Burning the Depression Away

I’ve been trying to cope with depression for most of my life to the point where sometimes I don’t even realise my coping mechanisms are coping mechanisms at all. They are just things I do and it is not until I don’t do them that I realise they are part of my crutch. One thing I do is burn scented candles and those little tart things that melt into pools and give off their scent before solidifying again when you blow out the candle underneath them. It turns out a lot of people do that and a lot of people recommend that but I didn’t realise how important it was for me until recently in keeping that little gremlin at bay. I used to burn candles and then my cat at the time decided she wanted to sit where they were burning and I had nowhere else to put them so I stopped. Now, sadly, my cat has passed away and my room is arranged differently so pretty much my whole desk of drawers top is dedicated to candles.

It has made a huge difference for me. Even when it is summer I think I will burn at least one tealight constantly in order to have my tartlets filling my air with scent. I find they are stronger than ‘scented candles’ alone.  It took me a while to find scents that I find really comforting. I tried cinnamon for a while because people said~ I can’t stand the stuff. I had a fresh winter one for a while but after a time it would irritate me more than anything else. At the moment I’m loving my vanilla tartlet. Since I put it on my burner a few weeks ago I have pretty much had it going constantly. I’ve gone through so many tealight candles but it has been worth it. The smell is not overpowering and it doesn’t get weaker after a while. It is just a constant and every time I return to my room, which is my safe place anyway, I feel like I am being hugged. There is no stress without a cat around either. I don’t have to fear for her safety, that she might appear jump up and hurt herself while, ya know, setting my house on fire.

Often I burn a lot of candles because of my thyroidism. Even with the heating on and many layers I need that extra heat coming off them so I end up looking like I have some sort of pagan alter going on in my bedroom but needs must. They make me happy. I feel more calm, happier, just better with my candles on the go. It isn’t an expensive self-care tool either. Supermarkets do huge bags of tealights for a pound or so and even at the rate I go through them a bag lasts me ages. Some scented ones come in their own holders for a pound and I stocked up after Christmas when all the red ones went on sale. Homebase are pretty awesome in the UK too for getting random scented candles, failing to sell them and then slashing prices only to get more stock in and repeat it all. They do a fabulous apple one . Holder can be pricey but Christmas ones crash in price at this time of year and if you’re on a budget and don’t mind Santa in your room in July it is a good way to save some pennies. Other than that it is about looking around. Places like poundland, B&M, Home Bargains and such tend to have these things hanging around and they look just as good as their more expensive counterparts in Next. The tart burner itself can be a few pounds but they last forever.

When you want to get a solid tart out and burn another one just stick a knife around the edges until you can pry it free. Yankee are the more well known makers of tarts but they are not the only ones out there. They do happen to be my favourite and again, I treat my depression by sometimes treating myself to a new tart now and then. Makes me happy in the moment and the smells make me calm and happy later on as well.

Obviously some smells can trigger negative reactions in people and some can trigger happy memories. Some just make you think ‘man that stinks’ and others you hardly notice. For me it is about finding the ones that are not too strong and that I don’t connect to anything in particular. It is just a nice, calming background smell in my room. It is important for me to have simple things that deal with my depression. I felt I was handling it towards the end of last year and as a result it really crept up on me. Doing more little things now means I feel SO much better but I don’t feel tired for it or like I’m using energy on it instead of on another gremlin or the rest of my life. It is all little things, like my candles and my socks.

For those who like the idea of scents but are scared of candles, can’t burn them for some other reason, or/and happen to have an adventurous animal or little person around there are other options. My mum always like to have a bowl of potpourri around. Personally I find it is too strong at first and then you stop smelling it very quickly. There are those other incense likes sticks going around as well too which come in different flavours but I’ve yet to find a scent I like. The thing with candles is that you’re constantly re-lighting them so you don’t get overly used to, and stop smelling them. They are my preferred method but not the only one. Air fresheners are another but again I find they start too strong and then fade.  If you haven’t thought of it or didn’t think it would work, I would encourage you to have a go. It you have a spare pound that can be all you need to start off candle wise and I really do believe it can help ❤

Assertive Choices and Looking out for #1

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Therapy is making me more assertive. This is a good thing as it is the point. It feels to put it into practice though and see the results.  The thing about being more assertive is that it can upset people. People are probably used to me being very passive in some situations. Offline I can be very passive and my anxiety disorders whip up a whirlwind in my brain if I try to think about being assertive. My mind trickles me all these whispers about what could go wrong and why and it is always very dramatic and ridiculous. At the time though the thoughts are very real and scary.

Each time I try to put into practice the advice and techniques I have been given in group therapy I have all these anxious thoughts. Every attempt to be assertive is a victory. Thankfully, I’m seeing results. A big issue with me and my family is my underactive thyroid and the fatigue it causes me. I took a lot of emotional abuse for a good eighteen months over my thyroidism and the symptoms. I was constantly told that ‘everyone is tired’ and that I should ‘just try harder’ and had my family try to police when I slept. I needed around twelve hours sleep at my worst, then eleven for several months, nine for a few. Then I went on the pump and immediately needed around ten or eleven again.

