Self care, sounds so lovely…

The interwebs is full of self care at the moment – its becoming even more “now” than mindfulness! “Look after yourself, be kind to yourself, treat yourself as nicely as you’d treat other people…” It sounds lovely – you can have a long hot bath in expensive lotions, spend loads on scented candles and burn them whilst reading magazines and scoffing chocolates in your immaculate hygge living room!

Theres nothing very “kind to yourself” about the image of trudging through the drizzle to the doctor’s surgery. But this is self-care too for depressed people. Because exercise = good, outdoors = good, doctors and drugs = bloody essential. We need to do this stuff to keep well. 

Ok – some days you can’t move, leaving the house is an impossibility, sometimes leaving the bed is impossible, just because. And in those conditions you do what you can – even if it’s nothing. But self-care should include tough-love. If you don’t feel like it, if it’s so difficult, but you could then you should. Tiny achievements can make such a big difference to depression, just because you “knew” you couldn’t do it!

If I shower and put on clean clothes I’ll feel less miserable.

If I can make my environment look less untidy by washing up the empty mug collection and putting the chocolate wrappers in the bin I’ll feel calmer. 

If I can speak to a friend on the phone or face to face I’ll feel happier, and less anxious. 

If I make and eat the healthy dinner I’ll feel so much better and have more energy than if I eat that packet of chocolate biscuits I’m craving.

If I can book a counselling appointment, I’ll learn how to cope with these feelings better.

I’m guessing people who don’t have depression/anxiety can see that these are all sensible things to do. What they don’t see is how impossible they feel, how terrifying they can be. When I’m in the grip of “a bad day”, forcing myself to go out and see people, or moving myself off the sofa to make a proper lunch is exhausting. They are also the best things I can do for myself. If I locked myself away with a hot bath and a face-pack I wouldn’t have to brave the outside world, or do the things that scare me. I might end up smelling nice with flawless skin, but I’d still feel crappy.

So self-care is all about doing things that are good for you – not just things that feel good. 


Five Frugal Achievements this week 12/1/18

It doesn’t feel like a week since last Friday. The older I get the quicker time goes, especially on my day off! Luckily I don’t seem to have time to spend any money! My five frugal things for this week are…

  1. I used up more of those eggs. Not that it notices, the egg skelter is still nearly full. My girls are supplying at least three eggs a day and a couple of days they’ve laid us an egg each! They’re such good layers, but who can use five eggs a day between two people? We swapped the pizza that I’d planned for Monday with an egg curry which is getting to be a real favourite here, it’s a really quick and tasty dinner. I’ve also made egg custard tarts for the first time, an apple sponge and a packed lunch omelette that I took to work Wednesday and Thursday. I’ll probably be making the tarts again this weekend. Himself said if I don’t make them again it “could be an issue” 😨ooooerrr… I don’t know why he doesn’t bake because he’s very good at following instructions, very precise, and I’m a bit more chuck-it-in-and-see!
  2. I remembered to save my O2 top up credits, I had enough to get a payment and I chose an Amazon gift card. So I’ve now got £10 to spend. I think I’m going to get myself some new Slipper boots. My old ones are looking extremely sorry for themselves.
  3. I’ve bought five Kindle books already this year costing a grand total of £6.75, and downloaded a few free ones too. I subscribe to a couple of email lists of the best free and cheap (usually 99p) e-books, and they’ve been brilliant. I’ve discovered lots of new writers and also got cheap books from writers I already loved. I’ve become aware that I’ve got quite a backlog of reading material and did a quick count on Wednesday morning. Erm… 156 e-books still unread 😲. I’ve put myself on a book buying ban! I don’t want to unsubscribe from the book emails, although I might have to if my willpower fails me. I plan to delete the emails without reading them until I’ve read most of my backlog. No idea how long that’ll take me, I did say I wanted to read more this year I guess this should add a bit more motivation.
  4. We realised last night after I got home late from work (yay traffic!) that we had no fresh spinach to make the planned dinner, which was supposed to be smoked salmon and horseradish pasta (yummy). It really needs to have something fresh and leafy in it so we decided to wait and have it tonight instead when I’ve bought some spinach. While I was rooting around the kitchen trying to find an alternative dinner that wasn’t egg and chips, Himself suggested a fish and chips takeaway. We normally share a portion of cod and chips and it only costs about £6 but I found a pack of two frozen fillets in the freezer and we had potatoes so he made our “takeaway” for free and almost as quickly as it would have been to go to the chip shop.
  5. We’re managing to reduce the ridiculous amount of laundry we’ve been doing by making progress with Lolly the rescue dog’s house training. Obviously, frugality is not the main reason we’re doing it – because yuck! I’m including this because I’m having trouble finding a fifth frugal thing, and because it’s a good excuse to talk about our newest baby! Himself has put in a lot of hard work with her, standing with her in the garden in the cold, miserable weather. I’ve been less useful because she’s still nervous of me. On our first day on our own together, with Himself at work, she started hiding under the bed from me again. It does make me worry about what the poor little girl has been through. She is starting to trust me more now and she knows who’s a soft touch for snacks! We slipped up last night and didn’t take her outside in time so a puddle happened. But we are making great progress. I’m very happy.

