Posts tagged ‘depression’


A Poor Girls Guide to keeping warm, when it’s frikkin’ cold outside (and maybe inside too). Part 2.

Last week I covered some of the things I’ve learned over the past decade, and a bit, of frugal living where it comes to staying warm. Staying warm when you’re on a tight budget is tough, sometimes almost impossible, but where there’s a will, and some prior planning, there is a way.

We left out topic last time with the importance of warm feet. But what else is there to cover? Well last week was all about keeping warm, and some of this week will be too. But all too often I found myself just having to cope with being cold, and that’s a totally different kettle of fish, so…

1. Get enough sleep.

When I was always cold, I was always tempted to climb into bed in the afternoon to hide from everything. The problem with this was that I then slept very badly at night, and felt constantly tired. This then had a knock on effect on my sense of well-being (such as I ever experience). If you feel tired/generally crap you will almost certainly feel even colder, which may make you want to hide under a duvet even more during the day, and thus a vicious circle is born. I can not put this strongly enough, don’t let this happen. The difference a solid nights sleep can make to your sense of well-being even when your cold is difficult to overstate. Of course this does mean you need to sleep well at night.

2. Love your electric blanket.

Nothing is worse than lying in your bed, buried under a duvet, and shivering. No, actually one thing is worse, having feet so cold that they hurt while your shiver in bed. For around five years of my twenties that was my Winter night-time experience. I would go to bed hot water bottle in hand, so tired my eyes just would not stay open. Get into my comfy, snuggley bed, and spend hours almost in tears from the pain in my feet. Move the hot water bottle to my feet and the rest of my body would get cold, and I’d start to shake.

I wish I’d known then just how big a difference an electric blanket would have made to my life. They can be expensive to buy, 100 euro’sish for a good double one, but they’re cheap as chips to run, and the difference getting into a piping hot bed will make to your nights sleep is simply impossible to state. And a rested body, is much better able to cope with the cold.

3. Never waste heat.

By this I mean, if you just cooked dinner in the oven, leave the oven door open as it cools so that heat gets a chance to warm you. Tumble drier just stopped? Leave it open so the extra heat can warm that room even a tiny fraction. Simples.

4. If you’re cold, wear a hat.

Back when I was a lot younger I was a hillwalker, and one of the many things I learned during that time was that if I was cold, wear a hat. The idea that you lose 20% of your heat through your head is a myth which came about because of a badly worded statement, but that said you will benefit hugely from insulating your head. Hats can be bought very cheaply, and on even the coldest day if you can make your head warm, you’re going to feel pretty much immediately better about everything. which leads me to…

5. Being cold makes you angry.

It really does. It’s makes you pissed as all Hell. You will be snappy, crabby, grouchy, and you will take it out on whoever is near you. And never forget that while the emotions are being caused by your bodies reaction to the cold, those emotions are still very real, and so are the repercussions. I strongly suggest having a small stash of chocolate, red wine, basically whatever your nearest and dearest likes the most to use as a peace offering if you blow up for no reason.

How does that fit into the thrifty lifestyle?

It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a divorce.

6. Buy fuel over the Summer.

A lot of what I’ve written so far works on the assumption that you have no workable heating source. But many people have just one room they can keep warm, often, in Ireland at least, the living room and with an open fire. This is perfectly viable, and can be run if not cheaply, at least economically. I speak as someone in this precise situation, and as such I have to admit that I am guilty of a cardinal sin here. I tend to stop buying fuel for the fire over the Summer, and this is a big mistake. Buy less fuel, yes. But do keep buying a little each week, build up a stockpile of logs, briquettes, and coal for the Winter. Have a backlog that means if we’re unlucky enough to have a snowy Winter again, you can afford to keep the one room toasty. A little expense spread over a lot of time, is much more affordable than a lot of expense that hits you from nowhere.

7. Have a coping mechanism in place for when you get down.

Being cold is depressing, monumentally so in fact. Very little can bring you crashing down in the same way. I couldn’t begin to tell you haw many days I spent in floods of tears, so depressed I couldn’t even get out of bed. All caused by living with cold. And I LIKE the cold! For someone who doesn’t it’s nothing short of torture. So it’s essential to have someway of bringing your mood back up when it crashes in that way. My own at the time was an old Playstation 1 and SoulBlade. A game that would always bring me back up no matter how bad I felt. For other people it might be music, a book, a movie. But whatever it is to cope with being cold find it, and use it.

8. Exercise.

This should be a no-brainer, but anyway. When you live somewhere cold exercise is even more important. It will make you feel warm, it will help your body to set itself up to cope with the cold better. You will make your body more efficient, you’ll use your food better. You’ll sleep better, and the endorphin rush from exercising will all help you to cope better.

Oh, and you’ll live longer.