People liked to tell me when to sleep. I preferred 1am till 10 or 11am because it meant I slept through my dawn phenomenon and when I felt sick, meaning when I was awake I could actually do things.  People had other ideas and would rather I was sitting awake at 9am unable to read, listen to music, watch tv or do, well anything, due to lack of focus and nausea. With my assertive skills I’m doing what is right for me again and I am feeling a lot brighter and happier for it.

I need sleep so I sleep.

It sounds simple but sometimes the simple things in life are the hardest to accomplish. I have the right to take care of myself. I know my own body. I know how I feel without that sleep. I know I can get more done in a day where I am awake for less time but feel more energetic than I can slugging my way through on nine hours sleep because other people prefer that. I won’t hide my disease to make other people feel more comfortable and it is not my job to educate them if they will not educate themselves. I have attempted to explain once. I cannot make anyone listen. I am not responsible for anyone but myself.

Sometimes I nap now, cause they help and I’m more focussed after them. I’m so much more productive now I’ve taken this step. If I compare my ‘done’ lists that I keep each day they are so much longer now.  Some people might say my behaviour is more selfish but you know what? Maybe they are right. I think if you have a chronic illness or several, you have to be a bit selfish. Unfortunately,  lot of people find that while some people are understanding and caring and can be there sometimes, few of us have someone  that 100% understands and accepts everything about our condition. Sometimes we have to be the one looking out for number one, ourselves.  If a person is not in the best condition they can be then they can’t really help anyone else out to the best of their abilities either. Looking out for me first means I can then try help others too.  So yeah, sleep those twelve hours away like a little baby and then I cleaned the kitchen like a boss cause I had more energy. Looking after me lets me look after the family. I’ve had the energy to bake too and that is such a good treatment for my anxiety. Some people find cooking stressful but I did home ec classes at examination so no cooking is ever stressful to me now. There is no scary teacher barking with a clock ticking anymore! I find it therapeutic and then people like my food and we talk about my cooking and I feel positive about myself and all that stems from sleeping that extra hour or two they didn’t want me sleeping in the first place!

I always thought my bff  saw me at my best and it is no coincidence that she allowed me to collapse and die in a heap for twelve hours when I’m at her place despite rarely sleeping more than six hours herself.

So yeah, being assertive is cool. You have the right to look after yourself, to be respected, to make your own mistakes and  to make your own decisions. You have to take responsibility for yourself and do what is best for you. Sleeping takes a lot of stick, like it is the consequence of bad choices and not trying hard enough to get better whether that is a thyroid issue or chronic depression. Screw that. Sometimes sleep IS the answer and you are the person that truly knows that. You look after You. First. Always first. Always.

Socks against Depression.

It is the little things, like colourful mismatched socks. Give me a minute and I will make that make sense. I hope. Depression is horrible and it is very horrible when you are also suffering with a form of fatigue as well. It feels like things that used to make a person smile just don’t any more and that can a, make a person feel worse and b, be very frustrating. I’m well aware that certain things made me happy between my bouts of depression and no longer do and I get angry at my brain because how dare it take that away from me? Being depressed in itself is not something I get angry abotu any more because I end up feeling more depressed and often exhausted. Little things I do get annoyed at though.

I guess the best thing to do is to accept the old things don’t work and start looking for new smiles in your day. Mental illness is not something that wil fix itself without effort. Sometimes it feels like a person is putting in all the effort in the world but sometimes I think we, as mentally ill people, need to stop doing some things and accept they have failed. And that that is perfectly ok.

My current thing is socks. I used to get really frustrated trying to find socks that matched. It doesn’t matter that I put socks in the washing machine together they never seem to come back from the same pile so it isn’t like I can put them away in neat little pairs. No, I just have an explosion of socks in my drawer and often end up thinking ‘hang on , that one isn’t even mine’.

At Christmas my step mother bought me a box of mismatched socks. The whole point is they all look brightly coloured and different and I love them. They are happy and cheerful and I can’t get them wrong. I just grab two, shove them on, and stumblr off towards breakfast. Now, if I can’t find two normal socks that match quick enough I just grab any old two. So what if they don’t match? It worked for Harry Potter.

All my socks are pretty groovey and now I find the clashing patterns and colours kind of amusing. They make me happy to look at and they mean I don’t start my day tiring myself out and getting furstrated looking for a match. It is a tiny little thing but is is one more happy thing in my day pushing back that depressive wave. Being depressed can make you feel fatigued and being fatigued can make you feel depressed. To tackle them both in one little cotton shaped package is pretty awesome.

It is ok to have strategies that sound weird or that other people don’t understand. Other people don’t live your life, feel you rmuscle aches or battle your brain. If mismatching socks do the business then awesome. Sometimes that is just the answer.