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Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

the lockdown log 77


I failed to mention weight and diet last week, mainly because they were not on my mind. That alone should tell you about my state of mind on that topic. I have weighed myself once in the last month and I was 110 kg at the time; not too good, but not too bad either. Right now I can’t be bothered, although I know that I will need to start bothering soon. On the exercise front I am still at it and recently passed through 3000 km for the year. I may not be controlling my intake too well, but I am still burning off a lot.

Our trip out for a birthday lunch went so well that we did it again this week. A different venue, but very nice and something that could be habit forming. We used to do it every Saturday at one time, not always a pub or restaurant, but it was our weekly treat back when we both worked for Big Corporate. In these times it is nice to get out and about a bit; a touch of normality.

I have started my course of dental treatment and have a extraction to look forward to in a couple of weeks. I will get a temporary bridge at that point and then, once the gum has settled from the extraction, I will get the long term bridge fitted. Whether or not that can be done by Christmas or not I don’t know yet.

Having a couple of weeks off work I have tried not to be too busy. A break is a break and so I have done less around the house and garden than I would normally have done. If nothing else it has given me time to think a bit about what I want to do. The Summer is gone and the Autumn and Winter job list needs some attention.

The year does seem to have vanished and I am having problems believing that it is mid-September. Where did it go? Maybe it is something to do with withdrawing into myself, my Ostrich approach to shutting myself off from as much of the world as I can. Whatever, the calendar does not lie and we are where we are. I suppose that the months slip away whilst I have my head in the sand and, as it is my choice to hide, I have no cause for complaint.

Stay safe wherever you are.

on control


There is a lot of talk about loss of freedom at the moment. We are, globally, living in a time when there have to be restrictions and, for many people, we are just not used to that. There is a perception that we have lost control of our own destiny because we are being told what we can and can’t do.

I will keep my remarks here about life in the UK for no other reason than that, for obvious reasons, I have not been anywhere else since life changed back in March 2019. We have it pretty good here which is why so many people from other countries want to come here, and talking to a colleague from one of the former Soviet Bloc countries I was told how they had needed a permit to go from the side of town where they lived to the one that they worked in. Just imagine how that would have gone down here. Yet the Covid regulations (for want of a better term) have, in some ways, not been that far removed and there has been acceptance from some and howls of protest from others.

Over eighteen months we have had to have levels of control imposed and there has been a level of fear across us too. This is a silent and invisible killer, the stuff of science fiction. To all intents and purposes we are at war and it grinds you down. Mental health was an emergent problem in any case, but has become more of an issue as we face up to this modern day plague.

Something that I learned in my business life was that I needed to focus my attention on certain areas as a time management issue more than anything. To get the best out of the 60-70 hours I was putting in each week I had to focus on what I could deal with and one of the tools that I would use is the Eisenhower Matrix. I won’t go Ito that here, just run it through your search engine of choice if you are not familiar with it, but the basic principle is in prioritising tasks.

One of the benefits of this type of technique is that you get things done. I used to say that there were times when I couldn’t get my head out of the trench for long enough to see which way the bullets were coming from. Life could be like that and whilst that style of firefighting management can be good fun at times it is not a recipe for long term success: I needed to get things under control and, once I had, I found that I had time to think about preventing fires rather than having to keep putting them out. Life got easier.

Getting to that point took a lot of the stress out of work and I have tried to apply the same type of thinking too life under lockdown. There are lots of things that I cannot control right now, but if I focus on what I can control and take charge of those then it gives me some comfort, certainly more than I would get if I just sat in a heap complaining. Finding the things that I can manage myself might see me mired in trivia; often the things that a straight application of the Eisenhower Matrix would see me discard, but they are things that I can do without recourse to anyone else; I have control and it helps to keep me sane.

Control the things that you can. If nothing else you will be practising a good discipline that will help you in your career in the longer term.

the lockdown log 67


Isn’t it odd how a week can change in a moment? I thought that it had been a decent week; I had got a few things done despite the weather, the foxes are causing less damage although they are still living next door, our tomatoes and cucumbers are flowering, I had been fairly good on my food intake, had had salads for lunch on a couple of days and was looking forward to some good news from the scales. I should have known better.

The first attempt came up with 110.5 kg, so 2.5 up from last week. What?! I tried not to make loud noises (it was just before 5 am) got dressed and went to work. Back home before lunch I tried again as I got changed out of my working gear: 111 kg. I tried swaying about a bit and was rewarded with 111.5 before the scales settled back to Nelson (as all the ones are known in cricket and darts).

