Deities vs denigration. Or how to stop dwelling on things.

I was trying to locate some pointers on rumination that I felt were suitable to my own situation, being depressed. A few behaviourally oriented ones sounded good while others went all god-dy and totally put me off. What is the point of a deity saving you after you are dead to make everything right? You’re dead then and have no life to BE good FFS!

When I read the attached account of a woman grieving for her prematurely-departed husband I thought she was making more of a hole for herself by denigrating her own worthiness as a human and potential partner. Somehow I need to steer between deities and denigration!

My concept of myself is not that bad; I think I am worthy of love, praise and comfort and I have a fair measure of each. My social network is rather lacking at the moment and I haven’t had the cheerfulness or energy to cultivate it, so I feel a bit disconnected but NOT lonely. I am quite happy with spending every day alone, my only contact with the world through my laptop or tablet. However, my social situation of 90% isolation is NOT good for curing myself of ruminating. While I don’t blame myself for being depressed currently, being alone is provocation for negative thoughts about anything. A few years ago I was able to keep my mind active with online courses and I learned some amazing stuff. Recently though I have been unable to get out of my unproductive ruminative loops in order to learn new stuff, so unfinished online courses are just more negatives that I don’t need right now.

Iceland poppies

Iceland poppies

My Mindfulness practice has helped to a certain extent but it is not strong enough to keep all my head-crap at bay all the time. Doing something active like my hobbies would be great too, but I am in the middle of a very stuck period and haven’t got past first base with several projects that are lovely in themselves. Seeing the endpoint in my mind doesn’t seem to have the push-power it should. Somehow, my unfathomable feeling that things are not “right” gets in the way. Please contribute some ideas if you have tried successfully to fix your own stuck-ness or ruminations.

Here is the woman who is down on herself in her grief:

REALITY: WHY IT IS LIKELY THAT A LIFETIME OF LONELINESS AWAITS ME.

 

When will things be RIGHT?

Over-wintering ducks

Over-wintering ducks

Hello Kind Readers (if any of you check back here),

I am in the grip of a two-year plague of procrastination and holding back from whatever I am holding back from. Somehow I am writing this, so I have now conquered a tiny section of it, inspired by commenting on Lori Stone’s piece, The hard work of fun. This was my comment on her struggles with perfectionism in everyday life:

 

  • I DO have trouble letting go and having fun! However the big block in my chakra is procrastination while in the grip of the Black Dog. Somehow the conditions for having fun – having anything at all – must be “right” before I can let go. My head is constantly full of ideas to create and see and do and learn but I can’t make myself DO anything because the conditions have not become “right”. Unlike you and your perfectionism, I don’t mind if things are out-of-line, messy, incomplete or whatever unless it’s something like driving the car or taking the correct dose of pills. But, yep, I’m having a lot of trouble having fun. When will things be “right”? 

The depression around the shortest day of Winter has been worse this year than for several years but I have been coping marginally by trying to practise some useful habits like mindfulness meditation, regular exercise, taking my pills and almost cutting out alcohol (normally I only have a few glasses of wine per week, but now I’m down to zero for a while). However I cry easily, quickly become irritated by certain people and things and spend a lot of time huddled under the quilt mindlessly playing word games on the device. I have managed to keep up with the washing, aquarobics (mostly), looking after my painful wrists, cat maintenance, preparing 50% of meals, going to Wednesday night dinners and keeping the bathroom mould at bay.

I won’t mention things I HAVEN’T managed as that would be allowing negative stuff to intrude on my achievements! I do confess to having missed one or two showers in the past three months but that’s it.

Purple haze

Purple haze

Getting down to the nitty-gritty: What is stopping me from having fun? What conditions must be met before I can let go and enjoy my time? Should I go back and have some more counseling? But I know what the psychologist would suggest and I’m obviously not getting on with the job, so – duh.

Admittedly I have had some setbacks in my life the past few years but most of them have been worked through although some could use still more effort. Lack of cash stopped being an issue a few months ago which is the best and biggest boost to life I’ve had in decades! However Spotrick says my generosity has brought more troubles upon me and that is true to a certain extent, but why are people so demanding and judgmental? Disappointment in human nature is definitely part of my current low mood although that hasn’t been the problem for long. Before that I had some big hiccups around money, with the tax department chasing me over imaginary debts and then trying to fine me thousands of dollars for not reporting my non-existent income. I also have continuing problems with my bank where they keep cutting off online access because I am too slow (apparently) inputting my security numbers (my hands are not wonderful any more). It is so frustrating and I feel so helpless because I am being “punished” for a disability. After I get cut off things snowball as creditors start contacting me for automatic debits that have ceased etc etc I just want to relax and have a life. With no job, alone all day and no family I COULD be quite OK except for these money hassles I don’t need at ANY time.

We have green winters

We have green winters

When I Tweeted about not being able to start anything,

  • I’m definitely in the wilderness again. Empty horizons in all directions. How to escape?

    @LaLegale replied:
    Rather than “escape”, create. Imagine your life as a blank tapestry, which you embroider with the things that you do every day.

But that’s exactly what I CAN’T do – my life IS a blank tapestry and I can’t make myself start the bloody embroidery. Who would want to embroider on the topic of the washing or cleaning the floor beneath the cats’ bowls?

