Sunday, 21 March 2010

Fitting in

Have just been away at a local scout campsite helping to run a Beaver Scout Sleepover (in fact two Sleepovers for 2 separate groups of children on consecutive nights) Very, very tiring - not so much due to lack of sleep, since I got a reasonable amount on both nights, plus a nice big nap during the break between the 2 on Saturday afternoon, but just the overall demandingness of the thing as a whole.

But my main reason for blogging is to try to pin down my odd feelings of dislocation and awkwardness. The Beaver Sleepover was kinda fun and mainly rewarding but I still felt a bit strange with the other 'scouty' people who were organising and running it. This is a group I feel that I ought to fit in with, but I don't. I liked the woman I was sharing a room with - and although she was a lot more confident and certain about everything she thinks & says than I tend to be, I did feel more at ease with her than anyone else.

I made worthwhile contributions to various aspects of the event - in particular, leading lots of songs during the (indoor) Campfire Sing-song each night, and (on 2nd night) trying to get the difficult kid to go to sleep by whispering a made-up (& deliberately boring/ sleep-inducing) bedtime story in his ear (unsuccessfully it turned out, but my efforts were appreciated by the other leaders I later discovered). On the first night, we had a brief power cut which interrupted the video showing cartoons (shown as the settling-down-for-the-night part of the programme - something I disapproved of on principle). I was able to fill in the time until the video re-started with a story I'd brought along to read to them. My big floor jigsaw also proved handy last night with several kids who arrived earlier than the rest; and my spare soft toy beaver helped a little girl who was a bit upset and who had forgotten to bring a teddy. I also enjoyed accompanying the groups of kids to the Rabbit Run and Adventure playground each day.

Highlights: On Saturday morning, one child said to me'This is the best day of my whole life'! Another child asked if I would read them another story at some point because she'd really liked it. I also enjoyed helping some of the children attempt things they were nervous about doing (eg the rabbit run in the dark, or climbing the high obstacles on the adventure course) - they got a huge sense of achievement from doing these things.

There did seem to be rather a large number of adults for the number of children at the event. I sometimes think that this kind of over-manning is because the scouty adults are there for themselves (but that's a truism - 'we do it for the sake of the kids' is always only part of the picture - we ALL do it cos we enjoy it and it makes us feel good). But there were a few aspects of the overmanning and way the event was run that made me a tad irritated.

The most annoying thing was having far too many activity bases - there were 7 different bases (mine was codes and secret messages): with only 4 sub-groups of kids moving around (an odd decision in itself), I felt that I had spent a lot of time preparing a base which wasn't really needed - and due to the rotation of just 4 groups (rather than free-flow which I think would've worked better) I was left twiddling my thumbs for significant chunks of time. I had also run off enough copies of everything for all the kids to have one each, but only a small proportion of the kids got to do my base at all. Heavy sigh. I did try to stay postive and just allow myself to feel ryely amused rather than cross and bitter. I can keep all the spare copies and use them with the Beavers in the future.

The other thing that annoyed me a tiny bit was the way the leaders sat having their meals for such a long time (particularly today) while the kids had totally finished and were getting bored and restless. We could have fitted in more time for the bases for one thing!

It was good that they had more games outdoors today when the weather was better, but I had to walk away from what the (youngish) leader was doing as an ad hoc game to fill a short time-gap (caused by late lunch and over-running on lunch itself which meant we couldn't do the last spell of bases as per Sleepover Programme - grrr again). Anyway, the reason I had to walk away is because I really didn't like the game she was running. It was a very simple and tedious game, but my main gripe was that she was running it as a 'you're out' game, and it seemed to take ages, with an ever-growing group of 'outted' kids just standing there. I much prefer games where all the kids get to be involved throughout.

I did a few turns on drying dishes during the week-end (don't think I did any real turns on actual washing up.) Didn't do a great deal of the cleaning and tidying up at the end either. So that was one blessing of the overmanning! I hate all that stuff - and I only ever do what I feel I have to not to be regarded as a lazy work-dodger in the eyes of the others!

The woman in charge of the catering was one of those rather bossy, over-confident people. Really bugged me. A small example - when I tried to go into the kitchen to find something thin to poke down into a toothbrush cover which had a tiny toothpaste cap trapped inside (one of my Beavers asked for my help with this), she totally took over unnecessarily - as if I was coming to her to solve the problem, which I wasn't - and there was nothing I could do but go along with it, cos otherwise I would have looked petty.

Since this was a County event, there were a limited number of places available for each Group - in effect, 4 places per night, so 8 in total, for each Leader willing to come along to help run it. (in the end the numbers were lower than they should have been, due to late cancellations by a couple of groups - annoying as lots of us could easily have taken up the spaces even a fairly short notice) All this means that I gave up my whole week-end for the sake of just 8 kids from my group! (there were 18 kids in total participating in Sleepover 1 and another 23 or 24 in Sleepover 2). Might make more sense just to organise my own sleepover sometime - which would be just one night not 2 and could accomodate all 24 of my group at one fell swoop (if all wanted to do it)

Oh dear, this is a grumbly blog - and I've found that I dislike reading other people's blogs when they're like that. So I hope this is tucked away enough to escape much notice.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

When I'm feeling blue...

This is not TYSIC. This is the shadow on the other side of TYSIC.

I struggle with intermittant depression and at the moment I'm gritting my teeth at the effort of getting through this winter without the help of anti-depressant medication, similar to Prosac (I came off the tablets just over a year ago having been on them for a year. Before that there'd been 6 months on them and then 6 months off - but the quick relapse was probably cos the 1st course of treatment wasn't long enough. Prior to that I hadn't had a period of depression requiring medication for about 8 years).

When I first read Mark Watson's launch of the TYSIC, my first thought was (as I posted elsewhere) that I hope I'm still around in 10 years - but what I meant by that was not just a wry acknowledgement of life's hazards - such as (in Tim Minchin's words) 'terminal illness or sudden accidental death' No, what flashed through my mind IMMEDIATELY was 'well, I hope I can manage to avoid committing suicide before then.'

Not a good sign - but not as bad as you might think! I am not currently suicidal, and in fact I have never been so deeply depressed that I have lost sight of the effect on those around me if I were to do such a thing. I do sometimes feel trapped by this, but it's a effective deterrant. So in my case morbid thoughts, although significant as a symptom, are not the same as anything ultimately self-destructive.

But life is often something I just tolerate rather than enjoy or value. I am pretty good at monitoring where I am on the slippery slope. I had hoped that a change of job would take away the stress component, but that, it turns out, isn't as crucial a factor as I'd thought - the seasonal thing is perhaps the most influential one. And although the days are now getting longer, with some lovely sunny days from time to time, I may have slid down too far to stop the chemical imbalance in my brain from self-perpetuating.

If I gauge how I am in a few weeks time I may be able to decide if I will end up having to go to the GP after all.

The above is why my first and most important overaching TYSIC is 'Improvement in my emotional wellbeing'