Those of you who have been on diets will probably be familiar with the days when you feel either fat or thin. It was the former that pushed me to start getting weighed regularly again and when that first re-visit gave me 109 I was relieved. I was not good about my food intake, but was much better than bad, felt thinner and got the 108 next time around so was feeling comfortable that I was on the right track. My belt was back on the second new hole that I had punched in it and I could see my toes if I looked down. So where the heck did another 3 kg (almost half a stone) come from?

So, what to do now? Well, firstly have a rant as I have done here. It has a marginal effect, but I need to avoid despair because that will lead to eating for comfort and that is the wrong path. I have talked here before about a parallel with addiction and, like an addict, I am trying to take it a day at a time and hope that I can get through the next week knowing that there have been times when I have denied myself things to eat that I really do not need. I will also try to keep a tight reign on portion control as well as on content because one of my failings is often finishing off the odd slice left on the loaf, the odd bit of cheese or whatever rather than leave it for tomorrow when I already have what I need on the plate. I shall try to be positive and, who knows, this might be the kick up the arse that I needed to get my motivation back.

We have pretty much abandoned thoughts of a holiday this year, but will wait until the end of August to make a decision. If we are giving up on going away then I will change my holiday plans at work and take three separate weeks with the aim of putting in some serious garden and home maintenance as well as having a few days out. We are fortunate in living not too far from places to go and be back in time to look after the cats.

It’s been a bit a weight dominated blog this week, but that digital read-out on the scales did shake me to the core. I am still here though, and still healthy so I will be grateful for that. Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 64


There are days when I am very low and this is one of them. I hurt in all sorts of places and, for one of them, in ways that I am not familiar with and am therefore slightly bothered by the unusual sensations. It is easy to joke about; “If I had known that I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself” sort of thing, but feeling physically crap does tend to drag the mind down with it.

It is probably no more than that I overdid things on the previous two days when it was hot and I was trying to get as much done before the promised severe weather arrived. As it happens our bit of the UK did not get any severe weather at all, just a light breeze and a bit of rain so I need not have pushed so hard. I forget sometime that I am in the fag end of my sixties and, although I do take more precautions and care than I did even ten years ago things do tend to take their toll.

My malaise is therefore self-inflicted and I shall just have to let it pass. I am being bloody minded about it and have not reached for the paracetamol. I will see how I feel come bedtime and maybe take a couple then if I think that they might help me sleep, but I think that I am likely to be so tired that I will not even want to lie in bed and read for an hour as I usually do.

I have got a lot done in the garden as referred to above and there is some satisfaction in that even if it has come at a price. Progress is very visible now and the vison that I had eighteen months ago is starting to become a reality. There is still a lot to do, but it will keep me amused for months to come.

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 61


I have had a week off and, most days, have been working on various projects. Some of that seems to have told on me physically as I have a lot of muscular pain around the right side of my rib cage that may be due to lots of sawing amongst other things.

The weather has still not been too kind and that has curtailed things a little, but I have invested in a cordless circular saw and so that means that I do not have to run a power cable around from the garage to the back garden for many of the jobs I have on the list. On days with random showers it is a nightmare having to keep reeling it in.

The foxes are starting to roam and seem to spend the odd night on the loose, but were back the other nights and had their most destructive session yet. It is heartbreaking to see so much laid to waste. This morning I found a dead fox, probably from last year, when lifting a couple of rotting deck boards so had to dispose of that and one, or more, of the current crop is a bit loose in the bowel regions and I also had a lot of hosing down to do. All good fun (not).

It has seemed strange not going into work, but I am still getting up at 5 am as normal and have been out in the garden working on the quiet jobs most days by 7. Two door down are having an extension built and so as soon as their crew start work I get my power tools out and join in with the cacophony. I am into some of the more complex jobs at the moment and so there is the mental challenge of working out how best to do things and, sometimes, getting it right first go. There is the usual problem of nothing being the same level, length or square, but it all keeps me amused.

I have finally taken the plunge and planted out my hanging baskets, That has given me some space in the greenhouse which is welcome and I am trying to pot up some of the seedling that I first put in there a couple of months ago. I have been a bit lax in keeping notes on what I have done and when so I may have to rely on memory if I do it again next year.

For over a week now I have avoided the scales. Naughty, but mentally I have not been too good and have not wanted to know in case the news is not good. As I have said here throughout these scribblings I like the ostrich principle and work on the basis that what I don’t know will not bother me. I apply this to much of the news too, but the Berkshire Belle is an avid reader and only has me to share with so I get it all pored over me on a daily basis. I act like a sponge and soak it up because she needs to vent her feelings, but often knowing things that I have been avoiding drags my mental state down. One day this week I just had to tell her that I didn’t want to talk about a certain subject and I left the room; I could not take it.