        I’m linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky and I love to steal everyone else’s ideas so please add yours to the linky or to the comments section below.

        Nanny Mo’s rock cakes

        Rock cakes are so simple to make but they’re one of the nicest cakes. They’re really soft and fluffy in the middle and  I think it’s the butter that makes them so delicious. They don’t look fancy but are one of our favourites.

        I’ve had this recipe for years, I was given it on one of our daughters’ birthdays. We got talking about cakes with the girls’ Nanny who was visiting and rock cakes were mentioned. I’d never made them, I’d never thought they sounded all that nice becauseI think I expected them to be really hard! Himself told us how much he loved them so I jotted down Nanny’s recipe on a birthday card envelope. I’ve still got the envelope in my recipe folder!

        I always measure the ingredients in ounces because that’s how I was given the recipe but I’ve put the metric measurements here too.

        • 8 ounces (225g) self raising flour
        • 4 ounces (115g) cold butter – cubed
        • 3 ounces (85g) caster sugar
        • 4 ounces dried mixed fruit
        • 1 beaten egg 
        • Dash of milk (if your egg is small)

        Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (gas mark 6)

        Rub the butter into the flour. It’s best to do this by hand because a mixer or processor makes the butter pieces too small and you don’t get such a nice textured bun.

        Mix in the sugar and the dried mixed fruit.

        Add the egg and if the mixture seems a little bit dry a tiny bit of milk. Stir well with a fork.

        This is a solid kind of cake batter. It’s possible to pick it up with your hands which gives the cakes a craggy “rock” sort of shape. I divide it into eight buns by hand and space them out on a baking tray.

        (Please excuse the state of my baking tray – it is clean, just really old)

        Bake for 15 minutes in the middle of the oven. When they are done they’ll feel “springy”. And the fruit won’t be burnt!

        Leave to cool somewhere safe from cats…. 

        These do need to be eaten within a couple of days. They go stale pretty quickly. We rarely have this problem! They should freeze ok, but I’ve never had enough left to try it.

        These are quick to mske, quick to cook, and quick to disappear! Please try them, they are awesome…

        How I rescue my day when I wake up depressed…

        Anyone who has depression will know the experience of going to bed feeling pretty much OK with the world, then waking up the next morning wishing you hadn’t. Because you can’t move, you can’t think, you feel exhausted and low and sad and angry. Being logical people we look for a reason why, so we can fix it.

        Big mistake!

        Chances are you (just like me) have a charmed life, apart from the mental illness thing. You have a home, food, (some) money, internet, friends and family: everything you might need. If you practice gratitude, you probably know it. But no ones’ life is perfect, there’s always something you’d change if you could.

        Thinking about depression and looking for a “why?” will inevitably lead to one (or more) of the imperfections in your life. You latch on to it as the reason you’re depressed. You realise that it’s actually a huge problem. Things must be pretty bleak because you are so depressed about it. (Logic amiright?) You wouldn’t be this depressed if it was nothing! Then it starts…

        “I need to change it, fix the thing, repair the situation. I can’t do that, if it was possible I’d have changed it before, it’s so awful. I’m in too deep, and no good anyway. If I try, it’ll make it worse, I’ll probably upset people. I don’t have the skills to address a problem like that, never been any good with anything. I have to do that thing, that I hate, and I’m useless at. Like that time before, and that thing happened, and I was crap. And everyone knew it. That’s why I’m depressed it’s because of the stupid thing I did. And that time when that person said that nasty thing. And they must have been right. No wonder my life is so crap I can’t even fix this one thing. No one else has this problem. No…”

        When my mind goes this way I end up with the depression settling in for the day. Or much longer. It’s so difficult to not get sucked into the depression internal monologue but using mindfulness is so much more than that ten minutes of meditation. Its given me a way to avoid stepping onto the “I’m crap, it’s all crap” rollercoaster.

        When you are meditating and thoughts distract you, you acknowledge them and let them go. It’s time to do the same with the depression. You notice the sadness. You notice the anger. You notice the tiredness, the stress, and the despair.  You acknowledge them. You can explore the physical sensation that comes with your feelings, the churning stomach, the short breaths, the shakes. Personally I try to look at the symptoms separately rather than under the big umbrella of “depression”. I acknowledge “that’s anger” or “that’s panic” rather than “I’m depressed”. Being aware of these emotions and sensations without trying to change them is powerful.

