Just Breathe…

I don’t know why I get depressed. Or at least, I don’t always know why I get depressed.

Sometimes it’s a reaction to something – like right now, I’ve recently been made redundant and it’s left me feeling very vulnerable and a bit lost, so perhaps it’s not too surprising I’m struggling a bit emotionally at the moment, up and down in mood, frustrated and fearful and tearful at the drop of a hat.

But at other times there’s no real rhyme nor reason to it, yet I start to feel the familiar tensions and anxieties that are the precursor to a full-blown depressive episode and so I try harder to force my everyday life activities to over-ride that restless black void hovering so close on the periphery of my vision.

Sometimes that avoidance strategy works, my mood starts to lift before I descend into the darkness and all is well, but at other times I realise with sadness I’m already there, being sucked down silently into the welcoming blackness in a well-oiled elevator with no emergency stop button.

Once I’m at the bottom, I stop fighting it and just throw in the towel. The panic subsides, a lost cause in a chasm of despair. Like being sucked into emotional quicksand I just keep emotionally still, force myself to relax as best I can, let it all flow under me and over me and all around me and envelop me.

I am surrounded in thick black fog and yet I can still breathe, so I just do that – I breathe. I keep calm and hold my heart safe and instinctively feel my way through, going about the barest minimum of everyday activities of life as best I can, until eventually the darkness recedes and the light returns and I find myself free again, until the next time…

JusJoJan/ SOCS: Throw in the Towel

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JusJoJan: Outside the Box

I really think this year is the year where I have to start thinking outside the box.

Over the last few years everything in life has felt so ominous, so precarious, and I think I’ve reacted to that internal feeling of vulnerability by holding on tight to everyday things that make me feel safe and secure, things I know and love. I read books I’ve read before, I watch TV series I’ve watched before, I listen wistfully to the music of my past. I wear old comfortable, comforting clothes that wrap me up in a big fat hug, I cook the same kind of food I’ve always cooked to make the same kind of meals I’ve always made.

And sure enough I’ve survived those last few years, still alive if not quite kicking, and so perhaps my reassuring habitual emotional safety guard has worked in just the way it was intended. It has indeed protected me from the worst of all the external change that has been foisted on me, creating a personal barrier of recognised rituals between me and the outside world that has allowed me to feel enough familiarity in my daily actions to face life head on.

And yet I’m starting to feel stifled by my own self-imposed careful constraints, trapped by the walls of my own making. I feel like I’m reaching the point where I need to feel more unsettled in life, not just carry on in that same-old, same-old way I’ve embraced for decades. My life situation has changed immeasurably over the last ten years or so – the difference between coming up 50 and coming up 60 feels huge, so why am I still holding on so tightly to all these familiar habits and rituals of the past?

Do they still deserve to have such a strong pull on my life, or is it time I tested their current relevance and maybe let some of them go as necessary, moving on to exploring new, more appropriate ways of living in my 60th year? I’m getting older and due to ongoing health constraints there are things I can no longer physically do, and I can’t help but feel the loss keenly. But surely there are other things out there I could try, new experiences to explore, new ways of being to develop and grow from?

Things outside the box, if only I can think of them… 🙂

JusJoJan: Outside the Box

My Review of 2022

Guess it’s time for my annual review
Say goodbye to twenty-twenty-two
And I have to admit
This year’s been really shit
What will next year hold? Don’t have a clue…

New Year’s Eve again, and I’m not sure how I’m feeling about it…

I remember seeing in the new year for 2020 and looking forward with a calm curiosity to whatever might come my way, but that didn’t turn out so well as the Covid pandemic soon took over almost everything nearly everywhere across the planet, killing many thousands of people and leaving others seriously debilitated and struggling with ongoing poor health.

A year later I remember seeing in the new year for 2021, knowing I was about to be made redundant from my job (another Covid casualty) but hoping for a better year to come, then testing positive for Covid a couple of days in to January (Delta variant, pre-vaccination) in the midst of yet another national lockdown that eventually lasted through until spring.

By last new year’s eve, I already knew that several ongoing situations meant that 2022 would likely be a tough one, and sure enough it has lived up to all expectations. Family issues, health and otherwise have dominated one way or another, but thankfully we’ve all got through it and we’re all still here, alive if not necessarily kicking.

So I can’t help but wonder what 2023 has in store? I hardly dare hope for a better year, things still feel quite ominous at the moment and yet again I’m being made redundant at work, but I want to feel upbeat about it. I’m not a great one for resolutions but I suppose if I aim to focus on finding the good in whatever bad shit comes my way, then surely that’s the best I can do?

One thing’s for sure, I’m not going to work myself up into a tizzy about it all – we are where we are in life and the future will be what it will be…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Tizzy

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: New/Knew

Ragtag Daily Prompt: New

The Vicissitudes of Life

Anyway, two years on from finding out I was to be made redundant after department store Debenhams closed its doors for good when the company ceased trading, I’m being made redundant again – it seems here in the UK the bricks-and-mortar retail sector is still struggling after the Covid pandemic.

This time it’s not the whole company closing, just the particular store I work in, but the outcome nevertheless remains the same… I’m losing my job again. Even though I do realise that neither job loss is of my own making, I still feel inclined to misquote Oscar Wilde, in that losing one job may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two in a row looks like carelessness!

