Thursday, 22 November 2012

Comfort in Food

A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.

Benjamin Franklin

The nights are dark and there is a chill in the air the perfect time for a big bowl of piping hot tattie soup!

Comfort food is warming, fills your belly & harks back to good times. I'm thinking of a warm hug from the inside out, you know the feeling.

Your comfort food may be a mug of hot chocolate, a hearty soup, a traditional pasta bake or any food that you associate with feeling good with so a treat such as ice cream or cakes.

Food can affect your mood, and your mood can affect your food choices.

As a dietitian my work life is all about food. I talk about it all day! I have started to notice a pattern and association between my food and my mood.

When my mood starts to dip, my food choices start to slip.  I start choosing quick and easy meals.  My prep of meals gets less and less till I eventually end up eating out of packets.  Now this is not a post on healthy eating but more an observation that food plays a role in my depression.

When your spending most of your time on the sofa and haven't managed to coax yourself into the shower, there is no way your going to have the energy or inclination to cook a healthy meal from scratch. My meal of choice on these days (if I eat at all!) is a packet of crisps. Is this the kind of food that is going to fuel my brain and help with my serotonin levels? Not likely, however this is what I turn to.

Part of the choice comes from the lack of energy and motivation to complete tasks but there is also a part of me that chooses foods that give me comfort.  The downside to the comfort is the associated guilt feelings that I 'should' be choosing foods that will help provide the energy and lift I so desperately need.

I have struggled with my weight most of my adult life. I desperately want to be thinner and go through periods where I concentrate on weight reduction. I have the nutritional knowledge and if you had a look around our tiny flat you would think I was an athlete the amount of exercise equipment I have! Yet I still struggle.

At present I am going through my "I want to lose weight phase" So I have my fitness pal (follow me on   MrsBrownThought) and I am logging my calories in and out.

My mood has been up and down the past few weeks but I am trying to keep my eating on track and my hubby is home and he never lets me have nothing to eat.  He enjoys cooking and because he can be away alot with work he enjoys being able to try out new recipes when he is home.

He felt we had to celebrate the conclusion of the flat sale (yeah!!) and he chose to mark such an occasion by making a banoffee pie.
Just call Mr Brown - Browngella!
We use foods in this house to celebrate, to commiserate and to treat ourselves. Food is my work and it is a big part of our social life - eating out, cooking, treats, and rewards.

When my mood is low, I find myself looking for comfort in food.  Eating to feel better.  Eating to feed my brain more than my belly.  Eating to dampen the feelings of despair.  Eating to fill my emptiness.

Usually I would have all the banoffee pie and then beat myself up about it for days afterwards, which would send my mood on a downwards spiral.

This week I had a sizeable piece that I enjoyed immensely! Thank you Mr Brown. I logged it in my fitness pal food diary and I did a quick tabata workout to balance out my calories!

Today I right a blog post feeling the real comfort in food.  I enjoyed the treat my hubby had lovingly prepared and I felt the joy of being in control of my mood and my choices.  I think I may be turning a corner folks!

What's your comfort food? How does food affect your mood?

Love Mrs Brown xx
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Sunday, 18 November 2012

Loving someone with depression

I mention Mr Brown in most of my posts, mainly because he helps me through everything.  He sometimes stop by to read my thoughts & as I was writing on holiday he asked if he could do a piece for my blog.

So without further babbling, I hand you over to Mr Brown, for my first ever guest post.

Being in sales is tough. I work in a large territory that spans many countries, and every day I need to get up and get going. It's never been a problem to me, to motivate myself. I am motivated by doing my best, and it's easy to keep going when I am working hard.

I remember 15 years ago when my mum went to the doctors with a painful lump on the back of her hand. He told her it was nothing to worry about. Quickly this lump spread and her fingers and toes begin to swell. She had severe arthritis. 
 Walking and moving became painful for her. It used to break my heart hearing her sob in the night, from the constant pain. Now it is better controlled, but she still has painful bouts of arthritis and is managed by a team of experts. She needs a hip replacement and this will hopefully improve her again, but the years of pain are etched on her face now.

