By the way…

Something I forgot to mention in my earlier post, well not actually “forgot” – I couldn’t really talk about my obsession with cream cakes, cream doughnuts, cream rolls, cream apple turnovers,…. in the same post as exercising could I?

Today I visited my local bakery that I mentioned in my post We are inI went there to get a loaf of bread, honestly that’s all…and I did get a loaf of bread but…I also couldn’t resist the Lemon Swiss Roll (with cream). The baker’s wife who was serving me, couldn’t believe it when I took a photo of the New Zealand section of their displays (see below – notice which roll is missing!)


Not the best photo but you can get the idea.

Anyhow I just thought I would share that with you! I am beginning to think that this kind of mental health, depression “treatment” could best be described as a “mood lifter”. Oh by the way, the cake was great!!

Depression and Anxiety – Exercise

I know I have discussed exercise in the past and been very keen to point out how I feel exercise has benefited me, well I thought I would just add a little something to that.

As you know from my recent posts my wife and I have moved houses. Now we have moved houses a few times before, but somehow or other we always seemed to be either up-sizing or at least moving to where we had more space for storage. This was the first move where we were really down-sizing. As I mentioned previously, due to my wife’s “moving” skills, the overall move went well, what presented the biggest problem was the clearing out of what we wanted and what we could effectively fit into our new house. Due to this we actually moved over a period of two to three weeks, we would organise what we had taken, go back get more, then organise that, etc. This worked well and we are now in the process of organising that last of our goods and chattels.

What does any of this have to do with exercise? Well, I kinda thought that since I had got myself to a state of reasonable fitness and health, and felt the positive effects this had on my mental state, that any kind of exercise, work, etc., would keep me on track…sounds reasonable to me. What actually happened was that my health started to slip, not in major ways but little things like pain returning to the knee and hip joints, back pain, etc. This then started moments of frustration, sadness (not really depression but I think a kind of hopelessness that worse things could be coming). Fortunately the opportunity presented itself for me to take a longish walk with my wife, and although we didn’t walk as fast as I would have had I taken the walk on my own, it made a big difference to how I felt. Today I have taken another long walk and again I feel almost immediate benefits I guess what I am finding is that, it isn’t necessarily how vigorous the exercise is, it’s not just “any”exercise that will do, for me it is the walking that is my drug, so long as I am walking regularly I feel much better.

What about you? Anyone found anything similar?

Life in the swamp! (3) – Violence and Pain

Well last post it was fishing and the pleasantries of camping beside a beautiful fast flowing river, today is a bit different. Today we will explore the behaviour of country boys and violence toward one another…naturally this is all in the name of fun, seriously good fun! If I were to see boys doing this today I would undoubtedly be horrified but there you are, what a difference half a century makes.

Where I grew up there was a lot of clay easily accessible. Now when I say “clay” I don’t mean that soft pliable stuff that is like play dough, no this stuff was hard, really hard, and you could dig it up in lumps and then break it into pieces, pieces that would immediately be used as missiles to hurley at one another. At this point I will just remind you that I was the youngest of the three brothers living at home, so the comparative pain that I could inflict compared to the older of the three brothers who was eight years older…yeah I was on the losing side of that story. Anyhow, we would walk around the neighbouring farms always looking for something to do, like our lives weren’t busy enough, and if we came across a sand pit inevitably there would be some amount of clay there and a fight would ensue. Eventually we would return home dirty with cuts, bruises and the odd black eye. I still have a scar on the palm of my left hand where I stabbed myself with my knife trying to dig out clay, the knife went between the bones of my fourth and fifth fingers and pushed the skin up on the other side like an umbrella! Pulling it out was fun, I can still remember my horror when some flesh popped out through the wound…

Now you might be wondering what my parents were doing while all this was happening. Well a lot of the detail they never new, but they were both country kids themselves so they weren’t that perturbed by our antics. I can actually remember one occasion where we’re out walking as a family with a friend (more about this guy later) when we came across a very big pit and the inevitable clay fight started. The friend who was in his late thirties at the time soon joined in along with our father. So there was a kind of wild side to them as well. As it turns out, that day my older brother hit this friend just below the ribs with a sizeable lump of clay…it turned into the ugliest bruise I have ever seen.

The less painful version of this was the water fights. Again not something small time, no water pistols, no freezer bags full of water, not a chance, this was buckets of water and high pressure hoses. My parents joined in with this, not so much in a participant role but more of a support role, opening and shutting doors to help us escape a drenching, or handing us a bucket of water. On one occasion my brother and I had given our friend (the one mentioned before) a surprise soaking and he was chasing us around the house, as we went past the back door, my mother opened the door, we ran in thinking we were safe, however the bucket of water followed us in…everything was wet, us, our mother, the floor, everything in the line of fire. Still, mum took it in good humor, we just had to clean up the mess.

