Tag Archive for Depression

My 10 ‘MUST HAVES’

Everyone has their own ‘must haves’ or ‘can’t live without’ items.  And maybe mine aren’t that dissimilar, I have very little specialised kit to cope day-to-day.

In no particular order, here are my 10 MUST HAVES:

  1. One Touch Kettle
  2. iPhone
  3. Apple Watch
  4. Compact Dome magnifier
  5. Wrap-Around Polarised Sun Glasses
  6. Power pack
  7. Amplicomms Amplified Bluetooth Neck-loop
  8. Notepad/Pen
  9. Book
  10. Dog Bowl

ONE:  One Touch Kettle:  I like most can’t start my day without a cuppa.  My cuppa of choice is Herbalife Thermogenic Peach Tea; and although there are fantastic gadgets like liquid level indicators and tipping support for enabling VIs to pour a normal kettle, my kettle isn’t a specialist bit of kit.  It is simply a water saving, energy efficient way of pouring just one cup of water at a time.  I don’t even need to lift it.  I simply set the cup size (all my mugs are large-so this is easy) press the button and when the water has heated, the water is dispensed automatically.  With no risk to me….. This also means it is safe for my children to make them or me a cuppa (although this novelty has really caught on yet!)

TWO:  iPhone:  Apart from the ‘usual’ needs for a smart phone to call, text and access maps; my iPhone is an AMAZING piece of accessible tech.  With the standard, ‘Notes’ ‘camera’ ‘Magnifier’ ‘Siri’ in addition to the ‘added at source accessibility features my phone is fully accessible’.  It is more than ‘just a phone’ it is a Canera, A CCTV Reader, a pocket sized PA, with the addition of recent apps such as ‘See Al’ ‘Big Spender’ ‘Station Master’ I have all the information I could possibly need at my finger tips means that nothing is ever far away.

THREE:  Apple Watch:  Just as my phone my Apple watch is an extension of the support I gain from Mac based products.  And actually my increased feeling of safety that my watch offers me, helps me to feel more confident in my surroundings.  With the use of haptics I can set a route on my phone that then gives instructions through vibrations on my wrist.  I have my watch set to enable me to zoom in on the screen, to read and send messages and even answer calls.  In addition to making contactless payments enabling me to keep my phone and purse both safely kept in my bag.

FOUR:  Compact Dome Magnifier:  This is my bewest piece of ‘kit’ that I actually received from the LVC (low vision clinic) at Moorfields Hospital recently.  It is a small Perspex domed magnifier that gives 2.5 magnification, which in the scheme of things isn’t much, but with a flat base and a domed top it enables the light to be increased and this has just as much importance to me as the magnification.

FIVE:  Wrap-Around Polarised Sun Glasses:  To protect my eyes from bright sunshine and glare. (Non-prescription)

SIX:  Power pack:  So that I always have a back up should I be using a lot of the apps on my phone and therefore depleting battery life.  As my phone running out is so much more than just ‘not being able to make a call’

SEVEN:  Amplicomms Amplified Bluetooth Neck-loop:  THIS IS a specialist piece of kit, this works with my hearing aids to support me.  I can stream calls direct to my ears (which works brilliantly for guiding from the ground when I climb)  I can listen to music or audiobooks (as I previously had done before hearing aids)  I can also use the amplification button on the front to enable me to hear a person stood in front of me in a loud, busy environment.  Or tune into a local ‘loop’ connection what is being said clearer and directly into my ears.

EIGHT: Notepad/Pen:  Because sometimes I like to jot down ideas for blogs or make notes and sometimes I like to not use tech.

NINE:  Book:  Just like the notepad, I like to just do the simple things, to enjoy escaping from the world for a few moments (after all with my magnifier and the right lighting, I can still read)

TEN:  Dog Bowl:  clearly this one isn’t for me, but with my faithful guiding girl I need to ensure that I can meet her needs and ensure that just like me, she is hydrated.

