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Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

the lockdown log 25


This week we have had a red letter day in that the Berkshire Belle steeled herself and let me take her out shopping. Apart from an occasional potter around the front or back yard it was the first time that she had been out of the house since February.

Confidence is important and suddenly she has that back in spades and that, in turn, has done wonders for me. When you care about someone it can drag you down too when they are having problems and so I am really pleased that we have made a step forward.

The new shed is starting to assume mythical properties. It was supposed to arrive at the local supplier last week and then their carrier was going to call me with a date for getting it to me. So far I have not cashed it as it isn’t really that important; I have plenty of other things to do, but it is an irritant and poor customer service in terms of communication.

Another delivery related to the shed has arrived and I thought that I had two problems; one in terms of damaged goods and the other being the wrong size had been supplied. I contacted the supplier using the relevant page on their web site last Friday and got a response yesterday morning (Wednesday) asking for photos. As I stood by the item later in the day ready to photograph it my ‘phone rang; it was the supplier asking why I had not responded to their email. Fact checking showed that I did have the right item, but I had been mislead first by reading mm as cm and then by assuming that the quoted dimension was length as the items is used lengthways. Wrong; the dimension is the width and so I did have the right things, just not enough of them and I need to have another measure and a re-think.

These things are the drawback to on-line shopping in that You can’t see and feel the item before you buy, but in the current environment buying on-line has become our norm for so much. Today we are due six deliveries two of which have arrived; one from the butcher ad one from the greengrocer. The fishmonger’s parcel is about 15 minutes away as I write this and Amazon will be here with the rest anytime up until around 7pm.

Today is a special day in that we have been together for thirty one years. Not bad for what many who knew us assumed would be a six seek wonder. There will be no real celebration of this milestone though, just a Thai style fish curry for dinner tonight and, probably, no booze either. We are trying to stay healthy and squeeze in as many more years together as we can.

My weight still comes off. Half a kilo, half a kilo, half a kilo onwards to paraphrase Tennyson. At this rate it will take me to the end of this year to make the target of 108 kg, which is 17 stone in old money, that I set myself before I could have another bottle of beer. This week has not been a good one in dietary terms, but a lot of physical exercise has presumably helped offset that. Another target passed this week is that my exercise walks have totalled 100 miles since I started back at the end of June. Meanwhile there is a bottle of London Porter by the wine rack awaiting my loosing another six kilos.

Stay safe out there wherever you are.

the lockdown log 24


News that we can have gatherings of no more than six presents no problem here. Apart from tradespersons no-one has been near us for the duration and we are quite happy with that. The realisation that we are stuck with this plague for the Winter has struck the Berkshire Belle rather hard and she ended her birthday very upset.

I have been accepting that it would be at least next Spring before things might have a chance of getting better for a while now so, for me, not much has changed. Life is different and I have, and will continue to, try and adapt to it. I go to work five days out of seven, do the shopping and try to fill up the rest of my week with things that need doing along with things that don’t need doing other than to take my mind off everything else.

My lady and I have very different outlooks. My glass is always half full, hers half empty so we have a full glass between us and the fact that we recognise that somehow helps. Another key difference is that she has to know and will delve into things with a passion. I prefer the ostrich method and really don’t need to know until I am ready at which point I will do my own research, but I only do that when my head is in the right place to deal with what might be bad news.

One of the hard things at the moment is in dealing with each other and our respective moods that can change in seconds. You do this in any relationship, but in times like this when there is a considerable strain from an external source it gets hard. You are dealing with your own mental health as best as you can, but you cannot fail to be influenced by the people with whom you share your life.

Something that we both learned in trying to cope with our respective Mothers as they slipped into dementia was that you cannot expect logical thinking to work when dealing with people who are not rational. If you do you just exacerbate the problem that you are trying too solve. Things that work one day will not work the next (sometimes not even later the same day) and it can be like walking on eggshells in trying to be supportive.

Yesterday was one of those days when an anticipated threat failed to turn up and, despite assurances, we have been lied to. Today we have to try and resolve the problem and whilst, as experienced managers in the field concerned, we know exactly what should happen and what needs to be done to make that happen we have our doubts as to whether it will be resolved without much stress for us. Such things are of little import to many, but they are to us in the here and now.