On another occasion our friend was inside his caravan throwing water out through the roof vent. We just couldn’t get a decent shot at him, so being young and imaginative, we took a different approach. While two of us continued with the water throwing approach, the other got the garden hose ready and as soon as he lifted the roof vent the hose was pushed in. His natural instinct was to slam the vent shut but this just james the hose in there spraying water every where – it took a couple of days before he spoke to us again. Still once overcome the aggressions continued. It wasn’t uncommon to be asleep and get a cup of water tossed on you through the open bedroom window (our house was never locked and in the summer the windows were most often open).

I think these were probably the best years of my younger life and although the depression and death thoughts had already started, the influence of this friend and his steadiness influenced my ability to cope. Now when I think back about him, I sense there was probably a darker side to his life, he had lived through German occupation during the Second World War as a child and although he never spoke about it much, it is probably safe to assume that it wasn’t all fun times. For me he was probably the right person in the right place at the right time.

Till next time….

“Sunny day”, “Oh yeah” – Depression and grandchildren

Yes I am a grandfather, there should probably be a law against it, but there you are…I still feel like a kid myself, I still behave like a kid! Well this little guy is two and a half, running around like crazy, non stop talking, and he is a major fan of Thomas the tank engine. The title for this post came from a few months ago when his talking wasn’t so good and he had pet sayings. So if he looked out the window and the sun was shining….you guessed it, “sunny day nana”, or if you were explaining something to him, he would come out with “oh yeah” as if he got what you were talking about. Well since then he has grown so much and said so many funny things that you could write a book. Now he is more likely to come out with “chugga chugga toot toot”, of course he doesn’t say “chugga”, he says “tugga”. So what does this have to do with depression?

Andrew Solomon made a comment that went something like this, “if standing on your head makes your depression go away, it’s not a placebo, it’s a treatment/cure”. For me, my grandson can make me feel much better when I am down, the detached innocence is great. He just goes about his business and you either join him or he just moves on without you. When I was in hospital last year, I remember a day when I was feeling really down, so I messaged my son and got him to send me a recent photo of the boy…it really helped. I just love being around him and as you would know from previous posts, we are now living in a nana and pa flat under my son’s house, so we get to see him daily. The back of our flat opens onto the back yard so if he comes down to play we can see him. We have given him a door bell so when he comes down to visit we can hear him as his knock is too soft. We also have a chiming clock that he loves, so we have put it down low so he can get his little chair and sit in front of it waiting for the “ding ding clock” to chime.

Naturally he, like all those his age, has his moments where he just can’t be controlled and is running amok…yes isn’t it great being a grandparent…you just give them back! Then there is the spoiling obligation assigned to grandparents. We haven’t got into that yet, but I can already see it being a lot of fun. To quote thisisadepressionblog, “it’s the little things in life that can make a difference”, or something like that!

Well I am sure there will be more stories to come about this guy, but for now I guess the point I am making is that, if you suffer with depression, anxiety, BPD, bipolar, or any other mental illness, and are fortunate enough to be a grandparent, then take advantage of it, let these little people into your life and share their world…it’s going to look a lot better than your own!

Life in the swamp! (2)

So here I am, a skinny freckly faced kid with a “no back and sides” hair cut. Teasing, jeering, and bullying were a daily occurrence, and there was nothing I could do about it except retreat into myself. My two older brothers still at home must have faced similar attacks but these things were never discussed so I have no idea how it affected them…I haven’t spoken to either of them in over twenty years. I venture to say though that there had to have been some side affects. They did have the advantage though of having a younger brother to take out their “good humored” frustrations on – another story altogether! I guess we all just did the best we could and without doubt there were far more good times than bad, like the fishing. I can still remember how the trout fishing got started and it still stands out in my mind as a special occasion. The older of my two brothers living at home was introduced to it by a workmate and so almost immediately it was decided to make a holiday out of it. So, the four males living at home and two of my older brothers living in Auckland packed up an old Leyland van with our camping gear and fishing equipment for an all male holiday. I think it was only three or four days but it was brilliant. We traveled South into the mountainous area near Rotorua, found a crystal clear, fast flowing river. My father spoke to a farmer and he gave us permission to camp on his property right on the river’s edge on the condition we shut all gates behind us as we went through….if I think about it I can still see it all in my mind…

Camp Site
Camp Site

and if that doesn’t work…there’s always Google! I love Google… Yes that little area of flat land beside the river is where we had our tent.

I only remember sunny days and catching enough fish that we could have freshly caught rainbow trout for lunch and dinner every day. For the next ten years or so till we left New Zealand, that river became our favorite fishing spot and we would spend some time there nearly every weekend. TBC……