9. Finally. If you can, move.

Unfortunately there’s not really much you can do to lessen the financial hit of moving home. But if you’re that cold. If your life is a story of moving from warm spot to warm spot, through a freezing apartment/house, and if you can. Then get out of there. Leave. Being that cold for that long will cause long term problems, and most of them will be psychological. I, for example, start to get panicky when the fire starts to burn low. I used to be friends with someone who having lived in a similar situation was unable to sleep without two duvets (spelling?) on the bed, even if it wasn’t cold. She just had to have the security of knowing it was under her, and that she could nip underneath it if she needed.

Sometimes you can’t move. Finances, work, just life in general will get in the way. But you can always plan, and prepare to move. You can start looking around for a place to live, price accommodation in the area. Organise your possessions. Because if you’re that cold, I would be stunned if you didn’t want to move, and you never know when a windfall will allow you to escape to somewhere warmer. And when you do…well it’ll never be cheap, but I have a few hints for moving home on a budget. Watch out for that in the future.

In the meantime, stay warm, stay safe, Winter is almost over, and have a watch/listen to this and cheer yourself up.

A poor girls guide to being great with money.

A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great With Money – Christmas Planning. (Part 1)

A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great With Money – Christmas Planning. (Part 2)

A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great With Money – Grocery Shopping.

A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great With Money – Clothes Shopping Part 1: General Tips.

A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great with Money – Clothes Shopping Part 2: The High Street.

A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great with Money – Clothes Shopping Part 3: Thrift Shops.

A Poor Girls Guide to keeping warm, when it’s frikkin’ cold outside – Part 1


Looking to the positive.

For the past ten days I’ve been trapped in a physical hell. My body, which is never exactly robust, has failed me in some particularly unpleasant ways. To put it one way, I’m not entirely sure that I haven’t flushed half my body weight, and 75% of my brains down the toilet. This period in my life has come with all the usual additional nastiness. Severe weakness, bad smells, mind bending levels of pain, joints which don’t want to move properly, and so on. But as bad all those are, it’s the emotional baggage that comes with this type of episode which causes the most damage.

Guilt is the largest part of it. The sicker I feel, the more worthless I feel, simply because those small things I can usually manage to do; light cleaning, bad cooking, making the bed, are now almost impossible. It takes away the little sense of pulling my own weight that I usually struggle to hold on to in day-to-day life. We won’t even get in to how utterly inadequate I feel when I’m struck with a total inability to have any kind of physical relationship.

But, as easy as it is to dwell on the crap that goes with episodes like this, it’s far more important to keep in mind the ways in which life smiles on me.

It’s easy to dwell on the fact that my video blog won’t be up on time, because I physically can’t sit at my PC for long enough to record the video, but less edit it.

But I should be dwelling on the fact that I have the first week of my webcomic drawn, and storyboards done for the next 5. I should be dwelling on the fact that after delays in abundance, I am now on course to finally launch it in the New Year.

It’s so easy to become disheartened when I think of how I’ll probably never get to work with other people again.

On the other hand, here I sit with one novel written, a second on the way. With some 300 articles on this blog, with the are bones of a future video blog series started. So I am hardly idle.

It’s easy to dwell on the fact that I’m too unwell to have a social life of any kind.

I should be keeping in mind that I have great friends, who I know will forgive my absence from life. And I should remember that even as sick as I am, I will get to see my mom on Friday, because my Partner in Crime is driving me down to her.

The easiest of all to dwell on is that I feel lonely right now.

But I keep in mind that when I’m this sick being around people often makes me feel far worse than mere loneliness. Why? Because I feel that I smell, I feel unattractive, and incapable. So being around people in the prime of their lives…well it can hurt. But what really makes it okay is when I remember that I own two very loving, very cuddly puppies.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the key to not ending up in a black pit of depression when you’re sick for prolonged periods of time, is to stick to the positive. And with that I mind, enjoy…


The Dame Street Protest, a few thoughts.

Anyone who reads my blog will know I’m a bit of a weirdo. Politically I’m probably even more weird than in other aspects of my life. I would tend to describe myself as a conservative-liberal. What do I mean by that? Well we could start with describing it as wanting people to be free to put each other in consensual bondage without the state poking its nose in, whips optional. But also wishing common sense, not political rhetoric to rule the day. But here’s a few actual examples of my political weirdness.

Outside of situations which can not be legislated for with a universal ruling, all rights should be universal, not special rights. So there shouldn’t need to be special gay marriage law, that should be universal marriage law for everyone regardless of gender or orientation. However if you’re transsexual, you need a specific law in place to allow for legal recognition of your true gender, that’s an essential specific law, because it speaks to a situation which affects a small minority in a unique situation.

I think there should be abortion in Ireland. But I also don’t think it should be possible to use abortion simply as birth control.

