A new year’s wish for 2014

Each person whoever was or is or will be has a song. It isn’t a song that anybody else wrote. It has its own melody, its own words. Very few people get to sing their own song. Most of us fear that we cannot do it justice with our voices, or that our words are too foolish or too honest, or too odd. So people live their songs instead.

Anansi boys by Neil Gaiman

My wish for all of us in this coming year is that we are able to sing our own song, to make the beautiful music that only we can make. The music that we make simply by living our lives, to acknowledge our fear and our darkness and simply sing.

Love and new year’s wishes,
Trisha

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A Blessing by John O’Donohue

May the light of your soul guide you
May the light of your soul bless the work you do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.
May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.
May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light and renewal to those who work with you and to those who see and receive your work.
May your work never weary you.
May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration and excitement.
May you be present in what you do.
May you never become lost in the bland absences.
May the day never burden.
May dawn find you awake and alert, approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities and promises.
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.
May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected.
May your soul calm, console and renew you.

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Fear

One of the interesting things about living with a mental illness is that in order to survive you become more aware of the world around you. And one of the things that I have been noticing a great deal over the last while, is how we are encouraged to be completely and totally frightened. To believe that the world is out to get you, and filled with terror and danger.

We are encouraged to play it small. We are taught that mistakes are dangerous and we should avoid making them at all costs. That people are dangerous and mean.

One of the blessings of living with my anxiety disorder is that I reflect on the danger I see, and the things that make me afraid, and for the most part I have been able to see that all of this fear-mongering is absolute rubbish.

For the most part, the fear is simply encouraging us to play it small. Instead of to look at how things actually are.

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Living with Depression: Some of my coping tips

Hello,

Firstly to all of you who have sent love and support after my previous blog post, thank you very much. It is appreciated, and I know it is incredibly hard just standing by, wanting to be able to make it better and not being able to.

I am still in the midst of some dark times in my head, but I thought I would share some of my coping tricks for dealing with a major depressive episode.  (These are things that work for me, your mileage may vary).

  1. Have a checklist of essential, achievable goals that you can mark off as having done. I have found that having the list of things to do takes away that mental strain of thinking what must I do next. My current checklist has 8 things on it:
    1. Get up before 9 a.m
    2. Make the bed
    3. Take meds
    4. Bath
    5. Brush teeth
    6. Eat a healthy breakfast
    7. Get 15 minutes of exercise
    8. Do 2 pomodoros of work.The thing about that list is it also has some tasks on it that help manage depression, eating healthily (you’ll note that I’ve not said to eat only healthy food, I have given myself a super-achievable goal of eating one healthy meal a day, any thing above that is gravy) and getting some exercise as well as making sure some personal management is attended.

      This is a pretty extreme list, it is for when I am in the midst of a major depressive episode but the most important criteria for me is that the list is:

      1. manageable (less than 10 items)
      2. consists of achievable, unambiguous goals
      3. helps.
  2. Have a support system: In my case my support system consists of my husband and my family and friends (including those on the internet). What support I ask for depends. Sometimes, it’s being able to message a close mate on Facebook, other times it is being able to go and eat supper away from home (which has two bonuses: getting out the house, and not having to worry about what to cook.)
  3. Have a mental health team:My mental health team consists of myself, my psychologist, my psychiatrist and on one occasion an emergency counsellor.  (For most people, it also includes their G.P. and I am sure when I find a G.P it will, but for now, I don’t have G.P and so my team does not include one). These folks are able to help me deal with some of the darker sides of the mental illness. I am a huge fan of both talk therapy and medication.A note about medication:  It should make you feel well not just better, and if you are having more bad days than good days, it needs to be adjusted or changed (speak to your mental health team or G.P)

So, these are some of the things that help me, and I figured I would share because depression is hard, and other people sharing their tricks have helped me.

