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Staying/Getting/Doing Well – Moving goalposts or fixed target?

Paw Prints
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi, this is my first post, though I have been reading the forums for some weeks. I’m probably expressing myself badly when I say that I have found reading about other people’s journeys reassuring. Finding a community of people who “get it” even when they have a wide variety of experiences and lives lived is not something I thought I would ever find.

Though people talk about getting well & there is a section Staying Well, I’m curious as to what this actually means to other people and how they manage their expectations. I noticed some people refer to being well as ‘being like themselves before they got ill’, whilst others don’t express an exact aim.

My idea of being well has changed over the years. I was first diagnosed as an 8 year old child back in the late sixties. The doctors told Mum that the voices in my head & the sudden crying bouts were because I suffered from ‘nerves’ & I was given meds to calm me. Of course such things were not discussed back then & I was told not to talk about it to anyone, not my school friends nor siblings, just Mum. For decades after my idea of being well simply meant being able to hide my illness from others.

A number of events in my life caused my illness to worsen, until some years ago I became so ill I needed to be hospitalised for my own safety. This lead to my current diagnosis of Major Depression, Anxiety & PTSD. I’m no longer in that dark place, but each day is still a battle (though I can now believe in a future). For now only my siblings & one friend know about my illness, though some things they still don’t know.
So, what does ‘being well’ mean to me, it is ever moving goalposts. If you had asked me 5 years ago would I be as well as I am now I would have thought it impossible as I couldn’t envision a future. If you had asked me last week (during one of my down periods) I would have said my progress was all an illusion & I was fooling myself that things can get better.
For now my idea of being well is being able to believe that things can change for the better, that I will one day be able to manage the everyday things like housework, caring for myself & caring for my dog & maybe, just maybe I will even be able to enjoy myself.

Paw Prints
**I took the tip to give myself time to write my post by writing on a word doc & then paste it.

1,215 Replies 1,215

Dear Paws,

 

I am so glad you got the decent rain. I hope the power outage wasn't too inconvenient. We get a few blackouts here too that can come with the strong winds we also get.

 

I hope you are ok? I understand the need for being in bed and shutting down. I feel like when it happens to me it is my body/nervous system making the decision. I am trying to learn to follow the guidance of my body. I find if I surrender to the drive my body has, it often allows whatever my body is trying to process to pass through.

 

My body has been making efforts to come out of freeze (again of its own volition). I can experience this as agitation but I have learned this is normal as the body passes through a fight-or-flight stage as it tries to find equilibrium. So I used the agitated energy today to pick lemons, mandarins and oranges from my trees. I gave a bag of them to my neighbour and have another lot to take to a friend tomorrow. I then went for a walk before sunset. There was very beautiful light. Then I made dinner. That is a lot for me as I am often very fatigued. But it is a sign of my body trying to break out of depression. I cried much of the morning and felt terrible. There is still a lot of grief coming out, but it is at least in motion. And then with that release I think some depression shifted which is always connected with the freeze response for me. So then I began to unfreeze and got quite active movement.

 

I hope you don't mind me explaining the process. I just thought it may be helpful in case it helps you in any way with what your body experiences. Everything with me is very primal and felt really strongly and sensitively.

 

I hope you enjoyed your book today. It can be really nice being indoors when it is wild and wintery outside.

 

Hugs,

ER

Hello ER

 

I gave up on the book as I realized I wasn't taking it in & instead I did a jigsaw puzzle.  I managed to go to the general store today & pick up some basics like milk.

 

I think I understand what you mean by having agitated energy, I don't get it often, but can experience it when coming back from a deep down.  I feel it as a restlessness & a need to be moving, then as it passes I find myself tired in a good way & I usually sleep well.  It does mean I can get quite a bit of housework done.

 

May I give you a long gentle hug lass?  Crying can make us feel terrible, when it does I try to look at it as that is the hurt coming out & pieces of it are being left outside of us as we work our way through.  You may have a different way of seeing it., as I think we all need to find what feels right for us rather than there being one answer.  

 

I had some good news today, my niece, who has been fighting cancer over the past year, got the all clear & doesn't need any chemo or radiation now.  It is so good to know she just needs to finish healing from the last round of surgery & then hopefully she can just get on with her life.  My sister had scans today, so fingers crossed her chemo has slowed the growth of the tumours, but we wont know until she gets her results.

 

I missed out on rain today, I could see it passing to the south of me, but it remained cool (max 10) & overcast so at least there wasn't any sun to dry things out.  I think the fogs we have been getting have helped as the green growth is spreading across the paddocks, but the creek is still not flowing & the pools of water in it don't seem any higher.

 

I hope my mentioning my being down hasn't been triggering for you, if so please let me know & if I need to talk about anything I will give it it's own post with a trigger warning so you don't read it.

 

Hugs

Paws

Hello Paws,

 

Thank you for the gentle hug. May I give you one too if you would like one? I know what you mean about how crying can feel terrible but that it is the hurt coming out. I feel it is like when you pull out a splinter. While it's stuck in you it is like a vague irritation. Then as you pull it out it hurts. But once it is out you feel better. I had so many extremely stressful things happen over recent years including multiple types of losses, so it is like nothing got to be processed and grieved normally as my system was overloaded. So bit by bit it is coming out now and I realise I just have to go through it.

 

I am so glad to hear about your niece. What a relief it will be for her to not have to do the chemo and radiation anymore. Both of those can really take it out of a person and it is wonderful to no longer have to go through those things and for her to be able to just focus on healing and wellbeing now. I hope that the scans your sister just had show the slowing of growth of the tumours. Sending hugs to her as well.

 

I hope for you that you do get some decent rains soon and the creek is flowing once again. Today I visited a neighbouring town and walked by a river where there is a weir. It is the first time I have seen water going over the weir and flowing over the rocks below in many months. It was just stagnant pools for a long time. I imagine the water is becoming oxygenated and all the things living in the river will come more to life again. We have freshwater crayfish here known as marron and I sometimes see them in the river.

 

It is really ok you mentioning being down. Please feel free to say how you feel. Especially as this is your thread and you should be able to communicate your feelings. I wasn't triggered, just hoping you were ok. I shutdown for periods of time too so I understand. I know what you mean too about the restless phase and how it is useful for getting things like housework done! I find in the shutdown phase I cannot function to do even simple tasks, but as I come out of it I become almost hyperactive. That happened after I processed a traumatic experience with my psychologist on my second ever session with her. I got a burst of energy I hadn't had since I was a kid. I'd been really unwell for a long time and could hardly move and had huge difficulties with breathing. Then after the somatic processing work I started to run one night up and down the carpark near my favourite ocean spot. I couldn't stop running under the stars (like Forrest Gump). I was burning off years of pent up survival energy. It was unbelievable after I'd been so unwell. While I can't quite do the same running now, I am learning to ride the waves of what the body needs to do.

 

You definitely live in a colder climate. I think it might have been about 18 here today. A max of 10 would be considered very low here. We do get apparent or "feels like" temperatures that are sometimes below zero at the coastal weather station, but those are apparent not actual temperatures and usually due to the wind chill factor. There is a fair bit of water around here which moderates the climate. This morning I was hanging out the washing at sunrise and I could hear the waves crashing at the river mouth which was lovely.

 

I hope you have a restful evening Paws.

Hugs,

ER

Hello ER,

 

Thank you for the hug.  I like hugs in r/l or virtual, neither of my sisters, nor most of my nieces are huggers, but all of my nephews are & I love how they always greet me with a hug.  

 

I worry about the river life with the creek not flowing for so long.  I know it is a natural occurrence over summer, but usually by now there is a good flow happening.  Then again I worry whenever it goes into flood, I have to remind myself that nature will find a way.

 

I went to bed Friday night & got up this morning.  I think "blah" best describes how I'm feeling, nothing definitive, just out of sorts.  I've never had a release of energy like your run & I can't imagine what it must have felt like being able to run after being so stuck.  I'm listening to what my body is telling me it needs, but I also know that I will have to push myself to do more if this keeps up, otherwise I will start to slide down.

 

Oh wow, how lovely it must be to be able to hear the waves crashing from your home.  I love the sounds of the sea & where I used to live there was a stand of very old pine trees that when the wind got up would sound just like waves breaking on rocks, I do miss that & the sounds of the crows that had a rookery in them.  

 

Hugs

Paws

Hello Paws,

 

 I am typing this one handed as I pat a purring fluffy cat. I am petsitting again.

 

I enjoyed your sensory description of the old pines that made a sound like waves crashing and the sounds of the crows. I often feel like conifer trees are speaking to us with the sounds they make as the wind passes through. Soundscapes really interest me. When I was in NZ I encountered a fascinating lady who was an ethnomusicologist. She studied the sounds in a nearby town. But she also recorded the nature sounds. She was recording some rare birds (saddlebacks and yellow heads) at the same time I was photographing them. There’s a book on soundscapes I can recommend called The Tuning of the World by R. Murray Schafer, written in the 70s. It’s hard to come by though and is best borrowed as I think it’s rare and expensive now. I liked how he spoke of “ear witness accounts”, what we relied on before the advent of recorded sound.

 

I really hope you do get rain soon. I’m sure it will come but there does seem to be a drying trend and was reading about the very dry summer and autumn in Tasmania today. As I was driving to the city earlier today I noticed creeks flowing through paddocks so after a dire few months there’s water present and flowing again.

 

It can be hard when our bodies go down can’t it. I understand how it is good to listen and follow the body but also not wanting to be stuck in shutdown for too long. I have been very depressed and cried my way through this morning and driving to the city. I have been feeling very stuck. But what has helped is contact with my friend and her beautiful baby and now being with a furry pet friend. Did you find Woofa helped you in those shutdown times? I have hesitated getting a pet because of so much uncertainty in my life and future at present. But I really feel the benefits when with an animal. I did have a session of equine therapy 3 years ago which was good. I have this intuition that animals may be my way out of chronic trauma, anxiety and depression. I’ve also thought of volunteering with some wildlife rehab places. I wonder if you could foster a pet for a while or find a way to just be around some animals? I know you are ultimately looking for a lovely Field Spaniel.

 

I like hugs too and feel I’m quite hug deprived. So they mean a lot. It’s lovely your nephews greet you with a hug. I know some people are more huggy than others. Anyway, here is another hug 🤗 

 

I don’t know if you are still reading Hanna but sending you a hug too if you are 🤗 I hope you are having peaceful time with kitty 🐱

 

Hugs,

ER

Hello ER,

 

Soundscapes are interesting & I think ignored by many people, yet they impact us whether we realise or not.  I love listening to the sounds of the night, even human made ones, as it has a different quality to the sounds of the day.  As a child I liked to listen & watch the world wake up around me, the way the sounds changed as the day brightened & the chorus of birds intrigued me back then.  I remember a school camp at Swan Hill on the Murray River & the smells & sounds as the night became day still stay with me over 50 years later.  

 

Were you in New Zealand for long?  It is one of the few places I would like to visit that I've not been to.  Did you ever watch the "slow tv" on SBS?  One of them was the rail journey the length of NZ & the scenery looked so lovely.

 

Lass I'm sorry you are feeling stuck & so depressed.  The tears are a good sign (I know they don't feel like that) as it means your body is trying to process things & recognising the hurt.  I'm glad being with your friend & her baby helped.  I think you would find being with animals helpful.  The science shows that animals help people regulate the physical & emotional responses of their bodies, as you are probably noticing stroking the kitty on your lap.  If there is an animal rescue (wildlife or domestic pet) near you it wouldn't hurt to ring & ask if you could volunteer with them or perhaps if you feel up to it if you could foster an incoming animal. 

 

Woofa was very important to my mental health, I miss him & I miss having that support.  He wasn't specially trained to recognise my mental state, but he would pick up when I was struggling & just seemed to know whether it was best to snuggle up with me or to demand that I get up & move about.  Simply caring for him was something that got me out of my own head.

 

More hugs

Paws

Hi Paws,

 

I loved reading about your memories of waking up to the sounds of the world and how they change, as well as the school camp you remember at Swan Hill. I remember listening to particular birds at dawn as a child. The Singing Honeyeaters always made the first chirps, followed by the noisy Wattlebirds. I remember noticing as a teenager that the sound of magpies warbling is different in winter compared with summer. It’s not so much that the warbling changes but the air is different and sound seems to travel through it differently. In winter it feels like the warbling has more of an echo adding a kind of moody atmospheric quality to the sound. In summer it’s brighter and clearer somehow. At least that is what my ears hear. Perhaps the air has more moisture in winter, changing the sound quality. I’d love to explore the grand Murray River that is quite epic in terms of the area it covers. I have only seen bits of it in South Australia.

 


I was only in NZ for a short time. It was 5 days in Wellington and a week on Stewart Island. I loved it and only saw a small portion of what there is to see. I would love to go back. The South Island has particularly spectacular scenery. I got to see some of it from the plane between Wellington and Invercargill. I only stopped in Invercargill airport where I caught a very small plane to Stewart Island, also known as Rakiura. Another island off Stewart Island is home to the last remaining Kakapo Parrots who are very endangered. I would love to have seen one but it is understandably a protected location you can’t easily go to. They are so cute and delightful. If you google “kakapo” you will see some. I didn’t see the tv program on the rail journey in NZ. It really is a wonderful place.

 

I have read about how pets can regulate our mental and physical health. They can help, for example, to regulate blood pressure. My blood pressure has been on the elevated side, but I reckon it’s come down already hanging out with the cat. When I got home today I gave her a pat but then had to do dinner. I got a grumpy paw swipe for not continuing to pat her 😹 She’s spoilt now after at least an hour of pats last night. But I really don’t mind giving her pats as it really helps me too.

 

I really know what you mean about how caring for Woofa, and him caring for you, was so helpful. It’s lovely how he seemed to know what you needed at a given time. I think animals can be very attuned to us at a primal level. I find being with my friend’s baby is really helpful too as she needs you to be there for her and to have positive, encouraging interactions. I brought some mandarins I’d picked from my tree for my friend and her baby had great fun rolling them around and discovering that they can bounce, leading to an infectious giggle 😄🥰 You can’t help but feel some joy in her presence.

 

Sleep well Paws and wishing a lovely day for you tomorrow.

 

Hugs,

ER

Hello ER,

 

I chuckled at the cat swiping you for not petting it.  Clearly she is working hard on your training. 🤣

 

I've seen Kakapo Parrots on documentaries & how they evolved without predators & so had no skills when rats etc arrived with white explorers/settlers, which resulted in them being almost wiped out.  They look to be very cute comical birds. 

 

I think you make sense with your idea that the moisture level making the Magpies warbling sound different.  Fog (which is just lots of moisture) changes sounds.  It isn't something I have noticed with bird songs, now I will be focussing on it.  

 

Back in the late 70s I did a week long trip on a paddlesteamer along the Murray, which was a lovely way to see all the bird life & the way the river changed.  It set off from Murray Bridge & headed up river through cliffs & floodplains with some wonderfully old River Red Gums.  I'm sure it must have changed since back then.

 

I've had a better day today & managed to be up & about before midday.  How are you doing lass?  I'm sending you a big comforting 🐻 hug.  If you want to talk I'm here to listen

 

Paws

 

 

 

Dear Paws,

 

Yes, the cat is training me well 😂 We had more peaceful patting and purring this afternoon during which I almost nodded off while patting her. My friend came over with her baby and we went for a nice walk. I’m having a cup of tea now and observing the chaos the baby has created in the room in discovering such things as gravity and how much fun it is to toss things and pull things apart 🤣 She is so clever and wants to know how everything works by taking it apart and trying to put things back together again. She is an expert at the pulling apart bit!

 

It’s lovely to know you had a better day (but also completely ok when you don’t and feel the need to be in bed). I have found animals and babies to be very healing to be around, plus my lovely friend as well. I do spend so much time alone and I can see how I can spiral into very down states at times. But animals and young children have a way of shifting that energy, especially as they are so much in the present. I enjoy helping young children learn and wonder if I should try to eventually go back to doing something like that as I did previously as an education assistant. My work capacity has declined a great deal so I feel it would be on a very small scale.

 

The trip on the paddlesteamer would have been lovely. I love the River Red Gums. They have a special place in my heart as we had one that had been planted in the backyard at our house growing up. It was a magnificent tree. It was of course outside its usual habitat. They are found further north in WA though.

 

I am very tired and will be off to bed shortly. I had to be up very early this morning to take my car across to the other side of the city to an auto electrician recommended to me. He still could not definitively diagnose the problem with the car starting and said it will need to start failing more frequently to be able to investigate further and he will need it overnight then to test it cold in the morning. He was very helpful though and didn’t charge me anything which was really kind. I’ve already paid two other mechanics to look at it so it was a relief not to pay again.

 

Thank you so much for the comforting hug. Sending you one too. I still get bouts of grief throughout the day but time with a pet, a friend and her baby is definitely an antidote that helps my system to feel connected again. I am always here for you too if you ever need a chat, a cuppa and a hug 🤗 

 

Hugs,

ER

Hello ER,

 

Thank you for the comforting hug lass.

 

How wonderful to find a mechanic who didn't charge you!!  Though it would have been better if he had found what was causing your problem., I do think you should keep him even if he is further away.  It's a pity he is just an auto electrician & not a general mechanic as trades people who don't charge like a wounded bull are rare indeed these days & a mechanic like that would be gold.

 

It is lovely that you are finding being with your friend & her baby is helping even if only for part of the day.  I've probably suggested it before, but as you mentioned thinking of going back to working with children, perhaps when you get the dsp you might find volunteering better suits with your limited abilities.  

 

I had another new bird at my bird bath today.  It would be a lot easier to identify them if they would just stay still for more than a few seconds.  I do think I've got the right ID though & that it was a yellow breasted robin. 

 

I bought a heated foot warmer online today & am looking forward to having it for when I'm sitting on the sofa.  All the females in my family have cold feet & nice as it is in summer, in winter it just makes me feel chilly.  I have the ankle high lambs wool slippers/boots, but they don't warm my feet.

 

I spent yesterday in bed & didn't get up until 3am this morning, so I'm feeling tired now & will head off to bed soon with the intent of getting up in the morning at a reasonable time.

 

Hugs

Paws