Resolutions 2013 reprise

So its June now and that must mean its about time to reassess my goals for the year.
As might be expected I am not wholly pleased…

  1. Weight – 12 stone or less
    Actually this is one area I have started making progress in. W has started a low GI diet and it is helping me drop closer to my target.
  2. Exercise – 5x brisk 20 min walks/ week; 1x 30 mins swimming/week; 20 sit-ups 6x/week; 5mins shoulder stretches everyday & 5 mins knee stretches everyday
    Sigh. Such good intentions- such regular failure. I do manage to walk most days of the week but if I manage one set of sit-ups and one of either knee or shoulder exercises per week I am doing well. I am still failing at swimming
  3. Mindfulness – restart some meditation practices
  4. Housework – This will also involve a schedule, scrubbing & hoovering
    Um I do housework… but it remains ridiculously disorganised and I still have managed to get back to my 2 house rota
  5. Conferences & Publication – 2 Conference papers, 2 + articles, monograph proposal…
    I have given 1 paper & rewritten it to the extent I let some other people read it. The next paper will be this weekend. I started writing an article but don’t think I have written fast enough to get it in the journal I wanted so may have to do something else with it. Feeling guilty about not having submitted a monograph proposal though
  6. Job – at least 1 application per month
    I have applied for 2 fellowships and 3 other jobs so far this year. Both fellowships were no gos, neither of the office jobs even asked me to interview and I’m not very hopeful about the brewery job either. Sigh.
  7. Holidays – At least 1 new Munro (with B?) & 1 city-break with W
    So far the 3 of us went to Cornwall together and I have a hol in Scotland (with mountains) booked with B. Finding schedule/time to do something positive with W is proving harder
  8. Irish – Start learning to speak it..
    Um occasionally I think I have learnt a new word – but actually I feel guilty about neglecting my greek and latin so am going back to them a bit more often

New Year – New Health Plan

When I logged into my surgery’s online system today it told me it had been 3 months since I last made an appointment..

I haven’t been that long without seeing a Dr in about 5 years. This is the first time I have spent 2 months without painkillers in that time and for a lot of it I was also on various Psych meds. Ironically I am going back because I need to ask for more contraceptives – otherwise I’d stick med free til I crashed..again, but as it is I don’t know what to say.

Despite the cold weather I am currently functionally mobile and haven’t reached for the co-codamol in tears of pain for at least 3 weeks. This either means that not sitting at the laptop typing for my thesis has reduced the pressure on my joints to an acceptable level (i.e. one that won’t cause trouble in the immediate future) or I have become indifferent to the Naproxen and only occasional painkillers (read extra co-codamol as required) were making any difference anyway.
I am trying to do more physio exercises while my motivation/guilt is high and am really hoping that my joints are doing better. I know that I don’t want to ask for more painkillers, I feel like a junkie just asking, and I really want to focus on making the physio work for me and so thats the plan but in my heart of hearts I know its only a matter of time til I beg for them back again cos that grinding sound aint going away.

As for head-pills.
I’m ok. In so far as crying everyday and not being able to get out of bed is ok.
Logic says its the weather and the uncertainty of waiting for a viva added to the sense of pressure about getting a job and finally being a worthwhile financially contributing member of your family that is making you anxious. Logic says sunshine and flowers and exercise and hard work is gonna get you out of this idiocy babe. Logic says eat healthily, get fresh air, exercise, think positively….
Head says – keep doin stuff dammit, wash the dishes and the clothes, walk the dog, do the exercises, write the applications and the articles – you’ll get thereHeart says – I don’t wanna face the world today, hold me and dont let go, please dont die on me, for fucks sake pretty please tell me you want to be with me and you wont kill yourself, just one cut to make the world a little less chaotic, please let me sleep …
But will January blues fade away? Should I go back to citalopram the most successful nothing-in-particular of the past? Is sertraline or something else beckoning? Is it in fact not such a big deal and rather worth skipping over in favour of worrying about it later?

Decisions to be made. Least of which is my wife doesn’t want to be a mother yet.

Dog Walking – Health and Obligation

Before W and I got a dog we thought long and hard about the implications and responsibilities inherent in a pet. Particularly the time and energy required to walk a dog – as a couple who both have jobs, joint problems and severe social anxiety this was not a minor consideration.

