I am still struggling today. When I woke up I lay there thinking about something I can’t recall now. This is a luxury I allow myself, lying in bed for a while, seeing what is in my head and possibly going back to sleep. It gets to a point though when I am awake and not really thinking of anything new, the worries keep spinning around, the to-do list keeps asserting itself, or as was the case this morning, the fog of depression presses down on me and the downward spiral of feeling overwhelmed by everything and feeling too fatigued to do anything can claim me. I decided instead to take it on and put up a fight.

At nine o’clock I rolled out of bed, relieved my bladder in the en-suite and examined my psoriasis. Since I decided to admit to my depression and try to move on, my skin issues have been getting worse. Since I take a systemic immunosuppressant to support my transplant my psoriasis is nowhere needs as bad as it used to be. Treatments have improved too with the advent of Vitamin D analogues and more recently the combination of these with topical steroids. These are so much more effective with fewer side effects than the coal tar based products of the past. Normally the plaques pretty much disappear over the sunny due to the effect of real Vitamin D produced by my body from the lovely sunshine; not this year. Basically I think this is down to depression, the anxiety I feel often transfers into comfort eating and scratching my skin and add in the lethargy for applying ointment leads to a downward spiral for skin treatment too.

Today I applied the ointment on all my plaques that I could find. I take my time trying to make sure enough cream is applied so that the excess skin will absorb it and easily be removed. I get dressed in clean clothes, determined to take the dog for a walk next. I pick up some used clothing and take them to the dirty laundry basket; tick, another act of defiance. Bobby greets me with his usual enthusiasm and I take care to reciprocate, cuddling and playing with him for a bit, crazy dog. My wife is in the kitchen, and I make the effort to hug her too (perhaps I feel guilty because the dog gets more obvious affection?). I ask her if she wants to join me on the walk which puts her in a spin of conflicting plans. She tells me about how she wants to get rid of the weeds between the block paving driveway. I miss her desire for reassurance that she will be okay doing this and she has to bluntly point it out. I try to salve her hurt. It is sunny outside so she agrees to a short walk then disappears to brush her teeth.

One of the reasons for getting out with the dog is that I want Bobby to meet other familiar dogs, after the trauma of meeting my brother’s husky I am concerned he will shy away from every dog. The walk is successful from this point of view. At the end of the road we meet our neighbour with her new Yorkie puppy called Toffee, he is a delight and Bobby just wants to play with him. Another walker is there too with Holly the Highland Terrier so we chat and stroke dogs. I guess the walk is as much about me meeting my friends too. I move on with my little group leaving behind the slower walking friends. My wife points out the difference between two rowan trees which I haven’t looked at before and I point out an advantage of dog walking is that she is getting to notice things that normally are rushed past. I appreciate that she saw the difference and I didn’t (I guess I was thinking she is normally too busy to spend time on such things) and she mentions that that is how she rationalises the way I am untidy at home. It seems to me that I filter out the mess rather than not notice it but either way, I struggle to tidy up. She has a point but it feels like a dig.

We continue our walk along the lane, saying hello to other people we meet, though I feel more secure in saying hello to fellow dog walkers. She mentions her other thoughts and concerns for the garden and I am aware that I am feeling more depressed. I believe my wife is just telling me what’s on her mind, it’s her way of processing things but unfortunately I feel that I am failing to maintain the garden properly and all these thoughts press down on me as criticisms and demands I can’t fulfil at the moment. I tell my wife that I am feeling more depressed as we talk and wish to stop. She is quiet for a bit and asks if it is okay to talk about trees, this is a good idea, it is talking about the present and it helps me to ground myself in the walk, to appreciate this as a positive step against depression. Tree identification and our kids interest in plants now becomes the topic of conversation.

We complete a circuit of the park and other dog walkers converge on us from multiple directions. There is a conflict, my wife is happy to say hello but then wants to move on, I want to make a fuss of the other dogs and give Bobby a chance to meet everyone. There are two poodle crosses Milly and Poppy (cockapoos?) and Bobby takes a particular shine to the smaller one Poppy and decides he wants to copulate with her. The people holding the leashes comment on the uselessness of this action and I wonder out loud why I paid money to have him castrated. We say our goodbyes and leave. My wife interrogates me on who was who and comments on not being introduced, I can’t remember all the human names but can cover the dogs fine. A little bit later we meet another Milly and this time I can name the man walking her (at least I think I can).

Back at home I find myself alone trying to decide what to do next. I feel the need to write about the walk, but I also think I should do some tidying first. It is my aim to tidy up the pile of socks in the bedroom this weekend. There is left over eve’s pudding on the side and after a pause I decide to have some with ice cream for breakfast. I realise this is a form of comfort eating but somehow it doesn’t seem so bad when it is leftovers. There are a lot of blackberries in the pudding and I love the colour they make in contrast to the sponge as the sun shines on my bowl, such a rich red. I wash out the bowl and put it and the spoon in the dishwasher. I head for the bedroom with apprehensive determination.

The socks have been piled up on the floor since the last phase of tidying up of my clothes. My wife has been embracing a Japanese method of decreasing clutter, it involves putting out all your clothes somewhere (e.g. on the bed), going through each item and deciding whether it is time to pass it on whilst honouring its service, or you can make a positive decision to keep it, though realistically this means admitting whether you are going to wear it. I have found this easier for larger items than smaller ones mainly I think because I can locate the big things. So the jumpers have been done, but everything else has been a matter of actually segregating it into categories and then folding it to see what I have. I have achieved this first phase with my trousers, shorts and t-shirts, so next it was the socks turn. I actually prefer everything to have a set place because I find it easier to process things then and also I like to fold things properly (in my case this means minimizing space whilst not creasing things too much), so actually this method actually suits me. It is the overwhelming sense of having to sort and decide upon so many things that I find painful, so I think I avoid doing it which makes the mess worse. All rather depressing really and of course it doesn’t help that my wife prefers a tidy place.

The socks are done, and I even did a few extra things. So I turned to writing, just not in my usual spot, which was a bit annoying. I notice I am comfortable with other people being in the room when they don’t talk but asking me questions causes some stress particular with regards to the flow of the writing. I endure, and now I am done. I feel a bit less gloomy. Time for some lunch.

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