I believe the Constitution is the heart of the Republic. But I also believe that as it stands it is a broken document. One which  is no longer fit for purpose, and so needs to be re-drafted, but not by vested interests, rather it should be rewritten by a national committee which does not include any serving or formerly serving politicians.

I believe there should be a 1 year period of military service in something akin to the Territorial Army in the United Kingdom. But that there should also be a conscientious objectors clause, which can allow anyone who truly believes such service to be morally abhorrent to avoid doing so.

Like I said I’m a weirdo. And many of my beliefs, where good citizenship are concerned at least, are probably rather self-contradictory. But sometimes both my liberal and conservative switches get flipped at the same time, in the same direction. Usually by a watershed, or potential watershed, event. So let’s talk about the Dame Street protesters.

These men and women are mostly Irish citizens who, along with protestors around the globe, have chosen to emulate their fellow protestors in Wall Street. They are exercising their right to peaceful protest, in order to voice their objections to the way in which the Irish State is treating its own citizens at the behest of foreign powers. But unfortunately their actual message isn’t nearly as clear as that.

I doubt that there is any need to rehash everything that has happened in Ireland over the last 12 months. But I think everyone has to admit it’s been a hell of a ride. We went from boom to bust, had a government ousted, had our country in some ways conquered without a single bullet being fired, and as a nation we took it all on the chin. Bread now in the hopes of jam to go with that bread later. I said there was no need to rehash, not that I wasn’t going to.

The protestors have reason to be angry, we all do. Our standard of living has been slashed, not for our sakes, but for the sake of apparently hopelessly inept business people spread across Europe, and perhaps even further afield. Worse still we can’t kid ourselves, we will not know the true depth or scale of what’s happened and what is still happening right now, for a very long time. Perhaps even a generation. It may take that long after the dust settles for the academics to translate the mechanics of this depression into something the average man on the street can understand.  Of course, not knowing the true scale of this disaster, is yet another reason for us all to be angry.

Fine but what both the Wall Street and Dame Street protestors seem to have forgotten is that it’s not enough to be angry. You also have to have a coherent message for people to hear. Have an established leadership, including public relations, negotiators, even ewwwww…solicitors ready to deal with changes in circumstances, either positive or negative. Hell even just having everyone chanting from the same hymn book would help project an image of solidarity, rather than semi-sentient “me too”-isms.  Put another way…

“What do we want? A fair deal. When do we want it? Now!”

Is a hell of a lot more effective than…

“What do we want? *reads long, looooong laundry list of sometimes contradictory demands* When do we want it? Uhhhh….

Unfortunately for those demonstrating around the world right now, they’re sounding far more like the latter, than the former.

I agree with a lot of their sentiments. I want there to be change. My liberal side wants there to be better services for the needy. I want there to be a fair wage for a fair days work. I want there to be a damned days work for that matter. I don’t want truly insane amounts of money being torn from the national, and local, budgets only for it to be turned over to foreign powers, and indigenous businessmen, who are just as culpable for what is happening to us all as a global economy. I want us to have government by people who have not lost all connection to what real life is like. I want the Humphreys not to have a guaranteed job for life ruling us all from the shadows. But instead have them openly, and fairly compete everyday of their professional career for those same careers, and not just with one another but with outsiders also.

My conservative side wants tighter oversight on all public spending. Means test all non-contributory social welfare. Bring in military service, it’s insane to have a population of over 4 million, the vast majority of whom are virtually incapable of defending their own nation if the need arises. Keep controlling interests in all the semi-states, and force the national will on them. Crack down on unionism in Ireland. What started as a way for common workers to safely air grievances with their employers have become a shadow government. One which answers only to itself. One nation, one government, elected by the people, not self-selected. And not one which as we now all know is perfectly capable of holding the entire state to ransom, on a whim.

The protestors here and over there want what we’ll have to call a “National Dream“. A good life for themselves and their children. But I don’t think for a second that a few tents, or even a lot of tents here, or in New York, are going to change the course we’ve all been forced to sail. All they can do is voice their dissatisfaction. Make it clear what parts of their plans we approve of and what we don’t. Then all we can really do is wait to see if there’s anyone who can bring us back to something approaching prosperity. Perhaps there are a handful of young leaders out there waiting for their turn who will do the job the way it should be done. Who can stabilise the world economy, through new ways of thinking, of doing business, instead of slamming us all violently on to the rocks until something gives.

I hope that the conservative, and liberal viewpoints can find a middle ground where real equitable change can be achieved.  Rather than both sides becoming more and more polarized. Rather than politics again becoming about us and them. After all the last time that happened in the 1930’s, it didn’t end well very well for Europe, or the rest of the world for that matter. Depressions are dangerous, history shows us that, and let’s be honest here, that’s what we’re living through.

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