Grooming is a part of life. By grooming I mean both personal and social grooming. When we feel left out both our personal and social grooming habits slip. Social grooming was what I thought monkeys did to each other, removing nits from each others fur. But when it comes to people we take it a bit further. Social grooming is the interaction between people, but not necessarily limited to physical touching. Social grooming also includes small talk and gossip.

When depression affects a person the person tends to withdraw from social situations rather than maintaining them. Not only this but personal grooming and hygiene habits become less important. The funny thing is the person that gets depression usually is the last one to know about the change in habits until it becomes noticeable to others. By that time the steps on the path to depression are well worn down. When the person realises this for themselves they seem unable to act on this as they feel overwhelmed and cannot seem to find a way to get back to their non depressed self. We are our own worst enemy.

Shopping habits of decades past used to involve going to multiple shops and conversing with each shopkeeper. The interaction with multiple people was a daily habit and with that came physical activity, the walking to and from places. The social grooming of society, the interaction of people in their daily lives. Perfection of social sanity, a sense of belonging and engaging with others.

Supermarkets and the Internet are wonderful inventions but they come at a price. Supermarkets create a single one stop shopping at reduced prices to make shopping a quick and convenient experience. The Internet has opened up information to all corners of the earth to allow people to communicate and share ideas. On the surface these are two wonderful concepts. I wouldn’t be able to share my blog post if it weren’t for the Internet for starters. I’m not saying that I am against supermarkets or the Internet but we should use them in moderation. Supermarkets allow people to purchase in bulk and shop weekly instead of daily. Efficient. Checkout operators at supermarkets use barcodes to scan prices to save the company finances to speed up the number of customers who can pay and leave. The time to chat at the checkout is limited to brief pleasantries of salutations. There is no time for more. Efficient. The Internet allows us to communicate with long lost school friends via social media and if we chose to we can actually meet them in person. We can find answers to questions we might chose to ask at three in the morning. The Internet never sleeps, the information is available always, unless the power goes down due to a freak of nature or you can’t pay your power bill. If we chose we can even purchase groceries online and never leave the house. For someone with mobility issues this is wonderful for someone with depression this is perhaps not really so wonderful. Stepping outside should be a part of the day.

Social grooming is communicating with people, and with social media this on the surface may appear helpful, I don’t believe in the long run will be so. The original purpose of the Internet was to share information, just that. Commerce plus Internet has created a monster, add social interaction and you have a unique web of online social communities. It is a lifeline for those who find communicating verbally in social situation a challenge. However I find that the same people we find we don’t want to talk to or can’t talk to are invading our cyberspace. Social media brings with it social rules. In real life a person feels they must put on a happy front as society rules insist on it. Social media rules are the overflow of real life social rules and even online on social media you must maintain a smile even when you don’t feel like smiling. Where do people have left to rant or cry? Businesses are constantly trawling sites for those interviewing for jobs to see what their online persona is and whether it matches the person in front of them. I know the purpose of the Internet is sharing information but it is getting out of hand. Learning to block out the vast amounts of gibberish online is a skill. You cannot believe everything you read. I wonder what people in the future will make of us?

What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong speaking at the beginning of song

Water between meals

Drinking water with your meal dilutes the acid in your stomach. Acid that is necessary for the breakdown of your food. Drinking half an hour to an hour before or after a meal will benefit your body better. If you suffer from acid reflux then reducing or stopping drinking with your meal may make your life easier. Acid reflux is caused by the stomach being less acidic than it should be to function properly and it is the acidic juices being rejected from the stomach towards the mouth where the burning sensation comes from along the oesophagus. Acidic juices in the stomach are quite at home there and that is where they should stay.

I keep thinking of the ideal number of glasses of water to drink during the day and that magic number EIGHT pops into my head. So many sources say eight glasses of water a day. What better way to count that to have water with the meal. So easy for the memory but not so easy on your stomach. Do we really need so much water each day?

The Mayo Clinic suggests “Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day.”

Ayurveda suggests consuming water in this way. Forget the ice and don’t drink it too cold. Room temperature or warmer.

