I love ironing.
While working on a sheet just now, it brought back a memory and I've realised something...
Even though it hurts to iron these days (what with my dodgy right arm), the smell of freshly ironed bedlinen and the smoothness of a well-ironed sheet is such a pleasure when I go to bed, it is absolutely worth the pain.
When I had a broken hand (unrelated to the dodgy right arm), I remember a friend, while helping me make my bed making a derogatory comment about the effort I put into perfect hospital corners.
Although I've conceded to fitted sheets these days in an attempt to conserve energy, I still put a lot into ironing them. I will ask others for help with anything else, but the sheets are my job!
And do you know why?
It's the way I show myself love and care.
And a lot of my self-care centres around bedtime – a fragile time, I find.
I've always had a lot of difficulty sleeping. I didn't sleep well as a baby and, as a young child, I often heard 'Sailing By' when Radio 4 closed down for the night. If I tried to stay at friend's houses or invited them to stay with me, I wouldn't sleep a wink even when all went quiet.
I had a lot of nightmares, very vivid and odd, and – something I am still deeply ashamed about – I tried to share my parent's or, when chucked out, my sister's beds until I was eight.
It's not even that I'm a night-owl – I am very definitely a lark.
These days, I go to bed at the un-adult hour of 9.30pm, read, then turn the light off at 10pm. If I miss this, and the quiet hour beforehand, a bad night will usually result. My body is so programmed, I can do the whole routine without looking at a clock. And every morning, no matter what time I've gone to bed, no matter how little sleep I've had, I will always wake up at 6am.
Is my depression caused by sleeping badly? Or is my difficulty sleeping caused by depression? I think they go hand in hand.
I used to work in theatre – ha! At one point, I was an Assistant Wardobe Mistress and got to do the ironing every day – such joy* – but it wasn't the profession for someone who needs to go to bed at 9.30pm...
When I sadly stopped, I realised that early nights and a routine of regular meals, regular sleep and regular exercise, and a good wind-down at the end of the day were what kept me on the rails.
It can be utterly frustrating, and it makes me feel as if I was still a toddler, but if it's what works and what shows me I am caring for myself, isn't it worth it?
How do you show yourself love and care? What keeps you on the rails?
A Moodscope member.
*The best bit; the smell of ironing even sparked off a chapter in my novel!