Tuesday, December 31, 2013

the year that was

Well here we are at the end of 2013.  The photo above was taken this morning.

Another year where there have been some truly lovely times and some pretty average ones as well. I'm an optimist so from where I sit this year I'm happy to say there have been more happy times than sad times, but maybe I've perfected the art of wearing rose coloured glasses, I think you need to when you are surrounded on a daily basis with depression and PTSD.

I enjoy taking photos on my iPhone. I'm not a photographer at all I just capture what's in front of me at that moment and see what I get. It's at this time of the year I'm glad I do this as I can flick back through my photos and recall all that has been. It really does fill my heart with joy to see what the year has dished up and know what I've overcome and what I need to continue to work on, there's always something!

I may have mentioned here before that I follow the blog 'fat mum slim' and the gal behind this blog has created a 'photo a day' list. This has provided me with all sorts of inspiration and on those days when you really can't be bothered with the world. The little photo prompts can get you looking at things a little differently, pick you up if you need it or force you to look around. If this sounds like something you need in your life next year have a look at her blog. The list for Jan 2014 is up and ready to go and I'll be snapping away again.

Tonight we will celebrate the year that was and welcome the year that is yet to unfold in front of us. There have been years when being in bed at 9.30pm was the best option on New Years Eve but tonight we will have dinner out and wait until midnight to raise a glass to new beginnings.

This past year we have been able to bring some tedious administration to a close, I've seen small improvements in my husband and his health and we've taken steps as a couple to try and reestablish our relationship and move in a positive direction, all things that deserve a glass of bubbles.

Wishing you and yours happiness and good health in 2014.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

sleepy head

You only realise how much you need it when it is absent from your life-sleep.

As many of you will know a very common symptom of PTSD is sleep disturbance; nightmares, restless legs, fear of the dark, tinnitus, night sweats and the intrusive thoughts when lying there trying to get to sleep.

As a partner of someone who suffers from all of the above, sleep for both of us has become a little bit elusive at times in this house. I for one love my sleep but I am now a very light sleeper often listening for any strange noises or sudden changes that might be going on next to me.

Certain medications and sleeping tablets can help but there is nothing like being able to just drift off into a dreamy state without any help. We've both been through periods where the best solutions was separate bedrooms as two grumpy people in one house is far from pleasant!

These days a CPAP machine now gets switched on each night so that for my husband the sleep apnoea (stopping breathing while sleeping) is reduced. I wondered how I would go with the noise of the machine but it is actually soothing in a way and I now don't even hear it.

With sleep being such an important part of the recovery process it's just a pity it can be so hard to come by. We all need it and some more than others but particularly those with PTSD and depression. I remember days on end when my husband barely left the couch. His desire for sleep couldn't be met no matter how many hours were spent with his eyes closed.

As part of his treatment he has been lucky enough to have had access to a sleep doctor who has been invaluable in accessing and monitoring his sleep patterns and also explaining what the brain is doing when you are sleeping and the sleep cycles we go through each night.

If nightmares are part of my husband's sleep during the night the next day is very average for him. It can take a couple of days for him to settle again, so cruel.

On the weekends I do find myself catching up on sleep with an afternoon nap if I can, nothing nicer.
I have a little routine myself before I go to bed, almost 'powering down' for the night. I like aromatherapy oil blends on my pillow and a nice cool room.

Do you find it hard to sleep these days?
Do you have any routines you like to do before you go to sleep?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

getting festive

Well December has arrived and the count down to Christmas Day seems to have started. I've not really looked forward to Christmas for a number of years, just another day where expectations on everyone being happy and jolly seems to cause me some anxiety.

I do love being around family but a low-key affair suits us best these days. This year we will host lunch on Christmas Day and strangely enough I'm looking forward to it. We are aiming for a relaxed and simple day.

The planning has started.

The decorations are up. I've made most of them this year using my new found crochet skills and bits and pieces from the garden.

I know how I want the table to look, white and red this year. The shopping list has been started and the buying of as much as I can in the next week is under way. The bubbles,wine and cocktails have been selected.

We go traditional here. No salads and cold meat on my table. There will be glazed ham, roast pork with crackling and moist turkey filled with a delicious stuffing. Roast veggies of all kinds and gravy.

Mum will make the pudding and flame it and I will make chocolate and raspberry roulade as I'm not a dried fruit fan. Custard, double cream and homemade icecream will all be on offer.

