A Snarky September.

What a month it has been.

September has been a month of contrasts for us.

Good things that happened in September were:

I started a new job, which I enjoy thus far, and can see myself staying at for the foreseeable future. I can walk there and back which is good for me.

Husband was finally, finally awarded PIP. All in all it has taken us 15 months from when we applied, to get to where we are today.
I am sorry if it sounds dramatic and it’s probably because I am relatively young and have yet to experience many things in my life. But the process of applying for PIP with Husband and having to fight for it has changed me as a person. I feel different now and can’t quite put my finger on it. I think it’s feeling more cynical now and distrustful of government agencies.

Our bathroom was renovated.

Things that could have been improved were:

That this month has been Skintember for us, self-inflicted, but all the same. I have spent four weeks being sensible and taking stock of what we have in the house and using up what we’ve already got, and  generally finding different ways of not spending our money.

One good thing is that I’ve used this as an opportunity to learn how to make new food, and being inventive with what we had in the house. I made rice krispie cakes using a pack of rice cakes I didn’t want to throw out. I have learnt how to make crumble, and how to make Veiled Country Lasses.

Husband’s mood has been low.

…..

Onwards, then, to Austerity October (thank you to Hip Roof Barn for the suggestion), in which I need to celebrate my birthday (including bringing a cake to work as that’s what they do there) and see my sister in London for a week. Hee.

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A manageable March.

Goodness, where does the time go?

Good things about March were:

  • The snow/Beast from the East/Hysteria from Siberia. I had two days of enforced rest as the college was closed due to the adverse weather at the start of the month. This was sorely needed after my trip home in the previous week left me feeling really worn out and distressed.
  • We had brunch with our old neighbours one Sunday and got to meet their baby. It was so nice just to see them again and hear about how they were getting on with stuff.
  • Did some product testing for Sensory Dimensions, got £20 for doing this in Love2Shop vouchers.
  • Spring is coming! It’s getting lighter outside and I can start pegging the washing out.
  • Our neighbour who minds the Cat has been very supportive.
  • Husband has got a lot of support through the Work Health Programme. As he feels wary of travelling to unfamiliar places they have met him in town and then travelled to their office together so he feels more confident doing that on his own now. They help him fill in job applications. And they reimburse him for his travelling to and from the sessions which is a great boon to us. It has really helped my mood and how I am feeling as it means I have less to do and I know he is getting the support he needs with getting work.
  • Counselling has continued for us both, I have found my sessions helpful as I have identified some things I need to work on.

Things that could have been improved about March were:

  • Still no court date for our PIP tribunal. We are still waiting.
  • Work situation at one of my jobs is very unsettled as there’s been a change of management there and we are worried they will come for our department next, in terms of looking at where they can make savings.

I need some change in my life.

This week has been very mixed.

Monday was very stressful at work, as we were down to two staff and my colleague had done her back in so I had to keep going to help her lift stuff or reach stuff.

As we were due to see the Work Health Programme coach the day after, I went home with a lump in my throat. I’d found some vacancies that could be suitable for Husband but the thought of having to sit and fill them in with him for hours filled me with dread.

Don’t get me wrong. We love each other, and as long as I have the will to live, I will support him and defend him.

But on Monday I just couldn’t.
I couldn’t face even the thought of having to do more work, after just having come home from work. And the day after that. And the day after that.

I broke down once I came home and was a crying wreck for most of the evening and the day after.

I just need some actual support, with supporting, if that makes sense?

If I am to continue going to work six days a week to support us financially, I need help.

I need more help at home keeping the house and I need help supporting Husband; filling in application forms, accompanying him places if he needs that, and so forth.

Naturally my poor mood affected Husband so when we went to the Work and Health Programme on Tuesday I cried for most of the appointment and Husband felt rubbish. As it is only the second appointment we have been to I can imagine what impression that gave of us, as the Wellbeing advisor was quite unkind and said that Husband’s problem is me. Because I work so much to support us and he doesn’t do as many hours and he feels he isn’t contributing.

We were both very upset with how they dealt with this, but will try to attend again as there isn’t anything else. Remploy wouldn’t help us as Husband is already enrolled on the Work Health Programme plus they don’t have an office nearby. The working scheme for people with Asperger’s Syndrome run by the county council can’t take him as he lives within the city limits, and it is just for people living within the county (???).

They suggested Husband applied for ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) and it is something Husband’s mother has suggested as well, it is something he could be eligible for and still keep his job.