So, these are my lists.  And at times I will add other items to them and other times I may not include them all.  But I do start each day with a cuppa and I never leave home without my phone or watch (which probably isn’t any different to any other person in today’s society)  I am sure if you asked another VI they may have different items they consider important.

I just wanted to share with you mine.

i hope you have enjoyed.

You climb with your mind

…… Your arms and legs are only a tool to enable you to achieve any height. (Or something similar)

This was in one of the many climbing books I have read, it is one that has (loosely) stuck with me.  My CPiC often says think positively and you can achieve anything.

Well, on Tuesday I attended the 2nd round of the BMC 2017 Paraclimbing competition at The Castle Climbing Centre in London.  And I am beginning to think I shouldn’t have gone.

I have lots of things going on in my personal life at this time that I am trying to work my way through, the funny weather and darker evenings are beginning to take effect too.

So to say I wasn’t on top form on Tuesday would be an understatement!

I was exhausted, I was emotionally tired before the climbing even started and it was only a very last minute decision that actually saw me attend.

Because up until 10pm Monday night I wasn’t going to go.  I didn’t want to go and perform badly.  But some smooth words of encouragement from my CPiC and I changed my mind, because going and performing badly would still put me above where I would be if I didn’t show up.  So I was already beating my worst possible scoring just by showing up and getting my hands and feet on those first holds.

I set myself a personal challenge to get through the day.

Remembering back to last years competition at The Castle where I didn’t reach for the next hold for fear of failing, I told myself

you have to climb until you fall… Because there is a 50:50 chance you COULD make it

But if you dont reach for it, you won’t know if you could have made it.

My footwork was clunky and I was ill spending energy because of it, but I made it to the top of my first climb and a sense of pride kicked in.

I. may actually know how to do this!

But I was already physically tired and cold.  Never a good mix when you have problems to solve and climbs to overcome.

I was also starting to struggle with the venue.  There was an AMAZING turn out for the competition, with people coming far and wide.  The Centre was only open for the competition. So everyone there was there for just one thing.

The noise was unbearable and distracting at times.  There were different languages, accents and pitches of voices in addition to well deserved cheers and applauses to those climber who had pulled of a good move or topped a route.

I wanted to take my hearing aids out. But instead I took myself out.

Actually I took myself and Fizz out.  Outside to stand amongst the relative quiet (by comparison) busy part of London.

Fizz got to sniff the grass and investigate the lavender bushes while I got to breathe.

Breathing; all be it a fundemental to surviving is often something I forget to do when I am concentrating on a problem or a climb.

I found myself crying as I breathed in; I found myself sitting on the sandy, stony path burying my head into Fizz’s neck as she offered me reassurance.  I found myself feeling rediculous.

So I stood up, dusted myself off went back inside to finish what I started.  To climb !!

Thankfullly my brief departure went unnotice (or at least unmentioned) and I was able to warm myself up with a hot drink and face the climbs ahead.

It wasn’t my best performance.

And by being the only female VI I gained a gold medal (purely by default)

But although I wasn’t at my best, I did complete all of my climbs and my boulder problems.  And by the end of the day I felt much better for showing up and not going up.

The troubles I have are still there and still need to be deal with, but for this competition I did go.  And for that I am thankful.

 

It’s not the reading that’s the issue…..

In a way to improve myself I am undertaking many different forms of learning.  Some is personal development, some is an education and some of it is to support my family.

One such learning is a 10 week parenting puzzle.

It isn’t a course that holds a secret instruction manual to raising children, rather it looks at ways in which as adults we have to dispel our own learnings as a child, to move past it and to understand ourselves better to support our children.

As the weeks have added up, the inner-termole of the course content has began to take an effect.  This teamed with counselling I have been undertaking to support me and help me with my anxieties and depression…… Has been giving me plenty to think about.

It has been commented (not as a critisism, more an observation) that I have become quieter as the weeks have rolled on.  The group I am in are very understanding and supportive towards everyone.

