On seeing (and D-ing)

Recently A month ago (!!) I wrote about how well things were going. Pretty much directly after pressing publish, my mood and my house nosedived into a swamp of grey, exhausted ugh.

Like before, I blame the vitamin D. Except in this case more the lack of.

***

Some history:

When my deficiency was first diagnosed (last autumn) I went to the chemist and asked for vitamin D. I didn’t look at the various brightly advertised packages in the main shop, I went straight to the the counter and bought the boring-looking box of tablets I was offered. I figured they were most likely to do the job if they didn’t have to work on convincing you how much they were doing.

I read somewhere that just existing uses up approximately 500-1000 units a day. In summer it’s usually easy to produce enough to live on and have some left over to store for winter. I was outside a lot and it was a very sunny summer, I just seem to have a problem with the production part of the equation. At the end of the summer I had way less than most people have at the end of the winter. Whatever. I’m supposed to be replenishing my stocks so I was told to take 2000 units. The Internet is full of opinions and some people are convinced that I could easily triple the daily dosage or take a lot more once a week. I am very wary of taking too much of anything so I chose to go slowly and steadily, taking them daily and according to the instructions.

I noticed the difference almost immediately. I could pick things up, my cycling speed increased (a bit), I didn’t cry so often. I wasn’t as tired. I was amazed. Life was more lifelike.

<..approx 3 months later..>

I went home (to my parents house) for Christmas and didn’t take enough tablets with me (I had a spare sheet at work but forgot to pack them). I was ok, I’d mostly forgotten what life was like without them and I figured I could take them on alternate days or take less to make them last longer. It wasn’t as if I was going to be there for long, just under 2 weeks.

I got progressively more irritable and a few days after Christmas my brother had the questionable pleasure of an evening in my tearful mope-y company. Not a good use of the available time.

I headed to a supermarket for more tablets. They were much weaker, I think 250 units each, but I took several at a time and they tided me through til I got back. I didn’t want to waste them so I took one strong one instead of two and made up the difference with the weaker ones.

On the recommendation of a friend who swears by them, when I reached the end of the box, I decided to swap the tablets for drops. Since Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it made sense to buy it ‘pure’ in oil without the chalky tablet material. There are a million options online and unfortunately very little regulation so I bought the sort she uses to reduce the risk of being scammed. The bottle was quite expensive but contained the equivalent of several boxes so each individual dose worked out (insignificantly) cheaper. You can drip it onto food or a spoon or directly onto your tongue. The bottle is glass and there’s no plastic blisterpacks involved. Theoretically they are a good thing.

In practice, and in retrospect, after taking nothing for a couple of days while I waited for them to arrive and using the drops for a month and a bit, I have the feeling that they don’t have the same effect, or possibly have no positive effect at all.

***

March was hard.

Everything hurt, I struggled to pick up my water filter or heave my bike up curbs. I couldn’t make the glass do what I wanted it to do. Getting up was arduous and getting out of the house was a feat. Cycling to work was challenging and slow (for a comparison, I cycled something like 80km over one weekend in February without a problem). I was permanently cold. I stayed at home at weekends, occasionally in bed.

I spent a week or so crying, more or less nonstop, about ridiculous things (like signposts and Google’s inability to direct me to where I want to go), and broken things and things that feel like they matter (even though they partially only exist in my head) and things that aren’t even things, and occasionally I just cried, no reason necessary.

Sometimes crying is/was the only thing that makes/made sense. Even when it doesn’t.

If I cried in the morning I stayed at home until I could stop my eyes leaking long enough to feel safe taking my bike on the roads. If I cried at work I took a break and typed up invoices instead of blindly playing with fire and hot glass. If I cried at home in the evening I took myself to bed with a hot water bottle and a box of tissues. I cooked and ate out of the saucepan or the frying pan, or didn’t cook and ate cereal out of as many bowls as I could without having to wash up. I left everything scattered on the table, worktops or on the floor next to the sofa. I didn’t do anything non-urgent. I made a point of not trying to not cry.

Last week, during a midnight crying attack, I wrote a whole post (in my head) about how everyone tells you to surround yourself with people who are better than you so you improve at whatever you want to be able to do, and how none of them ever tell you how to deal with permanently feeling like you are completely incapable.