The store will finally be closing for trading on Christmas Eve, and apparently we’ll be working afterwards for about the next two weeks packing up any remaining stock and clearing out the premises, but however long that process takes, come the end of the first week in January I’ll definitely be out of work again.

So following our company-provided close-down schedule we’ve already made a start by decommissioning the window mannequins. The poor things look quite glum lining up here, awaiting their fate – what a hellacious start to the new year, not what we’d hoped for at all from 2023. Oh well, such is life, with any luck something else will turn up soon enough for all of us…

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Anyway

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Neither

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Hellacious

Word of the Day: Vicissitude

Stuff I Worry About

Today’s inbuilt WordPress Daily Prompt asks ‘What could you do less of?’

Ah, good question… The immediate answer for me is probably ‘Worry…’ because I have to admit I’m a bit of a worry-addict…

There is a part of me that tries not to worry so much. I try to logicalise and rationalise everything and remind myself that as so much of what happens in life is totally out of my control anyway, then why worry about it? The past cannot be changed, the future hasn’t happened yet, the present moment is all we have. We are where we are, what will be, will be… We have to do what we can, with what we have, wherever we are.

But there is another part of me that constantly contradicts that wisdom, the illogical, irrational part of me that fights against such zen-like flat calm. Surely if I just tried harder I could do better, make things better, feel less nothing-y? So I worry about feeling not good enough, and about feeling guilty for being not good enough, and I worry about whining about it and feeling pathetic and weak and nothing-y.

I worry about getting old and infirm, I worry about getting to the end of my life and regretting not having done the stuff I want to do while I still can. Not flights of fancy stuff, real possible stuff that is realistically within my grasp if I only find the courage to reach out and grab it. But I still worry too much about being judged and found lacking, and I worry that worry stops me from getting on with it all before it’s too late…

So I suppose I worry most about tying myself up in knots so tight I can’t get myself out of a worry-straight-jacket of my own creation, bound up in an emotional shroud of fear that pins me down so effectively I spend the last couple of decades of my life in a self-imposed mummified decay, watching the rest of the world go by without me… 😦

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: ‘dict’

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Question

Weekly Prompt: Flight

Taking it Easy… Please!

I would love to be someone who has a natural ability to take things easy in life. To just chill out, and stop the frenetic freak-out from taking over my head.

By that I don’t mean to suggest that I’m always on the go physically – because seriously, I’m not. It’s more that mentally I’m not always very good at relaxing, even when the opportunity arises. I try – I really do try. Sometimes I confess I try so hard it stresses me out. To try to relax I read, and I garden, and more recently I paint. And historically I watch TV – often too much TV.

Sadly too much TV makes me lazy – not just physically, but mentally, too. It means I don’t have to think – in fact, thanks to TV I can avoid thinking about some of the things that stop me being able to take it easy in life. And right now I’m NOT thinking that I’m going to be 59 in a couple of weeks, beginning my 60th year on this planet… Eek!

Recently I’ve been waking up every morning with a feeling that I’m stuck in a rut, wasting my life in fearful mediocrity. Don’t get me wrong, I live in a lovely house with my lovely husband and I honestly wouldn’t change either for the world. But personally, I worry that deep down I’m just not making the most of whatever potential it is I still have within myself. I feel like as I’m getting older I’m losing something vibrant and dynamic, as if I’m stagnating, seizing up.

I’m getting to that stage in life where I’m beginning to wonder what my regrets might be at the end of it all, and I don’t want one major regret to be that I was too scared to live the life I wanted. Not the big bucket-list social-media showy-offy stuff, but how I approach the everyday realities of existence – what I wear, what I do, how I feel about existing in this ever-changing world.

I want to be able to enjoy wholeheartedly what’s left of the life I have, not worry and fret about whatever happened to the ideal dream life I thought I might have when I was younger. Because like it or not, I am who I am, no more, no less. And perhaps if I could start to accept that reality, I might just be able to learn to take it easy a bit more into the future… 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Confess

Weekly Prompt: Easy

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Morning

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Thanks

Sorry…

For this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday Linda has given us ‘your favourite word’ – so for once everyone will have a different prompt word to write about!

I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s my favourite word, but it does seem that the word I tend to use more often than most is ‘sorry’ – my husband tells me I say sorry all the time, as if I always feel the need to apologise for existing. Since he pointed it out to me I do recognise that it is something I struggle to overcome. Over the years since then I’ve tried hard not to pepper every conversation with ‘sorry’ but apparently I still sound apologetic way more often than is necessary.

I do have lots of psychological issues I try hard to resolve under my own steam, but this one seems resistant to all intervention – sometimes I even find myself apologising for saying sorry… argh! 🙂

Why?

Why am I struggling so much with getting to grips with painting right now?

Partly because my head says ‘paint what you see’ and my heart says ‘paint what you feel’ but so far together they give me such conflicting messages I don’t quite know which way to turn. So I try to paint what I see – simplified, of course – and then add some feeling to it afterwards, which doesn’t always work out the way I want it. Or I paint what I feel and then try to make it look more realistic afterwards, which also doesn’t quite work it the way I want it? And as a result both options often end up looking over-painted, sitting heavy and dull on the paper, neither quite one thing nor the other…

Why can’t I just learn to get the balance right in a way that both looks OK, but also feels OK to me?

Why don’t I just keep on trying, and see what creates itself out of my confusion?

Yeah, I guess that’s what I’ll do… I’ll just keep on trying 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Why