frustration and confusion

It’s a beautiful day outside and I feel so grumpy, so frustrated, like something is building up inside me and I don’t know what it is. I DO know that this is about me – something to do with how I see myself. I could argue with my husband about things he hasn’t yet done that I’ve asked him to… but deep inside I know this is not about him being the source of my frustration – it’s about me – and I don’t know what I’m so annoyed and frustrated about.

I have found that in order to make sure that my issues with depression stay in their place (ie, making sure they don’t rear their ugly heads) there are some simple steps I can follow:

  • take my medication regularly
  • do some form of physical exercise
  • limit my caffeine and more importantly my alcohol intake
  • eat sensibly but don’t overeat (this can lead to self loathing)
  • do some housework – it’s something about the cleaning and tidying that gives me a sense of being in control over my environment. Housework (vacuuming particularly) feels like physical exercise to me so that’s a win/win – clean house and exercise rolled into one!
  • I need to include tidiness here as well as cleaning. Tidiness is one of the keys to things being in order in my world and my sense of control of my world. [Why is that?]
  • some form of creativity is also good -for me that might mean painting, or sewing or cooking; making chicken stock for the freezer, or chicken pies, or a fruitcake for my husband (not because fruit cakes excite me, they don’t, but he adores them) – also sort of a win/win because this is linked to getting his approval.

Hello. Here’s something important: I link doing nice things for him with getting his approval. This (I know) relates to my father – feeling like I had to be good, or good enough to get his approval. Feeling like I always struggled not just to get his approval but to be recognised. I was the last of six children and the only girl – so before you make comments about being spoiled, I always felt -when it came to my father- that I was never quite good enough. Never really acknowledged by him. And that his love was conditional, and the condition was that I had to be good.

Coming back to being acknowledged, I remember sitting on his knee in church as a 2 or 3 year old (a positive memory) and before I went to sleep he would read to me, and sometimes we would sing together. But as I got older I felt like I just blended into this family because I had to and had to learn to do what I was told. I didn’t feel recognised. As a teenager he never really talked to me one-on-one. Never sat me down to impart any wise words – isn’t that what parents do? Or am I just being romantic rather than realistic? I guess he struggled relating to me – a daughter after five sons. But did I not matter? Was he too tired? Did he not know what to say? Perhaps he didn’t know how – how to approach subjects relating to thoughts and feelings, ideas, views or opinions. Perhaps he thought I didn’t value his views? Did I value his views? I don’t know, he never shared them.

When I left home and went travelling I used to write to my parents and while they wrote back all they ever wrote about was what they had done, were doing or were going to do – they seldom expressed their feelings or thoughts, concerns or opinions; nothing other than general day to day life.

Am I wanting too much? Did I want too much? Did he not know what my psychological needs were and how to meet them? – probably not.  I haven’t been a parent so it’s hard to know if my own expectations of my parents are realistic. They certainly tried to make sure our physical and spiritual needs were taken care of. I’m not sure they knew any of us had any other needs, let alone how to meet them.

And let’s be honest, the world is a totally different place now to the world I grew up in in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Parenting is different. The world is different. Everything has changed. And that’s what happens in life. Things change. We grow up. And as we age, our perspectives continue to develop and alter as we encounter more of life and have more life experience. Fair enough… but where does that leave me right now?

Two other tools I use to keep depression at bay:

  • if I feel emotional or overwhelmed I can always go and have a (nana) nap. If I do this, and manage to go to sleep, I always wake up feeling better than I did before I went to sleep. I don’t know why this works, I just know that it does!
  • go and do something different – go out into the garden and pull some weeds, take the dog for a walk, clean the hand basin, fold some washing, do some baking -doesn’t matter much what it is  – just DO SOMETHING. There’s a sense of reward in being active and achieving something, regardless of how small the activity is. And a change of activity can lead to a change in perspective. Time for me to go and put this into practice – hoping I’ll feel less angst soon…

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