The search for hope

This may be one of the more contentious posts that I’ve ever written.  However the intention behind writing it is to spark discussion around depression, and for us to share our suffering and experiences.

And I would like to STRONGLY preface this post by stressing this is my personal experience and struggle only.   It may be confronting for some.

It’s also a long read.

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I was watching a documentary yesterday about a forest in Japan.  The documentary was voiced by the unfortunate gentleman who searches for the forest for the poor people that enter it with the intention of never coming back out.

He made mention of a sign that has been erected at the entrance of the forest, advising people to consider their family and friends, and to reach out and seek help for depression.  He said that we are never really on our own.

Having struggled my entire life with mental illness (including severe depression and anxiety) this is an emotive issue for me.

Hence my blog post today to talk about it.

My intention for this post is to share my experience, and encourage others to do the same.  In the hope that we can find hope and comfort.

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♥ Blended families ♥

Last night Mr ISFS and I were watching tv with my son, and he asked if he could take both of our photos on his iPad.

He went into his room, and was working away diligently on his iPad.

When he came back, he surprised us with this:

Meg and Dave

It’s only a picture he created, but it meant so much to Mr ISFS and I.

I had never realised the challenges (and blessings) of having a blended family before I met Mr ISFS.

In my experience there are a lot of extras to factor in when you have a non-birth parent sharing child raising with you.

You have brought this person into your child’s life.  You’ve taken a chance – you hope that they will get along well, and will maybe grow to even love each other.

You hope that you have done a good job of raising your child up until then so that they are well-mannered and tolerable.  You hope that things are blissful and calm in this new family.  And sometimes they are, and more often than not they aren’t.

I know personally I have struggled to let go of the guilt of “letting” Mr ISFS look after my son whilst I do something else (go out for a run, go grocery shopping etc).

And I know Mr ISFS struggles with disciplining, and the fear that he’ll be seen as the “cranky stepfather”.

With love and communication and openness though we deal with each issue as it comes along.

And there will always be issues to face – the same as for any family.

But it was very touchingto see this image my son created.

I love that he has grown to think of Mr ISFS as his dad as well.  I say “as well”, because Mr ISFS will never replace his own Dad.  But I love that my son has that affection for him, and thinks of him that way.

Maybe we are doing something right after all ♥

 

Use your thoughts for good and not evil

I saw this great post on FB this week, and it hit home for me, because it’s something I really believe in.Ordinary things

I think part of it is due to my mindfulness practice (which encourages noticing all the small things), but maybe more because I’ve found that it’s doing this that brings real happiness.

My belief is that you should have lots of things in your life that make you happy – all the small moments combined should bring you a sense of gratitude and satisfaction. And if they don’t then it’s probably time to look at why, and what you can do to change it.

Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows – actually from my experience it’s usually the opposite – but if you can focus on the small things that you love then it balances it all out.

For me personally the things that have made me happy this week are:

  • Going to the shops as a family and buying beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables for the week.  I’ve found a great fruit shop that sells the most beautiful fruit – it’s always such fantastic quality.  And things like that give me so much happiness.  I adore my fruit and vegetables and knowing I have a fridge full of the loveliest produce makes me really happy.
  • Nourishing my soul with classical music.  I work from home, so I have the freedom to listen to whatever I like to during the day.  And lately I’ve been listening to cello music.  It’s something Mr ISFS and I both have a passion for.  I just love having it on in the background as I work.
  • Books.  I’ve always been a huge bookworm since I could read.  Sometimes I find I get too busy with other things to read much, but it’s always such a joy to go back to it.  On Thursday during lunch I sat with my feet up, a cup of tea, my cello music playing, and a new book to read, and it was (to me) the idea of perfection.
  • Sharing my favourite takeout (noodles) with Mr ISFS.  This is something that we have always done – shared our favourite takeout together at least once a month.  We are trying to save for a house, so we are mostly budgeting very carefully, but once a month we splurge and get all our favourites – Kway Teow, Garlic Prawns, Special Fried Rice, and spring rolls.

