Blame It On The Weather. No, Seriously, Blame It On The Weather #depression

Hey Hey Guys!!

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Depression is something that can change like the weather. Think I’m joking?

SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a genuine illness. Not gonna lie, I’m not an expert, so I’m not sure if you would class it as a mental illness or a mood disorder, but it is classified as a varied form of depression.

So what actually is it. Well, the NHS UK website says this:

Sunlight can affect some of the brain’s chemicals and hormones. However, it’s not clear what this effect is. One theory is that light stimulates a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which controls mood, appetite and sleep. These things can affect how you feel.

In people with SAD, a lack of sunlight and a problem with certain brain chemicals stops the hypothalamus working properly. The lack of light is thought to affect the:

  • production of the hormone melatonin

  • production of the hormone serotonin

  • body’s circadian rhythm (its internal clock, which regulates several biological processes during a 24-hour period)

It affects an estimated 2 million people in the UK, commonly affecting people between the ages of 18-30 and, like other forms of depression, is more common in women than in men. There is a lot of skepticism surrounding the condition, mainly because it can be difficult to understand how someone can feel depressed simply because of the weather. It’s one thing to say that you change your mind like the wind, another to say that you can’t face getting out of bed because it’s raining.

Symptoms include lethargy, insomnia, poor concentration, negative thoughts and mood, unwillingness to socialise, decreased libido and weight gain.

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This is what 12 million people across Europe are facing. Again, I’m not an expert, but as a sufferer, there are a few words I can impart on the subject.

There are days when the thought of having to choose one pair of socks over another seems like an insurmountable problem. Can you imagine the implications of going outside when it is anything less than radiant out there? As if were not bad enough that the world already seems like one of the blackest corners of hell; what if it’s raining as well!? The fact that the weather reflects damp, cold in your soul, preventing you from feeling the glow of all the good things in around you is just confirmation to the depressed side of your brain that there is nothing good out there to admire. That everything really is as horrible and out to get you as you suspect.

But if the sun is out…

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I’m a total fire baby. I was predisposed, being a Leo (m’on the August-born troops!!) and if it is anything short of swelteringly roasty toasty, then I am inconsolably miserable. I’m talking, in tears, shaking, terrified of even the slightest baby’s breath of a draft. Lemme put this into context for you; I was in Ibiza during a heatwave and wore a cardigan. Yeah. So the fact that I live in BLOODY SCOTLAND, one of the coldest places South of the Arctic, is a hellish situation to be in. I don’t think people realise quite how many layers I wear on a daily basis. Maybe it’s a useful thing that I’m so skinny; all those layers don’t look so thick on a skelatal frame.

The past few days we have been experiencing a random heat wave and I know several people with varying forms of depression and anxiety who have (seemingly inexplicably) seen a lift in their mood. I swear, Blame It On the Weather! Being in the sun can literally feel like bands are being removed from your chest and you can breathe and in hail the sweet scent of real oxygen. Not just tolerate the stale air you’ve tasted recently.

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However you want to call it, Sunny Side Up, Everything’s Better on the Other Side, The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, Mr Sunshine, Light of My Life, Build Me Up Buttercup, Mr Golden Sun; attribute any cheesy song lyric you like, the summary is still the same – EVERYTHING IS BETTER IN THE GODDAMN SUNSHINE!!!!!

The irritating thing, is that it has not been sunny all day. It comes and goes. The problem with this is that my mood has been going up and down as well. Literally, the sun being out one minute means I’m relatively happy, not too bad, occasionally I’ll giggle. Then it goes behind a cloud. Maybe there is a smattering of rain. And suddenly that cloud burst seems more like hell is spitting like icy shards of glass at me, determined to extinguish that ember of happiness fighting to burn hot enough to light so much as a candle. It’s exhausting.

Here is a link to treatment advice on SAD as well as some lovely handy dandy websites for mental health issues. Seriously, i have used some of them and even the info you can get online these days isn’t half bad.

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Remember though; the sun can be thought of in the same was as those middle aged women/students think of booze – if it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, it’s mid day somewhere else! The sun is always up somewhere, even if it isn’t where you are. If you are a sufferer of depression or SAD, do the daytime version of what Oscar Wilde liked to do; instead of looking at the stars, look to the sky. See the sun, love the light, feel the glow.

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NHS treatment of SAD

Samaritans

SSDD

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Post Christmas – How Ya Feeling??

So how y’all doing?

The festive season is struggling to maintain purchase as the madness sinks in and people reaslise they have to stop being merry soon and return to their general humdrum lives. After the psychotic ravaging of stores that miraculously have re-filled their shelves with wares for the Boxing Day/that-odd-nameless-time-between-Christmas-and-New-Year sales, we are left bereft, despite our many fresh items.

