In other news… – Janathon 2019, Day 20

wall mounted rack of spools of thread

Today’s exercising was tedious.
I couldn’t get any enthusiasm going. I’d already decided that 5 minute increments of walking up and down the room were quite enough thank you very much, when I got cramp. Flipping cramp! After I sorted that out, I walked into a box and grazed my shin.
It was one of those days.
But I reached my daily step goal. That’s good enough for today.

I’ve seen quite a change over the last 20 days in the amount of cellulite I have. I’m very lucky, I’ve never really had dimply skin. But with depression and the seizures hitting me full in the face during December, I didn’t move much at all. And that was when I acquired my first batch of true cellulite. But now, that’s receded.
I’m still the same weight as I was on the 1st of January. But I count that as a win too, because I normally gain weight at this time of year. So, I’m happy.

In other news… I noticed somewhere between walking and falling and tripping that I need to top up my threads. Especially my purple, because I have a purple project to complete.

I’ve decided to make myself a one man survival shelter.
Like the one above. But smaller, purple and without a window, just a vent. Essentially it’s a large bag that I can sit in if required.

Why? You might ask.
Well, I want to go walking outside. But my seizures make that scary and quite stupid. The other day I fancied walking down part of the Neath canal path and realised that I probably shouldn’t. It’s not the seizures themselves, but how tired I can get afterwards. If I could get a few minutes rest safely without getting too cold and wet, then I would probably have enough energy to extricate myself from the situation.
I was feeling down about the whole thing when I remembered the survival shelter we were told to carry during my Mountain Leadership Training Course. That was great at keeping the heat in. And it was effectively just a bag. I can sew a bag. And it would be relatively lightweight. So I should be able to carry it too.

I’ve bought myself some purple ripstop nylon for the project. Purple because, well, who doesn’t like purple? But also, because I’m hoping that it doesn’t scream out help me, I’m a person in distress like a bright orange bag would. Conversely, it isn’t difficult to spot if need be. Ripstop nylon because it’s cheap, water resistant, lightweight and won’t rip the moment I plonk my backside down on to a bramble.

And no, I will not be found sitting on the city streets of Swansea covered in a big purple cocoon every time anxiety strikes, as the Old Trout suggested might be the case. This is purely for those times when I’m off the beaten path a bit more. Yes, I realise that the Neath canal path is far from being the middle of nowhere. But I think it’s a good plan. Even if I might look even more stupid than normal every once in a while.
And yes, I do realise precisely what this will look like, before ye of rude thoughts let me know 😉

purple ripstop nylon

This is roughly what it will look like from the outside.

Me, inside a covering of purple ripstop nylon

And this is roughly what it will look like from the inside. Although trust me, if I have been forced by circumstances to sit inside that thing, I will not be smiling.

Exercise completed: Reached Daily Step Goal
Steps Taken: 3,043

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A conglomerative day- Janathon 2019, Day 19

I was booked in to have a delightful afternoon with my youngest sprat (my niece) today. But as my sleeping patterns are completely awry, my sister and aforementioned sprat whisked me off to MacDonalds instead. There I delighted the sprat with my lack of knowledge of anything MacDonalds related. She showed off her ability to use the new-fangled touchscreen ordering system; which I was most impressed by. There was more delight as she produced sauces from dispensers and placed them in little paper holders – the like of which I’ve only ever seen on the TV. And I had ice-cream and a banana milkshake. Those tasted incredible. This was a great alternative to the afternoon that I hadn’t planned.

After they dropped me back home, I slept until roughly 11pm.

Feeling good, I thought it was time I went for a walk. But as it was throwing-out time for pubs and a Saturday night, I decided to play it safe and just walk to the Slip and back, avoiding any side roads.

