Nearly-There November, week 2.

You can read about week 1 of Nearly-There November here.

Monday, 12th of November.
Husband’s shifts are from 6am to 2pm this week. This means getting up at 4.50am to see him off to work, so there will be a few early nights this week if I am going to retain the will to live by Friday.
It’s getting more chilly by the day, but even during daytime the temperatures are bearable. I decided to peg a load of laundry outside before going to work, and it did dry for the most part before I got home and it got dark. I brought it up to our top floor and hung it to finish drying. Anything is better than having really wet washing all over the house.
Husband’s foot is still very red and sore, despite having taken a course of antibiotics. Will continue to soak it in salted warm water.
Husband was sent home from work again and told to rest the foot this week.

Tuesday, 13th of November.
Took a chance and hung another load of laundry out before work this morning, for it to get at least a chance to dry a bit.
Chased Husband’s operation for his foot as he has been waiting for it for a while.
It is now scheduled for the beginning of December. Have to plan now what will happen that week and what to do food-wise, and just house-keeping-wise. Husband will need to be monitored for the first 24 hours after the general anaesthetic, and then keep his foot rested and elevated for the rest of the week so will be out of action. Smells like I have to make a plan….
When I came home, Husband was searching the house as he could not find his bus pass anywhere. He got home from work so he must have had it when travelling, so where could it be?

Wednesday, 14th of November.
Day off today, or something.
Accompanied Husband so he could have his second Hepatitis B vaccine for work – he now has to wait until April next year for the third one and then a blood test a month later to check that his body is creating antibodies when exposed to Hep B.

Husband and I then went to apply for his bus pass – unfortunately I had misread the form. Normally for concessionary cards you have to have a medical assessment to check you are eligible. However if you score more than 8 points for mobility or communicating, you don’t have to attend. I misread this, as the lady said you have to have 8 points or more towards the moving around section of the claim, something Husband doesn’t have. Ah well, at least we have applied now. I doubt they will turn him down as he wouldn’t be able to drive due to his epilepsy, but we will see.

As a treat, we had lunch at the Yellow Arches. It was really nice to just spend time together and sit and watch people go by, while eating.

Afterwards, I went down to the bus station to check if Husband’s pass had been handed in, while he headed to his therapy session. Thank goodness someone had found it on the bus and were kind enough to hand it in. Saved us £3 in replacing it.

Thursday, 15th of November.
As my 24 hour ticket was still valid from the day before, I took the bus there in the morning, and walked back home in the evening.
Spent the evening relaxing, paying bills and ordering the first few things online for Christmas. Contemplated doing the in-tray but decided to leave it for another day.

Friday, 16th of November.
Walked to and from work today; going home there was a light drizzle.
Was slightly alarmed to read the internal newsletter as a member of staff has been approached in an aggressive manner within the grounds by a member of the public, demanding money when leaving work. I think I can continue to listen to music while walking to work, but going back now I will keep them off, especially if it is dark when I leave.
Husband has been given a week off in February next year, and I have also been allocated leave. After asking if our lovely neighbour could mind the Cat for us, we have decided to go to London for the week, just Husband and me, to spend time together. Have booked a hotel and the coach there and back again, getting cashback for both purchases. The hotel has free wifi and a cooked breakfast included in the room price, so that will set us up nicely for the rest of the day during our stay.

Also managed to change the bed and do some laundry after dinner.

Saturday, 17th of November.
Back at weekend job today. I managed to peg a load of laundry out and it was almost dry for when I got back, so could just get it in and finish it on the clotheshorse. It’s been a quiet day, so managed to catch up on some training and back office tasks.
My colleague who lives nearby got a taxi home and offered me a ride, which is very generous. It saves me so much time in coming home.

Sunday, 18th of November.
Had a quiet morning with Husband this morning before setting off to work. The Cat was enjoying the sunshine on our bed, but did not seem keen to go outside as it was cold.

I then had a message come through from Olio, a lady gifting a load of pumpkins. I asked if I could have some, so went by her house before work and collected some of them.

I asked the lady if she’d kept them from Halloween or something, but she explained she had a friend who worked on a TV set where they were shooting a market scene. At the end of the filming, they were going to throw all the food away! How wasteful!

I am unsure what to do with these yet. Some recipes suggest scooping out the seeds and roasting whole and filling them, others suggest grating finely and making fritters….

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Can’t believe they were just going to chuck these out. Look at them, such gorgeous fall colours!
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This one was my personal favourite, being in cream with green speckles.

My colleague was getting a taxi back again after work, and offered me a ride. I keep asking if they want me to contribute but they just say it’s no bother. It was so relaxing to just be able to go straight home from work again, and not have to wait for the bus on my own in the dark. 
I was also starting to feel a bit under the weather, so not having to wait outside in the elements was also a bonus.

And it saves me so much time – which I can then use at home to spend with Husband. Time is so precious to me now. It’s not something I used to even think about, but now I think to myself ‘Ok, what can I do while dinner is cooking?’ or, ‘I have five minutes, what can I do with that time?’

I wonder what I can do with my time next week?

 

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Nearly-There November, Week 1.

Monday, 5th of November.
Walked to and from work today, as the weather was nice and bright. I have begun to realise that it now gets dark here earlier and that by 5pm it is dark. It is not as nice to walk in the dark, to be honest, but I will carry on with it as it’s good for me to move about.