In December 2009 I had just started my dream job. I was sitting in a hotel in Switzerland speaking to Mrs. Brown. She didn't sound quite right and I pestered her to tell me what was wrong. She had been diagnosed with depression. I hadn't noticed the 'lump on the back of her hand', the low mood and lack of motivation. I just thought she was lazy. That day began the decent for both of us. For nearly a year I felt like I was that helpless 15 year old boy, listening to his mothers sobs, desperately wanting my wife-to-be to begin to pull her self out of whatever was causing her to be 'not herself'. It was a year before I really began to understand. I just couldn't get how anyone could not be motivated. Things did get better. Then after a few months, it got much worse again. 

It isn't easy  caring for a person with depression. There is no help in doing things in the house, no enthusiasm for days out, no intimacy, no laughter and no release from the pressure. But now I see the old Mrs. Brown back from time to time, for longer and longer. There is still some ups and downs but they are less severe and don't last as long. We both have to accept that this, like arthritis, will persist for years, but the better controlled, the less severe the relapses will be. But it isn't arthritis. You can't see the symptoms and we both have to realise when things are not right and act accordingly. Prevention is better than relapse.

Every cloud has a silver lining. Our relationship is strong because I reckon, if we can survive the lows of the last two years, we can survive anything. I love Mrs. Brown, and together we will succeed.

Depression hasn't  pushed us apart, but made us grow together. And our relationship is stronger for it.

His kind words are great for me to hear but I also hope they may help someone else in a similar relationship.

Love Mrs Brown xx
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Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Celeb Spotting

No this is not a post about my awful dance moves.  Over night I seem to have lost any rhythm I had in my early 20s & now have a limited repertoire of daddy dance moves!

Anyways moving on.  I was in the BA lounge in Instanbul when a very thin girl walked past. As she sat down I found myself staring. I don't usual stare, honest, but I felt I recognised her.  I knew it wasn't someone I knew but then I got it! It was Sophie Ellis-Bextor.  

Did my hubby recognise her - no! When I googled a picture of her he said no it's not her.

So twitter to the rescue.  Yes Miss Bextor is in Instanbul for the Turkish Man of the Year awards.  She even tweeted so herself! 

I have only met a handful of 'famous' people.  Now bear with me on this as my idea of famous & your idea of famous may be slightly different. 

I was in a shopping centre when I recognised some guys face.  I stared, how do I know that face then this flew out my mouth
"Oh my god, it's David Sneddon"

I even did the hands on my face, really shocked look.  Right, I know your thinking who is David Sneddon. Well he had just been on a little programme called Fame Academy.  BBC's attempt at Pop Idol, or for the young people who may be reading this, doubt it, X factor.  Now at the time he must have been fairly famous because what happened next was a stampede of screaming young girls.  Where they came from I do not know but they swarmed around him like honey to the bees (I'm properly flashing back to the 90s now with that Billie Piper song reference!)

Ok I digressed anyways it went Oh my god, swarm of girls then me saying "oops I didn't even watch fame academy, why did I just shout that". To which he said
"Thanks!" & was not impressed by my outburst or my lack of interest in his show.

Then there was the story of me at the theatre in Glasgow.  I am a major fan of River City, a Scottish soap & I was excited as 3 of the cast members were in this pantomime, probably the main reason I booked it!  I have a weird crush on one such character, 'wee Bob' (when your reading this in your head think Boab with said with a thick Scottish accent to get it right)  Anyways I digressed again, he was outside smoking a cigarette.  Again my mouth engaged all by itself and what came out was
"Urggggh You smoke! Your not the man I thought you were"
What the ....... embarrassed, I was scarlet.  He laughed & said "afraid so"

One more story then we will get to Sophie. She's 3 rows behind me on the plane as we speak.  Well as I write, from business class don't you know! There is a first for everything & this is my first business class flight & first all inclusive holiday, so i should have been more prepared for celeb spotting! Lol

The last story comes from a day out to the filming of a dance show, so good I can't remember the name.  The host of the show was Davina McCall, we didn't know this at the time. A painful thin lady with a very prominent nose walked past. I turned to Mr Brown & said she looks a little like Davina McCall eh? Just a wee bit? She looked at me & laughed then shouted into the crowd "Hello everybody it's me, Davina here!"