Electricity box painted brown with portrait of Dylan Thomas

One of the sights I pass whilst walking to the beach is this painted electricity box. It appeared a couple of years ago and I’m amazed that it hasn’t been graffitied. Since it appeared, others have also popped up over Swansea. I had assumed it was a portrait of one of our more famous inhabitants – the poet Dylan Thomas. At first I actually thought it might be a militant 1970’s freedom fighter. I was put off by the hat. But one of the transformed boxes was conveniently scrawled with the words “Dylan Thomas” and even I was forced to reach a reasonable conclusion from that.

I hadn’t investigated the reason behind these boxes before tonight. But it appears that they were part of a collaboration with Virgin Media. And from that, I’m going to conclude that they’re not electricity boxes as such, but broadband/cable access points. I could become a detective, I’m that good.

Now that I’ve got the locations for the boxes conveniently marked on a map, I might go in search of them. Although I’m really not a fan of Dylan Thomas’ work. His play “Under Milk Wood” is a great representation of what my head sounds like when I haven’t taken my meds for a while.

Colourful small triangle of crochet blanket

I thought I’d finish by showing off one of my latest crochet projects. I present to you my C2C scrapghan. Yes, I’m aware that it is a complete tragedy. As this afghan grows it should become a complete riot of colour. The last afghan I finished took so long, and required so much work that I can’t bring myself to use it. Now I want to make a squishy blanket for the sprats to cuddle up in. And what better than to use this quick stitch – the C2C (corner 2 corner) and to use up as many scraps of yarn as I can find in my stash whilst I’m doing it?
From what I’ve seen with other scrapghans, once they’re large enough, the overwhelming mass of colours merge into one another to make it a (vaguely) coherent piece. Fingers crossed that this happens here.

Exercise completed: 1 mile walk
Steps Taken: 3,962

Moving on – Janathon 2019, Day 18

I appear to be stuck in a very bad sleep pattern at the moment. I awoke at 10pm having not really been awake for most of the rest of the day. As it was pouring with rain I had a great excuse to not go out for a walk. Instead I chose to do some dancercise to the four songs above. I actually reached my daily step goal on the 3rd song, but I fancied seeing how well I could move to “Bleed it out” by Linkin Park after having already shuggled vigorously to the previous 3.

Over the last few years I’ve tried dancing to “Bleed it out” numerous times as part of the exercise for ‘anathons. In 2015 I remember that it virtually crippled me. Indeed, last year it was still difficult to finish. Tonight I gave it all I’d got and could have done another round. Perhaps another time 😉
I’m very pleased to say that all that’s stopping me now are my mental health problems. That makes life a lot easier.

And then, to remind myself just how much I’m moving on, I played a live version of “One more light” by Linkin Park which was sung just after the lead singer’s friend Chris Cornell had committed suicide. He and Chester Bennington of Linkin Park were really good friends and the emotion in that song is as raw as any you’ll ever hear.

I enjoyed Chris Cornell’s music, but his death didn’t affect me particularly. What did was Chester Bennington’s a couple of months later in July 2017. He too killed himself by hanging.

In 2016 I tried to kill myself twice. Once I landed up in a coma and the second time I found out that I really do float far too well.
I knew that my family loved me, but I also knew how much of a burden I was to them. In my heart I knew that their lives would be so much easier if they didn’t have to help look after me.
I’d begun to swing back around to the idea that I probably shouldn’t commit suicide, and then Chester killed himself. Linkin Park is one of my favourite bands. I can probably say that it is my favourite. I was stung by his death in a way that I’d never felt before. My dad died when I was young, I’ve had other family members and good friends die; but this was a feeling for someone I didn’t even know. I felt as if I’d been sucker punched. And it was like a switch went off in my brain. I finally realised that my family had been torn apart by what I had tried to do. That I wasn’t helping them out at all by “going away”. Chester Bennington probably saved my life.

