Because I don’t have enough stuff going round in my head, and enough stuff to do, I learned a new craft – the art of hand cutting stamps.
I blame the lovely Carrie-Anne, who makes it all look so easy and has done some incredible pieces. If you thought stamping was all about making twee cards or just kids stuff, think again. I bought a kit from her that contains various cutting tools and a piece of acrylic that’s big enough to carve several stamps. Once you get going, it’s rather addictive, like popping bubble wrap or something.
I promised her I’d post photos of what I’d done so far:

ta da!

Don’t be so bloody hard on yourself…

Okay, the format of this may seem a little odd. First thing this morning, I started writing a blog entry about how I’d done with my CBT in the last couple of weeks, ahead of an appointment with D this morning. I never finished it, and now I’ve come back from my appointment, Things Have Changed. What I’ve written in normal type (aside from this bit) is what I wrote first thing – in italics is what I’ve realised since I saw D.
* * * * *
I suppose it was bound to happen – CBT is frustrating the life out of me. [this is because I have very high expectations of myself]
Firstly, I’m not getting out to do ‘therapy’ as much as I should. In the last fortnight since I saw D, I’ve managed maybe three or four purposeful expeditions, and one of those was last night, at the last minute. Part of the problem is that life gets in the way. We had all that trouble with the car, which (and I won’t bore you with the details) only got worse, resulting in Mr D driving around for a few days illegally because of a garage’s incompetence. All non essential journeys were cancelled, and that included ‘therapy’. Mr D has been worrying about his dad, who isn’t well. Mr D’s mind has been everywhere but on my therapy.
[okay, so things happen. I need to accept that it’s not always going to be a perfect therapy scenario]
On Thursday, we went into town. I’d said “look, we really need to do something” and we’d decided to go to the retail park. Unfortunately, the weather was atrocious, and when Mr D got home from work, he said he’d rather not go there because there’d been an accident and the police had the road blocked off. Plans changing suddenly doesn’t help my anxiety. Mr D suggested that all was not lost – our town centre opens late on Thursdays up to Christmas.
I tried to unravel my mind from the swirling thoughts of “hang on, this isn’t the retail park” and we set off. I think everyone in town had the same idea, because it was really busy. The car parks were so busy, that we only found a space in the third car park we found. In my head, busy car parks means busy streets, so my anxiety was rising steadily.
When we’d planned to go to the retail park, I’d said I wanted to go into Staples for something, and said I would use that as my therapy. As we walked along the high street on Thursday evening, I wondered out loud if Stationery Box was open – and exclaimed “oh good!” when it was. Something was at least going to be the same. Maybe it was my fault that I didn’t spell it out to Mr D. Inside the shop, he stuck to me like a damn magnet. I said “can I not do this by myself?” and he backed off a couple of steps. I ducked round a corner and he followed me, almost instinctively like the Old Days. I found what I wanted, went to the till and paid, and we left the shop.
I was frustrated, and mentioned it. He didn’t hear me. I said something else, and had to follow it up with “HELLO??” to which he responded, “wha? sorry, I was miles off…” I got angry, and said “fuck it – I can’t do any therapy if you’re like this” and quickened my stride as I always do when I’m cross. He didn’t say anything about it, and I didn’t try anywhere else.
[so, in spite of the fact that my anxiety was high, I still TRIED. The fact that I was wanting Mr D to sod off so I could do it on my own was a GOOD THING]
On Saturday, we were going somewhere else, and by the time we got to some shops, everywhere was too busy. On Sunday, we had a chat about what was happening. I’d been building up frustrations about how much I was doing for a while – and had actually started worrying that D would discharge me if she thought I wasn’t trying.
[this is my silly melodramatic over-reacting head. Of course D isn’t going to discharge me. Maybe if I sat there sullenly and said “I don’t give a fuck and I’m not going to try” she would, but not because I didn’t live up to my OWN expectations!]
Monday, I went into Borders, and managed to get a DVD and wander about the store while he was upstairs. We went into M&S, and for some reason, my anxiety was higher, but I stayed there for a while, telling Mr D why I was wandering around in a seemingly aimless way. It seems that Monday’s experience was the best of a bad bunch.
[in fact, what really happened was me trying incredibly hard IN SPITE of the obstacles in my way. Even with my low mood, I managed to do quite a bit, and I persevered.]
* * * * *
I told D all of this – including the bit where I was afraid she’d discharge me. She smiled a little, and said “that’s over reactive thinking…” After listening to her opinions of how I’d done, it made me realise just how hard I am on myself. I mentioned that I’d done little things – for example on Sunday in Morrisons (supermarket) while Mr D was at the till, I realised that the latest issue of the knitting magazine that I get would be out. On a whim, I said “I’m just going over there to get my knitting magazine, you stay here” and went to get it. It wasn’t far, but it was busy. I’ve always had this feeling that my ‘therapy’ outings should be structured and planned, and when I said meekly “do these things count?” to D, she replied “of course they do!”
Towards the end, she asked what I wanted to do for therapy before our next appointment. I thought for a moment and said “I want to do this last fortnight again – but this time without being so bloody negative. Try and look at the positive things I did.” It’s frustrated me that I can’t accept that I did well in spite of things going wrong, and I needed someone else to point this out to me. I also need to stop the whole “so-and-so doesn’t count” because dammit, it does count. I just read back a couple of posts – “I didn’t treat [Harrogate] as ‘therapy’.” Why not? It was big and I achieved something!
I need to start again – and this time, I’m going to be kinder to myself.

