Sunday, July 24

Depression and Anxiety

I've suffered from depression for five or six years now, with a touch of anxiety thrown in for good measure. I originally thought that my depression was down to being a teenager - you know, all those hormones and what have you. I then came to realise that in fact I suffered from a mental disorder that needed medical attention and wouldn't sort itself out once I left my teens and my body became "stable". I sought out help, went to my GP and was put on anti depressants, therapy was not offered but I think the GP put me on the Community Mental Health Teams waiting list.

The first anti depressants didn't go too well - I ended up having panic attacks and any glance in the mirror made me want to scratch my own eyes out. No idea why I had that particular reaction to them but two weeks later I was put onto a different type, which I've been on for a three or so years now. They work, the depression is under control and what have you but the anxiety has gotten progressively worse, to the point where I ha vent left the house for almost three months.

It seems I have developed agoraphobia without even realising it.

Definition from (their source - American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author)
Agoraphobia is often misunderstood as a phobia of leaving home. However, this is not quite accurate. Agoraphobia is a phobia of being in a situation where escape would be difficult or impossible, or help would be unavailable if a panic attack should occur.
Agoraphobia is often a progressive phobia, and may eventually lead to a fear of leaving the house. However, it is the panic attack, rather than the act of being in public, that is the cause of the fear. Symptoms of agoraphobia may include:
  • Panicked Feelings: Agoraphobia can become a self-replicating cycle. The sufferer is anxious about having a panic attack which can, in turn, lead to a panic attack.

  • Avoidant Behavior: Limiting life activities in an effort to avoid situations where help for a panic attack may not be available.

  • Clustering: A pattern of avoided situations is generally present. Common clusters include public transportation; shopping; driving; and leaving home.
Agoraphobia often develops out of an untreated panic disorder. More information about panic disorder with agoraphobia can be found at What is Agoraphobia? However, agoraphobia sometimes develops with no prior history of panic disorder. A mental health professional can determine whether your symptoms are those of agoraphobia or another disorder.
This rings true with me -

Panicked Feelings - I suffer from panic attacks and I fear having them which in itself causes a panic attack. Hyperventilation, at least for me, causes me to feel sick, dizzy, shakey, hot, sweaty and if I don't calm down quickly my hands go into spasm, both my arms and legs go numb and I get pins and needles in my face.

Avoidant Behaviour - I avoid leaving my flat which is my "secure" place. When I'm at home I rarely have a panic attack and the ones I do have at home are because I'm about to leave it/should be leaving it.

Clustering - I didn't actually realise just how much I avoided situations until it became so bad I wouldn't leave my flat. Thinking back, I've always had a fear of going to new places, I'd stick to my usual haunts and would usually refuse to go out with family and friends if they wanted me to go somewhere new, it then progressed to avoiding certain public transport, then avoiding going to places that weren't close to my flat, to eventually not leaving my flat at all.

The problems that anxiety has caused me have been awful - financially, I've screwed both myself and my other half up, I have no friends, I don't visit family and I cant even remember the last time I walked on grass or touched a tree trunk.

I will be seeing my GP this week (well, I'll arrange a home visit) and I will be able to discuss treatment with him. I'm just terrified I will never become well, that I'll never be able to go outside and enjoy the sunshine without being terrified. That I'll never be able to go shopping or to Chester Zoo or get married because of these stupid fears that I don't really understand. But, there is treatment, therapies and all sorts that I can try so I will never give up hope that's for sure, I control the depression, I can control the anxiety too!

Sorry for the "poor me" type post - with the docs appointment this week I've been thinking a lot about my illnesses and wanted to share my own experiences with it, maybe someone out there with similar feelings will realise that they aren't alone.

Just a bit of shameful advertising - I'm selling a few books and a tarot deck on eBay, if you're looking for some bargins check out the items I have for sale -

Monday, July 18

Apple Spice Cookies

With the three autumn harvest festivals coming up I'm going to be sharing a variety of tasty recipes using seasonal foods, starting with cookies and biscuits. Whether you make up a batch for your seasonal celebrations, as a gift for a loved one or just for a tasty snack with your afternoon coffee or tea, I hope these spiced cookies with an apple filling will be a hit with everyone!

