time on the Interwebs?!

Need to stop thinking about…

I’m wishing tonight, after having a pleasant dinner out, that I could stop thinking about things that touch me too deeply. Tears are welling in my eyes and threatening to fall down my cheeks as I can’t do anything to help. I’ll try to concentrate on something I COULD do last weekend.

I managed to help my young friend Olu “Climate” Idowu from Nigeria raise the last couple of hundred dollars that enabled him to attend an important meeting in Ethiopia. He has been running a program to teach youth to sustainably work the land so they can become employed and feed themselves and their families. By flocking to urban areas, rural people in developing countries have lost the skills they thought would be useless in the city. As Olu and I were chatting on Facebook I also got a message from Thalini who is training to be a surgeon in NSW, Australia, wondering how to do something that I know all about, and I thought !! Bingo!!

Maybe Thalini would have some of the cash Olu needed for his conference and I could in turn help Thalini with her problem! It worked and didn’t cost me a cent of the money I haven’t got!

So this week I became an international online entrepreneur! That must be an achievement I can be happy with.

What techniques can I use in the future to stop myself becoming too sad and emotional about problems that other people are in a much better position to fix? Genuine help needed!

Positive post script:

The rescue cat pictured below was adopted and neutered. She was previously on death row at Manhattan Animal Rescue in New York City because she was found roaming the streets. She was approximately 5 years old, and as you can see, not the most attractive-looking animal you might expect to take home.

Kitty's got the blues

Kitty’s got the blues

I contacted a heap of people who lived in or near NYC to try to get her a kind, warm home. Someone responded and I am so very relieved.

Chunks of Pi

My friends and I have been rather tardy in going to see The Life of Pi at the local cinema, but we managed it last Sunday night. I thought that the book was un-filmable, even without modern CGI effects and animatronics, but the movie was an enthralling adaptation of the book in startling 3D [we wore Clark Kent glasses].

Scene from the movie

Pi & Richard Parker

We were all very happy with it and I felt rather inspired by what I saw, which is unusual for me. For the very few who might not have read the book by Yann Martel [Winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize] nor seen the recent movie, it is about a boy who finds himself alone in a lifeboat with a tiger after a ship sinks containing his fathers entire zoo exhibits.

When I first read the novel, which is quite short, I liked it OK although I didn’t think it was great. The writer seemed to go well for the first third of the book and then hit the doldrums, just like the boy in the lifeboat! To my mind the symbolic and philosophical themes didn’t seem to progress for a long interval and I was tempted to abandon ship/book. However, I knew there had to be some sort of resolution, so I went along for the ride. I was rewarded in the end and concluded that the book was an allegory of nature, growth, life and death, where the elements could each mean a number of things, depending on the mindset of the reader. I didn’t relate the themes to my life at the time, but seeing the interpretation of the book by Ang Lee (of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon fame- is he getting stuck on tigers??), I felt quite touched. As said by reviewer Gary Krist in the New York Times Review of Books;

Pi understands that his own survival depends on keeping his ferocious opponent alive and well — ”because if he died I would be left alone with despair, a foe even more formidable than a tiger. If I still had the will to live, it was thanks to Richard Parker.”

Pi to multi decimal places

Pi, as Pi writes it on the blackboard

The film said to me “Get your tasks of necessity over with and just enjoy doing your own thing. Life won’t come back and give you another go.” That’s quite revolutionary to me at this stage of my life. For years I have been wanting to get my Masters degree and find a job in Public Health, preferably in Policy and Research because I am so drawn to them in many waking moments. However, no one has been very encouraging and I haven’t gained any jobs or scholarships to study further yet, having arrived at a sort of “fallback” position of trying for a PhD for lack of a job. I figured I could still immerse myself in the subject area even if I couldn’t work in it. With the stimulus of Pi I may be shifting my thinking to accepting I have finished my working life and settle for enjoying the crafts and hobbies I can still do with my disabled hands and wrists.

I will still need to learn to value myself and accept I am worth Spotrick supporting financially as my childhood background has almost brainwashed me into thinking I must always have an independent income. At least now I have been unemployed for many years I have somewhat forgotten what it’s like to have my own money to spend the way I wish [while keeping up my household contribution, of course]. It’s still fairly sad for me to see friends going away on holidays to places I had planned to visit before the end of my life, but I am trying to experience those things vicariously now. I have been asking my friends to take lots of photographs when they go away – photos of the places, rather than the standard touristy pix of “me in front of the Tower of London” sort! My friends are beginning to co operate, but they take a bit of flogging [you know who you are, LOL!]. I still get tears in my eyes regularly when I see places on my Bucket List on the internet, but I’m improving.

