Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Soccer was invented by European ladies to keep them busy while their husbands did the cooking.


Ugh, I know. It has been a while. How are you all? Have you been on holiday, had your hair cut? Are those new shoes?

I have been on holiday, in fairness... and had my hair cut. And of course I have new shoes - it is me after all.

Since I last posted here I have fallen off the radar a little. I spent most of September and the best part of October feeling extremely anxious and quite depressed and I am only really starting to get my mojo back now. I've touched on it a bit on the blog this year, but 2018 has been a year where anxiety has been really getting the better of me. It's been very much like the Third Doctor wrestling the dark side of Omega's mind in The Three Doctors:

 Ideally I would have used a gif of this but there are none! The internet is fucked, but the TL;DW is Jon Pertwee wrestling with a man in a big stone mask while someone plays the wobble-board. Worth three minutes and twenty-three seconds of anyone's time.

I'm making light of it now because I'm coming out the other side of it, and because that bit from The Three Doctors is so iconic, but honestly it's been a fucking rough time. For most of the year, I had been dealing with persistent insomnia and it was really grinding me down to a fine dust. It wasn't so much feeling tired - it's surprising how quickly your body can become used to feeling shit all the time - but the effect it was having on my mental health. It is incredibly isolating and frustrating not to be able to do such a basic bodily function as sleeping - there is a reason it is used as a form of torture!

I hadn't linked the insomnia to anxiety because I was kind of in denial about how wound up I was. We went to Perpignan for a few days at the start of October and I slept incredibly well while we were there and I felt like a different person. But as soon as we got back I was straight back into having panic attacks at bedtime and right back into the cycle of insomnia and I really had to make myself face the fact that I wasn't coping.

A lot of it has been linked to work stress. I love my job and the people I work with, which made it really hard to admit to myself that it was making me sick. All summer we were short-staffed - I was running a team that is half the size it should have been, but with the same amount of work. I'm the most senior person in the team and the most experienced so I took on a lot of extra work and a lot of extra stress - and it wasn't even that I had to take on extra to get the required work done, but I was so extremely tightly-wound that I was doing extra stuff and still feeling like I was just about doing the minimum. 

Anyway, Nic and I had a big talk about it and I realised that I couldn't carry on with things as they were. I have two new staff members in my team now and I realised that I couldn't train them if I was too stressed to get out of bed in the morning, and I also realised that if I was feeling under-valued by my managers, I needed to tell them so that they could do something about it. It took a lot for me to advocate for myself in that way but I did, and it really helped - all of the extra work I did this year meant that I was able to take more control of planning my workload for the next year, which will make a big difference. Mostly it helped me to speak up for myself and hear my director tell me that I was valued and that he was going to do whatever it took to keep me well and in my role. 

It isn't all work stress - I am still dealing with a minor health issue that I've been waiting on treatment for since August 2017 and that combined with the insomnia has been making me feel like a stranger in my own body. I've finally got treatment scheduled for December, which will hopefully help me mentally as well as physically. 

Since then I have been getting my sleeping back on track and I have been feeling more like myself, but it is sobering to realise how much I had retreated into myself and how hard it was to help myself. If you had asked me about my self-worth during that time I would have told you I was fine, but I wasn't - I wasn't suicidal and I wasn't thinking about hurting myself or anything, but for most of this year I have been wishing that I just didn't exist... like I could just be disappeared out of existence without hurting the people who love me. That's a horrible feeling and I'm so relieved that it is fading and I am feeling more real again.

It hasn't all been dark clouds. Lots of good things have happened in the last couple of months. We had a wonderful time in Perpignan, not least because I slept so well and felt so relaxed.

Le Castillet, Perpignan

We had a long weekend - we arrived on the Saturday afternoon and came home on the Tuesday - but although it was a short break the warmth and sunshine did me a world of good. Perpignan is probably quite an ordinary town but Nic and I have found a lot to like there - the old town is very pretty, the surrounding mountains are spectacular and, well, what isn't to like about all of the €3 glasses of local rosé?

On the Monday we took the €1 bus to Collioure again - we had considered taking the train to Carcassonne, which is about an hour away, but it was going to cost something like €130 for the two of us which just didn't compare with the €4 it was going to cost to get to Collioure and back for a paddle in the sea. No regrets. It was so good.

It was a lovely warm and sunny day. We brought a picnic, bought a cold bottle of rosé from the Carrefour in Collioure and chilled out on the beach for a couple of hours before going on le petit train touristique. We tried and failed to do this when we were there last year - the journey was cancelled due to the fact that it was raining and we were the only people who wanted to do it - but there was a lot more interest this year! The train took us up into the mountains and stopped at the top so we could enjoy this view of the Côte Vermeille:

This photo really doesn't do it justice. It was so beautiful!

