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Lifting the lid... Saturday October 31, 2015

Sometimes I think my brain is going to explode. As if the top is going to come off and the previously packed-in contents are going to burst out all over the house. Little bits of thought splatting onto walls and floors, getting caught in the curtains, stuck in the cobwebs and captured in the crevices.

My thoughts are so fierce sometimes it's like they have a life of their own. I imagine once they've made the emergency exit from my brain, I will be finding them for weeks. Half-thought ideas stuffed down the side of the sofa, judgements kicked under the table, and over worked self-doubts buried in the corners of the carpet where the hoover doesn't quite reach.

My over-thinking brain is never busier than when I'm stressed. The stress stews away in my head like a bubbling saucepan and the more it builds the higher the temperature gets. And if I don't do something to lift the lid, I boil over. I've kicked things (inanimate objects luckily!), shouted at people (not so lucky), and broken cheap plates.

Recently I've been playing with the idea that stress and depression go hand in hand. I really didn't twig until now how closely they live. It's like they're brother and sister; two peas in a pod; a down-beat, dead-end double act.

It's clear to me I need to start turning down the heat. Every day. I can't wait until the lid is tipping and clacking off the pan. So I'm getting strict about my self-care; I'm switching on my switching off.

Sometimes it doesn't take long: I can lie in the bath and feel the temperature dropping or climb a hill and breathe in the view. I can lose myself in art or a book or a long hug from a friend. Other times I need a day... a week... a month.

My commitment is to small moments of mindfulness and relaxation every single day. To turn down the dial one notch at a time. Come join me and maybe together we can turn off the cooker ;-)

Debs xxx
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Alex Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 2:04am

Love that....small moments of mindfulness. Thank you

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:06am

Thanks Alex, am sending huge mindfulness your way. And a question - what if all that you've experienced happened for you not to you? xx

Alex Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 9:01am

I do have a few theories along those lines, Debs; but it's a tangle of words in my brain, and I can't properly describe it, even to myself....just have the sense and feeling of that 'something'. And the one thing I know is that it's a helpful thing, a good, if complex, thing. Alex

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 9:31am

And often a sense and feeling is much more powerful than words isn't it? My words lead me astray but the fact you're are connected with your body enough to feel it is amazing. maybe there is nothing to describe xx

LillyPet Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 3:21am

I loved "the downbeat double act"! and "I'm switching on my switching off"! I loved it all Debs, what a brilliant way of describing what happens and how to have some awareness and control. I'll definitely join you in the kitchen!
Thank you Debs perfect timing as the next half term is about to begin! LP xx

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:07am

Thanks LP and enjoy the next half term, may it bring joy, fun and just the right amount of crazy ;-) x

Barbara Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 5:33am

So well written, and excellent central premise.

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:08am

Thanks Barbara and lovely to hear your voice xx

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 6:38am

What are we all doing up so flipping early??!! It's Saturday!
Ah yes, but brains and thoughts don't always know what day it is let alone that we should be fast asleepies in bed!
Instead we are up and having a cuppa where all the best parties are the kitchen! Good analogy here Debs.
Sometimes when we fill the pressure cooker of life to the brim....we should remember it's often just filled with hot air!!
Have a goodly day chefs and cheffettes!
Bear x

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:09am

Bear my dear what wise words - it is so often filled with hot air! Sometimes my pan is bubbling away and Ive forgotten to even cook anything for dinner... Enjoy your cuppa ;-0 xx

Lou Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:12am

"we should be fast asleepies in bed" I love your turn of phrase Bear :)

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:21am

I love it too Lou, its great isn't it?! You should write kids books Bear, I would read them to my little nutter every night xx

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 2:43pm

Why thankees...too kind :) x

Isabella Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 7:23am

You've just described my brain..and yes I agree stress and depression are bedfellows. My problem is that my stress comes from all those dear to me - they all seem to want/need a piece of me so there's no 'me' left. I do try hard to practice mindfulness and relaxation but it's not easy. Thank you for your blog today, Debs, it's good to be reminded that I'm not the only one. I'm in the 'sandwich' generation (child and elderly parent) and I think we get forgotten sometimes...