Scottish loch

Scottish loch

 

So this week could be quite influential for me and I haven’t changed my mind yet in the light of a week’s distance or reality biting.

Does this sound like a good thing? Have I missed something that’s going to wreck it all?

Comments welcome.

Here are some reviews of the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/life-of-pi/

Acknowledgements: Pi poster with multi decimal places http://hoffnermath.files.wordpress.com/2009/

Movie poster: http://theawesomer.com

 

Praise was a no-no

Child development: The right kind of early praise predicts positive attitudes toward effort.

_____________________________________________________

When I taught developmental psychology to young teacher- and childcare-trainees, I fought a losing battle most of the time trying to show them how to use praise in the best way to enhance the lives of the little ones in their charge. All the other teachers on the programs thought that you must “treasure the precious little children” by [wrongly] “boosting their self-esteem” in saying “wow, that was good” or “don’t you look gorgeous”, no matter the merit of child in any way.

This article points out where I was doing OK and they were NOT encouraging the children to try hard and put their best efforts into whatever they did. I believe the “wow, you’re wonderful” style of upbringing has resulted in generations of youngsters who won’t put in an effort, try to get by on appearance [at which many succeed & others derive much misery from], feel entitled to a good job no matter how lackadaisical their performance and are intolerant of less than perfect traits in a partner. Who knows?

As I mentioned on Google+ in response to this article, my life has been heavily influenced by getting no praise or the wrong kind when I was a little kid. I was virtually “squashed down” because apparently the “tall poppy” syndrome reigned in the 1950s. I can only remember a few instances where I was praised for any achievement, and this was by school teachers or other kids’ parents. As an adult [in years, maybe not in mind!], I have not usually tried very hard at most things, because I achieved most things as a kid by just turning up and doing. No one will believe me, but I got into med school that way- however, lack of effort after being ill for a long time probably made me drop out, where I might have been able to cope with some coaching and support for a while.

Kids I went to school with apparently often tried to topple me from the top of the class, but, not having put any effort in myself, I didn’t notice their frustrated efforts! Therefore, I didn’t congratulate them or praise them either because I hadn’t experienced it myself. These days I sometimes chat on Facebook to some of these old friends and discover how “victorious” some of them felt when they topped me at something and how some of them were jealous of my performance/”marks”, disliking me as consequence. It all seems so trivial now, but THEY have mostly succeeded in life with good jobs and happy families, whereas I am long term unemployed with a still “itchy” mind!

So, from many years of experience and contemplation I would say to parents “Be alert to your children’s achievements in every sphere and give them plenty of praise about the way they achieve.” My idea would be to teach kids as many things as you can quite deliberately so they don’t have to make so many mistakes along the road to becoming adults themselves. Teach them about praise too, once they are old enough to get the idea, and they will become sought after companions in life for their peers. Show children how to do things and don’t keep saying “No not that way” and correcting them – let them work through and discover for themselves the best methods once you have shown them, except when it’s dangerous, eg. diving off the high board!

Surely I might be happier and healthier now, maybe even suitably employed if I had been able to build on a solid basis of feeling competent and autonomous when I was learning to become human. I’m working on it.

murfomurf:

It is a genuine dilemma in this age of new-fangled “molecular” drugs, that some seem to work very well during their first human trials, but we have to wait years to get them to the public.
Of course there is massive cost to consider in some cases, but I don’t know about eteplirsen. Public health advocates can have a terrible time deciding if a few people can have an expensive drug vs. a lot of people getting a cheap one. For instance, how many doses of polio vaccine would you trade for one of eteplirsen? These are the realities of government budgets. I wouldn’t like to do it, would you?

 

Originally posted on Health & Family:

Austin and Max Leclaire are brothers. Austin is older, Max is younger. Like most siblings, they have many things in common and just as many that set them apart. For now, though, their strongest bond is over something they share — Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), the most common lethal genetic disorder among children. Duchenne’s hallmark is increasing muscle weakness that eventually makes it hard to breathe and confines kids to wheelchairs, which is where Austin finds himself these days. Now 14, he lost the ability to walk four years ago, a development that helps explain why the disease looks so different in the two brothers today.

