Surviving Lockdown and Winter

I struggle with the winter months every year and every year the shorter colder days always hit me smack in the face, even though it happens every year. But as I was preparing for another lockdown, I thought it was a good time to include the seasonal aspect to it, as earlier on in the year I was able to go outside more because the weather was nicer but this time of year is a bit colder with more rain, so being stuck inside more can be difficult.

As you’ve probably noticed I like my lists, as lists helps me organise myself and my thoughts, so I wrote several more lists for surviving winter/lockdown.

One list is called Non negotiable tasks, now these are the things I NEED to do every day no excuses.

These are my non negotiable tasks,

Sunday – Thursday get to bed between 11pm and 12 am at the latest

Friday and Saturday get to bed 1am at the latest

Getting to bed at the same time every night helps with insomnia, so if you have trouble getting to sleep try and get to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

Get up between 9am and 10am (not always easy with chronic fatigue but I try)

Every Monday do up medication pill boxes and write down what needs to be ordered

Take my meds in the morning and evening and do my sinus rinse morning and evening

Have breakfast before snacks

Get showered and dressed

Get out of the house with the dogs BEFORE sunset! no matter how exhausted I am.

Now those are the bare bones of my day and things that I do every day and somethings are much harder then others but creating a good routine, especially if you have mental health issues, is super important as consistency creates a sense of comfort and safety which will ease anxiety.

A more in depth list I have is a Rough day to day plan (some of this will be repetitive)

Sunday – Thursday get to bed between 11pm and 12 am at the latest

Friday and Saturday get to bed 1am at the latest

Wake up around 9am – 10am

Do the housework every other day

Take morning meds and do sinus rinse

Have a shower and get dressed

Have breakfast (before snacks)

Walk the dogs – weather and fatigue depending – either a longer walk or just a shorter walk across the road. But get out before sunset

See activities list (yet another list lol!)

Walk the dogs 6pm – 6:30pm at the latest

Between 7pm – 8pm at the latest make dinner or order takeaway.

After dinner have a shower (but not every night just if I feel, cold and achy or fancy one) Put some candles and incense sticks on.

Sit down with my SAD light and journal.

Maybe have a hot chocolate/camomile and honey tea and watch a film or something

Take meds, do sinus rinse and get to bed. (I usually listen to a podcast in bed)

So that is my rough day to day plan which helps give me a bit of structure to each day, now a lot of it is dependent on my chronic fatigue and chronic pain, so I try and keep checking in with myself to see how I’m feeling physically, so I’m not pushing myself and so I can still get things done whilst looking after myself as well.

This may seem quite over simplified but when you’re living with a chronic illness and especially depression, things need to simple. I find having a rough day to day plan written out, which I can go back to look at when I need too, takes a bit of stress out of daily living because I can keep track of the things I need to do.

In another separate list I have the days of the week written out and by each day I write what day the housework is, if I have any appointments, if I need to order medications, make any phone calls, when I need to do food shopping, things like that so that each day the important tasks are highlighted. As I really struggle to prioritise tasks, sometimes I’ll get invested in doing something I really enjoy doing but the boring and often more important tasks get forgotten until its too late then I have to run around and get stuff done which ends up being more stressful then if I had just got on and done it in the first place.

I also have written down when I get paid my benefits and how much and I also have my bills all written out and what comes and when, how much, who its going to etc and this has helped me so much to manage my money! I am really rubbish with money and in the past I have gotten myself into debt because I didn’t know what was coming out and when and now along with online banking, which is great as I’m such a visual person I need to see my money so I can organise myself and again it just takes so much stress and anxiety out of it all.

As I said I’m a really visual person which is why for me writing lists is incredibly helpful and having those visual aids helps things run a bit more smoothly and I don’t get myself into difficult situations with money etc any more because I am more organised.

Being an adult and know how to manage yourself and your life doesn’t come easy to everyone and we all do things differently and for me a routine and lists are the 2 things that help me manage my life on my own and maybe at 35 I should be able to do these things with no problems but when you have over riding things like a chronic illness and mental health issues, simple tasks can be much harder to manage.

I will write another blog with a list of activities and self care things this week coming.

I hope you find this useful

Peace Out

Zak

Day 1 in lockdown – Panic/trauma response

I was going to write more about how I plan on getting through this lockdown, but I thought it was important to first share about how my mental health has been effected already in day one.

