“12 Ways to Cope with Chronic Pain and Depression”

I often assert, when the question of depression and chronic pain come up, that I am not depressed; that if my pain was to disappear tomorrow I would be happy and all would be good in the world again. Perhaps a year or two ago that might have been true (or perhaps not). But as time has gone on and the effects of chronic pain on my entire life, including my emotional wellbeing, has taken its toll, I am slowly considering that perhaps it’s no longer just chronic pain and the direct effects it has on my ability to live my life how I want that gets me down. Maybe, my psychological state has been actually altered as a result of pain and lack of movement, medication side effects, and huge drops in taking part in those things that have historically provided me with the chemicals and hormones that make us feel happy and content; that if my pain did go away tomorrow I may still need to work on my emotional health a bit longer.

Now, I am still not saying that I am depressed. That’s a hard thing to admit to. But, I will admit that my emotional health needs some TLC. Ploughing through pretending it’s all going to sort itself out someone is not an answer any more, and my emotional health has taken some battering. I do reach for ways to improve my mood and help me feel better about myself.  I will tentatively do things to try to help, then throw my toys out of the pram reminding myself this is all down to pain and if I sort that out, I won’t be depressed, so I need to work on getting better. 

I’ve just read a great blog from Arthritis Health, called “12 Ways to Cope with Chronic Pain and Depression”. I guess I like it because, whether I am, or am not depressed as a result of my chronic pain, whether I accept I am depressed or don’t accept it, it has helped to remind me that changing holistic aspects of my life for the better will only benefit me. It will benefit anyone else suffering from chronic pain who might, or might not be depressed as a result, or for other reasons. 

We need to take care of our emotional health, whether or not we suffer from chronic pain; more if we have chronic pain, as our psychological self has a continual pounding as well as our physical self. I am going to work a little more on addressing my mental health needs, so that if I am depressed, I can move out of that space. And if I am not depressed, it will till help me to build my feel-good vibes, which will in turn help me manage my chronic pain.

For those that don’t like hovering – here’s the link to the article:

http://www.arthritis-health.com/living-arthritis/managing-depression/12-ways-cope-chronic-pain-and-depression

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For My Summer Girl. “HOME”.

My flat is my favourite place to be right now, shall I tell you why and how? I don’t have too much. ok, perhaps too much clutter. but material things, well they don’t really matter. I can’t open some cupboards as the hinges are broke, the kitchen wall’s falling down and the garden (yard) is a joke. We’ve not fixed the skirting and the kids room needs some paint. But we have other priorities,  stressed? well we ain’t. So what do I love about this place that is mine? I sleep here, I love here, where I spend all my time. My children were raised here, memories were formed, it’s cosy and comfy and snug and it’s warm. We have a door with a lock to shut the world out there. We have colour and brightness and laughter and cheer. There are books everywhere, cooking smells and incense, drums and guitars, music and fun. Toys are not kept in one place hidden, there is no room to which entry’s forbidden. We have plenty of space with high ceilings, nooks and crannies, room to play hide and seek, room to put up visiting granny. Big bay windows that let me try to grow plants in pots, although if I’m honest, green-fingered, no, I’m not. I feel safe here, I belong here, I don’t want to leave this place, would not trade it in for lots more space. It’s my home, the kids’ home, R’s home, and also our cats’. There is Nowhere I want to be more than snuggled up in this flat. 

– For My Summer Girl aged 6 and a half.

Back From a Blog Break

I needed some time out. I have had a really hard few weeks. In many ways, but not least due to a major relapse. And yes I know the whole point of my blog is to moan and whine (wine) about my back problems, but it has been so all encompassing I needed to step back from it a little. As it happened, I didn’t do that, but was thrown full force into my back problems swallowing me whole and eating the identity that was once Me.

But that must change. So this blog may take a new direction. I don’t know how, but, I cannot just be, as my daughter stated last week when I put some make-up on for the first time in a while, as I was so sick of being asked how I was, people commenting on how bad I look, how much weight I had lost etc etc, I wanted to be seen as someone who looked well again – that I was ‘wearing make-up to show that I have beauty and not just a bad back.

I have bought some new clothes (I really have lost a lot of weight – my new ‘butt-lift’ jeans have nothing to lift up, so just hangs there baggy), some new make-up (got some free with No.7 voucher and a little spend, just my colour, sparkly black eye shadow!), had a child-free day today. Rock and Roll me!

Today is ‘Thankful Thursday’

I am dedicating Thursday Blogs to being Thankful for my life. A quote, a song, a poem, something about my week, some thoughts aloud.

I have an album, ‘Society’ by Eddie Vedder and Jerry Hannan, written for Into the Wild. Every time I hear it, it gets me emotionally, perhaps because I have seen the film based upon Alexander Supertramp who died after giving up his money and possessions to live a life of solitude, or perhaps it is because it is Eddie Vedder singing it, or perhaps because it touches a cord somewhere.

Whenever I feel restless, unsatisfied with the things I have, or don’t have, when the green-eyed monster rears it’s ugly head from time to time at the ever-growing material success those around us appear to have as we stand still or even go backwards, when I want that bigger house, that garden, when I am frustrated that I am not getting to where I want to be quick enough,  I put this Album on (and clean the kitchen for some reason).

It brings me back to where I need to be. I grounds me. It reminds me why we don’t have that bigger house, that garden, those lovely things. Why our fridge is falling apart and we our cooker is not fully functioning. Because, we chose to do things differently to others, we chose our family, we chose our lives together, we chose in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer. We decided money is not of huge value to us, yes, important, we must eat and have clothes and a roof over our head, some nice experiences, but not those things that so many people around us hanker for to the detriment of time.  I don’t want a bigger house. What for? to buy more things to put in it?  Why do I want a bigger, faster car? to use more fuel in, spend more money insuring, be more likely to drive fast and crash? why do I want an expensive rug? for the kids to ruin with milk and cookies, to have the cats throw up on it, to have to spend lots of money cleaning it? R and I often talk about ‘downsizing’! to a yurt. I would so love to do that, chuck it all away, all the crap, the shit. How utterly wonderful would that be? I could not do what McCandless did and disappear completely, not with the children, but taking it all back a little? It would be Good for us.

I am thankful that I can remind myself of where I actually want to be in life. Right here, with the people who matter most to me. I am so so lucky I have had the opportunity to live the life I have had with my family, to be part of their lives, for R to have some time with them when he was made redundant. This last year has been so hard, I am thankful that I had not worked every hour that existed prior to this last year, that I had spent time with my family.

I am thankful my children are well, my husband is well, that I am relatively well, that we have food, and a roof over our head. That we are happy. If we had to strip it all back, all our material possessions, we would have the things that are most important to us. Our love, our friendship, our happiness.

I am so thankful that we are happy. Because, despite the toll of my shit health, I would not change my life. It isn’t perfect, but it is good. I got to keep hold of that Happiness and not lose it.

Below is a snippet from the song ‘Society’ from the Album of the same name. Sung by Eddie Vedder, written by Jerry Hannan in collaboration with Eddie Vedder. If you haven’t watched the film, you must do it.

(Live song here)

“It’s a mystery to me
We have a greed with which we have agreed
And you think you have to want more than you need
Until you have it all, you won’t be free

Society, you’re a crazy breed
I hope you’re not lonely without me

When you want more than you have, you think you need
And when you think more than you want, your thoughts begin to bleed
I think I need to find a bigger place
Cause when you have more than you think, you need more space…”

Simply. My Daughter.

I was going to write down boring thoughts about my first day into my second week back at work, about my new £800 orthopaedic chair that arrived with a little blood pressure type thing at the back to adjust my lumbar pressure, about how spun out I was on my medication that I struggled to focus on conversations with colleagues and just hope they did not notice thanks to my fab think rimmed glasses (I knew there was a reason for this style of glasses).

I did not feel particularly inspired about it all. So I asked my 6 year old daughter what I should write about. ‘ME!’ she gushed and then bounced over to sit with me so she could see what magical words I was going to type. ‘what shall I say about you?’ ‘you can tell them I am beautiful and clever!’ she grinned. Well, I can, and I will. She is both beautiful and clever.

So this post is for Bella. She is the most adorable girl in the world.  She oozes fun and character. She beams her smile everywhere she goes, her hearty wild laughter and bold confident character reels people in and they fall in love with her. She is not big on tantrums although we have seen more of those in her 6th year than in any other year so far, she is great at arguing her point, questions and knows almost everything, but not as much as her teachers.

She loves fairies and all things princess, she loves pink things and fluffy things, angel wings and sparkles. Sometimes she loves nothing better than quiet time on her own with some of her small dollies and her dolls house, making up stories. She loves dancing and ballet. She also loves gold and silver which are her favourite colours, loves climbing up slides the wrong way, climbing trees in her favourite dress, riding her bike down hills as fast as she can go, even though she is still learning. Her favourite ‘celebrities’ are Tom Daley as she wants to be an Olympic diver, and Moe Farah because she thinks he is handsome.