We have less booze, less money, less yummy food, less presents, less visitors, less days off, less lie ins… Generally just less of all those rare goodies we allow ourselves to indulge in excessively at this time of year.

On the other hand we get more of a lot of things.

We get more work, more time out of the warm house and in the cold outdoors, more time spent travelling, more bitchy co-workers, more worries over money, more micro-meals, more stress coffee, more… General crap. And crap that is only crap because you experience it every day, not because it is particularly bad, just that we tolerate it so often that we come to not really care all that much about it. Like work. Most people can’t be bothered half the time. Uni/college. Too tiring when there are warm beds and XBOX in existence. Travelling. Instead of being a peaceful time of reflection it becomes a place of rampant road rage and body odour, if you are not fortunate enough to be part of a carpool. Reality bites back, soon.

We are alright til January. It is acceptable to pull the “aw, Ok, since it’s Christmas” excuse for being just that little bit decadent but only because we have that all important big part-ay coming up known as New Year (sure to be a messy one if you live in Scotland).

Now, while this started off on a bit of a bum note, I like to be a little unpredictable when I write these posts, so here’s me pulling the old switcheroo on you.

I don’t care that we are metaphorically going from a time of excess to a time of… normal? (because I live in the commercialised Western society so we are always living in a time of plenty and there are too many people who already live in excess) I don’t care that I am going to have less money, less free time and more stress. I don’t even mind the thought of my three hour round trips to Uni every day starting again – the bus may smell bad but I always like the journey and I like Uni. I can’t do anything on the journey so it’s a great place for a little downtime.

Sometimes the world of boundless bounty (not the chocolates… though I suppose sometimes the chocolates. At this time of year, certainly. Those little tiny ones. Who actually eats Bounty’s except at Christmas anyway? Who eats chocolates that size at any other time of year? Alas, tis a pondering for another day) is a little too much. Too much of a good thing, and all that. Then again…

I have just had a few of the best days of my life.

Those of you who have followed these interweb pages for a while will know that I used to  detest Christmas. Loath it. Hated it with a passion that would make hell piss itself with shame at its own feeble flame as it pales in comparison to the passion in my rage. But all that has changed this year. It was AWESOME!!

I know that is hardly the most eloquent of ways to phrase it but it is the truth and I am still young enough to get away with such pithy sayings.adored every second!

Last year I did not really have a Christmas. It was one of the worst days of my life and I will never forget it. However, I cannot regret, now, that it happened. Because, had I not, I may not have fully appreciated the marvelous affair that has been the Clark family Christmas, 2013. These shall forever be hallowed days to me.

And these feelings of peculiar warmth have nothing to do with the fact that I have spent a great deal of time in the last wee while drinking excessive, yet not altogether socially unacceptable volumes, of fermented, brewed and distilled liquid, all with the intent of slowly pickling my liver as well as warming the cockles of my heart. Oh no, it is all to do with my family. And the fact that we were all at home. Together. Having Christmas. For the first time ever. And I meant, ever.

I have never had a Christmas at home, just with my parents, and that is something I have always craved. As has my mum, which, means that since we were spending it at home, she has been in an infinitely better mood of late. Actually we all have. There has been an unfamiliar buzz of general merriment colouring my life in the run up to Christmas. I have been a busy little fritter and filled my time by whole-heartedly flinging myself into the spirit of the event. I’ve never really partaken so I wasn’t really sure what to do. But the fact that I was bouncing around like a workshop elf on crack seemed to help everything run smoothly. Go with the snow-flow,  I thought, see where you end up. Following my celebratory savvy, I reckon.

My life this December has been a blur of bows and bells, elves and electric lightstinsel, tassels and tell-tales signs the Great British weather is taking a turn for the terrible.

I won’t go into details, but will instead allow you to fill in the blanks of your own accord. I don’t mind how you envisage the three of us, but here is a guideline.

Image three people sitting down to a fantastic spread that we are all not quite sure how we managed to produce. Imagine us elated and confused at the fortune of our own situation. Listen to the sound of clinking glasses, popping crackers and belly laughing. Feel the warmth of the oven and the heating blowing a rosy glow onto your skin. Smell everything from booze to parsnips and turkey and perfume. Feel full, spiritually and physically and emotionally. Cover everything in soft lights and glitter. Now imagine a slight haze over the whole image as we have all had a little bit to drink

Merry Christmas.