Because Max, 11, was still able to put one foot in front of another in the summer of 2011, he was eligible to enroll in a drug trial for Eteplirsen, which is designed for children like the Leclaire brothers who have trouble producing a protein…

View original 1,502 more words

What’s affected me this week?

I was chatting to a friend at aquarobics this morning and he said that I tend to promote a lot of causes and “sad cases” on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. He thought this was all very noble but he felt that I should try to communicate about happier themes, since I am becoming like the national news! Maybe I would be able to dig myself out of my frequent depression by latching onto cheerful topics.

Bird & lotus

Bird & lotus

Now, I hadn’t noticed that I was negative in this way before and it hurts a little to think that the things I am most passionate about – affordable health care for all, looking after our ecology and food supply, reducing the use of manufactured chemicals in our food and environment which could enter our bodies, using discussion not weapons to solve national, tribal and territorial disputes and being at least civil (if not kind) to each other and to animals – seem negative. All these things tend to occupy my mind during the day, when I am mostly alone, since I don’t go to work like my partner. How am I going to change these themes around? Perhaps I could seek out positive stories or I could blog about other topics altogether. Would anyone like to weigh in?

Bronwyn Clee was saying, in her blog announcing #52b52w that:

Ideally all posts will be authentic and informative and have a clear message.

I’m not so sure about sticking to all three guidelines all of the time. However, I’m being authentic in asking for some ideas on how I can be more positive. I’m just not into positive affirmations like “I write uplifting blog posts” for motivating myself, although I’ve adopted the

Almost 22

Almost 22

practice of putting Smiley stickers on lots of things. Some friends have been mildly shocked by finding the Smileys on my laptop, phone and handbag! For a long time I had an excellent Smiley on the kettle so that I could smile at it every morning. It even had a name, Edwin, and I would say good morning to Edwin & grin cheesily as soon as I got up. One positive step I can take is to put a replacement Edwin sticker on the kettle right now!

Ending on a positive note! How did I do?

Finding hope

I’ve joined the 52 blog posts in 52 weeks blogathon started by Bronwyn Clee, so I thought I would announce my theme. My personal goal is to find hope for the longer term future for myself.

If you’ve ever visited this blog before you might have noticed I get visited by the Black Dog quite a lot, although less during the past 12 months [yayy!]. Hearing about my miseries may have put you off coming back, so I’m resolving to pursue a happier path if I can, blogging about daily events and topics that take my fancy, tying it all back to the “HOPE” theme.Cawfee

Just a bit about the “setting conditions” so you know where I’m starting from this year:

I’m now over 60, feel as though I’m about 30; I live with my partner Steve, aka “Spotrick”, and currently, three cats: Moustiers [nearly 22 years old], Mogadon [six] and Bendix [four]. No kids or grandkids courtesy of mistaken genetic instructions. I’ve had several “careers” and I had been hoping for a new one, but it hasn’t happened. Firstly I was a junior sort of university lecturer (in developmental psychology), then I was a researcher in mental health (mainly on a psychiatry ward of a general hospital with eating disorder patients), then a general public health and computer network dogsbody all over the place. I’ve been doing a Masters in Public Health over the last several years and have finished except for the details that I and my supervisor need to decide about my dissertation/journal article. Hopefully I can sneak into the April Graduation Ceremony.

I V

I V

This year has a loose plan of generating some longer term hope for me and I don’t plan on applying for any more jobs because that could mean pressure and negative mood triggers. My application to volunteer at the South Australian Museum for one day per week is being considered right now and I hope to get that so I can introduce some outside structure into my week. If successful, I will be part of one 4-person team among several, which will digitise the non-written Aboriginal artefacts the museum holds in storage. Only 2% of the collection is ever on display, so we have the other 98% to record in detailed photographs and notes before they need to change the display again! It sounds like quite an intriguing project. We will be cataloguing everything from tiny pieces of bark cloth to whole canoes hewn from trees.

When I get this structure to my week, there are other things I would like to fit around it such as doing more online courses to keep my brain alive, rallying people in the field of public health around Australia to use online social media to keep up to date and have short meetings, my various crafty hobbies, continue my Street Name Alphabet photography project started last year, keep socialising with friends every second day on my shrink’s prescription[!] and make our small garden beautiful again by looking after what’s there and adding to it. That’s plenty to do, I reckon, without having any pressure or time limits and should keep me moving forward while I search for long term hope.