Knitting Saved my Life!

I know, it sounds like something that should be in my email spam folder – “Learn to kn1t! Results Gu@ranteed!”, but this morning as I was starting to write a post about going to B’s other knitting group last week, it occurred to me just how much knitting has been a part of my ‘therapy’. There are so many ways in which balls of yarn and pointy sticks have helped me.
Firstly, knitting gives me things to think about. I am an obsessive thinker, and while I have nothing constructive to think about, stuff goes round in my head that is both toxic and futile. Problems that are years old and have already been labelled as ‘unsolvable’ go round and round, rehashing the same old crap, getting upset by things in the past. I’m not saying I should “get over it” but frankly I’m not helping myself by obsessing. This is where knitting comes in. Obsessive bad thoughts come into my head, and I try and concentrate on learning a new technique. Look at a pattern that I thought was a bit too advanced for me, and work out in my head how to do it. Hash out a knitting problem, or work on an item while listening to something on my mp3 player. I had tried music on its own. U2 yelling at me that it was a “beautiful day” or something, yet still the bad thoughts seeped in. I’d turn up the volume to drown them out, but succeeded only in giving myself a headache. Sprinkling a liberal amount of yarn and bamboo into the mixture seems to help.
The self critical aspect of me has been kicked into touch by knitting too. As I finish something, I invariably put photos on flickr, and it’s so nice to get comments from complete strangers complementing my work. My self confidence is rubbish, and it’s lovely to get that little boost. This is something that shows a lot at the knitting group, too.
When B said she was starting an evening knitting group, I rejoiced knowing that I could get there. I knew about the monthly Friday morning one, but with Mr D working during the day, it would be virtually impossible to attend. Every journey at that point relied on him, I needed him to not only take me, but to stay with me and then bring me home again. When I asked if he’d take me to the Monday group, he was happy to – it meant that I was getting out and meeting people. He’d take whatever book he happened to be reading, and fight off the ladies er, attempts to get him knitting, and he was fine. At first, only B knew about my panic and anxiety, and I was happy with that. To be honest, I didn’t want anyone else to know. There was still that worry that I would be treated differently, or people would ‘back away slowly from the crazy lady’. As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong – these are some of the lovliest people I’ve met.
A couple of months ago, the conversation drifted on to pets, and I realised that I had some photos of the cats – on the moo cards that I’d had printed, with my website and email address on the back. Before I could think, people were cooing over my kitties, and enthusing about how cool the cards were. I mumbled something about it being “just my blog” and suddenly I was giving them away. Maybe I subconsciously wanted people to know – maybe I felt comfortable enough for them to know, in a Haley Joel Osment “Sixth Sense” kind of way – “I’m ready to tell you my secrets now.” Still, I worried for a while about what they would think, and berated myself for opening up.
One thing that’s very apparent when this kind of mental fart happens is that people who knew you before behave very differently. I guess a lot of it is lack of understanding and lack of communication (which is difficult on both sides) but it still makes me nervous when I tell anybody. The only change I noticed once the knitters knew was a sense of understanding and compassion, but other than that, nothing changed. This means a hell of a lot to someone who can get incredibly paranoid…
Last week, B picked me up and took me to the Friday group. I was a little bit anxious, but it was nothing out of the ordinary, and once I got there it was just like the evening group – only with more daylight. I had a great time, chattered non stop (K and CA, next time tell me to shut up if I go on!) and was able to show off my first complete Jelly-Tots sock, complete with groovy heel.
Maybe I would have found other things if I didn’t knit, but right now, knitting is an integral part of my recovery.