It’s been hard on my sister and The Old Trout. They found me the first time, and for a couple of years were worried every time I sounded upset. That’s difficult enough with a normal person, but with someone with depression and schizophrenia it must have been exhausting.
We’d got to the point where we’d be having an argument (I go through a whole range of emotions when I’m ill. Generally the arguments are entirely my fault.) and I’d be screeching like a banshee and I’d suddenly realise that I’d scared them with something I’d said. They thought I was going to try to kill myself again. And, in the middle of screaming I’d be saying something like “No, it’s okay, that was just a phrase, I promise I’m not suicidal. BUT I WILL NOT CALM DOWN YOU F***ING COW!”
Oh… the things they’ve had to put up with over the years 😥

But, we’re moving on.
Slowly.
A couple of months ago the Old Trout snapped at me over the phone and refused to talk to me for a couple of days. I was infuriated. But also happy that she finally felt able to do that again.
My sister no longer enters the room as if she’s going to encounter a dead body. And we’ve had a couple of fights too. Never did I think that fighting could be a good thing.
Like I said, we’re moving on. Slowly. 🙂

Exercise completed: 15 minutes of dancercise
Steps Taken: 3,530




Late – Janathon 2019, Day 16

A Swansea bus stop on a dark and rainy night.

I got outside today. I also reached my daily step count. But, unlike a normal Wednesday night’s pool, I didn’t fit a walk in beforehand. Instead, I slept in. I slept right through my alarm and instead of waking at 6pm I found myself opening my eyes finally at 7pm.

I’m invariably tired. It’s one of those things I deal with. I’ve not really got a clue what causes it. I think it’s most likely a side effect of my schizophrenia. But, it could be due to my depression. I know it also gets worse during times when my thyroid is playing up and my medication is out of sync. Or, it could be a side effect from any of my medication. In the past I used to try to explain to people. But they’d just say that they got tired too and look at me as if I was an idiot for mentioning it. But this is my blog, my space to witter on about the things that I want to. And as the saying goes: “knowledge is power”. By reading what goes on in my life, you might be able to understand someone else’s problems a little better. And so, the world, one step at a time, becomes a better place.

I went to sleep this morning at 3am. I awoke a few times briefly. But essentially I slept for 16 hours. It was a “sleep day”. They’re less frequent now than they used to be. But they still come without warning and no matter what I try, I either just fall asleep on the spot, or am such a raging monster if kept awake, that sleeping is always the best option if possible.

By 7:30 pm I had gathered my wits and my clothing and was racing out of the door to try to catch the next bus.
I needn’t have rushed quite so much. The next bus was 10 minutes later than I thought. A slow amble would have got me there on time. But at least I raised my heart rate for a few minutes.

The pool team captain pointing at the black in the corner.

I arrived a little late, but took my place as if I’d been there the entire time. I don’t think anyone noticed.

It was the “Oyster Saints” versus the “Yacht A” tonight in the Mumbles’ Pool League. The picture above is of our team captain trying to force the black into the pocket with the power of his mind (and a pointing finger). It didn’t work. He had to resort to hitting it with that long stick again. I don’t know why they don’t just pick the balls up and put them in the pockets instead. It would be far faster and allow everyone more time to drink.

An application form to join the Conservative Club

And this, this is something I didn’t expect to ever do: join a Conservative Club. But I thought I’d better, because I’m currently only allowed upstairs in the club room as the guest of a member. And there’s bound to be a day when they ignore me rapping insistently on the door to be let in. This only became an issue when the pub our team used to play in closed. We’ve now moved venues to the Oyster Lounge (& Conservative Club) next door.

Having filled this in, I’ve got to wait to see if the Club Committee deem me suitable for inclusion. Oh dear…

Exercise completed: Reached daily step goal
Steps Taken: 6,328

DIY – Janathon 2019, Day 15

Fan with no front guard

That fan currently has no front guard attached.
You’d think that as the adult who removed the guard, I’d have the common sense to keep well away from it in motion. No. Bits of me nearly got chopped off today. Thankfully they’re plastic blades and not the steel ones that one of my other fans has. But still… that very nearly hurt.

I did attempt to get outside with the excuse that I needed to tip my full jar of dead batteries into a recycling bin. But my brain was having none of it. I thought that my ruse of imagining the jar empty might have worked because I got as far as putting all of my clothes on. But then: no shoes. It’s difficult to walk anywhere without them.

