Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Living with Depression & Disorganisation #2...Three little challenges..

In order to have a peaceful, serene, well organised home, you need a peaceful, serene, well organised mind. And vice versa, really. The two go together like a hand in a glove.
That's where depression, for some, messes with that whole idea, I guess. I've heard it described as having all this white noise in your head, all this stuff going on, that you just can't bring to heel and make behave, right? I know in my life, when I've felt overwhelmed, at the end of my tether and out of my depth (which wasn't back then, but is now, called 'Depression'), that's been an accurate description for me.
Your ability to manage your thoughts and therefore the day ahead is impaired because you simply can't make those ideas line up in an orderly fashion. In frustration, you just go 'Nup. Too hard. I'm just going to sit here instead.' So you have a day of just sitting, and nothing of a practical nature gets done, and then you realise when you wake up the next day, that nothing has changed, that everything still needs doing but you still can't decide where to start, so you do sit around all day again. It's the inactivity that's the fiend here. That's where that 'spiral' that my friend Annabel mentioned in the comments of my previous post, starts. And it doesn't take long to gather momentum.
In that recent post, offering tips to overcome this paralysis and procrastination, which you can read here, I mentioned a strategy that my Mum gave me back in those days. I was a young, overwhelmed Mum of two little babies under 3, and later a single Mum of three sons, the youngest of whom had just been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, and I was chronically overwhelmed. She used to say 'Just do one thing Darling, then do one thing more. Try to keep going for as long as you can, just doing one thing and one thing more, and before you know it, things will start looking better. I promise.'
This is such great, and fundamental advice, because mostly we don't start a task because it seems too huge. If you're only starting and finishing one small thing at a time, it's easy to see the end in sight, and feel a sense of accomplishment. And she was right. Even if I only managed a dozen things in my day, it would make a difference and things would look and feel more under control very quickly.
The other thing she used to drive me nuts with, but that I am eternally thankful to her for, was to make an effort to look nice. This also falls under the heading of 'feeling more in control' for me.
Mum was European, and one of her favourite things was dressing up, even if she had nowhere to go. She would do it for herself. She had a vast collection of spectacular costume jewellery, and never left the house without several pieces on show. To this day, I can hear her saying to me 'aren't you going to put on your earrings and a bit of lippy, Darling?'. A 'bit of lippy' and some 'earrings' were apparently the salve to soothe all souls according to Mum.
Strangely, this too, worked. The mere act of making an effort to put on earrings and lipstick made, and continues to make me feel more human, and capable.
So this week, set yourself these three little challenges.
1. Every day for the next seven days, dress up. Do it for you. Like yourself. Value yourself. Wear a bit of lippy. If you don't like lippy (lipstick) then use lip balm or Vaseline, or find another way to look nice. A favourite pair of earrings, a pretty hair ribbon, or paint your fingernails and toenails. See if it makes you feel a little bit  more in control. These are after all things you can control. Work on those, rather than trying to change what is beyond your control.
2. Get all of that stuff out of your head, and on to paper. Write down all of the things you need to do so that they do become organised. Quell that paralysing fear that you've forgotten to do something important, by then noting each thing down in order of importance, and numbering them. Number 1 means urgent, overdue or the things you fear most. Number 10 means things that need doing but that can wait. We'll deal with them all soon.
3. Each day for the next seven days, do one thing that nurtures you physically. Drink your eight glasses of water, eat your 5 veg and 2 fruit, go for three 10 minute walks in the sunlight. Buy your favourite fruit, hug a loved one for a long time, pat your pet. Re-read a loved childhood book, write a letter, plant a favourite herb in your garden or in a pot on your windowsill. Look through your favourite blogs, make a Christmas list, plan Christmas dinner. It's up to you. But make that time to be kind, healthful and healing in what you do. If you could step outside of yourself, and pretend to be someone else, what would you say or do to comfort the 'other' you? Sometimes we are so busy offering support and healing to others, that we forget to do it for ourselves. Me? I'd tell myself to slow down, to not worry about outcomes for my troubled relative because I cannot change them. I'd give me a hug, and a rub between the shoulder blades and say 'You've done enough. Rest. You deserve it'.
So that is what I am doing for the next hour, and next week, and the week after that.
And thankyou all for the completely overwhelming response to my recent post offering tips to overcome Depression and Disorganisation. I am pleased that my humble scribblings helped so many of you. Thankyou to each and every one of you, for your lovely emails and comments.