When I woke up this morning, my mind was already racing with a million thoughts, the second I opened my eyes and I had the urge to get up and start racing around and do all the things and fill every second of the whole day. But I stopped myself and sat for a min to check in with myself and how I was feeling and I was still feeling sleepy, so I got up and fed the cats, let my dog scrappy out on the balcony for a pee and had a pee myself and then went back to bed for 2 hours.

I felt much better for having a longer sleep but my mind was still racing with all the things I ‘need to do today’ just because I ‘need’ to have a productive first day in lockdown.

Now needs are often what we think we should be doing and its usually what we think we should be doing in order to be productive, in order have value and worth in this life! which is bullshit! We don’t need to do anything, if I hadn’t gone back to sleep this morning then I would be feeling really tired and irritable, so I NEEDED to go back to sleep in order for me to feel the best I can feel today.

Whilst going about my morning, having a shower, getting dressed etc I realised that this panic of making sure I fill up every second is a trauma response, needed to fill every moment to run away from how I’m feeling. I’m not feeling too bad but now we are officially in lockdown and I’ve had an email from the government my anxiety levels are raised a bit more today.

I decided just to sit down and breathe for a moment and stop busily planning on what to do with every second. I decided not to take the dogs on a big walk just because, I was feeling too tired for that and my mind was so busy I wouldn’t have been able to relax and enjoy it.

So instead I took them across the road, took scrappy’s ball and spent some calm time over there just slowly walking around and watching them play. I got in and sat down to watch the new Spongebob movie as I’ve been so looking forward to watching it and I got some snacks and really enjoyed it. I’m still feeling pretty tired so I’m really glad I didn’t rush around going for a walk etc because there’s no point in making myself even more exhausted then I already am.

Instead of racing around and giving into the panic response from past trauma’s that I’m working through in counselling, I made myself stop and slow down and to show this part of me that was panicking that we’re ok, we can rest and take it easy and that I’m here to look after and heal all these parts of me that are still hurting, panicking, scared, angry and lonely. A lot of these parts are children who don’t realise we’re 35 now and they don’t need to be scared anymore. But healing, it can take years to find the right thing that helps you sort through the mess of everything and for me reading a book called Parts Work an Illustrated Guide to Your Inner Life and for me its been revolutionary! I’m able to break down the different parts of my life and have a better understanding of where some of my actions and thoughts come from. It’s a book I highly recommend.

After spending most of the afternoon just relaxing, I don’t feel that panic anymore. My anxiety levels are better and I generally just feel better for stopping and thinking about what I really need rather then just following every thought that pops up in my head. I don’t think we do that enough, we get so busy with expectations of life and others and the swirling noise in our heads were just on auto pilot, so were doing all these things we think we need to do, but we don’t actually listen to where these things are coming from and if we REALLY need to run around getting all these things done.

This lockdown can help us to stop and slow down, pace ourselves and stop listening to the noise and try and figure out what you actually need.

Peace out

Zak

Shining light

It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote anything and I’m feeling less angry and frustrated then I was in my last blog.

I took the decision to up my trazadone again to help me sleep better and hopefully help me feel less depressed and so far I’m sleeping a better most nights and I’m starting to feel a little better too. I don’t feel so hopeless and so lost in the darkness, I still don’t feel great but I can see the shimmer of light at the end of the darkness, I’ve just got to keep reaching out for it.

I’ve been trying to make little changes to my daily life, that will help continue to make me feel a bit better and to prepare myself for the winter months. Each year I struggle with my mood during the winter and every year it really hits me, so I’ve been trying to prepare myself so its not going to be so much of a shock when it rolls around.

I have written up a rough plan of things to do day to day, some of these things are non negotiable, like take my meds in the morning and evening, getting to bed at a reasonable time things like that. But also to get outside for at least 30 mins each day, especially when the clocks change. As some days I like to just chill and I don’t get dressed until 4pm, which during the summer months is fine as I have loads of time still to enjoy the sunshine. But in the winter it gets dark by 4pm, so I’m going to make sure that no mater how I’m feeling I make sure I spend time outside, soak in that vitamin D from the sun. I love being outside in nature so it shouldn’t be too much of a drag. Even something as small as that I know will make a huge difference to how I feel from day to day.

I love my lists and I’ve been spending nearly every day just writing and writing. One list is of self care stuff, things like washing my face masks regularly as that’s a new thing I need to do better, or using my SAD light every day, listening to what my body wants and needs. Just simple things.

