Believe or not I am still around despite the long gap since my last blog entry in December and this one.
The reality of it is that my life has been extremely complicated for me these past few months, I’m not going to bore you with all the details, but suffice to say that with the winter months, severe weather conditions, as well as low mood due to my depression/anxiety it did have a huge impact on my well-being, which was only made worse by some unnecessary stress at work. I can now say though, thank goodness that I have now emerged from the other end of that horrible dark tunnel, and once again can see the bright light shinning ahead of me. With a conversation I had with my GP about 5 years ago, she suggested I might also be suffering from SAD. I brushed this off thinking it was just the fact it was winter months, dark when you go to work and dark when you get home, cold wet weather, and lets face it none of us like the winter months for those reasons, but I have to admit it does now look like my GP was right and I was wrong. One of the things on my agenda this year is to invest in a SAD therapy lamp, and take more vitamin D from October, hopefully this will help keep the black dog from nipping at my heels again next winter.
Over a number of years I have learnt three very valuable lessons regarding depression, firstly, that when some people think they are doing their best by helping you, they don’t seem to realize it can be more of a hinderance, and can in actual fact slow down ones recovery process, I am not saying that is the same for everyone. Secondly I know of and have heard of people who have seen family and friends suffer depression, and they believe they ‘understand’ what it is like for those sufferers, people who have never suffered depression themselves and have not gone through that personal and individual agony of depression will never know or truly understand how it really does feel, in reality they can only actually see or simply imagine what a sufferer goes through, which is not the same. Thirdly, and most importantly, each and every person who suffers from depression suffer the same collective symptoms of the illness, but the cause that triggers it can be for very different reasons. Some may suffer a life changing illness at some stage of our lives, or lose loved ones, they may witness some horrible and upsetting things in their lives, but we all cope with those problems in very different ways. But where as one person can get back up and carry on with their lives, it doesn’t mean others who have faced the same problem can get back up in the same way.
Fortunately for me I have learnt over the past 20 years how I can cope with my bouts of depression without interference from others, daily medication, self-help techniques, CBT, ways to motivate myself and a little bit of time just being left alone to do what I need to in order to pull myself through. I suppose I am one of the more fortunate ones to be able to do this, as I know others are not so lucky, but more often than not they are unable to seek the help they need in the first place.
When I look back to 20 years ago when my depression first started, and I look at things now, I know I have come along way since then, after all I am still here to talk about it, and prove to others through my blog that it can get better, and that life can be good, in ways most wouldn’t think or believe, more importantly however, despite every brick wall I have come up against I do some how find a way to crack and breakdown that wall down and turn the next corner. I know I am not the most cleverest of people, and as I have got older I have found I have slowed down mentally and physically, and I have learnt some hard lessons along the way, but in the end I do have this ability to be logical which is one of the tools that helps me to move on. I have firmly believed through logic that yes things can get really bad, but then they will also improve, and I like to make the most of those times as it helps me to look forward to them again if things do go downwards again, trying to focus on that helps me get better, and encourages me to try harder next time. Like my photography, I can be hard on myself to do better. More recently at work, several colleagues have told me I am too damn hard on myself, but in all honesty I have to be hard on myself as it is my way of getting back on top, it is my own way of stopping me sliding back down into the dark pit and staying there. Sometimes it can be the simplest of things in life that help people recover.
The horrible bad weather we went through this winter did mean I was unable to get out with my camera, which in itself was bad enough and made me feel low. But in addition to that it was also the second Christmas without my dad. Some how it affected me more this time around than it did the first one without him. I think in all honesty the first year it was still so close to losing him that it hadn’t properly sunk in, and my life was on automatic with other things going on causing my stress levels to fluctuate, and get through other day-to-day trials, that I tried not to ‘over think’ about it too much, however this time around it had sunk in more and I felt it more, and it therefore had more of an impact on me.
In February I did get my first chance to go out to my local Conservation Park in Birmingham one of the afternoons I had a half day’s holiday from work, I wasn’t up to venturing off too far, but with the sun shinning a little, and despite the temperatures being extremely cold, it was good to get out in some proper fresh air, and walk without slipping on snow and ice, but most importantly to be able to get out with my camera and see the wonders of nature. I could sit and watch these animals for hours at a time, especially the little guys below. The Conservation Park do an incredible job at looking after these animals, and they are part of a European breeding programme for the more rare and endangered species. Seeing these animals happily running around up to their own little tricks does put a smile on my face. I sat outside the cafe at the park for about an hour, directly opposite the Capuchin enclosure to have a coffee and sandwich, watching them did lift my spirits.
On the weekend of my birthday, I was also able to do one of my most favourite things, such as walk an Alpaca at Lucky Tails in Hurley, Warwickshire. with three of my very dear friends, I think I have converted them to becoming Alpaca lovers 🙂 I have lost count, but I believe that was my 6th visit in the last 2 years that I have done the Alpaca walks, and I am already planning the next trip there, hopefully the beginning of June…….can’t wait!! This time I walked the handsome blue-eyed boy Norman.
I wonder why it always feels so good to be around animals, they are so soothing and just may be they are far less trouble than some humans!!
With the Spring now upon us and Summer just around the corner, I am looking forward to having odd days holidays out visiting different places with lovely scenery, rivers & canal walks, plenty of wildlife, places like Trentham Monkey Forest, Charlecote Park, Foxton Locks, Albert Docks, Worcester, Stratford and the Costwolds . All places I have visited over the years and find that I want to go back to them as each visit is different to the last time.
I wouldn’t say I am a perfectionist, but I am one of those photographers who are critical of their own work. I look back at pictures I have taken, and tell myself I could do better with camera next time around……so where better than to go to places you have already been and try again and improve upon the last time.
Another comfort that I have missed these past four years is my rabbits, especially Sootykins, who I had for nine and a half years….which was a really good age for a rabbit, and they really were a huge part of my life. I do have a budgie called Charlie, but being a bird you can’t really hold and cuddle them the same way as a four-legged furry friend. I did think again about last year getting another rabbit, but instead over the Easter weekend, after much thought and deliberation I decided to go for a Syrian Hamster. Which for obvious reasons in the picture below I decided to call her Patch.
Whilst hamsters sleep during the daytime and come out and play at night, it gives me the chance to spend a good hour with her to play and pet her before I go to bed. Overall, having her climb in and out of my hands and up on to my shoulders is very relaxing, she is very well-behaved, and has only bit me once, that was on the second day as she was still trying to settle in to her new environment. And let’s be honest…. she is so cute and adorable, and to all intense and purposes she is very clever, and she is a wonderful little addition to my home life.
The beauty, survival and wonder of wildlife,flora and scenery amazes me no end, and I am always inspired by this old favourite hymn, and I often wonder what Alexander, Cecil Frances, (1818-1895) was thinking about at the time she wrote it, the words are so simple and yet so meaningful.
All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all.
Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.
The purple headed mountains,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning
That brightens up the sky.
The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.
The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
To gather every day.
He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well….
Alexander, Cecil Frances, (1818-1895)
Many thanks for stopping by.