Today we were going to go to a craft fair and have a rare day out, but we bottled it and stayed at home. It is odd, but our reasons were slightly different; she loathes all of the Covid regulation, even though she knows that it is sensible. Things like one way systems, mask wearing, having your temperature taken and so on take all of her pleasure away whereas I accept all of that stoically. My reason for backing out of today was that there had been more overnight rain locally and the thought of trekking through wet grass plus the risk of getting stuck where other idiots who cannot drive on such surfaces without chewing them up would make life difficult for us all.

Little things tend to become big things and this week I ended up with so many things that required a trip into town that I finally took the plunge and did it. It took up an afternoon, but, despite my fears, all of my errands were completed. I find that there are so many things that, these days, I tend to put off whereas a few years back I took on all comers with little bother. I have flown into countries like Columbia, Libya and China to work without batting an eyelid and let a trip into town to run some errands took more out of me. It must be age creeping up on me. Perhaps it is just that I am out of practice.

I made lamb burgers for lunch today, but elected not to fire up the BBQ and cooked them in the pan on the hob as the sky was looking very black. When I have finished this I am off to do a few outside jobs and then back into the kitchen to make a chicken and leek pie for dinner tonight. Anything to keep busy and stop my mind wandering off into areas that I don’t want it going off to.

If you have plans for this weekend, a Bank Holiday here in the UK and Memorial Day weekend in the US then I hope all goes well for you. I shall be looking out for the Indy 500 on whatever medium I can find to follow it from afar, but I hope that things hold up for you and you have a great time.

Stay safe wherever you are.

the lockdown log 60


A very hectic week and one that has passed in a flash. The fishbone problem went away and the resultant sore throat only lasted a few days thankfully. It was the first time that I had had a problem like that and I hope that it will be the last.

As the weather is getting in the way of my labouring projects around the garden I have spent what time I have been able to use out there on general maintenance; pruning, tidying and a little re-potting of some of the greenhouse contents. I am taking a week off work next week and would like to be able to get at least one garden centre trip in to be able to plant up our hanging baskets.

Being able to get out into the garden has done wonders for my general feeling of wellbeing and, after a couple of days where I didn’t get out at all (other than to go to work) a decent afternoon’s work outside made a big difference.

Any thought of diet has largely been forgotten for now, I am about 6 kg up on my best weight from last year and am showing almost no sign of willpower when it comes to food. At some point I will get back into the groove (I did have a salad for lunch yesterday, the first of the year), but for now I am trying to just not get stupid about eating. It is, as always, a mind game and I need to want to lose weight more than I want to eat.

We have pretty much given up on a holiday this year. They do not, as yet, want us where we would like to go and, to be frank, we are not sure that we want to go given the state that they are in. Europe does not appeal much either, certainly not the parts that seem to be trying to tempt us and our other possible destination is also, for now, off limits. As for a few days somewhere in the UK, well that is unlikely because the Berkshire Belle is not up to a lot of walking these days and, in any case, we have seen pretty much all of the UK between us through our respective jobs.

We know that we do not have that many years left and I think that that little fact is becoming the elephant in the room. Our overseas trips have been a big factor in our lives together over the last 31 and a bit years. going two years without one is hard to take and whilst we appreciate that we are fortunate to have been able to do all that we have done, we worked hard to get earn those privileges.

For now, though, my immediate problems are whether this blog will upload OK and I will have to come back to check on that later because the other problem is that I need to work out what I am going to do with the chicken leftovers from yesterday in terms of what we eat tonight.

And so I will bid you farewell for this week and hope that you are safe and well wherever you are.

the lockdown log 59


This is a bit late this week, but for some reason WordPress on my go to device is not allowing me to add a new blog entry, instead it just gives me a blank screen and so I have had to revert to some older technology here to keep up my weekly utterings.

The weather has been so variable that any planning has been a waste of time and I have just gone with the flow and done what I can where and when I can. Odd bits of progress have been made and I am starting to get a shopping list, what we used to call a bill of materials when I wore a suit, for the next main jobs on my agenda. I just need to order stuff or go out and buy it, but therein lies another familiar problem; where do I put it while I am waiting to use it? I have 5 bags of compost in the car at the moment…

Our foxes continue to wreak havoc and their destructive power is beyond anything that I have previously experienced. I am gradually blocking up access to the space below my deck where a couple of the youngsters like to spend their days, but can do nothing about what the perishers get up to after dark.

it has been a bit of a mad ending to the week as on Friday I swallowed a fish bone that got stuck in my throat. A look at the NHS111 web site got me into an on-line chat that suggested that I go to the hospital in Cirencester about 20 miles away, There they were unable to reach the bone and, being Friday evening, said that I should try and eat some soft food to push the bone down. If that did not work I should go to my local A&E department. It did work and, apart from a very sore throat, I am fine. Added to my neck problem and the Sore Nuts Syndrome living up to its name it was a miserable end to the week and I had a quiet day yesterday.