We are dusting off our board games in readiness for some post lunch fun for those who are still awake.

If the weather is kind there might even be a little badminton in the garden.

We have been given our names for 'Secret Santa' so the gift giving isn't extreme at all. Everyone has something to open but we don't go gift crazy.

So for now I hope the festive feeling stays with me and I also hope you are planning something that suits you and yours.

Do you have any traditions that you look forward to each year?
Does Christmas cause you to feel anxious?

Daisy is in dog heaven surrounded by her Christmas treats!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

they just don't get it

We have had an influx of relatives coming our way of late. When we travel we are not the type to stay
with people for all sorts of reasons. We would rather have our space and give other people their space.
Seems as though not everyone is like us. I've had to limit people staying with us to a week and no more. As I've said many times before we're not any easy couple to be around at times and the last thing I need is to feel uncomfortable in my own home.

It's always interesting when explaining this to relatives but I've become pretty good at it now. I'm less interested in the worry associated with offending people and more interested in maintaining a functioning husband and our cosy private space which is our home.

Even those that know my husband well and his condition find it hard to understand the full impact of living with PTSD. In so many ways I understand why this is the case. Unless you have been directly impacted by something why would you understand?

Today while chatting with my husband we may have said 'they just don't get it' on more than one occasion when referring to our visitors. We are learning to set our boundaries and try and encourage others to understand why we need to do this. Sometimes it works but sometimes 'they just don't get it'!

Do you find you need to set boundaries when people want to come and stay with you?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

doing nothing

We've been on holidays. We were so looking forward to this holiday as it has been another year that has exhausted us and left us looking at a future we are not yet comfortable with. We knew we needed to warm up and spend time doing lots of nothing much at all. Being on the go doesn't work for us.

We flew off out of rainy cold Hobart and headed for the tropical heat of Thailand. This is a place I have been visiting for the past 24 years (I couldn't believe it when I first added the years up). I first went there as an exchange student when I left school. I can speak some of the language, love the people, the place, the culture and the food.

Travelling away from home can certainly throw up a few challenge let alone travelling with a PTSD suffer. Airports are never good and this trip was no exception. Oh boy!

Anyhow once we got to our destination we were able to slowly unwind and relax as best as we could.

We find the Thai people very gentle and polite and that works well for us. Nothing is a problem and they will do their very best to ensure you have a lovely time.

Doing lots of nothing can take a bit of work at first. Avoiding the temptation to fill the day with activities soon wore off. My brain had a chance to declutter, I had time to sleep in the sun, swim at sunrise, sip cocktails at sunset, forget the grocery shopping list and spend happy times with my husband.

Now that I'm home I am resisting the urge to make lists, get busy, talk with people and basically let the world in again. I wonder how long it will last?

Do you look forward to a break each year? Do you find it hard to unwind?

Swimming in this water with the fish scooting past was just wonderful...

Monday, October 7, 2013

changing focus

This year I was determined to learn a new skill. Something told me that I needed to find an outlet that would shift my focus from all that was happening around me to something that would totally distract and engage me.

I happened to be walking past a lovely new yarn shop in town and there was a nice big sign offering crochet classes. I went in and enrolled there and then and over the next six weeks I began to build my love for this creative outlet.

During winter it was lovely to spend the cold nights with my mind concentrating on my next stitch. There's something very comforting and cosy about being surrounded by yarn.

Initially all I wanted to do was learn enough so I could make a granny square rug. I had no pattern I just knew I wanted it to be colourful and I wanted to experiment and have fun creating.

I found myself totally absorbed in the world of crochet. It made me sit still for at least 30 minutes at a time. I have had to concentrate so as not to muck up the stitches. I've felt calm when just sitting and creating and I've been pleased with what I've managed to make.

I have just finished my second rug. 

A perfect reminder of spring 2013 as this one is full of flowers.

I'm happy to have found this little patch of happiness and creativity. 

I'm hoping crochet will be part of my life for some time to come and encourage me to take time to sit and change focus.

Do you have something that totally changes your focus and allows you to switch off?

nothing like a cuppa, crochet and sunshine
the flower that started it all

granny square love
perfect cosy comfort

 the next obsession, maybelle flowers

starting to come together
Spring creation for 2013

Thursday, October 3, 2013

the best therapy

During the last 5 years there has been one constant, our pups. Their loyalty, unconditional love, cuddles, quiet presence, excitement, smiles, understanding and lack of judgement has meant the world to both of us.