This week we were given an extra book.  “The huge bag of Worries” by Virginia Ironside.  It is a beautifully illustrated children’s book, yet one that is also written for adults too.

As part of our group, those leading us asked if one of us would read the book to the group.

A quick flick through the pages and I heard my voice before my thought had caught up

I’ll read it.

The intakes of breath were audible and noticed by others.  You see, I am an educated woman, I have a passion for reading, it is just my sight that doesn’t always play along!

Being a book to be read to and read by children; the type was larger, clearer and only briefly obscured by the illustrations behind.

I took a deep breathe and began to read.

I enjoyed the book.  I felt myself giving the characters tone and passion as the punctuation implied.

I felt saddened momentarily when it ended.  I closed the book and placed it on my lap.

I felt touched by the story; I felt that the story was so much more than a ‘children’s book’ it meant something.

I had also done something that I hadn’t done for many, many, MANY years.

I had read aloud to people other than my children.

You see, this is not just a little thing.  This is a MASSIVE thing.  I feel anxious reading, not because I dislike it, (far from it) more because I fear that I will miss words, not see them; especially in a children’s book, where the words can wrap around and over the pictures.

For someone who loves to read, yet faces my own worries over the act of reading.  It felt like it was a truly enlightening moment.  One that will hopefully stay with me for many years to come.

I have since ordered my own copy of the book, shared it with friends on Facebook and am looking forward to reading it to my own children.

You see, it isn’t the reading that’s the issue.  It’s the seeing the words.

 

I don’t have baggage… I have a full matching set of cases

I may have written about this before, many years ago a friend referred to my past and my baggage as a complete matching luggage set.

Recently I have been undertaking counselling for my anxiety and depression,  which in turn has lead me to get this lovely (not) large set of cases out of the dark parts of my mind.

And I have not been enjoying dusting them off or opening them up.

However, the past can have its uses.

It can on the surface have perfect vision.

It can also offer comfort.

However, one thing to remember is that the past is somewhere you once lived.  Not somewhere you can revisit to alter.

It is behind you with no re-entry allowed.

It is interesting to think that it can hold the keys to unlocking the future though!

Yes, this post is full of metaphors, but what can you expect at 2.30am after an evening of reflection with friends?

It was not an evening fuelled with alcohol, although maybe too much ginger ale Fizz?

Anyway, I digress…….

As part of my current therapy sessions I am looking at and deconstructing my own core beliefs, my rules, my ‘coping mechanisms’ and eventually this will lead to breaking habits of a lifetime and learning to change, learning to give myself some slack and to (probably most importantly) be able to spot when I am falling into old habits; being able to break them.

After all ‘rules are made to be broken’ (last metaphor I promise!)

Anyone who has undertaken the NHS’s iTalk therapy will have an understanding of what I am talking about.

It is based on CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.  A therapy that I did learn of during my own counselling courses, but not one that I followed in great detail…. for the NHS is is a good therapy, it is one that can be provided on either a face to face basis (which I have) or over the phone, saving many ‘man hours’ overheads along with additional anxieties for some who are in receipt of the telephone consultations.

CBT is largely known as a talking therapy, it has many different ‘formulations’ so can be tailored to an individual needs much easier and quicker than some other therapies.

Diagram showing the 3 points of CBT. Thoughts, emotions and behaviours. The diagram explains how any one of the three can start an anxiety, but how no matter which of the three, between emotion, thoughts and behaviour they can easy feed from each other and create a downward spiral.

It is a fascinating therapy and one that I am only just learning.  However it is one that I can already see as a great working theory that has so much to teach me.

So, watch this space……. I may find a way to expand on this soon.

What does sound sound like?

Tomorrow I have my NHS hearing aid fitting appointment.  My hearing aid assessment was very quick and limited; unlike the hearing assessment I had done privately.  My NHS assessment didn’t test how I hear (or rather struggle to hear) certain voice tones or in areas where the background noise was high.

