I was due to fly out to a friend in Europe last Friday.
On Wednesday she texted me that she had received some distressing news. Naturally, I offered to reschedule our weekend, but she said that she would prefer me still to go.
We had a wonderful time together. We explored her local medieval town; we ate local food; we met up with other friends; we cooked together, and we talked. And I spent some time waiting in her car while she visited the hospital and did what she had to do.
"Thank you for being with me," she said. "Without you I would have had nothing to do but be miserable."
This morning I texted another friend. "Are you well?"
I would send flowers, but he too is in foreign parts. I was in the supermarket at the time and I sent a photo of the flower area. "Help me choose flowers to put in the vase you gave me," I said. We turned it into a game. We both love Shakespeare and together chose flowers based on those mentioned in his plays. Turns out, old Will loved his roses, lilies and violets. Roses and lilies were easy enough, but we had to cheat a bit on the violets!
It distracted him from his troubles for a while and made us both smile.
Yesterday was a bad day for me; one of those days where you just go to ground, hang on and endure. Yes, even with the medication, I still have those bad days.
So, I sought refuge in my favourite fantasy writer. In that realm of dragons, witches and sorcerers, I can escape from the depression for a while.
My younger daughter gets out her bike and cycles as fast and as far as she can; another friend throws herself into a frenzy of cleaning; yet another friend gets out the flour and eggs and starts to bake.
We all have bad times; whether those bad times are from the internal black dog of depression, or from sickness, or from the troubles of life. We need to have some tools we can use to distract ourselves and escape for a while.
For some of us, it is always spending time with friends; for some, playing games; making music; cooking. Others need physical activity: either running 5k or hoovering the entire house. For some, it is escaping into music or books.
Our troubles are still there. None of these escapes and distractions are solutions; because, so often, there are no solutions for our troubles.
But they give us temporary relief and that is priceless.
So, it's useful to know what works for you, because what works for one person will be useless to another.
What reliefs do you have in your toolbox? What does and will work for you? And, how can you ensure that those reliefs are readily to hand when you need them?
Because, sadly, need them you will.
A Moodscope member.