Email I wish I could send

What I said:
Hi,

I’ve been struggling the last few weeks, particuarly with mornings and getting out of the house. If there’s no additional work expected in the next couple of days would it be OK to work on the spreadsheets from home for the rest of the week?

What I want to say but is too much to expect a colleague to deal with:
Emailing across the office feels a bit daft, but it’s something I find very difficult to talk about and it takes time to find the right words. They call it “smiling depression” when it doesn’t show, sounds about right for how I try to present myself to the world. I end up with no words to actually express how I feel when everything I have is going into just carrying on and seeming normal. I don’t know why it matters to keep pretending it’s all fine and I don’t feel like life is all getting on top of me and hard to keep up with. When I’m feeling more positive I can discuss it all I want… I think it’s all part of the depression, the lower I feel the more the emotions seem locked away – I can feel them in a remote way but I can’t let anything out, even when I feel like crying. I keep hoping I’ll pick up from this particular depressive slump but it just seems to be getting harder to keep going and stay on top of everything.
This morning it was a real battle to not just turn around at the end of my road and go home because for a moment the whole commute and day just felt like too much to have to deal with. I sit on the stairs in the morning to put my shoes on, and some days I’m staring at the front door for far too long, gathering my energy and motivation. Can other people really get out of bed when the alarm goes off, have time for everything they plan to do in the morning, and get to work on time? Is it just me that takes half an hour to even be able to keep my eyes open then stares into space halfway through getting dressed until I realise I should have left 5 minutes ago? I struggle to describe or remember how I’ve felt before – am I really worse now than I was this time last year, or just lazier, or missing some essential factor?
Depression is an illness that doesn’t feel like an illness. It feels much more like I just need to try harder, give myself a stern talking to then get out of bed on time and keep up with the laundry. It’s hard to receive a good self-lecture when most of your brain already feels bad for ‘failing’ and already knows all of the areas requiring improvement – some of them probably not even noticable to anyone else. When I already feel that I’m different and doing badly it makes it very hard to judge how I’m really doing in comparison to everyone else, if I look like a swan gliding along or a small creature that fell in and is trying very hard not to drown… or an otter drifting with the current, holding a favourite rock for comfort and hoping nothing nasty comes along.
Do you know how hard it is to press send on this sort of message? Whether it’s internalised stigma against mental illness, a fear of admitting to failure or being thought less of, or just the upright piece of me that says you don’t call in sick or ask for concessions unless you absolutely need to and is this really bad enough? If I’ve written this and thought of just going home then maybe I have reached that point, but then again I’m not sure I trust my brains assessment of itself anymore. I have this internal debate everytime I think of calling in sick. My last few sick days have been complete crash-and-burn stay-in-bed-all-day can’t-cope-with-the-world days and I want to avoid that in future. I’d prefer a few low functioning days to a completely incapable of functioning day. Let’s hope a day at my own desk will help me reset…

Thoughts on a home

English Bridge, Shrewsbury, from a riverside garden

I had such a strong moment today of remembering being in my childhood bedroom it took me a while to remember the layout of my own house… I had to focus to mentally separate the places I’ve lived, and it made me realise how many similarities my home now has to the house I grew up in. There’s probably some deep psychological meaning to that, and maybe the reason this house felt like home the moment I first entered (despite some truly horrendous decorating choices by the previous owners). Maybe it’s the layout – same or very similar orientation and arrangement of bedroom and living room and kitchen… 18 months and it’s only just consciously occurred to me. It was a very strange sensation, and left me feeling a little lost and uprooted, especially as that childhood house was sold years ago. Brains and memories can be very odd things…

I have a lot to be grateful for here where my life and choices have led me, but my home town still has a strange pull on me… It still feels like a homecoming every time. Perhaps it will always be a home, those roots never truly working loose or dying away, in much the same way my Mum still refers to where she grew up as home despite there no longer being a particular place to return to. Or maybe because over time ‘home’ becomes people and emotions rather than a place. And those things are more important and valuble than any building could ever be.

Travel sketching

I want to get more into sketching and watercolour painting, but I only really get aronund to it on holidays – not a regular practice schedule so it’s no wonder I still can’t make it look like I want…

For my long weekend in Warsaw at the end of January I made my first mini themed palette inspired by various posts and pictures I’ve seen online. I put together 6 half-pan watercolours in colours that fit the destination in a mints tin. I did a lot of research on places to go and got a feel for the colours of the city.

View of the market square. Bit gloomy due to the snowcloud but shows the city colours.

I think I chose OK but trying to paint a tree with no green was an interesting challenge!

It was a bit cold for sketching in Poland in January so I only did a couple of drawings outside, and did a bit of painting back at the hotel in the evenings. I bought myself an instant camera to add photos to the sketch book at the same time which was useful (of course as soon as I bought one I saw another I’d prefer but oh well…).

The cookie wasn’t actually burnt, I just got carried away with the colours 😄

Now I want to plan my next adventure and a new palette but there’s these things called exams and bills I need to think about too…

On the push and pull of stability and travel

I see so many amazing blog posts from people who have made travel their lives, seeing amazing places and so much of the world. I love travelling, seeing new places, getting away from my everyday life to bigger cities and taller mountains and bluer oceans. When I’m not planning a trip I’m daydreaming of destinations and routes across continents. There’s a bit of me that would love to drop everything, pack a bag and just keep going. I’d like to take the train across continents and the ferry across unknown seas.