This winter is going to be a tough one as we’re heading into another lockdown and firs time around I found it so hard and winter on top of that is going to bring added stress. But I feel much more prepared this time, that’s why I’ve been writing lists down, mainly as a reminder of things I can be doing to make myself feel better and help me get through this next part a bit easier and I know what to expect now so its not going to be so much of a shock to the system.

I think I mainly operate from my inner child, he’s in charge most of the time. Which is fine but at the moment he’s feeling scared, anxious and unsafe and that’s the main reason I’ve been trying to prepare myself for the winter months to ease the anxieties of my inner child and to make him feel safe. Which he is a bit more settled then he was but he’s still highly anxious and just wants everything in place to feel as safe as possible. Which I am currently working on and I’m not far off having everything ready but I’m not quite finished.

Trying to calm my inner child down has been difficult, but I’ve been trying to listen and trying to identify his needs and what he wants, but it’s tricky as he has complex needs from traumatic events in our life. Slowly I will heal us both, through counselling and lots of patience and self care. I’ve been trying to heal myself for the last 20 years but I’ve never even really scratched the surface until now, I think I’m finally ready to heal. I can’t keep bleeding, I can’t keep letting this little boy hurt, he deserves to feel better now. I want my life to be better now, I want things to be different, I want to break the patterns that I’ve been repeating for the last 35 years. I’m ready to be happy.

One of my self care/regular activities is to try and blog on a bit more of a regular basis. I love writing/blogging and my anxiety/procrastination stops me just getting on with it. I think sometimes I just feel so overwhelmed I can’t physically do anything so I don’t and then I feel annoyed because I haven’t done anything. So I am going to try and make more of a conscious effort to push through the anxiety and sit down and write. I always feel so much better for it, I just need to get over myself and do it! With any luck I’ll be here writing again soon and not with weeks or even months in between posts.

Now I’m sleeping much better at night, I’m getting between 7-9 hours a night, which is much better then the 4-6 hours I was getting, my appetite is a bit better as well. I’m not binge eating sugar because I’m tired. Hopefully I’ll loose a bit of weight now, as I’m not eating half as much as I was, I’m actually eating a proper breakfast every morning as well and I’m trying to eat dinner too, whether that be something I cook or a takeaway at least I’m eating meals rather then just shovelling chocolate into my face all day long.

Getting a good nights sleep for me is so important, it improves my mood, my appetite, I can manage my chronic fatigue better. It’s so easy to slip into bad habits when depressed but at the moment I’m really aware of what makes things worse for me and having all these lists of things will definitely help. Getting into a routine of going to bed at a reasonable time and having a slightly more structured day is slow going, it won’t ever be perfect but I’ve got a good start on it.

Well that’s all for now

Peace out

Zak

Surviving self isolation

Yesterday I said I was going to do a timetable of stuff to do during the day and as I was thinking about it, I realised that having a chronic illness makes a timetable a bit hard and feels too pressured. Also I can’t say how I am going to feel from one day to the next. Like I slept 11 hours last night, I went to sleep around 12:30am and I woke up at 11:30am, I must have needed it and all day I’ve felt a bit tired.

So instead of a timetable, I wrote out a list of things to do and divided into sections.

The sections don’t have set times, just go with whatever feels good. But its also important to remember its perfectly fine to do nothing at all.

Quiet time is always good to do regardless, its good to switch off and be still, its a god time to go within.

I haven’t done much today as my fatigue has been bad and that’s ok, to just rest and do what my body needs.

Peace out

Zak

Self care + Chronic illness

I have a really cool book that’s called Health Minder Personal wellness Journal, its really detailed and its great for keeping track of your physical and mental health.

I’ve not used it in 2 years and I thought since I have a lot of the Covid19 symptoms anyway because of my autoimmune disorder, I thought it would be a good idea to start filling it in again as a way to keep an eye on my symptoms and notice any changes there maybe. Also its a good way for me to check in with myself in the morning a and evening, which may help me connect with myself.

I was gifted this book from a friend, but you can get them on Amazon, eBay and MemoryMinder Journals website.

For me it is all helpful but my temperature is usually lower then the average 37 degrees. My temperature can range between 35 degrees and 36.5 degrees, anything higher then that for me indicates that I have a fever. So if I do get sick this book will be good to show to the doctors so they can see what my temperature is usually, so they can see that 38/39+ is a very high fever for me. Plus them being able to look at my symptoms and how things have changed etc and saves me explaining things over and over again.

