I started writing the following after we returned from our trip to the Yorkshire Dales a few weeks back, but seemed to get stuck in trying to examine why I descended into depression on returning home. I have found a way through now; though whether my findings will alter my mood I shall have to wait and see.
The schools are back now and life in the household seems to be starting so much earlier in the morning. 3rd (third child) needs dinner money, JV (Japanese Visitor) needs breakfast and lunch and I need not to feel so rubbish. I am going to Edinburgh today for the last counselling session, and I am conscious that this is part of the reason too for getting up. I want to feel I am making progress; I don’t want to have failed in the eyes of the counsellor. I guess it is a bit like going to see the head teacher at school; they can support and protect but they can also punish. That’s the difficulty I face, the counsellor can protect and support me but she can also point out where I can grow and be more reasonable (which it would seem I feel is a punishment). I guess that is where my nerves come from; is she going to point out that I am the really bad person that I feel I am? Of course she isn’t because I am not so bad in fact.
As I look in the mirror at my naked body and judge the progress on the psoriasis battle, it occurs to me that I am a lot harder on myself when I am at home compared to being on holiday. On holiday I was okay when I didn’t apply my cream, there were reasons – the room was too cold, there was no mirror to use, the schedule was unpredictable, I didn’t want to disturb others – which were acceptable to me at the time. They sound like excuses now, but then I was fine with accepting the consequences of my actions, I didn’t feel down about it. At home I feel bad when I don’t apply my ointment in the mornings, and I feel worse when it isn’t applied in the evening either. Why do my actions matter so much now?
Home and holiday are labels that seem to conjure up environments with their own sets of rules, regulations and expectations; so what are they?
Maybe it is easier to look at holidays. Holidays are planned for a start and certainly in our case there is a framework for each day based around where we are at the start and end of the day, what expectations are to happen during that day, and what we going to do for food. If it is a travel day then expectations are focused on travelling safely to the destination which will include stops for rest, refreshments and possibly some attraction. Timing will be focused on the mode of transport. If I am driving the car then we will leave at a time to avoid congested roads; by train we go when we can get cheaper tickets. We always used to take packed lunches but nowadays we are increasingly buying things as we travel, particular when using the car where food and rest are a good combination. Usually I will do the driving, taking breaks when needed.
Non travel days will be focused on exploring the area we are in. Whereas once we would be up and about as soon as possible, we are increasingly using B&B type accommodation and tend now not to rush out but have a leisurely large breakfast to delay eating much at lunch. Where will go will be reached by consensus though sometimes only a few people will go and the others will maybe go for a walk to the local park. Having a dog can be a restriction and certainly on this trip as a group we opted for visiting gardens and places where dogs were welcome. We as a group don’t always want the same thing. I often find myself left behind because I am interested in reading all the signs and understanding the context whereas the rest will be off having seen enough. I guess we have different needs accommodated by doing our own things then meeting up at certain points and times. I do get to a point where I can’t summon up the energy to learn and will happily take photos of whatever strikes me instead; sitting, eating and looking are probably the highlights for me. I would rather only do one thing a day, or if there are multiple things to be fitted in, then I want a day off to compensate.
If we are visiting friends then we will tend to spend time with them. It may be sitting around chatting, telling stories or catching up on life whilst drinking tea and eating sweet things. We may travel somewhere with them to do a recommended local interest that they will enjoy as well. Walks are often undertaken (particular with the dog) and outings are often followed by afternoon snoozes before a shared evening meal and self-made entertainment. If possible I like to write but often this will have to take place first thing in the morning or last thing at night. I tend not to write if I don’t have my laptop.
What strikes me as I look back over how we deal with holidays is that each day has a structure and a focus, expectations around getting things done is fairly simple and food is often seen as a treat. While there is structure there is a freedom to opt in or out and if one day is too busy then the next can be relaxing. Often others will do the cleaning, washing, shopping and cooking, providing even companionship and entertainment; if we take public transport than even the travelling can be relaxing.
For me home is none of these things. Yes there is structure to each day but I don’t have the same focus. Usually there is a never ending list of things to be done and I feel happy if I only do one thing in each of the morning, afternoon, and evening; somehow cleaning, washing, shopping and cooking don’t seem to be given their due because they need to happen frequently. Things to do at home are often longer term projects; keeping the garden/house maintained for instance, let alone seemingly simple tasks like putting up a set of shelves which end up with at least three trips to the local DIY shop. Things that might be entertaining or companionable tend to be squeezed into smaller bits of time and we become reliant on cars to zip around trying to fit everything in.
I wonder that if I treated home life a bit more like my holidays; would my life feel less depressing? Time to experiment I guess.