I guess this has led me to feel that I may not gain the full potential from my hearing aids, and also because I am only having one for my right ear. And nothing for my left!

I am fortunate that as I am registered blind, I do receive a second right ear hearing aid.  This is so that should I drop one, or (as suggested by the audiologist) my guide dog EATS one.  I am not left isolated while a replacement is sort.

The NHS Choices website states;

Hearing aids are designed to help you hear everyday sounds such as the doorbell and telephone, and improve your ability to hear speech. They should make you feel more confident when talking to people and make it much easier for you to follow conversations in different environments. They might also help you to enjoy listening to music and the TV again, at a volume that’s comfortable for those around you.

I guess I find it hard to feel confident.  For as long as I remember I have worn glasses and it was actually a feeling of loss that I felt when I was told I didn’t actually need to wear them on a day to day basis, when I changed my prescription for reading glasses.  I tend to just wear them out of habit and the ability to hide behind them.

How will I feel wearing a hearing aid?

 

Envious of the mundane

Sat waiting for a friend to arrive and watching (as best I can) the people coming and going with their shopping.

And a very mundane task struck me.  People were walking with shopping bags in both hands.  Sounds rediculous, but in that small insignificant moment I became upset.

And the reason for it?  The realisation that from now and forever I will always walk with one hand full; as I will either be holding a long cane,  a guide dog harness or onto another person’s arm.

It sounds silly, but having to consider what you are buying when you go out, to either contain it in a back pack or worst case over my shoulder.  It is very difficult with Fizz to have a bag in my right hand, she works off of tap que’s and a gentle reminder from having her lead in my right hand at times.

I guess for now I shall just add it to the list of ‘no longer possible’ and carry on by focussing on the ‘can do’ list.

Raw Emotions

I have tried to think of a witty title, something to grab your attention …. Words really are failing me on this post though, so just going with the simple choice.

I have been struggling for a while, I have been fortunate to be able to talk to close friends, able to ‘gauge’ the reaction.  There are a few more I wanted to tell, but time and my own worry has stopped me.

Keeping it simple …… Not babbling on.  So, do excuse me if this sounds unemotional.  I don’t know how else to say it.

I am loosing my hearing.

So, it is said, those 5 little words and it is out there…… I have known now for a little while, it isn’t easy and I am not writing this for sympathy.

I’m writing this because it is getting harder and harder to hide it.  Saying “Pardon” sometimes three or four times, not being able to hold a conversation easily as a passenger in friends’ cars.

Its confusing, I can still pick up a conversation across the room, yet not hear the person beside me.  And the prognosis …. It will only get worse.

I am still awaiting my hearing aid appointment from the nhs, it could take upto another THREE months for them to book me in, I have however spoken with my consultants and they are putting appointments in place for me to confirm exactly the kind of deafness I have.

All early indications push towards it being a form of Ushers Sydrome, a condition that is part of the RP spectrum; Retinitis Pigmentosa Is the family that my eye conditions stems from.  And hearing loss or ‘Deafblind’ is another strand.

Those with ushers are either born with hearing loss or sight loss and the other sensory loss occurs later.

As someone who was only categorised as ‘severely sight impaired’ 8 years ago, having been born with the condition …. I am feeling quite numb about it all at the moment.

Those close to me have noticed something is up, but I haven’t been able to tell them all in person, either because of Busy diaries or because I haven’t been able to find the words.

(which anyone who knows me, knows I am not often stuck for words!)

Just like my sight loss, I am not going to let my hearing loss take away my sense of humour or change the friend I am, it’s just not an easy time right now and it’s all a bit of a struggle.

Thank you for taking the time to read, I appreciates it.

xx

The lengths I go to for a swim…

Last weeks climb is nothing in comparison to today’s challenge.

Today though was a very different type of challenge, this one was more of an anxiety, need for preparation and gaining some control over a situation.

