I was inspired to write this post about reading Asha’s blog this morning.
I’ve been for want of a better way of saying it a traveller through life. I was born the daughter of an airman, which meant moving houses, schools and even countries during my childhood.
Although my parents settled in one place in 1997 due to my Dad taking redundancy I wouldn’t even say I have a friend from that time that I’m still friends with. Facebook makes you think you still have friends from previous moments in your life, but if you don’t text them, speak to them on the phone or see them at all for a number of years, they can’t really be a friend can they? They’re just someone you used to know.
The reason I don’t have someone in my life still from 1997 is partly due to the fact that since 2010 I have lived in 5 houses, in 4 different towns and 2 different counties. Since 2010 I’ve had 6 different jobs working for 5 different companies. But it is always down to a lack of confidence in the idea that people really like me.
My 30 mile drive home from work is sometimes all the therapy I need after a painfully stressful day at work.
Today was a painfully stressful day. Dealing with a colleague who despite being in his role for not far off a year still requires the level of support of a new starter is just a daily stress level I’ve come to be used to. But today through everything it had at me. Two massive complaints from very important customers landed in my lap. Both of which are not quick fixes – it will be a few weeks on both before either can be closed.
On top of that was my normal work load and having to deal with a very stroppy sales agent who was not happy to not have been given what he wanted, so many calls backwards and forwards dealing with him too.
Irrelevant of what causing a stressful day, whether it be difficult customer call after difficult customer call, or having a handle a nasty complaint or just a ridiculously high workload where everything is deemed critical it is really important to wind down from it.
My therapy often come in the form of my 30 mile drive home. I love driving and for me there is not much better than blasting out some of my favourite songs to clear my head from the difficulties of the day. On a warm, dry, sunny day I will drive the motorway with the windows down and some of my favourite songs playing. The mix of the sound of the wind in my ears, the feel of the wind on my skin and the joy of singing along at the top of my voice leaves none of my senses free to continue to think about work.
By the time I make it home I’ve had at least half an hour (depending on traffic) of driving bliss to clear my mind and shake off the tense shoulders so that I don’t walk through the door at home with the emotions I walked out of the door at work with.
If by any chance the drive hasn’t done the job, a cuddle with my husband once I arrive home definitely does!
My big sister turned 30 at the start of this month and I planned her family birthday celebration. I started planning back in November, booked a private hire room at a hotel to have a sit down meal. It was important to me that the room was private because of what I had started to plan. You see my sister loved games – she has a massive cupboard rammed with board games, she plays D&D and Ingress and well, pretty much any game really. Therefore I wanted to arrange a number of games to play during the evening.
But what games do you even plan for an evening with a mixed age group and a mix of people who are accustomed to playing a variety of games and those who don’t?
You don’t want the games to be too formal, or too hard to learn how to play – this meant no board games.
I also had to consider games that my sister might not have played before.
So after a long process of searching and narrowing down here are the games I set up for her 30th Birthday meal.
Party size: 18
Age Range: 14 – 70
Today is termed “Blue Monday”, it is when people have forgotten the festivities of Christmas and New year, are back into the routine of school & work and people are still 2 weeks away from pay day.
January can be a very hard month for people, the weather takes a turn for the worse, you’re skint, trying to get back into a sensible eating routine and possibly taking on a new exercise regime too; and your summer holiday seems so far away!
Depression & my Family
Depression kinda runs in my family, my grandfather (on my Mothers side) has battled depression all his life, and my mother lives with SAD. This means I’ve grown up aware of how your thought processes can have a big impact on your outlook on life and on mental health.
During my teens I started to deliberately work on creating positive thought processes as well as understanding what my depressive triggers were. For me, the sure fire thing to turn my thoughts depressive is too much time on my own. Time alone in the evenings is worse for me than in the day. I know that if I spend too much time on my own my thoughts turn incredibly negative and my mood drops very low. My coping mechanism for this, is to avoid being on my own for any more than 24 hours. Any time my husband goes away for the weekend, I usually arrange to stay with my parents, my sister or a friend.
Any time I do need to spend on my own I fill it being busy. I clean the house, I blog, I go to the gym, as long as I keep myself busy I can cope; keeping my thoughts away from myself, stops my thoughts turning dark.
Unfortunately I couldn’t avoid time on my own during my spell at university. Even though I had a good group of friends, our course was incredibly demanding so often evenings were spent in working on assignments. If I didn’t have a lecture that day I could spend all day and all night on my own sinking into my own dark thoughts and self loathing. University for me, was a very difficult time in regards to my mental health. At the time I didn’t drive so I couldn’t just pop home at weekends, meaning sometimes I’d be on my own from Thursday evening until lectures on Monday morning. I don’t like to focus on what it was like for me, but lets just say there was a lot of crying.
Now, I think I’ve got a very positive general outlook on life and am very good at seeing the good in everything and generally my mood is always good. It’s taken a number of years of training my thoughts to go in a different direction to what they did previously.
I’m not saying it is easy, and I’m not saying that if someone else did what I do that it would work for them, but this is what works for me.
