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Slog on! Saturday September 6, 2014

"Just Do It" (as in the Nike slogan) may not be the most sensitive of advice to receive, but I found it often worked for me.

Since changing life circumstances (new job after too many years, clutch of children now virtually adult) I haven't suffered depression since my fiftieth birthday. But the previous fifteen years were an unpleasant revelation of "the flip side" of what it feels like being human.

I sometimes now wonder if I had it particularly bad. Who will ever know. It felt awful. And what's more real than a feeling? I've met others since who take steps to shut it all down. Lucky perhaps, I never did. I did learn loads about me during that hard time though, all of it bad, but I'm kinder in my interpretation with hindsight. My best friend had just suddenly died; we were swamped with three very active babies; I was in something of a rut at work; and I wasn't very good at sacrificing my time, my sleep, my health, my pursuits, when I couldn't discern the reward I'd expected most new parents to feel.

So, among other avenues, I just slogged on. A hundredweight of plums needed de-stoning, I slogged on. The garden soak away needed rebuilding I slogged on. Another twenty nappies needed shovelling out to the bin, I slogged on. I didn't feel smugness or achievement or 'having won', but it filled the day, was unequivocally needed, and could get crossed off that interminable domestic list! Sometimes it brought us together as a couple (which was good); sometimes it gave the essential space to keep us apart (also good!). It provided an air of normality, helped me feel less conspicuous, gave me something to talk of if ever I met someone: always a challenge. And the exertion, or the therapeutic undemanding repetition, was good for the 'head chemistry'.

Was there an alternative? Oh yes. Some days I sat inert, staring nowhere in particular. A few I cowered in bed. Very many I couldn't see the gap between my likes and hates. And, for myself, I still can't tell if I do best with carrot or stick. So mix them up a bit.

Ours is not to (over) reason why. As the mother of the dead friend said, "the human spirit is remarkably elastic". So, sometimes, just slog on. You may come back to recognising the real you.

A Moodscope user.

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Anonymous Sat, Sep 6th 2014 @ 7:22am

Poor you! What a difficult time you describe, and how you put up with it! I thought you were very brave. Glad to hear things are better for you now. Wishing you lighter, brighter times and yes, after fifty, life does seem to keep on getting better.

Anonymous Sat, Sep 6th 2014 @ 8:31am

Thoroughly agree. And I enjoyed reading.
Three babies? Tell us...was that all at the one time?
Love from the room above the garage.

Anonymous Sat, Sep 6th 2014 @ 8:35am

Hello all. I have been trying for days to comment, without success...but today it seems I'm in! Mary, I adored your water post, even though I couldn't say so. Love ratg.

Anonymous Sat, Sep 6th 2014 @ 8:36am

Well done Tim. At first I thought this post was written by a woman but it's valuable to acknowledge men can feel just the same (and I feel it's commendable that you made sure you shared the workload with kids and the home, even if you didnt particularly want to that day)

Julia Sat, Sep 6th 2014 @ 9:11am

Slog on! Yes life can feel like that. It's really interesting to read your blog Tim and see that slogging on can be the best thing for recovery and coming out the other end still intact. Perhaps therapists should give this simple advice. The session would be over quickly, be cheaper and very effective. I really liked your blog Tim; each sentence grabbed me.

Bunnykins Sat, Sep 6th 2014 @ 9:43am

Thank you for your blog, it helps to know other people go through awful times and live to tell the tale. :)

Anonymous Sat, Sep 6th 2014 @ 9:56am

Very many thanks, Tim, for this practical advice. Procrastination is a huge obstacle for me and I find it increasingly difficult to suppress my anxiety about not being productive. Adopting your mantra may well help me to get started rather than stewing over that all too familiar 'interminable' domestic/work related list. Go well!

Theresa NZ Sat, Sep 6th 2014 @ 10:26am

'slog on!' my new mantra. Thank you for sharing.

Sally Sat, Sep 6th 2014 @ 10:42am

Lovely blog Tim, I really enjoyed reading it. It sounded a downbeat headline, but I'm left feeling upbeat - thank you.

Mark Sat, Sep 6th 2014 @ 11:37am

Nicely put Tim. Your story echoed my own life: 3 kids and a household that kept me busy but was experienced in parallel with years of feeling locked in to an ongoing and occasionally debilitating sense of 'Meh'. I'm now an empty nester, which is double edged of course and I don't think I'm 'out of the woods' - but slogging on, in hindsight, did indeed help. Cheers sir.