If applying for ESA is anything like what we have had to deal with applying for PIP, I will not do it.

Having had to deal with applying for PIP and being told in effect that we are lying has brought out feelings in me I did not even know that I possessed. We started this process in May 2017 and almost a year later we are waiting for it to be resolved.

If someone else helps me fill in the form for it and takes Husband to the assessment, sure.

But I am not prepared to go through something similar on my own. I’m sorry if it makes me sound defeatist.

But it’s making me ill.

Husband bless him must have sensed how desperate I have been feeling this week, as he keeps asking if I am ok, no, if I am really ok, and keeps doing things around the house and saying ‘I’m trying to help.’ He wants to give up his counselling so I can go have some, something I have rejected as he needs it more than me. I have explained to him that the problem is that I have so much work to do, outside of work, that I am beginning to feel like it’s swallowing me up.

I think three things have to change in order to help me feel better, as I am feeling so overwhelmed:

  1. I need much more help around the house than what I am getting now. I cannot go on working as many hours I do and still have more stuff to do at home.
    I suggested a cleaner, to which Husband strongly objected. So we will sit down and go through a list to divide chores more evenly. At the same time I understand that while things might not be done to my standard (Hanging the washing on the line in a lump? Ok then?), it will still be done. I have to let that feeling go.
  2. I need help supporting Husband’s search for a job. This means I will no longer actively look for vacancies for him to apply for, but leave that with him. If he wants to continue looking for work and finds something he needs help applying for, a gent at the WH programme is available on a Thursday and Friday to sit with Husband and help him actually fill in the form and write cover letters. I will support Husband with getting familiar with travelling there so he can make the journey there eventually unaided when he feels confident enough to do it.
  3. I need a release of some kind. A friend told me she goes swimming. I am contemplating perhaps going on a Monday as I finish earlier in the day and the tram takes me to the leisure centre. I went swimming three days a week to be able to even fit into my ruddy wedding dress get in shape before and I thoroughly enjoy it when I go. Maybe that’s something I can do.

I feel more calm now. As in, I don’t feel great, but it’s not all coming out. It’s simmering a bit deeper within me.

The end of the week has been better.

As Thursday was warmer and we had bright sunshine, I took the plunge and hung a load of bedding out to dry on Friday before leaving for work. It had almost dried by the time I got home Friday afternoon and hangs on the airer upstairs in the top floor to just get it completely dry.

I also got some lovely food bargains last week and this week, which helps our budget a lot.

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Got these last week at Lidl; they are pots with a mix of barley, yogurt and juice, reduced from 65p each to 14p. They have been a boon to my lunches this week. On the left are my wraps; I decided to make three days’ worth of lunches in one go and just take them to work, saving me time in the morning. Something I think I’ll continue to do, rather than running around while stashing fruit and bits of bread in my bag in my race to get out the door.
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Got some lovely good food from Foodprint last week. This cost us £5.95 and would have ended up in the bin if they had not snapped it up.
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I managed to visit Foodprint after work on Friday and got these lovely babies. It’s 5 kgs of food we have saved from the bin, and it cost us £5.

Next week is half term and I am flying to Norway to see my family. Coach leaves at 2am on Monday morning for Heathrow (What possessed me to think this was a good idea, as I will be working 2pm to 7pm on Sunday? What?).

Hopefully I will have a chance to relax a bit.

And I will perhaps not feel so lonely.

EDIT: And to add further fuel to my feeling of not coping: Suddenly realized yesterday that I had not let my self-employed work know I am going away tomorrow (they need 2 weeks notice minimum to find cover), so I had better ruddy find a way to do the work while I’m there! And when I came home I’d gotten a letter to say last month’s credit card bill hadn’t been paid – I’d forgotten! Paid it in full immediately of course, but we have accrued £12 in late fees and £26 in interest! AAAAARGH!

 

 

New series: I am grateful for…

I wrote a post a while back about being grateful and thankful for little things.

As a reminder to myself that we are incredibly blessed and fortunate, I have decided to add things I am grateful for – when I think of them.

That already sounds so blessed/privileged, doesn’t it?

We are just so fortunate. Some things and facilities, we do not even think about, they are just sort of there, and we expect them to be there.