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:11am

I agree we can get forgotten so self-care is sooo important isn't it? One of my biggest learnings was putting myself first, stating my needs and saying no without guilt. If I am burnt out I'm no good to anyone. I hope you can fit some time in for you today hun, xx

Hopeful One Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 7:26am

Hi Debs - just brilliant. The important thing for me is to remind myself that those thoughts are automatic and to remind myself that producing thoughts is what the mind is designed to do . It's like a stream that is always gurgling. The next important thing for me is to remind myself that I have a choice . I can either step into that stream and be caught in it vortices and get swept away by its sheer volume and speed. Or I can sit on the bank and simply watch those thoughts go by. I found that it was the latter that gave me lasting relief from a ' racing mind ' which you so well describe .I realised that those thoughts, like bubbles in the stream , are temporary and die of their own accord if one gives them no traction . For me it was teaching myself meditation , the basis of mindfulness , that gave me the means to sit by the bank and simply watch those bubbles of thoughts. ( I fully accept that meditation is not for everyone) Now I am rarely bothered by those thoughts or their speed . Those thoughts, usually negative , in depression cause stress and anxiety. The sustained high levels of cortisol that they generate shrink those parts of the brain we need for recovery from depression . The holy grail is to find a way for oneself to breaki the depression loop and be released from its stranglehold.

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:14am

fabulous HO! and spot on.... the thoughts are nothing. literally no 'thing', they don't exist. They bubble and gurgle away but have no meaning. When we let them go they lose their power. I love that we can share like this and remind each other of the keys to wellness. Have a lovely calm day ;-) xx

Hopeful One Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 7:53am

Hi RATG and Bearofliddlebrain ( and Mary if she reads this)

Thank you for your kind remarks . The above might explain your perception of my calm . By popular demand here is your laugh.

At 4 am a desk clerk at a hotel gets a call from a drunk guy asking what time the bar opens. "It opens at noon," answers the clerk. About an hour, later he gets a call from the same guy, sounding even drunker. "What time does the bar open?" he asks. "Same time as before - noon," replies the clerk. Another hour passes and he calls again, plastered. "Whatjoo shay the bar opins at?" The clerk then answers, "It opens at noon, but if you can't wait, I can have room service send something up to you." "No you don't understannnnnd... I don't wanna get in, ah wanna get OUT!"

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:15am

Hee hee. Big smile over here xx

Alex Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 9:03am

Reminds me of the time I got myself liked in the ladies loo in a pub at the end of lunchtime....fortunately, still staff there, so they heard my shouting and banging for help....true story. Might give a smile - hope so.... Alex

Mary Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 1:54pm


Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 2:46pm

Tee hee! :)

Paul Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 7:55am

Another excellent blog and spot on too I have been self employed for years (one of those plumbers that used to wolf whistle when I was younger at girls which incidently more often than not brought a beaming smile from them)
Sorry got sidetracked there happy days, anyway due to a heart condition I have had to cut back on my work, I have Allways been a workaholic and believe it or not a plumber that turns up on time. When I am very busy and got really stressed due to not wanting to let people down. My depression was at it worst. Since having no choice but to turn down work my moods have really improved dramatically.

To finish on a joke
When I was working away and sharing lodgings with other builders I set the alarm clock for 6 but in the middle of the night woke up and realised there was only 5 of us! And if a bricklayer lays bricks why can't a plumber lay plumbs


Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:17am

V funny Pail and as someone who has just been let down by yet another plumber can I just say you are an angel tradesman. I am reframing my experience to say that if a plumber doesn't show it just means the work wasn't meant for him and that I am destined to find another, better one round the corner ;-) xx

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:17am

Ps - where are you based and are you free next week? ;-)

Mary Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 1:57pm

Paul, having reached the age where I would be just so flattered to be wolf whistled I loved your comment. And great joke.

Paul Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 3:55pm

I am in Manchester Debbs . Probably no where near you. Most good plumbers are Allways very busy, I don't know why they say they will come when they know that they probably can't

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 4:20pm

What's the betting that you'll never find a plumber who bites his nails!!??

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 4:23pm about this joke of the day? Someone breaks into the police station and steals the only toilet. The cops are anxious to find the prep, but in the meantime they have nothing to go on!

Paul Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 5:08pm

Ha ha like it I bite my nails my wife goes mad at me. I once fitted a tap on my front door, my wife said I'm sure I'm sure I heard a tap on the door. I once tried tap dancing but kept falling in the sink. My wife is called flo, I said to her today it's overflow. Hope I've made someone smile. I'll get my coat

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 6:23pm

Bedumdum-dushhhhhh! (A Bear version of cymbals!!) Yep, Paul...we are smiling and lolling in the aisles!