        Rather than spending time dwelling on reasons and making yourself more ill, it’s time to swallow the frog and try some practical steps. These are the things I try and do because I know they help me. Obviously, you can only do what you can do, but it’s well worth doing even little things.

        1. Make sure I’ve taken my drugs. Missing a dose usually makes me feel more weird than depressed but it’s well worth checking anyway! Knowing I feel rotten because I forgot a dose of meds can stop my brain looking for that reason!
        2. Eat something for breakfast. Partly necessary so I can take the drugs without getting heartburn (yuk). But also feeling hungry and low-blood-sugary is linked to low mood. Ideally this should be as healthy as possible, I find porridge oats a good, comforting option. They are warming, filling, and easy to make and eat. Or peanut butter on wholemeal toast. Eat whatever you can cope with but avoid processed or sugary foods that can lead to sugar crashes or bingeing. Having some easy ideas ready for those times when I can’t/won’t prep food stops me eating junk or not eating at all.
        3. Improve my environment. Sitting in a messy room is guaranteed to make me feel crappy even if I’m not already depressed so one of the main ways to improve my mood is to tidy up. Some days I might not be capable of doing more than hiding the junk in a drawer and dust-busting the worst of the cat hair. If things are too bad it can be good to simply go and spend time in a less messy room. If you can actually clean or tidy, the combination of exercise and a sense of achievement is a pretty good reward.
        4. Go outside. Sunshine is great, it’s almost guaranteed to improve your mood. This time of year there isn’t much in the way of sun (in England), but that’s OK. Keeping warm outside requires movement. Exercise is also a mood lifter!
        5. Physical contact. I often demand a hug when depression hits. A big cuddle from someone who loves you helps a lot. Cuddling with animals is good too. They are soft and warm and love you unconditionally. Mine love me even more when I hand out snacks, and making them happy makes me happier.

        I still wake up feeling rotten some days. But mindfulness and self care help me stop depression taking over my life whole days at a time. And when I check my emotions and notice “that’s calmness” I feel proud of myself that I have won today!

        Five Frugal Achievements This Week 5/1/18

        Doing my big food shop a week late has cut the bill quite a lot! And the Christmas food in the freezer will mean both less to spend on meat and less cooking to do. Which is definitely a good thing. It’s nice to be back to normal or our version of it!

        1. We have eaten a record breaking (probably) number of eggs. This is only frugal because our eggs are free* (apart from the cost of chickens, chicken food, coop, run, bedding etc). Not being the full ticket yesterday I started making fried eggs on toast for lunch. After the eggs were in the pan I started to wonder what I was supposed to be cooking for dinner. Oh, heuvos rancheros… fried eggs with spicy tomato sauce and tortillas. I did suggest to Himself that I cook something different for dinner, but he said he was happy to have the eggs, so we did. We’ve also had the last of the homemade Christmas ice-cream (yep, made with eggs) and scrambled eggs on toast for lunch earlier in the week! I suspect he may have a fried egg or two in his bacon sarnies this weekend too.             *Not free
        2. Used the last of the Christmas lamb and stuffing for a really easy roast dinner last night. All I had to do was roast some more spuds and parsnips (Aldi 29p) add some broccoli (Aldi 29p) and heat up the meat in its gravy. T’was delicious.
        3. I have put the last of the Christmas wine to one side to give to my brother for his birthday. If it stays in the house I will be tempted to drink it, which is really not good for me. So I’m going to give my bro a present he will love, it’s win – win!
        4. I did a big baking session yesterday and made more mince pies! I know that seems pretty strange (I can be pretty strange) but I managed to use up, the last of the mincemeat and a tiny bit of jam at the bottom of the jar when I made jam tarts with the remaining pastry. The main reason I made them was to use the last of the brandy-butter, which I definitely didn’t want to waste (yum). We had roast dinner followed by mince pies and brandy-butter last night. Fantastic! I made rock cakes for packed lunches and some bread too.
        5. I bought what seems like a massive sack of spinach when I did the big Aldi shop. It’s gone in three dinners already including the heuvos, and the vat of Bolognese sauce I’ve made for this weekend’s dinners. There was still some left over so I’ve frozen it before it started to go soggy in the bag so I can use the rest next week. I’ve just looked at the empty bag and discovered that it was only 450g but it’s gone a helluva long way! I felt a bit guilty about not giving it to the chooks instead so I gave them the rest of the spinach plants that were struggling in the garden pots and I’ll have to plant some more for them soon. I may have discovered why the plants aren’t doing so well when we had spinach all through the winter last year! 

        Must tidy my garden!

        This week I’m linking up with CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky. Always some great ideas…