Today I have been grateful for two things:

  1. Our washing machine.
    We have the privilege of being able to wash our clothes in our own home, efficiently and quickly and to a high standard, whenever we need to do it, unless it’s something too bulky or weird like leather.
    I took our mattress topper to the laundrette down the road today as our washing machine isn’t big enough to wash it. I paid £6 to use the launderette and while it only took 40 minutes, I still had to get the mattress topper into a bag of some kind, take it down to the launderette, put the money in and wait there for the load to finish as it says boldly that loads that aren’t collected promptly will be removed. I then had to stuff it back into my bag and schlep it back home, sopping wet, as I didn’t have time to run it in the dryer as I would have been late for my voice work, and I couldn’t leave it there for the above reasons.
    I got there for 9am when the launderette opened, and you know, almost all the machines were taken already at that time, and people were coming to do their laundry, their normal laundry stuff. I’m trying to imaging having to do that every week and I just can’t.I am grateful that if I need to wash clothes all I have to do is go downstairs and get the washing machine going. I can leave it in the drum for a few hours if I don’t have time to peg it out immediately. And I can do this whenever I want. Without having to leave the house.
  2. Regular public transport/good infrastructure.
    To get to the launderette, I took the bus down. I could just walk round the corner from our house, down the street and onto the main road, without having to plan anything. I knew there would be a service shortly and I could just wait there for one, and sure enough when I got there the display said one would be arriving in three minutes. And it did! And it was safe to use and the bus was well maintained and it got me to the launderette in a timely manner. I had the same experience travelling back home, I could just walk a few yards down and the bus came in a matter of minutes.A book that I read once that really stuck with me puts this into perspective. If you have a chance, read Blood River by Tim Butcher, which is about his attempt to cross Congo across from east to west in 2005 on land. One of the things that really got to me was when the group he is with comes to a little town deep in the jungle. There is a railway station there, and the stationmaster still works there and attends his duties. he sweeps the platform and keeps things as maintained as he can, and waits for the trains. When he wrote the book, no trains had passed through there for SIX years. And throughout the book, Butcher encounters communities that were isolated islands in the bush, with rivers, tracks and roads growing shut as people daren’t use them as it’s too dangerous to travel (HINT: YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK!).

    I am grateful that we have access to good transport links that are safe to use, well maintained and that are reasonably priced. I am grateful we have good infrastructure so I can travel to work and we can travel to other places in our community. Good infrastructure also means that I can live here as I am able to travel home to see my family, on a whim’s notice if I wanted to or needed that.

 

What are you grateful for?

 

 

 

 

My Not-New Years Resolutions – halfway point.

It is the middle of June now. How am I doing with the not-New Years Resolutions?

Well, let’s review what I decided to do:

 

  • So one of my not-New-Years-resolutions was to continue to make healthy lifestyle choices in a bid to lose weight and then maintain it. Well when my sister left after having spent a week with her eating things in October, I weighed in at 85 kilos. This morning I weighed myself and I weigh in at 75.1 kilos, so have lost almost 10 kilos or 1.5 stone. I have done this through eating more healthily and making healthy lifestyle choices. This is an ongoing resolution I think; my problem is that I eat things because they taste nice, not necessarily because I am hungry. Need to get myself out of this habit!

 

  • Using beauty and toiletries stuff up before buying more. I have done really well with this I think! I have not bought any body lotions or creams at all this year as I’ve just got so much to use up, so this is still ongoing. I had to buy conditioner and shower gel in May as we used everything up, as well as toothpaste. After having read Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson, it does make you think about how much plastic and packaging we surround ourselves with – one of the things that have been suggested is to use bar soap as it lasts much longer and creates less waste than liquid soap, so we’ve done that.  This resolution is still ongoing as well.

 

  • I wanted to be even better at planning meals and using food up to avoid waste. I feel that we’ve done well with this, there have been a few slip ups but these have been few and far between. Some nights I would come home bone tired and the temptation was there, all seductive and whispering to me: ‘But you could, y’know, just go out for dinner tonight, right?’, but then my mind would be prevail and be all like ‘But dude, you’ve got perfectly good food in the fridge that needs eating anyway!’ And you know what? Once I got in, had a cup of tea and got over the hurdle of preparing stuff, food was ready as quickly as it would have been if we’d gone to the ‘Spoons across the street and ordered food. True, there have been some odd combinations (sausages in korma sauce and brown rice, anyone?) but we have not food poisoned ourselves and I feel good for using up what we have. In addition to this I’ve made quite a bit of soup with stock I’ve made from chicken carcasses and herbs from the garden.
    We have worked so hard to pay for this food after all, so why throw it out? But we have to remain ever vigilant so I am going to be boring and say; this one is also ongoing.