Still, the sun is shining, we have food in the house for the weekend, I am another half kilo lighter than last week and I have my first exercise walk of the day logged (2.5k). I am already started on the day’s job list so let’s see how things go. It’s Friday so we can share half a bottle of wine tonight (saving the other half for tomorrow). A simple pleasure that will hopefully end a successful day.

My various project continue to progress. I wrote ion my Monday Musings blog the other day about the principle that the more you learn the less you know and the same thing goes for many DIY activities in that the more you do the more you have left to do. So many jobs that seem simple reveal other problems that need to go onto the list and then you get into trying to sequence these into everything else that you were planning.

Back in January when I started planning my major assault on the back garden I had no idea that were were going to get into a lockdown with all of the consequences that was to bring. I am a long way off on some of my objectives as I am still waiting for my new shed, but I am well ahead on some other things and have many other jobs completed early so overall things are not too bad. As long as I can keep up the ratio of good days to bad it will work out well. I am hoping for some good Autumn weather so that the last big job, sanding and repainting the deck, can by done before Winter sets in. There I am at the hands of Mother Nature.

Around and about my local supermarket has done away with their controlled access to the store and to the tills. There is the usual mix of people who observe social distancing and a few that do not as well as one or two that are not wearing masks correctly, but I do my best. I shop as often as possible at times when the stores are quiet and we order on-line as much as we can (as with the delivery above that failed yesterday). So far we have avoided the plague, but one of my niece’s and her partner were not so lucky. Fortunately they appear to have both recovered.

And so another week passes. Stay safe out there.

the lockdown log 19


Not a great week for us here in Swindon as we have rocketed into the Nation’s top ten, possibly even the top five if some reports are to be believed and are therefore under the threat of a lockdown. People locally are frightened a little more than they were.

Talk of a lockdown for the over fifties would impact on me. I am classified as a key worker, but that might not count if things change and my employer is a caring one and has already furloughed a pregnant colleague so even if I am exempt in a regulatory sense I might get bounced anyway. Wait and see. I shall not worry about it as it is out of my control, but I will have to think about how I deal with not being the hunter gatherer as I am now.

This worldwide plague is not going away and we obviously need a vaccine to counter it. We don’t have one yet, but seemingly we could be close. The problem with these things is that you only know in hindsight if you have got it right and that makes life very difficult. All we as individuals can do is to be responsible and try not to catch it or spread it.

WAs that a pig I just saw fly past the window? Probably not and the chances of everyone behaving responsibly are the same as me seeing a flying porker. Whilst I do not look to social media for intelligent debate I do read things there and the level of stupidity and ignorance is breathtaking even if you take out the politically motivated stuff. It is a shame that Covid-19 is not selective enough to take out these people.

Anyway, enough ranting for now. We are coping here well enough and remain healthy so I have little to complain about beyond the thoughts above. The world still turns and I get to see the sun and moon in turn. Our lives are different, but we still have them and I am grateful for that.

The weather is very erratic this year, again, and there can be no doubt that we are having to live with the effects of climate change. What the balance is between the natural world doing what it has done since the beginning and the efforts of certain portions of humankind I don’t know, but we try to do what we can to help. I understand that my efforts are puny in the wider scale, but every little helps and so my revamping of the garden includes plans to go from four water butts to five and space is being made for a second compost bin (although I am not sure we have enough waste to justify another one).

All of these little projects help to occupy my mind. I like solving puzzles anyway and the intellectual challenges of my assorted projects, no matter how small they are, does help to keep me amused, if at times frustrated. Anything is better that sitting around wasting my days; I know that I don’t have too many left now so I try to make them all good ones.

Stay safe out there, one and all.

the lockdown log 10


The black dog of last week did leave me. I know that it is still lurking nearby, but choose ignore it. I have said often that I have never really grown up and I still have childlike delight in small things that usually works to lift my spirits.

My cure for depression this time came with one of the various projects I have on my list and this time it was the finding of some tools that I knew were somewhere, but hadn’t yet rediscovered them. I found a love for tools as a boy when I realised that you could make things to play with that there was not money in the family budget to buy.

Tools now are my big boy’s toys and finding what I did cheered me up a lot as they brought back memories of where and why I bought them. Most of what I found at the back of the shed were used on a previous lockdown project, one where I was working from home for about four months back in 2002.