Love and beating back the monsters in my head,
Trisha

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Another post about depression

Hi,

I have done something stupid for the past week, and I have no idea why. I stopped my meds. Which is a stupid, stupid thing to do. And by stopping them, I managed to give my demons a gap. A gap which allowed them to creep in and decrease the quality of my life, to make me into an irritable, unproductive bitchy unpleasant person.

One of the seriously sucky things about depression is that no matter how much you try to keep it in, keep it contained it’s effects spill over to other people in your life. The grumpiness and irritability and irrationality all increase and multiply.

Small chores that ordinarily take no effort begin to weigh you down and take a huge amount of effort, completely disproportional to the magnitude of the task. Your thoughts slow down, and every little decision begins to be second guessed, and you begin to believe the lies that the demons tell you.

This morning it was an effort to take my medication, it took me the better part of half an hour to get up and get some water to take one teeny tablet. But I won, I took the drugs. I know that this storm will pass.

The advantage of being a depression veteran, is that I know some tricks, and I know that even though this is a dark and bleak place, I won’t be here for ever.

Love and surviving,
Trisha

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Cake as art

When I opened my email this morning and I saw the question:

Is cake art?

posed by one of Medium’s writers, Alexandra Lange, I answered immediately an unequivocally yes.

I don’t know when I started to enjoy baking. I have always been fond of sweet things, and that evolved into me becoming the family’s dessert chef. This weekend, I baked a birthday cake for one of my aunts. A death by chocolate delight: a chocolate and orange layer cake, with a chocolate mouse and chocolate ganache filling, frosted with the chocolate ganache. It did not look amazing – I still want to master the art of icing, but for now I am proud to say that my cakes are delicious.

The thing that makes a cake art, even if you are following a recipe along, is the risk and vulnerability. The fact that you are putting a part of your soul into something that you are going to share with the world.

Art is not in the eye of the beholder or the critic, it is in the process that is created. Even if the process is guided by the works of someone that has come before.

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The Week That Was 17 June – 21 June

It’s been a bit longer than usual since the last week that was. Riaan and I had the opportunity to go up to the Waterberg for a long weekend, and then life happened. But, that is the past. So here’s what I found on the internet lately that has gotten  reaction from me:

Love and the week that was,
Trisha

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The week that was 2 June – 7 June

This past week has had me on the internet less than usual, I ended up dealing with kitchen disasters and running around doing lots of admin.

This did not mean that I did not see anything that was worthwhile on the internet:

Departing from the theme of sex and consent, this I read a brilliant little story about Heisenberg’s Cats, it was just what my geek heart needed and it is great fun. You should read it.

I think this is true of a number of professions, and the final piece of advice is priceless: Respect the work of those who have come before you.

Love and reflections,
Trisha

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Valuing yourself

One of the first things that my therapist had me monitor and amend my behaviour about was negative self-talk. You know exactly what I mean. The many times throughout the day where you call yourself names – ranging from stupid to clumsy.

We are remarkably unkind to ourselves, and it is a habit that we pass on to other people. One way to counteract it, after you have become aware of it, is to compliment yourself. There is absolutely nothing wrong about taking a moment to reflect and be proud of your achievement.

Valuing yourself does not devalue anyone else.

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The week that was: 27 May – 31 May 2013

Great things that I read this week:

I got lost in Stacey Mulcahy’s (aka @bitchwhocodes) brilliant curation of links. And then I followed a link about some things about addresses that programmers should remember.

I shipped two websites:

(They have both been ongoing, and one will still need some updates, I am pleased to be able to have them out in the world. )

I listened to some podcasts:

Ed Dale’s walking with Larry:
Practice deliberately on the stuff that makes you uncomfortable, so that you are always stretching yourself. Note: There are not a lot of people who I can say changed my life but Ed Dale is one of those people. Although I have never met him in person, he has made a huge difference in my life, primarily by encouraging me to start and have a process, and just trust in the process.  He taught me to free write, and has helped me deal with my anxiety disorder in so many ways. Do yourself a favour and listen to his podcast!

I also watched a video on a Short History of Typography, which of course needs to be juxtaposed against this loveable defence of Comic Sans.

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