So all in all, I think my not-New Years-resolutions are going alright but are still ongoing.

Sinking into the grey.

When I came to work on Saturday one of my colleagues talked to me about his girlfriend. She has been out of work now for two months and it is really getting her down. She keeps saying to him that she feels like a failure and that she’s not good for anything or anyone and at the end of her 20s she should have a stable job and a good career. She sleeps very little and is very tearful.

He is very worried about her as you can imagine; they have been to the GP but were advised to see if matters improved and if not to come back for some antidepressants but he was disappointed that she had not been offered any counselling.I snorted and told him that the waiting lists are long in the UK. I suggested that if they had the money that she could go home for a little while for some R and R. He has suggested this but she broke down and cried when she said if she can’t make it in the UK, how can she make it back in her home country? This is the first time in her whole life she has been out of work for this length of time.

He then told me that one night, while he was watching TV before going to bed he heard the door shut, almost inaudibly,  but it did. He then went to see what was happening and found she had left through the front door and locked the door behind her. He scrambled to find his keys, unlocked the door and ran after her down the street until he caught up with her. She had wanted to go for a walk because she was feeling worthless and that she was no good to him. He eventually managed to coax her to come back to the house.

I can really identify with what she was saying as that was me, seven years ago.

The short version is: In my third year at university in 2009, Dad decided he did not want to be married to my mother anymore and wanted a divorce after 42 years. He then effectively absconded for almost a year and did not treat her or the family well or fairly. This was a devastating blow to me because I had always idolized my father. I admired him and wanted to be like him. So for my Dad to suddenly disappear and then become a person I did no longer recognize was very hard for me to come to terms with.

The university did have a Counselling service and the lady described how I was feeling in a very apt manner. She said I was in a sense grieving and dealing with a sense of loss, as I was mourning the loss of the relationship I had with him and the father figure I once knew.

(This is not the short version, is it?)

I had my deadlines extended and managed to graduate with a 2:1 in History and then started my Master’s Degree. In in the space of a year from 2009 to 2010 I did my Master’s Degree, got married and moved home. As my husband was unemployed at the time (and as it turned out, he remained unemployed and underemployed for years after finishing college) I was the main breadwinner in our family, supporting us both. I started a job in October 2010 which after completing my training became a daily trial for me (working in a call centre-bad weather-all deliveries delayed-customers ringing up shouting at us every single day). The day I was due to go back to work in January 2011 after Christmas, I just couldn’t. I burst into tears and just could not cope with the thought of having to go to a job where I was being shouted at every single day.

So I was signed off for two weeks initially, then another two weeks and then for a month.

I felt like a failure. That I was failing my husband as a wife and a provider and that I’d never be able to hold down a job or get it together. I felt like I was just sinking into a grey mass and everything felt like an uphill struggle. Even going down to the local shops to buy some food was something I had to fight with myself to do, let alone get dressed. I just wanted to sleep and had a very short fuse, getting seemingly cross and tearful at even trivial things.

I explained to my colleague that even though a rational person might see a two month stint of being unemployed as a minor bump in the road, someone who is depressed just can’t seem to get past that and can’t get past that feeling of failure.

ProTip: This is why saying ‘people have it worse than you’, ‘get it together’, ‘get over yourself’ and ‘happiness is a choice’ and other statements of that ilk are NOT HELPFUL. Gee whizz, if that’s all it takes to feel better then that’s something I’m going to say to myself, right now! It totally works and I don’t have any problems anymore!

Anyway. I digress.

My job did, though not unexpectedly, terminate my contract because I had not passed my probation period as I had not been at work at all since it started because of how I was feeling.

All in all I think I felt this way for about six months. The grey mass eventually lost its power in August/September 2011. I think this happened for several reasons.

  • I took one day at a time and tried to be kind and patient to myself. It takes time.
  • Husband was kind and supportive and his and the support from my family and his family was invaluable.
  • Not ideal as we needed money, but not having to work in such a horrible environment helped. We had savings at the time so could live frugally for a while (not that we didn’t already, but there we go).
  • The weather changed. It became lighter and I would go for walks in the sunshine.
  • I found a different job. I worked doing different temp jobs when I felt I could cope and then found something more stable in August 2011, which lead to the two part time jobs I have today.

I told my colleague all of this.

He asked for my advice and what he could do as he felt helpless.