From where I am, it doesn’t matter which way I look, everybody I have anything to do with has something they excel at. All around me, nothing but experts and success. PhDs, renovations, world travel, glassblowing masterpieces, speeches, new jobs, new houses, holidays, woodworkers, programmers, telescopes, exhibitions, parties, readers, writers, opening ceremonies, secretaries with neat cupboards of labelled and ordered paperperfection, makers of bread, collectors of overtime, parents of multiple children, runners, cyclists, etc etc etc. People are constantly doing things and doing them well. All the time. (For ever and ever. Amen.)

Faced with and compared to all this genius and talent and knowledge and ability, I failed on all fronts. Unless wallowing counts, and even then I know people who are properly depressed and not just paddling in the shallows where jealousy and “can’t even” and inadequacy and self-deprecation and all kinds of darkness lurk.

When I told her at a check up, my Obgyn said the lack of strength and motivation and excess of tears is probably either Depression or Deficiency and ordered another vitamin D test to see if I’m actually building up a Depot like I’m supposed to, or if I need to up the Dosage (look at all the Ds!). She asked what, if anything, had changed in the last few months and the only halfway relevant thing I could think of was switching to drops. She agreed with the theory that oil is a “better” solution, but suggested I go back to what works. Apparently different people are better able to use vitamins in different forms.

Given the choice, I told her, I’d much (much!) rather take the deficiency – especially when you can get tablets in every chemists and most supermarkets, and therapists are booked out until approximately 2080. She laughed and wished me deficiency (Germans are experts at wishing people things).

***

The other day I was talking to H about various things and he said something along the lines of: “..and you saw me. As a person, not just someone who was doing something. No one else does that..”

Awww ๐Ÿ™‚

The best thing about it?

He wasn’t “just being nice”. He wasn’t scraping the barrel for things he could cheer me up with, he was genuinely thankful for being seen and was telling me as part of his story. It wasn’t about me.

A couple of days before that, B had a problem with something her husband had said. We talked and wrote and thought and discussed. Once he/they had smoothed things out, she wrote to thank me for taking the time to listen, and for giving her the chance to go through her thoughts before they spoke.

If I rack my brain and trail through my emails/texts/letters I find evidence of other people who have said similar things.

I think I’ve found my super power.

๐Ÿ™‚

I can’t do all the things but I can see the people who can, and not doing all the things gives me time to be there for people (most of whom are in the middle of doing or about to do great things).

If I can be good at something, I can work on not minding being awful at everything else.

Going back to the crying, maybe I just needed a break to wash my eyes so I could get on with seeing.

(I bought a new box of tablets too – I couldn’t keep up with buying tissues :))

On eating beans on toast

The other day I heated a tin of beans, laid the table, toasted some slightly stale bread, took a lump of cheese out of the fridge, the grater out of the drawer and sat down to beans on toast.

As I poured the beans onto my toast I was suddenly reminded of the post I wrote last year about eating them out of the saucepan. This time I hadn’t even considered it. I hadn’t thought about it and made an conscious effort to use a plate, it honestly hadn’t crossed my mind until afterwards. I’d laid out a plate and a knife and fork without thinking about it or having to wash them up first. (The saucepan was clean before I started too ;)).

I was eating off a plate. At a table. With a tablecloth and placemats and flowers. By myself – I wasn’t trying to impress anyone. The counter was mostly empty, as was the sink and the drying rack. The floor between the radiator and the balcony doors was clear, except for the recycling bottles and a couple of projects in boxes. The old newspapers were stacked in a single wooden box, ready to wrap up the peelings when I next cook properly, instead of threatening to invade.

This, I think, is a good marker of how far I’ve come over the last few months. The recent beans day wasn’t an especially ‘good’ day, it was just a day, possibly one of the less-good days, seeing as I was eating beans instead of cooking.

My house is in no way magazine-perfect, but I was able to let my landlord in at short notice when he needed to replace the batteries in the anti-mould windows, and to let him send a repairman for the towel rail while I wasn’t here.

It is staying tidy for longer between the chaos-attacks. Things mostly have a home. I wash up directly after breakfast most days. I actually have breakfast most days! I’m starting to put things onto the small-ads app and get rid of them instead of piling them up to think about ‘later’.

I still have stay-in-bed-and-stare-into-space days/mornings, I still have a few days a month where nothing works and I come home and cry about it, I still have illogical spiralling thoughts, I still have days when lifting a jug of water or walking up a flight of stairs is about the limit of my strength, but I don’t sink as far or stay there as long.