  1. Dear Mimi, Your Mum was a wise woman. It's all true, if things are written down for me my head is not bursting trying to remember it all. Also I can see what to do next.
    The only time I don't wear lippy is in recovery and I tried but they made me take it off :( but as soon as I was awake again it went back on!
    It all makes sense. There are times everyone struggles of course but for me things are only made much worse by letting the wheels fall off altogether and let myself go to pot. Which is grim.
    I will take up the challenge to do extra nurturing and care things for the next week. With love and thanks, Annabel.xxx

    1. Dear Annabel, isn't it funny that just the act of writing down all that needs doing, can still the panic in your heart and mind. Suddenly it's just a series of tasks, not something that's strangling you like a rock around your neck. I think in writing things down too, that sometimes you see that others can be trusted to take on a few of those tasks, or that at least you can ask for help with them. It really is like your head is busting sometimes, and especially for creative people like you and me, the 'creative' and the 'practical' are both in there jostling for space a lot of the time. Writing things down allows a purge of sorts, so that there is room for important stuff. The other thing about writing things down, is that it makes things more orderly and helps you to see what your priorities should be. I write down ALL my tasks for the day, including clipping fresh herbs for that nights dinner (therapeutic and nurturing in itself), replacing the toilet rolls, watering my new roses, and feeding the dog. As each thing is done, I can tick it off, and I get that tiny thrill of yet another task accomplished. We need to feel that we are managing our day in a good way, and a list and a series of ticks really helps, I find. Thankyou for taking up the nurturing challenge too. Love, Mimi xxx

  2. Hi Mimi,
    This is a great post, and Annabel is right your mother was a very wise lady, and I am sure some
    of this info comes from what you have learned as well, as you are a wise lady too, just to take
    her advice, because sometimes people will not reach out or take help when it is offered even.
    I so agree with so much you have said here, as I have been in a state of bad depression
    and never ever want to go there again...........wish I would have known you then. lol
    I like to write a list most days too, like you said it just frees our minds. funny the 2 things
    I do daily is put on earrings and lipstick or lipbalm, and too, always brush your hair and
    teeth!! lol Cause when you are depressed you could really care less...........
    Thank you for writing this as it will help a lot of ladies, even if they aren't depressed............

    Hope all is well with you sweetie, We got home late Sunday evening, and felt like I had jet
    lag all day yesterday even tho we drove........lol Today I think I might be trying to come
    down with something as I am achy all over........our Dee wasn't feeling great last week after
    she got back from their trip, so that could be where I got it. I was trying to read some stuff
    as I am suppose to get a call from someone who is having some really hard marital problems,
    so I trying to read up and kept falling asleep..........feeling somewhat better now. I was
    expecting to hit the ground running.......lol but oh well.........
    You have a delightful day
    Love and blessings, Nellie

    1. Dearest Nellie, you rest up my lovely lady. I'm glad you had a memorable time with your darlings, and travel of any kind is hard on the body at 'our' age....lol! I'm so sorry for your friend having marital problems. That is right up there for stress and depression. You are so sweet and honest to share your own experiences. I know what you say. When you're in that terrible place, how you look is not even in your thoughts. But it's part of wrenching back control of your life, to make a tiny effort I think. There really isn't much effort involved in, like you said, brushing your hair and teeth, applying lip balm, and putting on a pair of earrings. That's about 4 minutes worth, max. But the difference it can make to how you feel can be huge. If out of each waking hour, we took four minutes for self maintenance, devoted four minutes to housework, and spent four minutes on spiritual guidance and reflection (whatever that means to each of us...prayer, meditation, journalling), I think we'd all feel more in control, and by nature of that, more content. I'm off to email you sweetie. Love, Mimi xxx

  3. Mimi, you are spot on. These are all ideas to help boost mood and increase feelings of well-being, control, and self-worth. I am a psychotherapist (also a former single parent and formerly depressed) and I treat individuals for depression, among other issues. While clinical depression requires medical care (psychotherapy, medication if indicated), there are soo many things a person can do to help herself feel better day by day. Thank you for addressing this on your delightful blog in your caring and lovely way! Teresa

    1. Wow Teresa, thanks for that fabulous comment. Yes, of course, any extended feelings of depression need medical intervention, I couldn't agree more. My intent here, is more to support beyond that medical intervention if I can. As I've previously said, I'm not a professional. But I have studied Psychology back in my uni days, I've worked in the disability care and weight loss and fitness industries for many years (where pro-active self care is regularly recommended to clients), and I've seen much of life and it's ups and downs, myself. In terms of life experience, there isn't much I haven't been through personally. Marriage, divorce, death and bereavement, care of an intellectually impaired sister, care of a terminally ill parent, the diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy for my son, a second marriage with stepchildren, working Mum, stay-at-home Mum, single Mum, married Mum, career girl, career girl studying...I've done it all...lol! So I only speak from a standpoint of personal experience and what has worked for me. My advice is definitely NOT meant to replace the advice of a medical professional. Again, thankyou for your wonderful supportive comment. Mimi

  4. oh goodness me, you wrote that post for me. Yes me!. Thank you. I will endeavour to do your three tasks and come back in a week. I"m not depressed,but i'm certainly overwhelmed. Another surgery looming before christmas and i'm in that black spot. Does it make sense to your calm and clear mind that you can be in a black spot but not depressed. I think I'm more angry and frustrated. Fi (not even the act of finishing my tea towel stack has calmed the inner urghhh).

  5. ps. your mum was spot on. Fi


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx