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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.

1,216 Replies 1,216

Hello Paws,

 

I hope your sleep pattern went to plan. It is tricky when the body just wants to close down for long periods. I wonder if something that changes things up a bit would help give you a boost? I have found having a change of scene and being around some nice people and a cat have helped shift things in me quite a lot. I was on my own for several hours again today when at the shops and doing some errands and I could feel a kind of depression creeping back. But after time with my friend I much improved and I am now held hostage again by a purring cat 😹 So once again I am typing this one handed as I pat her majesty. I have come to realise how isolated I have become and the way I start to lift when in the right company. But I also know how depression is so debilitating and it can be very hard to step out of. I wonder if something like photography would help you, or drawing or sketching what you see in nature? I find that engagement with my surroundings really helps and the wonder of what might be out there to photograph is like an incentive to follow my curiosity out into the world. I know you love seeing the creatures around you. We have a Western Yellow Robin here that may be a subspecies of the one you saw. I have only seen one once.

 

The heated foot warmer sounds like a great idea, especially with those cold temperatures you get. It’s not much fun having cold feet. I got some new ugg boots today, very reasonably priced at $8 from the local discount store. My last ones that I paid about the same for lasted about 20 years. 

I’m taking my car to who was my regular mechanic before I moved to the country this coming week. That’s where I also got the recommendation for the good auto electrician from. The mechanic is very genuine and reliable and I’m thinking it may worth the trip to the city for car servicing etc in the future. 

I am sure I will be doing some form of voluntary work in the future. I’ve had the good news that my dsp application has been accepted. I have a strong sense of responsibility to give back in ways that I can. I know it helps my mental health greatly too. I feel much gratitude as I am in a better position to manage daily life and move towards healing. It just takes the relentless pressure off me and I can work through the mental and physical health challenges I’m dealing with. I am still going to try towards self-sufficiency and do not see my current situation as an endpoint. I just now can feel like what has been relentless pressure on me for a long time begin to lift. I was shaky and emotional when I first realised this and just how much I’ve been struggling for a very long time.

 

We had rain last night and today. It’s a bit cold outside but not really indoors (especially with a cat on me 🐱). Sending you hugs and comforting purrs from my feline companion.

 

Hugs,

ER

Hello ER,

 

I'm so pleased your dsp has been approved, I found having that support made such a difference for me & I hope it does the same for you.  Being able to not have to worry about such a basic thing like having an income can be a great help.  I think it is wonderful that you are able to see that your current situation isn't an endpoint & that things can improve with time & work.  

 

I've finally acknowledged to myself why I have been struggling badly this past fortnight, my sister was due to have scans to see if the chemo etc had slowed the progress of her cancer.  From things she had been saying (despite her optimism) I've been dreading getting the results.  As I've feared she now won't be doing anything other than purely palliative care for her remaining time.  In a strange way I think I will now cope better now it is confirmed, as I've been through the palliative care phase with other family members & I've always found the earlier treatment/hope phase harder.  

 

I'm a solitary creature by nature & though I love my friends & family, I do find having people about for more than a short period of time very stressful.  I'm far more comfortable keeping regularly in touch with people by phone or online, with just the occasional physical meet up.  I also find the energy & noise levels of children particularly hard to cope with.  One of the reasons I never wanted to have kids myself.  Yet the noise & energy levels of animals is something that can either energise or calm me & I would be lost without the contact with nature.  Not having a dog is affecting my mental health especially with my sisters illness.

 

I hope you are enjoying the pleasure of listening to rain on the roof.

Hugs for you & pats to her Majesty

Paws

Hello dear Paws,

 

That makes a lot of sense in relation to how you have been affected by what is happening for your sister. The not knowing is often the hardest time. I think once things are known there can be a kind of easing into reality. It isn’t easy of course but it’s good you are not far from your sister and you can spend meaningful time with her. I know your kind presence will be supportive. Sending you much support and hugs too.