I think it will be good to keep an eye on the slightest changes in my weight, temperature and symptoms, so I can make sure I am keeping as well as I can and not picking up any infections, whether that be the Covid19 or my usual sinus and chest infections.

I hope you’re all keeping safe and keeping as well as you can.

Peace out

Zak

Surviving self isolation

I’ve spent the last few days thinking about stuff, I think being forced into self/social isolation has a tendency to do that. Whilst I am used to social isolation, its something that is really bad for my mental health. So I’ve had to really think about how I am going to get through this, without spiralling into the darkness.

The first thing I decided was to start back on trazadone, I decided to stop taking it as I felt like I no longer needed it. Although having stopped it, I realised they were helping more then I thought they were. They helped me focus, stop disassociating as much as I am right now, took the edge off anxiety and depression, all which have come back but I’ve been able to keep on top of them a bit. Now we are in this self isolation and not being able to do everything I enjoy I know my mood, anxiety and disassociation will get worse, so I know I need to get on top of this. Not something I really wanted to do but I need to do.

I need to write down a list of things I need and see if I can try and get hold of them, I don’t need much just a few bits to get by. But as I’m vulnerable to this condition I need to try and be as prepared as possible.

I also need to write a list of things I can do inside, things I can do to keep the fur babies occupied as well. I can still take them for walks but with my chronic pain and fatigue I can’t always be outside with them.

I need to write out a rough routine that I can try and follow, I do better with a routine. Although I know I easily get bored of routine, so it won’t be something I will follow strictly just guidelines really so I don’t feel like I’m just floating around.

My asthma clinic appointment was cancelled as my doctors aren’t doing face to face appointments unless they are an emergencies, which I understand. I can still get my testosterone injection as that is something I need, so that is booked in for 14th April. I did ask if I can get paracetamol on prescription just for now, as I cannot find it anywhere and I don’t want to search the shops. I was told to ring back, but wasn’t able to get through, so I will try again tomorrow.

I plan on writing more, whether that is a blog or just scribbling down in my notebooks. I’ve felt so disconnected from myself I’ve struggled to write anything that I felt connected with.

Once I have some stuff written down about how to get through this self isolation, I will share it on here and hopefully as a community we can come together and help each other get through this.

Peace out

Zak

Birthday blues

Despite have a good birthday, I always feel a bit low around my birthday. Apparently it’s quite a common thing to feel low or even depressed around your birthday for a number of reasons.

One reason is because it forces you to look back over the past year and feeling like you’ve not accomplished enough over the last year, also feeling disappointed by not having expectations met.

Both of those examples I really struggle with, I often feel let down by people, as I have been let down a lot. I also feel like I’ve not done enough, I’m not doing enough, I’m not good enough etc.. So birthdays bring up so much crap and always throws me off and makes me feel so shitty.

I try and manage my expectations of people and my birthday but its really hard. I try my best to make sure I ask friends if they want to do stuff, so I’m not alone. But I still struggle to verbalise what I really want for my birthday, which makes managing expectations difficult.

But I had a great birthday despite feeling a bit low about everything and I am feeling grateful. It just knocks me down a bit, but I always get back up stronger then before.

Does anyone struggle around birthdays? Do you feel low? How do you cope with birthdays?

Peace out

Zak

A quick catch up

Just looking at when I last wrote and it was nearly 3 weeks ago, which feels like forever. I’ve struggled to sit down and concentrate mainly because I’ve been so exhausted but I’ve also been really struggling with disassociation, sometimes when I sit down I just feel frozen in place and I just cannot move, its so weird. It’s like part of my brain has just switched off but a tiny voice is still aware and awake, screaming at me but its too quiet to wake the rest of my brain up. It’s really frustrating as I have no control, so I try not to sit down to much so I’m not loosing chunks of time. But its not realistic, as much as its frustrating and makes me feel a big agitated I’m just letting it happen because it makes it worse if I fight against it. My brain is clearly just trying to protect me from something, I’m sure I’ll figure it out what.

That’s kinda where I’m at right now, still a bit depressed I think, which I have a real time accepting. Which makes the depression worse, I bully myself so much and I think as it was my birthday last week that exacerbated how I was already feeling as birthdays bring up so much stuff, which I’ll go more into in another post. Just writing this first to get the brain working and fired up lol!