It has been interesting to watch the way they just seem to know when to keep a low profile and then lavish you with love when you need it most.

They ask for nothing in return but your companionship, love and a big bowl of food at the end of the day.

I can see why they use dogs in all sorts of therapy situations and the bond that is so often created is so unique it can make my heart ache just to see it.

We love our girls. They owe us nothing. We will always feel somehow indebted to them for the calming influence they have created in our house and their continuous devotion to us no matter what the mood might be.

There is much we can learn from our canine friends. They truly are our best friends.

Do you have a special pet in your life?

Sunday, September 22, 2013


This past week while attending a session with our counsellor (she is helping us function as a couple again) we started to talk about the topic of loss.

Strangely that is exactly what I had been thinking about as I walked along the beach that morning. For some reason my thoughts turned to all that had been lost in our lives. And as my brain does it began to make a list.

The loss of health, well-being, employment, income, confidence, self esteem, trust in the system, dreams, friends, opportunities, time, certainty, goals, a way forward, colleagues, ambitions, security, calm, purpose and so my list kept getting longer.

I mentioned to our counsellor that I'm ready to start adding bits back into our lives as constant loss is incredibly unsettling.

There is no quick solution. I practise gratitude every day but there are some days were I feel really ripped off. I think in the world of psychologists this is called 'lack of acceptance'.

We are focusing on adding bits back into our lives, what this will look like is yet to determined but I'm sick of watching so many parts of our lives just dissolve into thin air never to return.

Do you feel like you've experience your share of loss?

Saturday, September 14, 2013


I think most of us who live around loved ones suffering from PTSD and depression feel a level of sadness at times. I know I do and have.

There is the big ugly all consuming sadness that life as we knew it will never return.

Hopes, dreams and expectations have had to be reshaped. Some for the better, some I'm not so sure about.

There is a lingering sadness when I see the man I love struggling with such simple life skills.

There is the unexpected sadness that catches me out at times when I'm least expecting it to.

There is the angry and frustrating sadness that just as we seem to be making progress something trips us up.

There is the daily sadness of of being around someone who largely can only see the negative aspects of their life.

And there are days when for no glaringly obvious reason I just feel sad.

I don't feel depressed but I do feel sad at times.

How about you, do you feel sad and if so what do you do in times of sadness?

Monday, September 2, 2013

just one wish

I like to dream. For me I think it's essential to let my mind drift off to a place which is carefree and calm.

Sometimes when I've done this I have wondered if there was just one wish available to me, what is it that I would change about our current situation?

These wishes have changed over time. Depends largely on what is going on in our world at the time.

At the moment my wish would be to have a '5 second delay' button. A big shiny button that we could both push before words are exchanged, actions taken, feelings hurt and we start to slide backwards.

We are currently working on a way to implement our own '5 second delay' button. Our success has been mixed but we are giving it a go.

Changing old habits is hard. But trying something different is certainly worth it. For us at the moment it requires discipline, trust, honesty, letting go of fear, reflection and courage.

We are trying to use different words when talking with one another, raising our hand when the mood is tense and asking one another what we can do differently.

Until I meet my fairy godmother or find some magic fairy dust to sprinkle over us it will be up to us to find our '5 second delay' button.

Do you have one wish? Have you tried to change old habits and how have you had success?

It's daffodil time in my garden, what a happy flower full of sunshine they are!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

socially speaking

Being out in the big wide world can be a scary thing at times.

Imagine being out in the world where a car back firing can cause heart wrenching fear, driving in the car produces anxiety way beyond all reasonableness, crowds of people equal danger, unplanned and unknown situations are to be avoided and the simple pleasures of just being social can turn to disaster very quickly.

Exhausting to say the least. 

As a partner I'm now hyper vigilant when it comes to social situations or if we are out in public. I look for potential situations that I know my Mr won't handle and try to intervene or remove us from them.

We are not an easy couple to be around at times. We need understanding and patience and family and friends can understandably tire of this. Being around someone who is constantly depressed is not easy.

Anti-social probably best describes us now. 

A night a home with our pups and our own company seems to work best for now.

How do you handle social situations? Do you find you avoid going out these days?