I explain my WHY in What does ……  Today was one of those days; the kind of day where something out of my control was happening, something I couldn’t hide away from and something I didn’t want to hide from.

Because if I did, I would be disappointing and letting my son down.

So, time for a plan…..

My son was invited to a swim party!  A party where I was required to be in the water with him, something we had done before…. But never like this!

This was different, it was in a pool I had never been to, it was in a party environment, so I didn’t know if there would be lights, music or inflatables.  Oh and it was with many of the mums and dads from the school playground!

I set to work, I had a plan…. I was not going to let my son down, I WAS NOT going to let his friend and her family down by bailing out (I have paid for numerous birthday parties and know just how much they cost)

The pool and leisure centre was one that I had actually used before….. All be it 19 Years ago, before it was fully refurbished and renovated though.

This was a positive though …. The wonders of the Internet and EVERYTHING being online I was able to find a floor plan of the new building, a ‘street view’ of the exterior and images from the centres website to put together enough information to make me feel like I knew where I was going.  A virtual walk through if you like.

Then came my next worry, when in the pool, would I be able to see my son? Short answer is obvious….. No!

I didn’t want to ask another parent to look after him, I wanted to enjoy the party with him, but without keeping him all to myself and stopping him playing with his friends.

So, with his help I got from the changing rooms (where my cane was locked away) and into the pool.  I headed for a space at the side as to not get in anyone’s way.

I initially heard him playing, but soon the noise increased and it was hard to make him out.

A casual  “Hey, is Lawremce playing nicely?”  Gave me a conversation starter to find out roughly where he was in the pool, so I could focus in.  It was then a friend and fellow school mum said that she was keeping a look out for him as she knew I would find it tricky.  And as he was playing with her son it wasn’t difficult !!

Lawrence is a confident paddler, the party was in the training pool and I wanted him to enjoy his time at the party, hence another WHY I had to be there…. Knowing that everyone in the pool was known by the party hosts enabled me to relax my fear of stranger danger.

At one point. He came over to me and asked if I wanted to play, we had a real laugh, he was guiding me, without guiding me (if that makes any sense)

The one hour swim part of the party was over too soon and not only had Lawrence had a fabulous time, I too had had the chance to relax and enjoy the party fun.

Please take a moment to answer in the comments below; a few little question for me…

1. Would you, previously have thought this was a bit obsessive?

2.  Would you fear the opinion of your peers if you asked for support?


 

What does depression look like?

Depression is a ‘hidden’ disability.  And yes it is a disability, anyone who has ever suffered with it, medicated or not will explain how on a ‘low’ day, even getting up to go to the loo is unbearable. Therefore, disabling….

So, if depression is a hidden disability; what does it look like?

it looks like this ……

Headshot of me, my hair is down, I am smiling and am chewing on the end of my glasses leg

Yup, it looks like me!

I don’t often put up the bits about me, but my depression is part of my sight loss, it is part of me and it isn’t something that can be fixed quickly with medication and ‘telling someone how you feel’.

As a trainee counsellor I more than most understand where my depression stems from and it isn’t just one thing, it is a lot of little things, some from my past, many of my present and also fears of my future.

Just because I know the WHY, doesn’t me I can fix it.  Depression is partly an imbalance of chemicals and to support me I take medication, but this isn’t the cure.

Just like knowing how your car works; it doesn’t mean you would know how to fix it if it broke….. I am not finished with my training yet, a good counsellor NEVER is.

We don’t always know what is going on on the inside, a reminder to be kind and understanding.  What may seem protective, controlling or even shying away may have a hidden meaning.

I wanted to share this, I do all I can to smile and ‘put a brave face on it’ but it doesn’t always work, also I have a really annoying best friend who knows me TOOOOOOOO well and he won’t always let me hide away.

Perfect vision …. If only in hindsight.

Isn’t it crazy how even to someone with poor eye sight, hindsight has perfect vision?

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