And then the practical side of me kicks in… How would I afford it? How would I carry everything I’d need? I’m an introvert, shy, hesitant, I take a long time to connect to people, I’d get very lonely. I’d miss my family. I like my stuff. Where would I put my souveniers if I didn’t have a permanent home? How would I do my hobbies on the move? What about the future?

The reality of me is I need roots, I need stability, I’m unsettled by change and the unknown. Maybe there’s a reason I like hermit crabs so much – I love to travel, but after a while I just want to retreat into my home. I need a safe space to return to where I can rest, unpack, hang up my holiday photos and display the magnets, unusual bottles and ceramic boats I acquire on the way. To have a centre to my own universe.

I believe that where I am in life is the result of all of the choices that I have made along the way. If each decision I made was what I thought was best for me at the time, then my ‘what ifs’ are merely paths I didn’t take because they weren’t right for me. Maybe I lacked the courage to leave my comfort zone, or the vision to do something unusual with life, or maybe I just lacked money. I do wonder what life would be like if I had made different choices and I sometimes want more from life. Yes, I’d like to live in a place where more happens, where I can more easily escape to somewhere for a weekend. I’d like a travel buddy to drag around the world and share the views and make me feel braver and less alone. But I am a quiet person who needs a retreat from the world that is mine and won’t change. So I’m putting my roots down where I am because this is who I am and what I need, and this is where my choices have led me.

My hermit crab shell, the centre of my universe from where I can venture outwards, is a terraced house in central England, because that’s what’s right for me.


All photos are from my trip to Croatia last September 🙂

Outgoing postcards

It’s been a while since I’ve sent many postcards… I had a real block on letter writing recently, I’ve got a stack of replies to write and I just can’t get the words down. But here’s a few postcards that will go out tomorrow. I decided if I want to come home to nice post I’ll have to send more!

The cards on the left are off to China via Postcard United – to someone who likes flags, and someone who likes local views. That’s a card from my hometown of Shrewsbury 🙂

The cards on the right are going out to Russia via Postcrossing. The Jane Austen quote is to someone who likes anything which always makes a hard choice of what to send. The Postcrosser who likes yoga was easier to pick a card for!

The card on the left I’m sending to my Dad, my big nut brown hare (for anyone who knows ‘Guess how much i love you’ 😊).

The ‘once upon a time’ card is for a swap-bot swap for the first and last lines of a current book. I’m currently re-reading one of my favourite books – ‘Saving CeeCee Honeycutt’ by Beth Hoffman. It’s a story about a young girl who loses her mother and goes to live with an Aunt in Georgia where she rediscovers how to be happy.

And the carved stones are off to a postcard pal in Taiwan 👋😀

I actually got the addresses at least a week ago so I’m still struggling with getting post ready to send, but it feels good to be sending them out to start their journeys.

On the way…

If I owe you a letter, chances are good it’s now on its way!

8 letters and a birthday present on the way to all around the world. With moving house and the resulting chaos, as well as everyday life and low level depression it’s taken me a long time to reply to most of these. I’m going to try very hard to get better at replying within a decent time now. It’ll be nice to start receiving letters again, I’ve had such a backlog of replies to write I haven’t received much nice post recently!

Lettermo – day… whatever

I had such good intentions starting out, and then my depression took over a bit and I did very little at all with my time. I’ve written a couple of letters in the last few weeks, and got a swap ready to send out, but realistically if I couldn’t manage one letter a day I’m highly unlikely to now write several a day to catch up. So I’ll just keep drifting along doing my best and writing my replies when the words are willing to flow. That’s the method that’s I’ve used for many years of letter writing so it must work out somehow…
I have had some energy to invest in making letters interesting. The Royal Mail created a downloadable tutorial based on an antique origami love letter, but I don’t have to write about love to send cleverly folded paper post! Unfortunately even using 12″x12″ scrapbooking paper the letter is still smaller than the Royal Mail international postage size so it needs an envelope too – I’d love to try it with enormous paper but that would be a huge letter!

It’s admittedly not the best of folding, large glittery cardboard isn’t the easiest to work with, but it should just squeeze through as a normal sized letter 🙂 Now I just have to sit down and write it…

Lettermo days 6 & 7

I’m just about keeping up… some days I just have more energy for concentrating on things like words, even ‘wild and whirling words’ like this card I wrote today.

The postcard is yesterday’s post, it’s off to China via Postcard United. The recipient had a completely blank profile so I went for a fairly generic card I could wrote something about.

The note card is a reply to someone who friended me on the Lettermo website, and is heading to southern England.

Just need to get them to a post box now…

Lettermo days 4 & 5

I definitely wouldn’t have got any post done today if it wasn’t for the challenge! And I’ve even done tomorrow in advance because I’m out at my sewing group tomorrow evening and probably won’t have time for letters.

Today’s letter is off to my penfriend Jennifer in Germany. A long overdue reply from around Christmas.

Tomorrow’s post is 2 Swap-bot travelling postcards heading to the USA. They’ve still got some travelling to do before they get sent home 🙂