It was one of those jobs where we would, as a business, pull in a good revenue at a decent profit for that type of work, but whereby there would be considerable grief from the client and, to some degree, from with our own people around the country.

My role was to co-ordinate reporting on progress and was frustrating for me because I had no leadership or executive role. I had no authority to bang heads or thump the table and had to work with what I got rather than what I needed. I only got roped in because I knew the client’s upper echelons better than anyone else and had a better understanding of how the client’s local offices worked.

Trying to get information was like drawing teeth and I would normally start to get numbers come through late in the afternoon with the final emails arriving around 5.30 to 6pm. I had to have my reports with the client first thing the next morning and so I ended up time shifting my day so that I worked after dinner until around 11pm, sometimes until 1am the next morning. This did little for home life as the Berkshire Belle was working full time on normal office hours back then, but it did mean that I had almost nothing work related to do through the day.

What I did do was DIY around the house and garden all day. On the rare occasion that my mobile ‘phone rang I would take the call and deal with it, but I had been withdrawn from other work to handle this one project and, as long as the client was kept quiet and happy my boss was quiet and happy too. For sixteen weeks I stayed at home aside from two trips out, both to resolve accusations of work not having been done. On both runs I photographed the completed work and went back home. After that there were no more problems.

After seventeen weeks of isolation it was agreed that I was no longer needed in a full time role, I would just be thrown back in if a wheel came off, and I was able to rejoin the team that I worked in. I was still based from home, but was back into the round of meetings here there and everywhere.

With the discovery of that box of tools the memories have all come flooding back of that time. It was not a happy time especially although it had its moments. I came to terms with the concept of time shift working, my employer earned something north of £15m quid from the project and my darling and I enjoyed the benefits of my labours through the daylight hours even if our evenings were ruined. Such is life.

Stay safe and sane out there.

the lockdown log 9


Another week and, despite some relaxing of restrictions, not much changes for us here. Some jobs have been finished, others not yet started as I focus my time on the little homestead.

The one change to lockdown for me has been a trip to my nearest garden centre. I set off just after lunch because that suited me and was surprised to see that there was no queue in the elaborate zig-zag set up by the entrance. Half an hour later, with a couple of the things on my list, several that weren’t and some knowledge of what paving was available I left to find 40-50 people queuing, the zig-zag area overflowing into the car park. My timing had been impeccable, even if the centre had little of what I had wanted to buy.

Going to look at stuff before buying is important to me. Possibly it because I have grown up through a time when that was the norm, but I do not like the concept of buying relatively blind (yes you can look at photos when buying on line, but it isn’t the same) and sending it back if you don’t like it. To a degree I have had to do that over the last couple of months and have been fairly successful in that only one item has been sent back.

This was not a bad week until late Wednesday and then an incident brought the black dog bounding to my side and yesterday I was in a very dark place. Mental health gets a lot of publicity these days and it is good if people who would benefit from help, but would not have sought it otherwise, are persuaded to do so, I am very much in the self help camp though and deal with such things in my own way. I am not out of the cloud yet although I am on the road out. I know that I may yet be turned back, but I will get out eventually and move on (again).

It is not lockdown that is at the root of my problem, rather it is fear. The worst case scenario for me is that I could bring this little bug home and pass it on with fatal results for the Berkshire Belle. I do recognise that there are indirect aspects of lockdown that affect me such as the impact it is having on the BB who has not been out for 9 or 10 weeks now. She wants to go out and could, but will not. She feels safer staying in and that is her decision even if confinement is getting to her, and thence to me.

One of the things that keeps my glass half full is that we do not have it as bad as others do, or have had in the past. Our biggest problem is merely inconvenience and a twenty minute queue to get into a supermarket where I can buy almost anything that I want is nothing compared to having to queue for hours in the hope of getting a little of what I need. A gentle stroll will get me to my local supermarket in around 15 minutes and I have enough money to spend on the essentials when I get there. There are a lot of people around the world for whom such an easy life is beyond their grasp.

I have the love of a good woman and children that I can be proud of. Possibly most of all at the moment I have my garden. It may be small, but I can enjoy pottering in it and getting lost tinkering with my plants and watching the wildlife. I have said that I am a lucky man in terms of the work that I have done, the places that I have been and the people that I have met. All of that got me here where I am today. Yes the black dog still has its teeth sunk into me, but what have I really got to be depressed about?