So I don't have a good track record with famous people.  I seemed to get star struck very easily.  In the BA lounge I tried to be cool.  Be quiet, don't stare I kept saying.

I was actually a big fan of Sophie Ellis-Bextor when I was younger.  I loved her songs & her pale skin & glamorous look appealed to me even if I still cannot pull it off! I did not embarrass myself but it would have been nice to pluck up the courage to speak to her, although what would I say.  I struggle to speak to my friends most days never mind a complete stranger!

My hubby did take a sneaky picture though.

Who have you met? Have you ever embarrassed yourself?

Love Mrs Brown xx

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How to relax

And relax .....

Relax, such a small word.

Few months ago I did a group on anxiety management & we got try out different relaxation techniques.  In a group some of them felt bit weird but it opened my eyes to how many different ways there are to relax. Most people will think sitting crossed legged at sunset on a beach or having a massage as the ultimate in relaxation but what happens when you freaking out at work or in the shopping centre, these techniques just aren't gonna work!  Not to forgot that needing a massage everyday to relax could turn out rather expensive unless you have a more than willing hubby ;-)

Holiday is a perfect time to relax.  So I as I am on holiday, that is just what I have tried to do.

First I started with a walk around the resort - this is what they call active relaxing.  Not everyone finds being still calming, so if your the kind of person that think sitting still would be torture then find some activity that relaxes you.  Examples would be golf, walking, swimming or for the more energetic running or the gym to clear your mind. I also tried swimming today & after the whole body conscious stress (sadly I struggle with me in a swimsuit, too much on display) however when i finally got in the pool, I did find this very therapeutic. There is also a gym here, but oh what a shame I forgot my trainers (any excuse!).

The spa would be relaxing if I wasn't so body conscious so I gave it a miss but at home I do find having a monthly facial booked in & knowing its in the diary is nice to look forward to & the head & neck massage I get is bliss!

In this age of technology of course there is an app for relaxing.  In fact there are loads!  So if one app or technique is not for you then please try others.  I have tried a few & the ones I find myself going back to over & over are the apps produced by Andrew Johnson.  He is Scottish so I may be bias about his safe voice & recognisable accent but I started off with his deep sleep app & have never looked back.  The free versions are great so much so I am aleays amazed they are free! So feel free to give him a try.  As I said everyone's technique will differ but it's worth giving it a go.

As my holiday draws closer to packing up & stressful travel time today I decided to make relaxation my aim of the game. I went for a walk, a swim then listened to Andrew but the pool, soaking up some well earned vitamin D & sunlight which always lifts my mood! (Had been considering a SAD light but not got a a SAD diagnosis so? ....)

The main thing I'm learning about relaxation techniques is that it's not fair to call on your deep breathing when your feeling overwhelmed or to turn to your meditation corner only when you've had a nightmare day. Sure these techniques will be there for you if you choose breathing, meditation, mindfullness, visualisation, yoga, Tai chi (wow the list goes on) the more you use the,the better you become at one reducing your body response to stress & two they can be so much more effective when you truly need them!

So if you can try do something everyday, not just on holiday.  Try incorporate your technique into your normal day. Make time for it, a little time out relaxing now can make you more productive in the long run.

Let me know how you relax

Love Mrs Brown xx

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Sunday, 11 November 2012

When your laughing

"Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it."
Bill Cosby

Recently me & Mr Brown how found ourself in some bizarre situations. You know those times where you don't know if you will laugh or cry.