So, sweet readers, how can I start or get some enthusiasm for the various projects I would LOVE to do including photographing stuff, getting back into film (rather than digital), sewing, knitting, and yes, tapestry; also I almost wrote the first draft of a novel during NaNoWriMo last year, so when will I resume writing, blogging regularly here and on my Health for Humans blog; there are some songs to work on, bits of the garden to rejuvenate, yummy things to cook, places to visit, people I’d love to see more of, and holidays to plan?? Ideas, quick, please!

Finding richness in the shade

Finding richness in the shade

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.

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?

A simple glass of water

Only too well I know how distractible I am when my mood is not topnotch. To illustrate, let me tell you the saga of my attempt to get a glass of water to wash down my lunch of almonds and fresh fruit.

1. Into the kitchen I go. The devil kitty (Ms Moustiers Ste Marie, “don’t mess with me”, toothless, 21 years old and chief Demand-0-Cat) yowls for food; I fed her half a dish of chicken about 15 minutes ago.

2. Searching on the sink for the rinsed catfood spoon, I discover it has been left dirty, so I wash it.

3. I have to find a new container of catfood in the pantry.

4. Feed kitty.

5. Notice that last nights debris has not been sorted, parceled and sent bin-wards.

6. Wrap two lots of discards & recyclables.

Fantasy in the backyard

Fantasy in the backyard

7. Take rubbish to bins, which have been left in the drive from yesterdays garbage collection run (just rubbish & metal/glass/paper recyclables, not green recyclables).
8. Go into garage to dispose of green waste.

9. Of course I noticed while out the front that I had parked the car on a tiny sliver of garden hose sticking out from the garden bed. Must shift it.

10. Into the house, fetching the car keys & promptly yowled at by THAT cat again.

11. Move car- get out, lock it. Still parked it on another piece of hose.

12. Two more car moves, including out onto the street; at last nothing is caught under the wheels.

13. Re-inflate squashed hose by running high-power jet through it for 30 seconds.

14. Back inside, feed kitty again.

15. Get clean glass, fill with tap water.

16. Sit down again,

 

I’m Everywhere I’m Everywhere [in the USA]

HowManyOfMe.com
Logo There are
207
people with the name Kay Walker in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Since I’m Australian, the proportion would work out that there are probably 14 or 15 of us over here!

When I was on Facebook I had 7 Friends named Kay Walker. We used to wish each other Happy Birthday & Merry Christmas. I am keenly following the education and career of one of us who is a college student at a place oddly named [to me] Quinnipiac University & has a small photography business. My regular readers will know I’m also a keen photographer.

Kay Walkers of the world

Kay Walkers of the world

On Google Plus I have a Circle titled Kay Walkers of the World with 6 members so far! At one stage when I was a health researcher and publishing regularly, I discovered two other Kay Walkers in academia, both of whom were also in health: one in nursing research and the other in allergy. I know of three MALE Kay Walkers, but none have joined me on any of the social media sites. Where are you, guys?

While I was researching some health conditions in Australia, a person with my name presented themselves for an assessment interview, so Kay Walker interviewed Kay Walker. Another coincidence was when I was registering for the local artists’ festival [SALA] as a glass artist and discovered I had already registered as a print artist! That was a bit scary!

Cat by printmaker Kay Walker

The Cat Bed by printmaker Kay Walker

Lastly, there is also a TV director/producer in Australia with my name which explained a very strange incident where I was sent an urgent message to please contact someone on a TV show team in Sydney NSW. When I rang the number they were very puzzled to hear I was a health researcher from Adelaide, not the prospective producer they wanted to employ!!

 

Has anyone else had such amusing or alarming experiences with name-doubles?

By the way, although there are so many Kay Walkers, I have absolutely no problem with identity confusion! I know who I am. Who are those others??

Obviously lots of us die all the time, eg. there were at least ten pages of obituaries at http://www.iannounce.co.uk/United-Kingdom/23/Obituary/obit?_fstatus=search&keywords=Kay%20WALKER

We're dying everywhere!

We’re dying everywhere!

But I couldn’t find any new birth announcements- I think Kay is a little passe!

 

Disaster – OMG!

Yep- that “little” thing that sends the whole day to hell, is one of my most destructive habits! My therapist & I call this “disaster-ising” and I really have to keep trying hard to stamp it out. [Does anyone else remember the “father” of Cognitive Therapy, Albert Ellis, whose Rational Emotive Therapy talked about disasterizing and awfulization?]

Dr Albert Ellis

Something ALWAYS seems to happen when I’m doing a trivial or loathed task that “puts me off” for the rest of the day. It’s often when I’m getting our breakfast things out of the dishwasher- a glass that’s been leaning on a cup crashes down on its side, breaking. My automatic thought is “Oh no- that’s terrible- the whole day is going on bypass while I deal with this unthinkable occurrence!”

I KNOW why I do this also- but 55 years of fearing the same thing is A BIT MUCH!! I still react as I did as a kid when, if anything I was near, broke or was dropped, I’d get yelled at- “naughty, bad, WHY?, smack, shout, smack” from my father. Mum would HIDE broken stuff from him when he wasn’t there- he was just irrational- obviously doing his own disaster-ising. However, the emotional wreckage & humiliation persisted and when I’m in a down phase, it leaps out & gets me.

All I can do is “self-talk” and maybe play a silly video like Eddie Izard’s “DeathStar Canteen”. Most times currently I might be able to do a few mundane things after a breakage, but it still stops me from doing pleasurable stuff, like hobbies. I just try to carry on regardless, thinking “Accidents will happen- the world is a chaotic place- get on with the day”.

Thanks for the reminder post, Natasha!

This post was inspired by Natasha Tracy’s blog post Emotional OverReactions – Depression.