I blame the vitamin D tablets.

And possibly the generous tax return ๐Ÿ™‚

And the fish.

And the cycling.

And Frank Turner’s songs.

And H’s many cupboards and shelves and hung-up-pictures-and-mirrors-and-notice-boards.

But especially the D tablets. As long as I don’t forget to take them, them they work small miracles in my life (or perhaps give me the ability to work them in my own life). I am so so so grateful for my obgyn and her non-obgyn-stuff-related diagnosis and the bloodtest and the easy way to feel better about everything.

Here’s to more plate-days! ๐Ÿ™‚

On late night loo roll hunting (and locks)

Occasionally I think I’m getting the hang of this adulting lark.

This week, for instance, I consistently got to work an hour (or more) earlier than the week before (and most of last year if I’m honest). It meant making a huge effort to go to bed early and actually getting up when the alarm went off, and I also left my phone in the kitchen to avoid the one-eyed scrolling my mornings so often started with.

That’s pretty responsible right?

I even dressed up and went to a grownup classical concert yesterday afternoon, one of only a handful of under-70s in the place, not counting the orchester, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I also enjoyed the hour or three I spent wandering around Berlin in the dark, meandering past and through shops and along highstreets, looking at lots of the things I don’t want to buy and a few I feel I should think about before buying. I came home with a stack of tea towels. Can’t get much more exciting than that, really.

I went shopping on the way back from the station and came home, ready for a posh hot chocolate and an early night.

So far so good.

I realised, at gone 9pm on a Saturday night, that the last loo roll was very unlikely to last until Monday morning. I promptly changed my going out boots for more sensible cycling shoes, put my high vis vest on over my going out coat, took my helmet and saddle bag off their respective hooks and headed supermarketwards…

Click.

…without my keys.

Argh.

So much for responsibility and proper adulting.

Time to call my landlord.

He didn’t respond the first time I tried.

The staircase isn’t particularly warm or comfortable, but I figured it was warmer and more comfortable than the yard, so I abandoned all plans of going shopping (and besides, who needs loo roll when there’s no loo?!). In my head I went through all the people I could feasibly phone and ask for a bed and how I was going to get there (I can climb over a gate, I’m pretty sure I can’t get my bike over one). Thinking about it now, since I’d locked the front door behind me as I’d come in, I was stuck in the stairwell between my door and the house door and wouldn’t have been able to get into the yard anyway – or to anyone else’s house.

I tried again. This time he luckily decided to answer and I was brought the key and could rescue mine.

Phew!

I made it to the shop on time for a record breaking (for me) whizz round and stood at the checkout at one minute to ten.

By the time I got home I’d forgotten all about the posh hot chocolate and fell into bed with a hot water bottle instead.

And that was the end of another eventful day.

***

P. S. It seems I haven’t changed much..

This is a post from almost exactly 6 years ago about late night loo roll shopping. And just to round things off, this is a post from a year and a half ago about locking myself out.

On finding a common denominator

Question: What do the following items have in common?

A hand powered mixer

A box of gravy thickening powder

A mop head

A trangia (camping cooker with stacking saucepans)

A laptop

A hand powered ‘vacuum’ /carpet sweeper

A tape measure

***

No prizes, but perhaps I’ll give the guessers an honourable mention in the next post..

On learning how to wash ones hands

Until today I kind of assumed that I knew how to wash my hands.

This poster on the mirror of the outpatient department* let me know how little I knew.

I’m uploading a photo of the 8 illustrated steps in case anyone else needs directions.. ;p I have no idea what the products are and no desire to advertise them. No one is paying me anything.

* I wasn’t a patient, I just needed the toilet.

On chasing rainbows

This morning a rainbow appeared.

It wasn’t raining where I was and the sky was cloud-free everywhere but directly around the rainbow.

Despite trying various positions, I couldn’t find one suitable for getting a picture of the whole curve – this was the most I could get on the screen of my phone at once.

I love the way the sky inside the rainbow is so much brighter than outside – as if the grey can’t get through it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s to everyone having a rainbow shield to protect them against the gloom.

On marbelous biscuits

There was a plan for them to be more obviously swirly (I even added contrasting chocolate chips to each mixture) but I seem to have forgotten how easily colours mix together and become sludgy – it’s obviously been too long since I last played with playdoh…