 

I do understand about the need for space from others. I seem to need a balance. I don’t do well being too isolated but I cannot be around others all the time either. It depends a bit on the people too. My dear friend I’ve been spending time with is a quiet person like me and we are good at giving each other space and sensing each others’ needs. I’ve realised gentle, quiet people are my kind of people. Her little girl is such a sweet little one too and I’m sure will grow up to be a gentle soul like her mum. I know what you mean though about a bunch of kids and how it can get noisy. I used to work as an education assistant, often one-on-one with a child with special needs. That suited me far more than working with groups and I don’t think I could ever have been a classroom teacher.

 

I have some other friends visiting this week and they are also very gentle and quiet. They are a lovely couple. One of them stopped going to parties many years ago because she realised they were not her thing. I only wished I’d realised in my 20s and 30s that they weren’t my thing either. I used to go to them feeling I had to if I was invited. But I much preferred spending quieter time with just one or two friends. So I think it is really good Paws that you recognise what suits your well being the best. I do understand about the impact of not having a dog right now. It would be so lovely if you could have some animal time. I even wonder if there is a horse in a nearby paddock you can pat and chat to? Fluffy cat has just climbed onto my lap again and I’m quite sure she is calming for me and regulates my nervous system (just as I do for her as her dedicated patting servant).

 

Yes, the news about the dsp is a relief. I had heard much about it being hard to get now and thought I may not get through on the first go. I’m already working out how to go forwards in my life now whereas before I was in limbo and uncertainty.

 

Sending you much kindness and support and feel free to chat if and whenever it helps. Fluffy cat sends gentle purrs your way too.

 

Hugs,

ER

Hello ER,

 

It is good that you now feel you can, with getting the dsp, work out how you want to go forward.  When I started this thread I was interested in how others decide in what direction & in what way they choose to move forward with their lives.  I must admit when deciding to move here I had a mountain of things I wanted to either change or achieve & I had convinced myself I could do it all in just a few years.  It took me time to realise I was expecting too much of myself & even though I haven't yet done or reached certain points, I have learnt I need to work at a pace I can maintain & that I do need to push myself when I see myself getting in a rut or slipping backwards.  I guess what I am trying to say is setting goals/hopes is good, but be careful to make sure they are not going to cause you to stress about the speed or direction of the changes you want.  I'm pretty sure you are already aware of this type of pressure we can impose on ourselves, but I just wanted to give you a gentle reminder that sometimes small steps can be more helpful.

 

I also prefer one on one or very small groups over going to a party.  However I still feel obliged to go when invited, though I have managed in the last two or so years to say no to a few invites, despite feeling guilty about saying no.  You are lucky having a friend who is able to sense your needs & give you space, while still giving you that connection with another person.  It sounds like you have been able to keep the friends who nourish your life rather than those who just happen to have crossed your path at some point.  That can be a difficult thing to do.

 

I hope to visit my sister later this week if she feels up to it, it is a day by day thing for her.  

 

Thank you for the hugs & support.

Give fluffy cat a pat from me.

 

Hugs

Paws

Hello Paws,

 

I’m about to head off to bed but just saw your message and wanted to say thank you for the gentle reminder about not trying to do too much. I do that often and have a tendency to be overly idealistic, no matter how many times it has tripped me up before. Small steps are good and I need to accept the limitations I have each day. There are many jobs at home to do including gardening and maintenance jobs and for a while I could not do any of it. Recently I’ve managed to set small tasks such as pruning the rose bushes, and sometimes that is all I can do in a day. If I can tick one thing off a day that is something.

 

It will be nice to catch up with your sister if she is feeling up to it this week. Yes, it must be a case of just seeing how she is feeling each day. I wonder does she have any pets? I have read they are a great comfort for people facing conditions such as cancer. Animals can be so calming.

 

I had an afternoon nap today and fluffy cat came and curled up next to me on my pillow where she ended up staying asleep long after I got up. I now feel like I have a cat hair up my nose that’s stuck. She doesn’t have fleas but I wonder about other micro beasties that might live on a cat and crawl up my nose 😂 She’s very clean though. As usual she’s just woken up and gone into active phase as I’m about to go to sleep.