and lastly

  • 12599343_960538727371424_1772379474_n(1)Valentine’s Day.  Today has a heightened meaning for me today, and it’s been a chance to realise how truly blessed I am.  I bought Mr ISFS a 1st edition copy of DeadPool (the comic), and he bought me a pair of amethyst earrings.  They have such special meaning for me as he picked them specially as they are my birthstone, and he knows how much I love them.  But the gifts are really only a very minor part of the day – the day is a reaffirmation for me of how much I love the life we have built together, and how much it means to me.

I am struggling with some personal issues at the moment (health related), but it’s focusing on these small things that makes my life full, and I realise how truly blessed I am.

Much love,
Meg

Just keep going

I just saw this great post by my blogging friend Jonathan Hilton:

Take some time today to make sure that you are better than you were yesterday. Don’t worry about being the best in the world at what you do. That is subjective anyway, who is to say what is greatest? Compared to yourself there is not debating that you are better or worse than you were yesterday. Physically, spiritually and mentally improve just a fraction of a percent and you are on your way to being the best you that you can be.

 

I love this a lot, and I really think it is the key to a happy and fulfilled life.  And by improving ourselves we improve the world around us.

The reality is that we will all make mistakes.  We will all stumble and fall.  All we can do though is try to do better.  And this is true in all aspects of life – friendships, relationships, work, society.

We can recognise where we have failed, or would do things differently, learn from it, and make an intention to do better next time.

I love that life is so full of opportunities to help people, and that includes helping ourselves first so we can better help those around us.

Much love,
Meg

 

Poetry and prose

I’ve been finding myself drawn to writing poetry more lately.  I’ve always had a passion for it – particularly when I was younger – but as my adult years approached my creativity was replaced by responsibilities.  I love that it’s coming back to me.

I was thinking yesterday about how I’ve changed in recent years.  Through life experiences (good, and very horrid) my expectations and desires have changed radically.

Particularly in what I thought I wanted in a relationship.

So many things have changed in relation to those expectations – as I realised what was important and what wasn’t.

One of the very small things was that I thought it would be lovely for my partner to also be on Facebook.  Mr ISFS used to be on Facebook a long time ago (in a galaxy far far away), but he had a bad experience and deactivated his account.   And there is next to no chance he will ever go back.

I actually admire him a lot for that. It’s something that I should do, but so much of my life is entwined with Facebook, including my work.

However I used to wistfully think though how nice it would be to have him on there to support me.  I would look at my friends whose partners would comment on their posts with something gushy and romantic, and think that would be so sweet to have that myself.

I realised yesterday though that it’s not something I desire any longer.

I would rather keep that side of my life private, and to tell Mr ISFS how much I love him face to face.

There’s something I have realised – how beautiful it is to have our love kept between us.  When broadcast it to the world – it seems (to me) to diminish it somehow.

And these words and this poem formed themselves in my mind:

Poem 08.02.16.JPG

It also feels so much better to respect his privacy, and not overshare on social media as I have been guilty of myself in the past.

I am by nature a very open and sharing person.  And unfortunately that quite often has been my downfall at times.  But this time I am really loving being more private about my relationship – it makes it seem even more special and magical.

Much love,

Meg

 

 

Drowning not waving

In terms of following my practice, and acting skilfully today was not a day I am proud of.  Actually I feel a bit ashamed if I’m honest.

I knew that I was being an egghead, but knowing it, and changing it are 2 different things entirely.  And today not much could turn my mindset around.  But I’ve decided to just treat myself with compassion, and try harder next time.

Today I had to spend the day in hospital having tests done.

And it’s something that I have to have done regularly.  It wasn’t the first time and it certainly isn’t the last.

I have 20+ breast tumours, and I’ve been dealing with it for 8 years since I first found out.  For 8 years I’ve tried to cope with it as best I can, and to act with grace and dignity.