Our house hunting day was just a prime example. We are on a tight budget but short listed 8 viewings we thought had potential. We kinda knew we would have to compromise but we were not prepared for what was 'in' our budget!

There was the house with the samurai sword in the window & knife collection in a shall we say run down neighbourhood. This house also boasted a garden he liked to call the "field" with a shed that had power but the roof was blown off 6months ago & would not be getting replaced! There was the one with the 'man cave' in the loft but you had to climb up through a cupboard! It was the house with many animals & the smell that finally got us.

We were at the point where you either laugh or cry. Bearing in mind we had no other potentials, choosing to cry would have been a really easy choice! In fact normally this would be my default option, jump straight to the worst case scenario, Mrs Brown the pessimist.

Instead we laughed so hard I did cry! But tears of laughter.

We kept the mood light & chose to laugh all our troubles away. *I know I stole this from a song*

Again on holiday, we ended up in the craziest place. Centre of town with people who speak very little English in a restaurant by some waterfall, attached to a fish farm, shall we say it was rustic? The kinda place that has a hole as a toilet, you getting an image? Normally I would panic try be polite but insist we leave, instead we laughed. We laughed when I gagged on the local red carrot juice & we especially laughed when the electricity went out & we were sat in darkness!

So as I write a post, I am reminded we always have a choice in how we react to the situation. You may think things are out of control but really your just on autopilot, you can choose, I did choose and I will continue to choose laughter. After all they do say it's the best medicine.

Love Mrs Brown xx

"It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time. Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either."
Wayne Dyer

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Anxiety Holiday

Merhaba from Turkey!

I am currently sat by the pool in a gorgeous hotel in Antalya, Turkey.  Mr Brown is here for a congress with work & I have tagged along for my second holiday in the past 2 months!

Until recently I did not have an adult passport & it was to go on honeymoon that made me finally get one organised.  I hadn't been on holiday since I was 15 years old, nearly half my life ago!

Last year we went on honeymoon in September & we made it a trip of a life time packed full of places & lovely memories.  I have always seen other things as more important than a holiday such as paying off student debts, having a car, & general every day stuff!  However after the honeymoon I had caught the travelling bug & desperately wanted another holiday - somewhere, anywhere, there was a whole world out there I had been missing out on.  With my depression, going part time at work & moving house, holidays just weren't a priority so I gave up thinking about it.

Then up popped a trip to Italy.  My father in law would turn 60 in October & for his birthday he wanted to take the whole family to the villa in Italy they have been visiting for the past few years.  Wow a holiday & so generously paid for by my in laws.  Italy was wonderful & I will blog some more about it soon.

A few months into the year my hubby mentioned that he was going to Turkey & I may be able to tag along.  This fell through a few times with his work commitments then suddenly it was back on! Another holiday in November! This holiday is a whole different kettle of fish (never really understood that saying) instead of having loads of family around & very little time on my own, I would be on my own most of the day & with hubby & work colleagues in evenings.

I was optimistic, yeah I'll be fine, I'll just sit by the pool I said.  I'll please myself. Easier said than done for a girl with mental health issues. As isolating as depression can be, being forced to be on your own in a foreign place has been worrying.

Instead of the intended holiday from my anxiety I seem to have packed bag loads of worry & doubts in my case. I am shy, painfully when I am anxious so meeting Mr Brown's colleague was difficult as usuall hubby made me feel at ease & praised my efforts at small talk. Phew that's that done now I can relax right?

It seems like no.  In packing all this worry & doubt I had no space for any clothes that make me feel comfortable.  Self conscious at the best of times, faced with bare arms, legs & clothes I just avoid in the UK I am struggling.

So 3 days in I have finally made it out of the room & to the side of the pool. Go me!!

Not before changing several times & still feeling very self conscious I might add. Don't even get me started on how I feel nervous I feel at the restaurant having lunch for one!! So for the rest of the holiday must be onwards & upwards.

Do holidays make other people stressed or just me?

Love Mrs Brown xx