Apple Spice Cookies

  • 225g butter, softened
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp apple juice
  • 280g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • pinch salt
  • 100g dried apple, finely chopped
For the Filling
  • 1 tbsp caster sugars
  • 1 tbsp custard powder
  • 125ml milk
  • 5 tbsp apple sauce
Place the butter and sugar into a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg and apple juice. Sift the flour, cinnamon, mixed spice and salt into the butter mixture then add the dried apple and stir until combined. Half the dough, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 40 - 60 minutes (the closer to 60 minutes the better).

Preheat the oven to 190°C and line 2 large baking trays with baking paper. Roll out the dough and cut out the cookies with a 5cm square cookie cutter and place them on the baking sheets ensuring that they are well spaced. Bake for 15 minutes or so, until they are golden brown. Leave to cool. 

To make the filling, mix the sugar custard powder and milk together in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring continuously until the mixture is thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the apple sauce. Cover the surface of the pan with clingfilm and leave to cool. 

One the cookies and filling are both cool, spoon the filling over half of the cookies and top with the remainder. Ta da! Lovely, sweet sandwich like cookies!

I want to add a thank you to this post as well -  to the lovely Tamara  at Riding on a Broomstick who gave me this award -

Thank you! You made me all proud and happy that day and definately glad that I started this blog!

Friday, July 8

Herbal Magic Spell Cards (Freebie Included)

 You may have noticed that throughout my posts I use images to display recipes etc, from the essential oil blend I posted about the other day to the bolognaise recipe I typed onto a chalk board a few weeks ago. What can I say? I like recipe cards and things looking pretty and interesting.

I've made a "recipe card" for simple herbal magic spells that I will be using to post all my recipes on from now on, I will also be printing the cards off onto some pretty paper to keep in a folder. Just incase anyone wants to do the same I'm going to share the card. There are two sizes - 6in x 4in and 5in x 3in, to use them just right click on the image and "Save Image As". This will save it to your computer and allow you to either print it or type onto it using an image editing software (I use Photoshop CS5). There are also two types, one with no background and another design based on the colours of my blog. If you're going to print them I suggest using the blank ones otherwise you will use a lot of ink!

Here's an example of one that I've typed on (the black writing is size 14pt which means the spacing between the lines is plenty big enough for handwriting), I think it looks pretty cool!

The blank 6x4in cards:

 The blank 5x3in cards:

Thursday, July 7

Just Plain Cuteness

Seeing as I've only shared one video of Luna on here I'm dedicating this post to my lovely little hamster.

She's 7 or so months old now, me and my other half bought her from a breeder (Hammys World in Manchester). She's a little madam but sweet as anything too. For some strange reason she's taken to sleeping in her toilet at the moment... Anyway! Pictures and videos!

Saturday, July 2

Herbal Magic | Healing Oil

Just a quick post from me today with a herbal recipe for healing oil. I've used this as a massage oil for my other half who loved the smell. I havent stated what carrier oil to use although I use almond as its cheaper than the other types.

Friday, July 1

Notebooks and Divination Tools

I posted a photograph of my Book of Shadows on a previous post but I never mentioned my love of notebooks, note writing and list making. I make lists for almost everything - from to do lists to wish lists to shopping lists to lists planning events and every kind of list in between. I also make random notes, whether it be something that I've thought of, remembered or read in a book, I'll get it written down somewhere.

Here's a selection of my notebooks, all but the pink and blue ones are notebooks I have "on the go" at the moment.

The top left one is a Health and Beauty book from Paperchase that I keep all sorts of recipes, techniques and tips in on topics ranging from relaxation to first aid. The bottom left one is my Divination notebook where I keep records of any Tarot readings or Rune castings that I do. The bottom middle book is my Pagan notebook, it has draft versions of Book of Shadows pages, spell planning notes, notes on books I own plus a few lists like what essential oils I need to get, what books I would like and what not. The last one is my prayer book, its only small, perfect for carrying in my handbag.

I've been going through my "Witchy" (as I call them) things and thought I would share some photographs of my divination tools. All hold very special places in my heart, especially the clear quartz ball as it was given to me by a witch in Yorkshire (a story I will tell another time!). The amethyst Runes are mostly used for magic rather than divination but I thought I would include a photograph of them anyway. The Tarot deck is the "Tarot of a Moon Garden". The pendulum is made from amethyst, although its quite hard to tell as the photo came out a bit dark.

I hope that you like the almost finished design of the blog, I do have a few more things to do but its almost done.

Have a wonderful weekend, as a finishing note here is a video of my hamster stuffing her face which I took this morning -