Juneathon 2017, Day 15 – A Crochet Day

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African Flower Hexagons

As it was a nice day today I went out in the garden and did a little crochet. The photo above shows the five hexagons that I completed. So far I’ve made 33 of them. I’m hoping to have enough patience to make 225 and to make a square blanket. I don’t really know what size it’ll be; it doesn’t matter.
I started crocheting in earnest about 3 years ago when my muscles started to deteriorate. It gave me something that I was able to accomplish without too much mental or physical effort. And today I grabbed my crochet and headed outside because mentally I was incapable of anything else. After making a fair few of these little flowers I know precisely what I’m doing and how many stitches to make. As the hook flows through the work my mind is able to relax and forget about all of the things that are niggling away at me. The dark thoughts are banished into the dark recesses of my brain as if by magic. It feels good to crochet. And on a sunny day like today, crocheting in my safe little back garden is one of the best remedies for my mental illness that I can think of.

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A wee fellow enjoying one of my poppies

Unfortunately, even after enjoying a very relaxing couple of hours in the garden, my schizophrenia was still having far too much fun inside my head.

Doing exercise for Juneathon is fine when I’m feeling well mentally, but it’s virtually impossible on days like these when my brain is trying to shut me down and the horrible thoughts are like a thick, dank fog hovering around my head:
“You’re useless! You’re fat! Nobody likes you! You’re dirty! You smell! Your family hates you! You don’t have any friends! What you wrote yesterday about shoes: that was stupid! You’re so stupid. You can’t even manage to put plates in the dishwasher! Other people don’t need a dishwasher. They wash things. They do things. They’re not lazy. You’re so lazy! You’re an embarrassment. No wonder no one ever wants to talk to you. Why would they ever want to talk to you? …”
On and on and on…

The last thing I wanted to do was to go out for a walk. But I couldn’t face anything else either. Walking will often drive the thoughts away, just as crocheting does. I suppose it’s the meditative, calm state that I get into when I’m doing either activity. Unfortunately dancing, yoga, lifting weight etc. just don’t have the same effect.

So, I compromised: today would have to just be a day when I reached my step goal and felt satisfied with it. But, I thought I’d try to do one better and go outside in order to reach my goal.
It took one walk up my street and then down a neighbouring street to reach 3,000 steps, whereupon I sighed with relief and scurried home.

A Crochet day: met daily step count
Steps Taken: 3,682
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Juneathon 2017, Day 9 – Nothing Much

For the last hour I’ve been trying to push myself to do some extra exercise for Juneathon. But it just isn’t happening. I’m utterly worn out. If I find that I’ve left my dumbbells in my bedroom I will try to do a few lifts from my bed, but that’s it.

So, today I’ve pottered about a bit and then headed to Swansea’s Grand Theatre to watch my nephew perform a Grease inspired medley with the rest of his year from his Primary school. That wouldn’t have been too bad, but there were also another 5 schools performing their own songs and dance routines. I’ve never been so glad in all my life that my niece needed to go to the toilet desperately. I was beginning to flip mentally. Heading out of the theatre and to the toilets was so lovely. I just wish that it had been a longer walk.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it was an amazing experience for the children to get to perform on stage like that. I also enjoyed most of the performances. It was all just a little bit too much for me today, that’s all.

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Waiting for the stars to emerge

Nothing Much Day: Walk to Swansea Grand and back
Steps Taken: 8,160 (I think roughly 1,000 of those “steps” were triggered by my clapping though :/ )
Difficulty level: Intermediate

Juneathon 2017, Day 8 – Election Day

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Outside Mumbles’ Polling Station

I did it!
I’m incredibly proud of myself today, because I voted.
It took one heck of a push to get myself outside and walking to the bus. I was just so highly stressed about the whole thing.
I’ve had a postal vote ever since I’ve been allowed one. But for that last few years, no matter how many times I sent my form in I never seemed to be signed up for the postal vote. And so it was with this snap election: along came my voting card as opposed to a postal ballot. And because I hadn’t updated my details since my move, I had to head to Mumbles once again in order to cast my vote. That probably made it easier in a way, because I know Mumbles well and have often been inside the village hall. It wasn’t as nerve wracking as entering a new place would have been. And Mumbles isn’t a bad place to go to. After all, look at the view from the polling station of Oystermouth castle.

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Caswell Bay

And afterwards I took the opportunity to do something else I’m rather proud of: I went for a walk to a couple of geocaches that I haven’t been to for quite some time. They’re ones that I look after with my family, but that I haven’t been physically able to get to for a couple of years.

And look: I walked far enough that I can actually show you on a map:

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A map of my walk

I am so flipping chuffed!

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Arachnophobia

I’m probably not going to make too much sense in this blog because I have not only worn myself out, I’m also on a natural high from finally being able to get out and go for a walk away from level pavements.

Arachnophobia is the first of two geocaches that we maintain in Bishop Woods. It’s a night cache. You get to the starting coordinates and then at night with a torch you follow the reflective strips that we’ve placed in a trail around the woods until you finally get to the cache. And in this case: the spiders’ lair. It’s holding up well considering.