Boyf opening prezzies on Christmas Eve

Boyf opening prezzies on Christmas Eve

Homemade table decoration

Homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

me and Percy

me and Percy

Gizmo is drunk after his Christmas dinner and some wine... food baby??

Gizmo is drunk after his Christmas dinner and some wine… food baby??

pretty candles

pretty candles

Percy

Percy

SSDD

Quote

“The Perfect Ch…

“The Perfect Christmas Moment Cannot Be Created; It Happens When You Least Expect IT. Let It Happen…”

This is something I am taking to heart.

For the past, oh, I dunno, maybe 14 or 15 years, I have absolutely hated Christmas. Every year my disdain for the entire ordeal intensifies, with reason upon reason layering on top of each other until I got to the point where I would routinely say how much I wished I could go to sleep on the last day of November and wake-up in the New Year.

I don’t want to ruin anyone’s joyful spirit at this time of year… so I won’t!

Because this year is different!

This year I am all about the festive spirit! The holiday joys, the buzz of getting prepared, celebrating and spending time doing ridiculously family orientated things that you would never ordinarily do with people you normally can’t stand purely because it is that time of year.

For the first time in years I am actually so looking forward to Christmas Day. I have been making my own decorations, preparing the house with a plethora of homemade decorations and nick-nacks oozing glitter.

My tree is FABULOUS, a confectionery coloured contraption covered from fairy lit base to tinsel topped tip, in decorations that have to be about a decade old – and I wouldn’t change a thing. His name is Percy.

Every year we indulge in the one Christmas tradition I have always, always loved. Even at my deepest levels of BAH-HUMBUG, decorating the tree has always been my absolute favourite thing to do at Christmas and the only thing I actually participate in full-heartedly. Mum and I basically fling decorations at the poor plastic tree until there is very little of the trees actually colour visible, stringing swathes of tinsel, lines of lights and bundles of baubles at it in a dangerously haphazard manner. I then balance precariously on the arm of the couch and bestow that highest of honour on top – the sparkly purple star!

All this while dad sits despondently in the farthest away corner of the living room, sulking at how dis-organised we are making the tree and trying to give precise directions as to which individual bauble should go on which specific branch. Mum and I pointedly ignore him and wind him up by flinging things at the tree with renewed fervour. Usually the result is dad yelling things like a lion that’s been slapped in the arse with a burning branch, but mum and I find that hilarious and use it as an excuse to wrap him in tinsel. Poor man. He really deserves more organised little helpers. Maybe he can ask the real Santa for some for Christmas next year or trade is back in the post Christmas sales.

There is one key reason I’m so happy for a change this year. For th first time in living memory I am getting to have Christmas at home. I have never been able to spend it at home and I’ve always wanted to know what that was like. There are lots of other reasons, but honestly, I think I’ll keep those to myself. For now, I think I will just bask in the cold, freezing glory that is mulled wine fueled Christmas.

SSDD

The Hills Are Alive

The hills are alive, and they are helping me live again too…

I have returned from Fort William! The Ben Nevis region of the world.

I’m a creature of habit. It’s not something I like to admit but it’s true. Certain changes make me uncomfortable which is a pain because I like to try new things and my mind delights in the thought of travel. But I also like the safety of a certain level of routine… Even though repetitiveness kind of makes me want to kill something. Ahhh, paradox. Which is why I’m glad that my holiday this year was the most placid of family affairs rather than an out-and-out 20 year old party bonanza.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a drink and I do turn into MC Hammer when the DJ brings the tunes (oh aye, coz I’m that cool) but there are times when your mind has just had. e. nuff. Peace, tranquility. These are things that in the metropolis of your personal bubble are lost and shoveled brutally into a grave of insignificance.

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It wasn’t til I arrived on one of the most stunning roads I’ve ever seen that I realised this. There is a community in loneliness. Hills feel older than you. They have been around for a long time and will remain there indefinitely (I hope). Human lives are far more temporal. We are lucky to even be allowed the privilege of bearing witness to such ancient features. They rise out of the earth, like majestic guardians. I see them as guardians, because why else would they need to be so tall? They are clearly there to protect nature from man by being stunning and intimidating in a breathlessly  massive way.

Lately my life has taken twists and turns, stagnated and infuriated me with it’s inability to rail itself on a path that is actually going to make me happy.

20130829_085906And that is why I took the Glenfinnan Viaduct and became a Real Wizard. Now there is a rail that makes me very happy!

Fort William is not so much a sleepy town as a town that needs only to rest. Sure, there is a Weatherspoons, but that is about all there is. If you want a little youthfulness, that is where you go, if not… you chill in the hotel bar with the other 195 year olds.

