This is a long one…

…so I’m sorry in advance…here’s a pretty succulent to hopefully keep you interested 😊 there are more below 🌱💚

It’s been a while. Actually, it’s been 14 months since my last post. How did that happen?

I feel like I don’t have anything to say, yet I have too much to say.

January 2020, when the new year started, although i’m not really one for resolutions, I at least wanted to blog a little more. Maybe once a month, that would be a good start. So I posted late on New Years Eve/early New Years Day (off to a great start), then again sometime in February. After that, the world went to hell and things changed for everyone. 

Around early to mid-February there was some talk about a virus that was spreading all around the world. I’m one of these people (don’t think there’s many of us!) who doesn’t pay any attention to the news and I have no idea what’s going on in the world. The first I heard about the virus was from people in the office talking about it but I hadn’t heard of any cases close to home so didn’t think anything of it.

Flaming Katie - this is one of many cuttings off the original plant
Woodland Ripple blanket finally finished, washed and drying ready for delivery 💚

In March, I had a week booked off (as I do every year around my birthday, just a thing I do as I used to always go visit my gran when I was younger and travelled more) and there had been more chatter about the pandemic and lockdowns but no one had made any concrete decisions at that time. On the following Monday when I got back to the office, people were still trying to make a decision, but by the Tuesday afternoon we were all being sent home and told to stay there until further notice. Such a strange experience, not knowing what to do, worrying that we wouldn’t be able to do any work and the consequences of that. Not knowing if we could leave the house, go to the shops, do we have enough food? Did I have enough of my medications? So many things to think about. 

Actually, I lied, it’s been 9 months…I did post again in July (and some of the above is slightly parroted from that, although completely unintentional since I’d forgotten it with being soooo long ago, so I apologise for being repetitive) but haven’t done since. 

Time has changed and our lives have changed.

In that last post in July 2020, I talked about depression and how much I was struggling. After that, I spiralled further down, and this was completely unrelated to the pandemic as it had been happening for a long time but I hadn’t really noticed with everything else going on. It got worse and worse and was mostly work-related. It got to the point where I was starting to feel physically ill. I wasn’t sleeping well, my migraines increased and some days I got up for work and was actually sick with worry. I’d had a long weekend booked off near the end of October 2020 and literally spent the whole time in bed worrying and stressing and on the Monday night whilst trying to get to sleep, I made the incredibly difficult decision to take some time off. 

I have suffered with depression for as long as I can remember but that was the first time I had ever taken time off because of it. I felt defeated and I felt guilty and like someone faking because that’s how you’re made to feel when taking time off “sick”. 

Raised from the dead 😂 it was under-watered so I pulled it out of the pot and put it in a bowl of water with my other two to see if they would bounce back and they are doing well so far 😊 💚
Sweet Pea blanket - WIP

Calling my line manager on that Tuesday morning was one of the most emotionally painful things I’ve ever had to do. I was hysterical by the end of the call because I was struggling to get across why I had to do this (although I think there was a lack of understanding on their end too) and having to answer a hundred questions, being told to talk to someone, contact occupational health and EAP, talk to my GP (which I also hate doing and had already done), how long I thought I might be off etc etc. Being asked so many questions and being given all these things to do when you’re already overwhelmed is a lot to take in and this just made me feel worse and I felt like I was being put under even more pressure. 

I have never been signed off sick before (other than an appendectomy operation which I couldn’t exactly avoid!) and I felt like a failure for giving in to “it”. “It” being the depression and anxiety that I had been trying to avoid for so long. I knew it was happening, I had been on anti-depressants before for a long time but had stopped taking them because I felt better. I guess that’s a lesson learned. 

I ended up taking 4 weeks (19 working days) off which is the longest I’ve ever been off (again, appendectomy aside) and it took two of those weeks for me to give in and call EAP (employee assistance program) and Occupational Health. They were all very good and very nice, understanding etc. OH were very scripted and I barely had time to talk, it was literally a quick questionnaire and some suggestions of other companies that could help and provide support. EAP gave me the option of counselling or an online course – I opted for the online course as I had tried counselling with them before. The best support I’ve had though is from a company called Remploy who work with DWP. They give you 9 months of support and it’s really been very helpful. The lady I talk to is very down to earth and even offers support to your line manager if needed. They were one of the recommendations provided by OH and I can’t recommend them enough. 

Cactus...I think this is Opuntia monacantha f. variegata
Not a great pic, but the C2C blanket using Scheepjes Stonewashed Black Onyx - WIP
Close-up of the stitches & yarn...I could crochet with this yarn forever!