Despite all of that I am fairly perky and certainly my head is in a better place than it has been for a while. Hopefully that will continue.

On the exercise front I am past 1500 km for the year. I am on track for the 4084 km target for the year, so I am looking at tryi8ng to squeeze in a little bit extra each week now wo that I can do 5000 km over the 12 months.

Nothing much else to report at this stage, so stay safe wherever you are and, one way or another, I will be back next week.

the lockdown log 55


I’m writing this in the sunshine having had a decent day with various jobs. We went out shopping together earlier, the Berkshire Belle very frightened of being out, but she did it. My concern is that the more she hides away the harder it will become to get her out and so I will continue to push her to have an outing a week now.

This afternoon I have finished the repairs to one section of the deck and am happy with the new solid and level section. Now I can block off my neighbour’s disintegrating fence and get on with the next stage of painting and will be able to see something that I can call complete before moving on to the next part of the great garden project.

The poxy foxes are steadily destroying the back garden. The four babies are practising their digging and are already able to tell flowers and vegetables from weeds.The latter they will not touch, but everything else is fair game. It has become a continuous battle between us with me trying to thwart them and them me. So far they are winning. Add in the debris from what their mum brings them home to eat and it really is not too much fun at the moment, made worse by the fact that they live next door and just use our garden as a creche and dining room.

Fortunately they haven’t worked out how to get into the greenhouse and I have all sorts of stuff growing happily in there. It is amazing how quickly the space has been filled up although I do still have room for the tomatoes that are on order. Once the weather warms up I can get some of it planted out assuming that I can build adequate fox defences. (From the corner of my eye I can see the little bleeders are back). Another month and they will probably be ready to head off and fend for themselves.

I find my mood swings are quite pronounced at the moment and I can go from one end of the spectrum to the other at the flick of a switch. Half off the time don’t know what triggers a change and try hard not to bother too much, but when you plunge into the abyss it is no fun. Overall I have lost the feeling of generally being well and all sorts of odd niggles are developing. There is something amiss in my neck that is causing occasional clicks that are loud enough for the Berkshire Belle to hear from the other end of the sofa. Changing pillows has not helped, but I have started wearing my neck pillow that I bought for flying long haul. It seems to help in that, when watching TV, it holds my head at the right angle without me having to do it with muscle power. Today I have started to get a little pain from that area and so I think that the doctor beckons.

On the diet front I have been very silly this last week and find myself eating without any conscious thought. One evening whilst making my sandwiches for the next day I had a piece of bread that had not cut too well and I had made into a sandwich and was eating it. That sort of casual extra calorie intake is not conducive to weight loss and I am lucky that the scales weighed me in at 107.5 kg this morning – I had thought that 110 was probably deserved. I am back onto trying to refuse myself things as I think that a slide may be on the cards and I really do not want to start going backwards. I suppose that the good news about my diabetes test has had an effect and I know that my head is not in the right place for a concerted effort to cut down, but I am more conscious of feeling fat rather than feeling thin. I don’t want to feel fat, but do I want to feel thin enough to stop me eating? Only I can answer that one.

I have been making my own bread again, one or two loaves a week. I am using the old faithful Panasonic bread maker rather than doing it the hard way, but the results are good and hopefully the results are slightly more healthy than shop bought bread. The Berkshire Belle keeps hinting about making sourdough loaves, but my previous attempts have all failed. Even keeping a starter going seems beyond me and I would rather just buy one when the fancy takes me. Another starter kit has turned up though so I will have to take the hint and make an effort to try it soon.

Time to go and cook a Thai chicken curry for tea, so stay safe wherever you are and I will be back next week with a Monday Musing and the next lockdown log on Thursday.

the lockdown log 53


The Berkshire Belle has had her second Covid-19 vaccination and is showing no ill effects beyond a bit of fatigue. All being well I should get the call for my second one soon as I was about 3 weeks behind her for the first jab.

The greenhouse is built and in use. As with some many elements of these jobs I am going through the anti-climatic phase now and fighting the urge to stop working on all of the other little jobs that need doing. It was not an enjoyable construction job and I had to push hard to make myself get it done, but four afternoons over last weekend and into this week saw it finished apart from a couple of cosmetic touches that I will get around to at some point.