Knowing that most of the other bloggers in the  #52b52w crowd have jobs/careers/family commitments to occupy their time, it might seem a bit weird to have my sort of goals, but that’s the way it is and I’m sticking to it.

Hopefully I can gain some ideas that will lead me towards my goal by seeing how the rest of you are travelling towards your goals and futures in your blogs. Happy blogging  #52b52w crowd.

 

Would you call an ambulance?

Yesterday we traveled with some friends for lunch at Angas Plains Winery, south of Adelaide. As we set off the weather was mild and quite a few children’s fluffy clouds drifted across the sky. We anticipated a warm, leisurely time under the open verandah at our destination, being plied with tapas-style food and rich red wine. Lovely.

Well, we did eventually enjoy our lunch, but were interrupted repeatedly by something rather bizarre and frankly scary!

As we started our first bottle of wine and ordered our food I saw a couple entering the verandah area, the woman apparently frail and leaning on her much larger companion’s arm. This wasn’t particularly alarming, but then suddenly the male companion was on the ground! I watched as several people rushed over to them and discovered the man must have either passed out for a second or had tripped and bumped his head on a deck chair. They seemed to have things under control, seating the man and woman and moving a table to them for their meal. Apparently the couple were from Berlin in Germany and had driven a hire car from Sydney, NSW over the past ten days, planning on leaving from Adelaide in four more days time.

We got to eating and enjoying ourselves again, suitably distracted from the upset and trying not to have an argument about climate change! Our food selection involved some fantastic sourdough bread, gleaming gold olive oil and a very tasty homemade dukkah. This was followed by a selection of prawn & spice dim sum, some chorizo, chicken & chili kebabs and spannakopita (spinach & ricotta in filo pastry triangles). We succumbed to dessert later, despite having vowed to avoid it as a health hazard!

However, our meal was interrupted again by the wobbly German couple attempting to depart. Sure enough, as soon as the guy stood up, he keeled over. He managed to collapse in a sitting position this time, but skinned both his arms, tore his finger tips and nails on the left and I soon noticed some blood seeping through the knee of his trousers. A crowd of helpers gathered around and managed to keep him seated against the big barn door there as I tried to get some info from the couple. First, I asked the woman if her husband’s medication had been changed recently. “No” she said, “not for years”. [!!] I asked if he was on medication for hypertension, his heart or his balance and I don’t think her English was up to it. She just told me “It’s his diabetes. He’s always falling over. That’s how he is”. So I just told her they ought to take him back to the doctor when they reached home, silently thinking I should really call an ambulance, as the guy looked deathly pale and didn’t seem able to speak.

After cleaning his wounds and staying with the couple a while, the guy wanted to stand up and get in their car, but it was parked about 100metres away in a gravel-covered carpark. This was hopeless, so I got the woman to give the car keys to Spotrick to bring the car right over near the door. After helping the guy sit in the car and recover [??] his faculties, we left them to it, sitting down again to resume our meal.

As soon as the hire car took off, we could all see (and hear) that the guy had left the handbrake on!! He slowed & stopped before attempting to turn left and out of the carpark and we all heaved a sigh of relief that he had discovered his oversight.

But ohs noez!! He roared off again, rear wheels stationary and dragging behind the car, gravel spitting everywhere from the front tyres! Suddenly I was off after them, breaking the world land speed record in my inadequate strappy sandals! I got abreast of the driver’s window, waving my arms and yelling “Stop! Stop!”. For what seemed like ages, he continued to force the car along, speeding up! I found a further burst of acceleration myself and managed to run a bit ahead of him, catching his attention with my flailing arms! 

Phew! He stopped and rolled down the window. I told him & made gestures with my hands to snap off the handbrake and he realised his mistake and drove off OK.

Should I have called an ambulance?

I really thought about calling the ambos as none of us thought that man was safe to drive, but he wasn’t drunk so the manager couldn’t take his car keys legally and I can imagine the fiery reaction! Probably the couple were dead scared that the guy would be hospitalised in Australia where he couldn’t speak the language and no one knew his medical history. His wife was not brave enough to attempt to drive here on the “wrong” side of the road though I think I would have been tempted in her position. Neither person seemed to have any idea that the guy was suffering multiple medical problems besides a bit of Type 2 diabetes and seemed never to have heard the words “hypertension” or “high blood pressure” in English anyway.

I hope they get safely back to Germany, without needing a stretcher and oxygen on the plane! Scary stuff.