To be honest, boarding the bus made me imagine looking through a looking glass that shows you 75 years into the future. There was not one single person under 100 on there. My parents and I were almost as startled as the old folks on there; they were peering through their 3 inch specs at us as if they were beginning to believe the docs when they said they were going cray cray! We were spied through 50 pairs of scrunched up bug eyes and wire frames as if for all the world they could not understand what the hell we were doing there.

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Yet I didn’t care. We spent our evenings drinking Mojitos and boogying in our chairs to the sounds of Scottish folk warblers. The old timers may have pulled a few muscles on route to their 5th half lager shandy but we were ripe to party til the fun ended… at 10:30pm. We skipped the bingo night. Too much excitement. We re-named that Cocktail Night and Dads-First-Shot Night. Twas excellent 😀

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The strangeness of the entire situation; a relatively young family of three in a hotel full of people old enough to be my parents grandparent;, a 20 year old being absolutely not bored in a place that was essentially nothing but water too cold to swim in; trees to coniferous to climb and pubs too expensive to be worth the pints that are pulled there; was just another part of what made everything so perfect. I was finding solace in the predictable strangeness of the view outside my window. There was nothing new on any given day, except perhaps an extra smattering of drizzle. There was a peace in the quiet 20130828_165037of the hills I was constantly surrounded by. I don’t think the ancient wisdom of historic hills can be properly captured in text. Words are not enough to encompass the all consuming silence that resonated in them. They are so full of age that one feels dwarfed just driving through them. I got the impression that what I was doing was wrong – the only correct way to view these hills should be on foot. To be driving through seemed a travesty, indignation of the more insolent order.

But, as I am not currently able to walk those rocky roads, bus wheels it had to be. What I’m really looking for in this life is freedom. Despite being utterly static and restricted to their station by their own nature, the corries and peaks of the Ben Nevis region seem to have found that embody it, even, in a way that is zen and breathtaking.

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Next time, maybe I will get to see things from up high…

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SSDD

Take A Break From Your Head

Your Own Head Is Often Crowded

Exhausted by the mental whirlygig of everyday trials and tribulations? Sick of being slowly blinkered by a life that seems perennial and resolute in its mission to blacken your soul? Exasperated by perpetually cheery co-workers who just don’t get that no, the sun does not always shine out of the worlds every orifice, especially when said world hasn’t gifted you with a day off in… EVER!

If one particular co-worker seems to spend an inordinate amount of time in the stationary closet, they are probably doing the nasty with another suspiciously cheery co-worker. Anything to pass the eternity between those ever elusive holidays…

Taking a break can alter you in ways you never realised it could. Holidays can be more than just a physical break from location so much as a mental relocation.

So Take A Break

Fresh surroundings can do wonders for the mind and the mood. I think it’s something to do with the complete break from routine. You can try to keep as much to your own ways as possible but there’s no avoiding the fact that a new place is just bigger than you. It is more set in it’s permanence and you, as a foreign entity intruding on it’s turf, have no leverage in trying to meld it around yourself.

That’s why we go on holiday, really. To be forced into a situation that is outwith our control, somewhere that has it’s whole own set of rules and pre-ordained regulations. We can take a break from the humdrum normality of our own lives and be dropped into some other cats alley.

A break from being yourself can be just what the doctor ordered, but the question is, where will provide such a release…

Stay tunes to find my confusingly blissful oblivion… 🙂

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SSDD

Birthday Bling: Gem’s a Jewel But Jenny’s a Crystal…

Age Appropriate Gifting

Bring me the shiny things… and the leather bag…

I turned 20 the other week. August 12th marked the end of my teenage years and… the start of Grouse Shooting Season. Charming way to mark the occasion.

I asked my family not to get me presents. I’m not particularly materialistic and there was nothing I really wanted. But then… I thought, this is not just an average birthday. This is 20, a big one, I think. The end of that era we call childhood which opens a door into decades of adulthood. Real adulthood, this time, not just the way they tell you you’re an adult when you turn 18. That’s like a dry run, a practice for the real thing.

How do I know? Well, it’s obvious. They’ve dropped the teen from the end of my real age and added the altogether less exciting ty.

140720131139So I decided I would get something special that I could keep forever. If I was choosing it, I would enlist the help of my expert mother, qualified in all things jewellery in all but legitimacy. I wanted a unique little something, a trinket that would not tarnish, nor rip or tear or break, that I could keep and love and cherish and have as a reminder of this time in my life and what all the events happening in it meant to me, the good and the bad.

So I bought a handbag. Kidding! Well, kind of.