I told him to carry on doing what he was doing, which is to support and encourage her. Even when she tells him a hundred times that she is worthless and does not deserve him, he has to tell her a hundred and one times that she is worth something and that he loves her.

I also said to him to please get in touch with the GP again and not sugarcoat it but say exactly what has been going on and that he is concerned about her well-being. He was pleased that someone else than him had gone through a similar experience and could understand just how horrible it is to go through.

It should not have to be like this. Mental health problems are more common than people think and should be something people can talk about with someone who understands rather than having to wait 18 months to see a professional.

If you are suffering from depression or think you are suffering from depression:

  • It does not make you ‘crazy’.
  • It is not your fault. Even if you think everything is your fault at the moment.
  • It does not mean you are a bad person.
  • For the very large majority of people, it gets better.

Disclaimer: I love the NHS! LOVE LOVE LOVE THEM. I think it’s an amazing organization who do so much work and are under an immense amount of pressure. My criticism is of the current Health Secretary who has left the NHS so desperately underfunded, especially for mental health provision. That is all.

Feeling grateful.

Lately I have been thinking about how fortunate we are to live in the society we live in. Where things work (for the most part) and there is a system in place to serve and protect citizens. Our rubbish gets collected, streets are maintained and we can travel from one place to another in safety. If you are ill you can go to the hospital to be treated.

For example: I needed a new prescription to get more of the Pill I am on earlier this month. A call to my GP and the prescription was ready three days later. I could then  go and collect it and then take it to the pharmacy and it was dispensed in 10 minutes and for free as the NHS prescribes contraceptive pills for free. Just like that, I can get access to reproductive health services and be in control of the destiny of my own body. I think it’s brilliant and something people take for granted sometimes.

From thinking about that I have come to realise that while it’s nice to have a good whinge every now and again (hey, everyone likes a whinge sometimes and a natter!) , it is also important to be thankful even for simple things.

So far this month I have written to Sainsbury’s to commend the service two of their colleagues gives me in their shop as they are always pleasant and polite when I visit. I have also written an email to the Home Office to thank them for renewing my husband’s passport so promptly. We sent the renewal form off with Check and Send from the Post office on the 3rd of January and the new passport arrived on the 6th. We couldn’t believe it; if you need your passport renewing right after Christmas is apparently the time to do it!

What are you grateful for?

 

 

New year, new start?

Happy New Year! I hope you have all had a lovely Christmas.

Husband went back to work on Tuesday and I went back on Wednesday, so a nice short week this week before everything goes back to normal on Monday.

I have had a think about what if any New Year resolutions I could/should have this year.

I have decided to carry on as I am.

I decided to do some things in 2016 that I intend to carry on with; maybe my resolution will be to carry on with what I am doing?

  1. Be more health conscious and continue to make lifestyle changes. In October before my birthday I went to the nurse to get a new prescription for my Pill and to have my blood pressure checked. My blood pressure was fine but the nurse wanted to weigh me and measure my waist. Once she had done that she stated that my waist size was putting me in danger of developing diabetes and that I ought to lose some weight; she finished by saying she could refer me to a fitness class!
    I was hurt by that. I felt that I looked fine! But I also knew that I know I have gained weight over the years. And that Dad developed diabetes type 2 from being obese. So I went home and had a chat with my husband to explain what had been said and that I had to make a change. Since then I have made healthier lifestyle choices. I took a break while we were back home in Norway for four days but now that we are back to normal I am back on again. So one of my resolutions is to continue to make healthy lifestyle choices in a bid to lose weight and then maintain it.
  2. Using stuff up before buying more. I have loads of toiletries; soaps, shower gels, samples of face cream, makeup, body lotions that I have accumulated, through being gifted it or as freebies. I resolved in 2016 to not buy more until I have used stuff up and I will carry this on for 2017. It is better for my purse and for the environment.
  3. And along those lines, something has come to mind that I should do even more of in 2017. I want to be even better at planning meals and using food up to avoid waste. I will do this by using our hand blender (Thank you , husband’s sister and her family!) to make soups, and by freezing stuff I don’t use. In December I ended up throwing out almost a full pack of bacon and a head of broccoli as I just did not have time to use it and I was so cross. I could have used that broccoli sooner, and I could have frozen part of that bacon down but I didn’t do it. Makes me cross to think about even now and it is something I want to avoid in 2017.

 

Those are my resolutions for 2017. What about you? Do you have any resolutions for the new year?