What will keep me going in 2013?

Just gathering my wits at the moment to make a blog post. I managed to get through 2012 with a few wobbles in the middle surrounding mis-haps in the arts and the inability to intervene in the fate of a beautiful cat. Around Christmas things were better than the previous year due to a win in the arts, brought swiftly to earth by an abrasive encounter at a pre-Christmas party.

On the upside, I managed to recover from the abrasive encounter with the support of dear friends and family, plus juggling my pills and vitamins! Currently I feel pretty good and I’ll do my best to continue along this trajectory.

Several things lying around the house (never tidy, but usually not a pigsty) have reminded me that reading has been a good tonic in the past, so I am glad to have a large pile of reading to look forward to this year too. Sonia Faleiro‘s book Beautiful Thing. Portrait of a Bombay bar dancer, is still sitting on the edge of the coffee table, reminding me how surprisingly moving some books can be. I was captivated by this tale of the knife-edge existence of a young woman with the “ambition” to be a genuine dancer, not just a roughly used barmaid. Convinced that her life was quite positive compared to others in India, she made me realise how different circumstances shape different personalities and how everyone has their own frame for their dreams of a “better life”.

While there is nothing in my “to-read” pile that promises to be as inspiring as that book, there are plenty that will keep me occupied with mayhem and mystery!  eg. Michael Connelly‘s The Black Box. He’s always a good read.

Spotrick gave me for Christmas a little book of poems titled I Could Pee on This and other poems by cats.(Author Francesco Marciuliano). On the cover is a cheeky ginger & white kitten who looks similar to our Bendix. The contents are hilarious and are good cheer-ups if I’m feeling a bit meh. Here’s the beginning of “Unbridled love”:
I knead your chest with my sharp claws
To show you my affection
I bite your arm and don’t let go
To show you adoration…

That is sooo characteristic although I wish there was something I could do about the biting! My forearms sometimes get gory teeth-marks from those “adoring” chomps- ye-owww.

I could pee on that

I could pee on that

Books are generally for bedtime reading for me, whereas I often get occupied with online courses during the day while Spotrick is at work. While in 2012 I was finishing my Masters degree, with that merely needing some corrections this month, I’ll have more time to concentrate on other things. Last year I did some online courses through EdX and Coursera including “Listening to World Music”, and “HarvardX: PH207x Health in Numbers: Quantitative Methods in Clinical & Public Health Research” , gaining course credits that could be used in real life if I wanted that. Several other courses I sampled, but didn’t complete formal assessment were Computing for Data Analysis (4 weeks of learning to progam in R), CalTech‘s Machine Learning and Community Models of Public Health . I have just started “Economics for Scientists”  as I think it will help me understand more about health economics and the political economy of health, with the hope of enrolling for a PhD connected with those later in the year.

Incidentally, I was stunned to hear of the death of the man who practically invented the “political economy of health” . Gavin Mooney was murdered in Tasmania, along with his second wife Del Weston, whose son from a previous marriage is being held in connection with their cruel slaying. I only met Gavin late last year at a seminar and he seemed a great believer in making the best health facilities available to the most disadvantaged people. He was a lovely guy, and was obviously held in very high regard by people throughout the community as seen by the tributes in Melissa Sweet’s Croakey blog.

Not ruminating about things like the previous paragraph is something I have to develop this year and I have become sufficiently motivated (I think) to get back to some of my art & craft activities, like knitting and quilting. I meant to make some cushions for several friends for Christmas, but time flew by too fast while I was finishing off the degree. Though Christmas is almost a distant memory, I’ll keep going on the cushion project, starting with a log cabin pattern in greens for a friend who has an unusual green leather lounge suite.

Green theme

Green theme

These fabrics are in the mix and I am putting my new electric scissors to work cutting the strips just right as my wrists and thumbs are wrecked for working with manual ones.

There’s a lot of fabric hanging around here that needs to be made into clothing as well, but I’ve been very slack on the sewing for many years- I can’t get moving on it. This year I’ll get out some projects and see what happens- maybe inspiration will stay with me for a while. I really like these bright, lightweight cottons for making summer dresses and tops:

The garden is starting to look more lush than it has since we moved in, largely due to Spotrick’s efforts in tidying up old plants and pots. I’ve also been blitzing the plants with plenty of fertiliser and misting water under the larger ones on hot days. My ambition is to almost obscure the courtyard walls!