More jobs loom though and the spurt of growth amongst the vegetation brought on by the warm weather of the last few days will drive my next priorities. One thing that I want to get done before things get too advanced is to put in the cabling for some garden lighting. I can wire up the lights later, but need to get a new cable from the junction box on the house down to the bottom of the garden fairly soon. These little jobs help keep my mind active and distract me from other things that I would rather not have to consider.

My blood test results came back on Tuesday and I am at the same level as 6 months ago. I am waiting for a call from the surgery to discuss, but the bottom line for me is that I have maintained my blood sugar levels below the diabetic threshold and so would like to get off the Metformin if I can. At the test this time I was not weighed in and nor did they take my blood pressure so I assume that they are not too bothered about either factor and that that is another good sign.

I have not weighed myself this week either. Last weekend I decided to let myself off the leash as far as food and drink intake was concerned, not that that means that I gorged myself, far from it, But I was doing a lot of physical work both paid and any home and so I ate to support that effort. As far as alcohol is concerned we shared our weekend bottle of wine as usual making it last two days and I did, on Tuesday, down a 500ml bottle of beer as a reward for finishing the greenhouse. Hardly a blow out and I have not had to loosed my belt off; if anything I have thought that I might need to open top a new hole soon.

With the holiday weekend coming up we might be a bit more generous with the food and drink. A second bottle of wine is traditional for us so that we get a glass and a bit each Friday through Monday. I am working every day except Sunday so it is like any other weekend to us. We will not get any visitors nor we will we go visiting so it will be js=ust us and the cats as usual. I will have a check weigh next Thursday just to see where I am and I will take it from there. Next week looks to be very cold again and that is not conducive to light eating, but the better weather is not far away and I will soon be back on salads for lunch. We have already started a policy of sharing a pear or an apple for afters at lunchtime and will try to keep that us. If it fends off temptations for a mid-afternoon snack then that is a good thing.

It is Friday afternoon now and I want to get this finished and uploaded before I settle down to cook tea (spare ribs and stuff to go with them, but cooked indoors; it is too cold for firing up the barbecue).

Take care all and stay safe, wherever you are.

the lockdown log 50


It has been a big week for me in that I have got a huge amount done. That all helps me feel good in general even if it does still mean that I have bad days or parts of days. We all do. For me though the issue is about how I react to how I feel.

It is so easy to just drop into a funk and do nothing. I am not that keen on what’s on TV these days, but I can read or just play games on a tablet or even just gaze at the ceiling. The problem with any of those things is that I end up feeling guilty about having wasted time and so I end ups feeling worse. For me the answer is to just do something; there is always something that needs doing and, if I do something, it reduces the job list a bit and I feel a bit better even if it is only because I have knocked off a few of the things that are hanging over me.

The same applies on those mornings when I wake up and don’t feel like working. Maybe my sinuses are playing up or my digestion is out of sorts or my joints are a bit creaky or I just feel yuk. There are dozens of possible causes, but I just get up and go to work. Skiving off might be attractive, but that is not how I am wired or how I was brought up so I get on with it. I don’t like the alternative because it is about self respect and if I lose that then I am not going to feel too good.We have choices and it is up to us how we choose.

Today is my day off as usual and the weather is grim with high winds and occasional heavy rain for the second day in a row. Monday and Tuesday were spend largely securing the garden for this bout of weather and tying a tarp over the skip to stop the contents going walkabout. Yesterday and today I have been camping in the garage sorting that out and tidying up. The old shed is two thirds gone and I am keen to get that job done, but taking the rest apart is not a job for days like this and so a bit of time working indoors is a welcome diversion and it needs doing anyway.

One of the benefits of spending so much time out of the house is that it takes my mind off eating and removes me from the pantry, ‘fridge and cupboards. With no temptation and my mind on other things it helps the diet along even if I am not over bothering about it. I have the appointment for my 6 monthly blood test set for the last week of this month and am hoping that the results of that will confirm that I have moved out of the diabetic spectrum. If so perhaps I can come off, or reduce the dose of, Metformin. Fingers crossed. Although I am not taking especial notice of diet I am trying to stick to keeping my carb intake down and managing portions. My weight is fairly stable on my weekly weigh-in so I am achieving a balance between muscle development from all of the heavy DIY and taking off fat.

My walking is closing in on 750 km for the year (over 460 miles) and so my thoughts of trying for over 3000 km walked by the end of 2021 is looking possible. That is just from exercise walking and does not include pottering about during the rest of the day. I am still finding that the Revitive works for me and have suffered a couple of time when I have forgotten to use it the day before.

Anyway, I have, as I said, had a good week overall and I can’t ask for more.

Stay safe wherever you are.covi