Anonymous Sat, Sep 6th 2014 @ 5:39pm

Slogging on...never heard it put this way before...but suspect push on and push through mean basically same thing....we may feel more like we are slogging though rather than pushing since we don't have the energy to push...yes depression and anxiety are so rough and take a toll..but if we are slogging onward it will improve lil by lil..Dave

PWD Sat, Sep 6th 2014 @ 7:42pm

Good blog Tim,JDI Just do it, a therapist i was seeing a few years back used to say when I was finding it difficult to try something he would say JFDI. I will let you work out what the F meant, It often works well.


Mary Blackhurst Hill Sun, Sep 7th 2014 @ 6:04pm

Ah, thank you. Good to see you back!

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sun, Sep 7th 2014 @ 6:09pm

I really loved this post, Tim. I can only admire people who cope with small children (my husband is actually choosing to enter the teaching profession (primary age) after a life in banking!). I love the fact that my two are getting older and don't need me so much - at least on a physical basis - in that they can get themselves up and dressed and the oldest one can even cook a basic meal and do the laundry. At times though the basic cooking, cleaning, childcare does still seems like a relentless slog. You put it so well in your post. Thanks for sharing.

Tim Clayton Sun, Sep 7th 2014 @ 10:50pm

Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it; I feel encouraged to pen some more. No, the babies weren't triplets: we had a singleton then agreed it would be good for him to ham a playmate (not end up self-centred like me!). But we got two for the price of one. And on,y two years between pregnancies. All rather fraught. But so much better now.

Tim Clayton Sun, Sep 7th 2014 @ 10:53pm

Thank you for those wishes. It's wryly funny that the first two words anyone should put in response to my first post on Moodscope are "poor you". But I certainly felt it. Thanks God that I enjoy my relationships so much more with the children now, and can in fact see some benefits in what I had to go through. I gather many sufferers of depression end up saying similar.

Tim Clayton Sun, Sep 7th 2014 @ 10:55pm

Thanks for your support. Interesting that the post came across initially as a woman's perspective. I suppose I was suffering something of post-natal depression. All of that does seem long in yhe past now, although the most recent episode is only a year or two back (I honestly can't remember, which I think is a good sign).

Tim Clayton Sun, Sep 7th 2014 @ 10:59pm

On many occasions, recognising that I was unwell enable me to set aside any list of due tasks and focus on just one simple one (perhaps not even on my list). I can't say I felt the usual sense of pride or accomplishment when it was done, but at least I had to accept there was one less chore to address!

Tim Clayton Sun, Sep 7th 2014 @ 11:02pm

An interesting idea, to know if just trying to plough on through would be as effective (if rather mor painful) than exploring our feelings in therapy, or medicating. Perhaps there's a place for both, as with most of life. I certainly wouldn't want to use "slog on" as a trite paraphrase for "pull your socks up"!

Tim Clayton Sun, Sep 7th 2014 @ 11:04pm

I'm very pleased the downbeat turned into an upbeat. Quite a metaphor there!

Tim Clayton Sun, Sep 7th 2014 @ 11:11pm

I'm glad the post seems to have elicited a goodly response (though few on Moodscope would actually pen their criticisms, I'm sure [I wond if this is the same in other European cultures, forvexample]). We write just to help people feel better, don't we? I admire your husband for what he's getting into. I get all Dewey eyed on seeing video or photos of my kids when they were little now, but it was its own tiny hell when I was living through it. I think that's very common, though. My own post-natal depression must have been linked with selfishness to some degree: a trait we hope to mitigate by giving our first-born a playmate, but which resulted in near overload. And potty-training three at once (they all wanted a go when they saw the eldest trying) was not a nice thing to keep coming home to after another office day ... (!)

Anonymous Mon, Sep 8th 2014 @ 4:37am

interesting.. there's that happiness u-shaped curve, that shows happiness declining steadily from about 30 to 50, then picking up and going on up basically to the end..
I wonder how much of that is associated with the stresses of child rearing. I was massively depressed as a teenager, then had a couple of near-death experiences in the army which oddly enough helped. My experience with kids has been much like yours, it's a struggle; the ability to go on is mostly due to a sense of duty, a form of slogging on; it helps to stop thinking and just do the task at hand until it's done.

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