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A good place for a quick rest


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Onwards and Upwards!

Just look at how uneven that path is!
And did my knees complain? No they did not. (Well, perhaps just a little)
As I was slowly making my way uphill, a woman passed me with her dogs saying “It’s a long way up isn’t it?” – probably thinking from my sweat smeared face that I was having a rough time of it. But I was just grinning from ear to ear when I replied “Yes. Yes it is isn’t it?”. To think that 6 months ago I was still having difficulty crossing a room!

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Why am I walking inside a bush?

The path to the next cache had me a little stumped. It was all rather more overgrowth than when I was last here and I found myself engulfed in foliage for a good 15m. I knew the path was beneath my feet, but as to where the dratted sky had gone? Well, that was a bit of a mystery.

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The Bishop Woods cache

Thankfully I emerged in the right place. I did my little bit of maintenance: wiped the box clean, topped up the swag, replaced the log and unstuck a couple of slugs using the underside as a meeting place.

And, with my jobs done for the day I wandered off to find my way home.
What a fantastic day!

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A foxglove

Election Day: A walk around Bishop Woods
Steps Taken: 13,366
Difficulty level: Easy

Juneathon 2017, Day 6 – How tall am I?

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Creepy building near my house

I’ve felt very weepy all day.
That’s what missing a couple of days of antidepressants does to you.

Today’s Juneathon exercise wasn’t completely impeded by my low mood, but it did make things harder.
First came the “morning stretch” routine where I sit up in bed and wave my arms meaningfully to a song. Today it was Kanye West’s “Stronger”. And I swear that if all of that jiggling about hadn’t made me desperately need to go to the toilet I would have laid back down and curled up under the covers for the rest of the day.

Then I decided that I’d go for a walk.
That seems reasonable doesn’t it? Somewhere nice like down to the beach? No! Today of all days, when I was feeling so low, I decided to register with a new doctor. I am a fool.
Strangely it went well enough. I plucked up the courage to go through the door and ask the receptionist for the relevant forms to fill in. My brain was just about able to fill them in before turning into its usual pile of anxiety ridden mush. All good. Another job sorted.

But no. Life is never that simple is it? Apparently I also needed to weigh myself on some fancy machine in the corner of the waiting room. One which would also do my blood pressure and check my height.
At this point my brain was screaming “Get. Out. Of. Here. As. Fast. As. You. Can!” but my body slowly moved towards the machine. There was no getting away from it, in order to become a member of this General Practise I would have to interact with the “machine”, just like everyone else in the room watching me had done. I sat down opposite it to prepare myself (and generally check the thing over). And then… I went and did its bidding.

Apparently I’m 163cm/5’3″ tall.
I don’t think I’ve ever known that before. I know roughly how tall I am, but have answered anywhere from 5’2″ to 5’4″. The problem comes from nearly always being measured in footwear and trying to then remove them from the equation (this thing made me take my sandals off – a true despot). It sounds like a simple calculation. But it can all be a bit confusing. For instance, in my walking boots I know where the sole ends, but at what height does the footbed stop? And what about my heel inserts? Anyway, it was good to finally find out how tall I am. Unfortunately it’s all downhill from here. The Old Trout is a shining example of this. She used to be a good inch or so taller than me, but now she’s shrivelled down to nose level.

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My Stats

Oh, and don’t take any notice of the blood pressure readings. Like I said, I was rather stressed 😉

After that I headed swiftly out of the door and walked around town for a while to raise my step count.

P.S. My normal weight is not between 49.2kg and 66.2kg although I’d love that it was.

How tall am I Day: Morning Stretch, Walk around town
Step Count: 7,307
Difficulty Level: Medium

Juneathon 2017, Day 5 – A quest for medicine

I’d been looking forward to heading off to Pontardawe for a Geocaching Event today. But it wasn’t to be.
Geocaching essentially entails finding little plastic boxes in the woods. A Geocaching Event is where you meet up with people in order to talk about finding the little plastic boxes in the woods. All very obvious and a great way to have a chat with equally bonkers-minded people.

I realised on Saturday that I had run out of medication. Or rather that I would after Saturday night. Thankfully my prescription was waiting at the chemist. But of course it would have to be the weekend when I spotted that I’d not got any left! Oh, and to make things just that little bit more difficult, guess who hasn’t changed their GP yet from the grand move across Swansea back in March? So although my tablets were at the chemist, they were at a chemist in Mumbles, 4 miles away.

It was with difficulty that I dragged myself out of bed today. Having not had last night’s tablets didn’t help, but the main problem was that it was bucketing down.
That made me feel better about not being able to head to the Geocaching Event. Instead of spending a couple of hours dripping on a bus it would only be 40 minutes.

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My “local” chemist

Having picked up my prescription I started Juneathon’s exercise in earnest

 

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Joe’s ice-cream

Erm, via a quick detour which involved two scoops of Joe’s Ice-cream to congratulate myself on getting to the chemist. I can thoroughly recommend their Welsh Cake flavour (top right).