She is a risk-taker – she broke her arm aged 5 trying to climb ‘big boy’ monkey bars, snapped both bones in her wrist, luckily straightforward to fix without surgery. Admittedly she shed some rare tears then, but not for very long. After the initial shock of the fall,  being brave when they pushed the bone back in place, only using gas & air to help with the pain, she was more upset about not getting a pink cast and not going to sleep for an operation and it did not slow her down. She loves adrenalin rushes, fast things, high things, crazy things. She gets very excited very easily and sometimes has to be asked to slow down as she wants it done now. not tomorrow. not next week. now.

Bella is a bookworm. We have read to her from the moment she was born. R loves books too and reading bedtime stories was something he was able to do during the first few months of newborn breastfeeding and Mummy Hogging The Baby. She reads everything now ‘the switch has clicked’ she reads signs, graffiti, magazines, books and I now have to hide newspapers from her, so she does not see the whole “JS” business, or guns,or photos and stories stories of death and violence. Although I am not sure how much longer I can keep things in the news from her as she pays a whole lot of attention to things around her and takes more in that I realise.

Today was the first day of her half term and while I spent it at work checking out my new fancy gadgets on the Expensive Chair, she went horse-riding, with one of her best friends, her best friend’s daddy, R and Roo. Her best friend’s nanny lives on a farm and owns two horses and she gave them both a ‘lesson’. She got soaked and muddy and had the ‘best day ever’. This evening she had the biggest bubbliest bath that even I envied, although it was short lived because her two-almost-three year old brother shared it with her and inevitably ended in tears. After her bath she snuggled with her mama for a story , a lovely story about a mermaid from a beautifully illustrated book – ‘Magical Fairy Tales’.

But not before she brushed my hair and massaged my head for much longer than she wanted. That was The Deal. I write about her and she massages my hair. Not a Bad Way to end my day.

“There’s no limit to how much you’ll know, depending how far beyond zebra you go.”
― Dr. Seuss

Tonight My Husband and I Are Sleeping in Position No.2

There is no noise. It is hushed as my children settle down to sleep. After getting up several times as they often do when their daddy goes out for the evening. Playing Up  – isn’t that how the Behavioural Books scientifically refer to it?

Then I hear the tiny ‘th-th-th’ of gentle creeping footsteps on the deep soft carpet that leads to the loft room which is Mummy and Daddy’s Bedroom. The bright pink door (used to be Summer Girl’s Room) swings open and there in the dark of the doorway, silhouetted by the hallway light stands my two-almost-three-year old Winter Boy, one hand rubbing his eyes. He casually walks over to me at the computer desk and announces ‘I can’t get myself to sleepees, I tried an I jus can’t do it’. ‘do you want me to tuck you back in?’ ‘noo. I really can’t get to sleepees. I wan to sleep witchuw’ he says in his sing-song, Cant-Be-Resisted voice. I never let him sleep in my bed first thing at night. Not unless he is ill or R is away, then sometimes I do and then he stays there all night. Usually though I tuck him back in to his own bed and stroke his hair. And Repeat.

This evening, I look at him and my heart melts. How can I resist that little coy smile and angelic voice?  I say ‘quickly, get into bed and go straight to sleep, I don’t want to hear a peep ok?’. Before I even finish my sentence he has scampered across the bedroom, onto MY side of the bed I note, jumps into bed, tucks himself up neatly in the duvet and smiles sweetly at me. I walk over to kiss him goodnight. He does not fuss or fidget, but unusually lies completely still. By the time I return from popping down to turn Winter Girl’s light off, he has both arms spread eagle, one hanging over the side of the bed and is gently snoring, in a deep, happy sleep. It has taken him less than 2 minutes to go from standing by me to fast asleep in exactly the same position as when he climbed in. Why does he look far more content there than he ever looks in his own bed? And did I say it was My Side?

R is going to be less impressed than I was, when he returns home later. He will need to make a decision whether to wake a sleeping boy and somehow get him into bed without him waking and realising what crime is being committed against him, adopt The Position Number Two, or accept that through the course of the night Winter Boy will likely assume most of The Positions. Unless he finds himself in Position Number Two that is.

Maybe I should make up the spare bed now…