 

May you have a restful sleep and lovely day tomorrow.

 

Hugs,

ER

Dear Paws and ER~

Please pardon the intrusion, however simply hitting the 'like' heart on your posts did not seem enough.

I've been silently following and have found your gentle insightful conversation to be a nourishment to the soul, for both of you and me too.

Thank you

and just so you don't think I"m getting too serious have a penguin each🐧🐧 (you never know when one might come in handy)

Croix (who also values companionable silence)

Hello dear Croix and Paws,

 

I’m really glad Croix if the discussion is good for your soul. Thank you for the penguin too 🙏 I was trying to think of a new limerick along the lines of:

 

There was once a walrus named Croix

Who penguins did like to annoy

But he did love their waddle

As about they did toddle

And much mischief they did enjoy

 

Paws, I was thinking about your original post and that for decades your idea of being well was to hide your illness from others. I think I have been very much the same, even hiding certain realities from myself. In my case I think my sense of safety and acceptance was based on appearing to be doing and being the right things for others according to external notions of wellness. I didn’t really know how to even begin to really look at and address my own struggles. I just knew how to mask them and did that fairly well for a long time until too many things piled on top of me and my system finally crashed. So I’m gradually learning to re-evaluate what being well really is. I think now for me it is being attuned to my inner needs, including the inner child in me that experienced so much neglect. But I still have an habitual tendency to strive to serve others’ expectations so it takes a fair bit of awareness to roll that back and simply practice self acceptance and self-care. But I think I am at least moving onto the right trajectory now and I’m learning to be gentler and kinder to myself and more self-aware from which I feel greater wellness will emerge.

 

Hugs,

ER

Hello ER & Croix,

 

Hmmm...   I woke this morning to a pesky penguin snoring... me thinks a wily walrus is pursuing a plan to persuade such penguins to migrate to warmer climes & thus vacate his iceberg...  he would do well to keep in mind Wily Coyote & his plans....

 

Oh ER you poor thing, having a cat hair stuck in your nose is frustrating to say the least, pet hair does not oblige when we try to sneeze it out, I know from experience.  But it is worth it having a furry friend about.

 

My sister is the only one of my siblings who isn't an animal lover & never has been.  She did get a small dog for her girls growing up, but never bonded with it herself.

 

Being able to recognise what behaviours we would benefit from letting go can be hard to identify when they have been ingrained since childhood.   That is one thing I have noticed many of us on the forums have struggled with.  Caring for ourselves is another.   I think you also rightly identified another thing with your thread on boundaries & the need to have them.  I know I learn so much on these forums, from new ways of seeing things through to gentle reminders of things already known.  

 

Hugs

Paws

 

 

Hello Paws and Croix,

 

Fortunately the cat hair has vacated my nose. I am, however, now absolutely covered in the stuff having had fluffy one on my lap for about an hour. I need one of those adhesive roller things that picks up the fluff. 

Ah, yes, that must be the plan, to give a couple of penguins a taste of (relatively speaking) balmy weather, thus encouraging a mass migration of penguins. Though Professor Porpoise has been perfecting his penguin replication machine and, alas, there may be an endless stream of penguins emerging from his undersea laboratory.

 

I believe fluffy cat is altering my capacity for sensible language. In the past hour while patting her my utterances have included:

 

You’re a fluffy bucket.

You’re a muppet puppet, yes you are.

 

You’re a fluffy wuffy.

 

May you both have a fluffy, sorry I mean restful, evening.

 

Hugs,

ER

Dear Paws and ER~

If there is snoring involved then I must have made an error and given you an inebriated kiwi by mistake. Don't worry just return it and I'll refund you your penguin instead.

 

And ER thank you for the ditty

It would be a pity if found

upon inquiries all around

the whole thing was written by kitty.

 

You are both right about moving goalposts, when I reach a stage I thoght would content me I find I"m wanting to reach a further goal. We are not static beings.

 

Croix