But… as I was saying… I did some exercising by walking along the sea front. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience as it was horrendous weather and I was soaked to the skin by the time I’d got a few feet. But I felt far more sorry for those walking towards me as I’d purposefully chosen to walk with my back to the wind and they were getting it lashing in their faces.

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Horrible weather

I’m very happy with today’s achievement of 10,341 steps.
(And with managing to pick up my tablets)

A quest for medicine day: A walk along the seafront
Step Count: 10,341
Difficulty level: Easy

Juneathon 2017, Day 4 – An Indecent Proposal

Yes, I’m writing this on the 5th of June and not on the 4th, but I’ve only just returned home. So I’m counting this as being a continuance of the 4th as I haven’t been to sleep yet. So my daily blogging for Juneathon is still on track. Or that’s what I’m telling myself.

I blame what happened tonight on Juneathon.

I’m pretty sure that Juneathon (and its sister Janathon) is supposed to encourage those amongst us who do it to exercise more and generally lead a healthier lifestyle because of it. But I’m sorry, I’ve probably just messed all of that up.

I was feeling so naff today that although I rolled out of bed at some point during the afternoon, I also then rolled back again a couple of hours later after dragging myself through a few chores. My mind was telling me that I needed more sleep (and when my mind says that I generally listen because as someone who suffers from schizophrenia I’m extremely cautious of over doing things mentally.) And after yesterday my legs were refusing to move properly (Shame on them!).

Thankfully, after a few more hours sleep I decided to head out for a walk in order to reach my daily step count for Juneathon. For that past couple of years I’ve constantly worn a fitness tracker. Research has shown that it doesn’t generally help people lose weight, but I’ve found it great as a motivational tool. I used to try to walk at least a couple of miles every day. But once my movement became very limited and I was unable to walk very far I appreciated trying to push myself with my daily step count as opposed to walking a certain distance. I’m currently using a vivofit2, which I adore because of the year long battery life and the fact that it acts as a watch. (Very quaint 😉 ) I strive for as many steps as possible in a day, but my daily step goal is set to 3,000 steps because that’s the amount I feel I can manage to push myself to if I’ve had a bad day mentally.

Before I headed out this evening I’d achieved a grand total of just under 1,000 steps. As it is Juneathon I thought that I’d better push myself to reach my Daily Step goal. So I headed out and I walked…  but my legs were playing havoc with me today. In the end I decided to sit down on a bench. And that’s when it happened.

I spotted him walk past.
And then he started “circling”.
Finally he approached me.
Apparently I looked like a Lady of the Night. Or at least enough like one to get a rather indecent proposal thrown my way. The poor man looked very pained when I said that I didn’t do that sort of thing. In fact he looked very pained indeed.

I wish I could say that this was a unique experience for me. But it isn’t. I can only think that it’s because I’m a woman who goes for a walk by herself. Ever since I’ve been a teenager I’ve loved walking. When I used to head out into the hills you’d often see men wandering along by themselves, but seldom any women. I’ve never really had any hassle. Even tonight there wasn’t any hassle, the man was just perplexed as to why I would be sitting on a bench by myself if I wasn’t trying to turn a trick.

I wasn’t worried by the man. But I was a little annoyed. I was only sitting down. Outside Poundland. In one of Swansea’s busiest streets!
Pah!
So I headed for a pint to relax.
Which turned into quite a few pints because I was enjoying myself in the pub. So Juneathon, I blame you for my less than stellar attitude towards being healthy tonight.

 

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Swansea City Centre

 

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Relaxing in a pub


An Indecent Proposal Day: Stretching to “Human” by Rag and Bone man, a walk
Steps Taken: 6,167
Difficulty: Easy

Janathon 2017, Day 30 – It’s Day 30!

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Today I put my music on at full blast and walked up and down the room until I’d reached my daily step goal.

Today’s music was as follows:
Marilyn Manson – Tainted Love
Marilyn Manson – Sweet Dreams
Marilyn Manson – You’re so Vain
Marilyn Manson – Personal Jesus

Don’t worry, the whole of Mumbles didn’t get blasted out by Marilyn Manson. In fact, I’m sure that my next door neighbours didn’t hear a thing either.

I don’t watch that much TV. Before late last year, I’d never even owned a television. But I do like to listen to stuff as I’m pottering around. Lots of the time it’s to stop the voices harping away inside my head, sometimes to stop me feeling lonely, and often because I just enjoy listening to something. I generally listen to podcasts, Radio 4 and Audiobooks. When I’m out, I generally use my iPod to listen to everything, but indoors I have wireless Sennheiser headphones. The audio isn’t the best quality, but when you normally listen to the spoken word that isn’t a problem. And to tell you the truth, Marilyn Manson’s songs are often so grungy and “muddy” that you don’t notice the poor sound quality much even with the sound turned up to 11. So, that’s how I was enjoying Marilyn Manson today: screeching through my headphones, drowning out all of my thoughts and emotions so that I could just be in the moment and enjoy moving.

And that’s what I did for the penultimate day of Janathon

It’s Day 30! : reached step goal
Steps taken: 4,224
Difficulty Level: Medium