Instead I got on with some housework, some DIY and general tidying. All in all, it’s been the sort of day where I’ve cleaned up more than the mess I’ve made. And that’s a good day. On top of boring stuff like kitchen and washing duties I’ve stuffed matchsticks into a wall. I’ve wandered around the house, pouncing on patches of wallpaper that had decided to try to free themselves and attacked them liberally with blobs of wallpaper paste. I am a DIY aficionado.

And then there’s the fan. I decided that the partially obscured brand name on the front would do well with a quick coat of black spray paint. But of course, I didn’t have any black spray paint. What I did have, was some grey and a granite effect spray that I bought for covering geocaches, which I hadn’t tested.

Well, I’ve tested it now. And, unlike the spray paint, which dries in a matter of seconds, this thing won’t be dry for 24hrs. Hence the reason why there was no guard on the fan as I walked up and down trying to reach my daily step goal tonight. And hence why I am now covered with smears of partially dry stone effect spray. I would like to say that my hands have taken on an interesting golem-like appearance. But no, there’s no cool, stone effect going on. It just looks like I’ve been painting myself badly. Again.

Painted front fan guard

And that is why, when trying to complete my daily step count I was doing it in front of a guardless fan.
I’m looking forward to seeing if it will bring a certain bling factor to my indoor exercising from now on. If not, perhaps the next step would be to add some glitter?

Exercise completed: Reached daily step goal
Steps taken: 3,067

Mysteries abound – Janathon 2019, Day 14

Openstreetmap of part of Swansea seafront showing bus routes.

Today I caught a bus to the stop along the seafront closest to Swansea University. I thought that I’d find a map to show roughly where I’d walked. I didn’t do it in past years because I really didn’t walk far enough to bother with a map most of the time. But I love maps of any sort and I’m going to use them if I can find an excuse to.

I headed over to Openstreetmap.org. They allow you to use their maps on your site as long as you credit “OpenStreetMap contributors” with the image. I was going to use their standard map, but they do have other formats available, including a cycle map showing contours, that can often be better. And that’s when I tripped over their “Transport” map above. It shows bus routes and which buses run along those routes. It doesn’t help me for buses that run along the seafront because I know those routes already. But it’ll be invaluable when I’m trying to plan walks further afield, to see at a glance the precise roads that each bus drives along.

Footpath sign surrounded by sand

Yesterday wore me out. But I was able to get up at 3pm today and was very happy to be out and about in daylight.

Curved metal bridge top

Some of you might recall me mentioning The Slip. There’s the remains of a substantial victorian footbridge on either side of the road there. This is the top portion of that footbridge. The powers-that-be, in their wisdom, decided to plonk it here, about half a mile from the other part.

Trees through bridge struts

I walked 1.5 miles today. Mostly along the cyclepath that runs the length of the front. I had a bit of a problem at the start because I had cyclists streaking towards me in the pedestrian half of the path. They whizzed past without any incident. But by the fourth cyclist I was beginning to wonder what was going on and checked the markings on the ground. Surely enough I appeared to be walking along the cyclist’s side of the tarmac. I was a bit confused as to how that happened, because walking along there has become automatic.

But a little later I spotted that in their infinite wisdom, the powers-that-be have decided for some reason to switch the sides that people walk and cycle along. I’m not moaning. It’s not for mere mortals like me to moan. I’m just amused that so many of these decisions get made and we really have no clue why. Why did the top of the Slip get moved precisely 0.44 miles from the bottom half of the bridge and not 0.55 or 0.66? Why were the sides we travel along swapped? If it was for safety purposes, why were these not considered before? Perhaps it was only because an apprentice stencil painter painted the wrong things the wrong way around and they just went with it. I’m never likely to know. That’s okay. Life would be far too boring if we knew everything.

View along cyclepath showing painted markings of which side is which for pedestrians and cyclists.

Exercise completed: walked 1.5 miles
Steps Taken: 5,443