Lou Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:00am

This is a brilliant post - very evocative and reminding me of the things that I know I need to do most but are the first to go when under time pressure. Hopefully the thought of an exploding head will remind me to make time for them!!!

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:19am

I hope your head never gets to exploding point Lou! What are you going to do for you today? I'm about to do a meditation and later I'll have a long soak in the tub. Yum. Enjoy your day xx

Lou Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:50am

I am planning a "reading glasses" day; making time to read book and do some sewing later. And LOTS of cat fuss :)

Lou Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:50am

Enjoy your day too! x

Alex Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 9:08am

Lots of cat fuss = ALWAYS a good thing. Balm for the spirit. Alex, Spock and Data(Data likes being on my lap, Spock prefers beside me, which is just as well as he is a very Big Laddie

Annette Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:21am

Hi Debs brilliant post .Your description is excellent.When I next getting to boiling point I will remember your post lie down with my SAD light box read my half read book Mindfukness ( Finding peace in a Frantic World) and simmer.This might prove tricky when at work but I will have coping strategies in place.We all need to take look after ourselves and stop putting other people first.Thankyou for getting my day off to a good start x

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:39am

I love that book Annette! I'm glad your day has started well - may it be filled with mindful moments ;-) xx

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 2:48pm

Hi Annette, I'm just hoping you work in an office out of the way, and not on a shop floor with peeps having to walk around you!! Lol!

Nick Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:29am

Debs loved your post, you leave a wonderful picture in my mind, of a bubbling saucepan.You sound like a very good cook. Interesting theory, about stress and depression going hand in hand. xx

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:45am

Thanks Nick... I'm a crap cook actually! Ha! I'm learning though... and its quite a relaxing hobby now that I've past the burning everything stage. I don't think stress and depression always go hand in hand - lots of people can cope with stress well and it doesn't get to boiling point but for me my stress was continuous over a long period of time so my cortisol levels never had a chance to return to normal. I don't know for sure (can we ever know with depression?) but I would theorise that the heightened stress response over a long period causes a malfunction in brain chemicals which contributes to negative thoughts, which contribute to lack of self-care which leads to more stress... and on it goes. I'm much better now but I do have to be careful not to overload myself because (again just a theory) I imagine my brain chemistry is not far from stress at any given time. Good excuse for lots of winding down and taking care of me ;-) xx

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 2:54pm

Now stop the 'crap cook' business at once....missus! You wouldn't have got to the grand young age of (fill in blanks by yourself and don't say it out loud cos we can hear you) if you couldn't cook. I must say my family thought my dear Mum was the only peeps who burnt food...father even got a burnt salad by mistake one night. He was due in from an evening shift, and she had gone through to put the oven on (pre-microwave days) and it was only when he was home and she lifted the plate out that she remembered she had made a salad and had put it in the oven out of the way! Ah, Lolilol!

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 7:03pm

;-))))) Oh bear you do make me smile ;-) xxx

Paula Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 9:30am

Thanks Alex. You are so articulate as far as explaining how you brain is working, confirming with some of us that's what depression is!! Because it's so easy to put it down to anything else. I personally can relate to so much of what you say and how you feel. Love to read your blog

Paula Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 9:31am

Sorry meant Debs!!

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 7:05pm

I got you Paula and thanks, I'm glad you found it helpful xx

susan Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 10:47am

Debs, this is a fabulous post. Like you, i was under never-ending stress for a very long time which lead to cortisol problems and a continuous depression and burnout--ptsd if you apply a label. I think your theory is correct: the wonky brain chemistry that resulted is never far from stress overload. A recent brain injury means that I've been forced to turn that boiling pot down to a low simmer several times throughout the day in order to heal. Now i see that the accident was a gift!! A gift of learning. Your blog made me realize this. Can't thank you enough. xx

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 2:57pm

Hi Susan, you are amazing: when the worst that can happen, has happened to you, you now see it as a gift.

