Talking

It really is ok to talk about mental health. So why does it still feel so hard to do it? But talking is so important. We need to make it routine. So let’s talk about my depression.

I’ve been struggling with mild depression for a few weeks now. Actually maybe much longer. Feeling hemmed in. Hemmed in but kinda thankful I’m not physically meeting people. Low confidence and minimal self esteem. More hesitant. Finding routine tasks much harder. Difficult sleeping. Feeling emotionally worn out. Finding it just a little harder to smile.

It seems to have stabilised. Not getting any worse but no signs of improvement as yet. I do have an old supply of anti depressant but I haven’t used them as yet. So I’m plodding on. Trying to avoid the news and taking each day as it is. Trying to focus on the positives in my life and there are some wonderful ones. Need to remember that.

Yes it’s good to talk.

Snow

A little bit of snow. It does change the feel of the landscape.

We don’t often get lots of snow here. Not talking about a dusting, I mean really deep stuff. The last time that happened we were a family of 3. My partner would be out with her wooden ruler to measure the snow depth. She would do that before we could go out and wreck the snow with sledging, snow angels and snowmen. 2010 was a really good year for that. Yes a good year. Relatively healthy partner, a bouncy toddler and lots of snow. Too deep for the ruler. Well over 30cm and it stayed around for about 5 weeks. Good times.

So much has happened since then. It’s such a different world. It’s a much smaller family now.

Maybe deep snow will arrive again. That wooden ruler is still here. Measuring the depth will then pass to Hawklad.

Life moves on.

Silly little things.

I think I might be on top of things. The mind is heading in the right direction. I’m in a decent place and then….

And then something sneaks up on me. With me it’s often seemingly a silly little thing. Suddenly the friendly wind is taken from my sails.

I couldn’t sleep late last night. Just wasn’t feeling tired so I decided to watch a movie. Something requiring no thinking power. So I went for a mindless comedy. Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Haven’t seen that in decades.

The last time I watched this movie I was in a different place in life. Life was still yet to really hit me. So the movies ending never really registered. Well it did last night. Wow did it register.

Spoiler alert………

The jolly and silly little movie closes with Steve Martin sudden realising that the chap he had spent the last 48 hours in travelling hell might not be as happily married as he had thought. He goes back to find him sat alone in a cold train station waiting room. His wife had died 8 years ago, he was alone and suffering.

That scene just really hit me. So unexpected. I’ve been there. I was that man. I might still be that man. I so could imagine what he felt like, sat alone in that cold bleak place. Watching others live and seemingly having no where to go.

The movie ended well but I was shaken. Sad, confused, anxious. Even after many hours I’m still feeling shaky. All from one silly movie.

The next time I watch a late night thing then let’s play it safe. It’s QVC or Scooby Doo or the Real Fire Channel for me…..

Worn out

It’s a cold, bleak start to the day. Kind of feels like a black and white photo is the way to go.

I was thinking about how a break would be most welcome. Especially today.

We all need a break every so often. Either a change. Or a time to relax. Or a chance to really let the hair down. A chance to experience new lands. Or just a time to breathe.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that I am so fortunate with my life. Far too many have so little and are in such dark place. But today I’m feeling just a little worn out. Tired. Thinking back to my last break back in 2015. A lots happened since then. Some good but some really bad. Since 2016 it’s been single Aspergers parenting, fighting the system for our son and trying to eke out an income to pay the bills. Feels like it’s been non stop. A few concerts with Hawklad and taking him to see the occasional sport event. A few walks and up to this year, trail runs. So yes things to be thankful for. But…

But today I just feel worn out. In need of a break. Even just a night away from the house. A different bed. It’s been over 5 years since I’ve done that. But deep down I know that’s not happening any time soon. Asperger parenting is something that you can just can’t drop. Certainly not for a few more years. Maybe longer. So it’s about finding other ways to feel less worn out. Exploiting the options that are open to me and also being thankful for what I have. There are such beautiful things in my life.

We can do this.

Cinema

It’s that time of year. A definite feel to the movies we have watched. Can you see the theme.

Scrooged

Home Alone 1, 2, 3, 5

The Grinch

A Christmas Carol

Muppets Christmas Carol

The Santa Clause 1,2,3

Elf

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

The Polar Express.

For me I just can’t quite catch the connection. Sure there must be one if I look hard enough.

One of the things that feels amiss this most odd year (that doesn’t work as 2020 is even) is the cinema experience. Before Hawklad we would always have a Christmas trip to the pictures (as my mum would have said). A meal before hand and then a movie. Such a lovely experience. So many wonderful memories.

Taking my mum to see The Horse Whisperer on Boxing Day. She hadn’t been to the pictures in 40 years. She was most puzzled not to watch the Pathe News segment before the movie. She refused to get up at the end and waited until the credits played through. Apparently she was waiting for the National Anthem to be played…

Trips with my partner to see huge blockbusters on Christmas Eve like the Lord of the Rings Movies. Then coming out in time to sing carols in the city centre.

Even after the world changed Hawklad and I kept the tradition going. A changed Aspergers tradition. We would take in the first, early morning screenings of movies like Jumanji and the Rise of Skywalker. Popcorn at 8am works on so many levels. Then we would go and get him his favourite takeout. All before midday.

But this year it’s no cinema. Any trip is just so out of reach for Hawklad and his anxieties. The world has changed. Even the prospect of Wonder Woman and Black Widow epics won’t overcome those fears. Maybe the trips to the Pictures have stopped for good. We will just have to see what the future holds but life goes on. It’s time to recreate that Christmas tradition at home. So we will pick a movie. A good movie. Set the dvd off at 8am. Microwaved popcorn in plentiful supply. The Christmas Cinema tradition continues.