I did get a handbag, but that was more an indulgence and a present than something meaningful.I do love it dearly, it’s a beautiful leather manifestation from River Island and sure, I hope my leather bag fetish lasts a lifetime but nothing will last as long as the real gift…

An amethyst and diamond ring.

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Amethyst symbolises piety, humility, sincerity and spiritual wisdom… The perfect gem to symbolise trying times and a new attitude.

Diamonds may be a girls best friend, but diamonds get lonely. I was searching the web for the perfect companion for my triumverate of bejeweled joy. And instead, I uncovered a jewel mine with enough carved precious stones to satisfy even the most bug eyes magpie.

Jenny Mills Jewellery

An Australian Lady with a Swarovski Heart

Jenny Mills is an Australian Jewellery designer and her creations are composed mainly of Swarovski crystals and pearls on silver hooks. The one that caught my eye was the amethyst pendant. It’s text based charm may not exactly match the simplicity of my ring but the colours vibrancy was beautiful. The powerful purple hue was mersmerising!

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E-219-3-620x376Further inspections delivered my eyes with more and more sparkles are fine gems to make me melt! Colours and clarity in all the crystals whispering of unparalleled quality. So finely crafted, so lovely and utterly unique. One woman and her skill and creativity, made all that, and the sites categorization into sections for easy perusal made my trip through the glittering mine of heart shaped lovelies all the easier and more rewarding.

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What purchase I will make is yet to be decided, but one thing is for sure; more people on my side of the pond should know of her. E-242-620x376Such a gift would be perfection, a gift to remember forever and treasure like the heart shapes on her pendants.

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SSDD

We Can’t Handle the Truth?

So, people can’t handle the truth? Really? Let’s investigate that, shall we??

Wise words, my good man, wise indeed...

Wise words, my good man, wise indeed…

People can handle the truth. People are designed to be able to handle anything life cares to throw at them. The question is, are they ready at the time to handle what’s being thrown at them.

There comes trying times in everyone’s lives and it is how we deal with challenges that form, not only our futures, but how we see ourselves as competent individuals, and how others judge us according to their own standards. Fair? Probably not, but that’s the way it is. People judge themselves more harshly than anyone else ever could. We are all our own harshest critic.

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And who’s to say that just feeling good about your decisions is enough to convince the world? The world doesn’t know your motivation. Doing something you deem admirable might make you feel good, but can you be assured that Joe Bloggs passing by will know the strength it took to achieve a thing they might see as trivial? That’s the hidden challenge of the equation – you are not only faced with your own moral dilemma, you are faced with having to accept the assessment of others, regarding how you handled it. And resist the urge to wrap you hands around their throats if they disagree with you.

Yet, the biggest struggle can be when your head is so full of other stuff that you cannot see that all important truth. It is now that someone else must be employed to help you see what your occluded mind won’t let you.

you have the truth in the palm of your hand, the question is, can you find it??

you have the truth in the palm of your hand, the question is, can you find it??

We’ve all had the feeling; that almost deja vu like sense that something is missing, something is just not right. That feeling stops us seeing what’s really there. Hallucination is maybe too strong a term, but certainly, there is a cloud there. A veil, preventing the truth from being revealed to our desperately seeking minds eye. Does that mean we’re not “ready” to understand? Not necessarily. And that should be the decision of the individual. It shouldn’t be left to another to decide whether gently patronised is a better temperament than fully informed. Perhaps that individual who cannot see is not looking for pity, or sympathy, or compliments, or naive reassurance. Perhaps they are asking, pleading for help. Wanting another to act as their eyes in a time when sight evades them.

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Key to finding that all important truth in our lives is simple. To get into our own heads, we must first get out of them.

“…a simple trip to the beach can be all it takes to clear out heads and open out hearts, and write a new ending to an old story…”

We first have to want to get help.

“…there are those who got burned by the heat. they just want to forget and start over… while there are others who want this moment to last forever…”

But in the end, isn’t fact, better than fiction? No matter how bad life gets, it is never the best option to live in a fantasy, especially not one of ones own creation. As comfortable as you dream world may be, as easy and safe as you self-imposed bubble may appear, remember; your head knows all the pitfalls. There is no hiding in a land born solely from our imagination. Sure, it may seem to be a haven bathed in golden light and peace and only simple, easy explanations for everything, but – if the sun can shine in such a place, then that sun can cast shadows. And, given enough time, they will find you.

“…tans fade, highlights go dark and we all get sick of sand in our shoes… so we find ourselves looking to the future…”

It takes bravery to admit any truth. Let’s not forget that.

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SSDD