I know that even though our Rory boy is old he needs to get out of the house regularly and that proper exercise keeps him healthy physically and psychologically. Its good for us too.
I am currently aiming for 2 brisk 20 min walks for the boy a day (which if I do both gives me 20 mins of raised pulse in total) and although I know that some days without a walk or with just one 30-50 min walk are acceptable I also know they do none of us any good.
I know that walking regularly helps me keep my weight down, forces me to get fresh air and daylight to lift my mood and generally promotes my overall wellbeing.

It is my duty to walk my dog.

Its not easy. A cold or flu makes the energy vanish, a headache makes any kind of focus fade, the cold and wet weather (or a heavy shift) mean that my knees and back ache and every step hurts.
But far more harshly my desire to hide from people paralyses every step. When I was deeper in the throes of misery I would walk my anxiety, anger and suicidality off at 2 or 3am when the streets were empty. Even now every day it is a battle to step through the door. I am at my worst when I anticipate other people on the walk.. the 8am club of dogwalkers at the local park who in their very existence make me feel inadequate as a dog-owner and person; the schoolchildren heading home; the people with their real jobs heading to or from places of employment – all of them are torture. When leaving the safety of my bed is tricky, leaving the protection of my home is a battle and panic attacks are only just under the surface.

I know that it is good for me not to let my fear rule my life and I know that therefore walking my dog is good for me. But I worry that W sees none of these benefits since my obligation is stronger than hers – she works harder and doesn’t have the same opinion of what a dog of Rory’s age needs – so it doesn’t seem to help her out the house etc. Plus some days when I am too tired for the fight with myself I worry that I am a cruel person to bring a dog into my struggle; that I might in some way let my health impinge on my dog’s wellbeing.

I guess the point of this post is just a reminder that whilst a pet is a fantastic companion and brilliant motivation for exercise and social interaction sometimes the price in exhaustion is heavy and the ability to guilt-trip oneself is strong.
I need to remember that actually its fantastic even when its hard, that sometimes its ok to say “its your turn – I need a break” and that “I’m sorry boy, how about I pet you and you lick my toes and show me you love me regardless?” works too.

DSA worries

It turns out that I should have re-applied for my disabled student allowance at the beginning of the academic year. Apparently you have to fill in their forms every year but no one told me.

So although I failed to keep any of my receipts and am too embarassed to ask for any extra assistance, because my university provided me with a mentor I have had to fill in a new application – though this only became apparent when they applied to the govt for their reimbursement and was the 1st I knew about it.
According to my disability support liasion I don’t need to have new Dr’s evidence, which came as both a relief and a surprise. A relief because a certifying letter from the Dr is expensive and time-consuming (approx £30 and 2 weeks – despite being attached to a uni the health centre even charge for letters for extenuating circs at their own uni!!!) and a surprise because of the current government’s attitude to disability (i.e. prove it umpteen times and we still probably dont think you deserve DLA, ATOS I’m looking at you!).

I’m worried.
I’m terrified they’ll decide I’m not entitled, that the university will ask me to pay for the mentoring services (which I only took because I thought they were funded). I’m terrified they are right. That I am a malingering fool, after all I’m not on meds at the moment.
I’m not very good at asking for money or support. In all my years as a PG and despite being allocated a fund every year I have never claimed money back from the university, for conferences or photocopying. I have never complained at the difficulties and costs associated with returning library books as a distance learner or the extreme panic any form of admin not explicitly emailed to me has caused. I accept both that travel is required and expensive and that I made the choice to live away (to stay with my partner, support network and job) and that standard PG resources are all campus based and even that all disabilty resources are campus based – but I feel like maybe just maybe there should be/have been someone to support me through the financial issues and the DSA forms and checked up that I was getting help. Am I asking too much? Am I just jaded?

Routines (or only cooking once a week)

I don’t like cooking. I find it stressful and time-consuming and difficult to plan. I am not creative and I’m no good at healthy.
My wife on the other hand finds it relaxing and inspiring. I enjoy eating her food. The only reasons she doesn’t cook everyday are that we’d spend all our money on ingredients and I would eat so much I’d actually pop. (She chronically over-caters and does tend to have a penchant for the finer delights of butter and sugar..) I regularly feel guilty about depriving her of the fun of creating fantastic meals but then I remember that work and research have to happen to and realistically no one has hours to make food everyday.

Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of B. He might not be as creative as W in the kitchen but he is willing and able to put together a meal from whatever scraps I hand out according to the budget (I am ruthless 5 days out of 7 so that W can have free reign for at least one weekend meal).
It works well not only splitting the food budget (and therefore allowing us to take advantage of some of the more bulk buy options) but also splitting the cooking Mon-Fri. Once a week W cooks for all three of us, once a week B takes that responsibility and the night of the week that I work we indulge in ready meals. That leaves 2 days where we go our separate ways (and I eat with whichever partner I am spending the evening with). It allows for quirks of individual tastes (W hates mushrooms, B can’t stand parsnips – I think they are both weird), everyone gets at least 2 nights off where they have no responsibility for preparing food and we can save money and work on being healthy together.
Don’t get me wrong its not all sunshine and jollity; it takes flexibility and lots of consultation just to put together a meal plan (so imagine for a moment the sensitivity required for other time management…). I get it wrong, pretty much every week because something will go off, or I’ll forget part of the packed lunches or a particular meeting or reason for celebrating, or I’ll forget that someone hates x or misjudge the amount of leftovers et cetera et cetera but you know what I think we are getting better…

Dividing the week up and compromising on the needs and desires of 3 adults is not everyone’s cup of tea but I enjoy having the support network that means no one has all the pressure and that everyone has a chance for their own space as well as always having an extra shoulder to cry on when those nearest are overloaded. What do couples do when 1 is ill in bed and the other hasn’t slept for 3 days and food needs to get from the shops to the table? How do more couples not collapse under the pressure of depression and chronic illness? I am thankful for my loves and my life.

Dealing with Family

So its that difficult time when W has to consider how best to look after family members..
Ironically not those we have perhaps most worried about but rather one who no one has the time or resources to care for. W needs to find a way to make sure not only that he gets the best possible support but also that the other members of her family already under pressure can take a break.

Wish her luck and love.

Keeping up with Good Intentions

So I want to lose weight and get a bit more healthy..I need to exercise everyday and watch what I eat.
The goal is to lose 3 stone and get back some muscle tone.

The trick is keeping going.

I can’t afford to buy calorie-counted meals for 2 (or 3) so to work out how much I’m consuming each day I need to weigh up portions – so yeah – me actually weighing food? Is that how this works, I have to manage each and every meal with scales and make a big fuss about eating.? I don’t want to become paranoid and obsessive about eating but it feels inevitable.

As for exercise- well I don’t feel in as much danger of getting paranoid about it – but I really need to find my motivation. Just finding the energy and commitment to add those 20 odd minutes a day seems overwhelming. How do I get myself to DO something even if its just dressing and going for a walk?

Must try harder..
So Joined a group to record my progress and working on recruiting friends to kick my backside. Wish me luck


I have never been so fat.
My waist is more than 10″ bigger than it was when I was 17 – more than an inch growth a year… I am 3 stone heavier than where I want to be.

I am trying to moderate my eating and get more exercise, but its not enough. I never add salt, I try not to fry, I don’t eat chocolate, I snack on ryvita, I’ve cut back on chips and biscuits and still I am getting fatter. I have weird cravings, I’m tired all the time and I can feel it eating into my self-esteem.

Stupid drugs, stupid me. Ugh. Must work harder, sooo swimming and less booze right?

In other news gig tomorrow. yay

Epilepsy Beginnings

I guess I knew it was coming. W’s mother has had know epileptic seizures since W was a young child – there was always a chance that W would begin to suffer too.

Its hard to tell for sure how or when it started. Between 4 and 2 years ago her mental health deteriorated, anxiety levels sky-rocketed, mood swings and flashes of rage became commonplace and it got so bad I threatened to leave if she didn’t get help. Anti-depressants softened the edges of the ups-and-downs and perhaps saved our marriage but over time I noticed the headaches and memory lapses getting worse and confusion becoming more regular.
Over the last year its got a bit worse: twitching in one hand, funny smells, funny tastes, jumbled words and loss of time. Over time I can only expect it to keep on getting worse without some kind of help.

But what to do? Most seizure medication is only mildly effective and has unpleasant side-effects, I couldn’t even prove to a Dr that W had seizures. We have agreed that I will create memory books to protect our time together and we will keep working on the psychological aspects – all I can offer is to try and keep her safe.

I want to be with her for a long time but I also want to make sure each day is the best we can manage.