Drink fluids between meals

Waters – Got To My Head


I rarely suffer from insomnia, the inability to sleep. But I have it tonight. Rather than toss and turn and wake DH up I decided to be productive and face this aspect of depression. 
My first bout of insomnia was in high school. It was after I was fourteen and before I finished school at seventeen. I would lie awake for hours wondering when I would go to sleep. I would in turn get frustrated at my lack of sleep. I do also seem to remember that the rest of the family were wise enough not to speak to me in the mornings before school as I was not a receptive to conversation. 
As I look back now this insomnia was the first sign of depression. I am only realising this now for myself. In my culture the concept of visiting a shrink, therapist or counselor was and is uncommon. Read: you would have to not only think you were crazy but others would too before you stepped foot into an office of the above so called experts. The stigma of mental illness is alive today. Hence the severe reluctance to visit the above offices. I do not want a black mark on my record. I do not want another person to use it as blackmail. I don’t have children but that would also be a good reason not to visit one. Am I being paranoid? Perhaps but that could be another aspect of the black dog. If someone should see you as unfit to perform your duties in a work or home situation then how do you manoeuvre into a better position if your record shows mental illness. Life is not fair. It will not change in a hurry. Mental illness such as depression does not allow for the fact that it may be a hormone imbalance, it could be a mineral deficiency, it could be the result of the bump on the head, seratonin deficiency or something else. Knowledge on the brain and our bodies is still in its infancy and the doctors do not know all the answers. Questioning a doctor’s opinion is a right if you feel that the care is not there. Listening to your own bodies is imperative and a skill that we can learn.

I have woken up to fact that I have depression, or the black dog. I recognise that I have it. I also realise that it will be with me for the rest of my life. I know that I am ready to fight it with knowledge and face it and recognise it when it comes bounding up to me ready to play. I am no longer wanting to play. I am ready to put a leash on the black dog and house train it to know who is master. 
I hadn’t really been looking at the signs in myself or in those around me. With fresh eyes today and looking back in my past I can unfortunately see many people who had depression and perhaps didn’t know to what degree of seriousness that had it. The symptoms now when I look back were there. I didn’t see or recognise them. Now I am alert. I am ready to take notes and learn from my experiences and become the master of the dog.

Different cultures face depression different ways. I hope to take notes from cultures that handle it best and put it into practise.

Depression itself means to press down. Originating from Middle English 1350-1400. Winston Churchill described it as “the black dog”. Japanese describe it as  “a cold of the heart.” Some call it “the abyss.” I think those that have it would rather not. Depression doesn’t not discriminate through culture, race or class. I do believe that once you have depression it will reappear again later in life.

I do believe we are our own worst enemy when it comes to depression. I believe that the person who wishes us not to recover from depression is ourselves. Wait. Hear me out. Think of a large black dog sitting on your shoulder or on your back whispering into your ear that you are worthless, and no matter what you do you will never be anything. We sit there and take it and stupidly believe what we say to ourselves. We hear this over and over again and believe every negative irrational thought and believe it to be true. We cannot see the end in sight to this awful situation. We no longer want to partake in activities that bring us joy. We not longer look after ourselves as we would like, we prefer to shun social occasions and withdraw from life, thinking that we just need space to ourselves but in truth the depression is winning the battle is master over us and not the other way around. 
Depending on how light or heavy our depression maybe, even an early night can make the world of difference between master and dog.

Kava is supposed to be good to help you to sleep.

You know what? I updated this blog and then found that I couldn’t sleep. I checked my watch. Lying in bed an hour after lights out and still couldn’t sleep. I estimate that it took another half hour to an hour to sleep after that. I woke up feeling like I had a hangover. I had one coffee in the morning the day before and no wine with dinner. So I can’t blame either for the insomnia. Computer screen time could be a factor but I’m not sure.

Faithless – Insomnia


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Compulsions: Door Checking, Nail Biting, Hoarding
Watched OC87 last night and watched it with great interest to try and better understand myself. One thing that really stuck in my mind was the sink in his bathroom that had water in it. It was clogged and it had been that way for six months. Its not what you think. I was thinking Oh God I can relate to that. Do I also have OCD? I thought OCD was washing your hands multiple times or opening and closing a door multiple times checking. I didn’t judge him and I didn’t feel repulsion at the disarrange and uncleanliness. I understood. 
Today as I write this I have tears running down my face. I wondered too if l also had OCD. I looked up the definition of OCD and discovered Onychophagia among one of the traits. What is that you may ask? Nail biting.

Door Checking

I have done the door checking thing when leaving the house, in particular with the locking of the door and setting the alarm. And if I really am honest with myself I still do it to a degree. DH pointed out the fact that I did this a little often. I listened to what DH said and the logical side of me realised this too. I knew it was obsessive but I knew if I didn’t check the door or the alarm I couldn’t relax for the time that I was away from the house. I have been away on holiday and still worried that I had locked the house and set the alarm. In fact if I really admit it, it was at the back of my mind the whole time. Before a holiday I am learning to lock the house and set the alarm with DH watching and checking so that he can confirm that it had been done properly. 
I really hate if I am asked when I am 5-10 minutes down the road and I am asked did I set the alarm, because after that I will have the idea that perhaps I didn’t do it running around in the my head. I need to go back and check or I just worry about it continually.
 As I write this I realise that this is not the actions of a normal person and it makes me feel sad. I can see the illogical nature of the checking but I can also see the need to reassure myself to reduce the anxiety. I say reduce here, not remove, as I do not think I am ever free from anxiety ever.