As we were going to be by the sea, I thought I would get my last 2018 wear of one of my favourite seaside-themed dresses:

Honoria dress - I wore basically this exact outfit when we went to Collioure last year too. If it ain't broke, etc...

I gained a new nephew in early September, bringing the total up to eight... and my youngest sister is pregnant with her second, and due in early May. Nic and I went back to Northern Ireland a few weeks ago to meet the newest baby and spend some time with the family. His name is Noah, and he's a peach:

Considering the fact that I definitely don't want babies of my own, I always look like such a baby-snatcher when I'm holding one!

It was a great trip home. It's so special to be able to spend time with our nephews - Noah's older brother, Matthew, is two and a half and full of craic - he's at the age now where he can remember Nic and I from visit to visit and he had lots to say to us. He's got it into his head that Nic is Santa - maybe it's the beard? - and we have been having fun sending him motivational videos of Nic explaining to him why it is important to be a good boy and a good big brother to Noah. Joe, who turned five a few weeks ago, was telling us all about how much he likes school - he told me that his favourite parts of school are lunchtime and hometime. He even wrote a song about how much he loves hometime. SAME, JOE. Fionn had some new dance moves to show us, and was able to tell us all about his favourite Mario games. It was wonderful.

Throughout it all I have been making time to sew when I had the energy. Having expressed some reservations about pinafore dresses in my last post, I've been on a pinafore-making tear and have made a whole bunch more. It's definitely a symptom of what I was talking about earlier of feeling a bit alien in my body - I haven't always been feeling like I can wear my usual brightly-coloured fit and flare dresses; not because I don't like them any more, but because I've been so much in retreat from myself that they have felt weirdly fraudulent to wear? Look I know it sounds like shit-talking. It doesn't make a lot of sense. It has been comforting to wear something that isn't really me when I haven't really been feeling like myself. 

That said, now that I am feeling a lot better, I am glad that I have these warm and comfortable and cute dresses to wear - my style hasn't changed, but is has expanded, and that's nice. After I made my red Pippi pinafore/Madeleine skirt hybrid dress, I used the leftover fabric to see if making the Ivy pinafore in the size 8 would be a better fit:

Red Ivy Pinafore from Jennifer Lauren Handmade, worn with rainbow striped top from New Look and Swedish Hasbeens Jodhpur boots

YOU GUYS LOOK HOW CUTE THIS IS. Honestly it is so twee but I love it. Real talk: I've had those boots for a year and they cut the shit out of my ankles every time I wear them, though. I might have to get rid of them.

I donated my original Ivy pinafore to my local charity shop and made myself another denim one... and then a mustard denim one for good measure:

Look I just really love that stripy top, okay?!

...and this stripy top too. The good folks at Seasalt have made some money from me this autumn, I tell you what.

The fit definitely isn't perfect. I'm sure the draglines there will tell you I could do a full bust adjustment. I could, but I won't - these pinafores look much better in real life, and also they are cute and comfortable and I like them fine. If I make any more - and like, I might. I can't promise I won't, I might consider it.

I also made another Pippi/Madeleine hybrid in indigo denim because I like my red one so much:

I actually bought two of those stripy tops, you know. 

Then I decided maybe I would give the real Pippi a go, so I did that too:

This might all seem a bit excessive. Perhaps it is. It's been sort of an iterative process in finding out what I like, but it's also been because it's just been enjoyable to sew with denim - I like the topstitching and I have been enjoying doing something a little different. I've been enjoying wearing them too, of course, and they're all doing good work in my wardrobe. So judge if you want. I genuinely don't care.

As always, trying to Be More Lucy.

The real Róisín is still in here, though. I made a Hallowe'en dress this year, going back to my One True Pattern, the Emery dress, because I finally got my hands on some Alexander Henry Bewitched fabric after wanting it for years:

My Wandering Days Are Over dress - Christine Haynes Emery dress and Orla Kiely x Clarks Angelina shoes

I don't give one single solitary shit about Halloween, seriously. I am not into it at all, but I do love these sassy sexy witches and I am a sucker for any pinup fabric at all, so I'm really happy to have made this and I love wearing it. I'm not watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix though - as much as I love Kiernan Shipka, I watched the trailer and it looked exactly like someone thought it would be a good idea to actually make that lame show Wichita that Gus works on in Love, but for real. I found Riverdale insufferable so Riverdale, But With Witches is definitely not for me. 

So that is the craic there. 

I am glad to be feeling more like myself. One of the things that has really sucked about the last few months is the way that anxiety has stopped me from doing things that I enjoy and blogging is something that I just did not feel able to do. So it is nice to be back.

But now I must go. Our friend Paul gave his his old Nintendo Wii and I have been playing The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and so now I have to go and rescue Chief Goron, who has been infected with an evil bug thing that is changing his behaviour... it's all very exciting. Until next time, my friends!