Knitting and Stitching and PEOPLE oh my!

It nearly didn’t happen, and in the end I’m amazed we actually got there.
On Saturday morning, Mr D took the car to the garage for its annual MOT test. I admit I got upset when he phoned me to say that it had failed its emissions test, and needed a new catalytic converter. At a cost of around £160, it would mean that Harrogate was out of the question.
“..but it’s not that long since we had a new one put on!” I whined.
“about two years” he replied, “and they don’t last forever”
I ripped through the house like a mini tornado trying to find the paperwork for the old one – I did, and looked at the warranty. It had a week left to run. Cue massive sighs of relief, and general swearing.
That night, neither of us slept very well, and Mr D wasn’t feeling well. Inwardly my heart sank as I thought “we’re not going to get there”, but thankfully by morning he was feeling okay and the trip was back on again.
The journey there was straightforward and uneventful, and we found the car park easily thanks to a map I printed out from the Harrogate International Centre’s website. Except they hadn’t bothered to mention that it was a ‘coaches only’ park. Thankfully, there was a security guard there who gave us directions to the actual HIC car park underneath the Exhibition halls (which isn’t mentioned on their website at all).
The halls themselves were set out as you would expect, except there were several of them – and they were all laid out the same. Some traders had more than one stall, and unless you paid for an “exhibition guide” you were more or less an explorer. I didn’t mind too much, until the part where I said, “lets go back to so-and-so, they might have it…” and had no idea which direction to go. I guess the biggest obstacle for me was the people. I expected it to be busy, and had been advised to go on Sunday because it was the quieter day, but it was still incredibly busy. My anxiety levels were through the roof, and a few times, I stopped and looked at things I wasn’t remotely interested in just to ‘ground’ myself.
For people interested in any crafting stuff, Harrogate was the place to be this weekend. Obviously, there was more than the knitting and spinning stuff that I was looking for, but it was still interesting to see other things, and most places had demonstrations or stall holders working on their particular craft. I managed to hold a conversation with Debbie Tomkies, and learned to my joy that dyeing wool doesn’t necessarily have to involve nasty chemicals as I thought (you need to ‘fix’ the dye, and this is normally done with alum powder). My first purchase was a kit including 12 different colour dyes and fixatives for both animal and plant fibres. I fear for our kitchen…
I had a chat with a lady from the Spinning and Weaving Guild, and I sat for a rest on the spacious Rowan stand where they had sofas and coffee tables, where you could knit (they even had yarn and needles if you made a donation to some charity or the other). I on the other hand, pulled out the jellytots sock that I’d take with me. Trust me to be different.
I didn’t treat Sunday as ‘therapy’. It wasn’t a structured or meticulously planned thing; I definitely went with a ‘see how it goes’ attitude. However, I managed to put into practice some of the CBT stuff (albeit consciously ‘staying in the situation’ until my anxiety lessened). As with the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, I cheated a bit by distracting myself, but I’d like to think it was just distraction, not avoidance.
One interesting thing I picked up on was something that drove home how negative I am about myself. While we were there, I saw C, a lovely lady who owns a small yarn store in town. I knew she’d be going, so it wasn’t a surprise to see her, and she said she was glad I’d made it, and well done for getting here. I said thank you, I was glad too, but it wasn’t until Mr D and I talked in the car on the way home that it hit me just how profoundly different our attitudes were. While C thought I’d done well to go somewhere so busy, my thoughts were (as usual) something along the lines of “bloody hell, I should be managing this without even thinking about it”.
Maybe I should give myself a bit more credit…

The Last Knit

I meant to post this a while ago, and forgot all about it, so knitters out there have probably seen it already. This is for everyone who has ever had that compulsion to just keep on knitting:

It always happens in threes…

So, my coffee machine broke, my comments template got screwed, and because these things come in threes, my computer had a nervous breakdown.
I still don’t know what it was. I narrowed it down to a problem with firefox, and managed to completely stump those clever people at mozilla. My reliance on a nice web browser which is set up ‘just so’ prompted me to format my hard drive – something that I’d been putting off for a while, so not as extreme as you’d think. I hate doing it. It’s not technically challenging or anything, it’s just the whole process of getting things just how I like them takes so long, and little annoyances that had been long forgotten (balloon tips, I’m looking at you here…) pop up and remind you how windows xp likes to walk you through everything in baby steps.
I saved as much as I could onto cd’s, took a deep breath, and pressed the Button of No Return. Everything is peachy now. Squeaky clean, a mite faster, and somewhat empty. I’m adding software as I need it because I’m getting very bored with constantly restarting the computer.
Computers aside, things are plodding along as usual. Last week, my neck started playing up, and as well as the usual sharp pains in my shoulders and weird cold spots on my hand, I started getting dizzy. It has been more of an irritation than anything, but has meant that I’ve avoided going out because it’s really messing with the anxiety levels. I need to acclimatise myself to people, because on Sunday, I’m dragging Mr D to the Knitting and Stitching Show (link has video with sound) at Harrogate. I’ve been in two minds whether to go lately, and when the coffee machine died, my priority was saving as much money as possible to replace it. However, it only needed a replacement steam valve which cost £10.49, so Harrogate is on again. There are a couple of things I want, and I’m hoping to treat myself while I’m there.
Comments are back – dip your toe in the water and we’ll see what happens…

Off We Go Again…

Trackback flooding (despite being stopped at a sytem level) is causing my control panel not to load, so I can’t post. The plugin I found works great – until it thinks *I’m* a spammer, and anyone who’s ever left a comment, which is why you get the 500 errors. It’s worth pointing out that until I figure this out, I’ve had to completely delete the trackback and comments scripts – so don’t try making comments.
Everything is buggered at the moment. I have a cold, which is just leaving me feeling tired and headachy. And to top it all, the worst possible borkage – my coffee machine’s not working. *cue dramatic music* Those who know me well know that I am a slut for a good cup of coffee. When my machine broke down 18 months ago, I was a wreck. I don’t think it’s to do with the caffeine, but more to do with the routine and orderliness. Plus I’m very fussy and like my coffee just so. Suggestions that I dust off the cafetiere have been met with gurns and obstinance – it just isn’t the same.
I posted on about it, and it seems to be the steam thermostat. I phoned the manufacturer and asked them if they will sell me just a thermostat (which looks incredibly easy to replace when I’ve looked inside) because sending it to them for repair will be prohibatively expensive. Luckily, they seem happy to send electronic parts to people, and it’s only going to cost £11.99.
The anxiety and depression have been worse, maybe because Everything Is Going Wrong, but I’m managing to deal with things in spite of this. When I telephoned the coffee people yesterday, it took forever. Redialling an 0870 number (national rate, for non UK readers) pressing different buttons and being told that they were busy… When I eventually got through, I managed okay because I knew exactly what I wanted. However, I suddenly remembered that I wanted an ‘o’ ring for inside the steam wand. The guy I spoke to was a bit confused as to exactly which ‘o’ ring I was talking about – I don’t think he expected people to go that far inside their machines! When I got off the phone, I realised I was shaking, which annoyed me. I felt stupid for letting my anxiety get to me over something so simple.
Aside from that, everything is the same. We’re still alive, and trying to blog…


I might kill something.
I’m doing this entry from my old installation of Movable Type which I forgot to delete. Aside from this, I can’t post, you lot can’t comment, and I hate the internet.
I shall fix it very very soon, I promise. In the meantime, if there’s something pressing, there’s a spanky link on the right *points* to email me.
In other important news, Mr D has been asked to work Stupid Shifts thanks to a client being as demanding as a two year old. This is only for two weeks, but it means that he’s here for most of the day, as he goes in to work at 3pm (til 11pm). On the bright side, it means that we can do Therapy during the week rather than at weekends, on the downside, it means it’s close to midnight when he gets home, so my already buggered body clock gets another flogging when he comes up to bed. I wish I could be one of these people who just goes to sleep and doesn’t worry, but I don’t – I can’t sleep until he gets home.
Ah well. I hope this posts…
edit yay!

just a note

Another reason I’m not posting as much is that I can’t always get my MovableType thingumy to load. I think it’s to do with trackback spam, but seeing as though I’ve disabled trackbacks at a systemwide level (and even renamed the trackback script) I don’t see how. I’m also wondering if it’s comment spam – while I have every anti-spam tool known to man, I’m still getting flooded, even though they go straight into the junk folder (which only shows up on the MT menu). If you’re trying to comment and can’t, this may also be part of it.
The problem with sorting it out is that 1) I can’t get into the menu to fiddle with stuff and 2) my brain doesn’t always work.
In the meantime, I am lifting my mood by watching all three seasons of Father Ted, so I suppose my reaction to the above should be “FECK!”
update I’ve just installed MTAutoBan, so keep your fingers crossed…