Tip: A really good idea to know that the doors, windows are locked, gas or alarm is set is to go around the house and take photos of yourself pointing at what you did. Especially useful before you go on holiday. You can reassure yourself that you have done the checks by checking your phone. Peace at last?

Nail Biting

Back to the nail biting or Onychophagia. Wow there is a name for this. I have always wanted long nails. The only time I get my nails growing is when I go on holiday. They start to grow and then when I get back home they are back to their usual short self. I have tried the anti-nail biting liquid. And I have painted my nails with it. Even this foul tasting stuff does not deter me to stop. I find of late that they are even shorter than the usual. Perhaps not a good sign. 
I think reading about OCD terrifies me. Reading about Depression makes me want to read more to try and control or weaken the affect of it. Yet Aspergers brings me relief. 
Does being older and more mature allow me to face my demons and be able to cope better with it? As I watched Beating the Black Dog, an Australian documentary about Depression, I noticed that the social services/hospitals are not able to cope with the huge numbers of people with mental illnesses. One woman who lives rurally isn’t able to access services that would be available to her if she were living in a more urban environment. I noted to myself that I never wanted to live rurally again. But I did remember saying that to DH this week. 
I need the stimulation of big cities. I realise that now. I have forced DH to live in  physically isolated places as I thought that was the best way to cope with the world but I now realise that I was wrong. You can still live in a big city and be isolated too. The best thing about it though is that you can just close the door and shut out the world when you want, you don’t have to move far.

I keep belongings longer than I need. I noticed on OC87 that Bud kept belongings that were in tatters or broken and they were congesting his home, making it difficult to live. His books were all over the floor and were restricting his movements inside. I didn’t look at this with horror. I looked at this with understanding, or recognition that I too do this. I know I do this. I know its not healthy to keep belongings that are of no use and prevent you from enjoying home life. I understand this. Taking action to solve this is hard. It is exhausting just thinking about it too. Knowing there is a problem is one thing. Knowing how to overcome it is another. 
Embarrassment is an emotion that I feel as I discover about myself. I have not gone to a doctor about any of this. They say never to go onto the internet to try and self diagnose. This is what I am doing. However in my case I feel justified in not getting professional help. For now anyway. I will leave the door ajar on this but I chose not to open it. 
Society today does not accept people with mental illness as one of their own. Discrimination is there in the work force and in social settings. I understand why people try to hide what they are going through. Society places great stress on people to act certain ways. With large populations I get that we need to have organisation and order to function but if when this infringes on people’s rights I believe this is going too far.

Obsesion – Aventura

How many revisions does it take to make it OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Repetitive actions are a sign of this disorder and those with Aspergers also show having some signs of OCD. The most well known repetitive action is the hand washing. If you wash your hands before a meal or after getting home from work, or before preparing food or after visiting the bathroom then this is perfectly normal. Obsessive hand washing might mean washing your hands so often than you make your hands raw. Not so funny now.

Surprised by your vote? Other people’s votes? Where would you class OCD when it comes to your score? What number are you comfortable with? There are a number of factors. The type of blog, words, picture, video? Length of the blog? Weekly blog? Daily blog? Time allocated? An opinion piece? Factual piece with references and diagrams? So many things to think about really. Then again, does it really matter? I’m just happy that there is autosave now. I remember the days of typing something on a computer, forgetting to save it, the computer crashing and the work gone forever.

When is your writing finished? Is it ever? If you have a deadline then you know when it is done. But is it finished? Sometimes we just need to know when to leave a piece of writing and say it is done and to move onto the next piece. Making something perfect is not the goal of writing but to communicate with another in the best way we know how at the time. If we are striving for perfection then we run into trouble. Being the best and being perfect are not the same thing either. Trying to do our best is not the same every day either and we need to give ourselves some slack. On a bad day our best will be less than the best on our good days. We need to recognise this and remember that we are living a life that is a journey that requires times of sprints, leisurely strolls and rest. We need to know that we need to pace ourselves and to be kind to ourselves.

When I’m Gone(The Cup Song) in Gaelic