Saturday, 23 February 2019

Billboard Bull***t

Very close to the street where I am currently living is a billboard. Now a billboard is never a friend of mine, given it invariably markets and advertises something or other in a way that tries to make people believe it is something they can't live without. For after all, it also invariably markets something we actually could live without or there would be no need to advertise it in the first place! Even animals can understand what they need to survive and thrive, let alone humans. No business wastes money on advertising things that we anyway need to get.

To add insult to injury, this particular billboard is advertising home loans from a particular bank in what appears to me a very irrational logic. Targeting new parents, it suggests that a new baby might indirectly require a bigger home and that they should 'go with it'. 'Go with it'?!! And who is paying that bigger monthly loan, the taxes on purchase of a new property, the interest that brings the total repayment over the years to practically double the original loan amount?

Yet a more intelligent question, however, is why should a new baby bring about a requirement for more space to begin with? In the case of couples with a starter home without enough bedrooms I might agree, but to suggest bigger is better simply for storage space as the advert seemed to indicate, then I must protest that this is simple bull***t. Then again, aren't all billboards tinting simple bull***t in all colours of the rainbow simply to lure people to their cause?

Monday, 18 February 2019

Would Minimalism on a big scale 'Destroy' the economy?

There is such a widespread notion, even in the Minimalist community itself, that should Minimalists outweigh Consumerists then the economy would crumble as a result. This is very untrue in my opinion, which is why I wrote the following piece for EVE:

Sunday, 10 February 2019

On Holiday Every Day

A few months ago I posted a meme on Facebook. It said something to the effect that we should live a life we don’t need a vacation from.

I got quite a few comments retaliating that that is NOT possible, as well as that why wouldn’t one WANT to take a vacation?!

What the people who answered failed to understand was that there is a difference between a vacation and a trip. Of course life would be more boring for people who love to travel and discover and experience new places, traditions, settings without the occasional (or not just occasional) trip! But the meme never said not to travel or experience things. It merely said we should strive to have a life that we don’t need to vacation from.

Again here there was a further misunderstanding by all those who complained that it is not possible. Maybe they assumed I meant one should be on vacation all the time (ie give up their bread-winning job) or that they would, in order to live a life they love enough, have to give up on responsibilities they feel they cannot get away from. The truth, I find, is the total opposite.

Just because we need a bread-winning job should not have us working our ass off for forty hours or more a week in a setting that depresses us, abuses us, gives us little to no satisfaction whilst dangling in front of us a carrot that we are only allowed to touch at the end of the month.

That carrot, whilst organic and expensive, might be causing us so much stress to get at that we need to split it in two and give half of it to our pharmacist in exchange for headache pills or worse. I think you will agree with me when I say I much rather get a non-organic carrot that I can eat wholly myself and not have to eat up any of the pills in order to get to my NEXT reward carrot, in a never-ending cycle that follows on its tail month after month and year after year.

It is true that we all want a job that rewards us for our studies, money wise and in the type of career we pursue. However we should check whether those are actually the only reasons why we want it. After all, we spend countless hours at our workplace and even carry the resulting good or bad mood into our personal life after we leave the workplace behind for the day or week. Add to that, it makes a difference to our life and happiness to wake up in the morning to a job we enjoy and are excited about as opposed to when we must face a day already knowing we are going to a place we dread and that we would rather not spend our time at.

Money, money, money. Don’t blame the money. As I said earlier, better a lower pay doing a job we love than a higher one that we must then share with anyone from the pharmacist (or worse the therapist) to the takeout place on the corner four times a week for not having time or energy to cook a healthy homemade meal.

Given that life is made up of much more than just our job, I am sure that some people would still argue that changing the job for a lower paid one will not do much to help us with other facets of life that tire us out and make us look at that vacation as a paradise we must strive to get to. If anything, they will say, a lower-paid job will hinder our affording a holiday to get away from it all! Get away from what exactly? Despite the grind of daily chores, the tiredness that comes with parenthood and the hundred-and-one commitments we take on feeling we can’t do otherwise, I would say most of the time it is our perception that should change in order to feel that life is a vacation all the time.

Let’s start with checking all those commitments and being honest with ourselves as to why we take them on. Some might be in our schedule more out of guilt than anything else. Like why are we rushing the kids to three extracurricular activities a week? I am sure our children benefit more from having less stressed-out parents than from catching up with everything. After all, even they need a rest that they might not be getting! Why did we say we would be glad to be on a the Parent Teacher Committee if we then grumble about not having the time for it? Don’t feel guilted into anything thinking otherwise they’ll be short-staffed. There are always people willing to do a job out of their own free will and for their own satisfaction and your own time might be better employed getting a well-deserved rest that makes all the difference when you come to tackle the commitments you actually care about.