Tuesday, 6th of November.
Learning new procedures today at work – feeling very self-conscious of being the new hire. I hope I won’t disappoint.
Husband has had to take some leave this week to get used to a reduction in his meds, so he very kindly made dinner as he was home. Nothing like coming home to dinner being ready and waiting for you.

Wednesday, 7th of November.
Day off today.
Spent a good two hours catching up with my lovely line manager from my previous job. We went to M and S, and using my M and S gift card from when I switched bank to them, it meant I could buy us a lovely drink and a piece of cake each from the cafe for no money.
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I then attended a meeting at my weekend workplace regarding the settlement programme the government is piloting for EU residents. As someone from the EEA I am not eligible to take part at this time, but it was still informative and useful to attend. The weekend workplace have stated they will pay the fee for applying for settlement status, £65, so as soon as I find out what the procedure is for EEA nationals I will apply to ensure I get the money reimbursed.

After the meeting, I went and did a bit of self-employed work for one the the firms I do work in Norwegian for. Nice to have some extra money coming in for next month. And it didn’t take all that long either.
We decided to have fast food as a treat for an early dinner, before I parceled up and went to post some eBay sales we’ve had.

Thursday, 8th of November.
I suddenly realized when I went to bed Wednesday night that the 24 hour bus ticket I had purchased through the app, meant that it was in fact valid for 24 hours!
Sorry if it sounds daft, but paper day tickets expire at the end of the day, but these you buy from the app are now valid for 24 hours after activation, until the next day. So as I got the bus before 9am on Wednesday, I decided to use the ticket up to take the bus to work in the morning.
Hey, I’ve bought the ticket, I want to get as much use out of it as humanly possible!

Walked home from work, going by the Co-Op to get milk coming back. Looked for bargains but sadly, there were none. Think 5.30pm is a bit early to look for the magical yellow stickers to appear.

Friday, 9th of November.
Work was very quiet today, so caught up with shelf-tidying.

Had a text from M and S bank to say another £5 has been added to my gift card (you have to have £1000 go in every month, and have two Direct Debits go out, to get the bonus applied). Think I will put it towards Christmas presents for this year.

When I checked my emails that evening, I was pleasantly surprised to find I was one of the ‘posters of the month’ on one of the online boards I am part of, which meant they sent me a £30 Amazon voucher. It was duly stashed in the Christmas/Birthday fund.

Saturday, 10th of November.
A quiet morning at work, meaning we could get on with this year’s stock projects. As usual, I found stuff to borrow.

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Two very interesting items I borrowed. The one on the right is a graphic novel about the experiences of a man who worked as a mental health nurse in a locked ward. The one on the left is a mental health first aid manual, designed for use in remote places of the world where mental health provision may be basic or not even exist.

Tempted to place a borrowing embargo on myself now, got so many books to read, yet keep finding interesting stuff on the shelves! Gah!

Sunday, 11th of November.
Had a quiet morning at home with Husband before going out.
Managed to make breakfast, do the dishes and take down and fold two loads of laundry before I left.
Using Husband’s pass to save on the precious few days of travel I have purchased for myself, using the travel app the bus company has.
We are collecting for three charities as a department this year for Christmas, so went by the shops to get some of the items that have been requested.

I also managed to swing by Foodprint before work. They are celebrating their first anniversary in December; I am so grateful it exists. It has saved so much food from going in the bin, and it’s saved us so much money. Managed to get lots of lovely bread which will make up Husband’s lunches at work over the next few weeks (it will all fit in the freezer, thankfully!).

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Lovely food for our lunches and breakfasts, saved by Foodprint from the bin. This cost me £5.75. It’s been such a boon to us, and has saved us so much money. Mr. Stabby is keeping an close eye on things.

Work was quiet, so managed to catch up on off-desk tasks and emails.
My colleague again offered a ride home as he was getting a taxi anyway, so grateful for this as it saves me so much time travelling home from work on a Sunday night.
This also meant I could go by the local shop and see if there were any bargains, which there were.

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Got these lovely donuts, 16p, and sausage and cheese and onion bakes, 34p a bag.

Husband went to Sharing Sherwood with our neighbour, and brought home some lovely food (and dinner for me).
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Here’s hoping next week will be as frugal.

An Overdue October.

November is now here, and winter is really approaching now, after we have had a lovely warm summer and fall. We caved at the end of October and put the heating on in the evenings.

How did we do for October?

  • Unlike last month, we were below budget for groceries for October. Long may it continue. Olio and Foodprint once again came through and helped us save a lot of money. I also got some good reduced food deals and my Wilkos voucher meant we could buy a lot of toiletries and household stuff for very little money. Old habits die hard.
  • Husband was finally and at long last given his overdue backdated PIP payment. It will pay for everything he needs to be able to function and take part in everyday life.
  • Husband and I have both been paid. Hopefully as we go into the New Year, we will build up our savings again. I will apply the overpayment to the mortgage again when I have some free time next week.
  • Silver had her birthday. I received a lot of good wishes and lovely gifts. And I got to see my sister and spend some quality time with her.
  • Husband is settling in well in his new workplace, doing part-time. I can’t help but feel a weight lifted off my shoulders. I can be sure that he is okay at work and feels safe and appreciated there. He had to have a few days off work due to his foot swelling, and he said to me that he ‘looked forward to going back to work.’
    Be still my heart, be still!
    I know that you can’t expect to always love your job, or like everyone you come across. Life is not like that. However Husband has always had a raw deal with everything, work, school, college. Not really feeling like he fitted in anywhere.

    I think this time, things will be different.

 

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.

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?