Some days I have been more successful than others.

My first core biopsy was one of the not so successful times.  Knowing that I had to have an incision with a scalpel first, and then an instrument inserted really got to me.  I cried uncontrollably throughout the entire procedure.

Some visits I have been proud of – one of those I felt very calm and spent the time talking to other patients in the waiting area and trying to make them feel better.  That one comes to mind.

But today I just struggled.

No particular reason.  I was expecting it to go the same as any other visit – mammogram, ultrasound, specialist visit, biopsies.   Same as every other visit over the last 8 years.

The difference though was my mindset.

I didn’t want to do it.  Pure and simple.  I started to dwell on it yesterday.  I tried to talk myself into saying it wasn’t necessary.  That I could put it off another year.  I tried to get reassurance from my partner, family and friends that they also thought I could just put it off.

But naturally they were more worried about my health and wellbeing, and gently persuaded me to keep the appointment.

I got up this morning feeling relatively cheerful, but as soon as I was in the car it went downhill.

And boy was I resisting this hospital visit!  With basically every fibre of my being.

I repeatedly told myself (and my partner) that I didn’t want to do it.  I sat in the car sullenly on the way there.  I thought of all the reasons I didn’t want to go – the procedures themselves, the cost, the hours spent waiting, the invasiveness of it.

And yes, all of those things are pretty unpleasant.  I don’t deny that.

After finding the first lump I was reading an article where life changes for a woman once she discovers a lump in her breast.  That everything seems to shift, and her life is never as carefree again.  And I do agree that that is true.  Because once you find one, you then face it forever more.

And for me it wasn’t just one.   Well at first it was.  But they soon started multiplying.  One became 3, which became 5, which over years became 20.  Till it got to the point that they said it wasn’t helpful to tell me the number anymore.  My local GP’s were no longer able to handle my case, so I was referred to the specialists at the hospital.  And even they said I was a difficult case, and that they “drew straws” on who had to do the ultrasounds etc.  And I do feel their pain lol.

But the reality is – it is what it is.  I have these tumours and I have to have them monitored and tested.  And I can either accept that or resist it.  My attitude isn’t going to change the reality of the situation – it’s only going to make it more unpleasant for myself in the long run.

And I know that.  But today was harder than others to just accept it with a smile.

And I definitely was not smiling about it today.

Hospital 04.02.16

But I recognise that my attitude was (very) unskillful.  And I can only do better next time to accept it a bit more, and resist it a LOT less.

Much love to you all,

Meg

 

 

Embrace the everyday moments

I am so grateful for all the lovely comments I received on my post yesterday – it took me completely by surprise and I was very humbled ♥

Further to yesterday’s post I was thinking today about how it really is the small and seemingly insignificant moments that we will look back on and treasure.

I found the most delightful book recently – it was the story of a couples romance told in comic strip style – called Soppy: A Love Story.

soppy

It’s so beautifully charming and engaging in it’s simplicity.

And it’s also very thought provoking.  It’s full of the small moments that make up most relationships, but combined they are what gives the relationship it’s “story”.

It made me so badly want to document my own relationship this way. And if I could draw I would, but alas I cannot 😀

But if I could, I would draw in pictures my favourite ‘ordinary’ moments:

Sharing our favourite takeout – both of us swatting our 2 cats off the kitchen table between mouthfuls.

Having animated conversations about great white sharks (a passion of both of ours).

Laughing together over the hilarious things my 10yo comes out with:

Me:  “Put your pants on!”
1oyo “But I can’t find them!  I’ve lost them!!”
“Oh here they are, on the bookcase”

Trying in vain to sleep while our cats fight on top of us at 2am.

IMG_1978.JPG

Me standing talking to Mr ISFS every night as he has his shower – sharing our days, and deep meaningful conversations.

It’s every one of these small moments that I will treasure forever, as they honour the story of ‘us’ ♥