Since talking with Remploy and being back on the anti-depressants, I have definitely noticed a huge difference and I am feeling a lot better in myself. 

During my years since leaving school and being in employment (and since the increase of social media) there has always been an understanding that if you’re sick then you shouldn’t be online (or be seen out in public), posting this on Facebook and that on Twitter although these days it doesn’t seem to be as strict but it’s something that’s been ingrained for so long that I have always stuck to it. I don’t leave the house unless it’s for the doctors or the pharmacy and I don’t go on social media. 

Since I was off work for so long, it actually became normal for me not to be online. Not that I did much else to fill my time, I spent about two weeks in bed in between cooking and doing other (minimal) chores and I did a little bit of crochet from what I can remember (my memories of those 4 weeks are a bit fuzzy). But not spending hours scrolling mindlessly through Facebook and Instagram (I’m not a Twitter lover) was oddly freeing. 

Being a crafter, I do rely a lot on the groups I’m a part of for keeping up to date on the latest patterns, new fabric and yarn, latest trends in each of the areas I’m interested in and so on. It’s so strange now to think that I don’t really miss a lot of it. I am only now starting to browse Instagram again as it’s my favourite platform and I’ve missed a lot! I don’t see my family much and I definitely relied on Instagram to see the stories and photos my sister would post of her and my nephew which I’ve really missed. 

I haven’t missed Facebook as much, although I do feel like I’ve missed a lot there too. It’s probably saved me a lot of space and money though from the lack of fabric shopping 😂 

I did eventually get back into crocheting again for a few weeks. I finally finished the Woodland Ripple blanket that I started 4 years ago 😂 it was meant to be a present for my nephew’s 4th birthday, he’s 7 now and finally has it 😂 it was gratefully received and last I heard it was being used as a magical doorway to another universe! 

I had also started a C2C project (I can’t even remember how long ago) which didn’t have any particular purpose other than I love the yarn I chose (Scheepjes Stonewashed) and I love how quick and easy the pattern was, so I picked that up again and decided to make a single-bed sized blanket for G, although it won’t go on the bed, it will go on the sofa in the man-cave, he was excited for me to finish it but the last few weeks I’ve been distracted by a game on Apple Arcade so haven’t finished it yet. Maybe I’ll finish it soon, in like 5 years 😂 

Thank You card I made for my Grandad 💚
Aloe juvenna "Tiger Tooth"
Echeveria pulidonis "Pulido's Echeveria"
Echeveria "Lola" (I think)
Aloe humilis "Spider Aloe"
The stems of my Black Prince & Lola after a beheading are now sprouting babies all over the stems 💚🌱

I’ve also become a little obsessed with my houseplants. I bought a succulent a few years ago for our flat when we first moved in together and to my amazement, it survived which triggered a collection of more succulents and a few cacti. With spring having sprung now (although what’s this snow in April all about!?) they’ve all gone a bit crazy and in October (before the 4-week break) I chopped up the original succulent because it had gotten so big and twiggy that it kept trying to fall over. I put the cuttings in water and I now have about 10 of the same plant 😂 G thinks the plants are taking over and thinks he’s going to be living with “trifids”. He’s tried to get me watching the film but 30 seconds in and I don’t think I can 😂 maybe one day! 

I’m really bad at remembering to water all my plants so I now have an app which I discovered from following Succulents & Sunshine on Facebook. The app is relatively new but is pretty good. You can only add up to 5 plants on there for free but the annual subscription is less than £30 so I decided to sign up so I could keep a track of them. It lets you add as many photo’s as you like per plant (not aware of a limit as it’s not told me off yet), you can search the database to match your plant and find the genus and species which then gives you ideal light/location/watering patterns etc. The database is still quite small and there’s a few of mine not available, but you have the option of adding in any missing information if required. I don’t have a “green-thumb” at all, and it’s only because these plants can survive for long periods without water that I haven’t killed them (there have only been minimal casualties!) so I think this app will help me especially as they’re taking over the house 😂 

I apologise for the very long post, I wasn’t even going to post it. I started with the intention of doing so and without having much to write about, then I went off on one again and thought I’d better not post it. But if maybe one person who reads this finds some comfort or familiarity then I am glad I did. Maybe no one will read it and that’s OK too. If you managed to make it this far, thank you for reading and I’m sorry if I bored you 😂 

Hoping for lots of succulent babies 💚🌱

Please leave me a comment, I would love to hear your opinions on any of the things I have shared here today, if you also struggle with chronic illness or if you are enjoying (or not) working from home. Are you also trying to balance work with your hobbies? Let me know below 💚🌱

Happy Crafting and Stay Safe xxx💚H💜💚xxx

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