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 7:06pm

Oh gosh, I'm with you hun, a gift of the highest order. I wouldn't be who I am today without having been through the shit. ;-) Well done on getting soooo far, v inspiring xx

The Gardener Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 10:48am

Good morning Debs - raised memories of those terrifying thoughts all jumbled together. Drifting off to sleep I'd get visions of terrifying animals - Spitting Image crossed with William Blake - when I eventually told my husband they stopped. The ones which crowd into your semi-consciousness at night I have dealt with - might not suit most - but the cycle has to be broken - otherwise you are sure you're going mad. I make myself come fully awake and do SUDOKU, crosswords or solitaire till ready for sleep again. Never coped with Yoga or relaxation - only seems to feed the thoughts. I never have less than 10 schemes 'on the go', now to everybody's relief can't realise them due to age and husband's health. The latest scheme sent me tumbling down stairs yesterday - think I might have broke a toe, not letting on though, not affecting driving. What it IS doing is making me terribly organised - least stairs possible - both houses have steep steps. When the family had to be alerted to the gravity of their Dad's situation the 'leading' son wrote 'I have to admit a new-found admiration for mama - her resilience, refusal to show fear in front of dad, her resourcefulness'. He also said 'she may be a difficult woman (!!). I felt initially hurt - then felt 'what woman, or man for that matter, is easy?' They are probably little better than sponges if they are. Looking back, our family record of broken relationships is worse than that of the Royals. My mother-in-law's mother left her father in 1900 (rumoured to be an Alky) and my m-in-law was brought up by a Victorian grand-mother. That is probably why she could not show affection. When I think of visiting our children it was often at a time of great friction, even on the verge of break-up, and the in-laws were the last thing they wanted. But it was also important that as grand-parents we did what we could to give the grand-children a sense of stability, that we were there if they needed us - but I think that their Mums saw that as interfering. My husband, who abhors rows, kept in the background - if he had been firm, I think many times a man could have diffused the situation - as women we are always seen as bossy (the bossy ones that is!) One of the nuns has been over to inquire as to my health - and to profess horror at the church staircase - because she had to go up it to put all the robes back! Radio found, knitting organised, sandwich from (Lidl) least far to walk, and off. And Debs - try a 'mantra' I will only have one thought at a time - try writing it down? Because it might delay 'incoming'. Bon courage, bon chance, good luck and all that jazz.

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 7:08pm

Thanks TG - I have another little trick up my sleeve called flooding. Will blog about it shortly ;-) x

the room above the garage Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 12:08pm

Stress and depression are definitely twins living inside my head! " notch at a time..." What a calming phrase. Thank you Debs! HO, adore the joke! You always pitch it just right X. Paul, what a feat outcome and power to our quality tradesmen. Hello all!

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 7:13pm

Room - I just love your blogs so I'm glad you liked this. The heat is on low tonight and alls calm. Ommmm ;-) xx

Dolphin Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 1:30pm

Thanks all for this really useful conversation. Stress and depression definitely feed on each other and wind each other up. I found your analogies useful too - the bubbling pot and the gurgling stream. I'm going to try to imagine my current stresses/ obsessions as some-thing in order to tame them / mind them / watch them go by.

A friend and I go through a regular check up of each other and finish the formal process with an image - "I am a ... first thing that comes to mind". We then work with that image for example "if you as the drooping flower, seagull or whatever, could wave a magic wand, what would you want?" We've got some very useful insights this way.

A mindful weekend to you all! xx

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 3:00pm

How brilliogs is that.....? You have a good friend to check up on each other are a pod of dolphins :) I lurve your idea to work with an image and a magic wand! Another great tip. Bear x

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 7:09pm

I love that idea! Wave a wand and who are you. Genius... Thanks D, hope your weekend is going swimmingly xx

Mary Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 2:01pm

Debs - Damn, you're a good writer! Looooovved all your clever word-smithing. Great post!

Mary Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 2:03pm

And please - that wasn't meant to sound patronising, but deeply respectful and admiring.

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 7:10pm

Not patronising at all lady M - v v flattered and chuffed you liked it xx

Peter Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 5:07pm

Thank you Debs - maybe it's because it's Halloween, but you're psychic. Just how I feel. You think you're ok, even though you're under stress, and then the pot boils over. Debs, Mary, Rags and others - you're really insightful, kind people. Love always.

Debs Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 7:12pm

*blushing* - thanks Peter, that means the world. Right, off to tart myself up and go on a rare night out. Sometimes I forget to have fun in life... Jeez - that's what it's about isn't it?! xx

Peter Sun, Nov 1st 2015 @ 8:09am

Hope you had a lovely time!

Rebecca Sat, Oct 31st 2015 @ 8:04pm

Great post and fits well with yesterdays discussion of anger. It is a great reminder that when I do feel angry to make myself chill out and relax. Think I try to do too much all the time and that leads to frustration when things don't go to plan. Also I think being over tired or hungry can lead to anger and stress.x

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