Can you spot

Can you spot the photobombing bird…

Can you spot the grassy hill that on every single step you sink 3 inches into the mud…

We put the Christmas tree up the other day. And it was another CAN YOU SPOT moment.

Hawklad put the decorations up after I had disinfected them. Then I spotted it. A tree decoration with writing on. Three names. Our names. I had forgotten about that one. That was a link to a different time. A different life. A very different feeling Christmas.

Every day it’s amazing what you can spot.

Dreaded

It’s always lovely to get cards through the post. Well almost always…

That dreaded card dropped through the letter box today. Don’t need to open it. Just look at the name on the front. My partners name.

This is now the fifth Christmas since the world changed. Over that period virtually everyone who needs to know, knows. So THOSE cards are rare. But not rare enough. When I see my partners name above the address my heart sinks. It’s a reminder of what is no more. It’s also a sign that somebody still doesn’t know.

The card is from someone who clearly knew my partner well. The message on the card makes that clear. This person also sends a Christmas and Birthday card without fail. The first name rings a bell but not a clue on the surname. Not a clue on the sender address. The postmark doesn’t give any clues. I will go through the address book (again) but my partner would often use nicknames rather first names. Needle in a haystack.

It’s amazing how one little card can take so much wind out of my sails.

Help

This is my favourite place to put my hot drink mug. Just the right size. Nice height. Views over the farmers fields. It was kind of the people who built the house to put this here all those years ago.

Sometimes you just have to do things yourself.

I remember having a conversation with a leading clinical psychologist just before she retired. She told me about the UK Health Service and its approach to kids like Hawklad. She was so disheartened. Increasingly parents have to fight for any support. The Government (this government) are intentionally making it more difficult to access public services and receive support. The view from the top is that it’s not the responsibility of tax payers to fund these things. It’s down to the individual. The more you can afford the better the service you can secure. The psychologist warned me that as soon as Hawklad became a teenager the services which have been secured will start to ebb away. Reviews by ‘independent’ managers will suddenly find him just above the support threshold and he will be removed from the support list. When he gets to adult life she said the support would be completely gone.

Hawklad turned 13 this year so where do we stand…..

  • He hasn’t seen a Paediatrician in two years (was supposed to be every 6 months). He has dropped down the priority list and is at the wrong end of the waiting list.
  • Zero help from school on his dyslexia. The NHS is prevented from providing any support as it has to come from Education budgets now.
  • Zero help with his Aspergers. The psychologist was not replaced when she retired and the service is on hold (4 years now).
  • Zero help with his ADHD as he was reassessed as being above threshold.
  • He did receive physio therapy help with his dyspraxia. He was due to start a programme to help with his writing and keyboard difficulties. But two weeks before the programme was due he was seen by an Independent assessor (never worked with Hawklad before). After 3 quick tests which lasted 4 minutes he was assessed as being above threshold and the service was withdrawn.
  • Grief Counselling still officially waiting…
  • The last support he has is an anxiety counselling service. But sine his last wonderful support worker was moved on, the service has started to dwindle away. No idea when the next support session will happen. He’s unable to venture out of his house ot touch objects due to his anxieties BUT as he is not in physical danger then he is classed as a low priority.

Sometimes predictions come true.

Sometimes you have to do things yourself .

Lift

It’s amazing what difference a little bit of sun makes. It’s a pleasant landscape. Last week or so it was the perfect landscape for a moody horror movie. Think Hound of the Baskervilles, think the start of American Werewolf in London.

Sometimes life is hard to fathom. You would have thought that the better weather would lift my overall mood. Pick me up. Bring smiles. Well that’s the theory….

So why was I stood in this field feeling down. Sad. Melancholy. Lonely. What was wrong with this view.

How can that happen. Is there something wrong with me. Am I missing something.

It was a while later before the penny dropped. For weeks my view has been restricted. Often no further than the next fence. Yes it was moody, it was also a limited view. No evidence of a wider world out there.

Suddenly the world opened up again today. My gaze lifted. It is such a beautiful world and yet it’s out of reach to me. No real chance of heading towards (or past) those distant hills. 950 miles that way takes me to the Swiss Alps. Look in another direction and it’s family and friends. Look behind me and it’s a frustrating football club and then the mountains of Scotland. Several thousands miles in another direction and it’s….

Those things have been out of reach. In all probability they will be well out of reach for a large part of 2021 (maybe much longer).

That’s why my mood fell. I was reminded of life’s potential. Reminded of life’s current constraints.

But I will keep telling myself that there is always hope. Maybe tomorrow if the sun is out again then my gaze will lift my mood as well.

Mud

Mud glorious mud. If only we could sell mud then we would be quids in.

Sometimes it feels like life is just a constant trudge through waste deep thick, clinging mud. Much harder than it was supposed to be? Was parenting supposed to be this demanding? Was the bank account supposed to be that empty? Was the career supposed to abruptly come to an end? Was my social diary supposed to be as empty as my bank account? Was I supposed to be this out of synch with life? Was grief supposed to hurt that much? Was I supposed to be walking these fields on my own? Why did depression and anxiety have to come knocking at my door?

But wait. Mud is good for the complexion. It keeps you grounded. Walking through it makes you stronger over time. You learn things about yourself. You grow. So……

Does a large bank balance matter – NO IT DOES NOT. Is living rather than following a career a better route to happiness – YES IT IS. So is parenting supposed to be this good and rewarding – YES IT IS. Is grief just another way of saying you love someone – OH YES IT IS. Do your real friends and those who truly love you always stick with you – YES THEY DO. Can I overcome my demons – YES I CAN.

Is it still a wonderful life – YES IT IS. It most certainly is.