It’s been really hard work to get myself organised and get stuff done as my brain is so foggy and so forgetful. Thoughts and stuff aren’t quite clear and sometimes don’t really make sense and aren’t in any order, which is making organising myself and my life pretty tricky. That plus my fatigue has been crappy as well, most days I’m not getting up and out till way past 12 pm but I’m trying not to be so hard on myself about it and just go with it. Although I do feel there’s a fine line between being lazy and resting and I’m not sure where that line even is at the moment.

I’m sure things will be less hazy soon, I kinda feel like I’m traipsing through thick, sticky mud and every task, every thought, just everything feels so heavy and so difficult. But I keep pushing through this mud, keep trying to find the beauty in every day, keep trying to smile and laugh every day. Its super hard, but I’ve been through this before, I know it passes, I know I will feel better eventually.

I’m still doing the weird breath holding thing, some days are worse then others. It’s starting to get frustrating as I can’t fix it. I think maybe its because I have things inside that have been left unsaid and I need to get them out. I need to write out some stuff out, not to post but to either pass on to the people I need to get stuff out too or just to get stuff out as a way of releasing it. I know its probably anxiety as well but deep routed as I don’t feel anxious. It probably doesn’t make sense but doesn’t make much sense to me lol.

I think I lost myself a little bit, I am changing and growing faster then can keep up with. But its been cool exploring new stuff, what sparks joy and passion and what doesn’t and who sparks joy and who doesn’t too. I do know I want to explore more, have more adventures, my confidence has grown so much and I am way more capable then I gave my self credit for. But I think that has a lot to do with leaving behind friendships where it was probably a bit codependent and just ended up being no good for anyone, not just me. I feel more free now, I don’t feel like life is on hold.

That’s all for this post but I have WAY more stuff to ramble on about lol! But I shall break it all down into different blogs.

Peace out

Zak

Pushing through the dark

I woke up today just not wanting to participate in life at all, just wanted to hide. But I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t settle on doing any one thing and Scrappy kept looking at me with his big puppy dog eyes.

With much effort and a lot of complaining and swearing lol, I got myself up and ready. Every step to get ready felt so difficult and almost impossible to do, but I stuck with it and finally was showered and dressed.

I got ready to take the dogs out, I was undecided as to where I was going to take them. But as soon as we stepped outside it started raining, only a little shower at first, so I kept walking and then it rained heavily for about 5 minutes. We’d just gone to the green across the road, as they needed to go pee anyway. The rain stopped and the sun came out, it was pretty windy, so it was moving the clouds out the way.

As we were already soaked, I decided to go to Baiter for a walk, Foxy wasn’t overly happy with being soaked but we all soon dried off in the sunshine.

There weren’t many people down there, which was perfect. It was good to be outside, despite the struggle it took to force myself out, I’m always happy to be out.

I took some nice pictures, the dogs had a blast which makes me so happy, watching them playing and having so much fun.

I feel like I can breathe when I’m outside in nature, I feel free. I’m glad we got out in between the rain and storms, we’ve got more headed our way this weekend.

Here are all the pictures I took this afternoon

I’m feeling a bit more relaxed now, then I was this morning. It’s amazing what a bit of fresh air can do to help lift your mood a bit.

That’s all for now, I hope you enjoy this blog and my pictures.

Peace out

Zak

Earth is waking up

We are heading towards spring and I couldn’t be happier, I’ve really struggled this winter with the darkness and near constant rain that we’ve had this winter.

The nights are slowly starting to get lighter again a bit later each day, the weather seems to be settling down too, although we have a storm heading our way this weekend.

I feel like I’m very slowly emerging out of my cocoon, just like the flowers which are slowly starting to bloom.

Still having days where things feel so intense and I just can’t face the outside world but I’m still pushing myself to get out at least a few times a week. I can’t hibernate forever lol!

Tuesday was a beautiful day and after a few days of feeling groggy and struggling with my chronic pain and fatigue, I woke up on Tuesday feeling a bit more human and the sun was shining, so I decided to take the dogs out for a walk and I’m glad I did.

It was so beautiful, lots of snowdrops and other gorgeous flowers blooming away and it was fairly quiet as well, we didn’t see many people out, until we got closer to the beach.

It was so peaceful and relaxing, it was definitely needed. The dogs had fun running around and I got some great pictures of everything. I love looking at life through the lens, finding beauty in everything I see.

I hope you enjoy my pictures,

I love being outside with my dogs, I feel so at peace. It seems to be the only place where my mind is fairly quiet. I feel like I can breathe when I’m out in nature, I feel at home.

Peace out

Zak