Taking joy from other people’s joy
AKA Feeding off of other peoples happiness. When my colleague was going through the process of buying her first home, I genuinely experienced pure excitement for something that was happening to her! She was excited and nervous and jittery. Some people might even have said I seemed more excited than she did, but then again it wasn’t me buying the house so I didn’t have the same nerves she had about it all.
Don’t really understand how I can do this?
Think about Christmas… your little sibling, or younger cousin or your friends young child. Imagine what it is like to talk to that child about Christmas, bring to mind how they respond when you ask them about Santa. Being around a child at Christmas just makes Christmas so much better doesn’t it? You feel more festive, possibly more excited for Christmas yourself?
Well in a similar way to how people feel a higher level of joy at Christmas due to having an excitable and happy young child around them, that’s what I do with my friends and family when life is going good for them and they’re happy/excited about something – it makes me feel that way too.
When I add up all the time I am happy purely because I am happy and when I’m happy due to someone else’s joy, it amounts to much more time feeling good.
Looking for the Good & Laughing
I try to look for the good in everything. If I can’t find the good in something I look for the funny. I’ve been known to be so down about something I’ve ended up laughing. I’ve failed at a lot of things, I’ve broken a great number of things, I’ve lost friends before I’ve been ready to let them go, I’ve been sacked, I’ve been served notice on a house I loved…
When I first got served notice on the house I loved I laughed. I kept laughing about the ridiculousness of the situation with everyone I spoke to about it. At first the laugh was fake. At first it was forced. But the more people I told about being served notice, the more I associated the telling of the situation to laughing, so the laugh became easier, more natural. People laughed with me, which made me laugh more and the laughter made me feel so much better about it!
Then I looked for the positive … Ok I was being asked to leave a house I loved in an area I loved, but the husband and I were planning to move town anyway. We wanted to move to a neighbouring town as rents and property prices were lower in the other town. The other town was not only cheaper to live in, but also closer to my family. So rather than wait, we decided to use it as an excuse to move our plans forward, which meant we could settle in to the new house and new area sooner and be closer to my family for longer.
It isn’t easy to find the brighter side, in fact it sometimes it feels nearly impossible, but that’s why I laugh – the laughing (even when it starts off fake and forced) makes me feel better which makes it easier to find the lighter side of dark situations.
Once you do this long enough it becomes your new mindset.
I would even go so far as to say many people who know me, who have met me in the past 5 years wouldn’t even known I have depressive tendencies, wouldn’t even think I’m genetically pre-determined to be depressive. They’d probably be shocked to find that out as I am genuinely a happy person most of the time. The happiness is no longer a mask, no longer a facade, but real, true positivity I feel most of the time now.
During a month trip to Kenya with Camps International we played a game we called ‘Human Cluedo’ to keep us entertained during down time. Human Cluedo is a game that can last anything from a number of hours to a number of days.
Each person is assigned a target they must ‘kill’ using a set ‘weapon’ in a pre-determined location. In Kenya I got killed by Adam handing me the camcorder in the boys tent. He got me under the pretense that he and some of the other lads wanted to film a video diary and asked if I would film them.
Weather you are on a camping holiday, or whether you are planning an adults games evening, Human Cluedo can add a lot of fun.
How to Play:
- Write down the name of each person playing
- Write down ‘weapons’. These are to be items that will be to hand in the settings. If you’re camping think of things like, a stick, a tent peg, a jumper … If you’re at home go for, a cup, toilet roll, a DVD, mobile phone…
- List places where the murder has to take place. If you’re camping places could be, in the tent, by the fire, next to the lake… if you’re at home then the rooms around the house are perfect. If you don’t have enough locations for a unique one per person you can repeat them.
- Assign each person a target, a weapon and a location then watch the fun play out.
My sister has turned 30 this year, and next weekend we are having a birthday bash for her – meal and games. We will be playing Human Cluedo. As the guests arrive I will hand them the below along with their target, weapon and location. I will not physically hand their weapons, they will have to find them up and use them throughout the evening.
Human Cluedo is a fantastic alternative to Murder Mystery as it is a lot simpler to organise and play, and is a game that is best played with a large group. Age of the players doesn’t matter, but it does lend itself best to being played by teenagers and adults.
Can’t wait to introduce this game to my family members this weekend.
So today I received a message from M advising that two family members of the man we helped on New Years Eve knocked on his door earlier this evening.
The Family members had found out where M and D lived from the paramedic that responded to our call and who took the man into hospital that evening. They’d popped round to thank us for helping their Father/Husband, and to drop off some flowers and chocolates as a thank you. None of us expected to hear from the man or anyone connected to him, let alone receive a thank you in person from his loved ones.
The wife and daughter explained that he was still in hospital awaiting an x-ray on this arm and that they thought he had been outside for some time as was hypothermic when he was admitted into the hospital.
I’m just so pleased that we found him when we did and that we called 999 even though he was trying to refuse our first aid assistance. It doesn’t bare thinking about what would have come of the man if we hadn’t.
My thoughts are with him at this time and I am wishing him a speedy recovery.