Only a lucky few afford regular maid service so it would be unrealistic to suggest that you delegate that work to an outsider in order to switch your mind to eternal-holiday-mode. However I would be surprised if anyone at all minded the daily chores if their minds and bodies were not already overtired from a despised job and an endless list of errands. It truly is a balancing game I find.

I could preach till tomorrow about making the changes that make most of the difference to living a happy life. But that is the point of it I guess; to live a happy life! Who needs a vacation from Happiness? No one, Ever!

Sunday, 3 February 2019

A Harsh Start To Motherhood - An Awareness Article

In March 2016 online magazine CominoMag published an article of mine that I wrote very much from the heart. Rights to the article remained my own and since the magazine has now closed and my awareness article is no longer available online for viewing, I am publishing it again here today as it would be a pity not to let it remain online for people to read or refer to. I myself used to often link the article to people who I felt would benefit from it else who could share it on for further awareness of the subject. So here is probably my longest article-not-written-for-the-blog in terms of word count, for anyone who would like to know more about Post Natal Depression, what it feels like, and how to help a loved one through it else how to get better in the case of being the sufferer.

A Harsh Start To Motherhood

After the long wait, the baby is finally in the mother’s arms. She should feel overjoyed but instead all she wants to do is cry herself to sleep. Not only was labour difficult but she can’t seem to understand why they say it’s worth it in the end.

Many women go through ‘baby blues’ in the first weeks after giving birth. They will be weepy and their emotions all over the place. This is a result of hormone changes that occur not only during the pregnancy but also afterwards. Adding the fact that the new mother might be feeling less than great physically as well as having a multitude of new responsibilities to deal with, it is understandable to feel overwhelmed. A ten minute nap, a good diet and talking about how she’s feeling will help alleviate the negative moods.

A worrying ten per cent of the time, however, the symptoms do not go away after the first weeks. This is usually a sign that the mother might be suffering from a serious condition called Postpartum Depression.

Postpartum Depression is worse than an emotional roller-coaster ride. More than just the irritability and insomnia that are ‘baby blues’ symptoms, the mother will experience an inability to enjoy life, not least because she might feel that she cannot connect with the reality around her. In fact one symptom is that the woman will find it difficult to concentrate and therefore finds herself unable to focus on or cope with her new world. Fatigue and a lack of appetite only serve to worsen the mood and health.

It has been blamed on unplanned pregnancy, a traumatic birth, lack of support from the partner or on being too young (surprisingly a psychotherapist I spoke to about the subject mentioned the twenties as being ‘too young’!) The fact remains, that whether or not there is a reason for it, the new mother is going through a dreadful time.

It is said that a woman suffering from Postpartum Depression will want to harm her baby as well as herself but this is not necessarily the case. In fact it seems more normal for the mother to become so obsessed with her baby’s well-being that her whole world starts to centre around keeping him safe.

When the depression takes on an even more horrible form called Postpartum Psychosis the thoughts of suicide become realistic and might be acted upon. Furthermore, in these severe cases, there is a more pronounced inability to bond with the baby and the patient might even suffer from delusions. In the case of Postpartum Psychosis it is imperative that the situation is handled at the earliest by a qualified specialist who would know how to deal with the problem.

With regards to Postpartum Depression, unless the symptoms go away through sheer will-power in the first months, which is a difficult thing to achieve given the depressed person is not usually confident or assertive, then professional help is very often the way to go.

Despite the seriousness of the situation, antidepressants as well as psychotherapy can in most cases solve the problem. Psychotherapy is much like counselling but based on getting the patient to solve the crisis through understanding what is the underlying problem. Sometimes hidden fears and troubles in the person’s background and history might be relevant to the sessions as they might have a part to play in causing the depression.

Unfortunately, the affected mother will be likely to suffer Postpartum Depression following subsequent pregnancies and in fact is also more likely to suffer from depression in general.

Most women know that it is normal to suffer temporarily from baby blues and find themselves unable to distinguish between it and the more unrelenting feelings that might actually be clinical depression. This is why it is important to speak out and try to help if you feel there is something amiss, however trivial you think it might be.

Family might not always realise just how bad the mother is feeling, attributing any feelings to stress at being inept in the new position as a carer of a tiny fragile new being. Meanwhile the mother might feel too weak to think for herself, speak up, or even contemplate that professional help might be a necessity. She might also erroneously feel that to accept and reveal the problem would be to indirectly blame the baby and no mother wants to do that.

The point remains that it is important to recognise and acknowledge the depression. The sooner this happens, the easier it will be for the mother to have positive recollections of what should be the most joyful years of her life.